ANIMORPHS Episode 9: The Reaction

We’re at the zoo and Cassie is giving a voice over about how and why Tobias turned into a bird. She warns us that “sometimes a morph can have a mind of its own.” Spooky. We see her looking at crocodiles and Rachel walks up talking about how they’re on a field trip. There’s another kid here, too. His name is Ponytail Ethan. I really think this is the first time there’s been a non-recurring-character kid with lines.

THE SIXTH ANIMORPH? No.

THE SIXTH ANIMORPH? No.

Ponytail Ethan leads our ladies away to look at animals more interesting than crocodiles. Immediately a little shit of a kid surmounts a fence and wanders into the croc den, garnering the attention of our heroes.

He dies, and the rest of the episode is Cassie's guilt.

He dies, and the rest of the episode is Cassie’s guilt.

Rachel sends Ponytail Ethan off to get help while Cassie strolls lackadaisically into the pit and grabs the kid. Rachel joins her and within seconds they are both surrounded by threatening ‘odiles. The camera zooms in doofily on one of them and we go into the intro.

"DOOF"

“DOOF”

When we get back, Cassie orders Rachel to escape with the kid while she literally throws herself on a crocodile and acquires it to calm it down. There were four crocodiles around them before so I don’t know how this works but whatever. Cassie escapes just before Ponytail Ethan returns…without any help. What the fuck was he doing?

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Cut to Yeerk Labs and Visser Trent is watching TV and bitching about how stupid it is. He’s hanging out with Tom. Apparently they’ve infested “Jason John McCole,” a popular celeb amongst tweens. He’s supposed to be a Jonathan Taylor Thomas riff, but the dude they have playing him is about thirty-five—Tom can relate. Anyway, Jonathan Jason John Taylor McThomas is going to be on a talk show soon.

No screencaps of Visser Trent this week. You're welcome.

No screencaps of Visser Trent this week. You’re welcome.

At the barn, Cassie’s been feeling sick ALL DAY. Well at least she isn’t a bird. The Barn Phone rings and she answers. Apparently it was The Talk Show. They heard about the girls saving the boy from crocs, so the show wants to have them on as guests. I guess they don’t need to discuss this with their parents or anything because Cassie accepts.

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Then her arm starts crocodiling. Uh-oh, yo. It fades, and Cassie blows it off as nothing.

please see a dermatologist

please see a dermatologist

The girls meet up with Jake and Marco at THE CYBER CAFE. Jake is pissed at them for putting themselves on display in public, although it’s not like they even did any Animorphing. He doesn’t want them putting themselves on display like that, much less on a TV show.

The girls don’t care. They check out an article about themselves on the probably-terrible talk show’s definitely-terrible web page.

Where is the link to Rollerblades?

Where is the link to Rollerblades?

Marco eats chips.

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The girls realize they are going to be on the same show as John Jason Thomas and have a Typical Teenage Girl Freakout. Then Cassie’s arm crocodiles again.

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Jake comes over and he’s mad jealous that Cassie’s got a crocodile boner for someone else. Also, it’s occurring to me that the Cyber Cafe is a business built around teenagers operating computers while goofing off with food and drink in hand. Anyway, Jim Jason John Flying Jimmy is going to be on the show to talk about The Sharing. All boners in the room subside.

Rachel wants to save Jeremy Josh Peck if he hasn’t already been infested by Yeerkos. The girls decide they’ll talk with Ax later and get some advice. Marco’s mouth is full of chips.

Marco's chip-eating subplot is my favorite.

Marco’s chip-eating subplot is my favorite.

Cassie goes to the library and reads a book about reptiles that is definitely aimed at eight year olds. Hey, you know, this is the time to talk about something. The girl playing Cassie constantly does this thing where she walks with her hands on her hips and her elbows pointing backwards. It gives off the feeling of a pregnant woman. It’s bizarre. She did it in the croc scene, she does it here, and she’ll do it again in the very next scene.

The Nadia Waddle

The Nadia Waddle

Then Tom comes around the corner, prowling for young girls as usual. While she makes awkward small-talk with him, she starts growing crocodile scales first under her shirt, then on her arms.

morphsssssssssssss

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Tom asks Cassie if she wants to bang his little brother; she manages to avoid both exposing her crocodile skin and her teenage yearnings. After some talk, Tom realizes he is not gonna get laid and peaces out. Cassie itches her arm.

In the barn, Jake has drawn a plan on a whiteboard. That is way more than I expected from these kids.

"So first, Marco is gonna buy a boombox. If you see a pipe, WARN ME."

“So first, Marco is gonna buy a boombox. If you see a pipe, WARN ME.”

Tobias is here. He still is alive. So. Okay. Cassie continues to not tell everyone about her problems until she collapses in a bale of hay and painfully morphs into a crocodile.

Yep. Painful

Yep. Painful

Everyone watches with mild interest, then the camera does the same stupid zoom-in again. Then she turns back into a girl. Then she turns back into a crocodile. Then she turns back into a girl. What a day, you guys.

Ax explains that Cassie is displaying “an allergy to a morph.” There’s nothing they can do, but apparently Cassie’s body will eventually “burp out” the animal she is allergic to. Cassie is going to burp up a crocodile. She is going to create new life. This is the thing that is going to happen. Maybe she burped up our Replacement Tobias after his death so Rachel would stop writing poems about him and listening to Evanescence.

There’s an argument about whether or not Cassie should cancel the TV appearance because of her crocodile gas. They want to go to find out if Jeremy Jackson Jones is a controller or not, but Jake bans them from appearing to protect their secret morphing power/so John Jackson Jane won’t feel her up in the dressing room.

The night, Cassie calls Rachel. Rachel picks up and immediately assumes Cassie burped up her crocodile. She does that thing where she just keeps talking and never gives Cassie a chance to explain otherwise. So they’re gonna be on the show.

Typical girl talk

Typical girl talk

At the TV studio, Cassie has decided to wear overalls to her television appearance.

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The girls head inside while the boys go into Action Mode. Cassie gets makeup applied to her face for the first time in her life and the girls meet JTMC. He’s kinda got this Emilio Estevez thing going on, if Emilio was a shitty actor. He turns out to be a total asshole and mocks them while Cassie’s arm goes scaley, revealing her lie to Rachel.

"You girls ever want to fuck Simba? Okay okay okay."

“You girls ever want to fuck Simba? Okay okay okay.”

Rachel concludes that Jason MUST be a Yeerk, because why else would he be a dick? Oh, and by the way, the third guest on the show is some dude who works with animals. So Marco’s morphed his llama and is llamaing around while Ax and Jake skitter by as roaches.

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The girls wait in the audience while the show is set up on stage. Cassie starts having labor pains so I guess it’s time to shoot a croc out of herself. Rachel takes her to the restroom, where Cassie locks herself in a stall, burps out a crocodile, then crawls out and runs away. So that’s dealt with, I guess.

