Littlest Plotlines: “What Did You Say?” review

It can be hard to maintain focus in a story. Especially if you have a creative mind. You can try to focus solely on one simple plot thread. But then, sometimes, a supporting character shows up; and suddenly, you get an idea for that character which you then branch out on.

Other times your simple thread might require a certain event for plot convenience. However that event, you realize, would have far-reaching repercussions outside your simple thread.

Then there are times your simple plot thread is just too short. You can’t come up with enough material within that thread to pad it out without looking stupid. So you tack on another plot thread that is only tangentially connected.

Which brings us to this week’s episode of Littlest Pet Shop, where Vinnie finds himself at the city dump, and Blythe loses her superpowers. And no, these two plot threads are not connected in any significant way.

We’ll open with Blythe. Our resident superhero. I always call her that don’t I? Well she has superpowers, and she is our hero, so I’m gonna keep calling her that. And this week it feels appropriately apt.

I know Superman had lost his powers quite a few times in the comics. Just like Blythe did this week. Except with Superman, those power-losses occurred mostly in non-canon stories

Our episode opens with our hero doing her best zombie impression, which Roger, her father, comments on. I’m surprised they actually used the words ‘zombie apocalypse.’

Anyway, Blythe is sick. Some type of nasty cold. Daddy gives her some herbal medicine that tastes like crap. So it’s probably green Buckley’s.

I actually have a joke here, but I’m gonna save it to the end for the sake of spoilers.

Blythe decides to alert Twombly to her situation, and takes the express elevator to the shop. The pets gather around and instantly start chatting away. But all Blythe hears are barks, yelps, grunts and chitters. She lost her superpowers! Yeah, I know I already mentioned that several times, but shut up. Anyway, she doesn’t take it well. Which sorta surprises me. I mean, yes, she can’t communicate with her favourite group of friends. But she was never supposed to be able to communicate with them in the first place. So losing that power should be easier to take.

Some more realistic scenarios: She starts to get sad and depressed. She stops for a few minutes to try to process the new information. She tries to find alternative ways to communicate with them (remember, Vinnie once used an iPad to visit some news sites). She questions whether she ever really talked to them in the first place, and thinks she might have imagined the whole thing.

Instead, she panics, and tries desperately to get her powers back. She starts by clearing out her ears in various ways, with sound, suction, and by flossing her brain with a towel. Nothing works. But it might have something to do with the fact that all the pets are talking at once, so even if she could understand them, she wouldn’t understand them.

Actually, that’s the odd thing. When we hear things from Blythe’s point of view, we see all the pets talk at once, instead of one at a time, like they normally do. I’d love to know what they were saying in those scenes. But I doubt the writer thought that part through. Perhaps all of them had exciting news they wanted to share, but we never hear what it is.

So, yeah, Blythe is panicky, because if the pets need some human help, they’re screwed. Uh, Blythe, they only met you a few months ago. They were fine without you before you moved in, I’m sure they’ll continue to be fine even if you lose your powers.

She’s also concerned that she won’t be able to socialize with them. That I understand. Friends are important, you don’t want to lose them like that.

The pets are worried. They need to find a way to help her, they must take her to the veterinarian. But humans don’t go to the veterinarian. What do they go to? A humanarian? Yeah, that sounds about right!

The pets engage in some type of big 80s-style MTV musical number that comes completely out of left field. I have no idea why they’re doing a parody of 80s music, or why they’re wearing makeup, but I know I don’t like it. Is it a reference to The Human League? Best guess I can come up with. If it’s a parody of an actual song, it’ll get so many points in my book. No it doesn’t matter which song, as long as it’s a real song from the 80s.

Anyway, the song is basically the pets asking Russell to fix Blythe. However he’s not a doctor, and he says so, while stealing the Penguin’s line from Batman Returns. Except he doesn’t tear off his jacket, which disappoints me.

Twombly arrives and upon discovering Blythe’s current status, quickly dons everything short of a Hazmat suit, and escorts Blythe back to her apartment. You know, I’m glad, since I don’t think she should have taken the dumbwaiter in her condition.

So as Blythe is getting some bedrest, the pets arrive to check on her. Sadly there isn’t much they can do to comfort her, given her condition.

She starts to wonder why she can’t hear any of them. Since they’re all different animals, she should still be able to understand some of them. Is she really just now thinking about how her powers work? She never thought about this before? Heck, I’d question why she can understand any animal she encounters, anywhere. I think the only animals she can’t understand are insects. They’re all different species! They all talk differently! How can she understand all of them!? Heck! How can they understand each other!?

I know, I’m questioning the logic of a superhero cartoon. But the show started it!

Then she notices Vinnie missing, and it seems she can still understand shoulder shrugs. The other pets didn’t even notice his absence before then.

But Vinnie’s not important. They need to help Blythe! They all propose different methods to cheer her up, failing to realize that won’t cure her illness.

I’d like to point out that Sunil’s idea of giving her a highly venomous snake isn’t that insane, given that mongooses are immune to snake venom. He just forgot that human’s aren’t.

