After a first half exploring new territory, we begin the first episode of the second half of 'VGHS' Season Two with a welcome return to old favorites. FPS action is back, with the most run-and-gun action content since the pilot. We also see the return of two furry friends from Season One, Brian's cat Cheeto and The Law's fake mustache. Let's get to it shall we? Brian D. and Jenny Matrix have begun their covert relationship in earnest, scheduling closet dates between training. However, while Jenny seems comfortable, the pressure of their mutual risk is affecting Brian's ability in-game. Meanwhile, tired of being the perpetual n00b amongst his peers Ted Wong risks his life, sanity, and wetting himself by taking on the ultimate drift trial: being locked inside a banned Japanese arcade drift game until he can beat it. Ki finds herself challenged by her own strict RA rule system when Brian's cat Cheeto comes to crash in the dorm, a violation of her own code that unleashes a roiling anarchy amongst her fellow dormmates and the trollish wrath of Shane Pizza.
After two episodes of training it was nice to get back to actual FPS action, and the episode contains some great choreography that again transforms geeky anxious Brian into a frag snagging badass. While these scenes have yet to recapture the stakes and excitement of Season One's battles with The Law, the Rocket Jump crew display their strong command of low-budget action filmmaking, milking their paltry million to deliver more bullet spitting thrills then the recent 'Die Hard's could muster with ninety-two. Brian's stress-related in-game impotence storyline felt a little more predictable than usual, but the wonderfully unpredictable conclusion to his problem was signature moment of 'VGHS' brilliance.
Per usual this season, Ki's plotline shines brightest as she is faced again with a challenge of her authority vs. her friends. While not a very complex adventure, Ellary Porterfield gives all of Ki's rollercoaster of emotions the herky-jerky craziness it needed to be fun. While I've been really wanting Ted to breakout and really have a sense of destiny, his story fell a little short again, not quite the showcase of stunt driving it seemed set to be. That said, the bully car plot was a surprising and funny touch, and an appropriate answer to Ted's childlike spirit.
Meanwhile, shades of the finale start to appear, as The Law's aimbot cheating is revealed to actually be a frame orchestrated by RTS douche Shane Pizza. Originally the revelation in the premiere of The Law as a cheat struck me as mildly disappointing, since I preferred the idea of him as being an unhinged FPS god instead of a total fraud; instead this uncovered conspiracy both sets up Shane's position as a nemesis for the finale as well as the inevitable Second Coming of The Law. Let's just hope it means plenty more fake mustaches.
While not my favorite episode this season, Episode Four has plenty of what I love about 'VGHS'. , Cats riding RC cars, John Woo-esque arial gunplay, Drift King's giant quill pen. Even when things feel a little too familiar the creativity on display in inspiring and still surprises in the best ways. Just count me as excited to see how this all turns out in the end.
Directors: Matthew Arnold & Freddie Wong
Writers: Matthew Arnold, Will Campos & Brian Firenzi