ANIMORPHS Season 2, Episode 1: Face Off, Part 3

Wow, oh man, Season 2. It feels like only yesterday we began this impossible journey together. And here we are, months later, hurtling facefirst into the utmost darkness without an overcoat.

Last Season, on The Changelings:

A sad alien crashed on Earth and died. But first, to help them save the planet from some fucking incompetent parasitic outer-space overlords, he bestowed the power to morph into animals (hence the title, Goosebumps) to five teenagers. They proceeded to have a bunch of inconsequential adventures that rarely involved turning into animals. Except that time one of them got permanently trapped as a bird. Occasionally, they attempted to recover the Andalite Disk, a plot device of undetermined purpose. Oh, and the dead alien’s brother started hanging out with them and making faces.

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After the gang and the evil aliens spent twenty or so episodes dicking around, everything came to a head at the BIG HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL GAME. Evil Alien Vice Principal and Evil Alien Jake’s Brother planned to shove brain slugs into the heads of every student at the game (and also to release an army of Super Way Cool Mega-Brainslugs). We ended on a real humpdumpfery of a cliffhanger: Cassie & Ax were being dragged off toward infestation; Tobias, given human form again by the magical plot device disk, was posing as an alien slave with Rachel morphed into a brain-slug inside his skull (wait, what?); Jake, trapped by his Evil Dick Brother in a Cave Prison Room, morphed into that brother to cause some REAL CONFUSION.

Oh, and this man was crushed to death.

Oh, and this man was crushed to death.

We pick up with a first-person view of the Cobweb Cave housing the Super Baby Yeerks.

Now made of toilet paper.

Now made of toilet paper.

Already I’m astounded by what I”m seeing. This Yeerk lady is cradling a bunch of Newborn Yeerk Web-Sacs, cooing at them in baby-talk about getting them into their first hosts.

Why!

Why!

She carries the plastic bag full of baby Yeerks toward the pool, and we pan to Marco, Tobias, and Rachel-in-Tobias’s-Head-in-His-Heeeead-Zombie-Zoooombie. They’re just standing there, hands in their pockets, straight chilling. Okay.

"SURE IS FUN DOWN HERE, BIRD."

“SURE IS FUN DOWN HERE, BIRD.”

Also, I don’t know if this is a Netflix issue or what, everything is moving at a super-low frame-rate and I’m freakin’ out!

They discuss the SuperYeerks. Tobias/Rachel want to go set them on fire or something. But Marco remembers, “Yo, guys, we should make sure Jake is not dead.” They resolve to deal with that when they find away around the heavy Controller security.

A few feet away, Ax and Cassie are in line to be, as Tobias calls it, “Yeerked.”

Look how annoyed that cheerleader is with being assimilated by alien warlords.

Look how annoyed that cheerleader is with being assimilated by alien warlords.

Rachel thought-speaks to Ax, who reveals that he only has like a hot minute until his 2-hour time limit is up and he’s trapped as a goofy-looking teenage boy forever, like what happened to Frankie Muniz.

Back at Too Many Toms, I guess they fixed that light Jake shattered last week, because everything is bright as shit.

I do not need all these Toms.

I do not need all these Toms.

Also, it looks like a completely different room. So, there are two Toms now, and Visser Trent is like “this is really annoying.”

Tom 1 starts to tell his Alien Life Story to prove his Tom-ness, but Tom 2 is like “go get a scanner or whatever, and we will solve this by scanning me with the scanner.” But Tom 2 fucks up by not calling his Bowl-Cut underling by his official Yeerk numerical code designation. Uh-oh!

Smug Bitch.

Smug Bitches.

Back at the pool, there’s a bit where Tobias is getting real sick of Rachel accidentally making him do shit by being an alien slug in his brain-ass brain. But Rachel starts having some kind of manic episode, because I guess being a slug stuck in a head sucks, and decides she needs to get the fuck out and be a teenage girl again.

Tobias scurries off to find a hiding place, and he can’t even move because Rachel is freaking out and fucking up his brain, yadda yadda.

I Have No Feathers and I Must Scream

I Have No Feathers and I Must Scream

Marco goes fishing for Jakes, but runs into a guard, so he…pretends to sweep? Because the Yeerks keep a basket of brooms around to keep their caves clean?

