Julie: I’m kinda cold.
Ben: here, you can have my jacket.
Gwen: I’m kinda cold too.
Kevin: *already burning down the nearest building for kindling*
Julie: I’m kinda cold.
Ben: here, you can have my jacket.
Gwen: I’m kinda cold too.
Kevin: *already burning down the nearest building for kindling*
Yup, guess I'm doing this again! Boredom strikes again and I must conquer it!
The story starts off rather sad: Ben's grandfather is in debt to many collectors because of all the damage control his grandson has gone through.
After realizing how much was put into his life insurance, Ben decides to break off his engagement with his fiancé, Julie Yamamoto, and commit suicide on the highway so his grandpa may use the money to pay off all the debts he caused.
However, his attempt is blundered when he falls into the trunk of two con men posing as deliverymen, Kevin and Argit.
When they find a list of people he owed money to, they mistake it for money he lent out, leading them to believe Ben is rich.
Upon being poor themselves, they decide to use Ben to get out of their own debt to successful businessman, Vulcanus.
Not wanting to reveal too much, Ben pretends to be mute and deaf to cover his tracks.
Back home, Max is not paid Ben's life insurance, as his body has not yet been found and therefore his death is unconfirmed.
Things take a dive for the worse as Vulcanus takes away Kevin's car, their only source of income, so they can pay him back.
In a last-ditch effort, Kevin trades of Ben as a servant who will work at the Vulcanus mansion as a guarantee until he can pay them back in full.
While there, Ben meets and falls in love with Courtney, a girl living in the house who is mute, but not deaf, and is being pushed to get married to successful photographer, Herve.
However, she doesn't want to go through with this marriage, as she knows the family will treat her as a burden and are only after her wealth.
In a shocking twist, Gwen, Ben's cousin, works as Courtney's translator and sniffs him out, but promises to keep quiet as long as Ben poses as Courtney's lover so the marriage will be broken off.
But things get more complicated when Ben is attacked by Herve himself, not knowing of his apparent disabilities until informed by Vulcanus.
To atone for his mistake, he offers Ben a job in his company and Kevin's loan time is extended.
Gwen finds out about Ben's debts back home and becomes suspicious of him, while he discovers said debts have not been resolved, since his death is not yet confirmed.
Ben ends up in a car crash with Vulcanus and is mercilessly beaten by the police until Vulcanus tells them of how Ben was the one who saved him by driving to the hospital.
Remorsefully, Courtney and Gwen send money to Bellwood through Argit, who pretends to be Ben's business partner, to pay off all the debts.
Argit reports to Ben that Julie is now married, though in reality, she is believed to be a widow.
Seeing how Courtney has also fallen in love with Ben, Herve relinquishes her hand in marriage to Ben, to which he happily agrees to, as he is finally free of debt.
Just when all seems to be resolved, Herve sends Kevin and Argit with a suitcase of money to Ben's family to ensure their financial stability, and they reveal he is still alive in the process.
Shocked at hearing this, Max crashes Ben and Courtney's engagement party to see it for himself.
He tries to get Ben to come back and marry Julie so that she won't be widowed anymore, but Kevin and Argit manage to chase him off.
Ben decides to go back to Bellwood anyway to convince his family himself, but they still demand he marry Julie, causing Kevin and Argit to drag him back.
The Tennyson family storms Ben and Courtney's wedding as a last resort, but Julie has a change of heart seeing that Courtney is mute, and gives them her blessing, offering to marry Herve instead.
The two wed and everyone lives happily ever after.
As the title states, I’ve been reminded of a couple complaints made about this episode that stem from a large portion of the audience’s general disliking of the way both Ben and Julie were handled during the run of Ultimate Alien. In fact, I recently read a "review" of “The Flame Keeper's Circle,” or, more of a parody, actually, since a review would actually have some kind of substance to it and not just...a slew of insults thrown at a show you claim to like. It's almost like you're looking for something to be mad at, but anyway.
One of those was the OP actually asking someone to (probably joking, but anyway) explain "how Ben's mind works" to them.
