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Friday, November 18, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 35 - Aztec Enchantment

On the last episode of Jem Reviewed, the Starlight Girls entered and won a contest that dealt with the importance of reading and literacy - and it was an episode that I thoroughly enjoyed a lot!  Let's see if the next episode will have that same enchantment.

Well, at least the word enchantment appears in the title.  This is Episode 35 - Aztec Enchantment!

And it opens with Rio pretending to scare Aja by pretending to be a banana-eating gorilla.  Sometimes with the way Rio acts, I have to wonder if he even needs to wear a costume to be considered a big, ugly ape.

Anyway, Rio is at some sort of store that seems to sell all sorts of those Tilley brand fashions.  You know, the ones with the funny looking hats and safari gear?  And, oh look, Video's in THIS one too!  Geez, they may just as well make her a Hologram!  But, since Video's in this one, I may as well make today's piece of Jem Trivia about her.  She's voiced by actress Noelle North - who also did the voice of Cubbi Gummi on "Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears".

Turns out that there is a legitimate reason for Video to be tagging along.  Video tells Lindsey Pearce that she is entering a prestigious contest for the International Rock Video festival - the only award that Video still has yet to win.  Video's entry will also serve as the Jem and the Holograms newest rock video, and Video seems to think that she will have an edge.  She's filming it in a secret location in the jungles of Mexico - so secret that nobody else knows about it until now.  So, it appears that the next episode will be mostly filmed in Mexico.

Unfortunately for Jem and the Holograms and Video, Clash and the Misfits are busy filming their own video.  Clash has a brand new camera that her father bought her, and Clash somehow has found out about the contest Video is entering and wants to upstage her - and since she knows the location where Video is filming thanks to her disguises, they can get there before Video even gets through Mexican customs.  The Misfits are reluctant to let Clash assist with anything to do with making a video as the last one she helped with turned out to be a disaster.  And, I'm trying to remember what video Clash filmed for the Misfits!  Oh, looks like they're off to Mexico as well.

Initially, Mama Alonso is reluctant to send Raya to Mexico because Mama Alonso serves to crush her daughter's dreams at every opportunity.  Raya argues that this is her chance to see where she came from and she throws it in her face that they always talk about wanting her to embrace her Mexican heritage.  Papa Alonso extends his blessings and makes Jem promise not to let her become a Mexican hat dancer for extra money down there.

I'm just guessing that if the Alonso marriage breaks down, Papa Alonso will be the one filing the papers.

Amusingly, Rio points out that they have a guide to show them around Mexico, and he makes a point to say that he'll be there as well - but Jem says that they should be fine despite Rio!  Serious burn!  Got any ointment for that burn, Rio?

The band arrives in Mexico City, Mexico and are promptly introduced to their guide, Luis Geraldo.  The Holograms are pleased by his politeness, but Luis seems to only have eyes for Raya and vice versa.  I mean, never mind the fact that Luis looks almost EXACTLY LIKE PAPA ALONSO.  That's not creepy.  That's not creepy at all.  At least, it's not creepy for Aja and Shana, who poke fun at the attraction between Luis and Raya.

So the group arrive just outside of the secret location - it appears to be some sort of ancient Aztec temple that has been abandoned for several centuries.  Luis also goes over the legend of the temple, as well as Mexico City.  I won't bore you with too many details, but basically the people who founded the city were told to build the city on the very location where an eagle carrying a serpent in its mouth landed on a cactus.  It's quite a vivid block of imagery, granted...but the people needed homes to live in and places to shop at, so they needed to come up with something.

The real location is at a temple that is hidden in the jungle, and the only way to get there is by crossing a bridge.  But before they do that, they decide to have lunch at a village just outside of the temple.

Unfortunately, this village's McDonald's is all but destroyed.  In fact, the village itself looks as though a bomb went off in the center of town square.  Luis explains that there was a major earthquake in the area weeks earlier and that the area could still be prone to have another one in the near future.  There is also concern that the bridge that links the town with the secret temple is destroyed, and that they may not be able to get there.

Video decides to use the opportunity to take her video camera out and film a piece to raise awareness for the people of the village who have to rebuild everything.  However, as Video is trying to get everything ready, a young boy appears out of nowhere and grabs Video's camera and a bag of Granny Smith apples!  I guess our thief must really love pectin!

