We pick up from the end of Part 1 with Jake, Marco, Cassie and Rachel heading back from Operation Fall out of a Vent and Nuke the Yeerks. They’re happy about their success and Jake’s hair is still wet.
At the Barn of Less-Important Characters, Ax asks Tobias the Bird about eating mice. The rest of the gang shows up to share stories of their victory, but Ax takes one look at Jake and gets reeeeeeal suspicious.
Uh-oh! Jake has an inner ear infection!
Well, Ax takes one look at that and tackles Jake to the ground.
After the credits, the others pull Ax off of Jake (except Tobias, who flaps useleslly in the background). It’s Ax’s day for a voice-over about how even your friends can’t be trusted when Yeerks are around. Jake tries to diffuse the situation but Ax isn’t having any of that shit. He tells the kids that Jake is a controller.
Cassie is all “nah” but Rachel brings up that “you did fall into that Yeerk tub.” Jake’s defense is basically “COME ON!”. He claims that if he were a controller, he would’ve gone straight to Visser Three to turn them all in, but the gang responds that a good Yeerk would play a longer con.
Jake gets real anxious and scared as his friends get more suspicious. Then in typical Animorphs fashion, something stupid happens. Rachel declares that as a test, Jake should shake Ax’s hand. Because “a Yeerk would never shake an Andalite’s hand.” Okay, I guess based on how shitty the TV Yeerks are at everything, that checks out. Ax sneers, “I’d rather kiss a Hork-Bajir ” Pretty funny.
So Human-Ax morphs his hand into an Andalite hand and they shake and Jake is like “see, that was stupid.” Rachel hugs him and everyone apologizes for being such Suspicious Sallies.
But Cassie decides that the Jake she knows would want them to be sure, as in waiting out the three days it would take for a possible Yeerk to starve in his head. The Jake she knows wouldn’t just keep reassuring them. So they tie Jake to a chair.
Jake is starting to get pretty antsy, and I have to say, Shawn Ashmore is doing a pretty good job here. The persona he’s adopted is very different from the Jake we usually see, which is to say he’s actually emoting and not just standing around or turning into a dog. The crew decides that there’s no other option but to keep Jake restrained for three days, and that they will have Ax morph his appearance and replace him for the duration.
Cut to, haha, Ax-Jake eating potato chips with Marco. Oh my gosh, this episode is a testament to the God Shawn Ashmore, he is nailing Paulo’s bizarre Ax speech patterns. Funny times.
In the Bondage Barn, Cassie stares into Jake’s eyes and calls them “the window to the soul.” Rachel steps out so Cassie can intact her sexual whims or whatever. Then oh here we go.
Cut to a hazy purple void, aka the interior of Jake’s mind, where he is, appropriately, still tied up in a chair.
Jake tells the Yeerk in his head that his friends aren’t buying it, and that soon enough this’ll all be over. The Yeerk, who sounds like an asshole, talks all about oozing his away through Jake’s brain. The Yeerk is stoked to know that the Animorphs are just humans, and promises Jake that soon enough he’ll escape and turn them all in.
At Jake’s house, Ax-Jake is channel flipping. He invites Tom to watch his favorite program, “girls lifting weights.” Tom blows him off and Marco tells Ax to stop being such a weirdo. He specifies that “at dinner, I don’t want you saying anything but ‘pass the butter.'” Of course, this leads to Ax piling spoonfuls of butter into his mouth at the dinnertable and replying to everything with “Pass the butter.” Jake’s parents take their son’s apparent brain damage pretty well. This sequence is sorta funny but it goes on for like five minutes.
Later that night at Cassie’s Love barn, Cassie feeds Jake and he starts laying some shit on her about the first time they met. Apparently Cassie had just moved to town, a snake escaped during science class, and Cassie caught it and saved the day with her infamous animal empathy. Jake starts creepily telling Cassie how special she is, then passive-aggressively mentions how tight his ropes are. Cassie, blinded by arousal, loosens his restraints.
In the purple void, Jake screams for Cassie not to do this. He tries to reach out to her, and as she looks into his eyes, Cassie realizes what’s up when Jake is able to briefly take control of his own hand for a moment. Yeerk-Jake tries to put his sweet and innocent voice back on, but Cassie’s had enough of his shit.
Back in the brain void, the Yeerk shows Jake images of a sobbing Tom, telling Jake just how the Yeerks broke the spirit and will of his older brother and enslaved him. Jake doesn’t like it.
The next day at science class, a teacher talks to Ax-Jake. Apparently Jake’s schoolwork has gone to a “quantum level” over the past three days, so I guess three days have already passed. Then Marco drags Ax out of the room. This scene doesn’t really have a point.
