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Mistakes... They happen! They are frequent, they are an inescapable part of life... some mistakes are hard to tackle, some of them can haunt you for the rest of your life... some of them are fatal and can end your life and every single thing you hold dear... but the true value of a person's will isn't judged by their mistakes... it's how far they're willing to go to fix their problem... it's about if they have the ability to face their problem head-on... it's about if they can learn and grow from a problem and take a stalwart step forward... even the slightest step up from a mistake can be a great sign of growth...
I am AstonLevy, aka... BlackMoonPaladin, the reviewing warrior of the night... And as for me, I've made mistakes on DA, that's also inescapable... and I want to fix one of them and in the future do a better job on some of the reviews that I'm not proud of... (Including a couple of my early Star vs. Reviews) So as a start... I've decided to correct one of the Loud House episodes I've reviewed back in August... April Fools Rules! With Fool Me Twice approaching quickly, I've decided to revisit my 4th least favourite Loud House episode and re-examine it... I think my original AFR review was a fairly decent one... but I do acknowledge that it could've been better... You gotta understand, this was during the time when the worst list project was really, really, creatively draining me... The depression hit its zenith on that day... the day I wrote that particular segment was the worst possible day for me to write... at that point, the project went on for far too long, I was procrastinating on my writing because I couldn't stand watching so many bad Loud House episodes back to back... I hit burnout... and because I wanted to get the third journal out to you guys soon, I forced myself to write the AFR passage when my heart wasn't in it... That was a mistake... it made me rush, it made me miss things while proofreading... and instead of explaining its problems more clearly, I got too fixated on the problems of Luan Loud herself and neglected certain other things that I should've mentioned... I feel like I could've done a better job describing what I didn't like about it... I made it all about Luan and I treated her like she was the only thing that was holding it back... that wasn't fair... it's not just Luan that makes this episode bad... She's part of theproblem... but not the whole problem... in fact, I'll be upfront and say that there was another problem with April Fools Rules... One problem that was just as fatal to the episode as Luan was... And I don't want to leave any regrets behind, so I'll explain it to you... I'll take off my rage-goggles and be as analytical as I can possibly be... even though I still don't like Luan Loud or this episode. But there's nothing wrong with an opinion, the only bad thing about an opinion is how its presented.
April Fools Rules is a very divisive episode, and now that I have a longer max word-count, a sharper mind, a more relaxed attitude and a much firmer grasp of what makes the episode my definition of terrible, I can finally give it the review it deserves... A smart one! Allow me to bring a brand new background tune for you all to follow along with as you read! Or if you prefer the one from my original AFR Review... fret not... You have the option!
So let's begin! This is the return of April Fools Rules! And this time I didn't use the transcript or the image gallery, I gave it a fair shot and a fair rewatch...
Okay... so where to start? Because there is quite a lot to say...
Like the title suggests, this is an episode about Luan pranking everybody on April Fools Day, and I want to repeat one thing that I said in my original coverage of the episode in my worst list, I like this concept... I like the idea of Luan trying out a bunch of new jokes on her favourite holiday... it seemed ripe for exploration and it fit Luan's character... We've already seen her pulling pranks in episodes like Project Loud House and expanding her pranks felt like a natural step forward for her. The problem with AFR is that the execution fell short in a myriad of ways... the most notable thing about it and the sticking point that makes it such a divisive episode in the community is the fact that Luan's cruelty gets ratcheted up to 11. This was the point that I hammered home in my original review, I mentioned more than once that Luan puts her siblings through a bunch of painful and horrible pranks and showing not only a complete lack of remorse for physically hurting her family but a sense of glee, anticipation, and even nostalgic pride in making her family (and any other unfortunate person who passes by the Loud House) suffer through one painful prank after the next...
The episode made her cruel and heartless, and that turned some of the fans away from her... while other fans ate it up and begged for seconds. But why does the cruelty bother me? Why does cruelty bother me in shows at all? Well... let's delve right into that! Because I like MLP's 28 Pranks Later, which is in and of itself a divisive prank episode... and I also like Sound of Silence... which is a Loud House episode that's despised for most of the same reasons that April Fools Rules has, only Lola's cruelty was seen as too far instead of Luan's... so why does AFR fail and these episodes work? Well, let me explain.
The thing about cruelty that you have to understand is that it doesn't always make a character inherently unsalvageable, a villain character like say... Dabi from My Hero Academia is the right kind of character for something like cruelty, he was built to be evil... but he also has a strong, devil may care personality... he was laid back, he was cunning, he was unpredictable, he had a hidden agenda... and the manga implies that he sees problems with the world and its law... there were facets to him besides just being cruel... Any villain can be a dick but there's got to be more to it than just that... Like I said when I tackled No Laughing Matter, no character should be just one thing... It makes them seem shallow and boring... that's a problem that Luan has but the problem's a bit deeper than that... I'll get back to that in a minute...
When a bad guy is a cruel character we expect them to get defeated/arrested by the hero or we expect his crimes to be avenged... because they're horrible people who shouldn't get away with things... if a good guy or character on the hero's side is cruel and sinister, the general rule is to have them either learn their lesson or receive consequences for their actions... That's a given... we want these things because we feel a sense of catharsis from the bad guy getting his comeuppance... and that's a natural human feeling... we don't want bad guys to go off unpunished in real life, and we don't want bad guys to go unpunished in cartoons either...
But there's another thing that comes from cruelty... and that's how it affects the hero of the story... let's go back to Dabi... In Volume 10 of My Hero Academia, Dabi kidnapped Katsuki Bakugo, who is one of Izuku's closest friends... and Izuku and Shoto (Who was there at the time along with a few other guys) had put in tons of work to save him from the League of Villains (Including fighting this scary-ass motherfucker) and at the denouement of the confrontation, Izuku and Shoto barely miss their chance at rescuing him, they end up failing, and the League spirits him away to their hideout and beyond their reach... Dabi notices Shoto's pained face and mocks him for his failure, needling him at how close he was before departing... and it ends with Izuku crying out in agony... and naturally, I sympathize with both of them... and that's the lighter side of cruelty... it paves the way for sympathy for the people facing said cruelty. Shoto and Izuku tried really hard and lost a trusted ally... so I ended up feeling bad for them...
And Sympathy is a powerful tool that can be used to make stories all the more better... with sympathy, we grow to like a character, it can be used to help us understand a character, sometimes we relate to how their feeling, we know their pain, their emotions, we get their struggle and what they believe in or fight for... and all these things breed empathy and makes us like the character... but sometimes sympathy can have the wrong effect on a show or episode... sometimes sympathy can turn me away from a character... case in point, we're back to April Fools Rules... and this is one of the problems that bothered me a lot during the episode on my rewatch of it...
Lincoln is too likeable...
I know, right? That's a rather odd complaint, isn't it? But it's what stops me from laughing at the episode or rooting for Luan. They made Luan too cruel... and they made her too sadistic, that's a problem... but it's not the whole problem... the thing is that because they made her pranks too extreme, I don't feel like laughing with her... I don't find innocent animals getting shaved to be very funny, I don't find her throwing shit at her parents and a 4-year old to be very funny... because it's going too far... and instead of making me laugh with Luan... it's making me sympathize with her family instead... Like, let's think about what Lincoln does in this episode... His goal was just to not get pranked... and when he found out that Ronnie Anne was in danger, he selflessly sacrificed his body and his ambition of safety to protect her... it makes Lincoln look good but it goes too far... and so when he gets rammed against the stove... or when he gets mauled by Raccoons, or slammed against the ceiling... I don't find it funny... I feel sorry for him... because he's doing this to protect someone he cares about... and I connect with him on that... so it makes it crushing to see him get abused like this by a madwoman who's getting off on his suffering and drinking his tears... it makes me connect with Lincoln and it makes me want to root for him but in exchange it turns me away from Luan. Instead of laughing with her, I'm disgusted by her heinous actions... and when a character I like is getting shit that he doesn't deserve from a character who's happy that he's getting shit... it makes me mad at the character who's giving shit.
