Amphibia: Mr. X/Sprig's Birthday
November 7, 2021 12:59 AM - Season 3, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Mr. X: An FBI special agent and alien enthusiast finds evidence of frogs from another dimension, and chases Anne and the Plantars through a movie theater, while Anne's parents figure out a way to save them. Sprig's Birthday: On hearing that Amphibians don't make a huge deal over birthdays, Anne resolves to give Sprig a birthday he'll never forget. As a result they almost die.

Mr. X: written by Adam Colás, storyboarded by Inbal Breda and Cassie Zwart, and directed by Roxann Cole and Kyler Spears
  • I've been gushing a lot about Season 3 episodes, but I still love every one shown so far. It'll be nice when we finally return to Amphibia for the conclusion to the series, but the frogs-out-of-water premise here is still great.
  • Story begins in a secretive FBI installation (which turns out to be in an ice cream truck). Background details in here, on Jenner's desk: a puzzle piece paperweight with the "Doogle" logo on it, a number of fidget spinners, books labled "C++" and "Fluent on Phython," and a coffee cup with "hot cup of <java>" on it. Someone among the writers/storyboarders knows their computer references. (Aside: THERE ARE NO WORDS TO EXPRESS HOW MUCH I HATE HULU'S SCRUB BAR BEHAVIOR, it pops up automatically whenever I pause and won't go away, making it very difficult to catch the Java joke!) Jenner's machine is a prime example of movie-style funky computer screen, which is interesting since we know from Anne's computer that real computer interfaces exist in this version of Earth. It's possible that Jenner hacked up this interface in Enlightenment, or something like that. Jenny seems to communicate by way of computer text boxes.
  • An aside, I don't actually know which is Jenner/Jenny's mame. Mr. X calls them "Jenner" once and "Jenny" after that, so I'm going with Jenny from here.
  • We now meet Mr. X, played by Ru Paul, who has immediately become one of my favorite characters in the show. I don't know what X's pronouns are, but everyone calls him Mister so I'm going with he, and he is terrific, even if he does kind of look like James Carville with purple lipstick. Mr. X seems like the enthuiast kind of alien hunter, but the show does make it clear, at least for now, that he's not on our heroes' side.
  • It's worth noting the implications of Mr. X's position, which seems like a more cut-rate version of the X-Files, but still one in which the FBI has plans in place for handling aliens, meaning, there may be aliens, not extra-dimensional ones like the Plantars but space aliens. Mr. X has a lot of grey-themed knickknacks around the truck. Doesn't seem like it has much room for ice cream, though. There's a bumper sticker reading "MY OTHER VAN IS A [flying saucer image]," although it's on the inside of the van.
  • The Doogle search for "best local restaurant" brings up Anne's folks' place. Nice work, cartoon parents!
  • Anne's parents are still pretty amped up from defeating Cloak-Bot. Hop Pop: "Sounds like you've got a case of post-battle euphoria!" In a neat inversion from how these stories usually go, it's Anne who's worried about their safety. And it makes sense, Anne's been running from Amphibia's assortment of killer monsters for five months, as the Plantars have been for their whole lives, and if things get serious Anne might could still draw upon Calamity powers.
  • Speaking of... Anne's parents got a clear sight of Calamity Anne in the previous episode. Evidently she managed to explain glowing with power and being able to kick a robot out of the Earth's atmosphere to them.
  • Sprig and Polly appear to be helping out in the kitchen! Maybe Sprig will learn to bake without blowing up food. (See Lily Pad Thai.)
  • Notes up in Thai Go's kitchen: "Ub-r Order" and "86'/coco nut milk." On the freezer is a box (seen previously in the grocery store in The New Normal) with the logo "99 Ranchers," if that's a reference I don't get it. My favorite detail is the soda flavors: "SODA DRANK," "MR. SALT," "BLUE JUICE," and, plainly, "ORANGE."
