THIS IS IT. WE ARE HERE. THIS IS THIS.
ANIMORPHS SERIES FINALE SUPER-REVIEW.
A bunch of THINGS happened, but I am going to go ahead and assume only three of them will be important.
1. There is to be a big school dance. Tobias won’t go because even when he’s a boy, he’s a bird.
2. Tobias spotted a suspcious hawk mural painted in the mall.
3. Marco’s morphing was videotaped by a pervert.
It’s the outer-space loser lair of our favorite pervert, Harold. When he’s not out videotaping in the woods for no apparent reason, Harold likes spaceships and space and wearing glasses and whatever else the most stereotypical nerd ever might like. Tonight, he’s taken time out of his vigorous Star Trek schedule to watch his footage of a dog turning into Marco over and over.
In another episode of Contrived Coincidence Theater, there’s a TV show called “World’s Weirdest Videos” airing just as Harold watches his footage. With a prize of $1,000 dollars on the line, you know what’s happening here: Harold calls in and sets some nonsense in motion.
Next scene, Jesus, we are still focusing on Harold. He’s sitting on the steps at school writing a letter to accompany his World’s Weirdest Videos submission. He’s immediately distracted by Rachel, and then this shit happens, so you know he’s in love.
Tobias gonna peck your eye out, dick!
Rachel finds a rose pinned to her locker, causing her to sigh, “Oh, Tobias!”. Harold immediately jams his fuckin’ face into the scene to reveal that the rose was his.
Rachel doesn’t even know this kid’s name and would clearly rather have a yeast infection than Harold’s love. She blows him the hell off until Harold decides to seduce her with “a DOG turning into a GUY.” This wrinkles Rachel’s nose.
Cut to the barn, where Rachel fills in her friends on the horror of Harold.
Marco’s response is pretty much, “Oh, sorry, guys, I guess.” Apparently the video is “too dark” to identify Marco, but once the TV show “cleans up the footage” for broadcast, he’ll be recognizable. The gang decides to head to Howard’s house while he’s sleeping and slit his throat.
Jake and Marco, mice white as snow, sneak into Harold’s bedroom to find the tape.
Sadly, it’s 1999 and that means this nerd’s room is LITTERED with tapes. Also, he’s got a cat. I’m sure its name is Spock or some bullshit. The boys decide to demorph INCHES from a sleeping Harold because I guess they want to die. Harold only stirs enough to moan, “KLINGONS!”. Dead fuckin’ serious. Marco then weasels right up to the bed and starts talking to the dreaming Harold as Scotty.
Why does he do this? Because Harold is SLEEPING WITH THE TAPE CLUTCHED TO HIS CHEST. Marco snatches that tape and our heroes flee.
They bring the tape back to Jake’s bedroom the next day to watch it with the girls. But instead of one stupid thing, the tape contains another:
I hate Harold.
Rachel rings Harold to find he’s already gone to submit the tape, but that he’s stopping at the mall first. So it’s another mall adventure. The four human Animorphs split up and resolve to beat Harold to death whenever they find him.
In an absolutely bizarre moment, Tobias just strolls into the mall for reasons completely unrelated to this vital mission, notices Rachel walking by, and thinks, “Oh, I should follow her, she’s pretty.” But he’s distracted by some hunk spraypainting a hawk on a nearby sign. So Tobias chases him through a carousel until the boy completely vanishes at a dead end.
Rachel runs into Harold at, I don’t know, the nerd store. She uses her feminine wiles to search his bag for the tape, but he’s already dropped it off at the TV station.
I guess Marco and Cassie gave up on trying to protect their identities, because they’re at CyBeria eating fast food. Cassie seems to think Ax might’ve been brain-slugged due to his weird behavior. I didn’t really mention this because it was barely a thing, but Cassie spotted Ax walking around with some tools or something earlier. She should probably just accept that he is always out of his gourd. Rachel and Jake stroll in to discuss Harold’s shittiness and what can be done about it. I’m sure his parents have similar discussions.
So Jake and Rachel get themselves delivered to the TV station in a box full of geckos. That is, I think they are geckos.
I think geckos are cool.
After doing this…
…the kids hide while a TV executive talks about how “this show will change the world.” Oh, it’s that guy Visser Three is morphed into. I totally forgot about him. As did Hollywood, I am sure.
