Friday, October 4, 2013

"Fraggle Rock" Month - Season Four, Episodes 24-26: The Grand Finale

"It's just a dream away
"You've got to leave to stay
"We'll meet again, someday
"Just a dream away..."
 - Mudwell

As we have seen on this journey through "Fraggle Rock", this wasn't your typical children's show.  The vast majority of such series never even get a true final episode, much less a three-part grand finale.  (It turns out that in some parts of the world, "Fraggle Rock" didn't get a "real" ending either because the final season never reached their shores, which is a damn shame.)  This makes the final three episodes of "Fraggle Rock" largely unprecedented.

So let's break it down.  We start with "The Gorg Who Would Be King", which I had not seen before and is a very nice sendoff for the Gorgs.  Through plot complications that are admittedly kind of ridiculous, Junior travels to Fraggle Rock and meets the Doozers and the Fraggles and the Trash Heap and sees more of the Universe he's being groomed to rule.  And he learns, for the first time, that the Fraggles and Doozers depend on his radishes.  That's a fantastic touch; we in the audience learned about this connection between the three worlds in the very first season, remember?  But that doesn't mean the characters know about it, and its a great lead-in for the next two episodes, which act more as a two-parter.

"The Honk of Honks" is a hell of a penultimate episode.  Cantus returns for another Medley, but this time he entrusts Gobo to lead and instructs him to create the trumpet blast that will signal the beginning of The Song of Songs.  The Honk of Honks signals the beginning of the end for the series.  To create it, Gobo must travel to all the different worlds and collect an instrument from all the major characters, and so we have our last significant encounters with Junior Gorg, Cotterpin Doozer, and Phylo and Gunge.  And so we have matter-of-fact interactions with characters who wouldn't even look at each-other back in the first season.  They're finally seeing each-other as people now.

Doc doesn't see Gobo at all.  That's the first major reveal in this episode and, I have to say, it's... weird.  I know what they were going for here; in the special features, the writer clarifies that she was inspired by the inattentional blindness phenomenon (specifically a personal childhood experience with it), and to her credit, she does stay on the "As a scientist, Doc desperately wants to meet a Fraggle, so he can begin to make sense of the strange goings-on in his workshop over the years and this hidden world he's long suspected but had no real proof of" side of the crevasse.  However, it tapdances so awfully close to the deep dark pit of "You don't have to make sense, just ~*~Believe!!!~*~" that it sticks in my craw.

But look at that scene where Doc and Gobo finally interact with each-other.  It's just beautiful.  This character who's been on the sidelines of this wonderful world we've been a part of for so long finally gets to join us.  Remember, Doc has never been able to personally interact with Fraggle Rock until now; once again, we're experiencing the place from an outsider's perspective.  And through Doc's wonder, we get a sense of the joy and awe we had ourselves when we started watching the series all those years ago.

And it is a world that, now that Doc has finally met one of its residents and is so full of questions about, he is going to have to leave soon.  After the Song of Songs (a sequence that I don't want to discount because it is freakin' glorious; basically the victory lap for the whole series with an awesome musical number and darn close to every single Fraggle character onscreen at once), we learn that Doc and Sprocket are moving away. 

They're preparing to move in "Change of Address", and in the opening of the episode, we learn that Doc has been "feeding" the Fraggles.  That's a fantastic little touch, but it's not clear why until a little later.  Gobo heads up to talk with Doc for, it turns out, the second time ever.  And Doc's behavior towards Gobo here struck me as surprisingly troubling -- until it hit me that Doc does not think of Gobo as a person yet!  Goodness, he's been feeding the Fraggles like you'd feed an animal you want to tame, starting with dog biscuits(!?) and moving on to pizza.  We know Gobo as a respectable intelligent being but to Doc, he's a funny little animal that can talk. 

Gobo is, naturally, put off by this.  He runs off and mopes while Doc and Sprocket close the door on the workshop for the last time ever.  Consulting with the Trash Heap, Gobo receives the cryptic advice, "You cannot leave the magic".  Rushing to share that with Doc, Gobo finds himself in a workshop that is completely empty but for a final message from Doc.  Meanwhile, in their new home, Doc and Sprocket long to find a Fraggle Hole (God, this sequence is heartbreaking) but to no avail.  But when all hope is lost, Gobo notices a tunnel he's never seen before, and then...

I have to be honest, readers.  The final three episodes of "Fraggle Rock" made me about a million times happier than I was at the end of most other series I've followed all the way through -- and they have also left me with a deep sadness and sense of loss like I haven't felt at the end of any other series.

That makes this three-part series finale the single greatest ending to a series I have ever seen.  I mean that.  At the very least, I think we can all agree that it is one of the most downright emotional series endings ever made.  It wraps the whole series up in a beautiful bow of a triumphant happy ending and leaves us to mourn the loss of a series that is, honestly, so noble.  And it is beautiful in its nobility, which is why it is so deeply painful to see something so truly wonderful end and... dammit, the words on my screen are getting all blurry again.

When they say "You can not leave the magic", they're talking to us viewers.  I called the series noble and beautiful and I stand by that.  I don't think it's possible to watch this series and not internalize it somehow.  It makes me want to be a better person.  It makes me want to make art that comes from a purer place.  At the risk of sounding cheesy, it is a part of me, as I am a part of it.

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