Picture this scenario...
A little girl (Who's about 7 or so) is frolicking through the snow and having a good time... out of nowhere, a teenaged boy whose name she doesn't even know comes out of fucking nowhere, with a snowball in hand... and starts violently mashing said snowball in her face, not throwing it at her, pressing it maliciously in her face while she's pinned on the ground... would you find the boy's actions funny? Would you like the boy for that? No... it's not funny. It's fucking sadistic, you'd get mad at that little shit! Because what asshole teen would pick on a little kid he doesn't know for fun?
And that's how Luan's actions make me feel... She's the asshole teen mashing snow in a helpless child's face... And I end up feeling sorry for everyone involved...
Other shows offset this problem of making the victim too sympathetic by making the victim of cruelty unsympathetic as well... or the victim gives the person being cruel a reason or motive to be cruel... like if the victim did something cruel first, the cruel person can retaliate to give consequences or teach the victim a lesson.
Case in point... Sound of Silence.
In Sound of Silence, Lincoln thought that the house was too noisy, so he bought noise-cancelling headphones... at first he was justified in doing so... but he overstepped his bounds... and cancelled out everything, including his sisters who were simply trying to converse with him and not bother him at all... he got arrogant and thought "Fuck it! Why should I listen to my sisters at all? I can just ignore them as much as I want!" making him unsympathetic, it's one thing to want quiet but another thing entirely for him to ignore everything his sisters say... he started out wanting silence but became a recluse... So when Lola and everyone else gets even, it's cathartic... because first off, he brought it upon himself... and second... he learned that ignoring people has negative side effects... and that it's not fair for him to ignore his family altogether... That episode made him deserve what came to him.
April Fools Rules doesn't do that... it makes Lincoln a kind man out to save his family and ending up with a shiner and his eyebrows gone... but Let's get to that summary first, sorry to keep you waiting with all that technical talk...
So the episode begins with Lincoln literally expressing that "Every year my sister Luan creates a prank apocalypse and no one is spared!"
And what follows is about three minutes of the show explaining exactly why Luan celebrating April Fools Day is a bad, bad thing... they establish that she shaves her pets, they establish that she plucks Lori's eyebrows and that it took a month to grow back... they establish that she traumatized Clyde with birds when he just wanted to visit Lincoln... they establish that she almost drowned them in Jell-O, and they establish how fucking scared each and every Loud is of Luan's pranks... and I feel very sorry for them, they didn't do anything to deserve this either, they're scared kids, they never hurt Luan nor did they commit any kind of sin in this episode. (And yes, I'll get to the cage-scene, don't worry about that!)
And Lincoln, the man with the plan decides to hide in his room and avoid getting hurt, which after what I've seen in the flashback, is the correct decision... the only problem is that Ronnie Anne is coming over and Lincoln rightfully fears that she'll get hurt if Luan pranks her... and he also fears that Ronnie Anne will attack him just because someone else inconvenienced her...
Quick rule of thumb... don't make a character that needs to be saved out to be some asshole or dick... it kind of defeats the purpose of wanting them to be saved... because if a character is unsympathetic or unsavory, why should you want them rescued?
So what Lincoln does is that he asks Clyde for ideas, and one of Clyde's suggestions is to in the episode's own words... "Appeal to her humanity. Beg if you have to!"
So Lincoln does just that, he literally begs Luan for help and tries to appeal to her generous nature...
Her response? Well...
Lincoln: Luan! You gotta call off Prankageddon! Please! Ronnie Anne is coming over tomorrow and I can't let her get pranked! Luan: Okay. Lincoln: Really! Wow that was easier than I... Luan: APRIL FOOLS PRACTICE! Lincoln, you know the April Fools Rules. Anyone who sets foot on our property is fair game. Speaking of which, is Clyde coming over? 'Cause I'd love to just say HAY!!![chuckles insanely]
So not only do they make Luan to be a character who's happy that she flat-out traumatized Clyde... but now they're establishing her as someone who's completely unreasonable... Lincoln tried to appeal to her and failed... and now she's gonna prank Ronnie Anne knowing full well that it will bother Lincoln... in fact, if we jump to the ending for a bit, we learn that she set all this stuff with Ronnie Anne up just so she can prank him and concoct a situation where she forces him to sacrifice his body and physically hurt himself...
And it makes me wonder... why?
Why go to the trouble? Why is Luan doing this at all?
And I think that this was the missing piece that should've been in my first review... I don't get why Luan is even going this far... I get why she likes to prank people... because it's April Fool's Day and she likes to celebrate it... but why is she shaving the pets? Why is she proud of siccing angry birds on Clyde, who she barely interacts with? Why is she happy that she scared her own six-year old sister into peeing herself? And why is she pulling this elaborate convoluted prank to make Lincoln hurt himself for Ronnie Anne? Her intensity and clear lust for pain are never explained in either installment of the April Fools duology... and I feel like that's what makes Luan all the more frustrating, I don't feel like her "Getting carried away" is the answer, nor do I think that "Because it's fun" is a viable answer either... You don't shave pets for fun... if you delight in traumatizing people and manipulating them for fun, then you have a serious problem... the problem with Luan besides her cruelty is that they give her no reason to be cruel to begin with... if she was carried away, she wouldn't be sadistic and angry, she'd be overexcited and bouncing off the walls happy... she clearly knows that she's hurting people... and she's fine with that, but I don't understand why that makes her happy. It makes her motivations feel inexplicable, especially considering how her character up until this point, was very soft, kind and easygoing... which makes the whole plot feel contrived... which makes Luan feel Out of Character as a result.
And that is not a nitpick... Character motivations are important as fuck... Why? I think my Bounce Lounge review sums it up best... Take it away, me from July 2017: "If the character motivations don't feel real, then naturally, I don't find anything believable. Without proper motivations, I can't suspend my disbelief to believe that the characters would even be in this situation... because none of it adds up."
Those are my thoughts on Luan's sadistic attitude, I don't see why she would be so cold and cruel to her brother, and I don't see why she would be happy about hurting people, or what she would gain other than a sick thrill that she theoretically shouldn't be enjoying... she seemed like a nice girl in other episodes, and she wasn't built to be evil like Dabi was... she was built to be a sister that Lincoln could count on... she was fine with helping Lincoln in Project Loud House, she wanted to protect him in Heavy Meddle... those episodes show that she cares about him...so why is she so mean and insensitive to him here? What kind of sense does that make that she's willing to fight for Lincoln in Heavy Meddle yet she'll manipulate his emotions and bully him in this episode? It's confusing enough to make me...
And now I'm dead... not really, that was a joke.
They try to give her a reason for being a dick... (Emphasis on "try") but it ultimately falls flat on its fucking face.
So seeing that Luan is beyond talking to... Lincoln and the sisters decide to trap her in a cage... and after shoving her inside, they then proceed to laugh at her and use her puns against her, Lincoln even throws her own words back at her...
