Goosebumps Episode 10: Night of the Living Dummy II

It’s tough to talk about the popularity of Animorphs without also mentioning Goosebumps.

Viewer beware - you're in for a scare!

Viewer beware – you’re in for a scare!

Before Harry Potter started waving his dick in our faces, these were the two hottest book series for kids in the ’90s. They both relied on the same “let’s pump out 19 books per month” business model, and both gave birth to TV adaptations.

Goosebumps was always more popular than Animorphs (for evidence: Goosebumps relaunched a few years ago and is still going strong, while the recent Animorphs revival crashed and burned after 7 books), but comparing the two TV shows is totally laughable: Goosebumps ran for five seasons, is incredibly memorable for our generation (start humming the theme song–you won’t be able to stop), and was such a hit that they produced a series of book adaptations of the TV show adaptation.

This happened.

That all being said, let’s jump into a spooky tale featuring probably the most popular Goosebumps character ever conceived.

That's right: R.L. Stine's mole!

That’s right: R.L. Stine’s mole!

First of all: the opening sequence is dope as fuck.

Open on a nice house in a nice neighborhood with some nice music playing, then cut to the happy family of five inside. They’re doing some kind of family night show-and-tell weekly funfest.

Preteen daughter Sarah has painted a painting of the nice house, which she is entering in “the city art show.”

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Her parents are totally stoked. Her little sister, Amy, is not. Also, she’s a bitch. Also, she has a ventriloquist dummy. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

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Next up is Sarah’s little brother. He’s got a video to show. It includes the mom dancing poorly, the dad putting on his toupee, and Sarah trying on her mom’s makeup. Also, the background music is a remix of the theme song, so that is incredible. Uh-oh–Little Brother has also filmed Amy trying on Sarah’s sweater!

As you can imagine, this causes a whole debacle. The sisters start squabbling and the parents are all “I don’t even give a fuck.” Also, Dad is played by Richard Fitzpatrick, and even if you don’t realize it, you’ve probably seen him in something.

In spooky news, it’s Amy’s turn and she’s got a ventriloquism act to perform with her dummy, Dennis.

Hoo hoo hoo.

Hoo hoo hoo.

“Dennis, how was your picnic? Were there any ants?” “No, worse–termites! You’ve heard of the Terminator–we had to call the EXterminator! Hoo hoo hoo!”

The joke is so bad that Dennis’s head falls off.

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Boy, I’m lucky that logic doesn’t apply to me and my blogs. Hoo hoo hoo!

Amy throws a fucking fit and tosses Dennis’s body halfway across the room while pouting. She wants a new dummy (same as the old dummy). Well, luckily, her dad already bought one and it’s behind the couch. Amy opens the trunk containing her new friend. His name is Slappy and he’s a real asshole.

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Hey, Slappy’s got some kind of card tucked inside his jacket. It’s filled with Latin.

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Amy reads the Latin.

I’m drawing a line in the fucking sand here, do not read the Latin.

Amy starts hugging the dummy and her parents consider sending her to a psychologist. Oh and Slappy winks at the camera but that is probably not important.

His eyebrow game is on point

His eyebrow game is on point

Later that night, Amy’s practicing her new act with Slappy. Dennis sits slumped in a chair, forlorn.

Dumb dummies

Dumb dummies

Sarah shows up to yell at her sister for wearing her sweater. Is this really such a fucking issue for young women? I have never once seen two girls argue over one wearing the other’s clothes except in every television show ever made. Whatever, Slappy tells Sarah to fuck off and Amy is like “oh shit, I didn’t DO ANY PUPPETRY AT ALL!”

She tries to force the two dummies to socialize while she sleeps, but everyone knows you can’t just put two dummies in the same habitat; the stronger one will always eat the weaker. Accordingly, Slappy throws Dennis to the floor and Amy is all, “Aw, Dennis, you’re always defying the laws of physics, you little rascal.”

We cut to a first-person view as SOMEONE sneaks around the house and into Sarah’s room. Then cut again to the next morning…and SARAH’S PAINTING HAS BEEN RUINED.

Or improved.

Or improved.

Everyone blames Amy because, let’s be honest, she’s sort of a bitch. She runs off to cry and then finds red paint on Slappy’s hands. Don’t worry, Sarah, it’s probably just the blood of his last victim, Andy.

That night, the real horror starts:

Hoo hoo hoo!

Hoo hoo hoo!

Papa Cowboy yields the floor to Amy and her puppet bullshit. Midway through the act, Slappy begins talking on his own and systematically insulting every member of the family. “You call yourself an artist? Why don’t you give up on the brushes and try using a roller? Oh, and Dad–how about that erectile dysfunction? Hoo hoo hoo!” I may be misquoting.

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The family forcibly separates Slappy from Amy and sends them both to bed for being dickheads. Slappy laughs on his way out of the room, which no one seems to realize is a problem.

Amy’s had enough of Slappy’s shit, so she locks him in a box.

Her parents will soon do the same to her.

Her parents will soon do the same to her.

Some number of days later, Amy is painting in her room with her friend, Friend, and Little Sister of Friend. While Amy complains about being a middle child, LSoF spots the Locked Slappy Box in the closet. Sarah comes in to yell at Amy for using up her markers. This gives LSoF enough time to pull Slappy out of his box, and he immediately starts screaming obscenities and refusing to let go of LSoF’s finger while laughing like an asshole.

Eeek!

Eeek!

Mom comes home and is like “Jesus, kid, I thought we talked about this.” Amy continues to blame the dummy, which causes her friend to run away and her mom to consider calling Child Psychological Services. Also Slappy won’t stop cackling so that might be something worth noting.

The family assembles in the living room to discuss Amy’s psychotic break.

"I'm sorry, hun, but you're whacked!"

“I’m sorry, hun, but you’re whacked!”

They don’t make much progress.

That night, as the family sleeps, someone starts running around and wakes Amy up. Uh-oh, Slappy’s missing! Amy goes on the hunt while someone grabs her dad’s guitar.

She walks into the living room, where her parents have fallen asleep, to find Slappy about to beat them to death with the guitar.

Say Rock and Roll and Die!

Say Rock and Roll and Die!

She tackles him to the ground, waking them up.

Amy tells her parents that she was just trying to save them from being bludgeoned to death by a living dummy. This doesn’t go ever well. They send her to bed and wonder where they went wrong as parents and whether or not the neighborhood would notice if they started locking their crazy-ass daughter in the attic.

At breakfast the next morning, Amy’s parents are like “Bitch, you’re out of your gourd, but we have to go to work so please don’t murder anyone at school today.”

Then Amy throws Slappy down a stormdrain.

She comes home later that night to find a house full of footprints leading right to her room. She goes to investigate and oh shit it’s Slappy!

More like SuddenAppearance-y!

More like SuddenAppearance-y!

Slappy is like, “Guess what, bitch? You read my Latin and now you’re my slave, bitch!” He’s a real misogynist, that guy. He’s pretty pumped that her parents are going to lock her away in the nuthouse, though that kind of makes her useless as a slave, so I don’t know what his plan is. He’s a real DUMMY about that stuff. Amy responds by tackling him to the ground because he is a dummy.

This will have an impact on my Google search stats.

This will have an impact on my Google search stats.

Sarah comes in, probably to yell at Amy for using her toothpaste or some shit, and she watches in horror as Slappy comes to life in front of her. The two girls run for it and lock themselves in the bathroom as Slappy gives chase. They hug it out and have some sisterly bonding before they remember that they also have a brother in the house.

