As always, the episode itself is embedded at the bottom of the review.
This episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy quite thankfully abandons the cheese of the last two in order to switch gears and introduce the character of Raiden. Raiden is one of the characters that I remember best from my youth playing the original Mortal Kombat video game. He had one of those big, ridiculous Chinese straw hats, he could teleport to the other side of the screen, and he could shoot lightning out of his hands. That’s some pretty cool stuff, eh? But how would it translate to live action? Turns out pretty well.
This is a decidedly different take on a lightning God coming down to Earth story than we recently got in the big screen movie Thor. When Thor came down to Earth the circumstances of his place of landing led to him getting a cute new girlfriend. Mortal Kombat: Legacy goes to significantly darker places. When Raiden lands on Earth he does so on the property of a mental institution. It’s not too long after he proclaims himself as being Lord Raiden to the guards that he finds himself spending the rest of the episode strapped down, pumped full of drugs, and lobotomized.
The mental hospital setting of this episode feels very much like the Sarah Connor stuff from Terminator 2, and that’s a good thing, a very good thing in comparison to the sparse fantasy sets of the previous two episodes. There are far worse things an action show can do than remind me of one of the greatest action films of all time. While Raiden (Ryan Robbins) is locked up he gets studied by a doctor named Dr. Gadsen (Peter Hall) and he befriends a young female patient named Blue (Tracy Spiridakos). I conspicuously name all of the actors in the episode parenthetically in the previous sentence as a way of bringing up what a refreshing change it was to go from the cringe-worthy performance of Aleks Paunovis as Shao Khan in the previous storyline to actors that were at least competent enough that I didn’t really notice them here. Definitely this series has taken a huge step down from the experienced, recognizable actors it was able to snag for its first storyline, but what we get in this Raiden short is way better than the direction I thought the show was going in during the Kitana and Mileena storyline.
There isn’t much action to be had in this episode, but we do get a pretty sweet fight scene where Raiden makes a go at escape and ends up having to fight a series of hospital guards. At one point the doctor says that his sessions with Raiden are getting him no results, and he will have to go to a more archaic means of treatment for his dementia. Immediately I thought that they were going to give Raiden shock treatment and I rolled my eyes at the absurdity of the premise. But then I kind of admitted to myself that Raiden getting all crazy and strong from shock treatment and leveling a room full of medical staff would be ridiculous in a fun way so I was game for it. But it turns out the doctor was envisioning more of an old fashioned lobotomy for Raiden’s treatment. The tink tink tink sound as he hits the metal hammer against the metal pin going through Raiden’s eye socket and into his brain is chilling. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this series has been its assaulting and overdramatic sound design. But back to the fight scene; when Raiden starts making a stink, a series of guards burst into the room and hit him with the tasers. Each one he takes on makes him stronger. I’ll admit it; they tricked me with the shock treatment tease and then hit me with a curveball with the taser situation. I thought that was kind of fun. The fight sequence doesn’t quite get Raiden the release he was hoping for, but it did give him an opening for the future. After he mows through all of the guards Dr. Gadsen shoots him in the head with a dart full of sedatives and the one man uprising is over, but it did give Blue a chance to get her hands on a set of keys.
After Raiden is strapped down and gets another pin nailed into his head, Blue sneaks into his little operating room after hours and goes about setting him free. Or wait… no she doesn’t! She stabs him in the heart and he disappears in an explosion of electricity and bright blue blood! What the heck did I just see? So I was confused, but it didn’t last. A few seconds later we are taken to very Chinese looking street scene where Raiden reconstitutes in a flash of lightning like he did at the very beginning of the episode. So apparently, while he inhabits a mortal body, he still has an immortal soul that can reappear after his body is killed. It would have been nice if they could have told me that earlier in the episode. A dialogue scene between Raiden and Blue letting the viewer know that this was their plan could have added some stakes to things. If we knew what they were planning, they could have milked it for some tension rather than just surprising us with it after it was over. The surprise isn’t worth it, it’s the building of tension that makes good drama; a surprise should just be a garnish, not the main dish. So I guess my point is that I still have some issues with the writing of this series. What Mortal Kombat: Legacy has done well so far is present straightforward, satisfying action sequences. When it gets away from that it reveals it’s weaknesses. Hopefully next week’s episode is just one huge fight scene. And Heavens to Betsy, I’m ready for Sub-Zero already!