So Blythe is trying to feel better, on her own, and she keeps taking the green medicine, hoping it will help. I could get into a skeptical rant, but it really isn’t worth it. Just know that just because someone says some herb will cure something, doesn’t mean it will. In fact, oftentimes, with herbal remedies, you might get lucky and find it does nothing. Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it’s good for you. There are too many deaths listed on that site, and way too many children.

Anyway, enough depressing stuff. The pets are trying to find Vinnie, but all they determine is that he’s missing. Well, that scene was pointless.

So a few hours later, Blythe is feeling a lot better. Roger offers her some more medicine, but Blythe is hesitant. He quickly looks at the label and notices the odd list of possible side effects.

May impair ability to juggle, knit sweaters, properly polish silver, rebuild car engines, wax surfboards, ride a unicycle, and understand pets.

Yep, turns out the cause of her ability-loss wasn’t the cold, Kryptonite, or a frog-like mutant. It was the damn herbal remedy! So Blythe’s Kryptonite is a green herbal cold remedy. Which makes sense, since it is green.

Roger with Kryptonite

Thanks a lot Roger! You bastard!

Anyway, after reading those side effects, he decides not to give her any more, and just let the cold run it’s course. Which begs the question: Why didn’t he read it sooner!? I don’t care what it’s for, what it’s made of, or where you got it. If you are gonna give your child a drug, you should read the motherloving label!!! Not doing so is just irresponsible.

So after Blythe’s back to normal; the cold is over, and the drug is out of her system; she takes the dumbwaiter to tell her friends the good news, and I guess to retest her abilities. Then Vinnie announces his arrival, confirming the return of her superpowers. And we get a happy ending.

But that’s just half the episode. And I was able to tell you all about it while barely mentioning the second half. Proving my point. You see, this whole superpower-loss of hers is actually more of a footnote. Let’s get on to the real story.

In the back alley behind Littlest Pet Shop, Vinnie’s trying to grab breakfast: a tiny house fly hanging out near a trash dumpster. But he keeps on wiping out, and getting covered in garbage juices. Ewwwwwwwww.

Penny comes out to tell him about Blythe’s predicament, and he says he’ll be right in, but instead continues his hunt. Then the garbage truck arrives. He somehow survives the trash compactor, and ends up at the city dump. A land teaming with flies. Or as he thinks of them: breakfast.

He starts leaping after the swarms, and they effectively dodge his attacks. But during one of his attempts, he impacts on a trash pile, destabilizing it, and it begins to teeter towards him. But before he’s crushed to death by a mountain of garbage, he’s pulled away by a swarm of flies coalescing into a giant hand. The flies saved his life, and he makes a new friend: The fly that called for help. It also happens to be the fly he was trying to eat earlier. Funny how that works.

I actually kinda like this. A former enemy becomes a close friend. Makes me think of that fanfic I still gotta write.

So they decide to head home, the fly leading the way. As they trek through the dump, Vinnie begins to hear noises. He ends up freaking out over a tape player, which is a bit out-of-character, since the expected reaction for Vinnie would actually be a big dance number.

Why would someone throw out a perfectly good tape player!? …with the batteries!?

Then, sneaking up on the duo, we meet the natives of the Downtown City Dump: Nameless Rat One, Nameless Rat Two, and Nameless Rat Three. They talk about the last insectivore to arrive at the dump: a singing anteater named Sally. I kinda want to meet Sally now.

Vinnie is intimidated by the rats, even though they haven’t actually done anything intimidating. Turns out they’re actually quite nice, and offer to guide him back home. After all, this is the big city. You may not notice, but the big city (heck, any city) is designed for humans. You ever see a small rodent or lizard wander the streets? The most you may see regarding wildlife in the city are insects and pigeons. The others don’t stand a chance. Cats can survive on the streets in the suburbs, but other animals in the commercial districts? Good luck!

They arrive at the front gate. Nameless Rat One gives Vinnie a few survival tips, and tells him to stay close.

You remember in the premiere, Zoe mentioned that Vinnie isn’t that bright? Well I think this episode supports that, but only barely. He still doesn’t act especially stupid. So that line still confuses me.

But it turns out Vinnie does have some incredibly bad luck, because in the first minute or so after exiting the dump, he has to dodge a moving truck, and a falcon (Wait, what’s a falcon doing in the city!?), before finding himself surrounded by a trio of vicious dogs.

Somehow they survive, but dangers still abound. Vinnie gets attacked by a fire hydrant, and a pile of birdseed before the trio finally find themselves in front of Littlest Pet Shop.

But, we still have five minutes left in the episode! It can’t end yet. So we’re introduced to a new character whom I’ve dubbed: Needless Padding. Though you may know her as Elmyra Duff.

If you don’t know who Elmyra Duff is, she’s the oblivious little girl from Tiny Toon Adventures who tortured her multitude of pets with affection. While she was probably well-intentioned, she was also unaware that the reason her pets kept trying to run away was because she was too possessive of them, and too controlling. She’d hug them way too hard, and generally be a complete pain. I always found her episodes to be the most painful and depressing. I just found it sad, and a bit irritating, that she was too stupid to ever clue-in to the damage she was doing.