They go off to save him and find Slappy hanging out on this chandelier for some reason.

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It’s worth noting that Slappy is playing by an actual puppet throughout the entire episode, which makes things pretty entertaining. Anyway, he manages to knock Amy to the ground and is about to, I don’t know, do something spooky when someone rushes in from offscreen and tackles him to the ground, where Slappy’s wooden head hits the floor and explodes.

"I fucked up"

“I fucked up”

A cloud of green CGI gas escapes from Slappy’s head-hole and dissipates.

"I REALLY fucked up"

“I REALLY fucked up”

The girls are like “lol what.” The parents arrive home all “god. dammit.” Amy explains that the dummy tried to enslave and/or murder them, but luckily Little Brother saved them. Then Little Brother wanders into the scene and is like, “lol, no, I didn’t do shit.”

SO WHO KILLED SLAPPY?

The family turns to see a figure standing in the darkness…

Oh, that guy.

Oh, that guy.

Dennis opens his mouth and, with the voice of Goofy, says, “It’s good to be back in the family again! HYUCK HYUCK HYUCK!”

Final Thoughts:

Spooky!

Adaptation Rating:

4/5 I guess. It’s a pretty faithful adaptation, though simplified–if you thought this story could’ve used 15 more scenes of someone causing a minor inconvienence and then blaming a dummy, please check out the book.

Special Effects:

Let’s just say there’s a Living Dummy episode where Slappy is played by a small man in a suit. We really got off easy on this one.

’90s Bullshit:

The Terminator. Ventriloquism. Goosebumps.

Character Development:

The family is enslaved by a never-ending string of living dummies, turning their idylic suburban life into a nightmare maze.

Next Week:

We go back to Animorphs for some stupid alternate-reality episode or whatever.

Happy Halloween, beautiful people!

ANIMORPHS Episode 17: The Release

We’re in class! The Animorphs are learning! It’s about time.

Today Lesson: Making a Not-Shitty Episode

Marco: Checking out that ass since ’98.

They’re in, I don’t know, science class with a teacher named Mr. Perkins. They’re talking about surviving in the woods and cross-country hiking. Their assignment is to come up with five wilderness survival techniques, and then Perkins pulls out a barrel full of crickets.

Oh, CricketBarrel?

Oh, CricketBarrel?

Then he eats one.

Borp.

Borp.

One of the students throws up. Rachel is disgusted.

morphs4

And this is the chick who wants to fuck birds.

When Marco laughs, Rachel is like, “That could’ve been one of us.” What the fuck kind of reasoning is that? Perkins stares at a cricket like a real creep.

After class, Marco is doofing around when Perkins stumbles through the hall, sweaty and disoriented.

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Marco is like “I don’t care about this” as Perkins climbs the stairs, locks himself in a storage room, and loses his freaking mind. He picks up the phone, makes a call, and says, “557 here. I’ll take care of things on my end.” Then he unplugs the phone and continues having an episode as we go into the opening credits.

Wow, what an intriguing intro that was. I’m not even being sarcastic!

After the credits, we catch up with the whole gang (minus bird) at Cyberia. Marco relates the story of the sweaty Perkins. Rachel posits that the teacher’s speech about survival may have been some kind of message to the Animorphs. Seems like a stretch, but whatever.

This chick walks in, all disorientated but not as sweaty. She spins around yelling “I’m free! It’s out! The Yeerk’s out! Freedom!”

Oh, this is the "Don't drop acid" episode....

Oh, this is the “Don’t drop acid” episode….

Well, shit. Another (not-freed) controller walks in and sets his sights on this girl. Jake immediately goes into action mode and barks out some orders. He and Rachel try to talk to the girl, but two meaty male controllers show up and are all, “She’s a friend of ours, it’s okay, we’ll get her home.” Oh. There are some unfortunate implications there, guys. They drag her off and Marco gets food all over Jake’s nice shirt.

"We'll take her back to our nap van. For naps."

“We’ll take her back to our nap van. For naps.”

At Stupid Yeerk Labs, Visser Trent chats with a hologram of Evil Mama Marco.

"LOOK AT MY TEETH."

“LOOK AT MY TEETH.”

So basically the jist is that Yeerks are “running out of energy,” allowing their hosts to get free. Trent has assigned high-ranking Yeerks to just kill off the freed humans.

In the barn, the gang is like “Woops, we fucked up.” Ax announces that he has some news: apparently the radio has been talking about a “flu epidemic,” and those infected are being quarantined. Marco brings up Sweaty Perkins and Jake notes that Tom has been sick lately. The gang puts together that the Yeerks must be running low on energy after they destroyed the Kandrona last week (continuity??!?!??!!). They’re excited about the prospect of freed humans alerting the population at large to the Yeerk problem. Um, well, you guys can turn into animals, you could really blow the lid off of this thing at any moment. But whatever.

Visser Trent and Chapman (hey, buddy! Long time, no see!) chat at Yeerk Labs about the situation at hand. Chapman says he’s assigned Perkins the Yeerk to round up freed student hosts. Perkins is also going to take Tom to a “pickup site” so he can be whisked away to Secret Yeerk Re-Energizing Spaceship Hovering Over Earth.

At the Jake House, Tom is sick in bed.

Yet he still looks like he just murdered a child.

Yet he still looks like he just murdered a child.

Their mother delivers him some soup before Jake, Marco, and Homer Dog come snooping around. Things escalate really quickly: Jake decides to take Tom to the barn, tie him up, and wait for the Yeerk to shrivel up and die of starvation, just like they did with Jake back in “The Capture.” Marco is like “No dude,” and Jake gets really pissed, insinuating that he’s not allowed to save Tom just because Marco couldn’t save his mother. Fucking cold. The point ends up being moot when Tom puts on his hideous shirt and heads out to a meeting of The Sharing.

Despite Marco’s pleas otherwise, Jake runs out of the house and after the car taking Tom away. He screams out that he knows everything about The Sharing in a desperate hope of getting the car to stop…and it does.

morphs10

Also Marco looks like a bird

But after the commercial break, it just keeps going. Weak. Marco is like “lol good,” but Jake’s already turned into dog to give chase.

Dog Jake the Dog follows the car out into the woods, where another ’90s-looking guy escorts Tom into the wilderness.

Woofbark

Woofbark

Tom meets up with Perkins, who brings him to the “pick-up site”–a little shack out in the forest. Jake watches through the window.

Oh, wow, a plot twist! Perkins ties Tom to a chair, telling him that he’s been through this, and it’ll all be over soon.

Worst porno ever

Worst porno ever

Yeah, cool, Perkins is already free from his Yeerk’s control, and he’s become a one-man human-liberating army. Shit, this dude has accomplished more than the Animorphs, and he can’t even be dog. Marco the Wolf catches up with Jake and convinces his friend to peace out and let Perkins handle Tom.

The boys head back to the barn and Jake is super stoked to tell everyone the good news. Ax rains on his parade by noting that if Tom is freed, he’ll have to leave and start a new life somewhere else–otherwise, the Yeerks will either kill or recapture him. Jake tries to find away around this, but he really can’t. Still, the gang rallies together and resolves to help Tom once he’s free. Ax is having none of this emotional human bullshit.

