ANIMORPHS Season 2, Episode 3: The Front

titleAx, Jake, and Marco are at the mall. Marco needs a new pair of shoes. “ANOTHER pair?” asks Jake.

This will be a riveting half-hour.

This will be a riveting half-hour.

Jake and Marco talk about how rad the mall is and I get flashbacks to that shitty mall episode from Season 1. They want to check out teenage titties with Ax, but he’s wandered off to a Radioshack Rip-off, capitvated by a TV broadcast about some guy who exposes shitty business practices and is “Always on your side.”

Then a boombox possesses his heart.

Ax attempts to buy the $250 boombox, but he still hasn’t really figured out money. He tries to walk out of the store with the boombox after paying an employee $2.50. This leads the boys to teach Ax a lesson about working and money and the value of not reviewing ANIMORPHS, I mean, a dollar. Ax resolves: “I WILL GET A JOB.”

It's overrated, Ax, trust me.

It’s overrated, Ax, trust me.

After the intro, Ax strolls by a customer arguing with the manager of yet ANOTHER RadioShack rip-off about her faulty digital watch. Ax is able to solve her problem with his magic fingers (hehe), and somehow this is a magic space watch that you can watch TV on.

The '90s, right?

The ’90s, right?

It’s worth noting that the show on her watch is the same “on your side” show from earlier. Hmm.

This act of technological wizardry impresses the beatnik-ass manager so much, he offers Ax a job for “five dollars an hour, plus commission.”

And he looks like this.

And he looks like this, because why wouldn’t he. .

Ax loses his fucking shit.

Manager Beatnik gives Ax a tour of the store, ending with their most popular item, something called a “cell phone.” Ax, being Ax, is distracted by already-full water guns that are, for some reason, available in a high-end electronic store. Turns out the manager’s name is Gustav. Of course!



Later, at the arcade, the boys are playing Beast Wars again. Tobias has even shown up with his leather jacket, unshackling himself from his birdly form to indulge his cruel video game addiction. Poor soul.


Wait…what’s that in the background?



Ax brags about all the dollar-ass dollar bills he’s making, and then a “cute human female” walks in.

Dammnnnn guuuuurrrrl

Dammnnnn guuuuurrrrl

Oh, shit, it’s Melissa Chapman! Do you remember her? Wowzers. The boys recognize her, and one of them asks if she’s a controller. Ax says, “No. I can see it in their eyes.” Well, that’s a useful and ridiculous skill to have. But hey, not for long, because she’s getting drinks with Tom!

Sexual Assaultimorphs

Sexual Assaultimorphs

During Ax’s next shift, a businesslady shows up to buy a cellphone. While Ax dips into the backroom, Gustav puts a cell phone to the woman’s ear and she has an interesting reaction before murmuring, “I’ll    take     six     of    them.” Acting!

I   will   pursue   this    car-eer

“I      will      pursue      this     act-ing      car-eer”

Jake and Marco spend their evening eavesdropping as Tom makes further plans with Melissa. He then calls up Chapman to say, “We need to talk.” The boys have a kinda-funny conversation about what dumb animals to turn into. They settle on bats and then turn into bats. “Move over, Dracula!”

I couldn't get a screenshot of the bats. Here's a picture of Dennis.

I couldn’t get a screenshot of the bats. Here’s a picture of Dennis.

Our BatBoys find Tom hanging out with Chapman, another controller, and some CRATES. They’ve got some vague plan to make “half the country” into controllers. Then a fourth goof shows up, and hey, it’s Gustav! Marco and Jake make their escape after realizing the Yeerks have created weaponized cell phones.

Tom shows up at the Store and buys a cell phone from Ax.

"You're right, Ax. I AM a dick."

“You’re right, Ax. I AM a dick.”

Ax is all, “Gulp,” as he sees Tom hand the gift to Melissa. Marco and Jake show up to share the bad news with Ax. They’re like, “Yo, Ax, I guess YOU CAN REALLY SEE THE YEERKS THROUGH EYEEEES” and Ax is like “Gwarsh, guys, I guess Gustav DOES wear glasses!”

