Are You Afraid of the Dark

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E6 “The Tale of the Dark Dragon”

Growing up, “The Tale of the Dark Dragon” was one of my absolute favourite Are You Afraid of the Dark? episodes. My older sister and I were obsessed with the movie Teen Witch. And there was something so glamorous about magic that could transform you.

The magic in “The Tale of the Dark Dragon” is much darker and twisted than Teen Witch (there’s also a lot less rapping). It’s Gary’s birthday so the Midnight Society surprise him with balloons. David tells him that he has a special magic story for Gary, borrowing one of Gary’s own characters.

Keith is a young high school boy suffering from low self-esteem after suffering injuries in a car crash. He walks with a limp and needs a brace for his leg. The accident has left him with a personality that makes him virtually invisible.

The school dance is approaching, and poor Keith is trying to attract the attention of Shelly, a girl whose boyfriend’s name is Gary (why David decided to name the worst character in the story after Gary is beyond me. Happy birthday?). When he notices Shelly and Gary are not speaking to each other, he gets the courage to ask her to the dance. But Shelly politely turns him down.

Later, Keith is going through the newspaper where he sees an ad for Sardo’s Magic Mansion. The ad claims to be selling a potion that is able to “bring out the best” in whoever takes it. Keith goes to meet Sardo, who is a bit clueless as to which potion Keith is talking about. But he eventually finds it, and sells it to the boy.

Sardo tells Keith that he can only have a drop of the potion at a time. While he at least knows it’s powerful, he doesn’t exactly know what the potion does. Keith puts a drop into a rabbit’s cage to test the potion, and sees that it works instantly.  Keith walks out the shop with his potion, but doesn’t see that the rabbit turns into a literal fanged monster.

Keith takes his first drop of potion (which seems to be pretty damn painful), and in the morning wakes to find that he’s exactly the same feeling suave, doesn’t need his brace anymore, and has the ability to wear leather jackets and style his hair.

With his newfound confidence, Keith goes to the local diner and chats up Shelly. Only he introduces himself as KC, Keith’s cousin. Thankfully this episode avoids that “two-places-in-once” slapstick stuff. Alas, it’s hilarious how much this boosts Keith’s confidence. For some reason I didn’t remember this part of the episode, and I started choking on my lunch.

As all cautionary tales go, things begin going awry. Each morning after Keith takes the potion, he returns to normal. He begins to do struggle in school and finds that he’s getting strange lesions on his  skin. It’s clear that it’s all related to the potion, but it doesn’t stop him from constantly taking it. He asks Shelly to the dance again (as KC), and she accepts as he stupid boyfriend Gary hasn’t bothered to ask her.

That next morning, Keith wakes up with a furry face and fangs.

Keith goes to Sardo’s shop for help, and the two look at the potions book together. They discover that there’s a second page to the potion that says “before bringing out the best, one must fight the dark dragon within”. Neither knows what the hell the dark dragon is.

Meanwhile, Keith’s friend Mariah has been watching him. She’s clearly into the boy: leg brace or no. She sees Keith running from his house to Sardo’s, so she tries to confront him when he gets home. He won’t open the door for her, scorning her for yet another time.

But Keith doesn’t have time for fangs! He has a dance to attend! Keith goes to the school and takes his drop of potion, turning him into KC again. He enters the dance and sees Shelly, who doesn’t look too happy that Gary is dancing with another girl.

Gary wins a trophy for best athlete, and dedicates his trophy to Shelly – the number one girl in his life. He asks her to dance, and Shelly happily agrees. Not even a potion can win poor Keith what he wants.

Then a girl enters the room, and it’s clearly Mariah but she’s taken off her glasses (the 90’s, man). She explains that she loves him, and now that she’s a pretty girl, he can love her too. It’s so painful, but AYAOTD just managed to sum up being a sad, desperate teenager in one go.

Keith looks pretty happy to be dancing with her, but she begins to double up in pain. She explains that she went into his locker and drank the entire bottle of the potion. She begins to quickly turn into a monster, and Keith believes she’s dying. Begins to cry and his tears and remorse land on Mariah’s shoulder. Suddenly, Mariah and Keith both find themselves completely okay.