  • The movie theater Anne takes the frogs to is full of references. Posters spotted: "Fumigator 5" (see previous episode), "SPY GUY 12" with a picture of an old man with a cane with an explosion happening behind him, "Suspicion Island 2: 2 SUS" (see Adventures in Catsitting), "BOSS DOG" with subtitle "Mondays are Ruff," "SHE'S SO 80'S" and "TRAINS WITH FACES." There's also a poster with Bibsy, the rabbit from a guy's shirt in Adventures in Catsitting; in one shot, you can see it has the caption "MEMORIAL DAY," so, beware of that movie-goers. Bibsy peers out from a set of Warner Bros-esque concentric circles. Making fun of WB from a Disney property, I see!
  • The people in the theater are interesting. There's two kids running screaming, one in a superhero mask and cape and carrying an action figure; another is hugging a placard of Fumigator, with a tongue-out look like she finds it delicious? These have got to be injokes.
  • On seeing the theater lobby, Hop Pop: "Woah! Is this a church?" Anne: "Yeah, pretty much."
  • Mr. X is wearing skate shoes, and speaks Thai! He's way too much fun to be a one-off character. I hope by the end he becomes an ally.
  • For special agents, Mr. X and Jenny are rather open about the fact they're looking for aliens. Also, Jenny's laptop can detect Anne ("String Bean") by her arm in a photo?
  • "Is your stun gun charged Jenny, tell me it's charged!" There is someone who loves his work.
  • Mrs. Boonchuy's cellphone has a couple of interesting things about it. One, her picture for Anne is a baby pic of her covered in spaghetti; two, her carrier is "DT&A." Unfortunately for them, Anne's a considerate movie-goer, and has her ringer off during the movie.
  • Trailer for "Cheerleader Musical 7." Making fun of a Disney property from a Disney property, I see!
  • Mr. X's truck has super stilt wheels. Who built this thing, Pops Racer?
  • Anne, of the movie: "I thought the protagonist was pretty fun. She was flawed but had room to grow!"
  • "Fumigator 5: He's Back To Make Us More Money!" It really is made by The Asylum.
  • When Anne and the Plantars peer around a corner to see of Mr. X, a concessions clerk looks at them dubiously.
  • Jenny guards the doors with what seems to be an alien scanning device. Comments from random people getting scanned: "I think I just won something!" "Ha! This tickles my brain!"
  • Anne's parents actually have a brilliant idea to get Anne and the frogs out of the theater and discredit Mr. X at the same time: it involves the theater's power switches, some pet store frogs, and apparently a tracking device Mr. Boonchuy planted on Hop Pop. It's rather awesome.
  • A few one-off movie display jokes show up late in the episode: a poster for "SNAILS: The Documentary," a standee for "SPIDER IN YOUR HOUSE," and another for "FAST RAT" with the caption "I require acceleration!" Hah! Inside the storage closet they hide in, there's a poster for "DEAD END," another with a picture of a snowman and a title we can't fully make out, but begins with "S'NO," and a standee with the characters from "Love Choice," the movie Anne shows from her phone to the citizens of Wartwood that starts a brief town conflict way back in the first season episode Civil Wart! That's the kind of deep lore that you have me around to reveal, folks.
  • Mr. X, grabbing Hop Pop's leg while his (H.P.'s) disguise comes off: "What even are you! And why are you so slimy?" H.P.: "Rude!" While X is discredited among the other FBI agents at the end of the episode, he definitely knows that they're frogs from this. Also, he has a laser watch gizmo. I don't think those are standard issue.
  • Details of the bathroom stall Anne and the Plantars hide out in: "Your mom is nice!" and Cool-S graffiti on the wall, and a pair of lost keys on the floor of the adjacent stall.
  • In the pet store portion of the montage, I can't make out the labels on all the pet food, but some are "Fancy Bones," "Bark Bite," "Jerky Sticks," "Tiger Fuel," and "The GOOD Flakes." There's a sign offering adoption options, and pictures of a frog named Basil and a hamster called Fred.
Sprig's Birthday: written by Todd McClintock, storyboarded by Eleisiya Arocha and Danny Ducker, and directed by Jenn Strickland.
  • The premise, to cut to the chase, is that it's Sprig's birthday. Frogs in Amphibia don't make much of a big deal about birthdays, so Anne is determined to show Sprig the best birthday of his life. Things go kind of nuts in a way that doesn't actually rely on Sprig being a frog. It's possible that Anne has some kind of cartoon character curse, that causes wacky shenanigans to just happen around her.
