Watership Down: “Escape from Efrafa”

The once-great city of Efrafa becomes the one maximum-security prison for the entire country.

A railroad is erected along the Hampshire shoreline, across the Enborne river, and down along the Nuthanger shoreline.

It completely surrounds Efrafa

All bridges and waterways are mined.

Scotland Yard, like an army, is encamped around the island.

The rules are simple. Once you go in, you don’t come out.

So there’s this fox and he’s stalking around the forest. The thing is the fox keeps growling like a lion. He also tends to growl without opening his mouth. Seeing how foxes don’t sound like that I have to assume there’s a lion somewhere off screen. The fox makes a face like he just got goosed and then wanders off never to be seen again. With that pointless scene done with we can now begin the episode.

At Pride Rock Bigwig is telling Woundwort that he is a wanderer from the now destroyed Sandleford warren searching for a chief worthy of his warrior ways. They’re sort of playing the angle that Bigwig might be abandoning Hazel but not very well. Also Bigwig is a bad liar, he keeps rolling his eyes back which is a tell. Luckily as soon as he mentioned his warren being destroyed by man Woundwort went all psycho talking about how he wants Frith to burn the flesh off of man’s bones and isn’t paying much attention to Bigwig’s body language.

Woundwort asks Bigwig if he can fight and to show that he can Bigwig beats up Vervain. Vervain is a snively pantywaist that nobody likes, so Woundwort enjoys seeing the snot kicked out of him. Bigwig is made a probationary captain of Owsla. He will be made a full member just as soon as his drug test comes back clean and they get his 401K information.

Last time I mentioned the strange growling that appears to be part of the music in Efrafa. Well I swear this time in addition to growling there was sinister laughter that sounded like it came from the devil. So either the song was originally featured on Scary Sounds of Halloween or my headphones are haunted.

Hazel and his krew are trapped under the bridge. If they leave the Efrafan patrol sitting on top of the bridge will see them. It’s a good thing their grass under the bridge since they are bunnies and as long as they have access to grass they should be fine. Blackberry says the rope holding the boat to the shore should be easy to chew through, so it will be easy for the escaping rabbits to free the boat and float off. One thing that concerns me is that despite being in a river, the boat is just sort of sitting near shore, as if it were secured in the front as well as the back, but it clearly is only tied in the back. The boat should be being pulled by the current and the rope should be taunt, not slack. In addition the nose of the boat should be pulled outwards. This makes me believe the boat is actually sitting on a large rock or sand bar that is invisible from the surface. The only other conclusion would be lazy animators.

While touring Efrafa Bigwig whispers “Hazel says Hello” to Primrose. I know he has seen Primrose before and has been told about her but I can’t remember is he’s ever seen her after being told about her. I suppose she is an incredibly unnatural colored rabbit so it wouldn’t be too hard to identify her. This also cements that Bigwig is not betraying Hazel which comes to a surprise to all the viewers who never read the book, saw the movie, or are smart enough to realize making Bigwig a villain wouldn’t make any sense.

Primrose tells Blackavar that Bigwig was sent by Hazel. Blackavar responds by shouting all about their secret plans. Seriously he fucking yells everything he says. Primrose prepares for Bigwig to spring them by checking the escape tunnel she dug. Yup, its still a tunnel.

While patrolling Bigwig notices a fox skull sitting on display. Campion says that the fox wandered onto their turf so Woundwort and the Owsla killed it. That skull looks pretty small. Its not much bigger then the rabbit’s heads. I don’t know how big fox’s are in comparison to rabbits but I’m pretty sure the difference is greater then that. Woundwort probably killed a baby fox. That’s not impressive. Killing babies is easy, trust me I know.

Bigwig and Campion visit the bridge. Bigwig loudly talks about everything he’s done in the last 12 hours subtlety letting Hazel know he has infiltrated the enemy. Hazel decides its time to act and has a plan to get out from under the bridge. The plan consists of Keehar flying at rabbits and everybody else sneaking off in the confusion. Well everybody but Blackberry. She’s a girl and girls stay with the boat. Before executing the plan Hazel asked Keehar how his precision flying is and Keehar said “Better then yours,” but he said it in a way that made it sound like he wants to rape Hazel.

Campion has to go supervise a digging crew so Bigwig gets to wander around the warren by himself. Since he hasn’t been able to yell at anybody recently he goes and yells at some guards. Bigwig is still pretty new in Efrafa, I’m not sure if he has the authority to be yelling at other members of the Owsla. I’m pretty sure those guys have seniority.

Bigwig sees the rabbit equivalent of the kids from those Christian Children Fund commercials. He feels sorry for them but refers to them as “poor beasts” which when you think about it is like seeing a poor starving person and calling him an animal. Bigwig then meets up with Primrose and coordinates the escape plan. Never once does he consider helping any of the other miserable rabbits leave.

Vervain report that he was attacked by a gull attack while following Bigwig and Campion. He thinks it’s the same gull that has been plaguing the Efrafarians ever since they pissed off the group of rabbits who are friends with a sea gull. Woundwort concludes that Bigwig is related to Keehar in some way and plans on finding out the exact nature of the two’s relationship by torturing Bigwig to death.

Bigwig and Hazel exchange information while Bigwig pretends to eat grass right next to a bush that looks like it has a rabbit behind it. Vervain then comes up to arrest Bigwig. During the court proceedings Bigwig accuses Vervain of making the whole thing up in order to discredit him and beats him up some more. I wish normal courts had more fighting. Some other rabbits grab Bigwig to hold him back. Woundwort jumps off Pride Rock and it looks like he is going to bitch slap Bigwig but instead he just slashes him on the shoulder. This is because Bigwig has been promoted to full Owsla. The scars identify him as being part of the shoulder mark but the scars disappear by the next scene. Vervain is a douche so nobody cares that Bigwig beat him up during a trial. In fact he gets demoted to guard duty.