Luan: LET ME OUT OF HERE! Lincoln: Okay. Luan: Really? Wow! That was easier than I... Lincoln: APRIL FOOLS! We aren't letting you out until April 2nd!
And it's cathartic... because she's getting her just desserts... but not really... she gets punished... but then she breaks out and proceeds to prank them anyway... and it causes another problem...
You see, going back to that thing I said about Lincoln deserving what came to him in Sound of Silence, the thing is... is that this scene fails at making the other Louds deserve what comes after they trap Luan in a cage... yes, they laughed at her... but does that make them worse than Luan? No... and that's the problem.
When two cruel characters are being cruel to each other, we naturally root for the lesser of two evils... and they fail to make the Louds bad enough to make Luan justified in pranking them... Because the Louds only did what they did to protect themselves from physical harm at Luan's hands... not to mention that Luan presented herself earlier to be completely unreasonable, as shown when she refused Lincoln's pleas for mercy... and when words can't dissuade someone from doing bad things, the only logical step is to use force... this scene justifies the Louds instead of Luan, instead of feeling sorry for Luan, they make her too mean, which means I find catharsis in her getting mocked... which makes me root for the Louds, who only did this out of desperation and fear. The cage scene also comes too late as well, if they showed the Louds being cruel to Luan from the start and got me to sympathize with her, then I'd feel sorry for her and want her to get back at them... but they made her too caustic and unlikeable at the start... which makes her punishment feel deserved, so it completely fails at giving her a good motive for being nasty the next day... because instead of justifying her, it justifies the Louds... and even worse, she'll go on to punish the innocent Louds for trying to defend themselves from harm!
Also, this scene is kinda pointless when you really stop to think about it, Luan was already going to prank them the next day... and if the text that Lincoln received is any indication, she already was going to manipulate Lincoln before the Louds fought back... so the cage-scene doesn't really have any impact on Luan's behaviour... because she was going to prank them anyway. If the cage scene was at the end, it'd be a happy ending... because she gets her just desserts... but she got punished too early, making her renege on what should've been a lesson.
So in conclusion, the cage-scene was too early to be the catalyst for Luan changing and too late to be the inciting incident for Luan's cruelty.
Then the pranks happen, leading to the things I said about feeling sorry for Lincoln being manipulated and beaten black and blue... and the pranks aren't funny either... mostly because they interrupt the action periodically to have Luan make a pun... the scenes were fast and fluid but then the flow is halted for an unfunny joke. Comedy is built on speed and surprise and the pauses take me out of the action, interrupt the fast pace, take away the surprise because her puns are predictable and divert me away from what's supposed to make me laugh... it's a hindrance more than an asset in my opinion.
There was one funny joke... to be absolutely fair... it was when Leni was an idiot and says "Thank you, sign!" as she walks into town... but that joke has horrible implications, I'll get to that part.
Then Luan revealed that she set all this up just to laugh at Lincoln for being selfless and kind... and once again, it's horrible, random and feels out of place... and that doesn't sound like something that Luan would laugh at... and it bothers me that she would be so heartless towards Lincoln for no apparent reason... (Remember, she set this up before the cage-scene) and I end up hating her because I feel too sorry for Lincoln.
But I will give credit where it's due... Ronnie Anne throwing the pie at Luan was a nice gesture... and it does vindicate Lincoln's turmoil... but only like 1% of it... I say 1% because it doesn't bother Luan at all... she doesn't learn from it... she's not even inconvenienced by it... she's chill... and instead of learning how much she hurt her family, she's still sadistic and cruel, which they showed me in Fools Paradise, where she proclaimed she'll make next year even worse.
The ending fails because it only solves the immediate problem of Lincoln suffering on that day, not the larger problem of Luan being sadistic for no reason.
Let's compare that to MLP's 28 Pranks Later... in that episode, Rainbow was on a rampage similar to Luan's... only she wasn't sadistic about it... she was being a smug dick... and she was hurting her friends... they tried to talk to her, but she wouldn't listen, and while her friends tried to tell her what she did wrong... she took it the wrong way and began to prank everyone, including innocent bystanders... they tried to talk to her three separate times but she wouldn't listen to reason... and she kept on compounding her crimes by pranking everyone in sight... not to mention that she used children for her own gains and point blank lied to Rarity's face... naturally, they dropped the hammer on her, it wasn't out of evil, it was to teach her what it felt like when she pranks people cruelly... The other 5 Mane 6 did what they did out of necessity, Rainbow was unreasonable, so they used force, and when shown the error of her ways, Rainbow apologized, made amends and even demonstrated that she learned her lesson. 28 Pranks Later solved the long-term problem, not the immediate problem... and the Mane 6 were justified because they only wanted to help Rainbow and not hurt her...
Luan on the other hand, was shown the error of her ways and learned nothing... she was shown that her siblings hated her pranks and wanted her to stop... instead of evolving and learning, she continued to be a heartless person at the end...
Like, the last thing I see in this episode is Luan making this smug, satisfied, and totally carefree, shit-eating grin... immediately after ruining the inside of the family's own car with paint... (That's not gonna come out of the upholstery easily by the way) pranking people who weren't even trying to punish her... all they wanted was to find Leni... their missing sister/daughter, who could be god-knows-where by now... and once again to reiterate, the last thing to cap off the episode is the person who caused all the problems making a snide, shit-eating grin and having herself a good old laugh...
And that's supposed to be a satisfying ending? It ends with Luan coming out on top? After the episode did everything in its power to make her least likeable person in the experience? After she failed to learn a lesson? After she manipulated Lincoln's emotions, gave him a black eye and instilled fear in the hearts of her siblings at every possible turn? And after the episode completely fails at providing any sort of motive for her doing so?
Not a chance! She's the farthest person from deserving it in this episode. I get what they were trying to do... I understand what this episode was going for... they wanted to end it on a joke... but in this case, the joke of Luan pulling pranks has run its course... and it doesn't do anything to alleviate the staleness of prior jokes because they cut the flow... once again... for another unfunny pun... and it effectively showed me that Luan has learned absolutely nothing from the entire adventure. The whole adventure felt more or less pointless to me... because, what was accomplished in this episode? Nothing much, in my opinion... Luan didn't learn anything, clearly... She didn't do what she did for Lincoln because that doesn't explain why she was a dick to everyone else if she only wanted to make him look good in front of Ronnie Anne, especially to the parents that didn't do anything to her... nor does it explain her cruelty in previous April Fools Days (Like, I said... what the siblings did was justified and only to protect themselves and she was gonna prank them anyway, regardless of whether they retaliated or not) Ronnie Anne had one moment that worked... but did it improve her character? Not really... It's kind of hard for me to forgive her when her very next episode has her admitting point blank that she would blow Lincoln off directly after calling him out on doing the same thing in Dance Dance Resolution, making her a dirty hypocrite... and several things that bothered me in Shell Shock... and making Lincoln wait several days outside her house just to prank him and laugh at him in Back Out There.
And as for Lincoln... well, he didn't really learn anything or develop either... He was already selfless when the episode started... He technically has a happy ending, sure... but the very next year, he's running for his life in a ghost motel from his own sister, so in the long run, he didn't really gain anything either... all he got was a pyrrhic victory, his eyebrows shaved off, his foot jammed into a bucket (I mistakenly thought he had a limp in my original review) and a black eye... while the person who inflicted said black eye and stuck foot ostensibly gets off scot-free.
