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.

morphss

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.

morphssssssssssssss

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.

morphssssssssssssssssssss

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.”

morphsssssssssssssssssssss

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.

morphssssssssssssssssssssssssss

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.

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