Bigwig, Primrose and Blackavar decide its time to vamoose. It would have been nice if they would have taken some of the other rabbits who are being held captive, but that would have required the animators to draw more then three rabbits.

While on guard duty Vervain is walking around when he falls down Primrose’s escape hole. Its about time somebody noticed that hole, its not hidden in any way. Veervain sees Bigwig there and sounds the alarm. Even though Bigwig can easily best Vervain in a fight, he instead chooses to lead Primrose and Blackavar back into Efrafa, rather then past Vervain who could do little to stop them. As they run past Pride Rock Woundwort sees the commotion and gives chase.

Hazel pops out of hiding to tell Bigwig which way to go. Then he and Primrose make lovey dovey eyes at one another long enough that the villains are able to catch up. If they hadn’t done it then the good guys would have been out of sight and tracking them would have been much harder. Nice leadership skills Hazel. Actually bad leadership skills. Why are you even in charge? We have a chase where there are a bunch of close ups on people’s faces. I guess faces are easier to animate then running.

Thanks to Keehar the Downers get under the bridge. Woundwort thinks they are trapped and sends in the troops while he goes on top the bridge to watch. Seeing the Downers floating down stream in the boat Woundwort fucking jumps off the bridge at them. Woundwort is pretty much the biggest bad ass ever. He lands in the water but then his paw pops out of the water and he starts climbing into the boat. Hazel is pretty much shitting his pants but Bigwig yells “Get off my plane” in the best Harrison Ford impression he can muster and kicks Woundwort in the face, effectively knocking him back into the river.

Primrose thanks Hazel for saving her even though Bigwig was the one who got her out of Efrafa and Blackberry was the one who came up with the idea to use the boat. So he saved her in the sense that he knew more competent people who saved her. Then they sail off in the sunset while holding hands in an awkward way that rabbits would never hold hands, no matter how in love they are.

And that’s how they Escaped from Efrafa.

Thank U Star’s Rating and My Rebuttal

 

Of course, as with all the episodes, there were some bad points and, as usual, it was some of the ludicrously unbelievable plot which let it down. Firstly that escape tunnel dug by Primrose. It was obviously there to try and make Primrose appear a strong character, similar to her counterpart from the book Hyzenthlay. However, I think it’s a bit over presumptuous to expect us to believe Primrose could dig a whacking great hole only a few metres from an Efrafan patrol, without any of the Efrafan’s noticing

The next unbelievable scene is where Bigwig, Primrose and Blackavar are running through Efrafa, and they find their path blocked by Efrafan guards. Much as Bigwig is a strong rabbit, having him knock down two massive strong guards as if they weren’t there is still a bit far-fetched. Immediately after that, the plot worsens. Primrose meets up with Hazel again, leading to one of those cutesy love scenes. They stare longingly at each other for ages. This obviously seems to neglect the fact that the Efrafans are right behind them, and could easily have caught them, killed them, and gone for Silflay in the time those two stood around.

These plot holes are minor though, and dont detract in any significant way from the overall brilliance of this episode. I still loved it, and have named it as my second favourite of the entire two series – That’s impressive considering I only have the German language version of it, and I cant fully speak the language!

Rating

6 (Out of 6) – Excellent
A brilliant episode, well worth the top score. The sheer amount of nail-biting action, and the combination of music and imagery to create the atmosphere of Efrafa, make it a top episode.

 

I got an email from Thank U Stars a while ago. It was like right after I submitted the last Watership Down article so I didn’t get to talk about the email then. I could have sworn I made mention of it somewhere, on my blog or the forum but I don’t see anything so maybe I just thought about mentioning it. As it turns out he enjoys my reviews and even links to Dumb Baby on his website.

So I guess this means my dreams of making Thank U Stars guy angry and ripping the online Watership Down community in twain between those who hate anybody who makes fun of the show and those who think the reviews are funny will never happen. That’s okay though, as far as I can tell aside from me and Thank U Stars the Watership Down online community consists of this one Watership Down/Plague Dogs forum that banned me after I made a joke about the owner role playing as a lesbian dog. Fuck the Watership Down online community. I no longer care about them except for Thank U Stars who I now consider my bro.

Back to things that are relevant to the episode. I agree that it’s a good episode although I think I ended up complaining too much about how poorly animated it was and about how many illogical things there are to give it a perfect score. Thank U Stars points them out as well, such as the whole hole thing and Hazel and Primrose staring into each other’s eyes for god damn forever. Thank U Stars doesn’t mention it but I hate how Hazel and Primrose hold hands. It pisses me off. I understand it’s a cartoon, the anatomy isn’t going to be 100% accurate. You need to cheat to make things more convenient and pleasant to watch but is there any reason they can’t just not hold hands in that incredibly awkward fashion? Rabbits can’t do that and these are rabbits so they shouldn’t do that.

Bah, that hand holding thing is getting me all worked up. I give this episode a 4 now get out of my face!

But Wait There’s More

In the email Thank U Stars told me to use the updated logo. As far as I can tell it is the same as the one I have been using but without the years 2002-2006 and the number 4 on it. I will use this new logo from now on. It also has his URL which I am sure he will enjoy. I’m glad its basically the same thing because Fiver is just so happy on it. Smile away Fiver, you’re the bell of the ball.