One of the biggest concerns I had when I started watching Littlest Pet Shop involved the character of Sunil.
Sunil, for those who forget, is a mongoose. And mongooses, specifically the Indian gray mongoose, which might come in a blue variety, are well-known for their ability to kill snakes, particularly cobras. This is because of their immunity to most snake venoms, their agility, and their thick coats.
However, in the wild, they don’t generally go after cobras. Snakes are a part of their diet, but not specifically cobras. It is a common misconception however, so the fact that Sunil hates cobras is fine by me in that respect.
That being said, this plot point always bothered me because it kinda feels a bit racist in this context. In a world where all animals are sentient, having one animal hate an entire species is problematic. Would they ever portray this on-screen?
Would they ever feature an episode where a friendly cobra ends up in the day camp, and everyone likes him, but Sunil is a racist jackass?
Well this week, they did have the opportunity to bring it up, but danced around it a bit, and seemed to have avoided this issue without anyone acknowledging it as an issue.
Not that I’m complaining per say. They don’t have to cover racism on the show. It’d just be nice if they did. And given that they had the opportunity and wasted it…
But how’d they waste it?
Well, the episode starts at the pet shop, where it’s been raining for three days straight.
Wait, what!? Three days!? Hurricane Sandy again?
Anyway, everyone’s getting restless being cooped up inside. Except Sunil, who’s enjoying the rainy days. Which is partly because he’s a hypochondriac and a coward.
Nonetheless, Blythe promises to take them all out once the rain lets up. Despite Sunil’s tentative objections.
Meanwhile, at Largest Ever Pet Shop, Fisher Biskit is extremely proud that he finally found a buyer for an endangered snake he’s been holding, which his daughters let escape. Because they’re idiots.
So when he can’t find it in the shop, the man realizes it’s most likely in Downtown City Park, a rectangular park in the middle of town.
It’s Central Park, they’re not even being subtle.
Meanwhile, Blythe brought the pets on a walk, which Sunil ain’t happy about.
She lets them go off leash, which I’m not sure is legal, but whatever.
Then Sunil gets dragged off by a mysterious tidal wave.
Where’d that come from? Well seems that because the park’s reservoir was so full, from the rainstorm, one of the levees burst.
That’s not how water pressure works.
Anyway, he ends up in a different part of the park, where a tribe of indigenous raccoons drag him off.
They bring him to their chief, and the odd thing is, none of them speak english.
We have a language spoken by mongooses, dogs, skunks, geckos, hedgehogs, pandas, monkeys, snakes, pigeons, rats, octopuses, parrots, cats, squirrels, and bunnies. So why not raccoons?
Thankfully, we have our stoner pigeon character, the only one who can understand racoon.
He explains that something trashed their home. An evil son of a bitch! A cobra!
Sunil reacts accordingly.
But it begs the question: What the hell did the cobra do to destroy the log that they lived in!? Seriously, I don’t ever think I’ve heard of a snake acting like a woodworm.
So the cobra arrives on-screen. By the way, it’s the same cobra the Biskits are looking for.
Anyway, the cobra and Sunil face off, which surprises the cobra for a second. Because being from India, he never met an Indian gray mongoose.
So, yes, Sunil wipes the floor with him, and he makes a strategic retreat.
In response, the raccoons turn the mongoose into their king.
Meanwhile, on the other side of park, Blythe runs a headcount, and realizes the blue one’s missing. She informs the others, and the green one, the pink one, the orange one, the grey one, and the two purple ones suddenly panic.
Why are they panicking? I don’t understand that.
I mean, Blythe panicking, I can understand, the pets are her responsibility. But the pets panicking and running around like idiots seems strange.
But while the others were acting nuts, Penny started investigating, spotting the Biskits talking to some maintenance men. Fisher having dragged his whiny daughters along, since it was their fucking fault.
Anyway, because our heroes don’t hear the word ‘cobra,’ and they do hear the word ‘India,’ they assume Fisher wants to steal Sunil, since he’s missing and they don’t actually know that Fisher’s not evil.