In the barn, Jake mocks Tobias for being stuck as a dumb bird.
Tobias seems pretty happy with himself, but then Jake brings up that he’ll never be anything more than “a pet” to Rachel. Jake to know how to make Tobias human again and offers a deal-with-the-devil to him. Tobias doesn’t get a chance to answer, as Rachel shows up to take over babysitting. Tobias tells her “he’s all yours, Rachel,” then flies the fuck out of there. Wow, this scene was surprisingly well-written for Animorphs; Tobias’s lack of a response really speaks volumes and is subtlety I did not expect from this show.
At this point, Jake has gone full Smirking Evil Asshole. In the brain haze, the Yeerk tells Jake that he’s found the power to morph within his brain. It took three days to figure that out? I don’t think that’s how being a Yeerk works, but whatever. So basically, shit is about to get bad.
Later that night, Rachel is falling asleep on the job because she’s completely useless.
Jake feigns sleepiness as well, yawning until Rachel does conk out completely. The second she’s asleep, he morphs into good ol’ Dog the Dog and runs the fuck out of there.
Dog Yeerk Jake bounds into the woods, then morphs human again and keeps running toward another Secret Sharing Camp. But hey, woops, Lion Rachel is already here to fuck him over.
He turns to run, but Horse Cassie is there, and Wolf Marco too, and Ax Jake. They might’ve just filmed Shawn Ashmore twice, or this might be his twin brother Aaron, I don’t know. So basically Rachel fell faked falling asleep so Jake could lead them toward another Yeerk Pool entrance. I don’t know, guys, that was a pretty ballsy gambit to pull when you only had like 15 more minutes until the Yeerk was for-sure dead, but I guess it worked out. On cue, the Yeerk reaches its point of starvation and Jake starts convulsing in pain.
His friends scream for him to fight the Yeerk until the little slug falls right out of his head and withers on the forest floor. Jake, trembling, crushes it under his foot.
Cut to the Cyber Cafe, where Jake drowns his sorrows with whatever you drink at a Cyber Cafe.
He tells Cassie that he now knows what it’s like to be the prisoner of a Yeerk, stuck in your own body with no control and no hope. He thanks Cassie for being there for him through this ordeal. Romantic music plays as Jake apologizes for the sexual advances his infected self made on her.
Marco show sup and tells Jake, “It’s ready, man.” In another part of the Cafe, Ax has hooked a cell phone up to a computer or some bullshit. Jake takes the phone and calls his house, where Tom picks up.
With his voice modified from the computer, Jake tells his brother, “Don’t give up, Tom. No matter what it tells you, no matter it makes you do. Don’t give up. You’re not alone. Keep fighting, Tom. We’re fighting with you.”
Tom hangs up the phone…and his hand begins to tremble, moving out of the Yeerk’s control.
The first part of the episode was definitely bad, but wow, Part 2 might be the best thing this show has produced so far. It should be evident by the length of this review that there is more plot and character development in this half an hour than in most of the show so far.
The best thing about it? This episode treats the events within it with real gravitas, something even the better previous episodes rarely manage. There is a lot of comedy with the Ax bits, but the parts with Jake feel genuinely dire and serious. This is a far cry away from “Marco gets stuck in a dumpster” or whatever usually happens around here. Shawn Ashmore even got to do some real acting, and the scene at the end where Jake calls Tom feels like something out of a real TV show–and makes use of the TV medium by showing Tom’s hand tremble, something we never would’ve seen in the first-person-narrated books. And Visser Trent didn’t even show up in this part–how can this episode be real???
I regret deciding to give my thoughts on both parts at once, because Part 1 was pretty shitty, even for a set-up episode.
Both parts were written by Neal Shusterman. His Animorphs credits include both parts of the pilot, Underground, and The Message, most of which were pretty bad. So I don’t know how Part 2 turned out so great. Otherwise he’s only written Goosebumps episodes, the Double Dragon movie, a Disney Channel Original Movie and some more R.L. Stine stuff recently.
Adaptation Rating: 4/5, whatever. The element of being inside Jake’s head with the Yeerk is not nearly as well-executed as in the book, but the plot is pulled together pretty well.
Special Effects: Purple Haze Brain Disaster
Character Development: Jake goes through a horrific experience; Tom receives a glimmer of hope. Mustache Man dies.
’90’s Bullshit: Chat interfaces that would never exist. Jonathan Taylor Thomas again. Mustaches.
Overall Rating: Fuck whatever I said before. 2/5 for Part 1, 4/5 for Part 2.
Next Week: An episode about a bird. Oh, it’s about Tobias? Fine.