REVIEW: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Gauntlet – Episodes 4-6

Welcome to Do You Even Comic Book’s Review/Episode Guide for Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Gauntlet, premiering on Netflix today. This is a spoiler filled guide to the episodes, so if you want to remain unspoiled for now, head over to our Spoiler Free review and our interview with Rebecca Hanson and Deanna Rooney.

Episode 4

The Movie: The Day Time Ended

The movie plays as if the screenwriters had seven to eight scripts they wanted to put into production, only had money for one, and stapled loose pages of those scripts together to form the final story. The Day Time Ended wants to be 50 movies at the same time, sometimes during the same scene. Ideas are literally thrown at the screen in a rapid fire, last ditch attempt to form a cohesive plot. The story (as much as there is one) follows a family moving into what appears to be baby’s first Duplo house, complete with its own glowing monolith salt lick for the horses out back. After that, aliens, killer Norelco shavers, and stop motion abominations terrorize the family into slight bewilderment. Why is all of this happening? Because K-PLOT, the radio station playing in the background of a few scenes, is describing a celestial phenomenon the rest of the world might be experiencing. Cindy from Manos: the Hands of Fate and Jenny need to form a support group for children in terrible movies that somehow know more about what’s going on than the adults. Time doesn’t stop so much as it goes on a drunken bender through Adobe After Effects. Come for rampant child neglect, stay for the loaded firearms mismanagement.

Rip Off Of: Any late 70’s TV movie with a plot not good enough to be in theaters.

Invention Exchange

The Fortune Meal is another invention that should exist, at least in a few foods. Jonah handles the responsibility of holding a record of his own life in his hands much better than most. Spray-on Mustard Gas will spread nicely on your ‘tube meat’…and everywhere else, possibly requiring medical attention. Plus, the first appearance of Bonesy, the dog with the gift of speech, complete with a suit matching his owner.

Host Segments

Opening Segment – Jonah is hard at work on the board while making sure the bots don’t derail his “other” work. Max plays a game of “Chekhov’s plot alert” with Jonah.

Rugged Men of a Certain Age – We all know one, some of us will become one. Just don’t burn that steak when it happens.

There’s Trouble in Servo City – Baron Vaughn perfectly encapsulates the problem with this movie in an incredibly catchy song guaranteed to get your head bobbing. The song lives or dies on Vaughn’s shoulders, and he knocks it out of the park. Getting the whole cast in on the tune makes it a top tier performance all around.

Ending Segment – Do you want plot? Because this is how you get plot.

It’s Just a Show…

The plot dump in this episode’s ending is immense. Dr. Laurence Erhardt (J. Elvis Weinstein) returns to the series after a nearly three decade long absence. This surprise cameo propels the story for the rest of the season as we see the holding vats of the previous season’s movies up close. Kinga’s expression upon learning that her mother is Kim Cattrall (Erhardt isn’t a reliable narrator but he has no reason to lie here) is priceless. Of course, this reveal leads to more questions. Who’s Max’s mother? Why did Gizmonics have both of their fathers’ ashes? If Frank is still a full-time employed Soultaker, does he even care about his ashes? Why “Idiot Control Now” and not “Living in Deep 13?” Mearth? There’s a planet Mearth now?!

Jonah’s plan starts to take shape in the background of this episode. This is where Jonah starts to set himself apart from the previous, hapless hosts shot into space. Joel was too mild-mannered and ready to go with the flow to fight back against his captors. Mike fought against his captivity but frequently didn’t have the mental tools to go one on one with the mad scientists (Bobo excluded). Jonah represents the best parts of both previous hosts; he has the mental aptitude of Joel and the rebelliousness of Mike.

Speaking of Chekhov’s plot alerts, we know Jonah’s last words before he dies. This needs to come back somehow.

Memorable Riffs

Wise men still seek him.

Keep not solving the problem, lady.

He’s on a cultural exchange program with the uncanny valley.

We’re on Lexapro now!

Verdict: 4 out of 5

Episode 5

The Movie: Killer Fish

The title should have been Tax Haven: The Movie with the amount of countries involved in the production of this film. Jewel thieves steal a handful of emeralds from an industrial park, hide the loot in Brazilian waters, then very, VERY slowly double cross each other to death. Also, the ravenous piraña in said waters are angry as all get out. Why? Because the mastermind behind the caper put them there to weed out the traitors. Why is this his method? The movie’s not going to tell you. Come up with your own idea why. Eventually they all make it onto a boat when a dam bursts, possibly from being held together with Alchemy Glue. Almost nothing happens in this film until everything happens, and then nothing again as the passengers aboard the sinking vessel get devoured one by one. The film doesn’t so much have an ending as it has a “Hey, are you still watching? Here’s something. We good?” moment. The extra song during the movie by Gypsy isn’t enough to save this boring movie. Remember kids, destroying an already fragile ecosystem is okay as long as you’re suspicious of your co-workers.

Rip Off Of

Jaws, Piranha, heist-gone-wrong movies

Invention Exchange

Both invention exchanges in this episode employ seamless sleight-of-hand techniques within their prop work. Servo’s Alchemy Glue works as well as emergency bargain basement super glue does on cosplay that has to be ready to go in five minutes; it’s really just the power of hopes and dreams holding things together. The Moon 13 Time Travel Oven would be great in real life assuming you could work the controls properly.

Host Segments

Opening Segment – Synthia’s video diary. Seeing the past experiments represented as liquid masters is reminiscent of Dethklok’s (Metalocalypse) mode of recording tracks for new albums. Bonesy shows us why you actually don’t want to hear your pet’s every thought. “Chekhov’s Plot Alert” strikes again as Kinga and Max think they’d be pretty great at riffing.