The thief doesn't get very far as he accidentally trips over his own feet, causing Luis to grab him and force him to return the things he stole.  The boy's name is Paco, and after talking with Raya, we learn that he has a desperate need to go to El Norte - also known as the United States of America.  Apparently, Paco seems to have this belief that if you go to live in America, you get rich.  Raya tells Paco that this isn't always the case.  Way to crush his dreams, Raya.  I bet you get that from your mama!

I think Raya's just trying to push the production along for the video being shot by Video.  Video says that if they don't make it to the temple before sundown, the rock music festival will be over before they finish filming.

Of course, what Jem, Rio, Video, and Luis aren't aware of until they get closer to the bridge is that Paco is a master at sneaking into cars without being noticed.  Paco stowed away because Paco wants them to take him to America.  I also notice that Paco talks about himself in the third person which makes Matthew want to slam his head against a steel door. 

Ahem...sorry about that.

It appears as though the bridge that links the village to the ancient temple is still intact from the earthquake, and the car carrying Jem, Rio, Video, Luis, and Paco start to cross it in their Jeep.

But just as they reach the middle of the bridge, the bridge starts to tremble and vibrate!  It seems as though the earthquake was so powerful that aftershocks are still happening, and the bridge that the Jeep in on starts to give in and buckle!  The bridge falls apart and Jem, Rio, Luis, Video, and Paco all fall into the bottomless pit below and die.  The End.

Okay, you know by now I'm kidding.  No, they manage to reverse their Jeep back to where they came from and watch as the bridge transforms itself into ten million toothpicks.  Although everyone is safe, they now have no way to get across to the other side.

A fact that the Misfits - who are flying over top of them in a rented plane make no hesitation in rubbing in their faces.  Amusingly, the Holograms try to get the Misfits to send for help, but the Misfits just laugh in their faces with Clash telling Video that she'll get to her secret location first!

Well, that is until Pizzazz gets too grabby with the controls and causes a plane crash.  We'll have to wait and see what happens in a few minutes.  For now, let's peek in on Jem and the Holograms as they arrive at the temple and sing a song about how much they love Mexico.

I know, sounds cliche, right?  But to be fair, I do like the song "Aztec Enchantment" a lot.  It does take the risk of bringing on too many Latino stereotypes, but in this case, I think there's just the right amount of balance.  And if you can't see the obvious spark between Luis and Raya, you're either blind, unable to process feelings, or just don't care.

No sooner do the Holograms finish their song than some cranky old man appears and tells them to get off his lawn!  Well, okay, he may just as well do that since that's how he comes across.  But he stops yelling at them enough to introduce himself as famous archaeologist "Dr. Balthazar".  Jem and Raya have heard of him and try to calm him down by telling him how great he is, and it seems to work because the good archaeologist allows them to stay - though he doesn't allow them inside the temple because they're doing some important work inside.  I guess that sounds fair.

Meanwhile, the Misfits - along with Eric Raymond - are aimlessly wandering the jungles of Mexico wearing the biggest high heeled shoes one could imagine.  I mean, seriously, you're filming a video at a temple that literally has ten thousands stairs on it.  But, I suppose the Misfits lack common sense in all areas.  After all, they allowed Clash to film their entry at a random structure that they think looks like the temple.

They don't even use an original song either.  They re-use a song from Episode 8 - "Welcome to the Jungle".  And basically everything that could go wrong does go wrong with Clash's camera malfunctioning, to the band getting attacked by snakes!  This is what you call laser-guided karma.  Oh, between all that, they burn Jem and the Holograms on stakes.  At first I thought about how they even made that happen, but then I realize...oh...they're probably using the same actresses that they used to gaslight Jem a few episodes back.  I guess that's one way to get revenge.

Back at the real temple, Jem and the others notice that Dr. Balthazar's mood has improved, but Raya is suspicious that there's something about him that she doesn't trust.  Of course, she can't figure out what it is because Paco keeps bothering them about taking him to America.  Paco is quickly becoming the Scrappy-Doo of this episode.

Dr. Balthazar seems to pick up on Paco's whining though and tells Paco in private that he may have a way to get him to America after all.  Why do I get the feeling that this is not going to go well for anybody involved?