Keith, having realised that there are people who loved him for who he was, managed to beat the dark dragon that was within him since the car accident. Mariah clearly remembers nothing about what happens, but the two go off together back to the dance.

Why does this episode get to me so much? Probably because I love 80’s movies and this was exactly like a horror-tv-show version of a John Hughes film. With bonus magic! Why the hell didn’t John Hughes ever put magic into his movies? Science? Fine. But we need potions, people!

It is a bit cheesy, but I love the message of self-acceptance. And even characters like Shelly and Gary were more complex than just the typical “good looking and mean” side characters.

Go and watch this damn episode now, people. Watch it now!


Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E5 “The Tale of the Dream Machine”

If there’s one thing to take away from this story it’s this: teenage boys and their dreams are both creepy and dangerous.

It’s Kiki’s turn to tell a tale, but she arrives late with a typewriter in hand. She tells the rest of the Midnight Society that she has laryngitis and asks Gary for help. He agrees to read her story for her, a story that begins with the warning that once a writer has their story read, it no longer belongs to the author, but the story takes a life of its own.

Student Sean is a writer and a dreamer. And his favourite thing to write and dream about is his classmate Jennifer, who mostly thinks of Sean as a just a friend. His best friend Billy loves reminding Sean of his failures to capture Jennifer’s heart.

One day after school, Billy goes to Sean’s house, which is parents recently bought. The house is a bit of a disaster zone as Sean’s parents fix it up. The boys ignore a Danger sign, and Billy’s foot goes through one of the steps. The boys then discover a small room under the stairs filled with old newspaper clippings about a mystery author who disappeared and was found murdered a year later.

The boys also find an old type writer. Sean brings it up to his room. After Billy leaves, Sean begins writing a short story titled “The Halloween Dance” on the typewriter. In his story, he appears as a Dracula-style character who dances all night with the Princess Jennifer. And right before the night ends, Vampire Sean pulls Jennifer into a corner where he bites her neck.

Sean ends his story and heads to sleep, completely unaware that Jennifer has awoken from a nightmare where she’s been bitten by a vampire at a Halloween dance. The next day at school, Jennifer tells Sean about her dream.

Sean later tells Billy that Jennifer’s dream was just like his short story. Unsurprisingly, Billy doesn’t believe him. At Sean’s house, Billy gets bored and takes a nap while Billy decides to work on his short story for a homework assignment. This one is entitled “Trapped,” which stars Billy as a boy who falls into an empty grave while looking for the tombstone of the ghost Blind Paul. Billy eventually gets buried alive and can’t escape.

As Sean finished typing his story, Billy wakes up afraid. Billy begins to tell Sean about his dream when Sean shows him what he’s just finished writing. The boys come to the conclusion that the typewriter is actually a dream machine: a machine that can create someone’s dreams.

That night, Sean starts another short story in which he tells Jennifer about the dream machine and then kisses her (which is mega creepy, if you ask me). And  the following day, Jennifer is invited over to Sean’s house. She, Sean and Billy discuss the dream machine and what it could mean.

Billy grabs Sean’s “Halloween Party” story and begins to read it aloud. As he reads, the typewriter begins to glow green and Sean and Jennifer suddenly find themselves in the dream, only they’re aware this time. They try to change what they’re doing, but they keep following the pattern of the story.

Sean and Jennifer only escape the story when Billy stops reading, right before he gets to the ending where Vampire Sean bites Jennifer. They realise that they were transported into the dreams. It all seems fine, until Sean remembers that he turned in “Trapped” for his homework.

The three children run to the school to shop their teacher from reading the short story. But when they arrive, she’s nowhere to be found (she’s on an exercise bike while reading pastries – girl is living the dream). Billy suddenly disappears back into the dream graveyard. The teacher continues writing the story, and she still can’t be found.

In a panic, Sean sits own at the typewriter and begins to type. He pulls the paper from the machine and has Jennifer read it aloud, making it come true. Sean’s paper says that none of the dreams in his stories came true, which pulls Sean out of the coffin and back into the real world.

