Fraggle Rock: 40 Years Later – “Red’s Sea Monster”

Published: January 26, 2024
Categories: Feature, Reviews

Synopsis: Feeling ignored by her friends, Red meets a giant new friend named the Last of the Lily Creatures. The others don’t believe that she actually met a sea monster, but she forms a strong bond with the creature.

Original air date: January 23, 1984

The Last of the Lily Creatures is on screen for maybe five minutes, but I think about him constantly. At least once a week, my mind makes me stop thinking about work or parenting so that I can stop and think “Wow, the Last of the Lily Creatures. What a remarkable guy!”

But can you blame me? Look at him:

He’s a brilliantly-designed puppet, with wild hair, a sleepy look in his eyes, and a body that seems to fill the entire cavern. Muppet Wiki doesn’t tell us who designed or built the Last of the Lily Creatures, but it does list a core team of twelve puppet makers for the show (Caroly Wilcox, Tim Miller, Lyndon Mosse, Jean-Guy White, Rollie Krewson, Robert Payne, Amy Van Gilder, Joanne Green, Faye Kreinberg, Sherry McMorran, and Ed Christie). Presumably it was one or more of those talented folks!

That said, a photo can’t quite get across how majestic he is on screen. He moves slowly, like he hasn’t been awake for a thousand years. He’s performed by Bob Stutt, a regular performer on the show whose other characters include Wander McMooch and Felix the Fearless. For this role, he uses an incredibly deep voice that feels like it makes the whole world shake. Every statement echoes, like he’s some sort of cave Ent.

Those statements were written by David Young, the secret MVP of Fraggle Rock. He wrote eleven episodes of the show, including classics like Marooned, Manny’s Land of Carpets, and River of Life. More than any other writer, he gave Fraggle Rock depth. Over and over, he pushed the characters to their emotional limits, and it paid off every time. Here he gives Red a special gift, her friendship with the Last of the Lily Creatures.

I’m sure the creators of this episode knew that the Last of the Lily Creatures was something special, because they take their time introducing him.

He first shows up about 8 minutes into the episode, and then we only get to see his trunk. Red gets the smallest glimpse of him, and she’s captivated. She tells all of her friends that she saw this amazing sight. They don’t believe her, but it sure builds anticipation in the audience. 

When she brings her friends to see him, all they see is cave moss floating in the pond. They give Red a hard time about lying, which we know to be unfair because she isn’t. But on the other hand, I understand where her friends are coming from. They missed out on their chance to see history’s most gorgeous Muppet, so of course they’re disappointed. 

The episode is half over before the Last of the Lily Creature emerges for the second time, and this is when we get to really see him. Even then, he and Red share only a brief scene. She’s so excited to see As soon as Red runs away to tell everyone else, he dives back into the pond. So we don’t get to see him for very long either, but this is the first time he speaks.

The Last of the Lily Creatures finally gets the spotlight in the episode’s final moments, where he and Red share a heart-to-heart. He thanks her for protecting him, and asks her to keep his secret so he’ll continue to be safe. The subtext, of course, is that he’s worried he’ll be imprisoned or killed if anyone finds out he exists. As the last of his species, he can’t let that happen, so he needs to stay hidden. One of the many astounding things David Young wrote for Fraggle Rock, and it’s handled so beautifully.

Red promises to keep his secret, and she also promises to visit him again when the lilies are in bloom. Sadly, that didn’t happen. There were 68 more episodes of Fraggle Rock after this one, but we never saw the Last of the Lily Creatures again. That’s a huge missed opportunity, because in just these few scenes, their connection feels genuine. This feels like the beginning of a friendship that will last for years.

Maybe he’ll show up on Back to the Rock! 

Strongest Moment: That final scene between Red and the Last of the Lily Creatures is an absolute knockout.

Weakest Moment: Traveling Matt bumps into a lady, who is then joined by her twin sister. He believes that he caused her to split in two. This is one of Matt’s dumbest postcards ever.

Obscure Character Watch: Marlon Fraggle – Steve Whitmire’s unsettling Peter Lorre impression – makes his second of six appearances. I didn’t get into the subplot where he wants to capture the Lily Creature and put it in a museum, but it provides most of the comedy in the episode, and it’s all delightful.

MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle): Marlon. I love that weird little guy!

First Appearance Of…: He might be the Last of the Lily Creatures, but this is most certainly his first appearance.

Most Classic Moment: When Red’s friends wait around for the Creature but don’t get to see him, Boober calls the waiting “Top-quality shenanigans” which is classic Boober.

Musical Highlight: “Bring Back the Wonder” is a gorgeous spotlight for Red. 

Coolest Puppetry Effect: During the closing number, “Sing It and Say” Fraggles are just flipping around in the air like generic penguins, and it makes me so happy.

Darkest Moment: Writer David Young is known for dark moments in other episodes like “Marooned” and “River of Life,” but this one never really gets dark. So I’ll just take this opportunity to point out that David Young is my favorite Fraggle Rock writer, and I think almost all of his scripts are masterpieces. 

Fraggle Lore: Much like humans might count “One one thousand,” or “One Mississippi,” Fraggles count “One Rock Beetle, Two Rock Beetles” etc.

One More Thing…: Doc hangs seaweed out to dry all over his workshop. A man ahead of his time, because now you can buy that at Costco.

Okay, One More Thing…: When Gobo’s about to read Uncle Matt’s postcard, Red dismissively calls the assembled crowd “Fantasy fans,” which is a pretty sick burn to be honest.

Click here to listen to my sorrow and shame on the Tough Pigs Discord!

by Anthony Strand

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