I'm back and I'm fabulous! Some of you may wonder where I've been over the last 6 months. I've been going to college full time and working a full time job and occasionally writing stuff on Fandom. I'm glad to finally have time for another review, so let's kill the joy with Lyoko Minus One!
Yay! This one has Laurent Turner! That means the writing won't suck! We start with Ulrich waking up to an Alarm Clock, with Odd missing, actually up in the morning. Minus one point for OOC! Ulrich then goes to Jeremie's room, seeing him having fallen asleep at the computer. He wakes up Jeremie by shipping Odlita, which works.
My thoughts on this: Hee hee, implied incest "they're allegedly cousins". 1 point to Laurent Turner for finding even more things for this show to get away with. As a side note, this is personally amusing to me, since Ulrich shares a room with Odd, and many of us fans theorize that Odd was actually bisexual, or whatever orientation David Bowie was. I love the PG13 implications of this moment.
We then find out that apparently this episode was written by people who think it's Season 1, since we have a plot that won't go anywhere about the class president. There's 3 candidates: Odd, Jeremie, and Herb. Herb is a political puppet for Sissi, making him a male Hillary Clinton with more integrity. Jeremie is a person who genuinely believes that the class president position isn't a joke, and believes people vote on platform; making him Bernie Sanders, a doomed idealist. Odd appeals to the mediocre people of the class by promising to represent their interests, but also running on unrealistic ideals rather than a platform, as he doesn't have promises he can achieve. Odd also has unrealistic looking hair. Thus making him a bisexual Donald Trump.
My issue with this subplot is that there's no way Jeremie has time for this position, so him running is unrealistic. However, I don't mind that it's a "B plot of the week", since this actually pays off later in "Nobody In Particular". Also, they address the Jeremie issue here later in the episode. So the main issues are covered, and I got an opportunity to make cynical comments about US elections. <britishAccent>So I shall continue fanboying over Laurent Turner.</britishAccent>
In the C plot, we find out that Yumi's class is on a field trip, with Mrs. Hertz. Jim is also going along, since he does everything at that school, and has a thing for Mrs. Hertz. Wait, Mrs. Hertz... Jim... A Forest... Mrs. Hertz showing her inner dystopia-fearing hippy... Someone get some blindfolds, earplugs, and brainbleach! Quick! Before this turns in to "The Lake"!
X.A.N.A. may target Yumi on a weekly basis, use tentacle rape, commit kidnapping, murder, attempted terrorism, attempted genocide, etc. but even he wouldn't subject Yumi to a fate that bad. Out of sheer sympathy, he activates a tower. This is just in time, since we see Jim sleeping with Mrs. Hertz. Everyone gets possessed, including Jim, who was doing it before it was cool. X.A.N.A. also contributes to my theory that X.A.N.A. isn't the actual villain by cutting the scene of the candidate speeches shorter.
So William is doodling Yumi in detention, and overhears about the attack from Jeremie. Yumi is being chased in the Forest, because they already had the backgrounds for that. Yumi informs the group via a phone-scene that she's the victim of the week, again. She then trips on a root, and is attacked by the villain after stopping to rest, having thought she lost the villain in the woods, thus making her a cliched horror movie victim.
Completing the theory that this is partially a retrofitted season 1 script, Jeremie uses the season 1 virtualization music. Reused footage from season 2 is then used in a fight sequence, with lasers! Aelita is thrown off the board due to somewhat realistic physics, and attacked by Tarantulas. She then encounters the Aelita options!
- 0. Act suicidal and/or crazy.
- 1. Attack it with a long single note of angry music.
- 2. Have an argument with it.
- 3. Use Energy Fields.
Unlike the sound team, she remembers this is season 3, and uses energy fields, badly.
Back in the forest, William is stalking Ulrich, while a few meters further back, I stalk William, in a chain of stalkers in the motif of "sayonara zetsubou sensei". So William accidentally reveals himself to Ulrich, and explains that he's there to help Yumi. Thus making him both responsible and incompetent. This is totally in-character.
On Lyoko, Aelita and Odd turn away from the tower for the reason of Drama, thus allowing Aelita to perform 0 of the options. Odd destroys a Tarantula.
In the forest, we see a barely conscious Yumi, surrounded by people electrocuting her. I don't know if this was supposed to be framed like a gang rape, but looks like one. We have a couple of status reports between Jeremie and Ulrich, and the Scyphozoa shows up. Ulrich distracts some of the people attacking Yumi, and William rescues her. Odd doesn't rescue Aelita in time, and thus the tentacle mind rape happens, resulting in Aelita getting possessed, and no I don't know why X.A.N.A. didn't do that before.
Back in the forest, the roles have switched, and now it's William and Yumi rescuing Ulrich from the group electrocuting him, in a scene that is still framed like a gangrape. Hooray for gender equality?
