And with these final ten episodes, thus concludes the AQUA INTEGRAL EPISODE PROJECT L. Hope you enjoyed this list, and hopefully you will enjoy these episodes if you ever get around to it. I'd leave this in the end with a funny joke like they hoped they would but... nah.
AND NOW THE TOP 10!
10. The Last Last One Forever and Ever (For Real This Time) (We Fucking Mean It)
“Alright lock your doors y’all. This here’s kindof a bad neighborhood. Evil villains… everywhere you turn.”
That right there is the last line of anything related to Aqua Teen Hunger Force proper. What’s the context of it? I won’t spoil you, as how it all ties up is quite something.
If you thought “Party All The Time” is as ‘very special episode’ the show can get, this one kicks it up a notch. It turns out Frylock’s life is pretty much tethered to the gem behind his back. If he doesn’t replace it with another, he’ll die. However, that involves rocketing to a planet of French clams and acquiring it by force. While somewhat lacking the faux schmaltz of the other episode, this one does hit all the right emotional notes when it comes to setting it straight that this is truly the final one. Thank God for that, had the show ended on “The Last One” or “Last Last One Forever and Ever”, we’d probably be all “Ah Aqua Teen, what a great series except for that last episode…” Now we’re just “Ah Aqua Teen, it kinda got old, but man did it really know how to go out.”
I think some of the appeal of it all is how this is a full on adventure that had some modicum of success. The average Aqua Teen would always either detour or not even build upon something like this. Here? They all get to shine in their last blaze of glory while retaining what made them memorable. Shake is still a narcissistic cup, Frylock is still the put upon foil, Meatwad is still the good natured idiot savant, and Carl is still a balding, lazy, fatman who works out of the home. Don’t get me wrong, they fail miserably, but for once we got to see them put their all into one final adventure. While it has a few allusions to past episodes, the finale focuses on the four who started it all, using new material instead of just going the ‘full nostalgia’ route of making you think of the old days. It works wonderfully, even the blithering irony of using Susan B. Anthony dollars to pay women for sex.
You’d think you could care less for a show like Aqua Teen Hunger Force ending. Yet the finale extends its middle finger, and gives you a sendoff that works on all levels, right down to the final elegy as sung by Patti Smith. The Aqua Teens’s final mission may have been one big fail, but yet some glimmers of hope in those last three minutes… prevail...
…Until you realize that wasn’t the TRUE true finale a few days after while surfing on adultswim.com.
9. Mayhem of the Mooninites
“Using a key to gouge expletives on another’s vehicle is a sign of trust… and friendship.”
Never say no to the debut of the Mooninites. The first appearance of Ignignokt and Err is always a pleasant little tale. Taking up Meatwad’s room (which Shake rents out), their proselytizing of Moon superiority and bad habits slowly corrupt the room’s original occupant and brings out the laughter.
The juxtaposition of these 8 bit beings compared to the rest of the universe is then pulled to humourous lengths due to the speech patterns of the two Mooninites. Ignignokt’s perpetually haughty tone and Err’s supplementary interjections are truly legendary, and are even more so when it is revealed they come up short. Of course that doesn’t faze the gullible Meatwad and Shake only cares insomuch that he gets free stuff (“They are the kindest people I’ve ever met!” he says while jamming on a guitar that may have belonged to Dr. Weird). Before the episode hits its apex, Meatwad steals, drinks, and smokes in a non-smoking area, gets a tattoo (“It’s a clown and it symbolizes street warfare!”) and Shake has new plasma and high-def televisions. It makes for a great tone setter for future Mooninite episodes, and shows how utterly successful they are in their delinquency before getting put in their place.
Add in some violent Quad Laser work, Meatwad’s Stockholm Syndrome (“But they taught me how to get rid of a hangover; make a shiv out of a bedpost; and Err made me wallow in an antpile!”), and a stranded Carl on the Moon and you’ve pretty much got a great debut episode for an iconic duo, and a great episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
8. Last Dance for Napkin Lad
“Skeletons are what comes out your body after you rot in the ground for 50 years… With a slug of lead lodged in your cranium.”
The season finale of Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1 is perhaps the only episode (outside of the ‘series finale’) with a shitload of purposeful action. What initially starts as your usual episode careens into a swamp of conspiracy, intrigue, and espionage. Our heroes are not exactly what they seem, and now that they have been compromised, it is up to them to survive when an old friend isn’t what he seems either.
