OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: You're In Control
April 8, 2018 9:49 AM - Season 1, Episode 53 - Subscribe

In the Season 1 finale, Lord Boxman's secret project is revealed, and Lakewood Plaza Turbo is in serious danger this time. Dendy enables K.O. to tap into his latent rage powers to transform into T.K.O. again, this time with greater control over him, but at what cost, and will it be enough? In the aftermath of the fight, there are interesting developments among the robots of Boxmore....

The season finale just aired, so I figured I'd jump ahead and post it. In the 47 episodes between where I am in the sequential writeups and here, a lot of the show has changed. Like Steven Universe, a deep underlying lore has begun to surface, and although it's not nearly as big as that show, it's still pretty profound. What follows involves heavy SPOILERS:

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First, the story so far--

About T.K.O. One of the things about Steven Universe is that, ultimately, Steven is incredibly good. Greg did a good job of raising him, and he's always had the Crystal Gems to rely on. K.O. is kind of an alternate version of that. He's good, but has deep issues.

Back in episode 25 (T.K.O.), we learned something troubling about our goofy little guy. Frustrations with his powerlessness, and possibly some daddy issues (brought out by Shadowy Figure), caused K.O. to undergo a transformation into a "turbo-powered" self called T.K.O. T.K.O. is extremely powerful (stronger than Mr. Gar!), but reckless and uncontrollable, and laid waste to the plaza. Although K.O. managed to regain control, since then, the others have been worried that T.K.O. might break out again.

In Episode 44 (Mystery Science Fair 201X), K.O.'s pal Dendy performed an experiment that allowed K.O. to transform into T.K.O. again, but managed to help K.O. seal him away. Dendy referred to the transformation as "turbo power," which may have something to do with the mysterious recurring power source called glorbs.

That brings us to this episode....

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Enid and Rad doing their dance is for K.O.'s video channel (episode 33). They really are an excellent double-act.

The anime-style eyecatches between the episodes are a nice touch. The second one says NOT FOR SALE OR RENT, a reference to anime fandubs.

The game the robots were playing, Golden Statues, was described in Ep 42 ("Villain's Night In"). When Darrell mentions his "hive mind," it has to do with the fact that each model of Boxman's robots has an existence greater than the individuals. Usually what this means is that individual robots can get blown up or melted down, but new ones rolling in off the assembly line will easily replace the destroyed ones. Here, Lord Boxman having the workfloor Darrells assist him with his project results in the Darrell hanging out with the others being distracted.

Among all the Darrells on the work floor, there's also a line of baby ducks parading through, and four Darrells sitting around a campfire, cooking a hot dog and singing a song. An important point is made here: Darrells, the assembly line drones Boxman made in great numbers, basically run the factory.

We get a look inside Darrell's room. How does a robot with a mind spread across hundreds or thousands of identical workers get just one bedroom? We aren't told. The room does contain his cowboy hat, his sailor suit, a toybox full of weapons, a roadway rug and a race car bed (with license plate DRRL). There is a sadness in all these accoutrements. Presumably they were all provided to a younger Darrell by a less jaded and frustrated Boxman, who has led them along all this time with promises of love for self-serving ends. There's even a trophy with one central eye on it and the note "#1 SON," although the 'N' is backwards.

"I gotta do something about that Boxman Junior!" Then, TAH-DAH, a still of Darrell's head with a look of recognition, over a banner reading "A SMART BOY." Oh brother. That's a phrase the show tends to use ironically. "I just have to do the most evil thing I can! SO evil that daddy will have to recognize me as the perfect son!"

Back to K.O. and Dendy, where we find out that Dendy's experiments into trying to unlock and control T.K.O. have continued. This might be the first hint that T.K.O. isn't actually evil, which is my suspicion, that K.O.'s suppressed rage is just misdirected. Dendy's experiments are a bit amoral, of course, since they involve manipulating K.O.'s emotions, but she still has a lot to learn herself.

The animation in the fights across both halves of this episode are excellent. My favorite moment is Boxman Jr. throwing up the alphabet blocks that read GET WRECKD, which become missiles that zoom at T.K.O.

When T.K.O. crashes through the Glorb Reactor, he ends up eating a couple of them, lending further credence to the theory that glorbs and "turbo power" are related somehow.