Anyway, that’s basically this character. We meet her hand as it quickly grabs Vinnie and she pulls him into her house screaming, “Mommy, I found a baby alligator.”

The mother just ignores Needless’ announcement. So we have annoying kid, and neglectful parent. This is gonna work out well.

So Vinnie’s lizard-napped. His abductor dressed the lizard in a frilly pink dress, and stored him in a fishbowl covered by a book. Oh, yeah, sure, he won’t suffocate in that. He’ll be perfectly fine! I’m lying of course.

Needless Padding has renamed him, Princess Precious. But I can’t bother her for that. It can be hard to figure out what gender an animal is.

Anyway, Needless comes in and starts yelling at Vinnie, telling him to start playing with one of her dolls. You know, she even sounds like Elmyra, only somehow more irritating.

Needless steps out of the room, leaving Vinnie alone. Thankfully, our old friends, Fly and Rat, arrive to stage a jail break. The rat sits on the ceiling fan, lowering a string down for Vinnie to grab. Which begs the question: How’d he get up there, and what was the plan once Vinnie joined him?

Needless walks in, in the middle of their plan. But apparently Vinnie was high enough to be just outside her field of vision. I don’t see how, since she should have been able to see him once she opened the door. Maybe she’s nearsighted.

She eventually spots them, and is not happy with this turn of events. I’ve never seen such evil before. She turns on the fan, sending the trio spinning around and around and around, since for some reason, the fly is tied to the string. Apparently, Needless doesn’t really care if her newest pet becomes a red stain on her wall. Eventually they do fly off, but thankfully, they miss the wall and head straight out the window. The string getting caught on a horizontal flagpole, breaking their fall.

Vinnie finally returns to the pet shop, and is enthusiastically greeted by Blythe, who is so happy that she can understand them. Leaving Vinnie very confused.

Meanwhile, Rat and Fly watch the reunion, before deciding to celebrate with dinner, courtesy the Sweet Delights dumpster. I have a feeling this is gonna be the start of a beautiful spin-off series. At least it could. I’d watch it. I really hope we see these characters again. Them and Sally and Sugar Sprinkles.

So that was this week’s episode, and what was I getting at? Essentially that this whole episode was actually two episodes that were smooshed together unnecessarily. We got the scenes with Vinnie, and the rest of the episode. The connections between them are tangential at best. Blythe notices Vinnie’s absence, but it doesn’t actually change anything. It doesn’t give the pets further motivation to cure Blythe, nor does it give Blythe further motivation to get better. The pets acknowledge Vinnie’s absence, but don’t actually do anything about it. They don’t try to find him (not really), nor do they try to cover for him. Since the last time a pet walked off, the others were quite worried Twombly would notice and have a conniption or something. That plot device seemed to be a one-time thing.

On the flip side, Blythe’s power-loss doesn’t affect Vinnie in any way. There’s one scene at the beginning when Penny tells him to come in so they can help Blythe, but he ignores her, so it’s moot. Then the ending, when Blythe mentions her power-loss, but he just acts confused.

Obviously, this episode was just supposed to be about Vinnie trying to get back to the pet shop, but the writer couldn’t come up with enough material, so he weaved in the power-loss plot as padding.

You know what? I just had a thought. An herbal remedy disabled Blythe’s powers. I wonder which herb did it. We know she used to live in the suburbs, and she developed her powers once she moved to the city. What if there’s a connection? What if she always had this power? We always assumed it was the Frisbee hitting her in the head. But what if it wasn’t? What if she always had this power? What if it was genetic? But, like Superman, her powers were repressed under a red sun. I mean, in a neighbourhood that had pollen floating through the air. Maybe a specific type of pollen.

Here’s what I’m suggesting: Blythe always had these powers, and it actually runs in the family. Probably from her mother’s side. But a specific herb has a tendency to repress her powers. A herb that is not only a crucial agreeing in that medicine, but also quite prevalent in her old neighbourhood. It would explain why didn’t have those powers before moving, without the ridiculous flying Frisbee explanation. A Frisbee hits her and it just happens to reorganize her brain in such a way that she can now talk to animals? Give me a break.

But if I’m right, it’ll give this episode a reason to exist. Think about it, writers!

So yeah, tangential storylines notwithstanding, was the episode good? Well, it wasn’t bad. The musical number was completely incongruous with the rest of the episode, and came completely out of nowhere. The entire episode lacked focus. Plus, it felt a bit pointless. Like it was just filling an episode number. It also felt like a missed opportunity. Like the majority of the episode should have featured the pets actively trying to find a way to cure Blythe so she could help them find Vinnie.

I didn’t hate it though, it was entertaining enough. No real complaints.

Next week, Blythe and co. (or at least, the co. that are human) enter a baking contest against the Biskits. Love to see where they go with this. If only because we might get some more character development out of those two. They’re like two halves of an irritating enigma. I love them.

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