“Farewell My Little Viking Part One” (season 2, episode 10; originally aired 11/13/1994)
First off, let me just say that it’s been incredibly, super gratifying to have been party to all this “Pete And Pete is the best” hubbub on the Internet the past few days since we announced the 2/24 reunion show in New York. It’s something I’ve been working on with the cast and crew for a long time now, and, while I don’t in any way want to speak for them—and they’re so, so, so much more important in this than I am and I’m so, so, so grateful to even be involved—I think I speak for all parties involved when I say that we’re going to try and make “An evening with The Adventures Of Pete And Pete” a night to remember. That is, if you don’t drink too many boozy orange lazarus slushies and pass out mid-panel. But I digress.
This week marks the beginning of the show’s most epic arc, a tear-jerking two-parter called “Farewell My Little Viking.” I’ve honestly been dreading writing this up since these reviews started for a couple reasons. One is that I usually watch these episodes at work and I’m not all that into crying at my desk. Another, more profound reason is that these episodes are really, really good. They do drama that kids can handle, but in this way that’s simultaneously light and dark at the same time. In some ways, episodes of Friday Night Lights reminded me of “Farewell My Little Viking,” which is relatively random, but there’s a way that both shows exhibit their heart and goodness that just makes sense together. Plus, at the end of this two-parter (spoiler alert!) something terrible and sad happens, but it happens in this way that you know is right. You know things have to happen that way. It’s how the world wants it to be, and it’s amazing that four writers— Will McRobb, Joe Stillman, Sam Johnson, Chris Marcil—could really harness something that real.
Before this review gets too sappy, though, here’s what happens this episode: Two super villains, Paper Cut and John McFlemp, work—separately, but equally effectively—to eliminate Artie The Strongest Man In The World from Wellsville; Paper Cut because Little Pete dares challenge his authority and McFlemp ostensibly because adults fear what they can’t control. Super villains are super because they not only seek to destroy the superhero but the legend he left behind as well.
Under the guise of the International Adult Conspiracy, aluminum siding salesman McFlemp ropes Don Wrigley into helping drive a wedge between Little Pete and Artie. Don, even with his gutters spotlessly cleaned by Artie, goes along, albeit sluggishly, after McFlemp convinces him that a little boy’s super hero should always be his father, not some random guy he likes take shortcuts in a land canoe with. At the same time, Paper Cut is paper cutting his way into Little Pete’s psyche, saying it’s a shame that he can’t fight his own battles, that he needs some older dude to help him, and that he’ll beat him in Rock, Paper, Scissors sooner or later.
After a Big Pete and Ellen sponsored campaign to re-introduce Artie to the town fails, Don goes in for the kill. He corners a head tetherball playing Artie at home, near his port-a-john, and convinces him that Little Pete wants him to leave town but he couldn’t bear to tell his friend himself. Artie buys it—No! Artie! No!—and bails on Wellsville, though not before Pete can make a valiant effort to keep him around. The episode ends there, but as Big Pete says, “It was only the beginning.”
It’s a heartbreaker, for sure. It’s “The Gift Of The Magi” crushing. These star-crossed friends both want each other around, but they just can’t say it. Their mistakes are going to put big, empty holes in their lives forever. Of course, there’s always next week’s episode to find out what happens, but in the meantime, all us blowholes will just have to sit at home in our Kreb brand land canoes, bite our own scabs, and dream of simpler, stronger times back when things were pipe.
- Paper Cut’s origami stylings are always impressive. Then again, he was, “born in the back of a copy shop. He had no one to play with so he played with paper. He cut himself so many times he did some kind of origami number on his brain.”
- This episode contains two of the very best Artie-isms: “Be gone with you, Pulpy, before I fold you into some kind of brochure” and “19 o’clock and all… is pipe.” He also re-heats a moistened towlette by putting it under his armpit to “heat it on high,” before declaring it “hot as a Mexico toad.”
- I’m sure there’s a backstory to how these episodes came about. I think I remember hearing that Toby Huss was leaving New York for LA, and thus was leaving the show. If only there was some way to confirm that.
- Nona’s dad is mad because Artie dared his daughter to go two days saying only the word “boing.”
- One of Artie’s shortcuts has a moving walkway.
- I don’t know that “Viking” was used before this episode to describe Little Pete or his relationship with Artie, but it really does seem so right. When Don hears Pete through the gutters telling his mom, “I just want to be my own Viking,” it doesn’t seem forced at all.