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The Tick: An Ode to Dangerboat’s Crush on Arthur

On the weirdly groundbreaking affection between boat and man that helped make Season 2 so great.
  • Dangerboat (voiced by  Alan Tudyk) and Arthur (Griffin Newman) in The Tick (Amazon)
    Dangerboat (voiced by Alan Tudyk) and Arthur (Griffin Newman) in The Tick (Amazon)

    There are so many reasons that Amazon’s The Tick is a welcome change of pace in a world saturated with superhero fiction. The tone is archly comedic yet grounded in the sincere desire of its characters to do the right thing. The plot is full of surprises but not dark or overly byzantine. And the cast of characters, which grew only richer and more compelling in Season 2, is full of oddly likeable personalities, from The Tick (Peter Serafinowicz) and his sidekick Arthur (Griiffin Newman) on down.

    Season 2, like all great second seasons, took a show that was centered on a pair of mismatched partners and did the great work of expanding the universe. By the end of this batch of ten episodes, viewers were not only invested in Tick and Arthur and their battle against the evil (and sometimes evil masquerading as good) forces around them. There was Arthur’s sister, Dot (Valorie Curry) and her burgeoning powers and the sweet-but-friction-y relationship she’d struck up with weaponized assassin Overkill (Scott Speiser). There was former sub-villain Miss Lint (Yara Martinez) and her whole deal. Even Arthur and Dot’s parents (Patricia Kalember and Francois Chau) and his weird neighbor Kevin (Devin Ratray) were fully integrated into the action by the time the season was barrelling towards its conclusion. This was the season where The Tick went from cute show with appealing actors to a super fun and engrossing superhero comedy with heart.

    And we would be remiss if we did not hand a chunk of credit for charming the hell out of us during that transition to the sweet, (as yet) unrequited romance between two of its characters. One of whom is a super-intelligent boat.

    Dangerboat (voiced by the great Alan Tudyk) is exactly that: a sleek looking boat with an artificial intelligence at the helm, acting as both an autonomous entity and also the loyalest of loyal sidekicks to Overkill. Overkill lives on Dangerboat, strategizes with Dangerboat, and jams out to Dangerboat’s meticulously cultivated dance mixes.

    At some point during the course of season 1, Tick and Arthur’s relationship with Overkill goes from adversarial to a reluctant team-up (we love a reluctant team-up in superhero fiction), and with that, Dangerboat enters the mix too. While Overkill is more actively hostile to the idea of friends, Dangerboat is far more accommodating to Tick and Arthur. And eventually we start to get the idea that Dangerboat is pretty sweet on Arthur.

    It’s a very Tick conceit, taking the kernel of an idea of an innocent crush, blending it with the oddity of an A.I. system having romantic feelings for anything, and blending that with the discomfort Arthur would feel about anyone making moves on him, nervous fellow that he is. And that’s not even getting into the fact that Dangerboat is voiced by Alan Tudkyk, a man. So is he … a gay A.I. boat? Does an A.I. have a gender, irrespective of its presented vocal form? The Tick just slides past most of these questions in a very casual way, where Arthur doesn’t seem to be bothered by the gay boat having a crush on him, even while he’s definitely puzzled by the boat part. Dangerboat, however, is more than happy to dive into the unanswered existential questions surrounding his romantic life:

    It’s all admirably progressive for a show that could have easily mined the situation for comedy by snickering at it or by having Arthur gay-panic every time Dangerboat spoke sweetly to him. Arthur has not, as yet, returned Dangerboat’s heart-flutter-y feelings, but it’s all been rather sweet. And I’ve yet to encounter another Tick fan who doesn’t ship (aha, I see what they did there) Arthur and Dangerboat at least a little.

    Kudos to The Tick, then, not only for their great leap of a second season, but for giving us an unrequited relationship truly worth rooting for.

    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: The Tick, Prime Video