They’re caught by their teacher, and they play it off. But Sean has defeated the machine, for now. The Midnight Society enjoy Kiki’s story, but when Gary finishes, they notice that she’s gone, with the typewriter in her place. They read the short story and see that it’s about each of them getting chased be a headless warrior. Creeped out, they end the meeting and leave in silence.

The best part of “The Tale of the Dream Machine” is that it’s something you almost wish could happen. Granted, having grizzly ends for every short story wouldn’t be ideal, but who hasn’t wanted to live one of their dreams? As long as there is dream police, it could work out, right? Har har har.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E4 “The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor”

You know, usually I like to start with a bit of an intro or anecdote before jumping into these recaps. But really, all I came up with for this week was when I was little, my sister used to play this game in the pool where she pretended to be George Washington.

So, on that note. “The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor.”

It’s Betty Ann’s turn. She’s a fun, twisted little one. Her story is about the the strangers amount us, those who we see every day but maybe don’t know as well as we think we do.

Brother and sister Billy and Karin like to play on the empty thirteenth floor of their apartment complex. Karin, who is adopted, lacks her brother’s sporting abilities. He’s agile and has great hand-eye coordination. And Karin…well, lacks.

While playing hockey on the abandoned floor one day, the room begins to shake and the siblings see a bright flashing light through the windows. The two decide to leave, but when they reach the elevator, they see that their usual elevator operator has gone and has been replaced by a tall man in his best Black Lodge outfit.

That night, Karin’s television turns on by itself. A man appears telling Karin that “they came for a little visit”. The girl shrugs it off, thinking she’s having a dream, but in the morning, she and Billy are told that new tenants have moved into the thirteenth floor and they can no longer play up there.

Karin receives a letter without any postage or mailing address. Inside the envelope is a invitation for her to visit the new Toy Factory that has opened up on the thirteenth floor. She seems a bit reluctant because the games are all sports-related. But Billy insists that she goes – and brings him with.

Again while Karin sleeps, the television turns on, begging Karin to go to the factory. In her sleepy state, she agrees. In the morning, Billy and Karin go up to the top floor together. They find in place of the empty, dusty room is a brightly-coloured maze of toys.

Billy and Karin are greeted by Olga, who looks less than happy that Billy has joined. Olga tells the children that they need only one child for testing, but Karin insists that Billy stays or she leaves. Olga reluctantly agrees, and leads the children into a room filled with more games and toys where the man from Karin’s “dream” awaits them.

The man, Raymond, looks as annoyed as Olga when he sees Billy. But nevertheless sits the children down to a sort of Simon Says-style game. Karin loses the first few rounds to her brother, but after each round, Raymond turns a wheels. Billy gets slower and Karin becomes more agile.

When Karin wins the game, she is brought to the next game while Billy takes a snooze on the Simon Says game pad. In this game, Karin is strapped to a chair. Raymond tells Karin to move a ball on the other side of the room with her mind. Karin, clearly thinking it’s a bit silly, tries any way and succeeds.

Raymond turns the wheel again, and it begins to hurt Billy. Karin protests, but Raymond says she needs to get used to the atmosphere so she can be sent back to the ship. As Karin tells him she doesn’t want to go, Raymond removed his face revealing a blank alien face.

Freaked, Karin tries to wake Billy to escape with him, only she finds he is unresponsive. She uses her new telekinetic powers to escape from Raymond. She freezes Raymond with a button from the control device she finds. Though while hiding in the air duct, she’s discovered and chased by the un-frozen Raymond.

Karin finally manages to get to Billy and begins dragging him through the factory. When they get to the elevator, they’re stopped by the elevator operator. He tries to persuade Karin that she needs to leave on the spaceship. She still declares that she doesn’t want to go.

Meanwhile, Olga and Raymond panic. They have only so much atmosphere left until they will be forced to leave Earth. They continue to try to get Karin to join them, but she eventually escapes with Billy.

The brother and sister collapse in Karin’s bedroom, where the television turns on by itself yet again. Olga appears and says that they were only trying to rescue Karin, who had been left behind on Earth 10 years before. They needed 10 years to gain enough atmosphere to go to Earth, and it will be another 10 years before they can come back and try to save her again.

Billy looks to his sister and asks what Olga is talking about. Only Karin doesn’t seem to be there anymore, but a face-less alien sits in her place.