And I was like, gladly!
According to the comments under the review, it seems like the general audience didn't really like this episode all that much when it first aired. Which, I bring up because, I on the other hand, actually did. And for a reason: because it proves my previous defence points right.
There's a lot of talk about Ben coming off as a “jerk” or a “douchebag”...but, in a situation such as the one presented within “The Flame Keeper’s Circle,” I would argue he did exactly what he should have done. So that's where I beg to differ.
This episode puts Ben in a position where he, once again, needs to deal with the overlap of a romantic relationship and his priorities as a superhero. The only reason there is conflict here is because they are both important to him.
A bad boyfriend would only care about himself, but Ben clearly cares about not only the safety of his (clearly, quite naive) girlfriend, but also the safety of the rest of the earth. Which, as I’m going to be stating several times, should be something expected of him considering everything else within the series that establishes who he is as a character.
So, on the topic of things that are important, ask yourselves, why would Ben prioritize going along with Julie's idea of joining a cult more than keeping her, and the rest of the world, safe when he realizes the trouble she could potentially be getting herself into?
Throughout the episode, and the fandom’s discussions from what I’ve seen, there is so much focus on "oh, he laughed at her idea so he's a douchebag and therefore a bad boyfriend" and not enough focus on the fact that he's not blindly following an alleged “good cause” because he isn't naive and that's in character based on everything we know about him as a character.
Context matters. And this kind of thing only further makes me question the people who want to cry "inconsistent" writing or characterization because he's acting the way he's been conditioned to.
Arguably from the age of ten, Ben's been dealing with situations where he needed to fight to survive and decide who to trust. Sometimes he trusted the wrong person, which wasn't done out of any other reason besides wanting to help and do the "right thing."
For example, Michael Morningstar in the episode “All That Glitters,” who fooled Ben and his team into thinking he was innocent all while abusing school girls for their life energy and almost killing Ben's cousin.
Or, Simian in “Birds of a Feather," who fooled Ben into thinking he was royalty and into helping him steal something that would aid the Highbreed in their mass murder plot.
In that way, Ben and Julie could have related in this situation because they were both trusting people in the interest of doing something “good.” Both Michael and Simian made Ben believe that they had something in common, or a common goal they could work together to reach. But, he trusted them blinded by his ambition and drive to save the world. Much like Julie is blinded by the promise of being a part of a group trying to make the world a better place.
As such, Ben has made the mistake before, so he's extra weary of how things could go very wrong. He's not against his girlfriend just to be a “jerk” - he's been through things like this before, and we’ve seen him go through those things.
Furthermore, the situation in which Julie is trusting The Flame Keeper’s Circle involves her indirectly agreeing to work with Vilgax. Who, as anyone familiar with Ben should know, is one of if not Ben’s biggest, and more importantly, most dangerous enemy.
Again, she, at the beginning didn’t know that he was involved, or what Ben had gone through already to make him act the way he does in this situation, but she does know what his job entails at this point in the series. She should probably infer that he’s suspicious for a good reason, as should the audience.
Not trusting people blindly is something he learned from being the leader of his team, while trying to protect the earth, namely from the Highbreed invasion back in Alien Force when he was putting together a stronger team. It would only make sense for him to then apply that to a situation in which his significant other gets roped into that which he fights against.
Speaking of fighting against, that brings me to another odd criticism of the writing of this episode. It’s no surprise that the flawed belief of Ben coming off as an alleged “sociopath” is brought up again, considering this episode takes place after The Ultimate Kevin arc. And yes, I realize the problematic connotations of using that term as a borderline insult as part of the issue here. But that aside, in this episode, the fact that he begins to fight Vilgax in his apparent “weakened” state is what is being attributed to that description.
Besides the fact that defending Vilgax is questionable in itself, he’s never needed water to survive for the many times he actually tried to kill Ben. I can’t find a solid answer from a writer that knows for certain if his need for water is genuine except for one who is only assuming that is the case when he’s in this state.
