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Greg Bishansky writes...

"We all wear masks, Spider-Man. But which one is real? The one that hides your face, or the one that is your face?"
- The Green Goblin

"Final Curtain"




I am not sure how to summarize this episode. It was great. Every question was answered. Everything about the Green Goblin and the Osborns. We know it all.

And I figured the mystery out when "The Uncertainty Principle" was over. I was never convinced it was Harry Osborn. I figured the Norman at OsCorp was the Chameleon committing some industrial espionage. I figured Norman knew his cover was blown and faked the limp and set up Harry. I thought that for over a year.

And yet, this episode kept me guessing. I began to believe I might be wrong. And I am ashamed to admit, I didn't pick up on Chameleon/Norman's apology. But, when I did begin to pick up on Chameleon was when, as Norman, he seemed flustered and confused about what was going on. As Spidey himself said, it's not the voice, it's the words.

But, this was perfect. The Green Goblin... Norman Osborn has always, always been my favorite villain in the "Spider-Man" mythos. My favorite villain in the Marvel Universe. I had waited years and years for that perfect adaptation of him outside the comics.

I didn't like the Norman Osborn in the 90s series, because he was a wimp and a victim of the Kingpin. Osborn should never be a victim. It also created the notion that the Goblin and Osborn were separate personalities, and they even had conversations with each other.

The movie did better, and I enjoyed it. Willem Dafoe was God in that movie. But, as cool as the mirror scene was, I didn't care for the split personality angle either. Also, I didn't like the idea that he as a decent man before his accident.

But, "Spectacular Spider-Man"... this is the Norman Osborn I always wanted. This is the Green Goblin I always wanted. A ruthless, evil, psychotic, Machiavellian, genius. There is no one he wouldn't use. No one he wouldn't stab in the back. And you never knew what he was going to do next.

Greg Weisman and his team brought us the perfect animated sociopath. A man who is truly detestable. A man who'd throw his own son to the wolves. No... not a man. A monster. A goblin.

Of course, I have to tip my hat to Alan Rachins and Steve Blum for bringing him to life. Both of these fine actors gave me chills, and both of them stole the show. I was beyond skeptical when I heard that Norman and the Goblin would have separate voice actors, but at the time I was unaware his identity would be a mystery, but these two won me over big time.

"I protected Harry. If I'd been sent to prison, who'd have made a man out of him?" -- If this line doesn't make you want to punch the man in the face, then you're just not human.

Anyway, the episode ends with Norman Osborn dead to the world, but is in hiding in the Cayman Islands as "Mr. Roman." ... his hair dyed blonde and with a mustache now. He looks the spitting image of "Gargoyles" villain, John Castaway. Actually, Castaway was the new name and identity of Jon Canmore... and he grew a mustache like that. I wonder if this is a nod. Considering Greg, probably.

Speaking of "Gargoyles" nods. The Connors board Flight 1057 to Florida. 1057 is the year Macbeth's alliance with Demona and his reign as King of Scotland ended. Norman boards Flight 994, the year Goliath's clan was massacred.

Peter breaks up with Liz to be with Gwen. Liz puts on a strong front to save her image, but she was heartbroken. A shame, she was a good girlfriend. Peter was a crappy boyfriend.

Gwen on the other hand, as much as she wants to be with Peter, well, Harry shows his devious side and guilts her into staying with him.

Harry, aside the aforementioned devious side has no idea who his father is. No, the little Spawn of Satan (hee hee, literally) thinks daddy was a victim of the Globulin Green as well. Oh, how little he knows.

The action in this episode topped every other action sequence in the series. Vic Cook did terrific job on this one. Everyone involved did great.

And the dialogue was terrific. Not just the lines themselves, but the delivery. Menken's "I have no response to that" floored me. I also loved Goblin's "Menken? Seriously?!" and Spidey's appalled outrage when he learned that Norman had framed his own son.

I do have a few questions though. Was Norman publicly outed as the Green Goblin? Obviously Harry, Peter, Chameleon and, from the sound of things, Gwen know the truth. Does Emily Osborn know? Does the world at large know? Or was that kept underwraps and Norman is just taking advantage of the world thinking he's dead to plan his next move?

I also have to compliment Greg and his team for taking a mystery everyone knew, the identity of the Green Goblin and not only making a mystery out of it, but keeping it going for the span of two seasons. The 90s soon didn't attempt it, well, for half an episode they did, but not seriously. The movies told you he was Norman Osborn from the get go. It's a staple of the "Spider-Man" mythos. And yes, while I wasn't fooled, many, many others were. And I have to compliment that and I have to tip my hat to just how well constructed this mystery really was.