Then it turns out that there are literally Yeerks inside of the cell phones.

Jake runs off to stop Tom from putting slugs in Melissa’s brain. He tells Marco to call the other Animorphs AND Erek, and I’m completely shocked they remembered Erek’s existence here.

Melissa and Tom’s romantic slugging is interrupted by Jake just in time.

Fuckin' little brothers, am I right?

Fuckin’ little brothers, am I right?

He proceeds to totally crash their date and be a total cockblock. I hate Tom’s shirts. Jake dicks around long enough that Melissa gives up on getting that dick and decides to ditch the whole date. Tom is like, “Dang!”

"fuckin' hate you bro"

“fuckin’ hate you bro”

Rachel intercepts Melissa and walks her home. Once they arrive, she flushes the Yeerk down the toilet.

A metaphor

A metaphor

Ax refuses to sell a cell to some1999 guy, and then HOLY SHIT, EREK shows up.

"I am on this show.'

“I am on this show.”

I am fucking blown away here, guys, I absolutely thought we would never see this kid again. Is he going to show up in the finale? This is madness.

Erek drops some “there is always a way out” zen wisdom on Ax. He hologram-hides as a gumball machine until Gustav leaves to do BUSINESS. Erek says, “Time isn’t exactly on our side,” which gives Ax a eureka moment.

Gumball wisdom

Gumball wisdom

The other ‘morphs watch in horror as Gustav invites the entire mall into his store for free cell phones, but then that “Always on your side” TV Dude shows up with a camera crew. Apparently he was tipped off about “unfair business practices” at the Not-Radioshack.

"Hello, I'm here to resolve the plot."

“Hello, I’m here to resolve the plot.”

TV Dude’s argument is basically “everything in your store is frivolous and fucking stupid.” He cites an “underwater fax machine,” so that’s pretty funny. Gustav hands him a phone, all “no! phones are cool! Please put this up against your ear, there is no slug inside.” But Ax saves the day by ruining the phone with a blast from his Super Soaker.

The TV Madman notices, oh, there is a slug in this phone. He declares the phones dirty and worthless and the story a sin slit on the Earth’s surface, and everyone in the crowd goes home to await the release of not-awful cell phones.

We get our wrap-up at CyBeria. Ax lost his job, as the store closed down completely. Melissa stopped giving Tom the time of day. Ax used his Earth money to buy gifts for Jake and Marco: handheld fishing games, which totally baffle the boys.

"Maybe I should leave this planet now."

“Maybe I should leave this planet now.”

There is a prety funny bit where Marco makes Jake switch him games so he can have the yellow one. They argue playfully as Ax has some dumb voiceover that I’m not going to transcribe beyond this beautiful line:

“Sometimes you want a cell phone, but get a Yeerk instead.”

Also, this happened at some point

Also, this happened at some point

Final Thoughts:

I gave this episode a hard time, but it was even better than last week’s. This episode gave us another nice, contained plot, but also featured ADVANCED plot techniques like foreshadowing (!) and some amusing character bits…even if Ax’s shtick has kinda run its course.

This upswing in quality and consistency (minus that fucking dinosaur dream sequence) actually makes me pretty bummed that the show was cancelled so quickly into its second season (there are only three epsiodes left). It’s clear that, by this point, everyone involved had gotten a bit more comfortable with the project: the plots are tighter and more interesting, the characters have more, well, character, and they even started a bit of worldbuilding with elements like Erek. Yet soon, we’ll be all out of ‘morphs!

I guess you don’t know what you’ve got until it stops being so shitty and then is gone.

Adapatation Rating: I don’t know, sorry, I haven’t read the book this is based on.

Special Effects: 3/5, I don’t care.

’90s Bullshit: Dumb cell phones. TV watches? Boom Boxes. Super Soakers. Beast Wars. Getting a job.

Character Development: Ax…learns the value of a dollar? Erek continues to exist.

Overall Rating: 4/5.

Next Time: All we have left is the three-part finale. So I’m gonna do Part 1 next week, Parts 2 & 3 the week after, and a retrospective on the show after that. We’ll start 2015 fresh with….something better.

Good tidings to all!


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