The ending itself bothers me because they don't explain what happened to Leni, that might actually have been a really funny joke if they showed her in a silly place thinking it was the kitchen... but instead of joking about that, they waste 5 seconds on Luan asking me if I get the joke of feeling blue after painting a car's insides blue... but instead of a funny joke, it just makes me worry about Leni... because who's to say that Luan didn't have yet another horrible trap waiting at the end of her signs? And once again, instead of making me laugh at Luan luring Leni into the city, I just end up sympathizing with Leni and feeling worried about her... because Luan's treatment of Lincoln tells me that Leni isn't safe... and that's not including the fact that Leni's own idiocy is now in a wide-open space with no one to keep it in line... Meaning she could inadvertently fuck herself up.
My mind hasn't changed... this episode maintains its 0/10... and I still consider it one of the most depressing lowpoints of Season 1. I understand the episode's appeal... I really do... It's eclectic and fast paced, (at least to everyone else) it gives Luan screentime and it has some sadistic atmosphere to it... and for some that could come across as refreshing... but what good is atmosphere if I don't like the story? What good is comedy if it all feels the same? What good is Luan's portrayal if the entire episode turns me away from her?
I hope Fool Me Twice is good, I really do... I never want to hate a character... I never wanted to reject Luan... not even after April Fools Rules, she has potential, she even had one good episode... (Funny Business), but what's she's doing right now isn't working... her jokes are getting old, her episodes are becoming samey and they're reusing the same concept as this episode in Fool Me Twice... this is her fifth episode and instead of going somewhere new, they're reusing the same concept from her first episode... and if you have to reuse the same concept three times in your fifth episode... your character is doing something wrong...
I hope you enjoyed my re-review of April Fools Rules! And I hope you all at least understand why I consider it to be my fourth least favourite Loud House episode... And if you like AFR, that's fine, too! Tune in next time for when I explain why I like MLP's A Royal Problem!
Because Tomorrow is Father's Day, (or Step-Father's Day in my case) I won't be around that much. I want to wish a Happy Father's Day to the people of this site. And I'd also like to wish a Happy Birthday to yodajax10 while I'm at it too. Be sure to support Jackson's page and content.
For those wondering where I was the past 24 hours or so, I was indulging myself in the Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion and watching Spiderman Homecoming. Both of those experiences are excellent and I recommend them wholeheartedly.
Could you guys let me finish, please? I appreciate the enthusiasm, but hold your horses... Have you ever seen a bad episode where instead of coming out of it outraged, bored or disappointed, the experience left you feeling... fascinated? I'm not necessarily talking about an episode that was amazingly bad in a funny way, I'm talking about an episode or movie that was so bad that its flaws just felt interesting. Something so incomprehensibly inept that you can't help but wonder the exact lines of logic that led it to be that way? Something so terrible that the more you think about how it failed, the more intruiging the madness of it all becomes, and the more layers you peel back, the more ridiculous the episode's flaws become? It's like a giant pile of mishmashed pieces of lumber and metal where a building once stood, (You know, like a recently torn down building) or an oddly-shaped birthmark that someone has... At first you find it off-putting and a little awkward but the more you glance at it, the more strangely mesmerizing it becomes. It's an odd feeling to have, and an even harder one to explain... but sometimes you just get sucked into the sickly sweet allure of how out of place something can be...
Hello, my cybernetic friends and family! How are all of you today? My name is Aston Levy, aka BlackMoonPaladin, the reviewing warrior of the night. Today, we have a special treat in store for you fine folks... Because I found an episode that fits that description of being abstractly bad, something so otherworldly strange that it becomes more fun the more you poke and tear into it...
And its name is... Doppelfinger...
Doppelfinger is the first segment of the seventh episode of a show called The Mighty B, an obscure Nickelodeon show about a girl scout named Bessie Higgenbottom (Rule of thumb: Never end a character's last name with "Bottom", that is a surefire way to make me cringe at how stupid that sounds) who's on a quest to get merit badges because for some odd reason, she thinks that she'll become some sort of... superhero? For getting merit badges in a regular girl scout group where nobody has superpowers? Yeah, sure... Okay.
During my early pre-teen years when I could swallow any old story and not question anything about it, I would watch The Mighty B all the damn time... and for a few years after the show ended, I would look back on it quite fondly. But viewing it now as an older, wiser, 23-year old adult who does question and evaluate what he watches and experiences? Yeah... no... this show hasn't held up very well at all. The Mighty B is a pretty crappy and mediocre at best show. One of the few really noteworthy things about The Mighty B as a whole is the fact that Amy Poehler of Parks and Recreations and Saturday Night Live fame created the show and voiced the main character, that and Miss Poehler actually won an Academy Award in the year of 2010 for her apparently outstanding voice work as Bessie Higgen-not-even-dignifying-the-latter-half-because-that-name-cliche-sucks... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daytime_…
So let's divide by zero and tear the world apart! This is Doppelfinger... Be a dear, my people and be sure to right click the following links, open up a tasty new tab and hear the accompanying tunes come-a-flowing, Please and thank you.
[link] The episode begins with a shot of a poorly drawn stopwatch followed by the Honeybees (Bessie's Girl Scout Troupe) slapping the shit out of some pieces of paper, just tearing the fuck out of it like a pack of wild raccoons digging through a dumpster... and as Bessie slaps her paper into the shape of the Taj Mahal somehow, she slaps the paper too fast and she ends up jamming her finger against the cold, hard, wooden surface, bending it at a grotesque, unsettling angle... And then it cuts to her mangled digit, which for some odd reason has a face on it... Yes, her finger had a face on it, and she calls it Finger, real original. We don't even establish that it had a face before the snap, it just appears immediately after she jams it on the table...
And after that, her paper Taj Mahal crumbles somehow, and she leaves the table in a panic. I'll give her credit for calling for help like a real child would, but instead of the Troupe or the headmaster doing anything about this... her anthropomorphic dog... Yes... Her dog... comes to the rescue and instead of icing the finger or anything sensible like that... she performs Faux-CPR like measures on her snapped finger (By poking it with her other hand) and then the dog zaps it with a fucking defibrillator... because a violent jolt of concentrated electricity would totally not make that sprained finger hurt even more... and then when she goes back to her scout group, no one cares, pays it any mind or acknowledges anything she's saying over the matter, they just want to keep on slapping their paper... And when the Scoutmaster calls "Time's up!" we see what everyone else made. We see Portia, (The stereotypical bully played by Grey Delisle) made a hand-mirror even though she was folding paper and no glass, Gwen, (The sidekick bully played by Jessica DiCicco before she hit it big as Lynn Loud and Flame Princess) made a slick paper chapeau, and Penny, (The fuck-ugly friend that bears a striking resemblance to Leni Loud's rejected design) made a crumpled paper ball... or in her words, a circle. But seriously, I cannot get over the fact that she looks like Prototype Leni Loud...
(This was the best picture of Rejected Leni I could find, it unfortunately shares a photo with Second-Draft Leni.) Thanks for showing this to me, !
Separated at birth? You be the judge.
And then Miss Gibbons, (Bessie's Scoutmaster and Portia's mother) says that all of the Bees except for Bessie earned the Origami Badge. Oh, is that what they were doing? I thought they were making shit out of papier-mache the first time I saw this, I thought Origami folding was more graceful than that, I didn't recall it to be so violent and slap-happy. So Miss Gibbons sneers at Bessie when she says that she's not getting a badge and then when Bessie confidently says she'll take a do-over, her response is an iniquitous... "We'll see about that..." under her breath.