Sure.

Sure.

Well, the guard sees this random guy brooming and decides, “Hey, Visser Trent needs help with his captive Andalite, you seem capable of doing that. I can’t do this anymore, I’m going go eat Quaker Oatmeal and die.” So that works out.

Tobias shoves his face to the floor so Rachel can plop herself out. It’s all pretty silly.

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Back with the too many Toms who are spoiling the broth, Marco hides behind some barrels (a classic Animorph maneuver) and watches whatever the hell is going on here.

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Tom 2 tries to prove his identity by sending one of the goons to get the Andalite disk out of his backpack. What happened to the scanner idea? Tom 1 is like “lol that ain’t gonna be there bitch!”. Visser Trent, like the sad dad he is, is sick of this shit.

Or maybe he's just sick of looking like this.

Or maybe he’s just sick of looking like this.

Marco spells things out for the audience by saying to himself, “Jake doesn’t know that I have the Disk! Which means he must be the one on the right!”

Thanks, Marco.

Thank you.

Thanks…

"Oh...Tom is Jake's brother!"

“Oh…Tom is Jake’s brother!”

Marco comes up with a plan. He sneaks into the Cobweb Baby Yeerk Nursery Hell Dimension to do…stuff.

Tobias and Rachel stroll around the caves and manage to get corned by like 80 dumb guards.

Then Tobias falls asleep

Then Tobias falls asleep

The Goof Troop finally finds a scanner and puts it to Tom’s head. But before any conclusions can be made, Marco fucks with the super-thermostat in the SuperYeerk room…

It's getting hot in here, so burn up all your Yeerks

It’s getting hot in here, so burn up all your Yeerks

…which causes the Yeerk babies to scream their scream throughout the caves and give everyone a headache.

And this, in turn, causes me to scream.

And this, in turn, causes me to scream.

Tom flips his shit. He says the temperature has reached meltdown levels, all of his babies are gonna die, game over, man; he runs off to save his children while Visser Trent howls.

In the Nursery of Screams, Marco sees a Tom approaching. He’s hoping it’s Jake, but just in case, he finds a convenient panel in the floor beneath which he can hide. Meanwhile, Jake-Tom is dragged off to hell.

Tobias and Rachel end up in the Give Up Your Soul to the Alien Menace Line with their friends. Here are some things: 1. The line has barely moved in the last ten minutes of episode. 2. Ax is still not trapped as a real boy forever, but apparently has “only 30 seconds” left.

Marco crawls his way out into another room, which is apparently the “control room,” as he narrates to us for no good reason.

The Goofy Gus Guard Goons bring Ax into the infestation chamber, ready to Yeerk the shit out of him.

Frustrated with the lack of explanations on the controls + his life in general, Marco picks up something or other and throws it, breaking fucking everything.

"look at me i am a gorilla"

“look at me i am a gorilla”

The lights go out throughout the caves.

This interrupts Ax’s infestation and sends the Controllers running to see what happened. He takes this chance to morph, and holy shit, this could be the worst morphing effect the show has ever done.

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This part is pretty terrible; Ax just turns blue, and says that he “can’t finish” his morph.

He's blue himself

He’s blue himself

And I guess Marco is a cockroach now. Then a huge rock falls on him.

Uh-oh. Marco died.

Uh-oh. Marco died.

Lights are flashing, there’s an evacuation siren, everything’s gone bananas. Cassie is trying to figure out what to do while Blue Ax has an episode about how blue he is. Cassie screams at him that this is “impossible, you can’t get stuck,” and what the fuck do you know about being a shapeshifting alien, Cassie? Chill out.

Cassie spots Tom, and then Ax is just able to morph again, whatever.

This is hell

This is hell

And then he immediately morphs back into a human. That was a real waste of time.

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Cassie and Ax run away, and Tom pursues.

So, this is what happens, I guess. Cassie and Ax escape down a narrow rock tunnel with Tom following them. Rocks fall, separating the two from Tom, and Cassie says, “Tom’s trapped, we have to help him.”

Rocks fall, my interest dies

Rocks fall, my interest dies

Ax is like “Naw, we will die if we do that.” He fails to add, “Also Tom freaks me the fuck out,” but I’m sure he was thinking it. They flee.

