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.”

morphsssss

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.

morphsssssss

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.

morphsssssssss

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.

morphssssssssss

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.

morphssssssssssssss

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.

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3 thoughts on “ANIMORPHS Episode 8: The Alien

    1. jonkeykong Post author

      My childhood memories of the show are pretty fuzzy. I started reading the series in 2001; by that point, the TV series was already over by multiple years. I remember the advertising for it/it coming on TV, but I don’t think it interested me at all. By the time I got into the books, i doubt it was even possible to see the show other than on VHS (of which I only ever found the first tape).

      Reply
  1. raxip

    Oh my god, I just discovered these. I am a diehard animorphs fan. The last couple years I’ve been farting around doing real life and totally forgot how happy it makes me. Consider me a new religious fan of these reviews. Thanks for all you do.

    Reply

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