Hurray! The internet has done it again: yet another pleasant childhood memory destroyed.
As Paste’s social media manager, I spend a good chunk of my day perusing Twitter, and every now and then something absolutely golden catches my eye. I came across the tweet below and just HAD to break it down for you, dear readers.
This is episode three of the very first season of Thomas & Friends. For a little background context, I texted my sister. As a mother to two kids under the age of five, the versions of Thomas & Friends on Netflix are a regular in her house when the girls get TV time. I’ve seen maybe two episodes of this show since childhood, okay? I needed her input. She offered less help than I was hoping for, but thank God one of the kids was around!
My four-year-old niece Ansley said, “he’s nice.” Sorry little one, but after watching the clip in the tweet, I DISAGREE.
The full story is below, narrated by the very essential Ringo Starr.
So, what exactly is happening here?
Henry the Green Engine is being a little stubborn shit, that’s what. He doesn’t want to get wet (It’s raining! The horror!) so he throws a train fit and sequesters himself in a tunnel. His driver gets mad at him and they argue for a bit. Meanwhile, the conductor shows up, blows a whistle a lot, and Henry blows steam at him in protest. (Either Henry kind of sucks in general or is throwing a temper tantrum. The jury is still out on that one.)
This entire ordeal is based on Henry wanting to keep his paint job pristine, by the way.
A fancy dude appears, this one named Sir Topham Hatt. He is not a train, he is a human. This guy looks straight up like the Monopoly man so clearly he’s rich and powerful. He basically says that Henry will be pulled out of the tunnel, OR ELSE!
...But guess what? Henry blows steam at Sir Topham Hatt!!
The townsfolk (maybe? I’m actually not sure who all of these people are at this point) try to get this damn train out of the tunnel while Sir Topham Hatt watches. It’s still raining. The townsfolk are useless.
The show’s namesake and all-around helpful fellow Thomas the Tank Engine makes an appearance to lend a hand, but he’s too little to push Henry out of the tunnel. Classic, bumbling Thomas. By this time, it has stopped raining. Everyone eventually gives up on helping, and the chubby rich guy decides to punish Henry by BUILDING A BRICK WALL SO HE CANNOT GET OUT. Eventually his fire burns out so he can’t burn any coal for power, leaving him pretty much hopeless.
The moral of the story appears to be “do not be stubborn or else you will be shut into a tunnel to die, kids!”
The episode ends with a sad Henry wondering if he will ever be let out of the tunnel, and leaving all of us wondering why this was ever approved in the writer’s room.
As the tweet that led to this analysis said, this is worse than any horror movie. It’s like in American Horror Story: Hotel when you find out about all of the secret tunnels that have no escape, only this time it’s for children. So wholesome!
If you’re wondering whether Henry ever learns his lesson or not, he eventually does. He backs out of the tunnel in the following episode after they light his coals again, showing that he wasn’t really entombed, just put in train timeout for a bit.
Hopefully Henry learned his lesson for good.
Annie Black is Paste’s social media manager. As a kid her favorite train was Thomas, but as a grown up she likes Percy the best. Follow her on Twitter for non-train related things: @helloannieblack.