  • How do they know it's Sprig's birthday? That's kind of relying on Amphibia and Earth having the same length of day, isn't it? ISN'T IT? There, I have demonstrated the essential flaw in this kids' talking frog cartoon, I will announce my findings on Reddit and the internet will surely declare me ruler!
  • Lyrics to the birthday song: "Froggy little birthday here/it's crystal clear/you were born this hoppy time of year!"
  • Anne has a painting on her ceiling of a house on a floating island out in space. It looks kind of like The Little Prince meets Super Mario Galaxy.
  • Polly casually remarks that they have eight streaming services. Sounds accurate.
  • We finally find out Sprig's age! He's now 11, so he must have been 10 up to this point.
  • The exchange between Anne and Sprig about their cultures' respective birthday traditions is nice writing, I think. Anne: "Talk about brainwashing!" Sprig: "Are you talking about me or you?"
  • Earth birthday montage engage! Party Village at the mall has a sign reading "SALE Blow Out Hellium Baloon" (sic). At the amusement park, there is a warning sign whose text appears to be a paraphrase of a similar warning given for Universal Orlando attractions.
  • They see the Hollywood sign in the distance, say to each other, "Eh," and walk away from it, possibly due to the limitations on use of the sign in media (which might be the reason for the "Hollywoo" joke in Bojack Horseman, come to think of it). They also visit Griffith Observatory, another Real Life Place!
  • Some of the people wishing happy birthday to Sprig as Anne rides past are random humans from previous episodes, including Emily (not Karen) from the Shawarma place in Adventures in Catsitting.
  • The book Mr. Boonchuy is reading while Anne and Sprig go on their balloon ride is Monday Cat, a Garfield reference first seen in The New Normal.
  • The balloon they float off in is obviously inspired by Pennywise the Clown from It. They get a lot of humor mileage out of that face.
  • The sign reads: "INJURED? Would you like to be? Call [phone number]" The other side reads: "I Paid for this half too, PLEASE CALL ME." I admire their willingness to make Los Angeles in this show even sillier than Wartwood was.
  • With Sprig firing his tongue off long-range at random anchor points across the city, they're certainly giving Mr. X a lot of evidence to track down.
  • The pug from earlier episodes was about to pee on a fire hydrant that Sprig latched onto.... Another place that gets "tongued" is the window of an office, apparently of an animator working on Bibsy cartoons! I love that all of these throwaway background gags appear to have a consistent lore to them.
  • A man proposing to another man! Animation has come a long way. Sadly, the object of his affections will not clown face him. (sobs)
  • Pretty gutsy of Anne and Sprig jumping out of a high flying balloon. Fortunately the laws of Cartoon Fate are on their side.
  • The better birthdays Sprig had than this one: the day he was born (obviously tops) and the day his parents gave him his hat. Reminder: Sprig's parents were eaten by monster herons when he was younger. Our pink frog friend's crazy adventures actually have a tragic backstory.
posted by JHarris (2 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Since JHarris covered almost everything, here's my errata & extras:
van sticker "Ice Man"
"X%2==1" true for odd numbers hence "I can't even"
"Case 24"?
movie "Black Geese" (Swan Lake parody?)
"Spy Guy 12: He's Old Now!"
Mondays are ruff, but Boss Dog is "#1 Good Boy" as per his mug
"Spider in Your Home"

"Parents have a special set of skills"
Extra Fancy Bones & Bark Bitz
Graffiti: "Goro" "BAMD"? "Pebble Home"? "mads" (= @blightinc = @busted_mountain = Madeleine Flores artist from Owl House?) "skimbop"

Gardening with "Mo' Dirt"; Driver for "Guber"; "Yard Sard Sunday 1800 S. Cali Street!"; lost dog "Murphy"; "Utter Balloon-acy"; "Monday Cat"
"50 hot dogs please" "Havin a big party?" No, why do you ask?" (Hot dog man in a hot dog shirt)
"La Kroy" "Out -n- About Burger" "Wholey Foods"
Graffiti: [Janine] "chang", [Catharina] "Sukiman", [patrick] "bryson", [Eunji Lee] "roess", [Kate] "wong", [charles] "hilton" - more people working on the show
posted by Marticus at 8:55 PM on November 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

Thanks a bunch Marticus!
posted by JHarris at 8:25 PM on November 8, 2021

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