At the park, Cassie stalks Ax as he carries a bag full of stuff to some place. Ax reaches, I don’t know, a nuclear bomb shelter in the middle of the woods, and lets himself inside.
Then Marco shows up to scare the shit out of Cassie, ha HA! Ax emerges from the vault sans bag and tromps off into the woods looking frazzled.
Visser Three and another TV exec watch a tape of “the show that will change the world.” It’s a ridiculously hammy teen sitcom called “Me and My Big Mouth.” There’s a joke there. Hmm.
So here’s the trick: the TV show is evil and it uses evil subliminal messages to hypnotize the viewer. It does just this thing to the TV exec, and while he’s zoned out, Visser Three pulls a Yeerk out of his pocket and shoves it in his ear. Visser Three demands the show be aired that night at 8pm. Jake and Rachel freak out, including this darkly ironic bit of dialogue:
“We have to cancel it. RIGHT NOW.”
Marco and Cassie let themselves into Ax’s secret hell chamber. It leads to a cave-ass cave and, hey, Ax built himself a spaceship.
In a real act of serendipity (am I using that word correctly? let’s ask my BA in English), the surprise airing of “Me and My Big Mouth” will be pre-empting “World’s Weirdest Videos.” Rachel turns into a snake to scare off the guys in the…putting tapes in…room…so she and Jake can take over.
In the Space Cave, Marco and Cassie hide as Ax returns with more supplies. He notices them instantly because despite hiding behind random shit almost every week, these kids are still the most conspicuous assholes I’ve seen since “Me and My Big Mouth III” hit RedTube.
Ax confesses that he has been secretly constructing a spaceship so he can fly away and leave this show behind.
Jake and Rachel have four minutes to stop the evil sitcom from being aired, but it’s on an automatic timer. The Evil TV Exec Army realizes they’ve been locked out of the…tape…room…and begin attempting to bust their way in. Rachel stumbles across Harold’s tape and snatches it up.
Ax puts the finishing touches on his spaceship while doing a John Wayne impression. The countdown for his test launch is intercut with a countdown to the Evil Sitcom being aired, so that’s a nice touch. Basically, here’s a summation of this whole segment:
Both timers hit zero, and…
Well, everyone loses: the spaceship doesn’t work, and the broadcast can’t be stopped. But luckily (I guess) enough, the failed ship launch cuts the power to the entire town, allowing Jake to remove the tape. He then turns into a dog and runs away.
Ax is bummed that he fucked up and cannot return ot outer space. Marco consoles him with some, “WE’RE your family!” shit, but surpsingly enough, Ax seems to be having none of it. No one wants Marco as a brother.
Harold calls the TV station and screams at them over not airing his tape and not paying him $10,000 he doesn’t deserve. The scene fades out and he, presumably, dies alone and unloved at the age of 27.
In a post-blackout world, Tobias is at CyBeria and somehow not wearing his leather jacket. He uses some kind of ancient device to scan the hawk graffiti into the computer.
A ridiculous search engine turns up one match: “Join us if you want to save the world.”
So this sounds like it will be a whole thing.
Tobias has put his jacket back on to prowl the streets searching for hawk symbols. He follows the string of graffiti to a sketchy building and lets himself inside. Eventually he ends up at some secret room where the hawk spraypainter from earlier begrudgingly lets him in.
Basically, there’s a whole secret base of young people here. Their goons hold Tobias in place while the guy in charge, named Hugo (although the show won’t inform us of his name until his final scene), scans him for signs of Yeerkitude.
Meanwhile, Marco hangs out creepily by the high school track and uses Ax-as-a-bunny to get the attention of a cute girl name Naomi and ask her to the dance.
This fails. He drops Ax off outside to demorph, then goes to pursue Naomi. Inside, he runs into a suspicious goon who tells him part of the school is being investigated for a “gas leak.”
Naomi is never seen again.
After being declared Yeerk-free, Tobias tries to play dumb about the whole thing. But these guys aren’t buying it. See, what we’ve got here is something interesting–a small resistance formed of humans formerly under Yeerk control. Tobias is shocked!
In Weird Teen Drama World, Cassie asks Jake to the dance by presenting him with her grandpa’s suit.