Actually, no one on this show’s evil. I know some’ll mention the Biskit twins, but they’re just stupid. Which is one of the things I never mentioned, but kinda like. Evil is not really a quality that exists in the general population. And accurate portrayal in fiction is even rarer. Just saying someone’s evil is way too easy for writers, and I, personally, am sick of it. Giving more complexity to antagonists, explaining their motivations, and reasoning, and even providing a crude psychological profile, can add a lot to a story.
Anyway, the raccoons are worshiping Sunil, who’s milking it. But when he decides to leave, they don’t let him.
Yeah, he’s being held captive. They want him to be their guardian against the cobra. Well, that’s… oh boy. Though it does make sense.
Back to the Biskits, Fisher rents a duck boat, and hops in, but the girls object because it’s a duck boat.
Blythe then rents her own boat, and follows. Where did they get life jackets that small!?
I guess it’s health and safety. They can’t portray characters not wearing proper safety equipment on a kids show.
Meanwhile, the Biskits convince their father to pull the boat over, because they’re having problems finding 3G coverage in ersatz Central Park. Which I find bizarre. It’s in the middle of the city!
Anyway, Zoe finally picks up Sunil’s scent, and she leads them in the right direction.
They rescue Sunil from the racoons, just as the cobra shows up again, demanding a rematch.
Then Blythe interrupts the conflict, and tries to negotiate a truce. Apparently, the cobra’s merely attacking because of his instincts, and cobras and mongooses are mortal enemies. Which explains the character’s motivations.
Yeah, they’re really dancing around the issue aren’t they? Because it explains nothing! Yeah, sure, it’s cobra instincts to attack a wooden log. But you’re a thinking, sentient being! You can go against your instincts! I’m just not buying it! It doesn’t make sense in the context of the show.
I think it’s an attempt by the writers to explain Sunil’s speciesism. By saying: No, it’s okay, all cobras really are bad. Therefore, he’s right to hate them all, and place flaming wooden crosses on their front lawns.
No, it’s not okay. Now it is true that, in this episode, he didn’t immediately attack the cobra, and he was only defending the racoon tribe. But during episode four last season, he attacked them indiscriminately. Sure, it was a fantasy sequence, but the point still stands.
I can only hope they deal with this in some way in the future. A cobra shows up at the pet shop, is nice, and we’ll see how Sunil reacts.
So, Blythe forces them to become friends, by telling them to introduce themselves.
Sunil: Hello, I am Sunil.
Cobra: I am Steve.
BWUHAHAHAHAHA!! I don’t know why, that just cracks me up! A cobra named Steve. It’s just… HA!
So, it appears to work. But the cobra’s still resistant. He won’t be taken back to the pet shop!
Yeah, they realize Fisher was searching for the snake instead, because that would actually make sense.
So Blythe comes up with a plan.
Steve (HA!) appears before the twins, who just happen to be nearby, looking for a signal, somehow getting covered in dirt and bugs and brambles.
How’d that happen!? I mean, I understand they’re in the bush, but I’ve been in the bush. That doesn’t happen to me, and while that kinda stuff would bother me, not as much as it would bother the Biskit twins.
Though it is funny.
Anyway, he chases them off, and they make a run back to the boat, where they push their father out and make a break for it.
Yeah, they’re grounded.
Then Steve (HA!) gets captured by the maintenance men to be brought to the local zoo, much to his satisfaction.
I call that a win.
Though I don’t understand why. It’s Fisher’s snake, it should go back to him, and selling snakes as pets is not illegal. It’s stupid as hell, but not illegal.
As the episode ends, we see stoner pidgeon telling Shivers the tale of the Racoon King.
So, great episode overall.
But unfortunately, nothing’s blown me away this season. No creepy stalker Sue, no Penny Ling tearing an easy chair in half, no spy mystery featuring a Siamese cat and no car chase with a stoner cat living in a van.
Bring back Sugar Sprinkles!