Winter on Watership Down

Its Winter on Watership Down. A time of starvation and vague Christmas themes. The rabbits are getting ready for the Feast of Frith, but Hazel thinks they might need to cancel due to not having enough food for a feast. Really, who decides to have a feast at the time of year when food is the hardest to acquire?  Come on, seriously. I realize to most people this is just a stupid cartoon about bunnies, but they could still try to make it all make sense. The rabbits wouldn’t be having a winter feast. I’m not even sure if rabbits are awake in winter, don’t they hibernate? Was there really people clamoring for a Christmas special? I bet the ten fans of this show would have been perfectly fine with the holidays being ignored, but nope every show needs a Christmas special.       1

You know what Christmas specials really bug me? The Dr Who ones. I can’t speak for the old episodes but the relaunch has a Christmas special like every season where London gets attacked by aliens. You think people would start clearing out of the city each December after maybe the second time it happened but nope. I don’t even know why people live in London since it clearly is targeted by aliens far more often then any other city on earth. London seems nice and all but after the fourth time a spaceship appeared and started blasting skyscrapers I would start considering moving the the suburbs. Anyway, Pipkin makes a huge shit out of the feast of Frith. Then Keehar comes in and talks about how animal friends are coming over for the the feast. Hazel and Bigwig don’t want to disappoint everybunny about the fact that it is fucking winter so there is a shortage of food like I bet there  is every fucking winter so they decide to raid the farm. Why would the farm have food? Its winter.

The main characters minus the girls and Pipkin set off at night in the middle of a snow storm to get the flarva. The ladies often get left behind because this a male dominated society even though Blackberry is smarter and more competent then pretty much all of them. If the rabbits were smart that A team would be Hazel for leadership, Bigwig for muscle, Fiver for psychic visions, Blackberry for smarts and Pipkin if they need to team up with his animal friends. Hawkbit and Dandelion don’t bring anything to the table.  Normally in this situation Pipkin would be complaining about being left behind, but he’s no dummy. Its cold out.  Plus he’s got all the bitches to himself.

On the way to the farm Hawkbit complains about voles and hedgehogs being invited to a rabbit ceremony. Aw Hawkbit, you lovable racist. Fiver and Hazel explain that the purpose of the Feast of Frith is to celebrate the days getting longer and all the animals can tell when that happens. Plus the spreading of shared joy and what not. Hawkbit reluctantly agrees with them then just sort of collapses, an action nobody even acknowledges. Is Hawkbit dying? Does Hawkbit have cancer? The rabbits get lost and Hawkbit gets really negative and talks alot about how they are all going to die.  It sure is a good thing they brought him along. Hazel decides to have Keehar lead them back home and forget about the food run. Keehar proceeds to get them even more lost. They end up at a river and Fiver has a vision that says that there is no way to cross without a loss. Suddenly Bigwig sees a fox nearby sniffing the air. Bigwig says crossing the river is their best chance. Damn it Bigwig, the vision said one thing, no crossing the river. Why do you always have to argue with the visions. He then makes Fiver go first which is pretty funny   4

Bigwig tries to confront the fox and ends up falling into the ice. I bet he wishes he would have listened to Fiver now, or at least let the fox eat Hawkbit.  Hazel runs towards the fox but before he can get eaten Keehar flies down and gets in the foxes face. The fox is like “Deuces” and flips the double bird before running away. Hazel pulls a clearly doomed Bigwig out of the water. How is it possible, even in the realm of plot convenience, for a rabbit with no access to shelter, ability to make fire, or any way to become warm to survive hypothermia after falling through the ice in a snow storm? Bigwig keeps telling the rabbits he wants to lay down and die, but they won’t let him stop moving. Meanwhile the fox still follows. This took a dramatic turn for a Christmas special.

The rabbits happen upon a mansion on a large estate. They marvel at the brick wall and gate and describe it as a fence they have never seen before, not that they can’t just fit through the bars so its not that marvelous really. They get under a pine tree and huddle around Bigwig. Keehar suggests looking at the stars to find their way home since he has no idea where they are. Unfortunately it s cloudy. Keehar decides to fly over the clouds because I guess he can do that. A horse drawn sleigh pulls up. I guess they still have those in England. Hazel tells the others that man just passed them. Dandelion points out that where there is man there is food and maybe shelter. I guess none of them noticed the fucking castle like 40 feet away. Also why did they assume the thing they never saw before and in all likelihood should have smelled like a horse was a manthing and not a horsething? Could be all kinds of centaurs up in this bizzy.

