The fourth episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy took a huge step down in quality from the first three, and while this fifth episode continues the storyline that the fourth started, it isn’t quite as bad. It keeps things a lot simpler for one; this is a pretty straightforward assassination plot. There wasn’t anything new about merged souls or demon twins that got introduced and poorly explained, there wasn’t as much bad acting, and we at least got a little bit of fighting in the opening moments.
It isn’t all gravy though. The episode starts with an extended sequence of Kitana and Mileena training against each other. It’s a capable Kung-Fu movie inspired fighting sequence, but it’s shot a bit too dark to look good. When the lack of lighting is coupled with the digital quality of this series’ image, it often looks like you’re watching the fight through goggles that have had ink spilled all over them. The choreography is good though, and the girls playing the twins pull off the action well, even if I don’t know why we’re supposed to buy the fact that the two actresses are identical. The fight also works well to establish Kitana as being the superior fighter and Mileena as the jealous black sheep of the family. Only, you know, super black because she’s actually some sort of vampiric clone.
Aleks Paunovic continues to make me laugh with his stilted performance as the megalomaniacal Shao Khan, but we don’t get as much of him woodenly proclaiming things in this episode as we did in the last one. After the sparring session between Kitana and Mileena, he sends them out on a mission to murder all of the doubles of the King of Edenia that escaped his clutches in the first part of this story. This was a good thing for me as I thought the way the King showed up, escaped, and was never mentioned again came off as really weird. Some indication that the story would catch back up with him would have been nice in episode 4, but it’s better late than never here.
When the girls catch up with the real King we get some drama as Kitana starts to realize that he may be her real father; but before she can process the information, he is murdered by Mileena. I think it’s safe to say that before this series is over, these two girls are going to come to serious blows. If this episode works to do anything, it’s to set up that confrontation as something to look forward to. And hopefully when it does happen, it gets more time than the events of this episode are given. The first few installments, at around ten minutes, felt like easy to digest little snippets of action. This episode, at only about six minutes, feels a little bit too short and like a disappointment. Most of the hunt for the King’s doubles is taken care of by an animated montage sequence, and while I do like the animation style that was used, I think the episode would have been better served with another live action sequence that better detailed the huntings and killings. Perhaps the abbreviated nature was a limit of the budget though. I’m sure they don’t have the resources to film in too many different locations.
And speaking of locations, this episode ends with Shao Khan announcing his intentions to move his operation over to Earth. While that’s bad news for the people of Earth, it’s good news for fans of this series. I didn’t really buy this foray into fantasy storytelling and I see a return to an Earthly setting as being good news for the future of this series. Hopefully episode 6 gets things back on track with some straightforward storytelling and lengthy action sequences.