This was a fun little episode. It’s certainly one of the more ambitious ones, trying to set up an entire alien reality in less than 20 minutes.  The twist ending is pretty great, too. Though I’m not entirely convinced of Betty Ann’s message. Be careful because adopted kids might be aliens?

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E3 “The Tale of Locker 22”

Oh season 2, you hit-and-miss little mess. “The Tale of Locker 22” is one of the most weirdly subdued episodes yet. We’ll not say it’s bad, but just incredibly “meh,” which isn’t a great thing, to be fair.

Kristen’s turn again, and the Midnight Society all awaits what outfit she’s going to wear. She arrives in a costume-shop “hippie” outfit that she claims she found in the attic. Her parents clothes, apparently. She tells the gang that the saying goes that we are doomed to repeat history’s mistakes if we don’t learn from them, but in her story – it’s the lessons of the present that are more important.

“The Tale of Locker 22” follows French transfer student Julia as she settles into her first day at her incredibly-large Canadian school. She has a pretty tough time of it. Her dusty old locker is miles away from anything else, the bullies target her immediately, and she’s pretty crap at chemistry.

All of her troubles attract the attention of assistant principal Mr Shaffner, who makes it a point to single her out. But she does manage to become friendly with a fellow classmate, Chris, who tries to take her under his wing.

But the worst thing about Julia’s first day at school is the hippie ghost girl following her around. She confides what she’s seen to Chris, thinking that she can trust him, but when she gets a prank call from the bullies that night, she knows he’s told someone.

The next day at school a beaded necklace falls from her locker. When she puts them on, she finds herself still in the familiar hallways of her school, but just filled with a bunch of stoners and hippies. The ’60s, right?

But the one clue she does spot is that her locker, grimy and old in the present, is brightly coloured and painted with a flower and the name Candy. A girl approaches Julia and begins to call her Candy, implying that Julia is living in Candy’s place.

Julia removes the necklace and finds herself back in the present. She finds Chris and asks for his help. Together they go back in time and find themselves face-to-face with a ’60’s version of Mr Shaffner, who is now the chemistry teacher. He tells Candy/Julia to hurry up as he’s offered to help her with an exam.

The same girl from Julia’s last visit to the past invites the two kids over to her house to listen to The White Album. Julia and Chris return to the present, and with their Beatles clue, they begin to dig through the school’s records.

They eventually learn that Candy died in 1968, the year The White Album came out. With enough adventures that day, Chris and Julia decide to part ways for the day.

Before leaving school, Chris speaks to an older teacher, who tells him that Candy was a sweet student who died in an fire caused by an explosion in the chemistry lab. Unbeknownst to Chris, silly Julia has decided to go back in time yet again.

Julia follows ’60’s Shaffner to the chemistry lab where he tells her to get on with her exam. She admits that she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing. But the teach tells her that’s the point of the exam. Both are ignorant to the fact that the hose for the gas has rotted away, leaking gas into the room.

Candy appears to Chris in the present, alerting the boy to the fact that Julia is in trouble. He manages to get back in time, and stop the accident before it happens. He points out the rotten equipment to Mr Shaffner before making a get away with Julia.

The two students return to the present and find themselves face-to-face with a woman. She introduces herself as the assistant principal, Miss Warner. Chris and Julia realise that it’s Candy, and she’s been saved from her doom.

It’s a straight-forward one, this tale. If a bit basic. The hilariously bad ’60’s lingo is pretty fun. And I love that Are You Afraid of the Dark? interprets all students in the ’60’s as hippie stoners that say “peace” and “far out” all the time. But alas, it’s an episode that’s easy to move on from. Even the episode seems to know this, as the scenes from the Midnight Society are brief as well.

They all go around sharing their favourite slang terms leaving poor Frank with the dumbest one:

Highlight quotes of the episode:

“Neato!” – poor Frank

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E2 “The Tale of the Midnight Madness”

This is actually one episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? that I kind of wish could come true. Classic horror movie characters coming to life in a landmark cinema? Yes please.

