Suggested Title: Practically anything but the actual title would be more accurate, but I’m going with “Womp, Womp”.

Summary:

The opening scene of this episode is almost the same as the pilot episode: Millie and Tamia are having fun, Sissi shows up to rain on their parade and then the Lyoko Warriors show up so that all of the voice actors can have at least one line in the scene. This time, however, Ulrich actually backs up the young girls and he and Odd plan to get sweet prank vengeance.

Actually, all of the womp womp moments have to do with Odd's dog. Is the trombone just the official instrument of ugly dogs?

This episode has three moments when a trombone's womp womp sound effect is played. One of them is this: Kiwi just scratching himself. I don't get it either.

Meanwhile Jeremie installs a new early Xana detection program, which works almost immediately to locate a news story about two automated trains on a collision course, one of them carrying toxic chemicals. The reporter goes on to say, “A mysterious and powerful computer virus infected all of the country’s main computer systems just a few moments ago”. The news story also mentions that the toxic chemicals constitute an environmentally catastrophic threat if they get into the atmosphere. If they’re really that dangerous, it makes me wonder why they’re not being stored in a school supply closet.

After this discovery, Yumi tries to contact Ulrich and Odd, who are so focused on their plan to prank Sissi that they switch off their phones to avoid detection…AFTER Yumi tries calling them. No reason to think that the girl who you routinely save the world with has anything urgent to say.

It turns out their prank was to send Sissi an anonymous text from a secret admirer, lure her into another of the school’s abundant

The episode's first womp womp moment. Not sure this is warranted, but it is fairly embarassing.

Considering that Kiwi is terrifying in broad daylight, this is actually a reasonable plan,

supply sheds, then have Odd’s dog Kiwi pounce on her. Considering that Kiwi is terrifying in broad daylight, it’s actually a reasonable plan, except that dogs aren’t allowed on campus and now Sissi (the principal’s daughter), knows Odd is hiding one. She tells Jim about Kiwi, which gets Odd dragged into detention until his parents can come and retrieve the dog.

On Lyoko, Ulrich, Yumi and Aelita are confronted by nothing. Well, that’s what it looks like (even to Jeremie’s console) until the group is fired at by a group of bloks, who appear out of thin air. Ulrich stalls the monsters and Yumi fights to defend Aeilita, but both get devirtualized. Luckily Odd has tricked Jim into walking his dog, giving him a chance to slip out of detention and onto Lyoko, where he protects Aelita long enough to deactivate the tower.

Reactions:

First things first, this episode has a genuinely terrible title. Big Bug sounds like some sort of play on words, or at least a turn of phrase…but it isn’t. Furthermore, this episode is about neither a large insect or a serious computer bug, so it just plains makes no sense.

This womp womp moment is clearly a high point for the series.

Come to think of it, this may be why they don't want pets on campus...

I would say that this episode does the best job of any so far of showcasing the action on Lyoko, but it still has a weirdly contrived setup. The heroes approach the tower and just stop a hundred yards away because nothing is wrong. Then, because they’re just hanging around being suspicious of nothing, some monsters show up out of thin air. Considering how long it took for them to show up, Aelita probably could have just sprinted to the tower and deactivated it by the time the first shot was fired.

And keep in mind, I think the Lyoko section is the strong part of this episode, everything else about it is pretty broken. What are these magical macguffin chemicals that ruin the environment by simply making contact with the air? Why on Earth do they exist? Why do Odd and Ulrich suddenly decide to be jerks, and then fail to understand that Odd’s punishment is their own fault? Who designs trains that are so automated that they lack any semblance of an emergency override? Better yet, how does an all-powerful computer virus hack into the internet and an entire government’s computer and fail to devise anything more threatening than ramming two trains into each other?

Actually, I’m starting to develop a theory about that. In the pilot episode, Xana possesses a teddy bear and somehow uses his non-science to make it giant. In the second episode he plots to destroy a nuclear power plant, not realizing the consequences of his actions. In episodes four and five he takes control of vehicles. What if Xana is in fact a sentient computer virus, but for some reason or other he’s developing like a human child? He’s playing with toys! He’s playing engineer, toy cars and teddy bears. Maybe he doesn’t actually understand what he’s doing, which is why his plans are so terrible and illogical. He’s using the towers to explore the world around him and try to understand it.

While it's a somewhat legitimate threat, it's not a very engaging plot. It poses no immediate danger to the heroes, nor do they have to deal with it in the real world at all, only on Lyoko.

Oh yeah, and I guess this episode has an impending train crash or something.

So in the second episode, I mentioned the trombone joke that made me laugh. What I haven’t mentioned since then is that the trombone “womp womp” is actually a part of the show’s standard tone. This episode contains a whopping THREE trombone moments, which I’ve decided are best examined through the photographic evidence presented above.

Another thing I’d like to mention is this show’s fondness for the last minute, just in time save. This is a plot device to build tension that’s been around at least as long as visual media, but this show sort of stretches the credibility.  Now I’m not expecting a children’s show about a secret world in a supercomputer to be realistic (okay, I am but that’s a personal problem), but their use of the device gets pretty absurd when two speeding trains go from like 300 to zero in half a second. This also came up last time when the bus on the crash course with the petrochemical plant came to a stop a few meters away from disaster. Not only did both of these high speed stops defy any known concept of momentum, but they both did so without any outside input, thus defying the laws of inertia as well, since an object in motion wants to stay in motion and all that jazz.

Like all episodes before it, Big Bug contains a return to the past. To be honest, while the science behind the return to the past is preposterous at best, the return to the past itself is actually a pretty good B story device in theory. Particularly for a kids show like this, you can have your main characters screw up, learn from their mistakes and set things right without screwing up anything in the world or any relationships etc.

That said, this episode completely and utterly misses the point of the plot device. Rather than learning a lesson about not causing trouble for no reason, they learn to set a trap that won’t backfire on them (using the super nerd instead of Kiwi) and that getting photographic evidence can spread her embarrassment throughout the school. So they’ve learned the exact opposite of the lesson they should have learned and proven themselves to be petty and mean-spirited. Good job, protagonists!

Advertisements