Amphibia: Family Shrub
August 9, 2021 3:52 PM - Season 1, Episode 16 - Subscribe

While Hop Pop leaves the house to buy glue to construct his "family shrub" chart, the kids discover a secret passage in the family house that leads to the old basement rooms of the Plantar ancestors. As a result they almost die.

  • Right at the start we get a close-up of Hop Pop's chart. I suppose we can assume it's a shrub and not a tree because it's wider than it is tall: more ancestors at each level. The progenitor Plantar is a more naturalistic frog than the higher branches. Might we assume from this that civilization and anthropomorphism have come relatively recently to frog-kind? There are other hints in the show, however, that sentient amphibians have been in Amphibia for at least a thousand years. The presence of ancient ruins might imply that civilization was lost and is only now being rebuilt, but there's other issues there too. We'll talk about those in later writeups.
  • Uncle Al being "the king of single-tiered irrigation systems" actually sound interesting. The less farming you do yourself and the more you can convince the land to do for you, the better your life as a farmer will be.
  • The fireplace opens up to reveal a secret passage. Of the various things that split and pull aside is the fireplace log itself. Er... do the Plantars actually use that fireplace?
  • The three ancestors we learn about in this episode are Great Uncle Skip Plantar, Pollyanna, and Emma the Newt.
  • One of Sprig's defining character traits is that he simply cannot leave levers unpulled or buttons unpressed. This comes up later. All the kids demonstrate aspects of their personalities here: Sprig is a kind-hearted adventurer and dreamer; Polly is a fierce little girl; Anne is the least definitive (she doesn't really play many games in other episodes), but the rest of the show is mostly about her anyway.
  • How long has that pumpkin monster been in the basement? How did it find sustanence? Is it immortal?
  • In the B plot, here are the glues at the Grub & Go: Stickyworm Dung, Hog Snot, Flygutz, Yolk of the Maggot, Wart Slug Glue, Sticky Eyes and Slug Saliva.
  • The training room in Pollyanna's basement brings one to mind of the course in the Steven Universe episode The Test, although the obstacles here are all real. Why does it require actual weapons and sawblades? Isn't that just asking for an unfortunate mishap? Why not use blunt weapons and simple wooden disks instead of so many sharp edges? YES leave it to me to point out all the flaws in a kids cartoon im so proud of myself.
  • The various secret basements of the Plantars are the kind of thing that you'd think would turn out to be important later, but as of the end of Season Two, except for a tossed-off comment from Polly about there being an arsenal beneath the house, it hasn't been returned to. But think--this rather gives new context to Anne staying in their basement. Is that just the top-most layer of a long history of weird happenings in Plantar basements?
  • The most interesting of the Plantars is Emma the Newt, who is, as Anne, an adopted family member. Her illustration also points out another family member, Wilbur. There are three main sentient races in Amphibia: the Frogs, the Toads, and the Newts. We haven't seen much of those other races yet, but they're coming. Even though Emma seems like she should be more harmless than the others, she still has a deathtrap in her basement, for the love of frog, and one that crushes all her accumulated board games. Maybe the house and all these deathtrap basements were here before, and the Plantars just moved in?
  • The real purpose of this episode? We find out later (Bizarre Bazaar) that in Hop Pop's youth he was an adventurer himself, and this shows us that it's part of the family genes. I suspect they're setting us up for some insight into the Plantars in the long past, but as of the end of Season 2, it hasn't paid off.
posted by JHarris
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