I love this. Let’s not raise the question to why markedly competent spies choose to go undercover the way they did, we’ll never get an answer. Instead, let’s enjoy the complete volte-face from everybody, as they allude to past events that will never get an answer either, and cap it off with most action you’ll ever see with the Aqua Teens. Let’s also enjoy what little extra budget they saved for this episode, when rudimentary CG occurs and we’re met with said action sequences, with machine guns, torpedoes, and cars turning into submarines. Finally, let’s enjoy that final sequence where despite whatever happened the surviving parties remain and plot for another day.
For that day will never come... Let us enjoy that, too. Shit, just enjoy this entire episode that serves as the highest point in that season, never mind the series at large.
7. Spirit Journey Formation Anniversary
“You’re tellin’ me… that THIS is the new birthday song?”
“Gee willikers. It must be Obvious Day on Camp Stupid!”
After the best interaction between Meatwad and Boxy Brown in the entire series (which involves Meatwad learning the double innuendo of ‘pie’), Shake tries to shill an attempt to replace the one birthday song that bores everybody to sleep.
The utterly bizarre rock anthem is the product of a surprising cooperation between Shake, Zakk Wylde (who guest stars) and Rush’s Geddy Lee. Unfortunately all the bells and whistles of working with these rock stars cost Shake $1.4 million; money which Wylde violently tries to get from the Cup.
In a list like this, the episode would’ve probably made it by virtue of the song itself, but it’s that second half that cinches a higher position. Shake tries to pass off a half-hearted attempt as some legit venue, which takes place in the abandoned Pizza Potamus restaurant last seen in “MC Pee Pants”. All Mr. Wylde can do is stand perplexed as Shake sells this apparently amazing venue as he’s accompanied by two banjo-wielding mechanical scorpions. How is Shake so charismatic that he could get a drunk Zakk Wylde to agree with this? Why does Mr. Wylde indulge in all that weirdness for so long after jamming his axe guitar between Shake’s eyes? Why doesn’t Shake die from that? Why does Mr. Wylde still try to play the venue after finding his microphone being nothing more than marshmallows attached to a stick, nevermind Geddy Lee’s lack of presence?
All these questions have no answers, as this episode is truly a fantastic cascade of failures by Shake. He seizes the opportunity of a lifetime, shits on it, then when there’s an attempt at a course correction, it is found he shat some more, then there’re machines guns, then death. It just works on so many levels in how that big budget failure would share space with even worse ideas as the episode continued.
Shake Zula truly ain’t got not bidness in the bidness, but it makes for quite an excellent episode.
6. Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past From the Future
“It wasn’t a Holly Jolly Christmas that year… For many… were killed.”
The inaugural episode of the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future is forever a necessary entry in anybody’s list. After an impromptu flashback to his morbid Christmas Past (in February no less), Carl finds his pool filled with Elfen Blood. Who would do such a thing? Well, the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future of course!
While the Aqua Teens are relegated to an observer status for most of the episode, the ostentatious narration of the Cybernetic Ghost makes up for it in spades. The backstory of Santa the Great Red Ape is an outrageous exercise of imagination, and it gets even better when science fiction enters into the fray. The Cybernetic Ghost does this in complete and utter seriousness, but is keen to be snarky whenever somebody questions his narrative. This is most especially when it falls apart by the end, where it goes on long enough that nobody (not even Meatwad) can remember most of it. At least the Cybernetic Ghost is considerate enough to warn that his stories and long and people may require snacks in the interim.
Then it ends perfectly by announcing the solution is for Carl to be ravished by the great Santa (“…Wonderful.”), then veers into a successful purchase of Carl’s house by the legendary rocker Danzig. For an episode that involves long-winded tales of apes and machines which results in a pool filled with Elf Blood, that outcome is pretty legit. In fact, this episode is entirely legit, and works as a perfect complement to “Mail Order Bride” whenever you feel like Christmas-themed Aqua Teen.
5. Mail-order Bride
“By the power vested in me by the state of New Jersey I now pronounce you men and wife! You may kiss the door.”