Also, Cassie is wearing a hoodie and a skirt that goes down to her ankles, so that’s great. He is charmed, but I mean, he’s also an idiot. Jake asks her out to get a cappuccino (lol) and I’m sorry, but whether it’s the writing or the actors, these two have absolutely no chemistry.
Tobias continues to feign ignorance as Hugo relates his tale of escaping Yeerk control. If you’re wondering how he did it, well, it’s dumb: he just ran out of the Yeerk Pool when the guards were distracted by nothing.
“Distracted by Nothing” would be a great alternate title for this series. Graffiti Boy says that the hawk sympols are a “bird of prey” representing how they’re going to prey on the Yeerks. Fine. Tobias tries to leave, but the gang won’t let him for fear of his being caught and ruining their fun. They’re about to tie him up when the Andalite disk falls from his neck and causes a debacle.
Hugo and Graffiti Boy bring the disk to their tech guru, an older woman who escaped the Yeerk Pool “and brought half of their technology with her.” She finds some “Andalite writing” on the disk and asks Tobias what it does. He says that he found the disk in a construction site, recognized the writing on the hawk graffiti, and brought it to them. Luckily, Tech Guru Lady has one of those little spinny-derbishes to pop the disk into.
Okay. So follow me on this shit. I guess the disk is emanating some kind of magic brainwaves. Tech Guru Lady says they might be designed for aliens brains, and thus capable of melting human heads. So Tobias volunteers to get radiation beamed into his brain at risk of his own death.
Back at school, Marco sneaks around the off-limits “gas leak” area. He discovers…anti-smoking posters!
He turns into a lizard (how many more times will I get to write that sentence? Please, a thousand) only to be snatched up by a clueless science teacher and thrown in a tank.
That’s it, guys. Marco’s trapped forever. His story ends here.
Later (I guess), the school dance has commenced. Chapman is chaperoning (more like chaperoning…oh…) and it brings to mind the question: where the fuck is Tom? Shouldn’t evil plans at the school be like, his main shit? Anyway, Chapman hits on Rachel or something.
Jake shows up in Cassie’s grandfather’s suit. I wonder if her grandfather is dead. I sure am. Ax shows up with a perm and he is either excited to dance or he has just figured out what sex is.
Either way, he squires Rachel off onto the dance floor. Here’s a picture of Jassie:
Marco the Lizard sends out a thought-speak distress call and, for some reason, Ax is the only one who hears it. He stumbles into the science lab and lets out least-favorite lizard loose.
Back at Casa Resistance, dear God.
As you can see, Tobias has been strapped into some disaster so they can beam beams into his beam. What happens next is absolutely insane and involves the phrase “mental hologram,” so I am going to let the screenshots speak for themselves.
Marco quits being a lizard.
And now everyone else is in the lab, too, for no reason.
Marco reveals what he saw in the secret no-smoking area: the entire gym floor has been rigged to collapse at 9pm, dropping everyone into the Yeerk Pool below. Why the hell didn’t the Yeerks try that last season, instead of creating a ridiculous ruse based around a basketball game?
Marco wants to scare everyone out of the gym by turning into a bunch of huge, scary animals. Jake rejects this idea on the grounds of “putting our school on the front page of the news,” and how would that be a problem, exactly? I mean, I just want to see Green Screen Bear again.
Bad news, guys. Fake Visser Three has found his way to the Graffiti Building, and he’s about to charge in and fuck up the Resistance.
The merry band of misfits gets ready to escape, but their leader doesn’t want to pull Tobias out of his vision quest before it’s finished.
Not that Tobias is accomplishing that much. Instead of elaborating about, you know, how the FUCK he bedded a human woman and produced an angsty baby boy in a leather jacket, there are just a lot of flashbacks to the Andalite’s appearance in the very first episode. Elfangor basically says that he came all the way to Earth with his dying breath to make sure his little baby boy would be safe.
Hugo pulls Tobias out of the machine just as the Yeerk Patrol reach the door. Everyone makes a mad dash to escape, and the disk is trampled to death underfoot. So I guess that’s the end of that.
Hugo stops the Yeerks from getting in so Tobias can turn into a bird and make his escape.
Then they do get in, and that’s it–Hugo is fucked. He’s dragged away to hell.
Speaking of heroic efforts, Rachel turns into a skunk and ruins the dance. Fine!
