I had a really shitty week, you guys, and now I have to review this dumbass episode of ANIMORPHS. This is easily the worst episode yet, and it’s got a special place in my heart as the episode that made me give up all hope of this show being watchable.
In better news, it turns out ANIMORPHS was added to Netflix in early July. Now maybe my screenshots won’t look so terrible and someone will read this blog. It’s an Animorphs renaissance, so let’s watch Episode 4: On the Run.
We open with Marco—sans orange jacket, unfortunately—doing some computer nonsense at…I don’t know, it’s some kind of cyber cafe. It’s entirely neon green and silver and couldn’t be more 1998. Jake comes in with his dog because apparently he just brings him everywhere.
Marco is having a “Yeerk-free day” and shopping online for roller blades. The site he is on…let’s just say that of all the websites that have ever not existed, this one existed the least.
They start arguing about rollerblades (is this what teenagers did in the ’90s?) until the footage slows down so Jake can have another voice over about how his life isn’t normal anymore. Then Marco joins in the voice over, too.
After that waste of time, every computer in this ridiculous place starts fucking up. The screens fizzle out to an image of the Andalite disk, with the caption WE KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. Marco and Jake say “No way!” at the same time. I say that, too, for a different reason.
The computer promises “1 ANDALITE FOR THE DISK” which, okay, that’s inane. “But,” you might say, “doesn’t Jake carry the disk with him at all times, as established last episode?”. Yeah, they thought of that. Jake sticks his hand in his jean-jacket pocket, comes up empty, and says, “Oh, man, I lost the disk.”
After the theme song, Jake’s dog is still in a cyber cafe. Jake wants to e-mail the Yeerks about the disk and Marco is like, “That’s stupid.” Jake wants to arrange a meeting place to trade an Andalite for the disk, then just take the disk and not give them an Andalite. Solid plan I guess.
At school, Friday is hot dog day.
Rachel and Cassie run into Rachel’s friend Melissa. She’s going to The Sharing and tries to bug them into going with her. Cassie is all “fuck that i’d rather wear overalls” but Rachel agrees that they’ll both come. Cassie is pissed until Rachel reminds her that Tobias has been missing for like days and The Sharing is their best chance at getting information about him if he’s been captured. Yeah, good point, Rachel. What’s Marco doing spending his day buying roller blades? Tobias is probably dead.
Back at the cyber cafe, Tom shows up to call Jake and Marco losers. Then he’s like “Jake, why the fuck did you bring our dog here?” and takes Homer home him. So why was Homer even there? Jake starts chatting with the Yeerks via e-mail, telling them to meet him at the mall in an hour. Marco is pissed.
At The Sharing, which basically looks like a Boys & Girls Club, the girls hang out with Melissa. Turns out there’s a secret backroom where most of the members, including Melissa, don’t get invited. Rachel ditches to the bathroom, leaving Cassie to deal with Melissa’s bullshit. In the stall, Rachel off-screen-morphs into a fly, and we get a lot more filtered POV shots. They’re blue this time.
At the mall, Marco (and his orange jacket! Yahoo!) walks into the pet store with Lizard-Jake in one pocket. Marco shoves Jake into a terrarium and bounces.
Fly-Rachel spies on the Controllers in the secret room. They’re legitimately the worst actors on the show so far. The worst of the worst smacks Fly-Rachel, so I guess she is dead.
At the mall, Marco hits on a mall cop. He’s actually acquiring his DNA via handshake. In the books, whether or not it was okay to steal a human being’s identity by morphing into their shape was a big point of dissension among the kids. Some of them thought it was pretty morally fucked up, and they argued about it a lot. On the show, Marco just does it. This doesn’t really matter that much, but it’s a pretty good example of the books’ moral and ethical dilemmas being completely ignored. Anyway, Marco tries to morph into the mall cop, but it doesn’t work for no established reason. His hair looks extra stupid today.
The Controller conducting the Andalite-for-a-disk trade shows up and he looks like this, so there’s that.
He walks around the pet store yelling “ANDALITE!” at random rabbits and birds while Jake talks to him in thought-speak. This is a pretty good plan on Jake’s part, and is something they would pull off in the book. But this bodybuilder guy squatting around the pet store and screaming at random animals is the silliest shit. Jake eventually convinces him to toss the disk on a random terrarium.
Marco finally shows up, and Jake is pissed that he’s still Marco; apparently he was supposed to morph into the mall cop and arrest the Controller for trying to steal the “Andalite” animal out of the store. While Jake bitches at him, the Controller prepares to punch a parrot in the face.
While the Controller is distracted by a store clerk, Marco grabs the disk and Jake and heads out of the store. Then another one of those unexplainable Ani-TV things happens. The mall cop grabs Marco, telling him he’s under arrest for shoplifting a lizard, and we fade to commercial. When we come back, there’s a quick shot of the mall cop running around looking for someone, and then we see that Marco has morphed to a rat and is hiding in human-Jake’s pocket. What the hell happened there? How did they get away? Whatever.
