Editor’s Note: You can watch the episode at the bottom of the post. Hooray!
The second to last episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy finally gives us a battle between fan favorite characters Scorpion and Sub Zero, and it also finally gave us our first images of a character using super powers during a fight. The first half of this storyline was almost all build, putting Scorpion and Sub Zero on a collision course that would come to a head during this fight in the woods. Though the fight is a little short for all of the build it got, it did manage to be satisfying because of its inclusion of essential gameplay moments.
First off, we get to watch Sub Zero use his ice powers in battle, and the results are pretty fun. The effects work on the ice creations aren’t the most impressive or polished that I’ve ever seen, but they’re perfectly acceptable and don’t take away from the battle by looking shoddy or cheesy. I particularly liked how there’s always a slight trail of smoke and snow behind all of his power bursts. The real cool part about it was just seeing him go on the offensive with moves that you can use in the games.
First he tries to attack Scorpion by plunging his hands into the ground and creating a series of ice spikes that jut dangerously out of the Earth. When Scorpion avoids that, he goes to the classic Sub Zero move of conjuring an ice ball and hurling it at his opponent. Not to be outdone by such flashy pageantry, Scorpion gives us the most satisfying moment of the episode, and probably the whole series, when he hurls his kunai blade on a rope into Sub Zero’s shoulder, yanks him near, and yells out his trademark, “get over here!” And then he even follows up the move with a gigantic upper cut. This moment was necessary. Of all the things that are burned into my brain from an entire summer of playing Mortal Kombat when I was 12, the Scorpion “get over here” move followed up by a sick uppercut is the one that I remember most. It was always super satisfying to catch your stupid buddy with one of those, and seeing it play out in live action here had to have made a lot of game fans smile.
But that ends the fight right there; we don’t get to see any fatalities this time around. Once Sub Zero is incapacitated, Scorpion realizes that his family must be in danger, so he races back home to try to save them. His efforts are all for naught though, because this isn’t that kind of story. This is Mortal Kombat, where really bad things happen. When Scorpion gets back to his village he winds his wife frozen solid. And I don’t mean that she’s really cold, or suffering from frostbite; she’s frozen all the way through. So much so that she begins cracking when Scorpion tries to touch her arms. That’s pretty brutal, but it also looked pretty cool. It seems like we’re still motivation building for Scorpion. He’s going to be out for death later.
We get a bit of a twist after Mr. Hasashi finds his wife and child frozen to death, however. Before we can even see him vow revenge and shove off to hunt all of the perpetrators down, an ice blade gets shoved through his chest from behind. Scorpion is dead, and Sub Zero did the deed by attacking him from behind. Not really the climactic battle to the death that I was hoping for when it comes to these characters in this series, but it appears that the story isn’t over quite yet.
Immediately following Hasashi’s murder, Sub Zero morphs into an evil sorcerer named Quan Chi. It’s not clear by watching this episode who Quan Chi is; they don’t even mention his name. I had to do some digging around on the Internet afterwards just so that I could understand what was happening. But the gist of it is; Quan Chi offers Hasashi a chance to be resurrected and get revenge against Sub Zero, as long as he fights for the Netherrealm in the Mortal Kombat tournament. I guess this was all a setup to get Hasashi to agree to be the champion of the Netherrealm. And as the episode ends, he is reborn in fire, opens his eyes, and demands that we call him Scorpion. So the Sub Zero that we’ve been watching in these two episodes was actually this Quan Chi character in disguise then? Is Sub Zero an enemy of Quan Chi’s?
I find that the more I watch this series, the more I’m left with questions. There’s a lot of knowledge about this world and these characters that the writers assume that you already have. I played the game when I was a kid, but I don’t remember any of the backstory. I don’t even know what the ground rules for this upcoming tournament are or why all of these different weird beings are fighting in it. Seeing as this is the stuff the entire series seems to be building towards, it would have been nice if they bothered better explaining it all to me so that I’d know why I should care. As is, it’s looking more and more like Mortal Kombat: Legacy is a series for game fans only.
With this episode it finally became clear to me what this series isn’t, as well. Going in, I didn’t know how many episodes this was going to be, or how deep into the mythology it was going to get. Was it building up to the tournament as our big season finale? Would it be about half introduction to characters and then half set in the tournament? Maybe it was just a separate story using Mortal Kombat fighters as its characters?
With word that episode 9 is going to be the last, it doesn’t appear that this series is going to amount to much of anything. What this seems to be is just a demo reel to introduce some characters that might be used in a more complete story later. I thought that the stand-alone short Mortal Kombat: Rebirth was the demo reel that led us to this, the meat and potatoes of the story, but it appears I was wrong. We’re not going to see any of the actual tournament, we’re not going to see any of these characters actually take each other out. Mortal Kombat: Legacy is the first act of a story that we might never see the second and third acts of. Or maybe we will in future web series. Or perhaps somebody might give the creators a movie deal. But the fate of this story that we’ve invested ourselves in is anything but clear.
I was hoping that when I saw Scorpion and Sub Zero going toe to toe in this series, their battle would end with either Scorpion getting his spine ripped out or Sub Zero being roasted alive with fire breath. Turns out that’s not what I was in for at all; this is just the beginning of their tale. My hope going forward into episode 9 is that they at least find some minor plot thread and resolve it by the end of the episode. By the end of a series of videos, whether it be a season of a TV series, a stand-alone miniseries, a web series like this, or what have you, there has to be some satisfaction given to the audience from seeing a conflict develop and resolve itself. While the overall arc of the Mortal Kombat tournament is not going to be addressed, I hope we at least see the gathering of the characters together, the end of the journey that has been collecting them. Something. If episode 9 just introduces yet another character and then the series ends, accomplishing nothing but being a series of first act tales, then I’ll walk away from this experience feeling pretty unfulfilled. At least I’d like some indication at what Kevin Tancharoen and company’s eventual goal is.