Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Monkey Challenge: Am I Dreaming?

This episode mixes the wacky, knockabout antics of the pilgrims in the real world with a terrifying dreamscape where Tripitaka is subjected to graphic (by Monkey's standards) violence as he experiences horrible nightmares.

Within the first two minutes of the episode there is strong evidence for the unsuitable-for-the-original-run theory, as Tripitaka has an arm cut off and is then decapitated!

Meanwhile in the real world the other pilgrims go to bizarre lengths to cure Tripitaka of the nightmares, with Sandy's plan being to put him in a cauldron in a deep-sea diver's costume(!) and try to heat the dreams out of him. Even more bizarrely, this begins to work(!) until Monkey gets pulled into the dream by the demon-king-of-the-week.

It is a jarring clash of styles, with Pigsy and Sandy behaving as comically stupid as ever, alternating with possibly the strongest images in Monkey to date (I would say only Mothers is a serious challenger for this dubious title). For example, at one point Tripitaka is crucified and then stabbed in the neck with a spear.

And yet somehow it works. At the climax the two styles are successfully blended together, when Pigsy and Sandy follow Monkey into Tripitaka's dream and, with the help of Yu Lung in the waking world, defeat the demon king almost by accident.

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