‘Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ plows right ahead with a potentially startling new plot development- are the Avengers headed for Civil War? Tonight’s episode, ‘Alone Against A.I.M.’ seems to suggest so.

To begin, a little recap. EMH brings us back to season one, specifically when the evil scientific organization A.I.M. tried to steal tech from Stark Industries, but of course, was foiled by Iron Man. They also remind us of SHIELD Deputy Director Maria Hill’s fierce distrust of the Avengers, and that she thinks they’re a liability and should register to work for SHIELD and the US Government.

At A.I.M. headquarters, some agents in their standard yellow HAZMAT suits carry a heavy, heavily tech’d box, with someone moving inside. That something is black and red, with one visible angry eye, generally pretty sinister looking. The agents attempt to bring it back to headquarters when it escapes, shrouding itself in the smoke of the guns it’s taken off of the agents. After a brief scuffle, they manage to corral it back into it’s cage. A.I.M.’s Scientist Supreme looks at the creature and tells the agents to take it straight to Stark Industries.

We take a short break to tell you how depressed I am over the replacement of the EMH theme song, “Fight as One” by Bad City, with a voiceover by Nick Fury that introduces the four main Avengers. That theme song might have been a cheesy rock and roll song but it was also kind of perfect and captured the tone of the show fairly well. I hope it comes back in it’s full glory.

At Stark Industries, Tony meets with his board of trustees. And by meet, I mean they attempt to talk to him about the depressing state of Stark Industries’ stock, which has plummeted 80% since Tony announced his forays into superhero-dom and stopped mass-manufacturing weapons. Tony is paying absolutely no attention, and instead is fiddling with some sort of gauntlet on his wrist. As they continue to try and talk to him, he shows off what he’s been working on. He pushes a button and a Captain America shield made of transparent energy pops up. The board exits, dejected. Pepper enters and begs him to take his business more seriously, saying that Iron Man has become his life 24/7. Tony tries to assure her it’s not the case when, naturally, his Avengers card goes off. Apparently Cap and T’Challa are in the building to help Tony and Rhodey move some of Tony’s Iron Man suits. Tony tells Pepper that the Iron Man tech makes the SI building a target. Indeed it does, and five black vans full of A.I.M. agents move toward Stark Industries.

Pepper sends Tony to his next appointment, who is none other than SHIELD Deputy Director Maria Hill. She doesn’t waste anytime stating her intentions: she still wants the Avengers to register with SHIELD and comply with the US government. Tony isn’t very keen on the idea. Elsewhere in the building, Steve and T’Challa arrive to help Rhodey move Tony’s armor. The suit in question is called the Mark 9 and apparently no one else has seen it. This is because the suit is Rhodey’s- it’s the War Machine suit. Steve asks Rhodey why he doesn’t join the Avengers and Rhodey firmly states that he doesn’t want to be a superhero. “I don’t want to be an Avenger, I just want to protect Tony. From himself, mostly.” (I might have clutched my heart and sighed. We could all use a friend like Rhodey, couldn’t we?)

Back in Tony’s office, the debate over superhero registration continues. “Does every good samaritan need to register” Tony teases. Maria presses that she needs the Avengers to set an example. Superhero teams like the Fantastic Four are public, but other heroes like the X-Men and Spider-Man are not. She says that registration will provide much-needed accountability, especially now that more and more superheroes are popping up across the country. “And if I say no?” Tony asks, now testy. “One day, one of you will mess up. One of you will fail and people will be hurt, and on that day, SHIELD will come after all of you.” Readers, I really don’t like the sound of this.

A.I.M. infiltrates the Stark Industries building, disabling the power. Pepper goes to see what the trouble is and is taken by A.I.M. agents. She is met by the Scientist Supreme, who unleashes the thing inside the box. Something resembling a giant red centipede flies out, looking like half-tech, half bug monster. It’s called the Technovore and it’s one and only purpose is to consume technology. The Scientist Supreme has programmed it to seek out arc reactor technology, namely, the one implanted in Tony’s chest. Pepper and the other board members are rounded up while the Technovore slithers, through the air, looking for Tony.

