This SOLAR OPPOSITES review contains spoilers.
Solar Opposites Episode 7
Well, I think we all knew everything was leading up to this. Finally, it all pays off. Finally, we get to watch Terry and Korvo steal a bear.
That’s what’s happening in the background of “Terry and Korvo Steal a Bear,” anyway. Community pulled the same trick years ago; the character of Abed had a wordless subplot about helping a couple deliver a baby, all of it taking place in the background as main plot stuff happened in the foreground. Solar Opposites does the same joke here, but it’s not like it’s a played-out idea, so it’s funny to see the concept used again.
As for what’s going on in the foreground, it’s really fucking great. The series has been periodically giving us peeks into Yumyulack’s shrunken human terrarium society and now we get a full-length episode in there. The last time we visited with the wall people, their storyline was a little weak. Happily, this time we get one of the show’s best episodes, if not the best.
Solar Opposites’ usual opening sequence is done away with in favor of dramatic credits in simple white text on a black background, which let you know what kind of a ride you’re in for. “Terry and Korvo Steal a Bear” isn’t a sitcom episode so much as it is a pitch-perfect dramatic action film following the plight of a people’s resistance overthrowing a corrupt leader.
It’s amazing all the tropes and storytelling devices employed to make it all work. Framing the story by introducing the new character of the mouse milk man (former CEO of AT&T) is so goddamned brilliant. His arc as a guy in the lower levels who just wants to keep his head down and play his role to someone who feels he can no longer ignore the growing resistance to a fighter in the rebellion who saves resistance-leader Tim’s life is satisfying to witness, but also functions as a vehicle through which we witness how the rebellion grows.
It’s awesome just how many side characters get their own arcs that make the society inside the wall feel like a believable, living place. In addition to the mouse milk man and, obviously, Tim, there’s growth for Christina Hendricks’ character, Cherie, and, additionally, surprisingly satisfying arcs for Tim’s cellmate Jean-Pierre and some dude who looks like Kramer from Seinfeld. The latter is especially great because he’s introduced for a seemingly throwaway gag, but ends up staying with the episode until the end sequence, going out in a blaze of glory (well, “glory” might not be the right word, but it’s certainly a blaze).
Speaking of jokes, yes, this is not always as funny an episode compared to others this season, but “Terry and Korvo Steal a Bear” isn’t trying to be a gag-every-other-moment episode and it’s so effective at what it is doing you’re engrossed, regardless. That said, the comedic moments are still great. I love the miniature Seinfeld set with the Kramer guy and the “yadda, yadda, yadda” drop. Jean-Pierre’s dying words being an extended description of his jerk-off fantasies made me laugh. And I’m also a big fan of the mentions of the “poop vapor” room.
A comparative Rick and Morty episode to this one is “The Ricklantis Mixup” aka “Tales from the Citadel,” which gave us an episode-long look into a society only sporadically referenced before. However, though that is a great episode, it’s not quite the wonderful surprise “Terry and Korvo Steal a Bear” is because this is a much more dramatic left-turn. It asks you not only to immerse yourself fully in a setting only briefly seen before, it also asks you to invest in a lot of new characters all at once, not to mention to adapt to a drastic tonal shift compared to how goofy Solar Opposites typically is.
It all works like gangbusters. This truly might be my favorite episode of Solar Opposites. Obviously, the series shouldn’t be like this all the time; the unexpected delight that is this episode wouldn’t have worked without everything that came before it, and I’m not sure how they could pull something similar off again in the future. But “Terry and Korvo Steal a Bear” is an absolute gem.