The Killer Fish? – The killer fish in question could be anything at this point in the movie and the ideas Jonah and the bots come up with would have actually made the film more interesting. Except for M. Waverley’s idea, the movie would turn into “Los Pájaros.”

The Apollo 13 Skit – Ollie is the “comedic relief” of the film. There is no way he’s making it out of this movie alive.

Ending Segment – Interesting, “Idiot Control Now” sounds a lot more like a newly recorded solo performance all of a sudden! Synthia not only completed her task, but made its delivery system easy on the palate.

It’s Just a Show…

Kinga continues to coast on others’ laurels and claim the victory for herself. Someone else making the invention is what saves the day, and Kinga takes credit for it. She didn’t build Moon 13, she’s for all purposes squatting in it. She’s using her father’s experiments because originality is too hard. She didn’t even make Synthia, who’s now leaps and bounds more talented than she is.

Speaking of Synthia, she’s quickly becoming a second banana henchwoman who has no business following the orders of their supposed leader. Brain Guy from the Sci-Fi channel era was nigh omnipotent in his powers and intellect but deferred to Pearl’s hare-brained schemes. It would be interesting if Synthia realized maybe she should be the one calling the shots.

Memorable Riffs

Curse this final form!

Would you like a refill on your Pedialyte, sir?

A little more Scotch, a little less sober.

God really knew what he was doing not giving human males antlers.

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5

Episode 6

The Movie: Ator: The Fighting Eagle

This is the first movie chronicling the adventures of the ab-bespeckled warrior Ator that the classic MST3K episode “Cave Dwellers” continued. The giant spider puppet and the mirror shield featured in Cave Dweller’s opening credits get their full context in Ator, and it’s not nearly as cool as anyone hoped. The movie follows Ator in his crusade against wearing pants. The real issue with the movie comes during the first 15 minutes when Ator requests permission from his parents to marry his sister. One more time for those in the back, our strapping hero, the protagonist, the person the audience is supposed to root for, wants to MARRY HIS SISTER. Granted, Ator finds out he’s not really related to his family by blood and that makes everything okay-ish, but it’s hard to support a hero that wanted to go to the bone zone with HIS SISTER. Anyway, a spider cult kidnaps his sister-wife and Ator goes on a quest to rescue her and gets a greedy, horny amazon warrior killed along the way. Also, there’s a cute bear cub that very distinctly does not want to be in the movie.

Rip Off Of

Beastmaster, Conan, Krull

Invention Exchange

The Swiss Army Cheese is yet another invention that should be in real life, just to show off to your snooty foodie friends when you know the perfect cheese for the perfect wine. Or to have giant hunks of cheese all to yourself without judgement from others, either one. The Totinos Pizza Roll Popper however, is an abomination against God and should be destroyed as soon as possible along with its blueprints. Kinga truly is her father’s daughter; the late great Dr. Forrester also invented the “Breakfast Bazooka” back in episode 3.19.

Host Segments

Opening Segment – “Chekhov’s Plot Alert” just keeps going off! Both sides are confident all of their plans are about to succeed with one full episode to go. This is Netflix, right? Anyone that’s watched any of the Marvel Netflix shows knows the finale is usually calm and nothing surprising happens to anyone. Ever.

Gonna Need a Montage – Griba is really good at stylish, manly things, just trust Griba on this one! Also, Griba is going to need you to take a lint roller to your costume, Griba is highly allergic to goat fur.

Kiog The Hardened Battle Bear – The Kiog puppet and the Lady of the Deep are tied for standout puppets this season. In a perfect world, there would be a “Build-a-Bear” Kiog model. Max is definitely TV’s Frank’s son with the beginnings of a touching ballad to his furry friend along the lines of “Nummy Muffin Cocoa Butter.”

Ending Segment – Do you remember that moody music that played during a season one Rick & Morty episode when Evil Morty was revealed to be the mastermind at the end of the episode? Place that music over Jonah’s face inside the Deep Hurting as he leaves Moon 13 in chaos.

It’s Just a Show…

That ending, though. The ending to Season 12 might end up being divisive among MSTies because of the tie in to the Live Tour that pushes beyond being a meta call-out. Someone that couldn’t make it to any of the shows on the tour or those who didn’t know about it might be confused as to what the ending was hyping up. If the season had premiered before the Live Tour and more fans had had a chance to see what happened next, the ending to the season would have played better.

Those fans that made it to the Live Tour have some extra context as to the severity of Jonah’s plan. Instead of the ending playing as if there’s hope Kinga and Max will be rescued from the secret theater, during the live tour Synthia is unable to contact Moon 13 at all. Meaning, M. Waverly is the last one to see Kinga and Max before their disappearance, and Ardy and the bonehead crew don’t know where Kinga and Max are and/or how to free them. Jonah and possibly Crow and Servo are the only ones with that knowledge and they’re in no rush to share.

Memorable Riffs

Hi – Sheeba!

It’s spider time.

I got this from Chesapeake Bay & Tool.

Well, everyone’s dead. At least we have closure on the flower tiara.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

Best Episode of the Season: Mac & Me
Honorable Mention: The Day Time Stood Still
Least Good Episode of the Season: Killer Fish
Best Running Joke Riff: Pretty nice!
Best Host Segment: St. Phibes showing off the Lady of the Deep
Musical MVP of the Season: Baron Vaughn
Best Accidental Merchandise Opportunity: The Kinga and Max Dolls, The Lady of the Deep, Tom Servo Coffee Maker, the Crow-Fish, Bonesy

Page Branson is a webcomic creator, martial artist, podcaster, dog petter and occasional sleeper. She is the creator of the Magical Girl webcomic Legacy’s Call and co-hosts the Level 7 Access podcast.

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