You know, this is just a personal gripe of mine based on the numerous episodes of this show I've seen but if Miss Gibbons doesn't like Bessie and neither does her spoiled, horrible daughter, then why do they keep her on the Honeybees? Why doesn't she come up with some imaginary slight and just kick Bessie out if they hate her and feel this much disdain for her? I'm just saying, there are tons of episodes where either Miss Gibbons or Portia try their damnedest to screw Bessie over (Beenedict Arnold, Artificial Unintelligence, Super Secret Weakness, Bee Afraid, Bee my Baby, The Apprentice and I'm only like a quarter of the way through the series) so why don't they just mindfuck her to her core and kick her out of the Honeybees? Killing her ridiculous dream in one fell swoop and ridding themselves of her once and for all, it's a win-win. That's what I would do if I was in her position, I'd kick her out without a second thought, drink her tears with a side order of popcorn shrimp and then I'd throw a party and laugh it up with my spoiled, horrible daughter... because that would be a smart villain thing to do. It just seems more interesting if the show did that, you know?
I don't know, it's just something that bothers me sometimes. If I can hazard a guess, I'd assume it's because they like to mindfuck Bessie but even then, when they usually try it, it blows up in their faces and there's no better way to break her than to banish her from the bees and deny her ambitions completely. I'm just saying, if you want to screw with her, do it right and go for the throat.
But this episode has bigger problems than that, for all of you at home... I want to ask you all a simple question.
How long did you think it took for the episode to start the conflict by snapping Bessie's finger named Finger? I'll give you all some time to make a guess.
Pencils down, class! Let's see how you did!
If any of you, guessed 30 seconds, you all guessed wrong, better luck next time.
If any of you guessed around 20 seconds for the conflict to start. Sorry. That's not correct either.
If any of you guessed 10 seconds for Finger to snap, you are still underestimating how rushed the beginning of this episode is...
It take 8 seconds for the conflict to start... 8! In roughly the time it takes you to watch a Vine on YouTube, the conflict starts... and it's ridiculous.
And for the purpose of this point, I did a little bit of digging and I watched the opening scene of similar shows such as Jimmy Neutron, Classic Spongebob and Fairly Odd Parents just to get a sense of how long it usually takes for an inciting incident to take place just so I can get a perspective on this timing situation.
And of the three episodes that I've sampled, here's how long it usually takes for an inciting incident to occur.
Spongebob Squarepants - Hall Monitor: 1 minute, 4 seconds. Mrs. Puff begrudgingly assigns Spongebob to be the Hall Monitor.
Jimmy Neutron - Jimmy On Ice: 1 minute, 34 seconds. Jimmy Neutron chances upon an idea when he inspects Carl's bottle of sunblock.
Fairly Oddparents - Timvisible: 1 minute, 25 seconds. Timmy receives a threat from Francis which facilitates the direct need for Timmy to hide from him.
The Mighty B - Doppelfinger: 8 seconds. Bessie snaps her finger on a table because she folded paper too fast.
There's your answer, it takes a lot longer than the length of your average Vine to start a story. And why is that? Well... the reason that it took those better shows longer to start their conflicts is because they were using that time establishing everything we need to know for the audience. Exposition is the very first step. We have to understand a little bit about the characters and the world that they live in, we do this by having the characters start somewhere normal and show a little bit of their personalities and a bit of the world's... and after we've spent sufficient time getting to know the characters and a basic understanding of the world they're in, that is when a story can truly start. Doppelfinger fails to do this, it immediately starts with Bessie and company in the thick of a badge assignment and then we're thrust right into the conflict almost immediately. If it wasn't for the fact that I saw prior episodes of the show, I would have no idea who anyone was or what's going on when Finger got snapped. You can introduce the source of the conflict in the very first frame like Jimmy On Ice did but even still, setting up the characters and giving a proper introduction must always come first. That episode actually showed us WHY Jimmy needed to do what he did and what drove him to want to do something about the heat; something that Doppelfinger did not do when they had her snap Finger. Finger had no introduction and wasn't established until after he got snapped, which only leads to confusion as to why the fuck Bessie has a face on her finger or who Bessie is.
All they established is that Bessie is good at folding castles. In fact, there's not even a proper explanation of what they were even doing or why they're doing it before Finger got snapped. It's such a sharp, sudden and completely random opening and by the time things get explained to me, the conflict has already begun, which would naturally take newcomers out of the story and just leaves them asking questions... and the last thing you want to do is start a story with the audience asking questions that they shouldn't have to ask... Inquiries like... "What the hell is happening?"
[link] Back to the story, Bessie is told that she's not getting the badge a second time and even though she was cool with it and taking it in stride the first time, the second time it happens, she freezes and gets all sad for some reason... they actually hold for a little bit on how crushed she is about this...
Okay... So now the inciting incident is over and Bessie's out on the town, after creepily consoling Finger, (I'll talk about "him" in a bit) we see the tragic effects of her banging her digit on the table really hard. So we get a long drawn out scene of Bessie trying to brush her hair with her damaged hand, causing her biting pain every time she takes a stroke... Then she puts on a wig and weakly comforts Finger, telling "him" that "Oh, I just wanted a change, I didn't want to brush my hair anyway!" Which is a complete Fox and the Grapes scenario. Read about it here... www.read.gov/aesop/005.html
Then we go to an arcade, where Bessie tries to play Pinball with her damaged hand, which isn't funny or charming because the scene is just "Hey, that kid's injury is hurting her!" And when she once again, consoles Finger and tells "Him" that they can do something else, she looks around and realizes that she can't play Skeeball, Arcade Cabinets and Foosball as a result of her finger sprain. Okay, Foosball and Arcade machines? I get that... They require two hands but Skeeball is a one-handed activity! You only need one hand to grab and throw! It doesn't require a second hand... In fact, the episode itself directly shows me two background characters throwing balls into the holes with only one hand! What the fuck?! Methinks the animators and the writing staff weren't entirely on the same page with that little flub.
Somehow the next scene is even more annoying than the last one, because we get an entire half-minute of the episode... an entire 30 seconds... thoroughly wasted on Bessie trying to write a goddamn letter to the Honeybee Board of Directors asking for them to make her fucking sash longer so that every single merit badge can fit upon her sash. This is one of the most tedious and frustrating of the episode's sequences, as it's just Bessie talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and talking... and is this annoying you in any way? Is this constant mentioning of Bessie talking starting to get on your nerves? Perchance did you scroll down and skip it because you were bored of me going "And talking and talking and talking" for several, uninterrupted lines?
Well, if you're feeling a little bored/agitated, then that means I'm slamming this point of mine out of the park because this is exactly how ear-grating and tedious that fucking letter scene was. It doesn't help that Bessie's delivery is fucking awful. It's bad enough that Miss Poehler is delivering this in a completely anal-retentive and monotonous tone, but Bessie's voice is high-pitched, lispy and it constantly hisses... it's torture to listen to, especially when there is literally nothing else going on in the episode... and even though they make an incredibly weak joke about her having a 100-yard sash, it's still not funny because the scene is so unpleasant and drags so much that I can hardly imagine even a very young child stopping to laugh at it because at that point, it takes half of the boring letter to even get that far. Oh, yeah! The payoff ends on her writing being garbled and illegible because she was writing with her damaged hand... Goddamnit, Bessie! Why did you have to be born a southpaw!? (Apparently she's left handed in this episode.)
