IOTA Reviews: Passion
Well, it only took three and a half years, but the writers are finally taking a mulligan with the whole Kwami swap idea after missing the point of it in “Reflekdoll”. Have they learned their lesson when it comes to what kind of stories you could tell by swapping Ladybug and Cat Noir's Miraculous? What do you think?
Let's get into the seventh episode of Miraculous Ladybug's fifth season: Passion
We start off with Marinette and Alya having a sleepover, where, much like the audience, Alya is confused as to why Marinette is suddenly in love with Cat Noir. Unlike with “Determination”, it's hinted that Marinette is still blaming Monarch getting fifteen Miraculous on her feelings for Adrien, and once again, rather than actually acknowledge how Marinette has a point in this case, the narrative is portraying her focusing more on Cat Noir as a defense mechanism so she doesn't have to confront her feelings for Adrien now. It's pretty stupid, but par for the course this season because the writers refuse to admit that Marinette's crush on Adrien may have inadvertently made things worse.
We then cut to the Agreste Mansion, where Gabriel is busy cooking pancakes for Adrien, asking if he wants bananas on them. Because Adrien isn't B'Elenna Torres, he doesn't actually like bananas on his pancakes, and only said he did to make Gabriel happy, something Nathalie picks up on. You know, I'm not exactly a Michelin star chef, but I'm pretty sure you don't place these huge chunks of bananas on pancakes instead of small slices.
Nathalie comes down to the kitchen, and while she still seems to judge Gabriel, in a clever bit of visual storytelling, Adrien sees one of Emilie's rings on Nathalie's finger (which she's had ever since the end of Season 4), and it's hinted he believes they're engaged. Of course, as soon as Adrien leaves to get ready for school, Nathalie pins Gabriel down to the table and reveals the true reason for her continuing to work for him after the events of “Evolution”.
Nathalie: I came to this house to hunt magical artifacts for you and Emilie. I became your bodyguard, your right hand woman, your friend, and even more. But this is all over. You used to do this out of love for Emilie, but now, you're only doing it out of madness, and the only reason I'm still here is to protect Adrien from you!
Okay, fair point wanting to protect Adrien, there's other ways to do so that don't involve silently judging him and doing nothing else. What's stopping Nathalie from calling the cops on Gabriel? What's stopping Nathalie from sending in an anonymous tip to Ladybug and Cat Noir? What's stopping her from telling literally anyone else she knows that her boss is the most dangerous man in the world right now? What's stopping Nathalie from flat-out running away with Adrien and telling him the truth about his father? Seriously, of all the things you choose to do with the knowledge you have, and continuing to enable this man while occasionally scolding him was what you settled on? And again, it's really weird that Nathalie suddenly thinks Gabriel is insane when the whole reason she needs those robot braces to walk was because she chose to let the broken Peacock Miraculous ruin her body trying to help Gabriel as Mayura.
After a brief scene where Adrien talks with Plagg about how to confess his feelings for Marinette, we then see Nathalie watching several recordings of Emilie that Gabriel supposedly ordered her to delete. We learn that right before she fell into her coma, Emilie made Nathalie promise to find some way to stop Gabriel from trying to find the Miraculous, if only for Adrien's sake. Yeah, real bang-up job you did there, Nathalie. Adrien comes in and asks Nathalie about what to do about the girl he likes, with Nathalie's response all but stating that Emilie had feelings for Gabriel before he and Emilie got married.
Adrien asks Nathalie if what happened to Emilie will happen to her, to which she tells him that's not that the case, even if she coincidentally has the same symptoms Emilie had before her “disappearance”. After Adrien leaves, Nathalie goes down to Gabriel's lair while he's talking to Emilie's body like every other day that ends in a “Y”, telling him to akumatize her.
It's a dramatic scene, as usually, willing accepting an Akuma is seen as the point of no return for an antagonist, just ask Lila and Chloe. So of course, let's break the tension with a scene of Marinette stuttering around Adrien as he tries to confess his love to her. Nice transition, writers. Plagg tries to tell Tikki about the situation, claiming that their holders falling in love with each other could spell the end of the world (and he's not wrong in that case), but Tikki points out that Marinette's crippling anxiety prevents her from making any advances in her love life.
Back with Nathalie, for some reason, she chose to walk back down to her room where she keps a mannequin displaying some explorer clothes of hers, where Monarch akumatizes her into Safari.
Safari's design is pretty cool, even if it is a little too similar to a certain other French sniper with a primarily purple color scheme. I like the classical hunter motif, and the color scheme is pretty appealing. Admittedly, I'm not too sure about her powers, because right from the start, she uses the Goat Miraculous' Genesis to create her hunting gear (which somehow has bullets themed after the Tiger, Dragon, Pig, Fox, and Bee Miraculous), including a crossbow whose bullets who can track their targets.
Safari uses a Mirage bullet to create an illusion of Timetagger, an Akuma who shouldn't even exist in the present day, so she's not exactly not off to a good start. Despite that, Marinette and Adrien transform into Ladybug and Cat Noir respectively and give chase, only to lose “Timetagger”. Of course, Ladybug decides to ask Cat Noir out on a date despite the suspicious situation, only to be immobilized by one of Safari's Venom bullets. After a pretty decent chase sequence, Cat Noir manages to evade the bullet with the stunned Ladybug in hand. Cat Noir tries to escape, but eventually, he's cornered by the bullets in the sewers. For some reason, after Adrien transforms, the bullets just go away, because that's how Monarch designed Safari's powers. Also, Ladybug doesn't see Cat Noir detransform because her eyes were covered when she was stunned. Plot contrivance at its finest, folks.