Keehar breaks the cloud cover and figures out how to get home. Maybe he should have done that to begin with. Then he yells thank you stars. He goes back to where his friends where only to find that they abandoned him. The fox tries to get Keehar. For some reason Keehar mistook the fox for Hazel. Despite not looking like a rabbit the fox is also making all kinds of weird growling noises like its a dinosaur. Foxes don’t sound like that, at least I hope not because it would be terrifying. The fox chases Keehar. Keehar gets into the air but not before the fox bites a bunch of feathers off his ass. You would think Keehar would have been able to see the rabbits when he was in the air, they weren’t even hiding as they ran towards the house. 5 At the down the party is in full swing. As the camera pans across the screen we see Hannah talking to a group of non-rabbit critters explaining that she also lives there. She says the rabbits are good roommates most of the time but they don’t know much. Kind of a rude thing to say about the people that let you live in their home for no good reason. Keehar is constantly going on surveillance missions and fighting off foes. What does Hannah do? I think she warned them about a cat once. Blackberry and Primrose are worried because the main characters should have been home already. Pipkin doesn’t give a shit about them and socializes with a bat.

The main rabbits go up to the mansion and look in a window. They are kind of freaked out but impressed by the Christmas festivities. Theres a shit load of food, a tree inside, Christmas lights and all sorts of other stuff they don’t understand because they haven’t accepted Christ as their lord and savior. A rabbit named Buttercup hops up behind them. Buttercup tells them they look cold and that no rabbit should be out on Frith’s eve. Well then what are you doing out Buttercup? She says they should all come stay with her.

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Buttercup lives under a Christmas tree in a hedge maze. What is up with this mansion? What kind of private home actually has a hedge maze? Obviously the owner is some sort of millionaire psycho  killer who plans on murdering the people he has invited over for Christmas. That is why he had them come by horse drawn sleigh. Its harder to escape without a car. Hazel sees Keehar flying by and calls to him but Keehar doesn’t hear him. Buttercup doesn’t know who the rabbits are yelling at and thinks they are nutters. Keehar comes to the conclusion his friends are all dead when he is unable to find them within two minutes of looking. Since Bigwig is not doing well Hazel decides to just get moving and meet up with Keehar later.

They get inside the warren and Bigwig nearly collapses.  He lies down on a bed and Hawkbit and Dandelion warm him up by cuddling with him. I hope they explain to the rabbits that live there that Bigwig fell in the ice because this is a pretty strange thing to do. Imagine if your roommate brought home some people and the first thing they do is start cuddling on the futon, without even saying hi to you. You would probably spend the rest of the night locked in your room peeing in a milk jug rather then having to interact with them.

Keehar goes home to Watership Down but doesn’t see anybody in the warren. He thinks he might be the only person left. This is like that episode of the Twilight Zone where for some reason everybody is gone except the protagonist of the story. I think it was called “Every Other Episode of the Twilight Zone.” All the animals are just in the main room though. Keehar enters the room crying and saying how everybody is dead, which is a bit of a party poop. Pipkin says there is no way that they won’t come home, although he should consider the possibility that if they don’t come home then he will probably be the main candidate for chief.

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Bigwig is feeling fine. All he needed was a warm place for Dandelion and Hawkbit to rub all up on him. Fiver has a vision and some tingles warning that danger is about. Ignoring the prophet again Hazel, Dandelion and Hawkbit decide to go with Buttercup to get more flarva. The rabbits think this is all shady what with the rabbits living close to man inside a man thing under a Christmas tree. It doesn’t help when there is a tree with a bunch of food sitting under it. I’m guessing its some sort of Pagan sacrifice to the gods.  Hazel freaks out on Buttercup saying she needs to take them back to Bigwig right away. He tells Dandelion and Hawkbit they can’t trust a rabbit that eats from the hand of man. When they get back to the warren they tell Bigwig and Fiver how the rabbits have surrendered to man and compare it to Cowslip’s warren. They make a plan to get the hell out of Albuquerque and run if they see any men or other bipedal creatures that could be mistaken for a man. Fiver says the vision he had wasn’t about the rabbits or man but everybody tells him to shut his whore mouth. I guess nobody is going to listen to Fiver this episode at all. Hazel’s plan is to wait until the other rabbits are asleep then steal all the food they can carry and go home.

The rabbits at the down take the news that their friends, chief, lover, leader of Owsla and overall the only people who do anything constructive are all dead. I think they don’t believe Keehar and are just humoring him. Pipkin seems more concerned that Dandelion isn’t there to tell the story of El-ahrairah  and the Big Freeze. He says Dandelion tells that story every year. Really now Pipkin? How old are you suppose to be? You’ve probably been around for like what, one Frith’s Eve. Primrose says Pipkin can probably tell it because he is old enough and more likable then Dandelion anyways. I thought that when Pipkin started the story it would cut to the others or commercial since that would make a sensible end for the scene. Instead we get to see the story because they are pulling out all the stops with this episode. Once upon a time the world was never dark or cold because Frith was always in the sky watching over the world. It was the opposite of Upper Michigan. Then Frith went away one day so the world was covered in snow and full time employment became scarce, just like Upper Michigan. El-ahrairah and Rabscuttle went to visit Prince Rainbow to find out why Frith was dealing them a dirty hand. Prince Rainbow, represented by some trippy swirly effects said Frith went to the stars to learn the secrets of the universe. You know, I’ve never quite understood what Prince Rainbow is suppose to be or his relationship to Frith. He seems like some sort of god himself but Frith is definitely the man in charge. He has Prince in his name so maybe he is Frith’s son, but how does the sun give birth to a rainbow? 8

