‘Final Space’ Returns to its Best Possible Form with “The Arachnitects”

When Mooncake is suddenly kidnapped by an unseen force, Gary and the Gang go on a cross-galaxy quest to get the little green guy back again as Tribore leaves the Crimson Sun to once again lead the resistance against whatever needs resisting.

So, my Mooncake theory was wrong. Occasionally, I can be and that’s fine. One of the things that I keep saying about movies and television series is that I am most entertained when I am surprised and I don’t see where the road is going and, in that respect — and after last week’s episode — I am happy… No, I am elated with “The Arachnitects,” an episode that not only manages to keep one guessing until the end but also weaves that mystery box into a funny and compelling story and, most surprisingly, manages to almost effortlessly interlace a “B” plot that is only tenuously connected to the “A” plot, but is able to survive on its own as a zany adventure divorced from the rest of the episode. It shouldn’t work, but it does as it is fueled by a one-man six-eyed charisma machine that is all out of fudges to give.

So, let’s talk about the main plot, the quest to retrieve and save Mooncake. Personally, I love how the crew of the Crimson Light is morphing into a family willing to do anything to save one of their own. Sure, Clarence is an entertaining holdout, but I just love how the crew unquestionably jumped into action as soon as Mooncake was kidnapped. I supposed this type of interaction is to be expected given that every member of the crew — Clarence excepted perhaps maybe — is a damaged individual. Gary with one dead parent and one absentee, Little Cato who is alone and full of guilt, Nightfall who has failed once again to save the Earth, Ash whose family sacrificed her sibling, and Fox who has obvious emotional issues (when are we going to get an episode about this guy?)… this is a crew who, in every sense of the word, has attracted each other in the cold vacuum of space and to see them leap into attention when one of them is taken was both exciting and heartwarming in its implication. Honestly, I even got a smile when Mooncake joined Clarence in space chess at the end — even that disgusting little weasel is becoming a member of the family.

What was probably most entertaining about “The Arachnitects” is how, despite the fact that the entire episode was a high-stakes quest, it never lost sight that Final Space is a comedy. The plot got weird, the jokes came and landed consistently, and I did laugh out loud more than once — I don’t mean that as slight, I mean that I rarely laugh out loud because that’s just my personality.

The information dump at the end of the episode was very well done in that, despite being an information dump, it didn’t feel like an information dump. Truthfully, between the weirdness and humor of the Arachnitects dialogue and the explanation of exactly what Mooncake is, the entire scene felt like a well-deserved and logical piece of the puzzle and, yes, I was surprised at the revelations of what the Titans are, the identity of the Big Bad that has been hinted at since the premiere of the first episode of the second season, and Mooncake’s role in all of it.

The end of the episode was also touching as Gary proved just how far he was willing to go to save his friend. Given the events in Gary’s life, loosing his dad, Quinn, Avacato, Galaxy One, and his mother, this is a guy who will do anything to keep who he has and damn the consequences and the universe. This is a man, despite his brashness and bravado, is still a lonely and frightened child who would have done the same thing if the Arachnitechs were taking Nightfall, Little Cato, and maybe even the newbies but not KVN because he’s a knob.

The only issue I had with the episode was that the return of Mooncake’s powers and his new power felt a little like an easy out. I’m someone who prefers more consequences from choices, but given that the episode was so entertaining and the consequences and new powers aren’t fully known yet, I’m more than happy to shut the heck up and let events unfold.

I will even give props on another nagging concern I’ve had with Final Space, the pacing. While most episodes this season have felt oddly rushed at the end, “The Arachnitects” displayed a leisurely confidence that I found very satisfying. Not only did I feel like the episode told a compelling and entertaining story, but I felt like the episode knew it as well and, of course, it was right.

The best outcome of “The Arachnitects” is that it has returned something to Final Space that has been lacking all season — the ticking clock. There really has been no sense of urgency to the series, but now that the Big Bad is making plans behind the scenes, I feel like the race against the clock has returned rather than the quiet space journey we’ve been witnessing.

In every confidence, I can say that “The Arachnitects” is the best episode of the season, which is saying a lot for a season that also contained “The Other Side” is no small declaration.

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