This is without a doubt one of my favourite holiday episodes in any medium. Shake and Carl decide to have, as a Christmas present to them, a Chechnyan mail-order bride. Shake wants her to cook him dinner, and Carl just wants the sex. However these diametrically opposed but wholly misogynistic hopes are dashed when they freak her out so much that she locks herself in Carl’s house. Spoiler alert: things don’t improve much after that no matter how hard they shortcut with it.
Unlike in later ‘love’ triangle episodes like “Dusty Gozongas” and “Freda”, the ‘love’ interest makes a beeline for an exit and allow for Carl and Shake to shine. Both of them are outrageously lazy individuals, and their attempt to exert some effort (at least Carl anyway) to connect with their reluctant fiancée makes for an exceptional episode. Shake is of course hilariously consistent with his sloth, while Carl’s has a hilarious desperation to it, and is a great reveal how deep his loneliness is. If it isn’t him breaking his neck from a botched attempt to access his house, it’s the way his voice breaks when he tries to get the mail-order bride to put on nothing (right after expressing how civilized America is) or laments how it’s like some demon yelling at him when she speaks ‘some language’. The shotgun marriage that culminates from all this action is a perfect climax to all the absurdity, right down to Carl’s gawdy bowtie he dones around his neck brace and still clad in his neon-green flip-flops.
Then the episode rounds off with the nice subplot with Meatwad and Frylock getting ready for Christmas, a cameo by George Lowe, and the first reveal of Carl’s last name (Brutananadilewski). How can I really say no to this episode that brings me Christmas cheer every time I think about it?
4. Revenge of the Mooninites
“I don’t need no instructions to know how to rock!”
I was initially split between putting this over the original debut episode. Both are exceptionally great pieces of work, but ultimately the return of Ignignokt and Err has the edge to its heightened stakes and more absurd plot devices. Without much fanfare (but more broken windows), the Mooninites come back to make life a bit more difficult for the Aqua Teens, manipulating Meatwad once again. Taking advantage of Meatwad’s dream to win a 10-Speed bicycle from a Carnival, the duo instead wins a belt that has all the powers of 70s super group Foreigner, which is used to great effect to steal pornography and Carl’s dresser.
The belt is what sells it, as it is so awesome that even Carl is distracted from his anger to opine about copping a feel on passed-out women during concerts. Best of all, it works as the Mooninites conjure different effects of the belt throughout the episode based on songs like “Cold as Ice”, “Dirty White Boy”, and “Double Vision”. The two’s goading of Meatwad to torch Carl’s dresser in the middle of the forest is priceless (“Look these women aren’t wearing clothes and they don’t mind.” “Yeah man, they’re kissin’ each other!” “And you want Carl to be forever kissed don’t you?”) and their subsequent foiling of Frylock using his eye lasers again allows for Carl to somehow win the day in way quite befitting of him… until he’s affected by the power of “Head Games”.
A truly fine example of the sequel outshining the debut episode, and while there are some good Mooninite moments in later seasons, they can’t compare to this one.
“I’m gonna name you: Jesus… Ezekial… Jesus. And that’s from the Bible.”
Things are going to turn out well (for us in terms of enjoyment anyway) when a miniature 4000-year old child size milkshake voiced by Patton Oswalt visits the Aqua Teens. Eschewing stoner comedy like in “Frat Aliens” for a hilariously obnoxious innocence, Oswalt’s Ezekial sells it for all he’s got. If it isn’t the cloying desire for parents, it’s the random outbursts (“Yaaay security at the mall! I’m gonna shine a flashlight!”) and the incredibly loud and overemotional bawling whenever he is upset. It’s a gas.
What’s even more a gas and what makes the episode is the interaction between him and Shake. Shake of course is averse to the idea that he’s Ezekial’s father (“Aww, is this your bastard?”), but on the other hand makes great efforts to turn the small cup into the model son. So if he isn’t trying to drown Ezekial in Carl’s pool with a cinder block (“We can’t afford college!”) he’s trying to train him to play a good game of basketball. But since this is Aqua Teen Hunger Force and failure is a constant norm, Ezekial’s not much a model son either. This culminates in an utterly depraved but utterly hilarious scene where Shake ‘consoles’ Ezekial by admitting his disappointment to background music utterly mawkish in its sentimentality. His taciturn disposition coupled with Ezekial’s screechy bawling makes for one of the most memorable moments in the show, and it maintains even to this day…
…Even if that was the last time we ever saw Ezekial, who thought he was going on an adventure with a Chess Dragon who was quite upset at being beaten by him in chess a few minutes earlier.