Oh and Tobias is still a bird

Oh and Tobias is still a bird

At school the next day, Jake chats up Perkins after class. He covertly asks about the woods, which pisses off Marco, who wants Jake to just let things play out and stop risking their cover. But Jake don’t give a SHIT because he then spots Tom in the halls.

But, uh-oh, Tom is looking pissed off; he shoves a bunch of kids out of his way. Jake surmises that Tom is still a controller, and that they have to warn Perkins. But as Marco says, it’s too late; Chapman and some security goons are already stomping toward the science lab. Jake wants to intervene, but Marco is still worried about revealing themselves.

Tom confronts Perkins in the classroom…

Oh my God lock this guy up he is a monster that shirt

Oh my God lock this guy up he is a monster that shirt

…followed by Chapman and the goons.

Look how fucking bored that goon is!

Look how fucking bored that goon is!

Jake and Marco spy from outside, then morph off-screen. Perkins tries to make a run for it out the window, but the goons grab hold of him and drag him away. Chapman tells Tom not to reinfest Perkins with a Yeerk; he’s too be executed.

The goons drag Perkins into the hallways but FUCK THERE’S A TIGER GET IN THE CAR.

This dude is so cute

This dude is so cute

Jake the Tiger stuns the goons long enough for Perkins to break free and fall against the wall; Jake then chases them away.

Bored Goon is uninterested. "Oh, SchoolTiger? Whatever."

Bored Goon is uninterested. “Oh, SchoolTiger? Whatever.”

Tom comes out of the room and towers over Perkins, only to be confronted by Marco the Wolf. Tom goes running, too, and Perkins makes his escape.

Jake the Tiger confronts Chapman in the classroom, but he doesn’t actually do anything. Cut to Chapman and Tom reporting back to Visser Trent at Yeerk Labs. Trent is real pissed about how sour this thing went–way too many science tigers for his liking.

That night, Perkins sits alone by a campfire in the woods, hiding. Jake shows up to say hi. He’s brought some food and supplies for the sad teacher.

"Please don't tell your parents that we do Secret Camping."

“Please don’t tell your parents that we do Secret Camping.”

In exchange for helping him out, Perkins gives Jake some info: namely, that Visser Three has the Andalite Disk, and he’s “close to unlocking it.” Jake tries to tell Perkins that he can transform into tigers and dogs or whatever, but Perkins cuts him off; he doesn’t want Jake exposing any more secrets than he needs to. Jake and Perkins wish each other luck, and Perkins gives the kid one last piece of advice: “You won’t regret saving me, Jake. Whatever happens–never give up.”

He disappears into the woods, leaving Jake alone.

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FINAL THOUGHTS:

This episode is fantastic.

I know the show has been on a surprsing upturn lately, but they really knocked it out of the park with this one. We’ve passed out of “this is good….for Animorphs” to “this is good.” I can’t really ask for more than this episode gave us: a wholly original plot that was well-thought-out and taken seriously, a storyline that reflected ongoing character dynamics and moved the ongoing story along, an interesting one-off character, a midpoint twist that was actually surprising. If you’re going to watch one of the first 17 episodes of Animorphs, this is easily the best choice. Awesome.

Writers on this one were Carl Ellsworth and Marc Scot Zicree, both of whom we’ve seen before. Ellsworth also wrote “Tobias,” so what the fuck. Zicree worked on “The Alien” and “The Stranger” (the dumb fucking future episode). This is the last time either will write for the series, so, hey, it was good knowing you, guys!

Adaptation Rating: Someone can tell me otherwise, but I’m pretty sure this is an original plot.

Special Effects: Other than the Mama Marco hologram, which wasn’t the worst hologram of the series, I don’t think there were any other effect shots.

’90s Bullshit: Marco references The X-Files.

Character Development: Jake tries really hard to save Tom but fails again; Marco and Jake are still shaken up over Marco’s evil mom; Perkins gets a complete and satisfying character arc within twenty minutes.

Overall Rating: 5/5 FUCK IT, IT WAS COOL.

Next Week: We’re gonna do something non-Animorphs for Halloween. Spooky!

Thanks for reading! Do you like candy corn? If so, tell me why in the comments and I will disagree with you.

ANIMORPHS Episode 16: The Leader, Part 2

Hey, Halloween is coming up, and it’s on a Friday. Is there anything spooky you guys wanna see me review that week? Someone suggested Goosebumps, I don’t know, does anyone care? Anyway, this episode exists.

Previously on Animorphs: Marco and Jake got shot iinto space and Visser One is Marco’s mom. Cassie and Rachel jumped across a big hole. Ax and Tobias were drafted and killed in Vietnam.

We pick back up with Marco freaking the fuck out. He is simultaneously horrified that his mom is under alien control and psyched that she isn’t dead. Jake says, “Just don’t do anything stupid,” and Marco immediately tries to vault over the boxes they’re hiding behind and charge the stage. Jake stops him.

morphs1

Mama Marco (who is a shitty actress) demands the Andalite Bandits, but some Yeerk asshole shows up to tell her they’ve gone and escaped.

No wonder this guy gave up his humanity.

No wonder this guy gave up his humanity.

Visser Trent shakes his jowels around and disperses his goon squad to look for them.

"Raggle fraggle."

“Raggle fraggle.”

Jake realizes that this situation sucks and tries to come up with a plan, but Marco has completely lost it and just keeps staring into space. He’s gone totally dead inside and Boris is way better at playing “in shock” then “emotional crying.”

Mama Marco tears Visser Trent apart for being a useless shithead. Her lips are out of control, dude. She storms off and Trent hates himself before doing the same thing.

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Back on Earth, Cassie and Rachel crawl through some more vents at the EGS Tower.

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They’re searching for the new Kandrona so they can beat it to death. They bemoan not being able to morph due to the sensors from last episode. I would not be surprised if they use this excuse to completely elimnate morphing from the rest of the show. Look forward to next week’s review of Ani.

Turns out that in space, no one can hear you morph. Jake and Marco hang out on the ceiling as lizards and Marco has seemingly gotten over his emotional shock so that was fun while it lasted.

They look like a heart.

They look like a heart.

They eavesdrop as the two Vissers chat about alien business. Also they are in some kind of plant room where Mama Marco tends to her plants.

Spooky scary spritzing

Spooky scary spritzing

I guess before being possessed by aliens, Mama Marco dug plants. The idea here is that Mama Marco is a difficult host to control because she’s so strong-willed or whatever. Do you think after he acquired his bald businessman morph, Visser Three murdered the real Victor Trent?

Jake and Marco end up in a space elevator that takes them to a space hallway. Marco walks straight into a hanging wire and I’m convinced it was a blooper they just ran with. Well, the guys find a smaller ship docked inside the larger one, start fucking with the controls, and Jake decides they will just fly the lil’ fighter home.

Marco isn’t down with this, first because it’s a fucking bonkers idea, and second because he doesn’t wanna leave without his mom. He storms off and Jake follows him.

morphs9

Jake is like “Nope we gotta go now, this place is bogus.” Marco isn’t budging. He tells Jake that he (Jake) should go back to Earth, but that he isn’t gonna leave without his mom no matter what. This scene is really good, guys! Is this show becoming watchable?

Rachel and Cassie continue fucking around.

"LOL"

“LOL”

Marco is on his own in the space hallways. He hears footsteps and hides, but it’s just Jake, who has come to help him.

"Hey, I guess we're on a spaceship."

“Hey, I guess we’re on a spaceship.”

