Do you know what comes after action-packed cold opens? Exposition of course!
Vixen handles it pretty well; in fact they manage to package all the requisite information in quite an interesting way: first through a flashback to ten-year old Mari, and then through an encounter with an archaeologist professor which holds traces of romantic chemistry before it's revealed he's secretly selling our heroine out. Darn it, he was cute!
When we last saw Mari, she was being held at gunpoint by a gang of muggers who were a bit too specific in their demands for her necklace for it to be a coincidence – and sure enough, by the end of the episode we learn they were hired for the task of retrieving it.
Not to get ahead of myself, for the scene in which Mari extracts herself and her foster-father from danger is the high-point of the episode. By channelling the strength of a gorilla and the speed of a cheetah she makes quick work of the men, and soon enough she and Chuck are sipping coffee at home.
So it would appear that Marialreadyknows how to use the power of the necklace, though whether it’s through instinctive/hereditary means or because she's spent several years researching its abilities remains to be seen. (Though I suppose if it was the latter, why go to Doctor McAllister?)
A flashback to her childhood gives us a bit more insight: she was put into the foster-care system when she was just a baby, and wasn't even given a name – just left with a necklace. Seriously, her birth mother leaves her with a necklace but not a name?
In any case, it's given to her by her foster mother – who I assume is Patty, whose current whereabouts are still unaccounted for – who tells her all she knows is that it's an Anansi totem.
Back in the present day, Mari goes to visit Doctor McAllister at the university, though he can tell her nothing that she doesn't already know. It's for the benefit of the audience then, that we're told the stone comes from Zambezi and that according to legend the trickster-god Anansi crafted it to give to a warrior called Tantu. And in case we hadn't already deduced, it channels the life-force and power of animals onto the bearer.
But here's something we didn't see coming: as soon as Mari leaves his office, Doctor McAllister picks up the phone and sells out her location to a mysterious woman on the other end of the line.
As with last week, the episode is annoyingly short. Just as I started to really get involved in where the story was taking me, the credits roll. At the same time I grudgingly concede that this format demands tight and focused writing, I imagine Vixen will be a far more rewarding viewing experience once we're able to watch all six episodes uninterrupted.
There may be some hope for Doctor McAllister. Though his motivation seems to be money to fund his expeditions (not in itself a nefarious goal) he also made a point of questioning whether Mari herself was in any danger. To which the mystery woman answers no. For some reason, Mari herself is needed.
The effects of the necklace continue to be awesome: the purple spirit-energy swirling around her, the shadows of the animals forming behind her, the sound-effects in the distance – it all makes for some great visuals.
Chuck tells Mari "your room's how you left it" – and on entering, it's apparent from the décor and photographs that she left it a while ago. Nice way of establishing a chronology there without any clumsy exposition.
You can thank Gargoyles for the fact that I knew who Anansi the African trickster-god was, but it would appear I've been pronouncing his name wrong all this time. Not "A-NAN-SI" but "A-NUN-SI". Ah well, Mari was saying it incorrectly as well.
"Normally this is where I would say: my eyes are up here." Heh.