But regardless, (since he clearly survived long enough to morph with Dagon and become a bigger threat to the earth later on) we are still defending Vilgax the LITERAL INTERGALACTIC WARLORD.
Y’know, the guy who’s only in this position because of his own immoral actions? Who absolutely would not hesitate to take advantage of his opponent's weakened state in order to further get away with his immoral actions? Such as he is in this very episode, taking advantage of the people wrongfully worshiping him?
If we are trying to imply that Ben is “just as bad as Vilgax,” then I would assume you’d easily find the flaw in that being Ben’s motivation for incapacitating a dangerous offender who is, at the moment, manipulating naive humans to work for him and help him continue get away with his immoral actions. Which is, needless to say, not the same as Vilgax, at all.
Again, you’d think that’d be obvious.
The Flame Keeper’s Circle’s mission is to end human suffering and find a solution to certain issues happening across the globe with the help of alien technology that is much more advanced than what everyday people are used to. And, while the end goal seems like a good cause, even something Ben as a superhero would be all for, the means through which they attempt to get there aren’t a good idea, at all.
A lot of people find it hard to navigate the use of technology considered advanced by human standards in the real world, so you can only imagine the various things that could go wrong if those kinds of people were suddenly exposed to something much more powerful. In short, a lot could go wrong.
Again, Ben has been in that exact position as soon as he was armed with the Omnitrix. Which is exactly why he’d see the flaw in what these people are trying to do, and therefore not be convinced that it’s such a good idea to allow them to continue, much less endorse it.
This is why I love when the writers actually allow Ben to speak for himself instead of cutting him off for drama or plot. Once he actually gets a word in, or more accurately, has his moment of heroic monologue, he makes himself very clear and, I think, only further proves what I’m trying to say about him.
Here he is, explaining exactly what I’ve been trying to highlight throughout this body of work:
Ben: “Even if Dagon was real, using alien technology to accelerate a planet’s natural development won’t bring utopia, it’ll bring disaster. It’s happened before. Why do you think the Plumbers have those laws? But even that’s not the point, because that isn’t Dagon! His name is Vilgax. He’s not a hero, he’s a selfish, evil warlord who’s using you. And if you let him get in his ship, he’s going to fly off and start an interstellar civil war.”
It’s not that only he can use alien technology to save the world, it’s that his status as a hero proves that he knows what he’s doing, unlike these businessmen in fancy robes leading a cult for profit.
That is not what I would have assumed reasonable people would consider “douchebag behaviour.” That’s actually smart, and going back to my first point, exactly what he should be doing in a situation like this.
The actual episode does end off on a positive note for both Ben and Julie, which is omitted from the review and most of the comments I have read from others on the topic. And, I bring it up because it’s actually vital to wrap up everything brought up within this episode that I have just expanded on. Not only because they make up and seem to understand each other’s perspective after all is said and done, but because they both agree to be open to further discussion on the topic, as Ben offers to go out for dinner.
Which, needless to point out I hope, but once again, is not “douchebag behaviour.”
I'm writing such a fun fic right now, it's probably the one I was most excited about in this batch...the anon that asked for it just gets me
After making my drawing, I was thinking back on my younger days when watching Ben 10, and early Alien Force, and because of drawing Benlie and Ship just now, I thought back to their first episode. And I remember as a kid, I originally thought Ship was like a baby Mechamorph, as in a child, not an animal symbiote or whatever. So as a kid, I always thought Ship would get older one day and look more like Upgrade and Baz-l, until it clicked with me that he was just a dog, since Mechamorphs don’t age the same way as humans. But now I’m just imaging an AU like that, in that Mechamorphs do kind of age like humans, and Ship later becomes a teen/adult, and the proud adopted son of Julie and Ben, and even learns how to talk and all that lol. Again, I know that’s not how it works, but I just like to imagine.