Insult to Injury... those 30 seconds could've been used to... well... I dunno... How about they use those 30 seconds to establish the damn characters and setting before they thrust us into the story?!
Double Insult to Injury... Her hand hurts when she was gripping her hairbrush and pressing buttons but when she does it with her pen, she doesn't flinch. Good consistency.
Triple Insult to Injury... Amy Poehler won an Award for this horrible, annoying voice. No disrespect intended to her, of course. I'm sure she was trying her hardest with that voice and she's done wonderful work in Parks and Recreations and Inside Out, but I'm just wondering how and why this terrible voice performance was considered to be exemplary that year? 2010 must've been a slow-ass year for the Daytime Emmys, my God.
I've done so much criticizing and I have yet to even touch the main problem.
By now, I'm sure you all are contemplating... "Hey, Aston! This sounds like a regular bad episode? What's going on here?!"
Well, you see... the 3-minute mark is where it gets really fucking delicious in its depravity but before I delve into it, let me tell you all a little something about Finger.
You see, Finger is not a character. I don't consider him a character. A character is someone who has a unique, distinct personality. Finger has none of that and ZERO dialogue, there are scenes where Finger "Talks" to Bessie (via Bessie wriggling her wrist with absolutely no sounds) but once again, Finger has no mind of his own... Because I watched the pilot episode and because of the pilot episode, I know that Finger's face is made of run-of-the-mill ink... from a pen... he's not real... At best, he's an imaginary friend drawn on Bessie's left hand... Why do I mention this, you may ask? Well... Let me tell you where the Doppel part of Doppelfinger comes from...
It comes from the fact that Bessie draws a face on the index of her right hand... a French face as a matter of fact... and she somehow got her hands on an adorable little beret... Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you all to... Fingere... another Face that she drew on her hand... he's Finger's "Cousin" and Finger isn't really happy that his "Cousin" has come over... Or what I should say is that Bessie's inanimate left hand is making motions that seem indicative of being wary of Bessie's inanimate right hand... that is to say... that everything that you're gonna see from this point forward comes directly from Bessie's head...
And Bessie's head is quite the scary place indeed.
[link] So Bessie tries to scratch a hard-to-reach itch with her left hand and talking to it about where the fuck it's supposed to go and out of nowhere, Fingere steps in and scratches her itch for her as oddly, romantic French music plays... creating a bit of an unsettling tone, it doesn't help that her word choice while scratching her itch is very...
"Oh, yeah! Right there, Fingere..."
Easy to make a horrifying Double Entendre out of. (Apologies in advance if that joke bothered anyone)
And then she mentions that her finger is certified at European Massage techniques and it's making me feel rather nauseous... I'm gonna skip to a scene with less little girls creepily flirting at their own fingers, this entire back-scratching scene is just way too uncomfortable for me.
Do you guys like Booger Jokes? Because that's what's next on the agenda! And while she tries to use Fingere on her right hand, Finger steps in, clearly "Jealous" of the fact that his "Cousin" is intruding on his sacred Booger-Picking duties... and once again, Bessie just does her task with her right hand while her left hand sits there, completely unmoving, because Finger is not alive in the least. This scene is just completely dull... unless you have an interest in seeing a little girl pick and flick and then seeing a Dog eat said Booger in midair.
The next scene dials up that tedium when we get to see Bessie making a prank call to some dude with a mullet on his head and a sandwich on his plate... and the episode spares no expense when it comes to this scene, we see everything that Bessie does in this prank call. We get to see her dial the phone, we see her hold a pen to paper and not write anything down for some reason, we see the guy about to eat his sandwich, we see him answer the phone, then he fails to understand what Bessie wants from him and then she makes a shitty windows joke and it just miserably plods along like that for almost 25 seconds... Like, what is it with this show and its long, boring jokes? A joke isn't something that should usually take 20 seconds of windup just to get to a punchline. Doesn't this show know that comedy is built on speed, timing, exaggeration and surprise?! I know what she's going to do! There is no surprise, it takes fucking forever to get to the clearly obvious punchline, (She asks for Mrs. Glass and then asks what the windows are made of) which kills the timing and the speed in one swoop... and the whole thing is sorely lacking in exaggeration, with nothing but plain vanilla talking with nothing out of the ordinary happening. It's just a mess of a bad joke.
Then she just says a bunch of punchlines that aren't funny at all because Bessie's voice is annoying... with the majority of them not being very noteworthy, except for the very last one.
"Well then, you better Double-Bag it..."
Did she just make a condom joke in her prank call? Either way, it's another odd, out-of-place Double Entendre that makes me uncomfortable.
Even the backgrounds are inconsistent and terrible in this scene, because even though we're shown that she's in her rooftop clubhouse in the establishing shot and when she's making her condom joke... they show her in her bedroom in the very next shot hanging up a completely different phone.
So then we get more of Bessie sucking Fingere's tip and saying how great he is and that she's having "So much fun with him!" Fingere "Tells" Bessie about a nickname that Finger allegedly has... and after Bessie laughs at the "Nickname," Finger gets really "mad" and tries to hit Fingere while cheesy sword sounds start playing in the background...
Then Finger "accuses" Fingere of being a bad influence even though all Fingere "did" so far was scratch her itches and pick boogers... and then Bessie gets mad... at her own hand... and starts ranting and shouting... at her own hand...
"Because somebody, who shall remain nameless, didn't pace himself at the Origami competition! And somebody, who shall remain nameless... sprained himself and cost us the Origami Badge!"
Then Finger "rubs" her glasses and fogs them up.
[link] So I imagine that by now, most of the more astute members of my audience have picked up on what kind of plot this episode has. This is one of those, "A character makes friends with an asshole but only the other friend sees what an asshole he is and the first character doesn't believe the other friend" kind of scenarios. You know! The plots that hardly work ever because the bad guy is so obviously evil that it makes the clueless friend look thoroughly stupid! But because of the one small change in format that Doppelfinger presents, not even this simple, cliched, stupid plot can be executed correctly because... well... There is no righteous friend in this scenario... Or even an asshole friend! Because despite the fact that Bessie has a face on each hand, she's completely alone out there. Finger isn't real and neither is Fingere. So when Finger gets jealous, she's making a Conscious Decision for her Finger to act jealous... and when Fingere acts like a douche, she's making a Conscious Decision to be a dick to her own imaginary friend... and she's also making a Conscious Decision for her left hand to fear her right hand. So there is no mystery presented and no evil machinations being hidden from Bessie because she's the one controlling her hands... As well as putting all of their words into their fabricated, inky mouths. There's a distinct possibility that she knows exactly what's happening and just acting out this bizarre scenario because apparently this is how she handles not earning a fucking merit badge for folding paper!
