Fraggle Rock: 40 Years Later – “Sir Hubris and the Gorgs”

Published: March 1, 2024
Categories: Feature, Reviews

Synopsis: When Gobo discovers a secret tunnel that leads into the Gorg’s castle, he happens to hear Pa and Ma telling the story of Sir Hubris. In Gorg legend, this hooded figure gave the Gorgs permission to rule his kingdom while he traveled the world, but told the ancient Gorgs that when he returns one day, they need to return the kingdom to him. Gobo makes a plan to disguise the Fraggles as Sir Hubris in order to banish the Gorgs once and for all. However, the plan goes awry when he realizes without the Gorgs, the Fraggles will lose their food, water, and Trash Heap. Gobo reveals his trick to the Gorgs, restoring balance to the Universe.

Original air date: February 27, 1984

Looking at Fraggle Rock’s second season as a whole, it’s notable that this week’s Gorg-themed episode, “Sir Hubris and the Gorgs,” immediately follows last week’s Doozer-centric “All Work and No Play.” After all, it took a double-header like this to really address one of the key weaknesses of Season 1 of the show. In the (excellent) first season, we learned so much about the Fraggles, both as individual characters and as a society. But Fraggle Rock isn’t just a show about Fraggles, but a show about interconnected societies. We’ve seen how the Fraggles, Doozers, and Gorgs are connected, but we haven’t seen much about how the latter two groups are societies. “All Work and No Play” laid the tracks to do this with the Doozers; “Sir Hubris” plants the seeds to do this with the Gorgs.

And yeah, those puns are definitely intended.

Anyway, in this episode, Gobo discovers another passageway into the Gorg’s castle, and hears them recounting a Gorg myth about a hooded figure named Sir Hubris. We learn that, in the Gorg’s culture, they feel they were given the divine right to rule the Universe by Sir Hubris, and recognize that they’ll have to give up the throne if Sir Hubris ever returns. This, of course, leads to the plot of the episode, which I’ve recounted above. But what I find really interesting is that we get a Gorg legend here. A moment of Gorg culture, a phrase the Gorgs tell themselves to justify their rule. It isn’t much, obviously. But it’s more than just saying “The Gorgs think they’re the rulers of the Universe because they think they’re the rulers of the Universe.” It’s a rationale. We finally know a little more about their cultural traditions.

Even more interesting, though, is that we never meet the real Sir Hubris and thus have no way of knowing if the Gorg legend is true. Did the legend happen as the Gorgs tell it? Was there a Sir Hubris? And if there was, did he really give his land to the Gorgs willingly, or is that just what ancient Gorgs told themselves so they could justify their rule and sleep at night?

You might know a legend like that in your own life. Or your own nation.

In other words, there’s a colonialism myth here that never gets fully explored. With the reveal that the new season of Back to the Rock will be exploring the legacies of colonialism, I’m wondering if Hubris is on John Tartaglia’s mind. Or maybe it’s completely unrelated! Right now, we can’t say.

But what’s important is once the show starts talking about the Doozer and Gorg cultures, other interesting questions about our society start to surface. The show can’t ask all these questions with Fraggles alone…truly the world needs all these connections to flourish.

Strongest Moment: Junior really gets to shine in this episode. He’s probably my favorite character on the whole show; I love how sympathetic he becomes. We see a little bit of it here in the episode’s strongest moments, when Junior is saying goodbye to his home and his garden. I feel so bad for Junior, which is another way the show starts developing the Gorgs as more than just blank antagonistic forces.

I should also add that Junior’s excitement at thinking his dad is going to give him “the talk” is hilarious. I’ve used that audio clip as a cold open on a Hubba-Wha?! episode because I love it so much.

Weakest Moment: It’s kind of weird that one of the main conflicts of this episode involves Marjory’s impending doom, but we never hear from her (or even Philo and Gunge). It’s just kind of weird.

MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle): Is Junior Gorg a Fraggle? No? Uh…….Red? Sure. Red.

Musical Highlight / Obscure Character Watch: Combining these two here, because this is the episode where Gobo sings “Only Way Home.” This is one of the all-time most classic Fraggle Rock songs, and I could listen to it a million times. I probably have! 

Jerry Nelson’s voice rules, but what really makes this song is the cave creature Aretha, who joins Gobo. This shaggy, moss-like monster belies her ferocious appearance with a beautiful singing voice performed by Sharon Lee Williams and inspired by Aretha Franklin. She also weirdly has… boobs… which she shakes when belting out verses.

One More Thing: Just to reiterate that I love Aretha. Aretha is an icon. Aretha is the moment. This is really her only significant appearance on Fraggle Rock (although she has appeared in the background before). However, if you, like me, love Aretha, you can spot her in Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, and The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. Whenever I see her, I point and say “that’s Aretha!” You should do that too.

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by Becca Petunia

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