It’s a tangled web on this week’s ‘Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’, as the Avengers keep their friends close and their enemies closer.

We open on a dark alley as Amorra the Enchantress hunts down Chemistro, a B-Lister from the Masters of Evil. She corners him and orders him to tell her where she can find Baron Zemo. Chemistro tells her over and over that he has no idea where Zemo is, but he can turn over Arnim Zola to her, if she promises to let him live. He gives her the address of a warehouse in New Jersey and she takes note before turning Chemistro’s alchemy gun against him, using it to turn him into solid gold.

Still no theme song. I would have a word with Marvel Animation. (Although, this change very well might mean that the episodes are actually longer, but I haven’t looked into it.)

Seems like it’s time to check in with things on Asgard, as Thor checks in with Heimdall to see how the restoration of his realm is going after Loki so thoroughly messed it up at the end of last season. Heimdall gives him a status report but has no news to offer about Amorra, who has been exiled to Midgard for trying to help Loki. (Amorra and Thor have a kind of complicated love-hate relationship, if you recall.) Before he can report further, Heimdall is attacked and warns Thor that “the seal has been broken.” Thor realizes that he must stay in Asgard for now. “Avengers, Midgard is in your hands.” Guess we’re sticking with Asgard for a bit.

Speaking of Midgard, back on Earth, Captain America leads a silent attack on a warehouse with Hawkeye, Hulk, and Black Panther. They’re about to strike when they find their target, the Living Lazer, already well taken out of commission, now frozen in his light form. “…That’s disappointing.” Hulk remarks. Black Panther studies the scene and remarks how weird it is that someone basically did their job for them, to which Hawkeye responds “You are so ungrateful.” They check in with Iron Man and Wasp, who stare down a similar situation with Chemistro, still frozen as solid gold. Wasp looks at him. “I’m keeping him.” she quips.

In a similar shady warehouse in Jersey (is Jersey chock full of supervillains?), Amorra and her silent backup bruiser The Executioner have finally caught up with Arnim Zola. She tries to get him to talk about the whereabouts of Baron Zemo and he foolishly tries to attack her with, forgive me readers, I can’t figure out if this thing’s got a real name, but I can only describe it as a smaller version of that living brown goo creature from season one (the episode where Cap gets unfrozen and introduced to the team). Amorra hardens it out and destroys it before going after Zola. We don’t see exactly what she does with him, we just hear his agonized screaming.

Cap’s Avengers team returns to the mansion, still torn between the convenience of having their foes taken out for them and the general worry of who’s responsible for it. JARVIS attempts to greet them but immediately goes down, and it’s clear there’s an intruder in the building. On the other side of town, Iron Man tries to call the Avengers mansion but can’t get through. The Avengers get into stealth mode, only to find none other than Baron Zemo in their living room, flanked by Wonder Man and The Abomination.

The Hulk is the first one to do anything about this, tackling the Abomination. The other Avengers, as well as Masters of Evil, seem content to let them work it out for a second. T’Challa quickly puts it together that Zemo is here because someone is attacking  his team. We finally get an explanation for all of this treachery when Zemo tells them that Amorra, terrified of what Loki would do after they failed to take over the nine realms, blamed Zemo for her failure (since he tried to control her magic last season). And so, she’s taken it upon herself to kill the Masters of Evil. Iron Man bursts through the ceiling, trying to threaten Zemo with a good old “Avengers are gonna kick your butt.” speech before realizing, and I quote, “Oookaaaay. The Avengers are just…standing here.” Zemo promises The Masters of Evil surrender if the Avengers agree to protect them from Amorra. Tony gives his word but Zemo insists on Captain America’s. After a moment, Cap agrees. (“BECAUSE HE’S A SKRULL” I wrote in my notes.)

In Nidavellir, the realm of the dwarves seen in last season’s finale, Thor, Balder and an eyepatchless Odin find that the Dwarf Lords, have been, to put it finely, brutally slaughtered and burned to death. They find this rather disquieting, to say the least.

Back at Avengers Mansion, Thor becomes the topic of the conversation, as Zemo knows him as the only Avenger who can withstand Amorra’s magic. Tony says he’s been working on a device that could neutralize Asgardian magic, having studied it since it seems to keep popping up and making trouble. Zemo reveals that he knows Amorra will be on her way sooner rather than later, so he sent the Crimson Dynamo off as a distraction. “You sent him to die?” Tony asks, astonished. Deciding this to be morally incorrect, Tony and Clint go off to, basically, save a supervillain.

In the icy wastelands of…somewhere (I swear, I thought they were on the moon for a while), Amorra is making pretty short work of the Crimson Dynamo. Before she can finish him off, Iron Man and Hawkeye intervene and Amorra quickly realizes that Zemo went to them for help. She turns on them, leveling the ice around her and burying them beneath it. Back at the mansion, Zemo and Cap have a quick discussion on the whole moral ethics issue of Cap helping them, saying that he’s “changed” since they last met. Zemo seems to realize that Cap isn’t quite the same, and oh how right he is. It’s a neat, subtle little moment.