This is Frank’s first story on screen since the first episode with “The Tale of the Phantom Cab”. And since this is a Frank story, Dr Vink makes an appearance. But first, Kiki and David make a bit of a scene over their tickets for Fright Night, the horror triple-feature at their cinema. Frank tells them that there’s no way he’d ever go back to Fright Night. If you sit too long in the theatre, you forget what’s real. Sometimes movies are so real, you can’t tell the difference.

“The Tale of the Midnight Madness” takes place in a cinema, just like Fright Night. It’s a run-down place with a lot of history and very few customers. But usher Pete is in love with The Rialto, and his co-worker Katie. The boy would do anything to save the cinema, which is jeopardy of being closed down.

Each day, Pete stands outside handing out fliers to save The Rialto and made it a landmark, but the attendance just goes down. All looks bleak when one night, Dr Vink arrives at the cinema.

The weird doctor tells Katie and Pete and their boss Mr Kristoph that he has a way to save The Rialto. He also claims to be a filmmaker and possesses a film of his that could bring the customers flocking back.

He tries to make a deal with Mr Kristoph: show the film one night a week and if it brings in customers, the Rialto will screen Mr Vink’s other films one night a week. Mr Vink says he won’t take any payment, so Mr Kristoph agrees.

Only the cinema workers all forget about the film, and it sits forgotten in the projection room. Weeks later, Mr Kristoph tells Katie and Pete that the Rialto will close in two weeks. Dejected, Pete continues with his shift when the film in the projector becomes ruined. The kids know they’ll have to refund the audience, but Pete suddenly remembers the film Mr Vink brought.

Katie offers the customers a full refund if they don’t like the other film they have, so the audience decides to stay and watch Mr Vink’s film. The film in the canister is an old black-and-white version of Nosferatu where the vampire wins in the end. The audience all love it and vow to return, none of them leave asking for a refund.

And after that, The Rialto’s sales begin to boom. Nosferatu becomes a hit and the midnight screenings (dubbed Midnight Madness) begin to sell out. The Rialto is seemingly saved, that is until Mr Vink returns to see that Mr Kristoph’s end of the bargain is upheld. Mr Kristoph denies Mr Vink his weekly showings, saying he has blockbuster movies to show now.

Mr Vink leaves, and things take a sinister turn in the cinema. While watching Nosferatu by himself one day, Pete dozes off but sees the vampire escape through the screen. He tells himself he dreamed it, and goes to tell Katie. But they soon discover that the vampire is very real and has bit Mr Kristoph.

Pete has an idea to lure the vampire back into the film by having Katie play it again. The boy leaps into the screen, coaxing the vampire to follow him into the movie. Pete defeats the vampire by pulling the curtain from the window, dosing the vampire in sunlight like the death of Petyr.

Pete and Katie celebrate their victory, and are joined by Mr Kristoph, who doesn’t remember anything about the incident. But their happiness is quickly ended when Mr Vink arrives again. He delivers the news that he’s bought the Rialto. He then informs them that he can show is movies every single night. Movies that are far better.

As Frank’s tale ends, the Midnight Society look a bit more than spooked. Kiki and David both agree to skip Fright Night, claiming to be tired. They gladly hand over their tickets to Frank, who then invites Gary to join him. Sneaky bitch at his best!

I loved, loved, loved “The Tale of the Midnight Madness”. It taps into the inner-child and the horror-lover. It’s fun like Monster Squad and many 80’s films. That’s because the episode walks that fine line between characters to root for and a delightfully frustrating ending. I loved Katie and Pete, especially them together. Even the adults managed to not be irritating.

Plus the make-up and effects is pretty great in this episode. The vampire looks fantastic. It’s a tale that’s really a show in it’s top form.

Highlight quotes of the episode: 

“Let’s hug again!” – Pete, the world’s most adorable creep

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E1 “The Tale of the Final Wish”

Well, this was a weird one.

Season 2 of Are You Afraid of the Dark doesn’t really start off with a bang. Instead, it opens with another stylised tale from Kristen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably a Kristen if I was any member of the Midnight Society (unaware, easily irritated by others, unnecessarily dramatic). Though her stories don’t always work.

“The Tale of the Final Wish” is one that actually makes me a bit sad. Kristen dons a princess dress and brings a book of fairy tales to the meeting. Frank is not a fan. But the others quickly correct him, tell him about all the gruesome things that go on in the real fairy tales.

