One of the most interesting things about Karl Pilkington is that he’s occasionally so shallow that he almost becomes deep. Almost. His strange way of viewing the world can at times lead him to some interesting conclusions, and “Onion” was an episode particularly rife with them. Of particular interest to me here was his fundamentally idiotic, yet still fascinating, question of “Does the brain control you or do you control the brain?” It’s hard to not find the premise of what’s being asked here rather dumb, particularly when it’s being phrased in such an odd manner. But the way Karl, Ricky Gervais, and Stephen Merchant treat the question is actually related to John Locke’s question of what the self really is. Karl may be approaching this question in a profoundly stupid way, but he’s still interested in really considering higher-level questions like this, which is more than can be said for most people.
Some of my other favorite moments from the episode came from similarly philosophical thoughts. His question of what a chameleon changes into when it walks onto a mirror was both semi-profound and actually something that’s been seriously considered elsewhere. I also thought it was particularly interesting that Karl only understands who he is with reference to outside observers, such that his question of heads vs. bodies was similar to his thoughts with regard to not knowing if he was his doppelganger or not. I couldn’t help but find his ideas on the subject to be ridiculous yet kind of inspired.
I mentioned last week that half of the show tends to focus on discussing animals and the other half on human bodies, and that was pretty much the case here as well. Ricky’s pretty familiar with Karl’s interests, too, so he begins the episode by prompting him with some odd animal facts. This segment is pretty long, and entertaining through and through. We then hear a bit about Karl’s recent travels and why Karl thinks blind people shouldn’t have affairs, then finally transitioning into a very strong segment on Karl’s diary.
This week the show really allowed things to linger, which helped make the entire episode more interesting and better-paced. The Ricky Gervais Show’’s best when it allows Karl to really ramble and that was what we got here, with all of the odd pseudo-philosophical profundities that come along with that. Plus, it had a strong ending joke for once. So an all-around excellent episode, and one with more than the usual amount of food for thought.
•Karl on poison frogs: “Why’s it going about killing a thousand people.”
•“I thought it was all about survival of the fittest, not the one who looked the oddest.”
•“It’s all about you, it’s all about how it relates to you.” -I’ll probably write more about the topic in the future, but this comment is particularly important.
•“I have more intelligent conversations with my cat than I do with him.”
•I was happy that the chameleon’s sound is something like a lightsaber’s.
•“Frog, you have the power to kill 1000 people in your lifetime. Choose them wisely.”
•Stephen Merchant’s sequence in the gym was very well-drawn. In all, the entire episode was another example of great animation from this season.
•“We’ve gotten to the point in science now where you can change your head.”
•“Stop looking at naked men, then.”
•Karl’s illustration feels the need to wiggle its own tits. Didn’t really need to see that.
•The animation of a blind man in a strip joint was pretty great.