Cassie and Rachel beat the Kandrona to death with wrenches. An alarm goes off. They run away.

The boys sneak around. Marco is convinced that if his mom sees him, she’ll be able to break free of the Yeerk’s control due to the power of love. They’re spotted by the Goon Patrol, who give chase and shoot at them until Jake expertly knocks some barrels over and then they spray them with a hose full of steam or whatever.

Running!

Running!

They end up being chased back into the smaller ship, where Jake urges Marco to help him start the ship up. Marco is like “Fuck, Jake, we JUST talked about this.”

morphs12

Jake convinces Marco that if they don’t fly off now, they’re gonna get shot to death by flashlights and he is gonna be real fucking useless re: saving anyone. They rocket off into space .

Space.

Space.

There is a pretty funny bit where Marco closes off all the viewscreens, and Jake complains “Now we can’t see anything.” Marco’s response: “It’s space.” “Oh, yeah.” Pretty funny.

Still space.

Still space.

There’s some stuff where Marco makes the ship descend too quickly and they rush to stabilize it while arguing and you get the point.

"Ahhh!" - Audience

“Ahhh!” – Audience

In the rush to fix it, they end up flying back toward the larger ship they came from. Doofuses.

In the Plant Room, Visser Trent reports that there are two life forms aboard the ship coming toward them. He wants to just shoot them out of the sky but Visser One is like no, that would fuck up the plot. She wants to use them to unlock the secrets of…the Andalite disk! Wowzer.

Then the show cuts to Ax standing in a barn and what the fuck.

"I am in this episode."

“I am in this episode.”

So apparently Ax has used his magic psychic powers to locate Jake and Marco in space. He relays to Cassie and Rachel that the boys have stolen a ship. This magic is justified as Ax being able to hear Visser Three’s thought-speak but that is pretty retarded. Cassie is like yo, Ax, can you send out a telepathic bullshit message to the boys like when you crashed your dumb ship into that dumb warehouse and gave me headaches all day? Ax says that sounds pretty insipid but he will try anyway.

And hey, like bullshit usually does on this show, Ax’s message reaches them crystal clear. There’s a good gag where he describes a button to them, Marco proudly finds and presses it, and Ax says, “Do not press that button. It will only turn off the lights.” Fucking gold, dude. So he walks them through turning on the autopilot. In a ridiculous turn of events, there are two unlabeled autopilot buttons: one will send the ship to Earth, one will send them to the Yeerk planet. Spooky!

morphs17

Marco tells Jake to pick a button. Jake goes, “No! You do it,” and I’m like, what a dick. Then he adds, “I trust you,” so I guess this is supposed to be a nice gesture. Marco surprisingly doesn’t bitch any further. He picks a button and the ship immediately loops away from the mothership, leaving Visser Trent to stare out the window in frustration.

Mama Marco strokes her plants until her hands begin to twitch outside of her control. I don’t really know why.

morphs18

Hours later, the girls and Ax are still waiting for the boys. Then they come strolling in all wet, having landed in a swamp offscreen. They look fresh from a facefucking by Shrek. They thank Ax for saving their lives and Cassie gets a boner. She gives them some dry clothes to wear that are covered in horse shit.

It's not ogre 'till it's ogre.

It’s not ogre ’till it’s ogre.

When the others leave, Marco tells Jake he doesn’t want the others to know about his mom. Jake is like “K.” He assures Marco they will get his mother back and Marco feebly says, “I know” and tells Jake he smells like shit/Shrek.

Back at the Sad Dad Apartment, Marco’s dad has a surprise for him. Not only did he paint the entire apartment without him, but he put a frame around the hand-turkey drawing on the wall to save it. He tells Marco that he’s sure his mom is real proud of him.

"I love you, son with incredibly vascular arms."

“I love you, son with incredibly vascular arms.”

A really half-assed Marco voiceover tells that Marco won’t stop until he gets his mom back. Then all of his friends come over to smile and laugh at him.

Final Thoughts:

Okay, so this is probably the best episode of Animorphs.

Combined, it easily makes for the best two-parter. There is some silly shit, and the whole Rachel/Cassie subplot was clearly there to just fill time, but hey, for Animorphs, it was mad entertaining. Like The Capture, Part 2, this is one of the few times the show really takes itself seriously (but still has some of the most genuinely funny jokes the series has offered). Boris’s performance as Marco in this episode was easily the best acting so far aside from Paulo as Ax, who is always great.

Maybe I’m just having a good day, but whatever, I liked it.

Adaptation Rating: I don’t care!

Special Effects: Nothing really, but I just wanted to remind you how great that spaceship shot was last week.

’90s Bullshit: Being comfortably numb.

Character Development: Marco goes through a whole thing.

Next Week: An episode that I vaguely remember being not bad.

Seeya, kids! Thanks for reading .

ANIMORPHS Episode 15: The Leader, Part 1

We open right on Visser Trent talking to a beetle at Yeerk labs. He spouts some shit about fear and Andalites to another Yeerk Scientist. Hey, it turns out he wants to capture the “Andalite Bandits.” Yeerk Scientist has made a remote control that detects the “morphing energy” given off when they, well, morph.

"I found this in the garage. It does stuff."

“I found this in the garage. It does stuff.”

For no apparent reason, Visser Trent’s head morphs halfway to Andalite and stays like that. He talks about how important success is to this silly plan, as if he fucks it up, the Yeerk higher-ups are ready to replace him with a less-annoying Visser. We can only hope.

You all know how this makes me feel.

You all know how this makes me feel.

Also, we’ve got a new credits sequence. The song has been replaced with an instrumental version of “It’s All in Your Hand” while Jake narrates the gist of the plot. The spooky footage is replaced with clips from past episodes. Ax still is not featured in any way. It’s way less interesting than the original opening, and it’s here to stay.

After the worsened opening, we’re at Marco’s apartment. He and Sad Dad are repainting the living room. Sad Dad moves a framed painting, which has been covering a hand-traced turkey Marco drew on the wall as a child. They reflect on how angry Marco’s mom was, and when Dad leaves the room, Marco puts his hand up against the drawing in remembrance.

Handimorphs

Handimorphs

Marco starts painting and manages to fall off the ladder in spectacular fashion, landing in a tray of paint. He and his dad do the whole “getting paint on each other” thing.

Another tragedy at the Marco house
At Jake’s house, our hero is drumsticking all over his room to the sound of generic music on his stereo.

What do teens love? Anti-smoking signs!

What do teens love? Anti-smoking signs!

The phone rings and Jake rushes to pick it up, but Tom beats him to it. The call’s for Tom, which gets Jake real paranoid about secret alien business.

Jake becomes his dog to eavesdrop. Tom’s talking about building a new Kandrona and further preparing for the arrival of…VISSER ONE. I just hope it’s not another hammy bald man .

Jake heads to Marco’s place, where no painting at all was actually accomplished. Jake says that he has big news and Marco makes a joke about having a date with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, keeping things topical.

Also Marco is short as shit

Also Marco is short as shit

So Jake fills Marco in on what he’s learned. It turns out the new Kandrona is at the “EGS Tower,” which Marco correctly remembers as the building from the shitty future episode. He also calls the Ellimist “that Elmo guy” which I guess is funny. I cannot believe this show is bringing back a past plot point.

Jake wants to lay siege to the tower, but Marco is like fuck that. He throws a fit about being tired of the superhero life. He says “we’re just kids,” which is funny because Marco looks particularly 35 today.