Adrien has Plagg take Marinette's Miraculous, and he explains the situation, so they come up with a loophole: transform using each other's Miraculous. Before that, Adrien actually thinks about using the Miraculous wish to cure Nathalie and asks “Ladybug” about it, only for Marinette to explain why that can't happen.
Marinette: There's always a balance between creation and destruction. For every one thing we fixed, another would be destroyed. For every sick person we cured, another would become ill. For every villain defeated, something else, just as terrible, would be created somewhere else to replace it.
So I guess we're back to that rule instead of the whole “the world will literally end if the wish is made” crap. Marinette and Adrien take each other's Miraculous and transform into Lady Noire and Mister Bug respectively. While watching over Safari, Lady Noire is just eating the cherry-flavored eye candy that is Mister Bug.
This only adds to the biggest problem I have with Season 5 so far: How it refuses to acknowledge how Marinette's feelings for Adrien/Cat Noir have only been shown to be detrimental to her as a hero. Rather than acknowledge that Marinette's feelings for Adrien were what caused Monarch to get all the other Miraculous, the show constantly says that it wasn't her fault, even when she was blamed for everything going wrong at the end of the last season. There was also the part earlier in the episode where Alya just ignored the point Marinette made about trusting Felix with the Dog Miraculous by just saying that Marinette is deflecting her true feelings for Adrien by focusing on Cat Noir. While you could argue Alya made a good point herself, she didn't acknowledge anything else in Marinette's argument, and just acts like Marinette and Adrien being a couple is more important that Marinette thinking about saving lives. And of course, during the battle, Lady Noire can't stop flirting with Mister Bug, which could potentially get in the way of the fight like we've seen with Cat Noir in the past. You can't just tell the audience to ship Marinette and Adrien together when Marinete's feelings for Adrien have only been shown to get in the way of her superhero life.
Mister Bug and Lady Noire fight off Safari, asking her why she wants their Miraculous.
Lady Noire: What about you, Safari, what do you want?
Safari: The same thing. A wish. Everyone wants to have one, right?
Monarch: Safari, what are you up to?
Safari: Should I tell them the truth?
Monarch: (growls in frustration)
Safari: That's what I thought.
Because Nathalie would rather risk ending the world instead of telling anyone who Monarch really is. Yes, she is that stupid. Mister Bug summons his Lucky Charm, getting a bottle of perfume. This makes him realize the akumatized object is back at the Agreste mansion. While Lady Noire holds off Safari, Mister Bug breaks the mannequin holding the Akuma. Mister Bug de-evilizes the Akuma, uses Miraculous Mister Bug to fix the damage, vows to stop Monarch for akumatizing such a fragile and innocent person.
After giving each other their Miraculous back, Marinette recounts what happened to Alya and Tikki, somehow believing that because Cat Noir/Mister Bug said nothing in response to her asking him out to the movies since he was focused on stopping the Akuma, this must mean he secretly loves her back. Yep, if “Determination” didn't already set off any red flags, we're really doing this, people. And so the episode ends with Adrien apologizing to Nathalie for supposedly getting her akumatized, while Nathalie reassures Adrien that he means a lot to her, even if she's too stupid to rat out Monarch after five seasons.
Yeah, this episode was pretty lousy. A big chunk of it stemmed from the way it handled Nathalie's character. Obviously, she can't tell Ladybug and Cat Noir about Monarch's identity because we still need to finish the season, but the way they go about it by having her passive-aggressively continue to work for him when she's perfectly capable of restraining him, even in her handicapped state, is just a ridiculous leap in logic. I get that it's an attempt to give Nathalie depth, but the writers never really acknowledge how Nathalie's inaction is endangering so many lives.
And of course, there's the stuff with Marinette. Just like with Cat Noir, her flirting on the job made it look like she wasn't taking things seriously while playing it off as a cute little quirk of hers. Again, the show is at least trying to acknowledge how odd the way she displays her feelings is, but it's not in a way that actually leads to any interesting developments.
The Akuma fight was also pretty dumb, as the heroes pretty much won thanks to dumb luck. Not only did Safari's bullets magically stop working as soon as Ladybug and Cat Noir detransformed, not only did she never adjust her system to target Mister Bug and Lady Noire, but the whole reason Mister Bug's Lucky Charm even worked was because he knew who Safari was and where her Akuma was, something that wouldn't have happened if Ladybug and Cat Noir didn't swap Miraculous.
Overall, it was bad, but not as frustrating as “Illusion” or “Determination”.
THE BIGGEST IDIOT OF THE EPISODE IS... NATHALIE
For someone who said she was looking out for Adrien, Nathalie really made a lot of terrible choices doing so this episode. She only considered ratting out Gabriel near the end of the episode as a threat, tried stealing the Miraculous herself, and never considered the fact that her hesitance to tell anyone what she knows is only making things worse, especially for Adrien.