And Kristen tells them that her tale is what happens when a fairy tale becomes a scary story. At the centre of things is Jill, a 13-year-old girl who is still obsessed with fairy tales, sleeps with a stuffed animal, and doesn’t seem to be growing up as fast as her friends.

Her love for stories does everything to help her imagination run wild. She purposely tries to scare herself by convincing herself that there is something hidden under her bed. Her brother does his best to rile her up by wearing masks and playing other jokes on her.

Her “friends” at school aren’t really that great of friends. They laugh at her behind her back for being “immature” (because apparently being mature = wearing ugly jackets and being bitchy). The girls get worse when they think their crush is checking Jill out. When the boy comes to sit by them in the library to ask Jill about their homework, Jill’s friends take the opportunity to pull her fairy tale books out of her backpack so they can laugh at her.

Jill isn’t perfect, and not necessarily a complete victim either. She’s not exactly considerate of others, though I do think she’s trying. Like she does make her mother late for work, again, but only because she’s attempting to get ready to be more like her friends.

One night, after her brother plays another joke on her, Jill climbs up to her windowsill and holds on to her copy of The Sandman and Other Tales. The girl wishes upon a star, saying she just wishes people would leave her alone. Jill then climbs into bed to go back to sleep, but when she awakes again – things aren’t quite right.

Jill searches around her house and cannot find her family anywhere. That’s when a man crawls from under her bed, and with a gust of wind, sucks the girl down under with him.

Jill then finds herself in a vast space of a surrealist world. When he goes through a doorway covered in clocks, she finds a room filled with the floating bodies of sleeping people.

The man who brought her under the bed, tells her that he is the Sandman and they are in the Land of Nod. The people that are there will be trapped in his land, where they will leave Jill alone. He was the one that granted Jill her wish, that everyone would leave her alone. She then sees the bodies of her parents, brother and friends also floating in the same dreaming state.

Frightened by the weight of her wish, Jill tries to escape. She runs out of the room and tries opening several doors. She’s met with villains of other fairy tales like the Queen of Hearts and the witch from Hansel and Gretel.

But she returns to the Sandman, complaining that what she got wasn’t what she wished for. He tells her that fairy tales cannot change, and that she is stuck with what she wished for.

Jill then finds a large hourglass, which she begins to threaten to break. The Sandman tells her that he can put her to sleep as well, tipping Jill off to the fact that the fairy tale could change. She smashes the hourglass and awakes back in her bed, screaming.

Jill’s family race into her bedroom, and everything seems to be back to normal. Jill tells her mother that she is ready to give up fairy tales finally. The family go back to bed, and all seems to be well, until the Sandman’s voice-over.

“If only she knew…she would never have gone back in the bed again! The End.”

I’m not going to lie, I don’t actually think Jill needs to grow up. Being into fantasy is not a problem. The message of this episode is basically, “Like what we like, Jill. Conform. Grow the fuck up.” Which is pretty unfair. Plus she had the best outfits. If the episode had focused more on Jill being irresponsible, that might have been better. But equating the enjoyment of reading to being immature doesn’t really work.

Weirdly, the people mocking Jill don’t actually learn a lesson. They get put to sleep for a night (horrible, I know). What is the message to be learned here? Not that there needs to be a lesson, but the episode was clearly trying to convey something. “Be careful what you wish for” is a bit fucking old.

Anyway, Jill would totally be my BFF. Unicorns forever, bitch.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S1E13 “The Tale of the Pinball Wizard”

My husband rarely sits down to watch my stuff for work with me, but he has been enjoying the odd episode of AYAOTD? This one, though, he did not hesitate to tell me how shit it was. And I have to agree with him.

“The Tale of the Pinball Wizard” is the very definition of silly.  Even as the episode opens with the Midnight Society, it’s clear that everyone left their acting chops at home for the week.

They all fight over a game that has been brought to the meeting. Kristen enlists a good eye roll to show she doesn’t approve. But thankfully Gary arrives to tell his story.

Unlike the handheld game that contains a handy reset button, the game in Gary’s tale does not. “The Tale of the Pinball Wizard” follows Ross. a fairly independent kid who spends much of his time alone. Ross is also an idiot.