I'VE HEARD OF TEEN PREGNANCY BUT THIS IS RIDICULOUS

I’VE HEARD OF TEEN PREGNANCY BUT THIS IS RIDICULOUS

They head back on stage, and so does the croc, freaking everyone out. Jonathan Taylor Notmas faints, and according to the guys in morph, it’s because his Yeerk has slithered out of his head in order to escape the crocodile. That doesn’t really make any sense at all.

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PICTURED: Me after writing an ANIMORPHS review

The croc makes a beeline for unconscious Jason, so the girls wake him up and save him. Marco the Llama sits on the floor.

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Then the croc eats the Yeerk slug.

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Cut to the Cyber Cafe, where everyone is celebrating their success (?). Rachel says that Jeremy Jason has decided to quit show business and move out of the country. I mean they should probably have a chat with the guy considering he’s now a survivor of Yeerk infestation, the first person like that they’ve encountered, and if they don’t step in to protect him, he’ll probably be hunted down and reinfested or killed by the Yeerks—oh, they have a food fight instead.

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Cassie has a voice over about how important trust is and how she shouldn’t have lied to her friends. That’s a real bullshit moral lesson, Cassie. In fact, lying to your friends directly caused the Yeerk to be expelled from JTT, saving him from infestation. Who knows what their plan was going to be otherwise, other than that it involved Marco being a llama.

Final Thoughts:

It wasn’t terrible like other episodes I’ve faced. It was mediocre, I guess. An okay story bogged down by a lot of weird choices. What was the point of Ponytail Ethan? What even was the original plan to save Jason John McCole from the Yeerks? Why did they try to shoehorn in a lesson about being trustworthy when Cassie’s lies led to the day being saved (in a completely bizarre way)? }

The writer on this one was Carl Ellsworth. He wrote two more episodes of Animorphs…then went on to write for major movies including Red Eye, Disturbia, and the remakes of Red Dawn and The Last House on the Left. Good on him. His current project is the screenplay for the Goosebumps movie. Full circle.

Cameron Graham, who played Jason John McCole, was also on a Goosebumps episode. He also had a role on the ’80s Degrassi High series playing Dale, a character who apparently never did anything of note.

Adaptation Rating: 2/5. They took the Rachel-centric THE REACTION and made it into a Cassie episode, I guess because most of the Cassie books are pretty annoying. Then they trunucated the plot and resolved the climax in a completely asinine way. Seriously, “The Yeerk crawls out of his head in order to escape a crocodile and then is eaten by a crocodile” reads like the first draft of a script before someone comes in and points out all of the clear problems with the idea.

Special Effects: 3/5. Compared to some of the shit I’ve put up with, the croc-arms weren’t the worst.

Character Development: Cassie learns that lying is the worst except she didn’t actually learn shit. Marco gets to be a llama.

’90’s Bullshit: Ugly web pages. Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Cyber Cafes. Boys with ponytails. Lying to your friends.

Overall Rating: 3/5. Not that great, pretty stupid, but not irritating, either.

Next Week: A horrible episode.

ANIMORPHS Episode 8: The Alien

Human Ax, Marco, and Jake are at the movie theater. Ax doesn’t get it; he thinks the previews are themselves movies, and can’t follow the plot. The move starts and it’s some old black-and-white public domain alien thing, though based on the audio and video we get of it, it seems like just another trailer.

morphs

But anyway, the gist is, Ax doesn’t get human culture. He doesn’t know what “sci-fi” is, doesn’t understand how to laugh, you know. Then he eats candy and popcorn and goes fuckin bonkers over it. Andalites don’t have mouths, so having taste buds is the bomb diggity to them. He starts eating popcorn off the floor and terrifies everyone in the theater, but at least he isn’t texting. Then he sees an alien on screen and eye-stalks grow out of his forehead, scaring a child and ruining his cognitive development. The guys drag him out of the theater.

I'm so sick of annoying teenagers at the movies.

I’m so sick of annoying teenagers at the movies.

After the intro, we’re outside the theater. Jake yells at Ax, who says that seeing the alien planets on screen reminded him of home and freaked him out. Ax is homesick. When Ax moves offscreen, Jake and Marco talk about how much it must suck to be an alien stranded on Earth. Well, at least Ax doesn’t have it as bad as Corny…

Ax gets a voice-over. He wants to accept the friendship of his, uh, friends, but he has been taught to not trust other species and “never tell our race’s terrible secrets.” He wishes Elfangor was there. Heavy.

He also has popcorn in his hair. Less heavy.

He also has popcorn in his hair. Less heavy.

Marco is like, well, we took him to the mall AND the movies, I give up, fuck him. Jake decides that since Ax misses his own family, they should let him hang out with theirs. Sounds great. He and Marco’s dad can bond over their unflinching depression and guilt; he and Tom can bond over secretly being aliens. They decide that they can’t bring him to Rachel or Cassie’s house because they’re busy doing irrelevant shit. Marco notes, “Yeah, and Tobias lives in a tree.”

Oh.

Tobias lives in a tree.

Tobias lives.

Okay.

Fine.

Jake exercises his brain muscles and decides it would be a shitty idea to bring Ax around his Yeerky brother Tom, so they take him to Marco’s place. He immediately tries to eat wax fruit. What the fuck is the point of wax fruit? Ax immediately questions Marco about the photos of his dead Dead Mom who died. They bond over the hopelessness of their shared existence.

But based on Tobias Bird Christ, things are looking up for Dead Mom.

But based on Tobias Bird Christ, things are looking up for Dead Mom.

Marco’s dad comes in all, “Hey, finally, I’ve been waiting for you to cook dinner and make sure I don’t kill myself for three hours.” They try to introduce him to Ax, but have not even taken the foresight to come up with a name for him. They decide he is Max, Jake’s cousin. Turns out Marco’s dad has snapped out of depression long enough to make chili hot enough to make you hallucinate Johnny Cash space coyotes. Despite the boys warning him against it, Ax eats the chili after being bullied into it by Marco’s Alive Dad. He screams out, “THIS IS A WONDERFUL FOOD.”

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Ax’s human antics are probably one of the best elements of this show, and this episode showcases that pretty well. All of these scenes where Ax is freaking out over stuff/not understanding humans are pulled off pretty well. It’s funny, a rare treat for this show. Ax eats the entire bowl of chili.

Then Marco’s Dad gets an e-mail on his ’90s laptop. He is pumped. Apparently, he and his coworkers are about to finish work on a “radio telescope” at the observatory. This fascinates Ax, who suddenly leaves to mull over the implications of this technology. Jake and Marco get a little suspicious over how Ax “never tells us anything about himself.” They follow him out the door, leaving Marco’s Dad to eat three bowls of ice cream by himself. Truly he is the most relatable, tragic figure in this story.

"I'm so glad no one is abandoning me tonight."

“I’m so glad no one is abandoning me tonight.”

At the satellite radio telescope observatory house, the boys show up to find some poorly-made footprints of Ax transforming from human to Andalite to whatever. They both turn into lizards and we get some of the ridiculous special effects the last few episodes were sorely missing. They lizard into the building, then turn back into humans absolutely immediately to investigate the radio-scope.