Sure enough, Paco is leading Jem towards an ancient well, which Paco claims Jem has to see.  Jem is wondering why she had to see it herself and why she couldn't bring any of the other Holograms with her, but Paco insists that it's something that she should see first.

The well is very deep and very dark.  And I imagine that if anyone ever fell down it, it would be very hard to get them back out again.  Which is exactly what Dr. Balthazar is counting on, as he picks Jem up and throws her inside!  Just what kind of archaeologist IS he?

Jem does survive the fall, as there is still water inside the bottom of the well.  But with the well being a good one hundred feet below the surface, Jem doesn't have any idea how to get out.

By this time, the Holograms are wondering where Jem disappeared to, and Shana remarks that it's not like Jem to run off.  Rio and Raya come to the same conclusion that Dr. Balthazar has something to do with it, and they go off to find him.

And where is the good doctor now?  Well, turns out the doctor isn't so good after all.  It appears as though he and his team of archaeologists are really a clever band of thieves who are taking the ancient artifacts inside the temple to make a huge profit!  And he also lied to Paco, using him to trap Jem so that the Holograms would leave the temple and they could continue their scheme.  And their plan would have worked too if it wasn't for that meddling Paco who was duped with the promise of a trip to America.  He manages to escape Dr. Balthazar's clutches and runs off to try and find either Jem or the Holograms.

While Paco is running around, Video, Luis, Rio, and the rest of the Holograms enter the temple to find it completely robbed of all its treasures.  If that isn't a sure sign that Balthazar is evil, I don't know what to tell you.  It's Kimber - who has her only line this whole episode - who spots Balthazar, and with quick thinking by Rio and Luis, get Balthazar's truck spinning out of control, crashing into a tree and stopping them from stealing the artifacts.  That's great that they saved the ancient Mexican treasures, but Jem's still missing.  And Rio is determined to find out where Balthazar has stashed her.

Fortunately for Jem, she is quickly rescued by Paco, who grabs a vine wrapped around a tree to pull her to safety.  After Jem is rescued, Paco explains that Balthazar tricked him into helping him, and Jem is very sympathetic towards Paco.  Though I'm sure she'd love to shove Balthazar down a well without any water in it!

You know, sometimes I have to wonder if the Holograms have as much common sense as the Misfits because they seem to trust that Dr. Balthazar will lead them to Jem's location.  We already know he's lying because he has them going down a deep part of the temple - where we know Jem ISN'T.  He unlocks a secret passage to a tomb inside and proclaims that the person inside is Jem!

Okay, either Jem has really let herself go, or this isn't Jem at all.  Even curiouser, the strange man introduces himself as Dr. Balthazar!  What?!?

Oh, I get it.  The man who called himself Balthazar imprisoned the REAL Balthazar in order to get his hands on the treasure.  His real name is
Ramon Chavez, and now he has locked them all up forever with no way out!  But I'm sure that Jem and Paco are on their way to find them.  I'm sure they'll find the way.

No, wait.  It's love.  "Love Will Show The Way".  What a stupid song to play during a rescue operation.  I mean, could you imagine the FBI playing this song when apprehending a suspect?  Yeah, you killed seventeen people, but we caught you because love showed us the way!  I suppose the song itself isn't bad...just used out of context.

Jem and Paco arrive at the spot where fake Balthazar is gloating that he'll get away with his plan, but Paco physically attacks him long enough for Jem to use Synergy to call forth a hologram that will scare fake Balthazar enough to let them go... know what, this episode is getting too stupid for my tastes, so let's just end this now.  Fake Balthazar goes to jail, Real Balthazar assembles a new team of people to restore the temple, Paco decides to stay in Mexico to help rebuild the ruined village, Video wins the contest, and the Misfits gets rescued by Jem and the Holograms.  That's essentially it.  If last week's episode was one of my favourites, this episode is one of my least favourites.  I didn't like it so much that I didn't want to spend any more time on it than I had to.  I had high hopes for it too, especially since Raya is becoming a favourite character of mine and this would have allowed her to have a storyline.  And to be fair, Raya did have a good role to play.  But this episode was boring from start to finish.

Oh week, the bands perform at a magic show.  What could possibly go wrong?

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