ANIMORPHS Episode 19: Face Off, Part 1

This is the first part of the Season 1 finale. I’ve lost control of my life. Also, this multi-parter continues into the Season 2 premiere, “Face Off, Part 3.” Get ready to hang on a cliff. Or just hang.

In Jake’s room, our hero (?) is doing teenager stuff when he overhears Tom and some hunk in the hallway. He goes to bug them. Turns out the Sharing is setting up some thing at the BIG HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL GAME. It’s gonna be a blast!

Jake's room is, as usual, a set dressing disaster

Jake’s room is, as usual, a set dressing disaster

Jake responds to this news as he does anything: by turning into a lizard.


At the ol’ barn, all the other kids are waiting for Jake to show up with their tickets to the BIG HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL GAME. Marco is siked but Ax doesn’t understand basketball because he is an alien. Also, Tobias can’t go to the game because he’s a bird.

Did I make a "NO BIRDS ALLOWED" joke yet?

Did I make a “NO BIRDS ALLOWED” joke yet?

Jake the Lizard slithers around the house and actually asks, in voice-over, “Why did I choose to be a lizard?”. Which is, yeah.


He sneaks into Tom’s room to find his older brother looking for the Andalite Disk. Apparently Tom has had it the whole time, but I guess casually losing alien plot device technology runs in this family.

Just kidding, because Tom finds the disk instantly. It appears that he will get promoted to Visser if the Yeerk shebang at the BIG HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL GAME goes smoothly. Also Jake gets trapped in Tom’s backpack because he’s an asshole.

After the intro, the Barn Kids have managed to figure out Tom’s plan completely without any evidence other than “there is going to be a basketball game.”

Braintrust. Birdtrust.

Braintrust. Birdtrust.

Good thing Jake got himself stuck in a backpack, that was really helpful. They go to save the day and leave Tobias to eat a dead mouse or something.

Rachel and Cassie show up at the school, but are turned away by Tom’s buddy.


They respond by turning into animals. What is this, Animorphs? Oh. Oh.

Inside the school, Tom yells at Chapman for the shitty security, which is really something the Yeerks should’ve noted as a problem long ago.

The Sinister Sips of Tom Berenson continue.

The Sinister Sips of Tom Berenson continue.

Cassie and Rachel, as rats, show up just in time to see Tom head into the Yeerk Pool through a Secret Door.

Oh, shoerats?

Oh, shoerats?

He lies to Chapman, saying that Visser Three hasn’t trusted him with handling the Andalite Disk. Interesting if true!

So the girls, with their stupid rat-eyes, manage to misconstrue Tom handing Chapman an empty soda can for Tom handing Chapman the Disk. How did they even know Tom had the disk if they never spoke to Jake? Whatever, this is sure to be wacky.

Tom walks through the BioFilter, which detects Jake in his backpack and sounds an alarm. Tom responds by yelling at everyone and they’re just like “lol sorry.”

Also Tom fucking terrifies me.

Also Tom fucking terrifies me.

There’s this whole bizarre moment where Tom tries to turn the filter from “beep annoyingly” to “vaporize someone completely,” but accidentally turns off the “morphing sensor” instead, I don’t know.

Marco’s off looking for all of his friends.

Think before you drink...

Think before you drink…

The girls turn back into girls and meet up with Marco in the boy’s locker room (hoo hoo hoo!), where a locker houses the secret Yeerk door.

Marco achieves a fantasy.

Marco achieves a fantasy.

They tell Marco that Chapman has the Disk (he doesn’t) and start coming up with elaborate plans to get it from him covertly. Realizing that all of their plans are dumb, they go to watch the BIG HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL GAME.

In the Yeerk Pool Network of Tunnels and Science Labs, a bunch of stuff happens. A sexy scientist girl asks Tom for his progress on the disk. Now-human Jake sneaks around and eavesdrops.


Then this fucking shit happens.

Broo! Scaredya.

Broo! Scaredya.

Visser Trent bitches at Tom for not being able to open the Disk. Tom has learned, though, that the Disk can only be unlocked by another Andalite–a specific Andalite, a member of Elfangor’s family. Also, since they know there is at least one Andalite posing as a student (see: The Release), Tom plans to infest everyone at the BIG HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL GAME.

In the very underwhelming, barely-populated gym, Marco, Rachel and Cassie watch Chapman walk around.


Face Off? More like Sitting.

They’re worried he’ll unleash some diabolical plan with that disk he doesn’t have. Ax steals some drinks because he’s such a goof.

"What is this human e-con-o-my?"

“What is this human e-con-o-my?”

This episode is really boring. Hey, look at this guy.


Jake continues to hide in the dark of the Yeerk caverns. He ends up in some kind of spiderweb room.


From looking at this shit, he deduces he’s found “a new breed of Yeerks” that don’t need Kandrona rays to survive. Whatever you say, Jake!

Back in the gym, Ax makes this face and spills a drink on Chapman. This calls back to one of Marco’s earlier rejected plans to spill a drink on Chapman’s jacket and use this as a distraction to take the disk. But Ax wasn’t there for that plan, so whatever. Ax sexually assaults Chapman, who doesn’t go for it.

That look of shame.

That look of shame.

This guy in the background is totally disgusted.

morph22 morph23 morph24

Jake fucks with the spiderweb sacs, tears one open, and a bunch of vomit-colored Yeerks fall out.