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The boys hide and watch as Andalite Ax types nonsense into a computer. I’m just absolutely shocked that they didn’t have him be a human in this scene; I think we’ve seen Andalite Ax all of once since his first appearance. He uses the telescope to successfuly make contact with Andalite Dad Homeworld and videochats with his Andalite Dad.

Andalite Dad is too scrambled to screencap. Here's Ax.

Andalite Dad is too scrambled to screencap. Here’s Ax.

Andalite Dad wants to talk to Elfangor, obviously, and Ax informs him of the bad news. Anda-Dad takes little time to mourn and immediately assigns his remaining son the task of revenge-murdering Elfangor’s killer. To underscore what a challenge this will be, we immediately cut to Visser Trent stuffing popcorn in his fat face.

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Some guy in a Business Suit comes in and tells Visser Popcorn that someone somewhere is making a space phone call. Visser Calories is like FUCK SHUT UP UGH and throws his food to the floor. Good scene.

Back at the space payphone, Andalite Dad pretty much tells Ax that Earth doesn’t matter to their people; by the time they can spare soldiers to send there, it’ll have been too late. Ax brings up the small resistance of humans with morphing powers and Andalite Dad gets really pissed off that someone shared the secret morphing technology with them. He demands to know whodunit. Not wanting to shame Elfangor’s memory, Ax takes the blame.

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A bunch of unthreatening cars show up at the Hubble Space Skype Center while the dial-up signal goes out. Ax morphs into his human form and tries to stroll out of the building, followed by Jake and Marco. Outside, Visser Suit and an army of suits are trying to get into the building, but can’t because…the door is locked.

"FUCKIN' LOCKED DO YOU WANNA GO TO IHOP INSTEAD"

“FUCKIN’ LOCKED DO YOU WANNA GO TO IHOP INSTEAD”

Okay. Inside, Ax…strolls right back up to the telescope, where is confronted by Marco and Jake. They’re pissed at him for calling Planet Dad in secret. He tries to lie his way out of it, which only makes them pissier.

Also Jake has clearly gone insane

Also Jake has clearly gone insane

Outside, the Suits arm set their flashlight lasers to KILL LOCKS.

Set phasers to Fuck This

Set phasers to Fuck This

Jake tells Ax that he’s one of them, but he can’t keep being a secretive dickhead.

Terrible laserbeams melt the door open.

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Jake and Marco call Ax out on being a species-ist dumb dick and thinking humans are below him. They also ask why he lied to his father about being the one to give them morphing powers, so I guess they’re shitty at reading context clues. Ax can’t bring himself to tell them anything, because it’s super against Andalite culture to share secrets–and especially technology–with other races. He says Elfangor was wrong to give them the morphing technology, which really pisses them off.

Ax keeps ranting about how dumb human are, calling them “children.” He calls the guys out on not even being able to keep Elfangor’s magic plot disk from the Yeerks. They have no argument for that, let me tell you.

Our three bickering heroes hear the door getting lasered open and stop fighting long enough to start escaping. The Suits get inside. Ax hears Visser Trent yelling some bullshit, recognizes his voice, and decides to stay and revenge-murder him.

The untalented leading the unpaid

The untalented leading the unpaid

Ax turns back into his Andalite form and confronts Visser Trent in the telescope room. He’s real mad about everything. All of the Suits draw their laser-lights on him, but Trent tells them not to interfere. He morphs back to Andalite for to do battle. This shot is supposed to be threatening, but it’s so fucking silly.

"RAGGLE FRAGGLE"

“RAGGLE FRAGGLE”

So basically, the Andalites confront each other while Jake, Marco, and the goons watch. Everything is shot drenched in shadows as two puppety torsos grapple with each other and the director grapples with his motion blur tool. It’s incomprehensible. Luckily, Visser Three is eventually attacked by Tiger-Jake, who is clearly green-screened in. And for like the fifth time in as many episodes, the leader of the Yeerk invasion falls over like a chump.

Basically this

Basically this

Ax is mad impressed that Jake came back for him even though he was being a dick. Visser Three does his whole GET THEM, YOU FOOLS thing, and instead of just shooting Jake and Ax like they planned to before, his goons all give chase. Also Marco was a wolf but I don’t think he did literally anything.

Cut to the guys standing by a lake, so I guess they escaped.

I don't wanna wait

I don’t wanna wait

Ax feels shitty that he didn’t get to murder Visser Three. He cries about, well, everything, and apologizes for being so secretive. He tells a story. It turns out that the law of not sharing technology, the law of Seerow’s Kindness, comes from Prince Seerow, an Andalite who felt pity for the Yeerks–once just a race of useless slugs who couldn’t get off their own planet–and gave them space travel tech, unleashing their parasitic shittiness on the universe.

Jake and Marco surprise Ax by using compassion. They tell him that yeah, Prince Seerow fucked up, but you can’t just give up because you made one mistake. You have to learn from it and do better next time. Ax decides that he’s not just an Andalite, but a human, and that he will never keep anything from them again. They all decide to go for ice cream, provided Marco’s Dad hasn’t consumed the town’s stock already. The end.

Final Thoughts:

It was good. Human Ax is funny, the plot made sense and wasn’t as full of unresolved cliffhangers as usual. The climax was poorly shot and unfufilling, but it wasn’t as bad as the Useless Yeerk Pool Assault or Tobias Gets Gunned Down During a Water Balloon Fight.

Speaking of which, yeah, I guess Tobias is alive now. There’s absolutely no explanation given for him going from a clearly dead bird underground last week and being mentioned as alive (but off-screen) this week. So I have absolutely no clue what the writers were thinking with that. Also, pretty funny that he, Cassie and Rachel are just totally MIA this week. Guess the budget must’ve been a bad time.

This episode was written by Mark Scott Zicree. He has two more episodes later in the series (spoiler: one of them is a fucking disaster) and went on to write for the later seasons of SLIDERS. And if there’s ever a comparable show to Animorphs, God, SLIDERS is it. Please don’t make me write a SLIDERS blog.

Adaptation Rating: 4/5. Sure. This based on THE ALIEN, and it’s not 1:1 but hey, it distilled the book’s plot and character development pretty well. It’s not as good, obviously, but whatever.

Character Development: Ax learns to trust his friends and not be a dickhead; also, swears revenge on Visser Three, loves food, we learn about Andalite history, he gets a lot here. Also, Tobias returns from the dead, cementing his status as an allegory for Jesus Christ. Marco’s Dad eats three bowls of ice cream.

Special Effects: 3/5, I guess? The Hork-Bajir and the Biofilter look dumb, but those were the only real effects, and there was no stupid Visser hologram this week.

’90’s Bullshit: Sci-fi movies from the ’40s. Space radio telescope video phones. Hideous laptops.

Overall Rating: 4/5. Totally solid, funny, develops the plot and the characters–pretty much has all I could ask for, leaving out the dumb Andalite wrestling match and Tobias’s inexplicable return to life.

Next Week: A Cassie episode based on a Rachel book. Maybe Tobias is murdered again. Who knows.