So Jim uses the "only semi-tangible via a static electricity field" trick, causing Yumi and Ulrich to blush at eachother, as Yumi falls on him. William fights Mrs. Hertz while holding a rod. So many cheap jokes, so little time. Back on Lyoko, the Tarantula is taking Aelita to a way tower. If you look closely, the tower's color toggles between teal and white, almost as if they weren't sure what to color it.
Aelita goes into the tower, with nobody knowing what's going on. She then activates a new code, code XANA. I have good and bad feelings about this. When this episode first aired, this was a shocking moment. We, the viewers, didn't know what was going on. My issue is that the Tarantula dissolves into glitter for some reason. Now, I don't mind the dissolution into glitter, since I know people who can do that deliberately. My issue is that the glitter dissolution doesn't happen whenever else that code is used.
The next moment is artistically intense. We see the tower dissolve, and Aelita falls, unconscious. Odd picks her up, and everyone wonders what happened. The sector starts to fade away. The activated tower fades away, causing it to deactivate. Eventually the sector's dissolution catches up with Odd and Aelita, causing them to fall and get devirtualized at the last second, as per usual. Odd and Aelita decide that since they have no clue what happened, they'll ask Jeremie.
In the forest, Yumi pretends that everyone passed out for no reason. In the school, Ulrich carries an unconscious William to the detention room, puts him in a chair, and tells him not to dream about Yumi. It's a good thing that nobody heard that in the school, or the Kadic News would have a field day.
Back in the lab, Jeremie explains the plot of the season: X.A.N.A. wants to cut off their access to him by destroying Lyoko. Jeremie also resolves the class president plot by dropping out, endorsing Odd. I then make a reprieve of the "Jeremie is Bernie Sanders" joke about him giving up. Odd then gets elected.
This episode shows the artistic range of Code Lyoko. It has extreme drama, as Yumi is attacked and we watch a beautiful world get destroyed. It also has some comedy, in the form of the presidential election, and the unintentional hilarity. We also find out about a fairly dark storyline. While there's flaws in the episode, I give it 8/10, since it has a lot of entertainment value. This isn't Laurent Turner's best work, but it's still respectable.
I think there's a lot to talk about in this episode that doesn't really fit anywhere in a tacky plot summary, so I'm doing another independent section. There will be some background attention, and then the main theory.
As Sophie Decroisette once revealed in an interview, after the surprise success of season 1, Cartoon Network got involved with the production of the show, becoming a primary intended distributor like France 3, rather than a secondary one like Megamax. They put a few demands on the show, but weren't as interfering as they were with other shows. This barely affected season 2. However, when scripting for season 3 began, a plan was hatched, in which season 3 would be made as a setup for season 4, with Sophie Decroisette handling season 3 and Bruno Regeste handling season 4. My commentary on William Returns looks at this more closely.
As some of y'all may know, I have a theory about Code Lyoko Evolution. We were all disappointed with the removal of the Ice and Forest sectors of Lyoko in that series. My theory is that Moonscoop cut them due to animation costs, since the lighting of the Ice Sector was difficult to render, and the Forest Sector is a much more complicated animation job than the Mountain and Desert sectors combined. Here, I expand this theory. We all know that season 3 had a much more limited budget than season 4. On top of that, it's widely believed there was a budget increase for the 2D animation, which accounts for the improvements in season 3, but had to come from somewhere. My theory is that the Christophe Di Sabatino and Benoît Di Sabatino ordered the writers and storyboarders to stop using the Ice and Forest sectors in season 3 due to cost.
Overall, there was an atmosphere of artistic interference. On top of this, season 3 had a relatively limited budget. My theory is that Sophie Decroisette arced out the season to slowly destroy Lyoko piece by piece. This had the surface reasons of drama on a budget and avoiding expensive animation. However, there's a dual meaning in it. Sophie's position as head writer was taken and given to Bruno Regeste, who I have to admit, is a better storyboarder than writer. I think the storyarc of Lyoko's slow destruction was created by Mrs. Decroisette as a rendition of her feelings of artistic suppression. Her art was suppressed, so she created a story of a world, which in this case was a character's art, being slowly destroyed. I think the destruction of Lyoko is symbolic of the artistic interference the creators felt. This had emotional impact to the viewers, since we saw a part of our childhood destroyed as well. Sophie Decroisette managed to make one of the strongest emotional connections in the history of children's storytelling. She is awesome.
I think this strategy highlights why Code Lyoko was such a success and Evolution a failure. When presented with limited budget and artistic suppression, the original writers used the limits to their advantage to create a story of the destruction of childhood, art, and environment; which are very strong elements for a kid's show. People like media which doesn't patronize them. Code Lyoko was classy in this respect. This contrasts with Evolution, where the same suppression was handled with a throwaway line from Jeremie.
Also, I just noticed something. Early in the episode, Mrs. Hertz predicts a future where the earth is dead and life is extinct. Later, the Forest Sector is destroyed. Was this foreshadowing?
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