Either that, or she's doing all of this weird shit unconsciously and she genuinely does think that her Fingers are alive... but even still, if that's the case, then that just makes her even more crazy... This isn't presented as cute or imaginative like the delightful and memorable Calvin and Hobbes, at least in that comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes had an actual dynamic... this is portrayed as unsettling and creepy. Creepy arguments/insulting treatment of her own appendages with only one person doing the arguing can kind of do that... I mean, for fuck's sake, Later in the episode, Fingere "attacks" Finger (That'll be an interesting point to get to) but in actuality, Bessie most likely changed what was written on her fingertip... And there's no Calvin and Hobbes logic where it's ambiguous about whether it's just pretend or magic at work, they definitively showed me in a previous episode that all of Finger's faces and expressions are drawn on him by Bessie. They showed me the process of her drawing the face! Ergo, it's all in her head. Albeit, they did not show her writing the face in this episode to be fair but the show showed it to me nonetheless. So I can't really get invested in Finger's plight because he never existed to begin with... leaving me with no one to sympathize with... and I can't even get mad at Fingere because he's just a projection as well... so I can't even feel scorn for the villain like I'm supposed to. I'm not watching a cousin's quarrel, what I'm watching is a bizarre, little girl talking to her own fingers and dumping on absolutely nobody...
Okay, so to see the scene from my perspective, let me summarize it like this... and let's pretend that you can't see that the fingers have faces on them. Pretend you're a stranger to this character and look at the scene like this, without the context of Bessie's imaginary friends.
Out of nowhere, after a Prank Call, Bessie laughs at absolutely nothing and thanks no one in particular, then she alleges about a nickname to no one in particular, then she takes a swipe at her own hand for no discernible reason, gets in an argument with no one in particular and then rants and raves about someone screwing her over and then she fogs up her own glasses for no reason, and then immediately gets salty about the fogging that she did with her own hands.
And therein lies the abstractly bizarre fun that the episode provides. It gets amazingly interesting when you stop and remember that only one of the three characters involved in these scenes is actually alive... and if you remember that context, it makes Bessie's brain look absolutely fucking soaked in schizophrenia... and it makes for some glorious unintentional comedy... If I had to compare it to anything, it's kind of like Garfield Minus Garfield? Remember those? The fan comics where they edit Garfield and Odie out of the comics and just have Jon creepily talking to nothing and no one? I'll leave a link if anyone's interested in those. garfieldminusgarfield.net/page…
As a bit of a side note, there are a few in particular I really wanted to point out specifically... You're a sick fuck, Jon.
And this one is so perfectly creepy that I just had to mention it.
Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssssssssssssuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuus, I don't think I need to elaborate on why that one's scary and fucked up.
AHA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! I'm not even sure what the fuck this one's supposed to be even if Garfield was in it. Okay, that's enough laughing at poor, pathetic Jon. And now back to our regularly scheduled review of Doppelfinger, already in progress.
Also, can we just bring up the fact that Bessie's blaming her imaginary friend for not pacing herself in the Origami competition? Don't you guys think that that's kind of fucking cold and shallow of her to say something like that? I mean, it's bad enough that she's fucking nuts and talking to nobody but now she's blaming her own imaginary friends for her own blunders! Bessie, listen to me very carefully! YOU were the one that didn't pace herself! You were the one who jammed your own finger and you were the one who has to deal with that! I mean, it's one thing to be crazy but now you're passing the blame onto inanimate body parts rather than admitting that you fucked up, and that's not very likeable. I don't care much for people who try to shift the blame, it's a sickly cocktail of a flaw that's both cowardly and callous.
So now we cut to Bessie reading a story to her inanimate right hand... Oh, my apologies... not a story, what's she's reading is the Honeybee handbook and reading the passage about the Origami Badge, everytime she brings up the word Origami, she gets pretty salty and threateningly raises her left hand to her face... then she autonomously turns off the light on herself and gets mad while doing it. And considering how she was already unlikeable by blaming her imaginary friend for her fuck-ups, being salty about it isn't helping matters in the least. I mean, for God's sake, she's practically bullying her imaginary, totally not-real friend. Imagine how your fake friend "feels", Bessie!
[link] Next we see Bessie in bed, fast asleep and then Fingere approaches Finger in her sleep and... hold the fucking phone! That's not possible! She can't be moving her hands threateningly like this in her sleep! So either she's re-writing her fingers in her sleep (Which is extremely unlikely) or she's awake and she's acting out this entire "Night attack." I'm more inclined to believe the latter myself... but even still, this scene is fucking creepy because when Bessie wakes up, we literally see Finger with his eyes crossed out with generic X's that people use when they want to say that someone died... And I feel very uncomfortable with that because not only does Bessie treat her imaginary friends as real, but now she's showing me that Fingere is bloodthirsty and violent... but there is no Fingere... there is only Bessie. Whether she's aware of what she's doing or not, Bessie made her imaginary friend jump and assault her other imaginary friend... that's a pretty fucked up thing for a young girl like her to do... If she's doing it consciously, that's scary because of how deep her creepy pretend times are.... and if she does it unconsciously, that's even scarier... because in that case, there's a sinister side of Bessie that's hidden even to herself that comes out at uncontrolled intervals... and rather than make me feel sorry for Finger, I'm just really scared of this clearly unstable young girl.
So when she wakes up, she immediately apologizes to "Finger" which is a step in the right direction but then they ruin it by having her say...
"So you got ambitious..." implying that she still thinks that it was his fault instead of hers... Swing and a miss.
And then when Finger "Doesn't respond" she says... "I'm trying to be the bigger person here!"
And in response, I interject... "You're the only person here, Bessie!"
The creepy thing is that she acts like she doesn't even know that Finger has been "Attacked" by Fingere last night... which like I stated earlier, is creepy... Incognizance is creepy... Can you imagine what it would be like if your personality just took a backseat to some dark impulse in your mind and you just wake up somewhere with no idea what the fuck you're doing or what you've done? That would be creepy as... Wait... Did I always have this busted pair of Police Handcuffs stuck to my wrist?" I ask as I spy the manacle clenched to my arm, its mangled twin hanging miserably from a jingling chain... And why is this homeless guy passed out wearing a clown suit? That's kind of weird and... Nice! A copy of Resident Evil Revelations for the Switch! I love it when new games randomly show up in my house like this! Wait... What was I talking about? What was I thinking about?"
Who... Am... I?
It doesn't matter, I'mma go butcher some virtual zombies, don't wait up...
(6 hours of adrenaline soaked Survival Horror later...)
So like I was saying...
After alleging that Finger is "Giving her the silent treatment," Bessie "Hears what Fingere has to say" acts Salty to her imaginary friend again and for some odd reason, draws an angry face on the table with her right hand. So she's Incognizant and she hears voices in her head? Like, does she just have all the mental disorders? She's already bipolar and schizophrenic... What's next? Is she gonna get PTSD?
Why did I mention Bipolar Disorder? The answer is really simple, when Bessie tries to fold Origami again (even though her left finger is still sprained so that's not a good idea,) she suddenly thinks to herself that she wants to work and then she wants to be lazy... and the transition is so lightning fast that I can't not call it Bipolar Disorder... Just look how fast this dialogue shifts in mood...
"Why bother? I guess, because I like making..."
(One literal second later)
"Yeah! You're right! I do work too hard! Making Things is Stupid!"
I'm not skimping you on this, there was no extra dialogue between those two lines... That's how fast it was... And remember, Bessie came up with this all on her own, there was no bad influence at work. Fingere isn't real... She was her own bad influence...
"This is it, Paint Drying Man! I'm about to bore you to death!" Is the next line of the episode, delivered from the cartoon that Bessie's brother Ben is watching.
I'll give the episode this... It's not doing that anymore... It was doing it at first but right now I'm very invested in seeing how Bessie's frayed emotions and twisted mental episodes are going to play out.
