DISCLAIMER: This recap of Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. episode “Tales From the Great Bar-Mitzvah War!” is riddled with spoilers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome back, pitiful humans! We’re in the second half of the season now. “Tales From the Great Bar-Mitzvah War!” delves deeper into M.O.D.O.K. and Lou’s complex relationship. While Melissa is the apple of his eye, Lou is strange and unfamiliar to him.
What I love most about this episode is the absurdity of its premise. Our titular supervillain and his son travel to Asgard to fight each other in a bloody war over the latter’s desire to put on a magic show at his bar mitzvah. It’s weirdly wonderful. While the plot itself didn’t significantly move the needle, the development of this father/son relationship is the crux of it all.
Ready to delve into “Tales From the Great Bar-Mitzvah War!”? Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with the ethereal, sweeping landscape of Asgard. A general is pontificating to his soldiers. Suddenly, he’s brutally murdered by an A.I.M. copier machine. It must also serve as a paper shredder because there’s shredding involved. We see M.O.D.O.K. (voiced by Patton Oswalt) grinning mischievously from a gaping portal of his creation. He made said portal over a trash can in A.I.M.’s mailroom marked “Asgard.” He’s tossing equipment through it. Our fave foe is petty as hell and I love it.
Meanwhile, Austin (voiced by Beck Bennett) slithers into view. He urges M.O.D.O.K. to properly perform his mailroom duties, otherwise, he’ll face another demotion. What could be lower on the professional ladder than working in the mailroom? After he leaves, M.O.D.O.K. procures a blueprint for his “Mech Suit,” which will give him the thick thighs he’s always dreamed of. Thick thighs save lives. Jodie (voiced by Aimee Garcia) calls him, but not to have phone sex, much to his dismay.
Apparently, Lou’s (voiced by Ben Schwartz) bar mitzvah is taking a turn for the peculiar. He wants to perform magic for the attendees. Jodie wants M.O.D.O.K. to talk him out of it. Later, M.O.D.O.K. brings Lou to work. Lou inadvertently falls through the trash can portal to Asgard. Naturally, M.O.D.O.K. dives in after him. Just like that dumpster at Hardee’s.
Next, Lou is smitten with Asgard’s magical aura. So much that he’s vulnerable to a horde of hobo goblins, who promptly kidnap him. M.O.D.O.K. enlists in the aid of a pair of goats. He’s crestfallen when he discovers that they can’t fly. M.O.D.O.K. is cornered by the army from the beginning of the episode. They’re on a mission of vengeance. It’s time to find the cold-blooded killer responsible for their general’s unfortunate demise! M.O.D.O.K. spots the copier machine from A.I.M. He fibs and claims he’s never seen it in his life.
Later, M.O.D.O.K. arrives at the castle that belongs to the kidnapping goblins. He watches Lou animatedly perform a magic show for his captors … and they love it. M.O.D.O.K. pulls his son aside and scolds the latter for not being “normal.” Lou has the goblins give his father the boot. And the goats.
Then, M.O.D.O.K. returns to the army encampment and reveals that the goblins are the murdering culprits. A war breaks out — M.O.D.O.K. is on one side, Lou is on the other. We see a montage of black and white photos as members from each camp narrate “letters” they’ve written to their partners. This is my favorite part of “Tales From the Great Bar-Mitzvah War!” It’s also reminiscent of the Community episode “Pillows and Blankets.”
Next, Lou’s side wants to engage in peace talks. Civil discourse, if you will. M.O.D.O.K. barges into the safe zone in a massive tank. However, Lou bests him and M.O.D.O.K. is captured by the goblins. Lou adds his father to his magic routine and feigns to saw M.O.D.O.K. in half. The goblins believe that Lou actually murdered M.O.D.O.K., but we see the boy spare his dad. As the curtain falls, they hug it out.
Now, we see M.O.D.O.K. is discussing Lou’s bar mitzvah with the rabbi. He discloses that he learned to embrace Lou’s unique brand of strength. He’s evolving! M.O.D.O.K. attempts to fight for Lou’s desire to perform magic but to no avail. No magic allowed at bar mitzvahs! The rabbi believes that Lou’s predilection toward magic is a symptom of a much larger problem. It’s a “cry for help.”
After the meeting, Lou is dismayed to learn that he can’t put on a magic show at his bar mitzvah. We see the dejected pair leave with the goats they brought back from Asgard. Billy the Kid and Goatye, I’m assuming. Goatis Redding, unfortunately, met his maker.
Later, Super Adaptoid (voiced by Jon Daly) is imprisoned in Baby M.O.D.O.K.’s secret lair a.k.a. a storage locker. He’s got big plans for present-day M.O.D.O.K.’s family. We see what appears to be coffins individually marked with names of M.O.D.O.K.’s family members. Uh oh.
Overall, “Tales From the Great Bar-Mitzvah War!” is a touching love letter to fathers and sons with convoluted relationships. M.O.D.O.K. learns to accept his son for who he truly is — a magic-loving, overly optimistic kid. It’s sweet and unexpected in a villain-centric story. Not to mention, it’s nice to see M.O.D.O.K. be “humanized” in a way. It grounds him in reality. I was hoping we’d see an animated Thor since they’re in Asgard, but I’m content with viewing more of the underbelly of that cosmic utopia.
Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. is now streaming on Hulu.
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