Suggested Title: Of Mice and Mensa

 

Summary:

 

A small army of rats have gathered in the sewers beneath the city. We see the return of the smoke with arms as Xana takes control of a rat that escaped the sewer for some apples. The Xana rat returns to the angry rat army who make many horrible rat squeals. Xana rat bites one of the others proving that he is patient zero for some sort zombie rat virus. Good work diversifying your inexplicable super powers resume, Xana.

 

I don't think computer viruses make living creatures contagious, Xana.

How do you like THEM apples, rat?

Meanwhile Jeremie gets called out of a very productive study period in the library by the principal, who informs Jeremie that the guidance counselor believes that he is gifted and wants to test him to be sure. If Jeremie tests at a high I/Q his parents will send him away to a fancy school with a scholarship, literally causing the end of the world, since none of the others know how to use the computer in the factory.

 

Xana acquires more rats until he’s amassed a really terrifying vermin army, and sets them on a course out of the sewer and into the school. Their first order of business? Destroy Sissi’s new designer dress. Seriously. Xana must hate Sissi as much as everyone else. Next the rats chew through a wire that somehow cuts power to the entire town, except the factory. I wonder how much research it took to find that wire.

 

As the students gather in one place in light of the blackout rats surround the school, forcing Ulrich and Odd to fend off the rats with fire extinguishers and cafeteria trays. When Yumi shows up, the gang heads to the top of a building, trapping themselves like…well, rats. Luckily Odd finds a conveniently placed fire hose which the gang uses to repel down the side of the building.

 

I wonder what he could do with a top hat...

Seriously, who left this fully inflated raft right here? And why? Was Odd just carrying it around up his sleeve like a magician!?

As they head toward the factory, though, the Lyoko warriors discover that these sewer dwellers have clogged not only their usual sewer route, but also blocked off the bridge leading into the factory. Once again, Odd conveniently finds another way when he locates a bizarrely placed and pre-inflated raft, right at the factory’s…moat. You know, when I say these things out loud, this show seems even less plausible.

 

Not only does Xana have the presence of artificial intelligence to control several hordes of rats, but he sends monsters after Aelita then turns lyoko on its side, literally! For the third time in the episode, Odd gets lucky as the crabs decide to waste more laser fire on him after he’s lost his grip on the cliff. Otherwise he’d be scattered across the internet like so many lolcats.

 

Yumi hops in at the eleventh hour to save Aelita from the last crab monster, then the ladies miraculously get back to the activated tower in seconds, despite being stuck at the bottom of a huge unnatural (well, especially unnatural) cliff. From there it’s wham, bam, return to the past as usual.

 

Reactions:

 

In my opinion, this episode marks one of the first reason’s rare good episodes. This episode is nicely paced overall. It starts off a little slow with the exposition about Jeremie’s test, but beyond that the action doesn’t waste as much time as usual. This episode has some really cool ideas, mostly from Xana, and it’s the first time the journey’s difficulty seems to have equal weight with the stakes of failure. Typically either the threat doesn’t feel that threatening, making it seem like Team Lyoko is stopping Xana just to spite him, or the defenses on Lyoko aren’t impressive enough to justify Xana’s plans on Earth. Here we strike a good balance, creating a situation where the heroes have no breathing room until the return to the past.

 

It's surprisingly difficult to find a single image that puts the tilting of Lyoko into proper perspective.

I've heard of continental drift and cow tipping, but never continental tipping...or cow drift, for whatever that's worth.

Weirdly enough this is one of Xana’s best plans to date, maybe his best one, for one specific reason: it accounts for the Lyoko warriors trying to stop him. He’s posted large groups of rats at every entrance to the factory, making it very dangerous for them to try and counterattack. I don’t exactly know where he FOUND that many rats, but assuming it’s somehow possible he actually makes good use of them for once. Even Xana’s backup plan is pretty inspired, though it is at least equally absurd. Tipping Lyoko not only makes getting to the tower difficult, but it creates an immediate threat of permanent deletion for Aelita and her friends. If Xana’s been capable of this all along, I can’t help but wonder  why he hadn’t already tried.

 

Really, if the kids hadn’t been lucky on multiple occasions this one would have been the plan to conquer France or destroy France or whatever it is Xana wants to do. Seriously, the way he pulls the increasingly unlikely solutions to their problems out of thin air makes it feel like  Odd is reenacting that stunt from the end of Bill and Ted. You know, when they can just summon whatever plot contrivances they need from thin air because they’ll remember to set them up later using time travel? It’s not as if time travel is unheard of on this show, I’m just putting that out there.

 

Odd wouldn’t have had make up quite so many improbable solutions if the Lyoko Warriors hadn’t deliberately backed themselves into a corner. Seriously, what was the logic here? I mean, I get that Jim suggested they get to the top of the science building because it wasn’t connected to the sewers and it would take the rats the longest time to find them there. This makes sense, I’m okay with getting to the roof as a stalling tactic…for the people who don’t have to save the day! It doesn’t seem like Yumi, Ulrich or Odd notices that they’re still going to get killed and/or maybe possessed by cyber zombie rats if they don’t get to the factory. Honestly, guys, how long have you been at this? Long enough to be embarrassed by that display, surely.

 

Another nice thing about this episode is Jeremie’s story, because he proves himself to be genuinely clever. He’s thought through the consequences of succeeding and trying to fail on the I/Q test, plus he knows that if he’s going to intentionally fail, it’s much less suspicious to feign excitement about the transfer possibilities than to protest. It’s the first episode in the series that gives us a chance to see Jeremie’s intelligence as a character trait and not just a plot point to explain how they gain access to a supercomputer.

Get it? I used the B-Story Plot to make a computer incompetence joke!

Which one’s the mouse again?

 

Of course that leads me to one of my problems with this episode. I question whether it plausible for Yumi to learn so much about the supercomputer so quickly, over the phone. If it were that easy wouldn’t Jeremie have shown the others how to use it for the sake of having a backup plan if something happens to him?

 

I’m pretty sure I’ve said before that I originally watched this series having seen episodes later than season one as my introduction, and also that I remember this series being better than these early episodes would indicate. Despite its problems this episode feels a lot more like the episodes I remember, ones that were more clever than I was expecting for a children’s show and ones that were worth watching. The rat plot’s not the most exciting thing in the world to watch, but it is handled well for the most part, and this is definitely one of the best episodes I’ve looked at for the Cove of Solitude.

Advertisements