Back up in the gym, Chapman is like “well, uh, so, the tornado is over…I guess you guys can go home…and we’ll try to basketball again some other day.”

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All the kids cheer. So uh, what the fuck? Was EVERYONE who was dragged into the evil alien caves assimilated, except our heroes? No one else escaped and then wondered, “Holy shit, what just happened to me at the big high school basketball game?” Okay!

Tobias, Cassie, Rachel and Ax have all convened in the hall.

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They’re pretty worried because neither Marco or Jake have shown up yet. Then Marco shows up so hey, tension. Their happy reunion (Ax gives a big hug!) is cut short when Tobias asks if Marco found Jake, and Marco is like, “Oh..I sort of…thought you guys had that covered…”

The worst threesome yet.

The worst threesome yet.

So Marco fills the gang in: the last time he saw Jake, he was morphed as Tom. Ax and Cassie realize they left a Tom to die in a rocky cave-in and are like, “Shit.” Marco and Cassie decide to go back down to Yeerk Town and find him.

They find a Tom emerging from the secret entrance, barking instructions to his Goons, so they hide. The Tom finds Cassie hiding in the showers…

Oh. Look at this. This looks bad!

Oh. Look at this. This looks bad!

…but it’s Jake, so everything’s chill. He turns back into Jake and everyone is probably really happy because Tom is a disgusting monster-man. And hey, the Tom-to-Jake effect doesn’t look half-bad, probably because they’re dealing with a human-to-human morph for once.

NOW I'M EVERYONE.

NOW I’M EVERYONE.

Cassie and Marco are happy that Jake isn’t dead or Tom, and all of the Animorphs head to CyBeria for a insanely endless epilogue.

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There’s a news broadcast that tells us authorities are searching for a Victor Trent, who is sought in connection with an “underground explosion.” How the fuck the police connected Trent with an explosion in a secret underground alien lair-cave without also noticing the secret underground alien lair-cave is completely beyond me. But the gang counts this as a win, so I guess they’re happy, and that’s what matters.

Tobias goes to use his new thumbs on a video game, the other boys go to get drinks, and the girls have some girl-talk. It’s all about Tobias’s dong. The boys return and Rachel spills a drink and Ax doesn’t know how to laugh and this is all losing focus.

Marco hits on a waitress and tells her that he “saved the world today.” Tobias beats his old high score with the username “FreedomFlyer.” Rachel comes over and Tobias wonders if she saw any of his dirty dirty bird thoughts while she was in his dirty dirty bird brain.

Ax & Marco talk about girls and Ax eats in a gross manner. Then a waitress hits on him. She “loves a guy who’s passionate about his food.”

Jake and Marco goof around. Jake gives a voice-over about Marco saving the day and friendship. The episode just kind of peters out. Really weird.

Final Thoughts:

I don’t even know what to say about this one. It was just really, really bizarre.

Basically, every outstanding plotline built up in the last two episodes was swept aside without much thought. The conclusions to the cliffhangers were not that satisfying, we ended up right back at that “a character is put in mortal peril for no reason and then just ends up being okay” pattern the early episodes suffered from, and overall, the budget seemed wayyyy worse off–everything looked kind of cheap.

And what the hell happened at the end? Seriously, the plot wraps up awkwardly with like six minutes left, and then there’s this endless sequence at the Cyber Cafe where things just…keep happening. It absolutely feels like they were just trying to fill up time here. I am all for some casual bits where we see these characters just hanging out and being friends, but awkwardly gluing such a segment on to the end of a big dramatic three-part episode of a pretty horrible way to implement it.

Special Effects: Ugh. The Tom-Jake effect was probably one of the best morphing shots ever. But then we have the INCREDIBLY cheap sets and props, and the ridiculous “we painted the kid playing Ax blue for some reason” bit.

Adaptation Rating: Doesn’t matter!

’90s Bullshit: Cyber Cafes, unsatisfying conclusions.

Character Development: Tobias beats his old high school.

Overall Rating: 2/5. Pretty disappointing follow-up to a solid-enough finale.

Next Time: Marco fights a dinosaur and meets a robot.

Thanks for reading. I’m sorry.

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