Elheriai decides to trick Frith into coming back. He tells Prince Rainbow that he and Rabscuttle with spell out the secret of the universe in the snow so Frith can come back and find out what it is. Frith comes back but he melts the snow before being able to read the message. Frith ain’t even mad though. He decides it was kind of douchey to doom this world to a slow frozen death so he tells everybunny that just because he leaves to party with the Romulans every once in a while he will always return. Pipkin then goes off script saying that Frith always comes back because he promised just like how Hazel will come back because he promised. Keehar is so moved that he decided to go search for Hazel some more.

Night falls and all the rabbits in the Christmas Tree warren are asleep. The Downers steal some food, but are caught. Buttercup is like “What are you all doing, this is clearly unnecessary,” I’m not sure why Buttercup is so mad. There is clearly more then enough food both in the warren and at the tree to feed her homies. Does it make a difference if they give it to the Downers or if the Downers steal it?

Bigwig tells Hazel to make a break for it while he holds them off. Hazel tries telling Bigwig that he doesn’t need to fight them off, they don’t appear to be aggressive, really they are more confused and annoyed then anything else, but Bigwig has to be the hero. Its a good thing he got those few hours of cuddling which brought him back from near death to being healthy enough to take part in combat. There is this weird edit where Bigwig charges the rabbits and then it cuts to him exiting the warren so it looks like he tried to act intimidating only to run away immediately. Fifteen rabbits dogpile Bigwig which is enough to restrain him, although I am sure it is only helping with any long term effects of hypothermia. Buttercup asks “What the fuck dude, why are you attacking us?” Bigwig raves for awhile about not taking from man’s hand and men are evil. Buttercup points out that not all men and not all rabbits are alike. Bigwig should know this, his best friend is a bird. Bigwig is convinced that the man in the mansion likes rabbits and gives out food in the winter without nefarious intentions. He leaves those for his human victims.

Hazel and the others can’t get out of the maze. Also they all lost their carrots. Then the fox shows up to chase them. All in all a successful mission. Keehar shows up and gives directions on how to exist the maze. Meanwhile a group of cultists exist the mansion holding torches. They go to the Christmas tree in the maze and start changing prayers to the elder god they worship. Bigwig is convinced there is more to man then he understands. He also doesn’t seem to be too concerned about telling his friends that everything is safe. Luckily Hazel just happens to make it back to the warren. They run between the legs of the humans who don’t notice as they are entrhalled by the dark diety. The fox knows that these people reguarly make sacrifices on the stone alter behind the mansion and takes off at the sight of them.   I know that you are all aware I’m just being facetious about all this cult stuff, but look at them. They don’t have faces. That is creepy.

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Inside the rabbits recap what is going on, some humans are nice, the fox was the danger, the Downers need to be open to new ways of thinking that bunnies other then them come up with. Buttercup tells the Downers that because men shares with them  her people decided to share with them. The Downers could have been better house guests but when you let strangers into your house you always run the risk of them stealing your food while you sleep. It happens.

The next day all the critters leave Watership Down. Primrose thanks them for coming and apologizes for not having food. Thats pretty good hosting on her part considering her dead husband. Keehar shows up and says he found the other rabbits, then they all come up the hill. Sweet. They also got all kinds of food, which they get to eat themselves because the guests are all gone. Its a Christmas miracle!

Final Thoughts That was surprisingly good. I was skeptical about a Christmas special revolving around Watership Down since they aren’t Christians. It always seems convenient that cartoons about animals or people who aren’t on earth just happen to have a winter holiday that is more or less exactly like Christmas. At least they took the effort to explain the holiday traditions and give it a legend that justifies it. The plot is good and unlike other filler episodes everybody is actually acting sensible and in character. There was a fair bit of excitement and definite suspense. Technically it is two episodes. They took full advantage of the extra time to tell a complete complex story.

The Christmas Tree warren was pretty intriguing. It acts like a combination of Cowslip’s warren and Watership Down. The Downers are all about new ideas which living in a hedge maze and eating food left by man definitely is but at the same time they don’t give up their ideals as rabbits. I liked seeing the Watership Down rabbits having to confront the ideas of a group that really challenges their thinking and experience. I’m pretty sure this warren never gets mentioned again which is a shame because there is alot of potential. It would be another possible ally against Woundwort. Just imagine Efrafa trying to invade the warren with an all out war going on in the hedge maze. That would have been awesome. Plus Buttercup herself is pretty cool.

Final Score: 9/10

I liked it.