Then all of the spider-Yeerks start screaming and give Jake a headache.

Tom screams some shit about the beautiful “warrior cries” of his new SuperYeerk babies.

"I AM TOM GOD." - Tom God

“I AM TOM GOD.” – Tom God

He sends Dingus, Drangus, and Brangus into the spiderweb room to console his screaming children. Then, since apparently he needs a replenishing bath, Tom’s Yeerk plops out into the pool for a minute.

Tom and the Bath Buddies

Tom and the Bath Buddies

Tom, free for the moment, is just like “ugh goddamn it this sucks” as the Goon Patrol drag him off to be contained in a laser prison. While this is going on, Chapman snags the Disk from Tom’s bag.


Back in the gym, Ax tells the others that he tried to steal the disk, but Chapman doesn’t have it. They deduce that Tom must still have the disk. Jeez, this is a real carnival of idiocy. I want to get off this ride. They decide to siege the Yeerk pool, even though they aren’t armed with weaponized oatmeal. Oh, and they finally notice that Jake has been missing for like 8 hours.

Jakes hides under a grate (great) as the Goon Patrol complain about the new Yeerks and their aversion to warm temperatures. Jeez, I wonder if that’s awkward foreshadowing.

Chapman opens a window and, for some reason, hides the disk on the outside windowsill before going back into the school.

I'm so sneaky, you already know.

I’m so sneaky, you already know.

Are you kidding me, dude? There’s no other place you could’ve put that? Tobias is chilling in a tree wishing he could have legs, so he immediately flies over and snatches the disk.

Jesus Fucking Christ

Jesus Christ

Well, that was fucking easy.

Tobias tries to fly off with the disk, but he gets a headache (more like Headachemorphs) and falls out of the sky. How many times have I written that sentence now?

Rachel heads outside to fuck Tobias.

So the Disk, having fallen to the ground near the downed Tobias, starts glowing blue.


Then it turns the whole world yellow and we see flashbacks of Tobias morphing into a bird as our bird-brain croaks in pain. The flashbacks are then played in reverse.

And then Tobias was a human.

But still trying to be a bird, clearly.

But still trying to be a bird, clearly.

Tobias realizes what’s happened and he freaks the fuck out, super stoked to not be a bird anymore. The disk projects an Elfangor hologram, which starts talking to him.


Tobias couldn’t be happier, this is the best day since that time he found half a McDonalds hamburger in Rachel’s trash.

Hologramfangor tells Tobias that he has unlocked the Andalite disk. Wow, all of this bullshit could’ve been avoided if Tobias had just touched the disk when they had it like 16 episodes ago? Elgangor tells him the disk will help the Animorphs in their fight, but Tobias is seriously in a state of total shock, awe, and delusion. He keeps saying things like, “I’m so glad you’re back,” apparently under the impression that Elfangor has risen from the dead.

Human Tobias has a lot of emotions.

Human Tobias has a lot of emotions.

So Elfangor gives Tobias the Alien Magic Disk Power skinny: he can remain human, but if he does, he’ll forever lose the ability to morph. Tobias doesn’t take this well. Then Elfangor fucks off back into the disk. Tobias cries.


Final Thoughts:

I guess this episode wasn’t horrible, but man, it sure was boring. I guess the show is trying to set up for the rest of this multi-parter, and maybe that will pay off, but very little happened in this episode. Jake wandered around the Yeerk pool caves and got screamed at by slimy Yeerk babies; everyone else sat in the gym and watched a basektball game.

And when things did happen, they were pretty inexplicable. Animorphs has often had problems with this, but almost none of the characters actions in this episode make any sense. Characters make huge leaps of logic that barely have any connection to what they’re looking at; everyone keeps having knowledge of conversations they weren’t a part of.

And the whole Scooby-Doo Switcheroo with “who has the Disk”–what the fuck was the point here? By the end of the episode, it ends up all being totally pointless–Tobias just stumbles across the disk. Whatever!

The last scene, though, was actually pretty great. Tobias is a pretty different character in the show than in the books, and here, that actually works out. Book Tobias becomes pretty stoic and comfortable with his bird-life pretty quickly, but Show Tobias has always seemed pretty sad about being a bird. And when he finally gets to not be, he is delusional, crying, and happier than he’s ever been in his life. Christopher Ralph did a pretty good job here. It gives me hope that Parts 2 and 3 might be decent, without the burden of so much exposition.

Writers were Jessica Scott and Mike Wollaeger and I’m not writing about those two again!

Special Effects: 3/5, sure. The morphing effects and dumb holograms return in full force–they must’ve been saving their budget (lol lol lol lol)

Adaptation Rating: Yeah, so, basically everything here–the BIG HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL GAME, the Super Baby Yeerks, Jake going missing in the Yeerk Pool, the Yeerk Disk, that’s all totally original. I do give them points for creatively tying Tobias’s return to being a human into the Disk plot. That’s probably the most pragmatic adapting they’ve done since the pilot.

’90s Bullshit: High School Basketball. Seeping out of your cobweb spider-sac and screaming into the night.

Character Development: Tom attempts to get his big promotion. Ax learns that stealing isn’t okay. Tobias stops being a bird.

Overall Rating: 3/5.

Next Time: Who will win the BIG HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL GAME–the HOME TEAM or the VISITORS? Tune in to find out!

Thanks for reading, gang.


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