ANIMORPHS Episode 7: The Escape

Marco, Rachel, and Human Ax are hanging out at a bizarrely non-cyber Cafe. They’re talking about (I think) using their Animorphy powers to attend the opening of a Planet Hollywood that “Arnold” will be at. I have a feeling the “90s references” section of this review will be fat and juicy. Ax doesn’t know who Arnold is because is a fucking alien, Marco, leave him alone.

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The gang gets milkshakes and Ax loses his ever-loving mind. This fun time is quickly sidetracked by the slow-motion dramatic camera as Marco notices a sobbing drug addict eating oatmeal at the counter.

Animorph Oatmeal: A Missed Branding Opportunity

Animorph Oatmeal: A Missed Branding Opportunity

He’s had four bowls of oatmeal. He’s eaten the entire diner out of oatmeal. He starts licking the bowl. This is very dramatic. Ax eats his milkshake with his fingers.

The entire time, this scene keeps cutitng back to a fan, which is really fucking weird.

Spooky Scary Fanningtons

Spooky Scary

The Addict has a fit, knocking stuff over and screaming that he needs more oatmeal until the police (they exist???) show up and drag him away. Then Rachel starts a voice-over and a cliffnotes of the entire seen replays AND THEN THAT DEADLY FAN AGAIN. So this is by far the weirdest episode yet.

In the barn, Jake and Cassie are like “Yo that shit sounds mad crazy. Was there a creepy fan?”.

Tobias remains a bird.

Tobias remains a bird.

Rachel shows up to tell them she recognized The Addict, named Edelman, in one of her lawyer-mom’s recent cases. His family’s trying to lock him up for being insane/eating all the oatmeal. Apparently Edelman is convinced there is an alien called a Yeerk in his brain, and he’s been locked up in the psych ward. Despite Marco’s protests, everyone agrees to go on an adventure. Ax is not in this scene so I guess he is just drinking milkshakes somewhere.

At the Psych Ward, a man is flying around like an airplane. 

Classy depiction of mental illness.

Classy depiction of mental illness.

Then…son of a bitch. Marco and Rachel are sneaking into the Psych Ward by dressing up like doctors. YOU CAN MORPH INTO ANYTHING. YOU COULD BE DOCTORS. You could be Arnold. You could be on a better show.

Okay, maybe you couldn't be that, Boris.

Okay, maybe you couldn’t be that, Boris.

The airplane guy flies by them and stops to yell, “GETTING GIDDY AND HIP. NA NA NA NA NA.” This reminds me of Twin Peaks.

"Those '90s kids' books you like aren't going to come back in style."

“Those ’90s kids’ books you like aren’t going to come back in style.”

Marco insults the mentally ill and the camera goes into slow-motion for no reason until they find George Edelman’s room. Edelman’s staring out the window, but even he’s sane enough to realize these two teenagers aren’t his usual doctors.

"I thought you'd be dogs or something."

“I thought you’d be dogs or something.”

Marco makes some actually-funny jokes before they start asking about the alien in his head. Edelman thinks they’re just fucking with him, but they get him to provide an accurate description of the Yeerks. Then we learn that apparently, Edelman broke free of his Yeerk’s control…by eating Instant Maple Oatmeal, which essentially gave the brain-slug an allergic reaction. He then has another fit as the Yeerk tries to assert control. Tobias-bird outside the window warns Marco and Rachel that someone is coming. Edeman tells them about the Yeerk Pool, and Rachel asks “where is this Yeerk Pool?”, even though she’s fucking been there. The kids escape as two thugs show up to put a new, healthy Yeerk in Edelman’s head. Watching this, Rachel says, “They’re replacing the Yeerk.” Thanks, Rachel. Thachel.

Bird Tobias watches Edelman and some goons head into a fast-food joint. Cut to inside and, ugh, it’s Yeerk Stupid Labs, and UGH, there’s a Hork-Bajir here with Chubby Scientist and Visser Three.

lol

lol

Basically, they’re testing out a force-field that destroys with lasers anyone who isn’t a Yeerk. They test it out on a Hork-Bajir and everything looks like shit.

My sanity dissolved similarly

My sanity dissolved similarly

Edelman shows up, back under control again, and Visser Three demands he find the Andalite Bandits. Isn’t that always the goal, dude?

In the barn, Rachel is feeling guilty about Edelman being re-infested.

Note Ax mimicking Marco.

Note Ax mimicking Marco.

Marco wants to weaponize oatmeal (oh my God) to strike against the Yeerks. Tobias is morally opposed, as Edelman shows that this has a pretty bad effect on the human host as well, but Tobias is a bird. Rachel argues that they should be trying to kill all of the Yeerks they can, but Jake and Ax bring up that this doesn’t KILL the Yeerks–it just gets them to lie dormant in their host’s head while also fucking up the host psychologically. He says that he wouldn’t want to do that to Tom. Jake brings up the Civil War, and how the Union ended slavery not by killing the slaves, but by fighting the slave owners. He decides they have to go back to the Yeerk Pool and mount a direct attack.

I don’t know. This is a nice moral issue, but the thing is, we’ve established that the Yeerks need to feed at the pool every three days to live. So couldn’t a controller just go on a 72 hour oatmeal bender until the Yeerk dies of starvation? I also don’t know about the slavery analogy–it’d be more apt if they were considering killing humans just to kill the Yeerks inside. Regardless, this is a pretty good scene. This whole episode has actually been good, minus how ridiculous the oatmeal idea is in concept.

Jake meets Marco and Cassie and Rachel at the fast food joint, which Tobias has ascertained is an entrance to the Yeerk Pool (I guess they couldn’t use the stupid door in the school again?). While Rachel creeps around trying to figure out the secret password to get in, Marco and Jake have a very un-Animorphs-TV conversation about how ridiculous the whole oatmeal idea is. “World War II–neither side used oatmeal.” It’s great.

"And then I was like, 'Hey, baby, I'm on after Are You Afraid of the Dark.'"

“And then I was like, ‘Hey, baby, I’m on after Are You Afraid of the Dark.'”

Rachel discovers that the code is to order “a cheeseburger, hold the cheese.” I believe the phrase from the book was “a Happy Meal, with extra happy,” but I guess McDonalds would’ve yelled .

They head up to the counter to talk with Chip, who is an asshole.

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They deliver the password and he sends them to the secret door in the most suspicious way anyone has ever done anything. Classic Yeerks.

The gang heads into the storage closet, and then to the secret door……and the Yeerk forcefield. Rachel steps through, but confusingly, it doesn’t fry her to death, but sets off an alarm.

morphsssssssssssssssBy the time Chip gets there, they’ve all transformed into bugs and headed back out. What the fuck. Chip finds no one there and just grins. This doesn’t make any sense.

Back in the barn, they explain to Ax that they “snuck under the door before the light could hit us.” Whatever. Ax explains the finer points of the “biofilter,” a stolen Andalite technology that will disintegrate you…on a convienent three-second delay. Cassie decides they should all be ferrets.

Note Ax not knowing how to sit.

Note Ax not knowing how to sit.

