“A Tale Of Two Zorns” is the strangest episode of Son Of Zorn so far. It’s not strange in the good way, either, where the show would utilize its warrior hero to open up and mess around with character dynamics, Zephyrian history, and various relationships. It’s strange in a very hollow, very carefree, very incomplete kind of way. I know how this will sound, but Greg Gallant’s script feels like it’s incomplete–we never actually get any conclusion to the “waiting in line” portion of the episode for example–but it kind of feels like it’s incomplete on purpose. There’s a broad premise: Zorn has a robot body double he uses to fool enemies and his co-workers. There’s a broad theme: Zorn is upset that Alan is spending more time with Craig than himself. These two points never connect in any way, nor does the episode flow with any real narrative logic. The end of the episode doesn’t exactly mesh with the beginning of the episode, and for ”A Tale Of Two Zorns” to hit its beats, it has to make some pretty nonsensical out-of-character decisions. Also, it’s not particularly funny, the biggest sin.
As mentioned, Zorn spends a chunk of the episode annoyed that his son is spending more “quality” time with Greg (which is weird, considering the nice family moment that occurred at the end of “A Taste Of Zepheryia,” but I digress). That quality time pretty much just involves playing some violent video game, which feels a bit odd from Craig’s perspective–he definitely doesn’t seem like the kind of guy down for a Battlefield-knockoff. He justifies it by saying he’s into it for the community, but since the episode never pushes that bizarre view any further, it rings false. But he and Alan have plans to wait in line for the sequel, which enrages Zorn even further. When Alan has to go to school, Zorn convinces him to skip it so they can wait in line instead. Then Craig shows up. Zorn gets mad and calls his drunken bird scout to snatch up Craig while Zorn storms off. If that read boring, it was just as boring to watch, and I’m not sure how you can even have a drunken bird scout and still produce a boring episode–but there you go.
You know, there’s something to the idea of Zorn being particularly upset over watching Craig and Alan bond over simulated violence, since Zorn is a noted practitioner of actual violence. The episode even gets into this while everyone waits on the line. Nothing comes out of this though. There’s no real viewpoint on the show’s perspective on violence (dramatic or comedic), and neither Craig, Alan, or Zorn are given a chance to have any real discussion about this. Hell, I don’t even know if that whole storyline is resolved. I guess you could argue that having Edie, Linda, Alan, Craig, and Zorn sit together and talk about their flaws and mistakes in the final scene is sort of a resolution. But that doesn’t directly address Zorn’s fears, and whether those fears are legit or not. I don’t really count the scene where Todd and Zorn shout their frustrations (and weird mutual understandings) at each other, since that’s between Zorn and Todd, not Zorn and Craig/Alan. The episode never actually gives those three a chance to open up in any way, and it feels like this episode forgot that that was the point of it.
The Edie/Linda storyline doesn’t fare much better, to be honest. Part of what hurts this is that since we don’t know who the hell Edie’s friends are, we can’t judge to what extent her constant Zorn complaints actually grate on people. Still, I do love the idea of Edie and Linda being drunken friends (they don’t make a great dynamic here but it has potential to grow). I hope that if the show does push that relationship further, they don’t just spend their time together talking trash about Zorn (something something Bechdel test), and that they never show Linda sexually pinning for Zorn or Zephyrians ever again. I’m okay with Linda being, for lack of a better word, promiscuous outside the work environment. But she hates Zorn, so that drunken, sudden shift in her desire for him (well, his robot clone) was a really damaging hit on her character. Pebdani played it as best she could but it was more confusing than hilariously uncomfortable. Son Of Zorn has had a few solid episodes but “A Tale Of Two Zorns” was a notable step in the wrong direction.
- I think the final sequence, when the robot clone was set to bomb mode (then kill mode) was kind of clever (in a dumb, cartoon-climax kind of way), but the direction of it was a little confusing. I know they film in close-ups a lot to help the animators out, but some wide shots would have given the scene a little more clarity.
- I’ve seen the “person somehow talks meaningfully to empty-headed drone” concept so often now, so I was sort of cold on Todd’s scenes–and I like Todd. They could have done more with that, especially when real Zorn shows up.