Warning: This is a full episode recap, so if you want to avoid SPOILERS, please watch the episode before reading this.
The opening narration establishes the basis for this series, set in The Grid, the computer generated reality inside an old computer. “It was a peaceful world, protected by the hero Tron.” Until a corrupt program, Clu took over. It is implied that Tron is dead as Clu conquers the final free city, Argon. After a mechanic named Bohdi is derezzed in front of his friends, one of them, a mechanic named Beck, decides to fight back against Clu, his actions garnering the attention of someone unexpected – “The Renegade” or rather, Tron, who takes him under his wing to train him to become the next Tron and defeat Clu and his army.
The episode proper opens with Tron teaching Beck how to correctly ride a Light Cycle, possibly the most iconic vehicle from the live-action movies. The pair race along through a snowy mountain landscape. Tron is something of a hard nose in his instructions. He tells Beck to jump a wide chasm. Beck slows down, saying they can’t make it, but speeds back up after Tron keeps going without him. Tron uses an ice structure as a ramp and clears the jump. Beck… doesn’t. He leaps from his cycle, which disintigrates as it falls and he manages to grasp the ledge on the other side of the canyon. He attempts to pull himself up, but the ice crumbles and he falls back, only to be saved by Tron.
Next comes the requisite pep talk as Beck doubts himself and Tron tells him that it was Beck, who initiated an uprising. But of course our hero needs to wallow in defeat before he can rise to triumph. Tron states that he succeeded because he didn’t hesitate then reminds Beck that he needs to retrieve his baton (Light Cycle), so he heads into the city and is intercepted by Clu’s security forces. Beck eludes them and ducks into the nearest unlocked door he finds, only to find it is already occupied by a group that seems worse for wear. Suddenly the containment unit they are in is lifted into the sky and attached to a Recognizer (those red glowy M shaped ships). Beck discovers that he is in the company of prisoners and they are being taken to “The Games.”
Back at the mechanic shop where Beck works, his boss Able is looking for him. We meet his two coworkers, Zed and Mara. Able shows Mara one of his favorite bikes and she is amazed by it. Zed however doesn’t get what’s so special about “this old thing.” Zed prefers newer technology because it’s reliable. Mara says she prefers danger.
In the arena, one of the prisoners in the holding cell, Rilo is freaking out. He was arrested after The Renegade vandalized a “statue” of Clu. Rilo was arrested for breaking curfew. They are equipped with battle armor and thrust into The Games. As throngs of other programs cheer, Beck and company find themselves facing a team of break dancing, somersaulting Clu ninjas. Clu’s second-in-command General Tessler demands that the games begin.
Cut to a club like the one in ‘Tron Legacy’ where everyone is sort of bobbing and swaying, except for Mara who is really getting down. Zed is jealous of the men chatting with her and has a drink. He then meets a woman that introduces herself as Pearl which draws Mara’s attention.
Back in the arena, a “player” on Beck’s team is derezzed – the first player to fall. But Beck knocks out two opponents, impressing Rilo. Two opponents approach and despite Rilo’s obvious fear and uncertainty, he derezzes his combatant. Beck knocks his opponent out (he doesn’t derezz them), but another attacker appears and derezzes Rilo from behind.
Back at the club, Mara pries Zed from Pearl in hopes of a dance, but she mistakenly refers to herself as his “best friend” which angers him. He clumsily asks Pearl to leave with him and they do.
Back in the arena, Beck and another prisoner, Cutler, defeat the last of Clu’s men. General Tessler is displeased and orders the battle ended.
Looking over Argon, Pearl asks Zed what there is to do that’s fun.
In a holding cell, Beck is wallowing in self pity again, this time beating himself up over Rilo’s death. Cutler reveals that he fought in the Iso War against Clu, which piques Beck’s attention. Cutler says he started to lose hope until The Renegade showed up. “If he’s willing to risk his life to find Beck, then I want to be right there fighting beside him,” he vows. Cutler also states that he knows who The Renegade is… Tron.
Pearl convinces Zed to sneak them into the garage where he works. He tries to impress her by showing her Able’s favorite Light Cycle, an Encom 786. She then says her own Cycle has been acting up and asks him to take a look.
Meanwhile, Beck and Cutler manage to escape unnoticed by their guards. They make it a decent way, but are ultimately captured by Tessler’s aid, Paige who handcuffs them and throws them back in the arena. It’s a Light Cycle challenge… except these two don’t have bikes! But things backfire, as Beck and Cutler take down the three cyclist opposing them and the crowd goes wild for these two “conspirators” as Tessler calls them. His other aid, Pavel suggests an alternative plan.
Pearl knocks Zed out and steals the Encom 786. (Saw that coming a mile away.) And Pavel’s feindish plan is revealed: Cutler and Beck will battle each other for freedom… to the death.
Well, it was nice knowing you Cutler, but we know who the star of this show is! Overall, even though the episode verged on info dump territory, it was still suspenseful and interesting. Certain elements seem done-before – Beck is the typical angsty, conflicted hero with an idiot best friend and a platonic-for-now gal pal – but it was a solid effort.
The animation carried it even further. It was very stylized and reminded me of ‘Aeon Flux.’ The faces in particular were all very unique. Pearl’s face was particularly striking. They just didn’t look like the typical, generic cartoon faces. And the light effects are like nothing else on TV. Everything from the Light Cycles to the club sequence just seemed other worldly.
All in all, I enjoyed this episode. It seems to hint at becoming pretty epic as it goes along. What did you think? Like it? Hate it? Leave a comment below!