In the Ferret Field, Rachel turns into a ferret and heads down into a ferret-hole. This happens all off-screen, I guess, and we see everyone else standing around and talking about it. Ferret-Rachel pops her head back out to announce that she’s dug all the way into the Yeerk pool caverns. Oh my God, this is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

Move over, cats!

Move over, cats!

Off-screen, they all Ferret their way into the cave. We catch up with them as humans again. Also, Tobias is down there–what the fuck? Did he fly down into the Earth through the ferret-hole? The kids sneak around, armed with…water balloons full of oatmeal. Oh. Ohhhhh. Oh.

There’s a funny bit where Marco asks Human Ax, “You can throw, can’t you?” and Ax assures him that he can before asking, “Marco, what is THROW?” The Ax humor really does work, guys, this kid can totally sell it.

"Marco? What is ANIMORPHS?"

“Marco? What is ANIMORPHS?”

A Hork-Bajir spots Cassie, so Tobias squawks and distracts him….and then a controller shoots and kills Tobias. Tobias, hit, falls from the sky as a limp, dead bird.

Oh

Oh

Rachel screams out in agony and runs after him. She’s shot at, too, which sends her flying into the Yeerk Pool.

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Well, shit.

Visser Trent shows up (fantastic). He and his goons watch the Yeerk Pool, waiting for Rachel to resurface. As he gloats, Rachel thought-speaks to Jake that she’s okay and that she’s already made it out. Ax threatens to poison the Yeerk pool if Visser Trent does not let them go. Trent’s like fuck that, there are five of you and thousands of us, I’ll let all of these Yeerks die to catch you. Then Rachel-Lion shows up, who knows how she got out of the Pool, and runs by Visser Trent, and for what seems like the fortieth time this season, he falls over like a doofus, this time landing in the pool.

morphsssssssssssssssssssssssThe Animorphs launch into action, tossing their balloons of oatmeal into the pool, and there’s no way to make that dramatic. After being pulled out of the pool, Visser Trent is hit in the face with a balloon. His soggy face wobbles as he bellows, “STOOOOOOP THEEEEEEEM.”

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I hate him.

The Animorphs make their escape while they are shot at and this happens:

Oh. Oh. Oh, no.

Oh. Oh. Oh, no.

Jake grabs Dead Tobias’s Dead Deceased Bird Body Corpse and is about to be evisicerated by a Hork-Bajir (man, there have been like four sightings of them in this episode) when Marco nails it with another balloon.

"I never got a chance to tell him he was creepy."

“I never got a chance to tell him he was creepy.”

The kids all escape up the staircase (which is definitely the same set from the firrst Yeerk Pool visit), Jake carrying dead Tobias like a football. They off-screen morph into ferrets and crawl up through the ferret-hole…which also raises questions about how Jake carried a dead bird up and out of the ground as a ferret.

The episode closes with an insane sequence of Rachel voice-over set to shots of the ocean, Visser Trent laughing maniacally, and Bird Tobias flying through the air.

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Well, I guess that’s it, guys. Tobias is dead.

Final Thoughts:

Wow, this episode sure was a real mixed-bag.

The oatmeal idea itself is completely ridiculous–you can’t use the word OATMEAL in a serious fashion–but the larger plot is pretty interesting, and a lot happens in this single episode. Edelman’s acting is not bad and he’s an incredibly interesting character who ends the episode still under Yeerk control despite all of his struggles. All of the “off-duty” scenes with the kids just hanging out or coming up with plans are very well done and feel authentic–this is the best job the show has ever done of nailing the feeling of friendship and camradarie present in the books. Ax’s humor continues to be great, and because there is no on-screen morphing, the dumb special effects are limited.

On the other hand, parts of it just absolutely make no fucking sense, which is really infuriating. Why did Rachel and Marco dress up like doctors when they could’ve easily morphed into adults/doctors (which they’ve been shown to do in other situations)? Why did the Biofilter vaporize a Hork-Bajir in seconds, but later it set off an alarm and took so long to function that the entire cast was able to morph and get out of the way? How the hell did Tobias get into the Yeerk pool, WHY did he even go there, and why was he SHOT AND KILLED, and how did they smuggle his corpse back out? Why did the episode end with shots of the ocean? Why was that fan so menacing, and WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CYBER-CAFE?

This episode was written by Jessica Scott and Mike Wollaeager. This is Jessica’s first episode of Animorphs, but she wrote two two-parters later in the series. Mike doesn’t seem to have an IMDB page. I hope Jessica’s later work shows the same quality this episode did.

Adaptation Rating: ?/5. Sorry guys, but this is based on THE UNDERGROUND, one of the few Animorphs books I don’t have in my collection. If anyone wants to talk about how well this episode was adapted, please do so in the comments, as I’m pretty interested.

Character Development: The characters actually have an ethical dilemma worth discussing. Ax drinks his first milkshake. Tobias is shot and killed.

Special Effects: 3/5, I guess? The Hork-Bajir and the Biofilter look dumb, but those were the only real effects, and there was no stupid Visser hologram this week.

’90’s Bullshit: Planet Hollywood. Arnold. Water Balloon Fights. Instant Oatmeal.

Overall Rating: 4/5. This is up there with “My Name is Jake, Part 1″ and “Best Friends” as being the better episodes of this series so far. The good parts here are better than those episodes, but it also has a lot of utter nonsense that those two avoided.

Oh, by the way, here’s a picture of a Hork-Bajir flipping you off.

morphsssssssssssssssssssssssssssNext Week: We get an Ax-centric episode. I’m cautiously optimistic, because Human Ax has been great, but the Andalites look like shit all the time.

3 A.M. Netflix Nights: Bernie

Lately I’ve been going to bed at 5-6 a.m., so I’ve started watching all those movies on Netflix that I always pass up in favor of watching, I don’t know, Animorph-ass ANIMORPHS. So I thought, why not start posting little write-ups about them? I’m not going to take screencaps or anything, but if you wanna know what I thought, now you will know what I thought.

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Bernie is a Jack Black movie released in 2011, so Black’s mustachioed mug has been staring out at me from the Netflix selection screen for a while now. I really had no idea what this movie was about before going into it. Something in my brain had related it to the Black/Ben Stiller movie Envy from years ago, but not for any real reason. It’s not like that.

Bernie is a dark comedy done mockumentary-style, focusing on black as the title character: a chipper, flamboyant small-town funeral assistant who befriends the local Old Rich Bitch. And hey, this is probably one of Black’s better acting jobs, from what I’ve seen. Bernie is way more subdued than your average Jack Black cartoon-character, and all of his eccentricities are pretty memorable. Matthew McConaughey shows up now and again as the town sheriff.

The movie presents itself as a series of interviews in which the townspeople discuss Bernie’s life, which pulls you in pretty well. You start off just wanting to know about this offbeat character, and once that wears off, the narrative has dropped enough hints about the larger plot that you want to follow those threads and put things together. There are some “Oh, shit” moments, and the movie made me chuckle throughout, though honestly none of the gags really stuck with me enough to recall them today. And hey, it’s based on the true story of a real-life Bernie, so that puts a little more doc into the mock.

It kind of tapers off as it goes, though; once the “big oh shit” occurred, my interest waned more and more. The climax itself ends up being pretty dull, though the conclusion fit the movie well.