When Boxman Jr. hisses at T.K.O., the inside of his mouth is revealed to have multiple rows of radial teeth, like the sandworms from Dune.

Radicles says "Oh Cob!" at one point, the name of the corn-like deity who's looked down on the Plaza in a couple of episodes.

So, K.O. manages to defeat Boxman Jr., the day is saved, everyone expresses relief and congratulates K.O., who's now Level 1! The episode's over! Yay! Or is it....

And then.... Boxman and the other robots are crying over the defeat of Boxman Jr. Darrell enters the room in his sailor suit. "Hello family!" Heh heh heh.

There is an innocence in Darrell's treachery. Boxman: "You'll be sure to take out the Plaza for me, won't you? Boxman... Junior! My perfect, evil son!" Boxman wants evil. The purest form of evil is betrayal. Constantly seeking Boxman's approval, he actually hopes that Boxman will congratulate him for ratting him out to his board members, but Boxman was only for robot evil and initiative so long as it benefited him. And so... "That baby doesn't understand the first thing about being truly evil. But I sure do!"

Of course, it's the end result of the huge dysfunction of the Boxman robots, told to seek their creators' approval and love and obey him unquestioningly, while also being ruthlessly punished for failures. That one of them would rebel was probably just a matter of time. And Darrells are the most numerous, easily able to run the factory by themselves.

And so, Darrell presses the button on the control that fires Lord Boxman into the sun, and shouts "Bye daddy, I love you!" (Shannon looks particularly aghast.) Boxman flies right over the words "A Cartoon Network Original" and between the letters "O K" and "K O" from the opening to go pfft on the sunglasses-wearing sun. Is this really the end of Lord Boxman? We shall have to see... in Season 2, which is already confirmed, and even has a preview clip.

In the meantime, "There's a new daddy in town. Eeeh heh heh heh!" THE END

And now, at the end....
There are some fairly substantial hints that Shadowy Figure (the creeper who helped K.O. channel his anger into T.K.O.), Professor Venomous (Lord Boxman's client and ally), and Laserblast (missing hero from P.O.I.N.T. and Carol's former lover) are all the same person: they have similar builds, bits of their characters line up, and they're all voiced by Steven Ogg. If that's so, then T.K.O.'s presence, needed to overcome the Boxman Jr. robot made possible by Professor Venomous' chip, was likely no accident. And if Venomous is actually Carol's former lover Laserblast, that means....
posted by JHarris (3 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm going to wait and see if there's further interest in writing up the show from the beginning before I make any more posts on it. I think its something special, but I don't want to feel like I'm pushing it on anyone.
posted by JHarris at 10:59 AM on April 8, 2018

I like these posts, so consider this a vote for making more. I've watched about half of the first season and I like OK KO, but it hasn't hooked me the way Steven Universe did. I'm not entirely sure why. I feel like it has something to do with how less grounded OK KO is, there's always a lot going on and it feels very much like anything can happen so it makes what actually does happen have less weight. Also like Steven Universe limiting it to 11 minute episodes doesn't help. The Captain Planet episode barely had time to establish its premise before it was over. But OK KO does so much right, like the multiple implicitly queer relationships and the level of love and detail that goes into all the characters.

Maybe I just haven't spent enough time with OK KO yet. That's one reason why I'm enjoying these posts, reading your discussion helps me understand why you like it, which in turn helps me understand why I like it.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:49 PM on April 9, 2018

For me, the balance in OK K.O. is more towards cartoony zany fun. Steven Universe, the fun and humor is the gimmick that hooks the viewer for the deep world building. OK K.O., the fun is more for its own sake. The overall plot, while there and significant, isn't nearly as deep. Even the big climatic fight between TKO and Boxman Jr. was full of jokes.

I'm a big fan of fun cartoons. OK K.O. is lots of fun. I'm not going to say it's better than Steven Universe, but then, I don't think it's good to put greater-than signs between things. And its status as a more light-hearted show lets OK K.O. get away with some awesome things, like the episode Let's Not Be Skeletons, which is absolutely a full-on plea for gun control right there on kids' TV.
posted by JHarris at 3:04 PM on April 9, 2018

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