We’re in class! The Animorphs are learning! It’s about time.
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.
Then he eats one.
One of the students throws up. Rachel is disgusted.
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.
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!”
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.
At Stupid Yeerk Labs, Visser Trent chats with a hologram of Evil Mama Marco.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
…followed by Chapman and the goons.
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.
Jake the Tiger stuns the goons long enough for Perkins to break free and fall against the wall; Jake then chases them away.
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.
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.
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.