“Take Heed of the Snake In the Grass”
The big question I see at this point is this – is Jake Martinez a final boss, or is he just another bump in the road?
With another cour still to go, it seems pretty early to be battling the ultimate villain. It could be that the heroes and Jake are going to lock horns now with indecisive results, and he’ll go away for a while only to return in the final arc. Jake certainly bears some final boss characteristics, most importantly that he seems central to the closest thing this series has to a recurring plotline – the saga of Barnaby Brooks’ parents.
As things begin, Origami Cyclone has indeed been found out – and Jake blackmails him into a plan to lure in his foes by impersonating Jake himself. Origami apparently has enough character armor to survive, as Jake declines to kill him – or indeed any of the other heroes whose butts he’ll proceed to kick in the next 20 minutes. His former henchman Chuckman isn’t so lucky – he was dead as soon as he was captured, I figured, and indeed Jake makes short work of him.
There’ve been comparisons made with The Joker, and I can sort of see that. Jake is a freaky guy, appearing to enjoy grandstanding and general vamping as much as the actual evil deeds he commits. With his nudist fetish and blue lipstick, though, he’s a different sort of grotesque altogether from The Joker. He’s got an interesting NEXT power, too – the ability to generate some sort of barrier that he turns into an offensive weapon against his foes.
It’s Barnaby who figures that out – after Kotestsu mistakenly tells the others Jake’s ability was shooting laser beams. Alas, Tiger is pretty much back in “Screw up and annoy Barnaby” mode this week. He messed up what Barnaby saw as his chance against Jake by barging in after failing to trust Barnaby not to freak out, and he didn’t fare too well in the grisly tournament Jake sets up against the heroes, with the fate of the city on the line. He did manage to land a gentle kick, though, after his powers ran out – hardly a lethal blow, but surely significant as a clue to the others about how to break through Jake’s barriers.
We’ve got an interesting power dynamic playing out here. You’ve got the Heroes, you’ve got the man who might have been Legend acting as CEO of their conglomerate, you’ve got Jake, and you have Lunatic – in his guise as a judge – at the Mayor’s (obviously a powerless git himself) shoulder. My suspicion is that there’s a deeper layer to Ouroboros than Jake – but we’ll see.