He likes to spend his time stealing change to play the pinball machine in Olson’s repair shop in the mall. One day, Ross asks Olson if he can have a job at the shop since the boy who worked there before was fired. Olson seems plenty weary of Ross, and tells him no. But as he’s closing up the shop for his lunch, Ross pleads Olson to let him watch the shop while Olson goes to lunch.

Olson reluctantly agrees and tells Ross he can watch the shop only if he doesn’t touch anything – including the antique pinball machine in the shop’s backroom.

While tending the shop, a girl walks in asking Ross if her music box is fixed. Ross is immediately smitten with the girl, who introduces herself as Sophie. They eventually find the box, which is a throne, and realise it isn’t yet fixed. Sophie promises to go back to the shop when Olson is back.

Once he’s alone again, Ross immediately gets himself by playing the forbidden pinball machine. He notes that it’s a three-level game in which he needs to obtain a key, a crown and a thrown in order to crown the princess and win. But the boy is so into the game, that by the time he beats it he realises that there is now nighttime and the mall is seemingly close.

A payphone rings and Ross answers it, and suddenly it begins to rain quarters. The greedy boy hops into the mall’s fountain and beings to pocket the change when he notices a group of robotic men marching past. He notes that they seem to afraid of the rain.

Then from above, a girl yells for help. Ross notices that it’s Sophie, now donned in a princess dress from a cheap costume shop. Holding her back is the mall security guard, now dressed like a evil lord. Sophie manages to throw a key down to Ross, telling him to open the vaults with it.

Ross gets the key away from the robot men and realises that the “vaults” are the lockers. He opens several until he finds Sophie’s headband in one. As he grabs it, the escalator behind him lights up. He jumps on, and when he reaches the top, the headband has turned into a tiara.

Sophie yells for Ross (this happens a lot in this episode), and she runs away from him. He follows and runs into a witch, who blows some magic wind, causing him to slide back away from Sophie. The witch grabs the crown from Ross.

Next on Ross’ seemingly endless task list, Sophie tells him to find her music box. So Ross runs to Olson’s shop and looks for it, then finds Sophie tied up in the backroom (this bitch just appears everywhere). They find the throne, and then are attacked by an executioner with a mace.

As they leave the store, they see the witch about They finally find the music box and play the music, which causes the tiara to vanish from her hands. Sophie then tells Ross that they are in a game and that she needs to be crowned in order for Ross to win. But Soph is grabbed by the evil whatever again.

And god, it’s still not over.

Ross grabs the tiara and the throne and takes them both to the next level. When he places the throne on the ground, it grows to full size. When he sits down on the thrown, a man behind the chair begins to push him around… or, sorry, the throne “moves by itself”.

But Ross is pulled off the throne by the executioner and thrown into the elevator by the evil whatever and he returns to the first floor of the game. Somehow this doesn’t really matter, as he can just run up the escalators.

Ross spots the mace sitting by the bin, and realises he needs to use it to smash a glass display case containing a pair of squirt guns. He spots the evil lord/sheriff thing about to be crowned. Ross rushes to the platform, and begins to shoot at the characters with the water guns. He manages to get rid of all of them and crowns Sophie, winning the game.

Or so Ross thinks. After crowning Sophie, he finds himself at the beginning of the game again. When he looks up, he sees Olson’s face peering down at him, laughing. Olson tells Ross that the boy will be stuck in the game forever, forced to play it over and over again.

Then finally, it fucking ends.

Maybe I’m too much of a pinball “noob” but this story seems really detailed for a pinball machine. Wouldn’t a Dragon’s Lair-style arcade game make more sense? This was the 90’s, Canada. Stop pretending like you’re still 10 years behind the rest of us.

What a mess. This episode is silly, which is delightful, but it’s mostly just confusing and redundant. There’s too much running and yelling mayhem without the actual premise being set up properly. What’s Olson’s deal anyway? Is this man just an asshole? Does he like trapping little boys?

Gee. Way to ruin the season finale, Greg.

Anyway, that’s a wrap on season one! I’m rather looking forward to season 2. Hopefully there’s less of this around.