SYNOPSIS: Wembley finds a new sense of responsibility when, thanks to Junior Gorg, a mysterious egg lands in Fraggle Rock. After it hatches, he tries to lovingly raise the Tree Creature, but soon realizes that the best thing for the child is to reunite it with its worried parents.
Original air date: January 2, 1984
We can’t believe it, but a new year is once again upon us… happy 1984! That’s right, it’s time to flash back four decades to revisit the second season of “Fraggle Rock.” There’s new adventures to have, new characters to meet, and new songs to sing, so let’s shake a baloobius and jump right in!
I’m worried about Wembley. And not the usual “ugh, he’s being indecisive again” worry, this is genuine concern for his well being. Clearly, something is wrong, and I don’t think the episode provides the resolution it thinks it does. At the top of the episode, he’s depressed, and I mean depressed. His mini-monologue could shake even the most happy-go-lucky of Muppet fans: “What’s wrong with me? I feel so strange. So sad. So bored. I feel like crying. I can’t even cry. Now I really feel bad.” That feels like a cry for help if ever I’ve heard one.
Eventually, he lets on to Boober that he feels all of his friends have important roles in Fraggle society and he has nothing to do. But then he describes his symptoms, and it gets real: “I feel weird! It’s like being lonely but you don’t want to talk to anybody. And like being hungry except you don’t want to eat! It’s like being sleepy in your head but your feet feel like playing.” Wembley’s certainly going through quite the existential crisis.
Of course, the episode resolves this by having Wembley sit on a giant egg, which hatches into a baby Tree Creature. Classic Wembley takes it upon himself to take care of this Baby Huey, which he realizes has to go back to its parents for its own good. And that all seems nice, having him finding purpose in helping someone helpless, but then what? He gives the bird back to the parents, so he’s right back to where he was at the start of the story, without a purpose. Look at his expression once the tree creatures fly away! Does this look like contentment to you?
This isn’t to say that he should’ve kept the baby. By sacrificing his own self-gratification for the sake of the betterment of the creature he cares about, he does the right thing, and makes the parents elated in the process. But we never get any deeper reflection from Wembley. It’s clear that the validation he needs is from himself. Instead, once the family flies the coop, the main storyline is just… over. I guess that’s the catharsis they thought we needed, but it doesn’t feel fulfilling. This is Wembley’s story, and it doesn’t feel nearly as satisfying as the visuals suggest. Unless, just maybe, that’s the point.
Depression isn’t usually resolved with one big action. It’s something you have to keep dealing with, and more importantly, something you have to actively work at to overcome. Wembley’s got some big feelings, and he does try his best to stay a productive member of society. And mind you, this is the same society that decided to laugh at him as he sat on the egg, only believing there was a living being inside once it hatched in front of them. That takes some serious courage. Wembley, I honestly salute you. The fight against depression is grueling, but as the series goes on, I know you do the work. I hope you find the purpose you’re looking for.
Also, Doc forgets Sprocket’s birthday because he loses himself in “seeing everything.” Ugh, Doc’s got his head up his proverbial keister again. Happy new season, everyone!
Strongest Moment: The joyful and supportive feel of “Fly to the Sky (Learn to Fly)” is just so darn infectious, even if the newborn doesn’t quite succeed.
Weakest Moment: The Uncle Traveling Matt postcard isn’t terribly interesting. We just see him look at airplanes, and then ride in one that’s taxiing. The one thing that really caught my attention was his yellow rain outfit, but that’s no replacement for classic Matt antics.
MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle): I’d be a real jerk if I didn’t give it to Wembley after all that, so yeah, he’s the MVF. But if I can give a special award for MVNF (Most Valuable Non-Fraggle), I’d recognize the Mama and Papa Tree Creatures who furiously attack Junior for trying to steal their egg. Get him!
First Appearance Of…: A drop shadow on the end credits, according to Muppet Wiki. But don’t expect it to stick around long, as they would only show up again in “Mokey and the Minstrels.”
Musical Highlight: Wembley’s lullaby to the egg, “(Sleep By the) Light of the Moon” is a beautiful, bittersweet ballad that highlights just how much love and care he has to give.
Darkest Moment: As you might’ve guessed, Wembley’s deep depressive state, and that haunting look as the reunited Tree Creatures fly away.
Fraggle Lore: Apparently, Fraggles don’t have very good memories, as most of them seem don’t seem to know what an egg is, despite the fact that in the first season episode, “The Terrible Tunnel,” the Storyteller Fraggle notes that Fraggles are born by “hatching.” According to Dictionary.com, the only thing a creature hatches from is an egg!
Obscure Character Watch: The World’s Oldest Fraggle’s companion, Henchy Fraggle, makes a rare appearance here. Rarer still, it’s the only episode where the character is performed by Richard Hunt instead of their usual performer, John Pattison.
One More Thing…: Back to the egg thing, in “Capture the Moon,” Uncle Traveling Matt makes a reference to eggs that everyone understands. So the only conclusion is most Fraggles have a memory that makes goldfish look like Marilu Henner.
Okay, One More Thing…: Wait, if we’re pretending that it’s 1984 all over again, I’m camping out now in front of my movie theater. I want to be the very first to see “Rat Scat” on the big screen!
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by Matthew Soberman (Matthew@ToughPigs.com)