Oh Disney’s The Little Mermaid The Series, how could I ever have doubted ye? After the snore-fest of Metal Fish I was resigned to this retrospective ending in a disappointing (if thematically appropriate) damp squib. Oh Mouse of little faith. Strap in folks, we’re riding this train all the way to crazy town.
So by this point I think it’s clear that the waters around Denmark are a fucking warzone because, yet again, we open on two ships blasting each other to kindling. A gang of pirates board a merchant ship, force the crew to walk the plank and steal every thing remotely shiny. During the fray, a gold goblet falls into the water and floats away.
Ariel sees it glinting overhead and swims up to claim it but unfortunately for her, someone else has set his eyes on it:
That’s right, this episode shows us the first meeting between Ariel and Scuttle, everyone’s favourite solid C-tier Disney comic relief character. While flying overhead, Scuttle sees the goblet and flies down to pick it up, calling it a “Dorfburple”. Meanwhile, Ariel is swimming up to get it, calling it a “Shimmermajigger” (this girl and her jiggers, I tell ya what). This leads to a hilarious scene which cuts rapidly between the two of them with Scuttle saying “Dorfburple!” and Ariel saying “Shimmermajigger!” back and forth and back and forth. It’s especially funny when you realise that, without the editing, Ariel must just be swimming through the sea yelling “Shimmermajigger! Shimmermajigger!” while Sebastien and Flounder exchange very sad looks.
I tease, but this episode may have my favourite depiction of Ariel in this series so far in that for once she’s not just a bland smiling friend to every living ickle sea creature there is. In fact, this episode goes in a direction I did not expect at all for Ariel and Scuttle’s first meeting, but in retrospect is perfectly logical: they can’t fucking stand each other. In Ariel’s eyes, Scuttle is the only thing standing between her and the title of Ocean’s Weirdest Hoarder of Human Shit and that means the big chicken’s goin’ down.
Turns out that Ariel’s actually afraid of birds, but she follows Scuttle to a lagoon and he tells her that the goblet is actually a gift that humans give to their very favourite birds and starts bragging about all the humans he’s met (pfff, bet he’s never met HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN, though, has he?)
You’ve probably been reading this and thinking “Mouse, are you sure this is an episode of The Little Mermaid? Sebastien doesn’t seem to be suffering at all” and you are correct. Right on cue, an eagle swoops down and carries a screaming Sebastien away. Scuttle, anxious that this is giving birds a bad name, follows after along with Ariel and Flounder. Sebastien pinches the eagle and gets dropped on the pirate ship we saw before.
So this is the premise of the episode (for a show that’s so light on plot, Mermaid episodes take a loooong time to get going). Ariel, Scuttle and Flounder have to put aside their differences and work together to rescue Sebastien from the pirate ship, all the while Sebastien suffers like a perjurer in the eighth circle of hell. In between getting menaced by literally hundreds of demonic, red-eyed rats, he has to face yet another evil bird, the Captain’s parrot, Salty. Which is, let’s be fair, a very, very good name.
Another thing I find hilarious is that Salty keeps trying to tell the pirates that Sebastien’s on board the ship and their reaction is: “We don’t care. So there’s a crab on the ship. Fuck off, Salty.”
This script is around 90% more self aware than is typical for this show and it makes all the difference. Anyway, the episode reaches its glorious, sublime climax when the gang manage to rescue Sebastien who tells them that the pirates are planning on attacking a nearby ship and taking one of the passengers hostage. And then Ariel gets Scuttle to bring her an axe which she uses TO SINK THE PIRATE SHIP.
That’s right. Ariel is now second place behind Mulan in the Rankings of Disney Princesses Who Have Definitely Committed Mass Murder.
And as she swims away, leaving the pirates clinging to their sinking hulk as the sharks close in, we see the passenger whose life she saved:
How was it?
The script for this one was notably better and even got a chuckle out of me in places. Also, did I mention ARIEL TAKES OUT A FRICKIN’ PIRATE SHIP SINGLE HANDED?
So how was it? Better than Princess Frickin’ Mononoke, that’s how it was.
The moral of the story is: You think that certain groups are evil, and you’re right. Just keep in mind that every so often one solitary member of that group might be kinda okay.
Does this violate continuity?:
A minor one; Eric catches a glimpse of Ariel and seems to know what a mermaid is whereas in the movie he had to have the concept of merpeople explained to him.
The original film also does not imply that Ariel has taken out an entire pirate galley and left its crew to be eaten alive by sharks but, frankly, that’s the movie’s fault.
And so Shortstember 2021 actually concludes on time. I know, I’m scared too.
NEXT UPDATE: 14th October 2021