Basically, it’s been two years almost since Marco’s mom died. Sad Dad is finally getting out of his depression and Marco doesn’t want to fuck that up by dying; he just wants some normalcy. Marco shows Jake a picture of his shattered family and starts crying.

"This was my best shirt."

“This was my best shirt.”

Jake relates, but he says he has to keep fighting if he wants to get Tom back.

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Wait, that was too subtle for Animorphs. Let me fix it.

Nailed it.

Nailed it.

Later, Jake sneaks around the fences outside of the EGS Tower .Cassie and Rachel are there, too, but Marco’s blown them off. Also, Tobias and Ax are apparently “laying low” this week. I’m starting to wonder if there was some kind of contractual limit to how often the actors could appear.

Hey, Marco’s here! He decided to show up, insisting that after this adventure, he is totally donezo for reals. The gang sneak into the building without turning into animals or doing anything.

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Surprisingly, this is relevant: Marco notes how weirdly easy it was. They quickly find a closed door emanating an alien red light.

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Apparently it makes the same sound the tower made in the future. Jake and Marco turn into lizards to sneak under the door.

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Of course, this sets off the “morph energy” sensor. It lights up a sector on this security guy’s console map—which is clearly a piece of paper serving as a computer display.

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Marco and Jake demorph in the room of red, where they’ve found the new Kandrona–basically a miniature red sun. But the guard sounds the alarm before anything can be done, and walls slide into place to trap Jake and Marco inside of a small, featureless black box.

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Then the box they’re in launches into space.

Cassie and Rachel break into the red room too late, finding the guys gone BECAUSE THEY WERE LAUNCHED INTO SPACE.

The girls hide in a vent before Tom and his goons show up in the room. Tom calls Yeerk Labs to tell them the Andalties have been captured and are “on the way.”

In the Rocket Box, the boys attempt to find some way out of their predicament. They eventually manage to pull a panel down off the wall.

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Doing so reveals….this.

Space?

Space?

Which I guess represents outer space, because Marco says, “Jake, we’re rocketing into space,” which will be the name of a song if I ever start a punk band.

The girls crawl through the vent and emerge on some ledge with a fucking chasm in front of it. They can’t morph due to the sensor, so Rachel has to convince Cassie to make the jump across. Then they jump across. This was pointless.

In outer space, whatever the fuck the boys are trapped in is beamed up into a mothership.

WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS BUDGET

WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS BUDGET

And it looks…really good, so good I’m suspicious that they just reused stock footage from some other movie or something.

Sensing doom, they morph into cockroaches. This astounds the human security Yeerks with their flashlight guns, of course, because the Yeerks are complete assholes. The bug-boys scurry off into the mothership bowels.

Cassie and Rachel decide to beat the Kandrona to death. That is their plan.

Human again, Jake and Marco run around the ship’s halls until they stumble into the back of some big assembly. They hide and watch as Visser Trent takes the stage, with Marco complaining “he’s everywhere”–I feel your pain, brother.

Yeerk dress code sucks shit

Yeerk dress code sucks shit

Trent gives a big speech about how they’ve captured the Andalite bandites, emulating George W. Bush’s Mission Accomplished bit. He introduces Visser One for the purposes of bragging about his victory.

Visser One joins him on the stage. It’s a middle-aged woman dressed all in black.

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Jake’s eyes go wide.

"Visser One...is hot?"

“Visser One…is hot?”

Marco looks ready to cry.

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Jake says, “Marco…it’s your mom.”

YUP.

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Final Thoughts:

Hey, this was pretty good! Marco crying was a bit too much, the foreshadowing was incredibly obvious, and the premise is sort of ridiculous–rocketship room!–but it was well-paced, flew by (no pun intended), and not too full of inane shit. If Part 2 is as good as this, this will easily be the best two-parter so far.

The writers on this one were Mike Wollaeger and Jessica Scott. Scott also wrote the oatmeal episode (lol) and now has a career writing lots of Disney Channel Original Movies. Wollaeger, interestingly, worked only on the same episodes as Scott; he hasn’t written anything since 2002.

Adaptation Rating: Numbers are stupid. This one isn’t too far off conceptually, except that in the book, the entire group is captured. Also, the EGS Tower isn’t made to be such a thing, as this book–The Predator–was published before any Ellimist shit.

90’s Bullshit: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, outer space.

Character Development: Marco’s dad is beating his depression; Marco wants to quit the Animorphs again; Visser One is Marco’s mom; Marco’s mom is Visser One.

Overall Rating: A high 3/5.

Next Week: We’ll see if Part 2 can fuck this up.

ANIMORPHS Episode 14: Tobias

An alarm clock goes off. A hand hits snooze. Who could this hand belong to? Oh, it’s Tobias.

Yep. This is what we're doing.

Yep. This is what we’re doing.

A singsong-ass voice from offscreen croons, “Toby! To-by! Are you up? C’mon, To-by! You don’t wanna be late for your first day of school!” Tobias rises from his slumber and pouts, “IT’S TOBIAS, AUNT MARY.”

Tobias heads to the bathroom, muttering and bitching to himself. As he starts to brush his teeth, the screen begins to get all fuzzy like a VHS tape. It turns out that we’re watching this scene on some kind of little video screen bullshit device courtesy of Ax. Bird Tobias is watching, too. ANIMORPHS: Directed by David Lynch.

It's come to this

It’s come to this

After the opening, we’re with Ax and Tobias. They’re hanging out in a river for some reason. So here’s the set-up: Ax is using some kind of Andalite technology/magic to convert Tobias’s memories from his bird-brain to video. Tobias is freaked out by how “real” the video is.

Or maybe he's just a bird, I can't tell.

Or maybe he’s just a bird, I can’t tell.

This all immediately escalates when Ax closes the device’s screen and suddenly our two heroes are standing in a vast black void. Apparently Ax is using the machine to project Tobias’s memories around them. Why did we even bother with the video screen, then?

Also everything looks like this

Also everything looks like this

Tobias remembers his frist day of school, which he and Ax are poorly green-screen transition’d into. Past-Tobias drops all of his books like a doof.

What a dick.

What a dick

He attempts to get into his locker, but it’s blocked by a dick in a letterman jacket. The Dick gives Tobias the whole “FUCK YOU, NEW KID” routine, telling him these are lockers FOR SENIORS ONLY, YOU IDIOT, YOU DUMB PIECE OF SHIT.

What a dick

What a dick

Dude Dick is about to tear off Tobias’s face when Rachel breaks up the fight and leads Tobias away. The two try to be cute as Rachel shows Tobias his locker WHICH IS RIGHT NEXT TO HERS DESTINY <3. It’s flirt city; Tobias falls in love/boner.

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“You ever think about eating dead rats? Just thinkin’.”

Then, with the only transition being a dimmed screen and Ax muttering “My turn,” we cut to an Ax flashback. He’s living in Cassie’s barn just after joining the group, wearing his clothes backwards, learning how to walk, you get the picture. Cassie brings him some old clothes, including a leather jacket…with 10 DOLLARS IN THE POCKET.

Also she undresses him

Also she undresses him

So Ax wobbles out of the barn (seriously he can’t walk for shit) and nearly gets hit by a car. He manages to inadvertently flag down a taxi BUT HE DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO OPEN A DOOR. The cab takes him to the mall and Ax WALKS AWAY WITHOUT PAYING, STARTING A TIFF WITH THE CABBIE. The cabbie tries to give him change for the fare and Ax says, “CHANGE? INTO WHAT?” Basically, it’s like a solid five minutes of this shtick. And I love Ax, but this is killing me.

