Review: Back to the Rock S2 – Episode 10 ‘Fraggle Up’

Published: June 5, 2024
Categories: Feature, Reviews

I’m gonna be honest here. I did not want to write this review. Not because it’s a bad episode (it’s not!), but because as one of the showrunners behind the scenes at ToughPigs, I’ve got a lot going on. We’ve got a whole team of talented writers here who’ve been great at taking the reins on these reviews, and it’s been a good opportunity for me to focus on other things. But when no one volunteered to write this review, it fell to me, and now here I am.

Why am I bringing this up? Because sometimes you have to put your feelings aside to get the important work done. And that’s pretty much the opposite of what “Fraggle Up” is trying to teach us.

In this episode, there are still no radishes, and all the Fraggles turn to Gobo to lead them and help find a solution to this crisis. So Gobo puts on his leadership hat (Surprisingly for Gobo, he doesn’t actually wear a hat. Instead, he dons a towel as a superhero cape.) and ends up ignoring his feelings and digging a hole below the Great Hall and getting everyone trapped.

Gobo’s new motto is to “Fraggle Up” – a clear metaphor for the idea to “man up.” It’s interesting to see Back to the Rock tackle this side of toxic masculinity, especially since the world (outside of the Gorgs’ garden, of course) tends to avoid gender stereotypes. I mean, this is a show where a female character is obsessed with sports and a male character does everyone’s laundry.

And okay, so maybe some Fraggles would rather dig a hole below their home where they strand their entire community instead of going to therapy. But really, didn’t Gobo do the smartest thing? Let’s face it, my metaphor for needing to sit through an episode of Back to the Rock and writing a few paragraphs about it doesn’t have the biggest stakes, but everyone in Fraggle Rock is risking starvation. There’s no time to feel sorry for yourself when the lives of everyone you know are at risk.

Meanwhile in Outer Space, Doc has agreed to pet-sit Mrs. Schimmelfinney’s cat Fluffinella, whom Sprocket is afraid of. While Doc tries to get Sprocket to face his feelings and admit that he’s afraid, Fluffinella is actively attacking Sprocket. To me, this is so much less of an issue about admitting your fears and more about speaking up against abuse. The lesson mostly lands here, with Sprocket refusing to talk (or, bark?) about his feelings, but Doc is focused on the wrong feelings entirely.

The one who does get the lesson right is Ma Gorg. Pa and Junior dismiss her when trying to fix their garden problem, and she doesn’t avoid her feelings. Instead, she shows a surprising amount of self-awareness (for the Gorgs, I mean) and removes herself from the situation, setting herself up for some solid character growth through the end of the season.

While I agree that nothing good comes from pushing down your feelings or avoiding them altogether, there’s a time to wallow and a time to act, and there’s a time to succumb to fear and a time to confront it. And while the message is a little muddled through this episode, it still ends with some solid results. And for me, it ended with this Back to the Rock review.

Strongest Moment: Mokey gets so excited to see Cotterpin, with whom she feels a certain closeness. Cotterpin feels a bit more ambivalent. And as Fraggle fans know, both characters are performed by Donna Kimball, which would explain their potential rapport.

MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle): Gobo, who really has to do a lot of heavy lifting, emotionally-speaking.

The Grand Return Of…: Fluffinella! But of course, she got a bit of a (much needed) facelift for Back to the Rock.

Classic Musical Moment: It’s a twofer in this episode, with the songs “It Makes You Cry” and “Sister and Brother (We Are Part of Each Other)” getting mashed up.

New Musical Moment: “Push It Down, Fraggle Up,” which is a perfectly fine song, but I very much liked the moment when time stops and a spotlight falls on Gobo as he wonders out loud if it’s a good idea that he’s pushing down his feelings. It’s a little on-the-nose, but in a hilariously self-aware sort of way.

Coolest Puppetry Effect: Traveling Matt getting chucked down a water slide. Sometimes simple is good.

Darkest Moment: The Fraggles pretty much bury themselves alive! Whoopsiedoodles!

Fraggle Lore: Oooh, a new Fraggle cave! What a great cliffhanger!

One More Thing…: Another one of my favorite moments in this episode is when Gobo recounts the story of his Uncle Traveling Matt discovering radishes. Red knows the story so well, she lip-syncs along with Gobo, matching his body language move-for-move. Great performance from Karen Prell!

Okay, One More Thing…: While trying to fake being brave, Sprocket dons some absolutely epic outfits.

Click here to have a good cry on the ToughPigs Discord!

by Joe Hennes –

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