So that’s it. That was the climax. The climax of the series was Tobias flying out of a window and a skunk walking down a high school hallway. Thanks, ANIMORPHS! Thanks, Nickelodean!
With three minutes left in this series, we cut to CyBeria. Our heroes (sans Tobias) are all sitting around in their formalwear, and if this finale ends like the premiere did–with unending, directionless bits of discussion in the goddamn Cyber Cafe–I may scream.
Jake, Rachel, and Cassie are bummed that the Yeerks ruined their big high school dance. Ax, in his wise alien ways, points out that all of the people from the dance have migrated to CyBeria–because if a high school dance was skunked out, everyone there would surely head to the fucking CYBER CAFE in their expensive formal clothes–so why don’t we just HAVE THE DANCE RIGHT HERE, DUMB HUMANS?
Okay, guys, this part…it’s kind of cheesy, and it doesn’t really gel with the rest of the episode–how would he know they were all there?–but I don’t care…I still think it’s cute…
Someone starts up a romantic song on the jukebox, and that someone is Tobias, looking fly as fuck.
Rachel’s heart skips a beat or two on sight of her love. Everyone remarks that something is different about Tobias–he’s SMILING. Tobias struts over and asks Rachel to dance, and she is like, “Finally.”
So they dance, and Jake dances with Cassie, and Marco sits awkwardly watching from his seat as Ax sidles up next to him. Marco tells him, “Don’t even think about it,” but Ax is SO saddened by this rejection that Marco says hrumph to society’s norms and dances with him.
Tobias quotes Elfangor to Rachel, saying “I’d gladly sacrifice forever with strangers for one moment with someone I love.” Which doesn’t fit this situation at all, but whatever. She asks for the origin of this quote, and Tobias says, “My father.”
Rachel puts her head on his chest and sighs a sigh of “Fine, Tobias, we’ll deal with whatever that means later, let’s just fucking dance.”
And you know what? I think that’s been the moral of this show all along.
Let’s just fucking dance.
Okay, I’m going to do a retrospective on this entire series-ass series next week, so I’m going to keep this brief; more extensive thoughts will probably be found in that post. But in short:
-The Harold stuff was completely inspid, even for this show. It took up almost the entire second part and had no bearing on the third. Honestly, other than the Tobias plot, these might as well have been three totally unrelated episodes.
-Tobias’s plot was an interesting concept–a group of resistance fighters!–but uiltmately it amounted to nothing…beyond the RIDICULOUS reveal that Elfangor is his father. Yes, this happens in the books, too, but there’s an entire novel building the backstory for it, and then an entire book for the reveal. Here…they just threw it out with no explanation or purpose. But I guess it made Tobias learn how to smile. Whatever.
-Seriously–half of the final episode is spent establishing Hugo and the other resistance fighters. I don’t know if they were planning on having these be recurring characters or what, but as this ended up being the final episode, it’s a total waste.
-The climax came out of nowhere and was resolved just as quickly. Far more time was spent on the teens getting ready for the dance than there being any threat of something happening there.
-Also, what the hell happened with Ax’s random spaceship? These episodes are so bizarrely strung together into one kind-of-a-narrative. I don’t know if the writers were mandated to come up with a 3-parter (this aired as a “tv movie,” so maybe they were fufilling some kind of requirement) or if they were just incompetent.
-The ending was cute.
All three parts of “Changes” were written by Ron Oliver, who brought us the abysmal “The Underground” (first dumb Yeerk Pool episode) and “The Escape” (the good one about the Yeerk-free teacher). He wrote for a lot of similar shows in the ’90s, and since the mid-2000s he’s been churning out TV movies like a motherfuck.
Special Effects: Did you see the screencaps of Tobias on his vision quest?
’90s Bullshit: Star Trek. TV shows based on home video footage (take that, Daniel Tosh!). Me and My Big Mouth. Going to your big high school dance. Cyber Cafes. Animorphs by K.A. Applegate.
Character Development: I guess Tobias is Elfangor’s son. Tobias and Jake get to dance with girls. Marco overcomes his latent homophobia for good.
Life Lesson: Let’s just fucking dance.
Overall Rating: 2/5.
That’s it, guys. We did it. Thanks for sticking with me through this entire warhellride. Have a merry, Animorph-free Christmas, and check back next Friday for a retrospective on the series–aka, “I am going to drink eggnog and get MAD.”