ROB SCHNEIDER IS...AX

ROB SCHNEIDER IS…AX

So Ax wanders into the Cyber Cafe, which Tobias calls “Cyberia” or something, so I guess it is called that, who am I to argue with a bird. Ax introduces himself to random teenagers while saying things like “HELLO. I ENJOY YOUR CLOTHING.” Then he walks up to a few kids playing a video game…the Beast Wars game Jake and Tobias were playing in the first episode. So I guess this whole time, the arcade and the weird Cyber Cafe have been one in the same. This episode really IS giving us some revelations.

Finally, Ax gets into a fight when he tells some dude how implausible the video game is. Luckily we cut away to the black memory void, where Tobias’s memories have conjured the ghostly visage of Elfangor. Now we’re just seeing stock footage of the first episode, particularly Elfangor giving Tobias the Andalite Disk (hey, remember that?) and Tobias fucking it up. Seeing his dead brother frazzles Ax, who cancels out the simulation (or whatever) and we’re back to the river.

Tobias apologizes for bringing up Deadfangor and tells Ax how much his brother meant to all of them. This little thing over, we go back into Tobias’s memories. This time we’re seeing new footage of his perspective from “My Name is Jake, Part 2,” specifically after he acquires the hawk for the first time and disappears from the group.

Past-Tobias is out in the woods, having a breakdown over the crazy state of his life. He’s got a sweaty forehead. Then he just…runs home and reads a book. While there, he overhears his aunt talking on the phone about sending him to live with another aunt & uncle. So he flees again, back to Cyberia to distract himself with Beast Wars.

Now an old janitor shows up and tells Tobias “you look like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

"I'm the wise janitor."

“I’m the wise janitor.”

Tobias tells him it’s easy to feel like that when you’re the one person chosen to save the world; the janitor counters that, in such a situation, it would be best to team up with others. Tobias claims that the others don’t need him. The janitor’s point basically becomes “stand up and face your problems.” Why is Tobias meeting a Wise Old Janitor? This episode is all over the place. AND THEN THE JANITOR DISAPPEARS. WHATEVER.

Tobias runs BACK to the woods, where he turns into a bird with much difficulty.

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Then he flies away…and a song starts playing…and the lyrics are…

FLY AWAY
SWEET BIRD OF PREY
FLY, FLY AWAY
NOTHING CAN…STAND IN YOUR WAY
SWEET BIRD OF PREY

So this is basically the funniest thing on the planet. Hearing this inspirational song in his head inspired Tobias to go help his friends and become an Animorph/sweet bird of prey.

But Tobias won’t give his Magic Janitor all the credit. The next flashback is set the day after “My Name is Jake, Part II.” Rachel and Tobias are flirting in the road, as they do.

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Rachel basically tells him, “Hey, we thought you were a creepozoid, but thanks for saving us.” Basically, Rachel tells Tobias that she feels just as apprehensive about the whole alien bullshit thing as he does. Tobias goes home and jerks off for the final time.

THEN, WHATEVER, BACK TO AX’S STORY I GUESS. The video game bully throws him next to a dumpster and the cabbie shows up at that exact moment to pick him up and drops him off in a park where he buys an ice cream and is flirted with by the ice cream scooper girl and tries to eat the ice cream through his shoe DO YOU GET IT YET?

Ice Cream Jane has a thing for the developmentally disabled

Ice Cream Jane has a thing for the developmentally disabled

Then he morphs some woman’s dog and runs back to the barn as a dog and dog dog dog until dog.

Then some stuff where Tobias creates a “living memory” of himself as a human so Human Tobias can talk to Human Ax in the Black Memory Void and Tobias’s sad piano theme plays and fuck this episode.

A photo of Animorphs

A photo of Animorphs

FINAL THOUGHTS:

If you couldn’t tell, this episode is all fucking over the place. It tries to tell like three different stories–Ax’s first day as a human, Tobias’s first day at school, and Tobias morphing for the first time–in the absolute most disjointed way possible, stitched together by a frame story where Tobias & Ax stand in a river and project their memories through a convoluted magical mystery device.

The format problems aside, none of the stories work on their own. Tobias’s first day of school is meant to show us how rough his human life was, but instead of being a dweeby guy with completely negligent guardians, Tobias’s biggest problem is that his aunt calls him Toby instead of Tobias. Yeah he gets bullied by an older dick at school, but also immediately gets hit on by a hot girl.

Seeing the events of the first couple episodes from Tobias’s POV was a good idea, but it’s all wasted on Tobias hanging out in the woods alone, the completely bizarre magical vanishing janitor of inspiration, and the cheesy-ass flying sequence.

Ax’s story drove me up the goddamn wall. I’ve raved about Ax’s comedy bits being the best part of this show but they laid it on SO thick and constant in this episode. I couldn’t stand it.

The shittiest part is that Tobias REALLY could’ve used some character development. He’s basically non-existant in most episodes (unless he is BEING SHOT AND KILLED AND REVIVED WITH NO EXPLANATION), so spending twenty minutes just on his backstory or his feelings could’ve been fantastic.

It wasn’t fantastic.

This was written by Carl Ellsworth, the guy who wrote “The Reaction” and went on to have an actual screenwriting career in Hollywood. Whatever.

Adaptation Rating: 0/5 Who cares.

Special Effects: Magic I guess

90’s Bullshit: Calling your establishment “Cyberia”

80’s Bullshit: John Travolta, Grease

Character Development: Everyone is an idiot.

Next Time: Marco’s mom is dead. OR IS SHE?

Hey gang, we’re officially over halfway through this series. Thanks for reading this dumb shit I’ve been writing and if you’ve been commenting, thanks even more for that. Big shout-out to my readers from Reddit. These ANIMORPHS reviews have been a nice constant in my life through two huge moves, living in three different places, unemployment & getting a job, a relationship & a breakup, depression & getting better…through all of that and more, it’s always been really nice when someone says “Hey, that stupid joke you made about kids turning into dogs really made me laugh.”

ANIMORPHS Episode 13: The Capture, Part 2

We pick up from the end of Part 1 with Jake, Marco, Cassie and Rachel heading back from Operation Fall out of a Vent and Nuke the Yeerks. They’re happy about their success and Jake’s hair is still wet.

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At the Barn of Less-Important Characters, Ax asks Tobias the Bird about eating mice. The rest of the gang shows up to share stories of their victory, but Ax takes one look at Jake and gets reeeeeeal suspicious.

"I am suspicious."

“I am suspicious.”

Uh-oh! Jake has an inner ear infection!

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Well, Ax takes one look at that and tackles Jake to the ground.

Ax enters Andalite Heat, cannot be contained

Ax enters Andalite Heat, cannot be contained

After the credits, the others pull Ax off of Jake (except Tobias, who flaps useleslly in the background). It’s Ax’s day for a voice-over about how even your friends can’t be trusted when Yeerks are around. Jake tries to diffuse the situation but Ax isn’t having any of that shit. He tells the kids that Jake is a controller.

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Cassie is all “nah” but Rachel brings up that “you did fall into that Yeerk tub.” Jake’s defense is basically “COME ON!”. He claims that if he were a controller, he would’ve gone straight to Visser Three to turn them all in, but the gang responds that a good Yeerk would play a longer con.