In the Avengers lab, T’Challa works on Tony’s power dampener while Wonder Man, whom we remember as Simon Williams, the poor sap who got turned into a purple man made entirely of unstable energy because he was afraid he’d lose his business to Tony Stark. T’Challa tells Simon that Tony’s found a way to stabilize his energy and cure him and that he doesn’t have to run with the Masters of Evil anymore. Simon’s an interesting guy, obviously driven by his anger over being turned into sentient energy, but not someone who really wants to be destructive.

There’s a knock on the door of the mansion and Jan answers. Surprisingly enough, Chemistro rushes in, asking for protection from Amorra. Jan asks the obvious- wasn’t this dude made of gold a moment ago? Sure enough, Chemistro turns out to be Amorra in disguise and she and the Executioner storm Avengers mansion. This begins one of those classic EMH fights, where the Avengers start out strong but then take a pretty vicious butt-whooping. In a critical moment in the fight, Zemo calls upon Captain America to help him fend off Amorra, but Cap just stands in silence as Zemo calls him over and over. It’s actually kind of chilling. Zemo resorts to desperate measures, whipping out the last remaining Norn Stone, the ones that the Masters of Evil used to send the Avengers to the Nine Realms and threatens to use it against her. Tony’s power dampener actually works, rendering Amorra helpless.

Back in Nidavellir, among the dwarf slaughter, Thor and Balder realize that the Twilight Sword has been taken and that the real of Musphelheim is now open. That was the “seal” Heimdall spoke of. (Kind of reminiscent of the Mines of Moria scenes from Lord of the Rings.)

Zemo manages to actually take out the Executioner with the Norn Stone. Amorra turns her attention back on the Avengers and before she can basically put them out, Clint tags her right in the skull with an electrified arrow. More fighting ensues, Zemo attempts to take Iron Man out, winding up in a tete-a-tete between Zemo and Wonder Man. Simon says that he’s not going to let Zemo hurt anyone else while he just stands there because he was too afraid to do anything. He takes the stone off of Zemo and uses his energy to destroy it, killing himself in the process. The power dampener gets damaged and Amorra now has free reign over her powers. Knowing when to bow out, she disappears, leaving Zemo and the other villains behind. Zemo acknowledges that Captain America almost let Amorra destroy him, despite his promise earlier. “You have changed, Captain.” he says. “You have no idea who I am.” Cap says stonily, the shadow of a Skrull looming large behind him.

The Masters of Evil escape while most of the Avengers are still pretty much incapacitated. Later, T’Challa and Tony take note of Simon Williams’ sacrifice for them, which is a surprisingly emotional touch for this episode.

Amorra returns to find that she is not in Asgard, but rather a dark realm, full of rivers of lava and red skies. From beneath him, a giant black claw shoots out of the ground and encapsulates her, but not before she calls the demon by it’s name: Sutur.

This episode of EMH was…well…kinda dark: several characters dead, an entire Asqardian race burned to death, as well as the cognitive dissonance of the Avengers protecting the Masters of Evil, but all in all, the darkness really worked and I hope that they stick with this tone all season because it kept me guessing the whole time. A pretty decent episode for the whole team, no one coming into sharp focus like last week’s Tony Stark driven episode, but definitely an interesting look at the Avengers, who still have no idea they’re being guided by a Skrull infiltrator. I loved that they used this episode to address that yes, Cap is still a Skrull, and I love that no one seems to notice this but Cap’s worst enemy. (Like I said, friends close, enemies closer.) The way Cap just stared while Zemo begged for his help was downright creepy, and the shows seems to know that yeah, even kids will realize that the real Cap would help this scumbag.

Gotta have a moment of silence for our man in purple, Simon Williams. His episode, “Everything is Wonderful” from season one, is one of my favorites, and I thought his characterization was always surprisingly deft for a kid’s show. Of course, many are saying because he’s made of sentient energy, he could basically come back without stretching too much of the imagination and I can’t decide if I want him to return or not. I like the character of Wonder Man a lot, this kind of tortured soul who was done wrong and made bad choices, but can’t quite bring himself to be a supervillain. (This is kind of the main reason I like the character of Hulk/Bruce Banner but damned if the show seems to want to do anything with either of them these days.) But again, I like that the show allowed him a moment of grace and allowed him to save the day.

Thor’s subplot confused me a bit at first, mostly because I found myself having to do a refresher course on the nine realms over at Wikipedia and I will say, I prefer Thor fighting alongside his Midgardian brethren, not wandering around in Asgard, but I assume this will pay off, now that Sutur is coming to raise some hell. I’m wondering if this is going to be a season-long plot development or just something they’ll have to fight over one or two episodes, like they did with the gamma cube monsters or Ultron. I’m just itching for this Skrull thing to start playing out, but apparently we’re getting a visit from the Kree next week, so thing’s are starting to really get good.

If you missed the previous episode, be sure to read our ‘The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Alone Against A.I.M. ‘ recap to catch up.