A huge van pulls up to the mall. In the back are two more controllers who are even worse at their jobs of controlling/acting. And they’re adults, too, so they have no excuse. They’re chatting with a hologram of Visser Three’s head. Apparently the disk has a homing device on it, so they’re gonna track the Andalites down.
Marco demorphs. Jake says, “Give me the disk so we can get out of here,” but it turns out Marco “put it on the ground next to some plastic bags” before he became a rat. What the hell happened this time? How did this chain of events ever come to pass? Why would he leave the disk on the floor of a public place when it’s been established they can morph just fine with the device in their pocket? This is the most disjointed and pointless storytelling I can imagine. The disk is gone and the plastic bags are being carried away by a janitor, so Marco and Jake give chase. He’s like “Fuck you guys, my life is a disaster, you guys can go through these bags and find it if you want.” So Marco jumps into a dumpster.
Marco bitches about their day, saying, “Morph into a guard, whose plan was that?”. But what does that even matter? He never even morphed into the guard, for unspecified reasons. Jake decides that he is gonna go a snack from the food court in the middle of this very important mission. Literally the moment he leaves, a garbage truck drives up menacingly. It picks up the dumpster with Marco inside while he vaguely complains about it. Marco gets dumped into the truck along with the bags of garbage. The walls start to close in, ready to crush him. Shouldn’t have taken off the magic jacket!
Jake shows back up, food and jacket in tow. He sees the garbage truck and realizes, oh shit, I guess you shouldn’t go get a hot dog in the middle of a mission. He does a weird jump-cut morph into Homer and chases the truck.
At The Sharing, Tom shows up and creeps on Cassie and Melissa. Then Rachel reappears, so I guess she’s absolutely fine. Good cliffhanger, guys. Rachel and Cassie leave because Tom creeps them the fuck out. Have I ever mentioned that Rachel is Jake and Tom’s cousin? She is. Now we all know. Tom is just like “fuck it sucks when your cousin is hot.”
Marco and Jake end up back at the cyber cafe, where Rachel and Cassie are waiting. We learn that Jake “had to bail him out of the city dump.” So I guess he just didn’t get crushed, and Jake chased a truck around for a while as a dog. This is like the third shitty cliffhanger this week that was completely resolved off-screen. The girls catch them up on what they learned at The Sharing, which is basically “there is a secret room and Tom is creepy-looking.” Marco is like “hey look what we got” and shows them the disk, and they’re probably like, how the fuck did you lose it in the first place?
Then the Controller/Shitty Actor Squad shows up in the mall, having gained a third member and wielding Dollar Store spaceship toys and flashlights—literally, just flashlights—as weapons.
In the cafe, Rachel tells the guys that this isn’t even the real disk. It’s heavier than she remembers, so I guess her logic is full-proof. Marco and Jake wonder why they wasted 22 minutes of their lives. I wonder the same. The girls figure out in 30 seconds that the fake disk is a tracking device. The Shitty Squad stalks around the mall, and this goes on for far too long, so I’ll just skip to the punchline: the kids stick the tracking device in an elevator, totally blowing their stupid alien brains. Everyone, Controller and Animorph alike, decides this adventure was fucking stupid and calls it a day.
The kids walk home and Jake and Marco talk about how they are best friends. No matter what happens, they will always be able to talk about roller blades. Meanwhile, Tobias is probably dead in a sludgey alien gutter.
Man, last week’s episode had a really terrible climax, but “On the Run” is like that hellish ten minutes spread across an entire episode. Jake and Marco’s plot has a setup without any logic—Jake loses the disk without ever noticing, he and Marco just happen to be in the one place where the Yeerks are broadcasting a nonsense negotiation demand—and in the end, it turns out to be meaningless. Then where the actual disk go? Did Jake really just drop it somewhere, and the Yeerks picked it up? Cassie and Rachel’s plot also had no point, they learned nothing about anything. The entire episode feels pointless—the synopsis is “Animorphs go to the mall, meaningless shit keeps happening to them off-screen, then they go home.”The biggest problem—in addition to the shitty-ass acting from literally every one-off character involved—is that no less than three times, we go to commercial with a character in mortal peril, only for them to completely escape the situation off-screen by the time we come back to them. That’s some shitty-ass writing. This episode really sets up the problem with this TV show—even when they contain the plots to human antics so they can save money on the CGI/animal budget, everything still happens off-screen. Nothing flows together. It’s like watching someone’s boring dream.
Adaptation Rating: 0/5. It didn’t adapt anything.
Character Development: Marco and Jake will always be best friends and no one gives a shit that Tobias died for their rollerblading sins.
Special Effects: 1/5. There’s only one on-screen morphing shot, and it’s of Marco’s hand turning black as he tries to morph the mall cop. Also, the Yeerk weapons are flashlights.
’90s Bullshit: Cyber Cafes, taking your dog to the mall, rollerblading, hitting on your younger cousin.
Overall Rating: 1/5.
Next Week: We finally reach Book 2 and it has to better than this.