Had some free time and spent it making a drawing on my Julie 10 AU, mostly give a basic idea of what Julie and Ben look like in this world, along with a little Ship too. Julie’s watch does kind of have the colour scheme of OV’s Gwen 10, pink and blues, though more pastel shading and I’ve always preferred the idea of Gwen getting a blue omnitrix instead. Ben’s outfit is a mix of the Plumber uniform and Tetrax’s outfit, since he is the apprentice of that man. As you can tell with his unkempt hair and slight baggy eyes, he doesn’t exactly take care of himself like he should, but that doesn’t matter to him...
Ben: I asked Julie out!
Kevin: oh, I’m sorry
Kevin: well I assume she said no
Ben: what? No, she said yes!
Kevin: oh. Well then I’m sorry for her.
In relations to my “You can ship different Bens with different people and it’s still in the same setting” I mentioned I had ships for Ben 23, No Watch Ben and Gwen 10 Ben, and maybe Bad Ben. And I thought I’d share them Ben 23, like his prime self, I also ship with Julie. Mostly because I love the idea of this snobby rich kid who’s actually trying his hardest, falling for a down to earth girl he has no clue has to speak too, and for a while just does the things he used for, like using money or his fame, but eventually learns to just be himself. Also, Tetrax, Sevenseven and Azmuth are amused while watching Ben 23 stumble on himself, though also are very poor at romantic advice. No Watch Ben is a funny one. Like most people, I picture him joining the Plumbers as a solider, and never ever gets a watch of his own, but proves himself as a fighter/hero. So for No Watch Ben, I just love the idea of him and Looma together, that somehow, as a normal human with no specials powers, he somehow beat her in a fight and got engaged with her on a very chaotic mission. At first, of course, he didn’t know how to feel about that, but gave it a chance and him and Looma really hit it off. So No Watch Ben has a warriors princess girlfriend. Gwen 10 Ben, again like most other people, I see as an Anodite, and a cheeky magic user. He works as Gwen’s partner, alongside Kevin, and it use to just be the three of them for a good while. That was until Grandpa Max assigned them a Plumber member to join them, thinking it would do them some good, and that Plumber member so happened to be Rook. Gwen 10 Ben is a big flirter, so he was pretty open with flirty with Rook the moment he showed up, and while originally it was just for fun, sparks two fly between the two eventually. Of course, Gwen is a little annoyed that her cousin is openingly flirting with her new partner in crime. Bad Ben I’m still debating with myself, but I could either see him with someone like Charmcaster or Attea, the other two bad girls in the setting, because they very much strike me as the unholy matrimony trope. Thought since we don’t know a whole lot about Bad Ben’s world, I feel like Ester or Rook could work too if they went down a bad path as well, perhaps even a poly thing going on with the bad trio.
Kevin: you should tell Julie to ask Ben out.
Gwen: no! Julie never did anything bad to me.
"It's not just happening to you..."
Gwen: Ben, are you sure Ship isn't like a son to you and Julie?... Ben: I don't know what you're talking about *He says, while carrying Ship in a baby carrier*
You can not convince me that Ben and Julie don’t sometimes straight up act like Ship is their child. Like, yes, most of the time he seems like a pet, but then there are times where Ben cradles a napping sheep in his arms like a baby, or Julie hangs up his attempted drawings on her fridge. Of course, neither of them notice these tendencies, but other people sure do. 😂
Look at this and try tell me it's not the best thing you've ever seen!!!
"siyah benli bir kız düşlerime kaçardı bende onu alır anamın düşlerine kaçardım"
So I got something to say about this scene from Duped.
Before Ben splits himself into three, Gwen tells him Julie should be "the center of attention", because, during this episode, she was experiencing her first professional tennis tournament.
Which, Ben (or, the one he sent to stay and watch the tournament) actually does proceed to do, as shown in the video above. Which, I personally thought was cute...despite it being slightly misplaced during a tennis match, lol.
But regardless, she actually...didn't like the attention? Despite Gwen JUST telling Ben that Julie should be the center of attention for him?
(And despite her already being in the spotlight since everyone in the arena is watching her play tennis anyway.)
He had the right idea, and he tried to what the others wanted him to do, but even here, there was just...no way for him to be able to do "the right thing" in this episode.