Seriously Moral Orel had the best series finale ever
Sorry guys straying away from your regularly scheduled programming for a moment to rant about my other Cartoon Network love.
Alright, Moral Orel. It started out as basically a claymation knockoff of both Davey and Goliath and Leave it to Beaver, and was pretty much exactly what you would expect from being such and on Adult Swim. It was lowbrow and not incredibly funny or in-depth throughout the first season, then improved slightly with a few more mature episodes in the second season, when it was cancelled. Basically, Moral Orel got cancelled after the second season because its relationship with the censors had been dubious at best (seriously, just check out some of the summaries of the season 1 episodes to see why) and the network finally came out on top, allowing the production team a mere thirteen episode third season before pulling the plug for good.
So what did they do with those thirteen ten-minute episodes? The show, previously, had never been largely continuity based— it had one, sure, but mostly it was just your very basic Adult Swim gross-out show, so logically they could easily have just gone on doing what they were doing and let it fizzle out. After all, they knew they were cancelled, what would have been the point of putting too much effort into the project?
And then those thirteen episodes were the hugest “I’ll tell ya what” ever.
Those thirteen episodes that made up the final season literally turned it the show into a huge psychological meltdown, the likes of which I literally can’t think of a worthy comparison for. The absolute shock of going from episodes about Orel getting into shenanigans due to taking what he learns in Church too seriously to episodes dealing with rape, existentialism, homosexuality and severe child abuse might have been enough, quite frankly, but the kicker is that it was all suddenly played dead fucking serious. These were suddenly real issues that really hurt these people and made them into well-rounded characters that you honestly wanted to see succeed.
And it all ended with Honor, and there are spoilers after this point so I’m gonna cut it down. Hopefully the post up to this point has intrigued you enough to investigate the show further; if not, you’re totally missing out. Each episode is only 10 minutes long, it’s totally worth a few hours of your time.
Alright, Honor. Since I could rattle on about it for another hour or two, I’m just gonna sum up a few points that really make me dig it.
First off, this episode went to a PAINSTAKING effort to make sure that all of their plot lines, all of their characters, were not only thoroughly explored (at least as much as possible with only a hurried thirteen ten-minute episodes left) but wrapped up and given closure, even if they had to do it as subtly as:
Seeing the ditzy Nurse Bendy ice-skating with her illegitimate son Joe, both of them presumably well-adjusted having found each other.
Coach Stopframe and Orel dropping by at Reverend Putty’s to find him and Stephanie genuinely happily enjoying their Christmas together, the Rev totally accepting his daughter, piercing-filled angry lesbian and all, and her likewise giving him the first worthwhile relationship of his life.
And then the finale. The goddamn finale, and I’m just going to ramble on this. Seeing Coach Stopframe realizes that he needs to get over his “Clay problem” just as Clay develops a “Coach Stopframe problem” is played straight and it’s goddamn heartbreaking. Look at that scene where Clay walks in on the Coach and Orel having a pleasant Christmas together and sees himself being “betrayed” by both of them.
“You raped my son! …With niceness! To get to me! Weeeell it worked! You got to me! Now you stay away from him— he’s not yours, *I am*!”
Look at him. He’s got tears in his eyes fucking shit. I can’t like Clay, but I can certainly see how this episode firmly seals his place as Jerkass Woobie of the century. But then, after all of Clay’s anguished raving, Coach Stopframe’s reaction…
“It’s too late.”
That’s just it. Clay is damned— not because he’s gay, but because his callousness towards his own family has managed to chase away the one person he might have mutually stood a chance of being happy with. He’s damned himself.
He leaves with Bloberta and his children and thus dooms himself to a life of misery, because he’s a miserable person and refuses to see that all of it is his own fault.
And now look at our final scene, the flash-forward to an adult Orel. Extra continuity points for having Orel still limp from his injury as an adult, and he’s also married to Christina with a couple of kids.
He gets a happy ending, and he made it all happen himself by finally realizing that listening to his parents is not going to do it for him. True to the episode’s title, he “honors” them by having a picture of them, miserable as always, hanging on his wall, but has realized that “honoring” does not directly mean “believing.” The cross and the picture of Clay and Bloberta hanging above the couch are both incredibly significant insights to the sort of person Orel has always been as a child and has continued being as an adult.
That is, a genuinely good person. This isn’t saying that being Christian makes you a good person, or that all good people should be Christians, but Orel, after being shot in the leg and left for dead by his own father, still manages to be a devoted Christian because he, unlike others, does not let life embitter him towards the things that he loves. He comes out on top ultimately because he’s a good person, and he refuses to let that be taken away from him.
Orel’s moral is that being a Christian isn’t bad, and being Athiest isn’t bad either, but it’s being a bitter, retentive, repressive asshole that damages you, that damages your humanity. That’s such a beautiful sentiment to end a show on, and those that are open to it, ie Orel, Reverend Putty and Coach Stopframe, are rewarded by having generally happy, fulfilled lives, whereas those who aren’t, ie Clay, Bloberta and Censordoll, get to be miserable for the rest of their lives by their own volition, not because of an omniscient being in the sky or lack thereof.
So yes. This is a show I like a lot and a ramble on it was long overdue.