Should You Watch It? Yeah, sure. It’s something different, it’s Jack Black playing against-type, McConaughey does his whole shtick, you get it. Even if the last quarter is dull, this is a pleasant movie that you can watch on Netflix with your eyeballs.

ANIMORPHS Episode 6: The Message

Oh, it’s Friday, I guess.

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We start with a hawk’s-eye (read: brown-tinted) view of a field and a rabbit as Tobias the Bird flies around and considers eating it. This goes on for three years or four. Then at the last second before Tobias eats that bunny from the inside out, it screams out in Cassie’s voice: “Tobias, it’s me”

morphsOh, great, it’s a Cassie episode.

Cassie is always interesting.

Cassie is always interesting.

Cassie suddenly has a migraine as her brain is assaulted by a voice-over and footage of a spaceship falling out of the sky. It seems someone or something or whatever is crashing out of the space. Cassie falls over and goes into a coma and I am jealous.

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After the intro, Cassie and the the boys & bird are in the barn. She’s told them all about this spooky happening and OH WHO CARES, MARCO’S ORANGE JACKET IS BACK.

My special effects budget now matches the show.

My special effects budget now matches the show.

Also Rachel isn’t here. Guess she’s dead.

Cassie thinks the thing calling out to her dumb brain is an Andalite calling out to them for help. Marco and Jake aren’t so on board, afraid they’re going to end up going on a mall-ass mall adventure like the last time an alien contacted them.

The worst Drunken Barn Dance since '99.

The worst Drunken Barn Dance since ’99.

Meanwhile, in Dumb Yeerk Labs, Chubby Scientist and Visser Trent are still trying to unlock the secrets of the Andalite disk.

And the cure for baldness

And the cure for baldness

Chubby tells Visser Trent that his human morph is pretty hot, so Visser Three transforms into an alien’s arm on a stick and chokes him out, presumably as foreplay.

"I have the weirdest boner right now" - Visser "I know, it's on my shoulder" - Scientist

“I have the weirdest boner right now” – Visser
“I know, it’s on my shoulder” – Scientist

Cassie walks through the woods and continues getting mind-messages from the alien. Visser Trent receives them as well, and while Cassie just keeps making a headache face, the Visser responds by seizing about the lab and burbling “hrmrmrmrmrmrmmrmmrmrm”.

"hrmrmrmrmrmrm" - a paid actor

“hrmrmrmrmrmrm” – a paid actor

It’s a thing that was shown on television. Visser Trent surmises that “another one has landed.”

Cassie finds Jake and Marco at the Cyber Cafe. The Cyber Cafe.

"Another day of rollerblade shopping ruined."

“Another day of rollerblade shopping ruined.”

They all decide to discuss Cassie’s imaginary alien brain-buddy in a public setting. She tells them that her visions included “a forest…a fence…some kind of pipe.” That last bit really freaks Jake out, so I think we all know how this will end.

"Ah, pipe jokes, we meet again"

“Ah, pipe jokes, we meet again”

A convenient news broadcast tells the kids that a local area befitting that description has been closed off to public access.

The news, I guess

The news, I guess

Then a helicopter flies overhead for whatever reason. The gang assumes this must be the alien crash site, so they head off into the woods. Marco puts the hood up on his orange jacket, but the power it bestows is too much for him and he has it off by the next shot.

"Haha, Jake, look, a talking bird, lol"

“Haha, Jake, look, a talking bird, lol”

Cassie, Jake and Marco (seriously, did Rachel’s actress abandon the show?) find the abandoned woodland warehouse district and Cassie gets another headache. It seems someone has already cut open the fence, so they head inside. Unfortunately, Tom and his gang of Yeerks with flashlights show up and they have to hide. Tobias shows up and says he’ll keep a lookout for controllers as the others explore because renting that bird for another hour of filming would’ve been too much for the budget.

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The kids explore the building and I have to note that we’re halfway through the episode and the only “morphing” that has occurred was Cassie pointlessly being a rabbit at the start. Well, whatever, a shadowy Andalite grabs Cassie from behind, holding her captive or sexually harassing her.

Look at that cardboard-ass tail.

Look at that cardboard-ass tail.

Marco is like “Visser Three” and the Andalite is like “Racist orange asshole.” Jake name-drops Elfangor, which puts the Andalite at ease before he starts stroking out. Jake tells the Andalite that the Animorphs were Elfangor’s BFFs, but Visser Three starts calling out “Andalite cousin” over and over again, and the Andalite runs off to find him. The kids hide, at which point Cassie remembers that she can turn into animals. She becomes a skunk.

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The Andalite and Visser Three confront each other and it’s shot entirely in shitty silhouettes while musclehead extras stand around in the background questioning their purpose in life.

I'm blue, if I were green I would die...

I’m blue, if I were green I would die…

Jake and Marco do nothing while CassieSkunk skunks all over Visser Three and the Controllers, completely incapacitating them with her stinky asshole. The Animorphs escape by having a production assistant throw a stuffed skunk toy into Marco’s waiting arms. It looks fantastic. This show is fantastic. My life is fantastic.

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The kids and the Andalite escape into an enclosed alley between a bunch of abandoned buildings. The Andalite is like “yo this sucks” and the Animorphs are like “yeah that’s pretty much par for the course on this show.” They all acquire and morph a convenient butterfly (because I guess none of them have ever acquired any flight-capable animals because they’re all dumb assholes) and fly away.

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Then probably the most ridiculous scene so far happens, and for reference, the alien overlords were just a moment ago defeated by a skunk being too smelly. Visser Trent, in his human form for no reason, off-screen morphs into his Andalite form for just long enough to break down the door separating him and the Animorphs. Then he steps through the broken door in human form for no reason, and finds them gone, butterflying into the sky to go twice as high. He raises his stupid hands to the air and screams, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”

"hrmrmrmrmrmrm"

“hrmrmrmrmrmrm”

The Animorphs hang out with their new Andalite buddy in the barn. They ask if he can help Tobias become a real boy but he is like Nawwwwww lol. Then he asks if they can take him to Elfangor, and they are like Nawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww ROFL. The Andalite flies into a rage and Tobias starts squawking for bird reason.

The kids chase the Andalite out into the woods, where Cassie has a heart-to-heart with his torso (since like all Andalites, his legs don’t seem to exist).

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Turns out Elfangor was the Andalite’s brother. Shit sucks. The Andalite tells them his name is Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill (holy shit) and that’s he sorry for screwing up their day. Then, I’m not fucking kidding here, Rachel just strolls up out of NOWHERE and is like, “…what the fuck.”

"We were filming this week?"

“We were filming this week?”

They decide to shorten the Andalite’s name to Ax because no one can figure out how to pronounce that shit. Then Ax does this really weird thing where he absorbs the DNA of all four of them, and stirs it together in a cocktail to make one human morph that looks nothing like any of them. Then this happens. Forever.

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After all that shit, we end up with the kid from Road Trip. Totally worth it.