Inside Tony’s office, Maria and Tony have been magnetically sealed inside and a dead zone has been created around the building. Tony can’t use his Avengers card and Maria can’t contact SHIELD. At the Stark Industries mainframe, agents work hard to get their hands on every last piece of tech and data that Tony posseses, including the armor that the others are trying to transport. Agents break into the room where Cap, T’challa and Rhodey are waiting, and of course, a fight ensues. Cap suggests that Rhodey might want to get that suit on. Apparently, this entire ordeal is a personal vendetta because Tony threw the Supreme Scientist in prison.

The Technovore finally breaks its way into Tony’s office. Maria fires her gun at it, to no effect and Tony has to use the new Cap shield to protect the both of them. “I saved you and I wasn’t even registered.” Tony’s snark is mighty tonight. He tells her that the Technovore is one of the villains who escaped from the Vault last season. The Technovore is seemingly distracted by the arc reactor that powers Stark Industries and leaves, killing a few agents in the process. Pepper warns them that if the monster destroys the arc reactor, the results could be devastating. The fight between A.I.M., Cap, T’Challa and Rhodey continues.

Maria and Tony are working on getting out of the room when the Technovore returns, latching it’s tentacles into the arc reactor inside Tony’s chest. Tony screams in agony and tries to fight it off, but it’s latched in there tight, draining energy. Maria is able to shoot it off before it can kill him, and the Technovore is suddenly distracted. It’s located another arc reactor, this one glowing red. It bursts through the floor, tunneling down after it. Maria repels down after it and even though his arc reactor is damaged, Tony follows.

The arc reactor belongs to the War Machine suit, which Rhodey has now donned and is using it to kick some scientific butt. The Technovore burrows into the room and latches itself on to the suit, draining the energy. Neither Cap or Black Panther are able to help him, but the beast is finally blasted away. Rhodey looks up to see Iron Man hovering above them. Inside the suit, Tony tells Jarvis to run the arc reactor at 200% capacity. The massive surge of energy distracts the Technovore and attempts to consume it. Cap shields everyone with the new energy shield as the room is filled with blue energy. The Technovore consumes all of the arc reactor energy and is destroyed by the overload. Pepper asks Tony how he knew that would work. Apparently the Technovore was a design of Tony’s that A.I.M. stole.

In a desperate attempt to regain control, the Scientist Supreme grabs Pepper by the throat and tries to use her as leverage, but before he can even finish making his demands, Pepper just punches him cold to the floor. (I swooned.) “I expect this to be reflected in my paycheck.” she tells Tony. “You got it.” he says and they look like they’re about to kiss, but in true fashion, they don’t.

Back in Tony’s office, Maria and Tony clean up the mess left behind by A.I.M. Even though the day is saved, Maria says that superhero registration is still going to happen, whether he likes it or not, because the Avengers put people at risk, like they were today. “So I’m guessing dinner is out of the question.” He asks her.

Overall, a pretty fun episode tonight, mostly for the trademark Tony Stark banter, which is always well-done, as well as welcome appearances by Rhodey and Pepper. I’ll be pleased if EMH continues to develop individual characters through singular episodes like it did in it’s first season. I’m continually impressed by this show’s willingness to be very…adult. I don’t mean that it’s risque or bloody or overtly violent, but it manages to add in things their target audience will love: great fights, witty banter, and heroic moments, with very realistic things that are relatable to everyone, like the desperate economic state of Stark Industries or Rhodey’s unwillingness to be a superhero, despite his affinity for the War Machine suit, and Maria Hill’s prickly dislike for the Avengers, which, when looked at from her point of view, is entirely reasonable.

And of course, there’s the big development in this episode: Superhero Registration. Marvel Comics fans know exactly what that phrase means to the Marvel universe and now that it’s been brought up in a very serious way, I’m waiting with baited breath to see where it goes, and hoping it doesn’t take the entire season to play out. Are they gonna do Skrull Infiltration and build all these heroes up, only to divide them with the Superhero Registration Act? Without giving much away, the Superhero Registration Act is something that basically almost destroys the superhero community and costs everyone, not just the Avengers, their friendships, identities and for some, their lives. Seriously. This is supposed to be a kid’s cartoon, I don’t know if I can handle this.

Interesting how these episodes continue to use Skrull!Cap without ever reminding us that he’s actually Skrull!Cap. (I assume he’s Skrull!Cap. EMH is being very tricky with this.)

Miss last week’s heroics? Catch up with our ‘The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: The Private War Of Doctor Doom’ – Recap.