But, all the other clues aside, the big tip off for me personally that it was Norman and not Harry was this. Norman was born and raised in Connecticut. Harry was born and raised in New York City. In "Catalysts," the Goblin tells his Gob Squad that he'll be back "in a New York minute." No actual born and bred New Yorker ever used the phrase "New York minute."

Really, in a way, the more I think about it, the more I believe that Norman Osborn was the lead antagonist of the series from pretty much the get go. We just didn't get 100% confirmation on that until the end. Yeah, Tombstone was the face of the crime element, and it was his plan originally to create supervillains in the first place, but Norman Osborn was the one who seemed to profit off of it. Not to mention that, aside from the Venom arcs, Norman had a hand, either large or subtle, in just about every single arc. Let's see...

Lizard Arc: Norman steals Toomes invention, which was majot pipe laying for what came later. Also, indirectly created his first supervillain when Toomes sought revenge.

Rise of the Supervillains: Norman Osborn becomes involved with the organized crime element, creates two supervillains (three if you count tipping off Big Man to Tri Corp's shipment of the Shocker suit). Gets a taste of the underworld, and, obviously likes it.

Green Goblin arc: This is pretty self explanatory. Like the good corporate shark that he is, he attempts a hostile take over of the Big Man's empire. He, unintentionally creates Dr. Octopus... the webslinger's other big nemesis. And, Norman pretty much ruins his son for the rest of his life here.

Venom arc: Norman was M.I.A.

Master Planner: Not as heavily involved, but he gets his own guy, Miles Warren into ESU. He becomes Peter's mentor, which is a big deal (and frankly, I wish we saw more of), and pipe is laid for later.

Venom Arc II: M.I.A. again, although I do wonder if he suspects Peter is Spider-Man.

Gang War: Norman Osborn set this thing off with his fake auction, raising the tensions, and then when the pot was going from a simmer to a boil, he manipulated Hammerhead into betraying Tombstone. Crippled the Big Man. And Silvermane and Ock are now back in custody. He finally absorbed the underworld into his own personal empire.

Green Goblin Returns: I think this is self explanatory, and I don't need to summarize his actions and their consequences here.

But that all leads into belief that I always had. Norman Osborn is the anti-Peter Parker. And that is especially true in this series. The two biggest threats to the Big Man were men in masks. Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, and both for totally different reasons.

When Peter and Norman put on their masks, they can cut loose. Truly cut loose. Peter is more confident when he's Spidey, and gets to escape the insecurities and personal problems of Peter Parker by becoming someone else. Where as, Norman Osborn, when he puts on his mask, gets to be himself. The Goblin is his face, Norman Osborn is the mask.

It's more than the both of them being trickster figures. It boils down to the psychosis of both of them. Masks are a big part of their lives. Norman collects them for a reason, because his entire public persona is a mask. I doubt even his wife and son know who he really is.

Peter would love to give up being Spider-Man. He's thought about it more than once, especially when he had the gene cleanser. Norman would never give up being the Goblin. He'd rather give up being Norman, and in a way that showed considering he didn't look too broken up about fleeing the country under an alias. He even flirted with the flight attendant.

Greg Weisman has always said that the secret to creating a great villain is to make them a dark mirror to the soul of your hero. The Goblin personifies that quite well. From all that I mentioned above, to little things like Norman being upperclass and Peter being lower class.


All the gushing aside, I write this review with a heavy heart. As of now, there is still no pick-up for a third season, and it just can't end like this. I want more. This show is too good to end now.

But, if this is the end, I want to give kudos to everyone involved. Vic Cook for being an outstanding director. Jennifer Coyle... probably my favorite director of the bunch, her episodes always had outstanding little touches.

Josh Keaton for bringing Peter Parker and Spider-Man to life. Vanessa Marshall for bringing Mary Jane to life, a character who sadly had too little to do, but I hope we see more. Lacey Chabert for helping make Gwen Stacy a character who matters for more than just her infamous death in the comics. Ben Diskin for making me like Venom. Alan Rachins for his devious Norman Osborn. Steve Blum for his deliciously evil Green Goblin. Kevin Michael Richardson for picking up where Keith David left off and making Tombstone a force to be reckoned with. Peter McNicol for his calculating and cruel Dr. Octopus.

But, most of all, my friends the supervising producer and story editor, Greg Weisman; and post production assistant, Jennifer L. Anderson. I loved coming down to the studio while you in were production. I loved giving you instant feedback. Knowing you both has made the experience that has been this show that much richer. I love you both.

I still hold out hope for a third season. Shows this good just can't die like that.




Greg responds...

High praise. Thanks.

Response recorded on May 07, 2009