This SOLAR OPPOSITES review contains spoilers.
Solar Opposites Episode 2
In the pilot episode, I felt that Yumyulack and Jesse didn’t get quite enough screen time to fully characterize them. This episode rectifies that as they get a storyline that defines both characters perfectly. Terry and Korvo get a hilarious plot that balloons to out-of-control sci-fi proportions and the Pupa even gets a full story arc too. “The Unstable Grey Hole” is just packed and, on top of all that, it’s got an ending you’ll never see coming.
Terry and Korvo’s dynamic is reinforced in this episode and I love it. Korvo always tries to take the high-minded, “focus on the mission” road… for about five seconds. Then he and Terry fully commit to the same petty distraction. This time, Korvo uses the flimsy excuse that it’s a work necessity for him that people like him or else he’ll be too distracted to fix their spaceship, so he hatches a sci-fi scheme to put nanobots in the water supply to gather data on his neighbors. Along similar lines, Jesse uses mind-control microchips to force people to be nice to Yumyulack and convince him humans aren’t all that bad.
It’s great how both plots are thematically linked: they’re both about human bigotry toward the aliens. In the end, it’s sort of an anti-sitcom episode because nobody learns the lesson they were supposed to. Terry and Korvo try to get people to see past their natural inclinations to be anti-alien, but instead manage to make their neighborhood more “crazy, high-concept racist.” Instead of teaching Yumyulack that humans are only jerks if you’re a jerk to them, Jesse and Yumyulack together learn that some humans (specifically Nazis) are just plain bad. The Pupa learns how to get candy. That doesn’t fit the bigotry theme, but two out of three is fine.
Rick and Morty is one of the (if not the) most packed-with-plot sitcoms currently running and it’s awesome to see that approach brought over so expertly to Solar Opposites, too. There’s always an incredible amount of escalation over the course of one episode in such a short amount of time. Making sure the plots stay coherent (not to mention consistently funny) so that one can culminate in an orgy of violence and another with an insane homeowners’ association meeting with a Nanobot Man candidate is no small feat. Just to mention one moment that shows the writers know what they’re doing, when Terry and Korvo first drop the nanobots into the water supply, Korvo says “break up the clumps or they might become sentient,” setting you up early so that the eventual Nanobot Man payoff lands.
Oh yeah, and then they also squeeze in a little story for the Pupa, too. Oh yeah, and then they pull some cool-ass serialization shit on you with a surprise ending that reveals the shrunken humans in Yumyulack’s wall terrarium have already developed a Mad Max-style society!
I haven’t even gotten to the jokes, but this is a funny episode, too. It’s got a good combo of witty stuff (Korvo doesn’t understand why you have to cook bread twice, the neo-Nazi bar is called “Heil Hitbar”); deliberately dumb, fucked-up jokes (Terry and Korvo doing heroin, a guy unconvincingly trying to cover for his sex doll fetish); a buttload of silly pop culture references (Mortal Kombat movies, Disney’s Blank Check, Harry Potter, Green Room, and True Lies); and some very quotable one-liners (“Us sci-fi folks need to stick together”).
This is a stellar episode of Solar Opposites. It’s funny, it’s simply packed to the gills with plots for all the characters, and it’s got a crazy-ass twist ending! There are only two minor negatives I can mention. There’s the tiniest pacing issue where we cut away from Jesse and Yumyulack entering the neo-Nazi bar and a whole a bunch of stuff happens before we cut back to them inside; the timing just feels a little weird. And there’s a necrophilia joke that tipped the dumb, edgy scales a bit too much for my tastes. But these aren’t big enough problems to dock any points.