2. Dumber Dolls
“Hey! Backwoods Retard! Not now! Not ever!”
After Shake literally mows down his favourite dolls (a toilet paper tube and an apple), Meatwad finds himself the not-proud owner of Happy Time Harry. Our Meat Man isn’t proud at all because Happy Time Harry ain’t anything but happy, moaning about bills, wanting to die, and making sure the box he was put in (to die) is seen as deceptive advertising. His nihilistic outlook is so overbearing that even Master Shake is taken aback and actually refuses to destroy the doll, showing how much his antagonism is based on his victims reacting against it and not for it.
It’s a riot to see Meatwad corrupted in a way that doesn’t involve property damage and murder, as his association with Happy Time Harry slowly makes him want to die too. Happy Time Harry, balding, clad only in boxers and red glitter dancing shoes, armed with Action bills and a knife grafted to his right arm (which he uses to cut himself) is just so depressed and so angry that it clashes quite well with the Aqua Teens’s sense of normalcy. Then it gets amped up when he depresses another doll, the $150 Jiggle Billy complete with nightvision goggles, to the point of suicide (but it’s alright he’s still alive, just REAL depressed). It’s another chapter in the strange charisma losers in the ATHF universe like Carl and Happy Time Harry have that compel pretty level individuals to do something against their interest. It’s wild.
Then when you think it’ll escalate into a bit of a blood bath, Shake cries out those legendary words: “Prepare to be immortal!” Then we’re brought to a markedly strange place where throwing things off magic cliffs turns them into the Highlander, and Shake gets so caught up with the ideas he pulled out of his ass that he believes it and does the same. As per Aqua Teens, it all ends up in flames.
But that’s okay, with an episode like Dumber Dolls it’s always a good time to say as your roommate is being charred to a crisp: “We grillin’ tonight!”
Rape is not supposed to be funny. The willful overpowering of another individual to sex without consent ought not to be exploited for laughs. Yet when Carl walks in on the Aqua Teens as they praise their new dog, made through “Make Your Own Dog 3.0” software, some imagination, a 5500 gallon radioactive nuclear cooling facility (aka Carl’s pool) and DNA from Shake’s hand, he has the composure to add a few words in before breaking the news:
“Oh he’s not a boy anymore, he’s a man… CUZ HE JUST RAPED ME!”
Helped immensely by Dave Willis’s delivery no doubt, I just can’t help but laugh heartily. It’s compounded even more by how the Aqua Teens are absolutely content with Handbanana, who is a pastry chef and an expert on CPR (“In fact, I’ll make a couple dogs tonight, start a restaurant with ‘em call it “Dogs”. I’m gonna work on that name too cuz that does not seem good to me!”). Unfortunately for Carl, they are oblivious of Handbanana’s ability to speak due to a mindlink feature that works on only one person, thus making them incapable of comprehending the canine’s intelligence and sinister motives. The back and forth between Carl and the Aqua Teens when he’s trying to explain his situation is side-splitting as he breaks conversation to respond to Handbanana’s seedy mutterings (“See… all I know is ball… and good…. And rape.”)
It gets even crazier when Carl is lulled into a sense of security by Handbanana, then after one more futile attempt to avoid a third rape, he tries to give Handbanana a taste of his own medicine by fighting that rapefire with more… rapefire, only to have it backrapefire on him. I’d spoil the ending but… it’s worth seeing blind.
To me this is the perfect Aqua Teen episode. From the very quick set up of Meatwad wanting a dog (“You know what… I want a dog.” “Well let’s go make one.”), the absurdly amusing premise slowly morphing into something dark, the witty repartee, the great volte-face ‘baked goods’ jokes, the tragic finale of Carl’s attempts to be rid of Handbanana, to Shake’s final actions, it’s pretty much balls to the wall in terms of hilarity. I doubt this would’ve ever been made today, but we ought to be thankful that it did. This is peak Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Forever. Whatever. For All Time. I Fucking Mean It.
I guess this could be the part where I ask "What are YOUR Top Aqua Teen episodes?" but I'm sure your primitive Earth brains cannot compose a sound, rational, moon-level, list like this one. Take this as gospel, bow your heads... and pretend to be serious.
Either way... you're welcome to try.