So Bessie rudely changes the channel to the TV while Ben is watching and then they fight over the remote for a bit until Ben snatches it off the couch, when he tries to change the channel he finds the batteries gone, Bessie making a sadistic and toothy grin as she bounces the batteries in her hand...
And then Ben literally says that he feels like he doesn't know her. Bessie follows this up by jumping around like an idiot for a little bit and making karate noises for no reason and it made me laugh out loud because of how fucking stupid and perfectly insane it looked.
And now that "Finger" is gone, she then turns evil... That's the story now! Her imaginary friend is gone... because it was attacked by another imaginary friend... and now Bessie is evil... That's the story... She sprains her finger, her imaginary friends fight and now she's evil. That is one of the most perfect bad setups that I've ever seen, it's got just the right amount of cheese and stupidity for me to have a good old time with it.
So we cut to a Chinese resturant where the entire HiggenStill-not-saying-it-because-fuck-that-cliche Clan is hungry for Peking Duck, except for Poutypuss Bessie who wanted to order a pizza... so one listen to her dark thoughts later and now she's sneaking to the reservation book and crossing out names so that she can cut in line... I mean, she just deprived 11 people of their Chinese Food, they show me exactly how many people she screwed over with her little stunt right there. The book had the party numbers and everything!
"The 4 hungry members of the Borland family will remember this..."
And then if that's not enough Evil Bessie hijinx, next we see her tease her dog with a Steak attached to a fishing line, the sick fuck laughing and jeering as she makes Happy jump and bite and proclaiming that "You're never gonna get this steak!" I want to remind my audience that once again, Bessie made a conscious decision to deprive people of Chinese Food and taunting her dog with a Steak, there was no second party, it was just her own insanity alone. Bonus, this all started because she couldn't get a damn merit badge. Overreaction at its funniest.
So we cut to the pool and we have Bessie sitting vengefully, expressing that she can't swim because she can't get Finger's splint wet... and remember when I claimed that Bessie was bipolar earlier? Well, now her emotions are gonna spiral in reverse... and she's gonna randomly turn from evil to good...
"Oh yeah! I'll say! A Wet Blanket even when he's dry!"
(One literal second later)
Then she just stares at him sadly and feels bad out of nowhere even though she was literally about to laugh at him.
I am still not skimping you, it plays out exactly like this.
And then Bessie's fat useless friend, Penny says...
"It does like eating soup!"
I'm sorry... What?
"It does like eating soup!"
[link] So after that amazingly terrible line, we see Bessie's eye dart to Penny's unguarded backpack, where she spies the unprotected Origami Badge that she could easily filch with her grubby, baguette-smelling hand... which gets her dangerous evil impulses flaring like the Fourth of July.
And because she felt sad for Finger in the second or so she had to change for this plot point, she's backing out and is worried that she's "Stealing."
Um, Bessie? Didn't you steal the batteries from Ben's remote earlier?! And didn't you also take the Chinese food from the 11 people you screwed over when you made the Chinese Food guy think that he already served them? I'm just saying, if you want to get technical, which I do... You already stole shit earlier... That's like Spike complaining about arson when he already torched Applejack's barn.
But the power of Felonious fingers compels her and she says that she'll "Get what she deserves" by stealing Penny's badge... Oh, great. Now she's entitled as well... Let's add it to the pile of Bessie's unlikeable character traits.
And right when Bessie is about to steal the badge, who should "Step in" but Finger, who's free from his splint for some reason... and not "Dead/Comatose" for some reason and then Bessie's Fingers have a fight... and it's amazing... because their version of fighting consists of them flailing around while Bessie goes apeshit and bounces and spasms all over the place, alienating herself in front of everyone, it is unquestionably amazing to watch... As Bessie makes the most unnatural and jilted movements this side of faulty motion capture.
Also, at one point... Finger's expression changes somehow even though his face is made of ink... I don't know what to believe now, now it was magic? Um... In a world where no magic or fantastical elements exist save for exactly one anthropomorphic dog? You know what? I just want to see Bessie making weird, apeshit movements while her inanimate hands have this ridiculous duel. I'll worry about the logic of her schizophrenia later.
And so, it ends with Bessie submerging her right hand in water and the ink face melts away... So there was no magic then... So then how the fuck did Finger's "Expression" change mid-scene like that? There is just no logic to anything that's associated with her imaginary friends, my God. Calvin and Hobbes may have ambiguous logic regarding whether or not Hobbes is real but the rules are at least consistent. Hobbes only moves when Calvin is alone with him. This on the other hand just does whatever the fuck it wants. In one scene, they show the a face changing autonomously, implying they're real but now they dissolve in water like regular ink implying it's all fake?! There's just no rules or structure to any of it and it only leads to confusion as to what's going on, taking me out of the experience to make me ask "What the fuck is going on?"
So it ends with Bessie clearly putting her left hand in the water as she swims to the edge of the pool even though they showed me that Fingere's face dissolved in the water earlier... and then Bessie and Finger "Make Up" even though Bessie should be apologizing to all the ACTUAL people she hurt like her brother and dog for being an asshole... and it closes off this epic adventure with... Bessie picking her nose...
Well, that was the weirdest coping mechanism for dealing with failure that I have ever seen! But... she's probably just fucking nuts...
And that was Doppelfinger... From an objective standpoint, this episode was awful, there was very little logic to Bessie's Fingers, the rules were inconsistent and poorly explained, the conflict started too fast, it has boring scenes that drag and Bessie's character motivations and mental health were all over the place... But from a subjective standpoint, which in my opinion is just as important as objectivity... This episode was a fucking blast.
This episode was ridiculous in the funniest of ways! And the more I thought about it, and the more logic I applied to it... the more memorable, layered, creepy and off-the-wall fantastic it became. I hope my interpretation of the episode brings a little bit of spice to the experience should you choose to watch Doppelfinger for yourselves. But I wouldn't recommend that... While it's fun to watch this and laugh at how fucking dumb it is by yourself, you need to watch this with a group of friends with a healthy sense of humor. This is a prime specimen to make fun of when you just gotta scratch that "So bad it's good" itch!
I mean, Bessie is still an unlikeable, salty, schizophrenic, bipolar, inexplicable and mentally damaged person who takes lessons on morality from her own imaginary finger friends, but hey! We got a lot of laughs! And that's all we can ask for from a fucked-up episode like this so I'm gonna give it a -7.5/10!
This has been BlackMoonPaladin, signing off for the night. If you'll excuse me, I'm gonna shoot some more zombies. Peace!
Favorite visual artistTite KuboFavorite moviesScott Pilgrim, Undercover Brother, Guardians of the Galaxy, Hot Fuzz, Die Hard, ZootopiaFavorite TV showsSouth Park, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic, Wander Over Yonder, Arrested Development, Gravity FallsFavorite bands / musical artistsThe Police, Motley Crue, Rush, Tame Impala, White Lies, Imogen Heap, Marina and the DiamondsFavorite booksBleach, One Piece, In the Heat of the Night, WatchmenFavorite writersTite Kubo, Hideo Kojima, Eiichiro OdaFavorite gamesDonkey Kong Country Returns, No More Heroes, Smash Bros. 4, Super Mario Galaxy, Twilight PrincessFavorite gaming platformNintendo Wii. Nintendo 3DS. Playstation 2, Nintendo 64.Tools of the TradeMy imagination, my charisma, my creativity and my cunning.Other InterestsWalking, Listening to music, Being a critic, Playing video games, Reading fanfics