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Jake gets real anxious and scared as his friends get more suspicious. Then in typical Animorphs fashion, something stupid happens. Rachel declares that as a test, Jake should shake Ax’s hand. Because “a Yeerk would never shake an Andalite’s hand.” Okay, I guess based on how shitty the TV Yeerks are at everything, that checks out. Ax sneers, “I’d rather kiss a Hork-Bajir ” Pretty funny.

So Human-Ax morphs his hand into an Andalite hand and they shake and Jake is like “see, that was stupid.” Rachel hugs him and everyone apologizes for being such Suspicious Sallies.

Eiffel 65

Eiffel 65

But Cassie decides that the Jake she knows would want them to be sure, as in waiting out the three days it would take for a possible Yeerk to starve in his head. The Jake she knows wouldn’t just keep reassuring them. So they tie Jake to a chair.

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Jake is starting to get pretty antsy, and I have to say, Shawn Ashmore is doing a pretty good job here. The persona he’s adopted is very different from the Jake we usually see, which is to say he’s actually emoting and not just standing around or turning into a dog. The crew decides that there’s no other option but to keep Jake restrained for three days, and that they will have Ax morph his appearance and replace him for the duration.

Cut to, haha, Ax-Jake eating potato chips with Marco. Oh my gosh, this episode is a testament to the God Shawn Ashmore, he is nailing Paulo’s bizarre Ax speech patterns. Funny times.

I wish Ax was everyone.

I wish Ax was everyone.

In the Bondage Barn, Cassie stares into Jake’s eyes and calls them “the window to the soul.” Rachel steps out so Cassie can intact her sexual whims or whatever. Then oh here we go.

Cut to a hazy purple void, aka the interior of Jake’s mind, where he is, appropriately, still tied up in a chair.

This

This

Jake tells the Yeerk in his head that his friends aren’t buying it, and that soon enough this’ll all be over. The Yeerk, who sounds like an asshole, talks all about oozing his away through Jake’s brain. The Yeerk is stoked to know that the Animorphs are just humans, and promises Jake that soon enough he’ll escape and turn them all in.

Also this

Also this

At Jake’s house, Ax-Jake is channel flipping. He invites Tom to watch his favorite program, “girls lifting weights.” Tom blows him off and Marco tells Ax to stop being such a weirdo. He specifies that “at dinner, I don’t want you saying anything but ‘pass the butter.'” Of course, this leads to Ax piling spoonfuls of butter into his mouth at the dinnertable and replying to everything with “Pass the butter.” Jake’s parents take their son’s apparent brain damage pretty well. This sequence is sorta funny but it goes on for like five minutes.

"Oh good, now both off our sons are assholes."

“Oh good, now both off our sons are assholes.”

Later that night at Cassie’s Love barn, Cassie feeds Jake and he starts laying some shit on her about the first time they met. Apparently Cassie had just moved to town, a snake escaped during science class, and Cassie caught it and saved the day with her infamous animal empathy. Jake starts creepily telling Cassie how special she is, then passive-aggressively mentions how tight his ropes are. Cassie, blinded by arousal, loosens his restraints.

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In the purple void, Jake screams for Cassie not to do this. He tries to reach out to her, and as she looks into his eyes, Cassie realizes what’s up when Jake is able to briefly take control of his own hand for a moment. Yeerk-Jake tries to put his sweet and innocent voice back on, but Cassie’s had enough of his shit.

Back in the brain void, the Yeerk shows Jake images of a sobbing Tom, telling Jake just how the Yeerks broke the spirit and will of his older brother and enslaved him. Jake doesn’t like it.

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The next day at science class, a teacher talks to Ax-Jake. Apparently Jake’s schoolwork has gone to a “quantum level” over the past three days, so I guess three days have already passed. Then Marco drags Ax out of the room. This scene doesn’t really have a point.

In the barn, Jake mocks Tobias for being stuck as a dumb bird.

"You're a bird! You don't have a soul!"

“You’re a bird! You don’t have a soul!”

Tobias seems pretty happy with himself, but then Jake brings up that he’ll never be anything more than “a pet” to Rachel. Jake to know how to make Tobias human again and offers a deal-with-the-devil to him. Tobias doesn’t get a chance to answer, as Rachel shows up to take over babysitting. Tobias tells her “he’s all yours, Rachel,” then flies the fuck out of there. Wow, this scene was surprisingly well-written for Animorphs; Tobias’s lack of a response really speaks volumes and is subtlety I did not expect from this show.

At this point, Jake has gone full Smirking Evil Asshole. In the brain haze, the Yeerk tells Jake that he’s found the power to morph within his brain. It took three days to figure that out? I don’t think that’s how being a Yeerk works, but whatever. So basically, shit is about to get bad.

Later that night, Rachel is falling asleep on the job because she’s completely useless.

And she's too vain

And she’s too vain

Jake feigns sleepiness as well, yawning until Rachel does conk out completely. The second she’s asleep, he morphs into good ol’ Dog the Dog and runs the fuck out of there.

Woof

Woof

Dog Yeerk Jake bounds into the woods, then morphs human again and keeps running toward another Secret Sharing Camp. But hey, woops, Lion Rachel is already here to fuck him over.

He turns to run, but Horse Cassie is there, and Wolf Marco too, and Ax Jake. They might’ve just filmed Shawn Ashmore twice, or this might be his twin brother Aaron, I don’t know. So basically Rachel fell faked falling asleep so Jake could lead them toward another Yeerk Pool entrance. I don’t know, guys, that was a pretty ballsy gambit to pull when you only had like 15 more minutes until the Yeerk was for-sure dead, but I guess it worked out. On cue, the Yeerk reaches its point of starvation and Jake starts convulsing in pain.

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His friends scream for him to fight the Yeerk until the little slug falls right out of his head and withers on the forest floor. Jake, trembling, crushes it under his foot.

Cut to the Cyber Cafe, where Jake drowns his sorrows with whatever you drink at a Cyber Cafe.

CYBER JUICE

CYBER JUICE

He tells Cassie that he now knows what it’s like to be the prisoner of a Yeerk, stuck in your own body with no control and no hope. He thanks Cassie for being there for him through this ordeal. Romantic music plays as Jake apologizes for the sexual advances his infected self made on her.

Marco show sup and tells Jake, “It’s ready, man.” In another part of the Cafe, Ax has hooked a cell phone up to a computer or some bullshit. Jake takes the phone and calls his house, where Tom picks up.

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"Hello. Is this Dog?"

“Hello. Is this Dog?”

With his voice modified from the computer, Jake tells his brother, “Don’t give up, Tom. No matter what it tells you, no matter it makes you do. Don’t give up. You’re not alone. Keep fighting, Tom. We’re fighting with you.”

Tom hangs up the phone…and his hand begins to tremble, moving out of the Yeerk’s control.

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Final Thoughts:

The first part of the episode was definitely bad, but wow, Part 2 might be the best thing this show has produced so far. It should be evident by the length of this review that there is more plot and character development in this half an hour than in most of the show so far.