There’s a pretty good bit where Human Ax can’t comprehend walking with two legs or speaking with a mouth or only having one set of eyes. Jake promises that they’ll take of his dumb alien ass since all of his friends are dead. Ax bows down and pledges his loyalty to “Prince Jake.” He awkwardly shakes the hands of everyone involved EXCEPT TOBIAS BECAUSE HE DOESN’T HAVE ANY HANDS. A butterfly butterflies by. Whatever.

Final Thoughts:

Reading this review makes it seem like this episode wasn’t the bad I guess, but it was pretty stupid. It looked and felt a lot like a bad high school student short film where you just grab your buddies and a couple of props and film in whatever locations you can find that kind of look like the places you wrote about in your script. It should be sufficient to say that in the book, the kids morph into dolphins and swim to the bottom of the sea where they rescue Ax from inside of his crashed ship while fighting sharks and undersea monsters. In the show, they found him sitting in a warehouse and turned into butterflies.

Adaptation Rating: 0/5. Pretty much the opposite of the book.

Character Development: Ax is now a character who exists. Rachel vanished for a week and none of her friends noticed. Marco put the hood up on his orange jacket.

Special Effects: 0/5. Shadows: The TV Show

’90s Bullshit: Abandoned Woodland Warehouses, Cyber Cafes, Poorly Adapting Popular Scholastic Books

Overall Rating: 1/5. Gutter trash but that scene at the end with human Ax was kinda funny.

Next Week: I keep reviewing Animorphs.

ANIMORPHS Episode 5: Between Friends

The God of ’90s Nostalgia answered my prayers: this is a decent episode of ANIMORPHS.

morphs0We open on Rachel reading a magazine in bed while spooky camera angles stalk the exterior of her window. It’s the episode where Rachel gets sexually assaulted already? I figured that would be the season finale.

morphs1Rachel gets hella spooked and opens her window to investigate. A bird flies in and she screams, freaking the fuck out.

"WE'RE GONNA BE CANCELLED AFTER 1 1/2 SEASONS?"

“WE’RE GONNA BE CANCELLED AFTER 1 1/2 SEASONS?”

Oh, shit, it’s Tobias!

Remember Tobias? He's back! In bird form.

Remember Tobias? He’s back! In bird form.

Rachel is mad shocked that Tobias wasn’t captured and sent to Yeerk breeding camp or whatever aliens do with angsty teen boys in leather jackets. Tobias tells Rachel that during the Yeerk pool assault, he stayed in morph for more than two hours, and that he’s now permanently trapped in the body of a bird. Rachel says, “No!” Tobias responds with birdface.

"Bird." - Tobirdias

“Bird.” – Tobirdias

Rachel is in denial but Tobias is all, really, I’m stuck, there’s no turning back, no backing down, nowhere to hide, THEME SONG TIME Y’ALL. HOLD BACK THE DAAAAAAAAAAARKNESS.

At school, Rachel is wearing the same outfit she wore last week. She voice-overs that Tobias fucked up and is now stuck as a hawk. I already know that, Rachel. Marco and Jake show up at her locker, Marco yelling about how shitty it is that Tobias is now a bird. They decide to not yell about aliens in the hallway and reconvene at the barn later that night.

"mmm, overalls" - jake

“mmm, overalls” – jake

Rachel’s friend from last week, Melissa, shows up looking SAD. Rachel starts grilling her about the creepy alien club meetings she’s been attending. Hey, it turns out that Melissa’s dad is alien-infested Principal Chapman. That sounds like a premise to me!

Too sad for the mall.

Too sad for the mall.

In the barn, Rachel really wants to break into the Chapman house and “do something.” Jake tells her to simmer down. Rachel wants to morph into Chapman’s cat and infiltrate their house to save Melissa from being infested by her dad/looking too sad to shop.

Meanwhile, Marco is being an asshole

Meanwhile, Marco is being an asshole

At the Chapman house, Principal Chapman is having an awkward dinner with his daughter. Mrs. Chapman is out of town because the show didn’t want to pay another actress.

"I hate lizards. And cats. And potatoes."

“I hate lizards. And cats. And these potatoes.”

Rachel creeps around outside. Why is she breaking into their house at dinnertime? Jake was right, Rachel, this is a shitty plan.

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After almost being spotted, she either comes back later or goes around to the other side of the house (it’s hard to tell with this editing) so she can lure the cat outside with food and morph into it.Jake shows up too late to stop her from morphing into the cat and heading inside.

I can't wait to add this screenshot to my resume.

I can’t wait to add this screenshot to my resume.

At the dinner table (so I guess that settles that), Chapman sees Cat-Rachel and is all, “FUCK YOUR CAT MELISSA.” Man, I love that the Yeerk in Chapman’s head completely detests all animals with such fervor. Rachel cats her way down to the basement, where she goes human again and starts rummaging through Chapman’s tools (?). He’s about to go ruin her plan when neglected child Melissa desperately pleads for him to help her with her homework and tell her he loves her. Chapman is undeterred, but luckily he keeps stopping to do random tasks such as checking himself out in the mirror.

"Yes. I still look like me. GOOD."

“Yes. I still look like me. GOOD.”

As Chapman gets closer to the basement, Jake checks his watch and says, “C’mon, Rachel, let’s go.” What timetable is Jake operating under?

"We're gonna miss THE SECRET WORLD OF ALEX MACK, only on Nickelodeon!"

“We’re gonna miss THE SECRET WORLD OF ALEX MACK, only on Nickelodeon!”

Then the real cat gets back into the house, so Jake is really accomplishing a whole lot this week.

Chapman gets to the basement and the show does that thing again where someone is about to be caught but then the camera turns around and they’ve morphed an animal already. Chapman sees the cat and yells, “Cat!”, which cracked me up.

"Cat!"

“Cat!”

Then Chapman goes into his secret room behind the walls and doesn’t notice that Cat-Rachel follows him in. Your enemies are literally defined by their ability to transform into animals. You’ve seen them be cats before. You deserve whatever you get, Chapman.

"Chapman!"

“Chapman!”

Anyway, Chapman calls up Visser Three on the shitty hologram phone. He tells the Visser that Melissa is getting suspicious and that humans are really hard to understand, man. Visser Three tells Chapman to stop crying already. He says that the homing device plan as “a fiasco,” which is a great description of last week’s episode, and that his Top Yeerk Scientists haven’t managed to unlock Elfangor’s disk.

Ugh

Ugh

Rachel spends the scene looking cute as shit, look at that cat!

morphs14Then the real cat shows up, and Chapman yell, “Cat!”. This is the best.

"Cat!"

“Cat!”

In a much-more-bored tone, Chapman says, “Andalite. But which one.” Visser Three is like, “You’re kidding, right? This is why I choked you out in Episode 2. Just bring me both cats.” The cat playing Rachel does a pretty poor job of conveying her emotions because it is a cat.

"We find no levity in this misunderstanding." - Cats

“We find no levity in this misunderstanding.” – Cats

Due to how much of a fuck-up Chapman clearly is, Visser Three demands he brings Melissa along, too, so they can just put a slug in her ear already. Chapman takes off in his car, and Jake runs after it for a while before remembering that he can turn into a dog. If getting stuck in pipes is Jake’s biggest weakness, chasing cars is his biggest strength.

