“I must say I did not see that coming.”
Space Dandy has been my favorite show for a long, long time. There’s such an unbridled confidence and energy bursting out of this show every week, and while undeniably other shows wield a lot more power, none could replicate the sheer joy I’d have in not knowing the sort of episode I’d be getting each week.
It could be a zombie story. Or a time travel story. Or a rumination on loneliness. Or a detour on an alien who just wants the best smile. This show was insane. It was magical, and I got rather sad when I thought that this would be the end of all things Dandy. Thankfully, and unsurprisingly this episode pulls out all the stops, as well as distilling everything about Dandy that made it so weird, and different, and unbelievable.
To begin with, a master creative team has been assembled here with series mastermind Watanabe writing, Natsume onboard with directing, Ito is back as the animation director, and Oda back as the mecha designer, pulling together all of their strongest people to deliver here. These guys do some phenomenal work, like on the Gogol Empire’s home planet, right down to the mechanical-based aliens and infrared ensconced chambers.
The big surprise is that this episode actually does continue from last week’s cliffhanger ending, truly making it the first two-parter the show’s done. We see Dandy getting abducted by the Gogol Empire, awaiting inevitably for all-out battle with them, something that’s as close to resembling the “plot” of the series as we’ve ever gotten. You don’t understand that in a show where Gel has openly admitted to forgetting why he was even chasing Dandy, to actually see him have him in his possession is deeply satisfying. As is getting to meet Admiral Perry finally (and the true Admiral Perry, not that skull-y virtual image), too. And even early on in this episode you can feel that it’s going to be more different than the typical Dandy episode.
Another revelation is made in the form of the God particle, pionium, from last week not only carrying over here, but it actually being the reason why Gel has been chasing Dandy in the first place (bombshell!). They want to use Dandy’s pionium to power their weapon—sorry, super weapon.
As all of this begins to drop, about five minutes into the episode the characters begin talking about how the pionium in Dandy that caused a baseball to cross dimensions and murder someone, is going to be used by the Gogol Empire to cross dimensions and destroy all of them, that you realize what this show has been doing all along. That this seemingly non-canon show is perhaps the most canonical, connected, serialized show there’s been. Because you just know this is all going to connect to the alternate realities we saw in the premiere, “I Can’t Be the Only One, Baby” (what I considered to be the apex of the series to the point), and when it does, and when cosmic strings are again referenced, an idea present since the first episode, you’ll kind of lose your mind over what’s happening here, and what’s been happening every week under your nose. Because you know what that is? It’s that Dandy has been God this entire time, and that’s why all this ridiculous stuff has happened to them, how he’s had the ability to be re-born and reset week after week. It’s because he’s in charge of all of this.
While you’re trying to take in all of this insanity, underneath it all there’s some beautifully done space battles happening between the Gogol and Gycro armadas that shows off mecha designer Oda’s work here, rewarding you with something special before the show signs off. We see the much-welcome return of the Aloha Oe in Hawaii Yankee mode, as it turns into pompadour-sporting gundam-esque fighter that hasn’t been around in forever, too. These battles in space, assaults on the labyrinthine city of the Gogol Empire, or the Aloha Oe robot surfing through the passages of the city, are just a sight to behold and a reminder of how one of the best things about this show is how gorgeous it looks.
This episode is also dripping in big moments like the twist of Bea betraying Dr. Gel and shooting him dead. It’s big, wonderful finale stuff that might seem overblown in something else, but here you’re like, “of course, why not” and take it with the rest of craziness that’s being heaped at you. Bea turns out to be a triple-crosser in the end, throwing on betrayal after betrayal as it all keeps getting more blissfully outrageous and cloak and dagger. Numerous guns are pulled out on people (including the return of Commander Johnny, who enters by snarling “Here’s Johnny!”) to emphasize the point that this is the end and things are actually happening here.
Space Dandy is constantly topping themselves when it comes to impressive visual overloads, but seeing Dandy, in Gel’s statue of liberty ship no less, rocketing to his assumed doom to save all realities as electricity dragons of red and blue leap around, with a “Rocket Man”-ish chord strumming in the background, is some undeniably powerful stuff. The statue of liberty sword fights with these dragons until Dandy himself is spit out, launched into the creature and destroys it into a volcanic eruption of rainbow color, bleaching out everything and turning Dandy into a sketch, and the entire universe being wiped out in the process. The things this show can do are unreal.
And while we’re on the topic, this all culminates in us finding out that the Narrator is actually God in the end, with him having the ability to control time as he sees fit, or reset things as are necessary, something we’ve seen happening from the get-go. It’s an idea that’s so obvious and brilliant it hurts. The Narrator explains that Dandy is the one being that can move between dimensions, reiterating the previous versions we saw of him in the premiere, and with all the universes coming to an end, a new one is going to be formed, and the Narrator wants to pass up the God-mantle to Dandy. That’s a sentence that I’m typing as if it’s a regular, everyday plot element. But the Narrator, who is God, wants to make Dandy the new God/Narrator and take over his throne. A decision that Dandy refuses because being an all-powerful God would mean he could no longer go to Boobies and enjoy his body.
So he declines.
And so we see the universe die and get reborn Godless, without a ruler to govern over it, so Dandy can still stare at booty. And here I was thinking they might have just done something ordinary this episode like showing how Meow could learn to like knitting in 21 days.
14.8 billion years later, we more or less get back to a conversation from the pilot episode, in a weird Seinfeld-like finale riff where we’re back to right where we started, but in this universe, now Dandy is a leg man. And you realize that this will never be over, that it’s always been happening. That 14.8 billion years before the last universe got wiped out, Dandy probably was a breast man.
There’s going to be an absence left in me due to a world with no more Space Dandy, that should not feel that different from the world without God that their universe now faces. This might seem like a bleak reality for all of us, but there’s still maybe a shimmer of hope left as the episode closes out on a “May be continued?” title card. That maybe Watanabe and co are planning a movie or special down the pipeline. With seemingly infinite stories to be told in this universe(s), it’s hardly to think the book may be closed on all of this.
But until then, see you later, space cowboy, baby…