The best thing about it? This episode treats the events within it with real gravitas, something even the better previous episodes rarely manage. There is a lot of comedy with the Ax bits, but the parts with Jake feel genuinely dire and serious. This is a far cry away from “Marco gets stuck in a dumpster” or whatever usually happens around here. Shawn Ashmore even got to do some real acting, and the scene at the end where Jake calls Tom feels like something out of a real TV show–and makes use of the TV medium by showing Tom’s hand tremble, something we never would’ve seen in the first-person-narrated books. And Visser Trent didn’t even show up in this part–how can this episode be real???

I regret deciding to give my thoughts on both parts at once, because Part 1 was pretty shitty, even for a set-up episode.

Both parts were written by Neal Shusterman. His Animorphs credits include both parts of the pilot, Underground, and The Message, most of which were pretty bad. So I don’t know how Part 2 turned out so great. Otherwise he’s only written Goosebumps episodes, the Double Dragon movie, a Disney Channel Original Movie and some more R.L. Stine stuff recently.

Adaptation Rating: 4/5, whatever. The element of being inside Jake’s head with the Yeerk is not nearly as well-executed as in the book, but the plot is pulled together pretty well.

Special Effects: Purple Haze Brain Disaster

Character Development: Jake goes through a horrific experience; Tom receives a glimmer of hope. Mustache Man dies.

I will not forget

I will not forget

’90’s Bullshit: Chat interfaces that would never exist. Jonathan Taylor Thomas again. Mustaches.

Overall Rating: Fuck whatever I said before. 2/5 for Part 1, 4/5 for Part 2.

Next Week: An episode about a bird. Oh, it’s about Tobias? Fine.

ANIMORPHS Episode 12: The Capture, Part 1

Hey gang, sorry this review is a few days late, but I just started a paid (!) job (!!) in social media/editing (!!!) this week, and I’m in the process of moving out to the city for said job. Everything is in a lot of flux right now so I really have no idea when the next review will go up, either, but it’ll happen.

On to the Morphs.

Jake and his family are at a fancy restaurant. Jake’s talking about Tom’s old basketball glories and his dad is eating bread. So here’s some stuff: Jake’s dad works for a clinic or something and they’ve finally gotten shit off the ground after lots of hard work.

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Oh, good, Visser Trent is here.

GREAT

GREAT

He stalks his way toward Jake, who grows inreasingly paranoid if the camerawork is anything to go by. Then he stands behind Jake and we go into the opening. Suspense I suppose.

After the song, Jake’s dad gets up and shakes Visser Three’s hand, which really spooks Jake’s voiceover. Hey, it turns out Jake’s dad is an alien overlord. Nah, he and Trent are just Business Buddies. There’s a silly gag where Trent and Tom are both grossed out by escargot because slugs; Jake passively-aggressively shovels them down his mouth while Trent makes a face and what is gong on?

"How did this happen?"

“How did this happen?”

Jake’s dad asks our hero to help him out at the clinic over the weekend. Tom is like “NO I WANT TO TAKE HIM TO THE SHARING AND NOT PUT A SLUG IN HIS EAR.” Jake takes the former option.

At Weekend Work, Jake spends his time chatting in a totally realistic chat program to his friends who are gathered at the totally realistic Cyber Cafe.

I fucking love this I don't even care

I fucking love this I don’t even care

Ax decided to show up on the show this week and he is eating everything in the goddamn world. He eats a hot dog like corn-on-the-cob.

Apparently some big VIP guest is coming to the clinic for its opening. Rachel and Cassie hope that it will be “someone cool, like Jason John McCole.” I guess they already forgot the time they saved him from alien slavery and he retired from acting in horror. But whatever, fuck continuity, Ax is asking (ax-ing?) if hamburgers are made out of ham.

Ax, you are my spirit animal

Ax, you are my spirit animal

At the clinic, Jake’s dad is getting nervous about all the security equipment and dudes in suits and barrels full of hazardous materials that Visser Trent has filled the building with.

This show is hazardous waste

This show is hazardous waste

One of the suits tells Jake he has to get the fuck out before the Governor, who has just announced his candidacy for President, shows up.

Jake flees to the barn, where he expresses his concerns about all the spooky shit happening. Marco puts together the idea that a Yeerk-controlled Governor-turned-President might be bad for them. Then…oh, what? Ax uses magic to turn Marco’s Blockbuster Card (lol) into an all-purpose unlock-any-door-on-Earth card. Was this script unfinished or what. They all acquire a cockroach because it doesn’t matter.

Also they cast this magic spell by rubbing the card on Ax's nipple

Also they cast this magic spell by rubbing the card on Ax’s nipple

At the clinic, our four cockroaches watch the Governor enter the building.

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This show is beginning to bug me

Visser Trent is there too and they are the best of buddies. Jake’s Dad starts to realize just how little control he has over his life when his own security pass won’t let him into the elevator. Maybe he and Marco’s Dad can eat ice cream together and sob.

Our heroes end up inside the clinic in human form somehow (okay) and start doing sneaky stuff. Rachel does some junk on the computer and there’s a bunch of shots of security cam footage and despite the music’s insisistance otherwise, none of it is exciting. Oh, it turns out there’s a lil’ Yeerk Pool in the building. Rachel, never failing us, says aloud and to herself: “It’s a Yeerk Pool.”

Here's a screencap of this guy

Here’s a screencap of this guy

Meanwhile, Jake, Marco and Cassie find the “Hydrotherapy Room” (read: Yeerk Sludge Sauna). I hope they brought their oatmeal.

The Glasses Yeerk guy shows up to find Rachel in the computer room, but she bugs out of there so that’s irrelevant. Jake can’t get his magic card to work on the door, but I guess that’s understandable since his card is total bullshit. Jake says “Ax said this could break any code” and Cassie says “Any HUMAN code” and WHAT THE FUCK SENSE DOES THAT MAKE, CASSIE.

"It's like this doesn't make any sense!"

“It’s like this doesn’t make any sense!”

Rachel shows up and Visser Three is stalking toward them but then they are all cockroaches so whatever.

The roach gang runs into a cleaning lady who tries to murder them with bugspray, but they escape into a vent. Marco says, “This is a bad morph” and I’m starting to feel that way about my life.

So the roach-kids end up in a vent above the Yeerk Pool room. Visser Trent finds the Governor getting a massage and invites him to enjoy the hydrotherapy sauna. The kids morph back to human in the vent (because?). The increase in weight causes Jake to fall through the vent and into the tub-sized Yeerk Pool, which makes sense, because the vent seems to be made of construction paper and cardboard.

Also, this guy is crushed to death by the falling ceiling.

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I am not being facetious. He dies.

The first casualty of the war.

The first casualty of this war.

The other kids fall down, too, and Cassie pulls an unconscious Jake out of the pool.

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Marco sticks a chair against the door as Trent tries to get into the room. Rahcel says “He’s unconscious,” so that’s what she says. Jake decides to sort of wake up. The goons break down the door and Rachel horrifyingly morphs into a lion to chase them while the others get away with Jake on a stretcher.

LION AM MAKE ROAR

LION AM MAKE ROAR

But first, Marco destroys the Kandrona source and turns the heat up so high on the pool that the Yeerk slugs inside boil to death.

Oh.

Marco.

OH.

The Governor decides “fuck this” because a lion just chased him through a wellness clinic. Outside, Jake comes to his senses. Everyone is really glad that Jake didn’t get yet another brain injury or anything, but just as the episode ends, he smirks an evil smirk at the camera.

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Oh shit!

TO BE CONTINUED.

Final Thoughts:

I’m gonna just deal with this when I review Part II. See you morph-monkeys next week.

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