This was shown on television

This was shown on television

Chapman shows up at a swanky gated house and drives on it, Jake getting stuck outside. Because he has the power to morph into much smaller animals and animals capable of flight, Jake wastes his time digging a hole under the fence.

Chapman meets up with Visser Three and some goons and plops his cat carrier down because this is serious business. Visser Three looks worse than ever before. Rachel says, “Meow.”

"I am still cat."

“I am still cat.”

Visser Three morphs into a hideous bald man named Victor Trent because there’s no way they could’ve gotten that Visser costume to pick up and hold a cat.

I'm OUT I'm DONE It's OVER

I’m OUT I’m DONE It’s OVER

Jake, human again, sneaks toward the scene and says, “Hold on, cousin,” which couldn’t be a more awkward line (I’m sure the show will prove me wrong soon). Vissser Trent decides he will leave the cats locked in the carrier until the two-hour morphing limit expires and Rachel is trapped forever. He turns to Chapman, pissed that he didn’t bring Melissa. But that argument is cut short when Jake the Dog tackles the alien overlord to the ground. So why the fuck did he turn human a second ago?

Jake attempts to free Rachel from the cat carrier in the ensuing chaos of the Visser falling down, but he fails because he’s a dog. The flashlight goon squad grab him and tie him to a post. Visser Trent is just like “lol” and goes back to bitching about Chapman’s daughter.

Why did they bring the rope though

Why did they bring the rope though

So, it turns out Chapman became a voluntary Yeerk host on the condition that his daughter be left alone. Visser Trent rages about how the Yeerks do not negotiate with humans, and I’m left wondering the circumstances of this deal. Clearly more Yeerks than the one in Chapman’s head had to be involved, because it’s not like that particular Yeerk brain slug could just crawl over to Chapman’s house and strike up a deal with him. And I know there are voluntary controllers, but why would the Yeerks agree to such a deal? If Chapman was in the position of knowing about the Yeerks and their intentions, it was likely a scenario where they could’ve just forced him to become a controller—and even if they did strike this deal, once he was infested, he’d have literally no way of ever fighting back if they did infest his daughter. I don’t know, man. This doesn’t check out.

Visser Trent tries to stick his finger up Chapman’s nose, and that’s the last straw.

"Boop!"

“Boop!”

Chapman starts beating the shit out of the Visser and screaming, “Leave my daughter alone!”. So regardless of how it occurred, it turns out Chapman is a pretty cool guy and loves his daughter enough to temporarily break free of his Yeerk’s control.

"Cat!"

“Cat!”

While the Visser concerns himself with helping Chapman’s Yeerk reassert control, Jake gnaws himself free of the rope and lets Rachel out. The two run off into the woods, Yeerk goons armed with laser-flashlights (I honestly can’t tell when their flashlights are guns and when they’re just flashlights). They’re almost caught but Tobias shows up to peck some Yeerk dude’s eyeballs out.

In the post-9/11 edit, the flashlights become walkie-talkies.

In the post-9/11 edit, the flashlights become walkie-talkies.

Chapman gives Visser Trent some line about how infesting Melissa would only anger his host more, and the Visser is like, “Fine, whatever, I don’t even care, she’s a fourteen year-old girl and not at all helpful to our war cause. I just can’t stand your shit anymore. Go home and yell at your cat.”

A bit later, Rachel and Jake walk down the street with Tobias on Jake’s arm. You can tell Shawn Ashmore is real psyched to be buddies with this bird.

Episode 5: Between Birds

Episode 5: Between Birds

Rachel apologizes for doing exactly what Jake said not to do and then almost getting both of them killed, but he is like whatever, I’ve got a bird.

Jake peaces out so Rachel and Tobias can have a heart-to-heart. Tobias says that being a bird is pretty chill because he gets to skip school. Rachel brings up the picture her sister took of the two of them, which is accompanied by a terrifying piss-yellow-toned epileptic flashback.

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Tobias doesn’t want to see it, but Rachel makes him look at it. Was she just carrying this photo around all day in case she saw Tobias again and she needed to make a speech?

We didn't have Katniss and Peeta, kids. THIS IS ALL WE HAD, AND WE LOVED IT

We didn’t have Katniss and Peeta, kids. THIS IS ALL WE HAD, AND WE LOVED IT

Anyway, she tells him, “The guy in the photo is still you, and we’re gonna get him back.” She tells him to never forget that his human self still exists, and Tobias says, “Maybe I want to forget.”

"I need to forget what a doofus I looked like."

“I need to forget what a doofus I looked like.”

Then he flies away without saying goodnight. Good to know he’s still a dick.

At school, Rachel leaves a note for Melissa that says, “Your father loves you more than you can know,” signed “A Friend.” Melissa decides not to kill herself for now and the two make plans to go shopping or talk about boy butts or whatever teenage girls do. Rachel’s textbook is titled “MATHPOWER.”

"Butts?"" "LOL, butts."

“Butts?””
“LOL, butts.”

Final Thoughts:

This episode was fine, and next to the last two atrocious entries, it looked even better. They covered the entire plot of Book 2: The Visitor, and considering what they had to work with, they did so pretty pragmatically. Despite some minor bits of confusion (why did Jake morph from dog to human to dog again in the span of thirty seconds? Why did Visser Three become Visser Trent for no stated reason other than to make filming easier), they wrote a solid story that made sense this week, and I’m thankful for that.

The biggest fault I can find is that even though this is a Rachel episode, we learn way more about the Chapmans than we do about her. Because we don’t have access to her internal thoughts, Rachel has no dialogue at all when she’s lurking in the Chapman house as a cat or when she’s brought to Visser Three (until Jake rescues her), and that’s a huge portion of the episode, so most of her screentime is just shots of a cat doing cat stuff. When we did get to see her as human-Rachel, we saw much more of her aggressive, “we need to get shit done” personality than we did in the first few episodes, which is nice.

The Tobias situation is weird and not handled that well. They really stretched out getting to the reveal of him being stuck as a hawk (which occurs at the end of the first book), but then really rushed through the reveal itself. The book also kinds of glances over it, but two books later we get one completely focused on him. I’m not sure when we’re going to get a similar episode (if we ever do), so it’s very likely that we’re not going to get much of one of the better book storylines.

Adaptation Rating: 4/5. Not a 1:1 adaptation, but they made the best episode out of Book 2 that they probably could have.

Character Development: Tobias is a bird now. Chapmans are people, too.

Special Effects: 2/5. I don’t know. Visser Three looked shittier than before, but I guess the couple of morphing shots didn’t look that bad. Or did they look completely terrible? I honestly can’t tell the difference anymore. This is the fifth episode.

’90s Bullshit: “Cat!”

Overall Rating: 4/5. If this was the only episode of ANIMORPHS I had ever seen, I would think it looked like a decent show.

Next Week: The Animorphs discover an injured Andalite on Earth in what is sure to earn a 1/5 Adaptation Rating.