Well. This episode. It’s not very popular.
I don’t think there’s anything really bad about this episode, it’s just really bland. It’s not all that funny and the story is predictable. SpongeBob and Sandy’s interactions are enjoyable as usual but even then there’s not much that stands out.
The basic story is that when training with Sandy goes wrong, SpongeBob decides to buy a product called “Anchor Arms”. They’re inflatable arms that you wear over your real arms and they make it look like you have muscles. And they’re bright pink for some reason. SpongeBob shows them off and brags about them, but he’s revealed to be a fake when Sandy enters the two of them into an anchor tossing contest.
It’s an obvious set up from the beginning and that wouldn’t be so bad if the episode was funny and entertaining, but it’s pretty bland. There’s some decent visual humor and a couple of decent lines, my favorite being when SpongeBob is watching the commercial for Anchor Arms and the guy in the ad says “I was a wimp before Anchor Arms. Now I’m a jerk and everybody loves me!” That’s a funny line, and it’s funny when SpongeBob uses it to motivate himself later, “I’m no wimp, I’m a jerk!” Overall though, there isn’t much about this episode, good or bad, that stands out.
Well, okay, there’s one thing that I like and it isn’t specific to this episode but this is a good time to bring it up. Sandy is incredibly physically strong, stronger than anyone else in Bikini Bottom, and this is demonstrated in multiple episodes including this one. And she’s a girl. What I like is that no other characters seem surprised by this. No characters talk about her being strong “for a girl” and no character ever brings up her gender as a way of putting her down. No one points it out or makes a big deal out of it, it’s just a thing. When characters are impressed by Sandy’s strength, it’s not because she’s a girl, it’s because her strength is just damn impressive for anyone. At the same time, while Sandy isn’t particularly feminine herself, we never see her actively distance herself from or put down femininity, and we never see her put down other girls (mind you we almost never see her interact with other girls but let’s focus on positives right now). There’s no “not like other girls” vibe about her. Sandy just is who she is, and that’s cool.
This is another episode that tends to be forgotten a lot. I’m not sure why that is, I think this is a pretty funny one.
It starts out with SpongeBob and Patrick accidentally destroying a wax replica of Squidward, only they think it’s the real Squidward and they think they killed him. When the real Squidward then comes out of his bathroom, wearing a white robe and white powder, they think he’s a ghost. They immediately start begging him for forgiveness, and Squidward realizes that he can have some fun with this. He goes along with the idea that he’s a ghost, and orders SpongeBob and Patrick to do his bidding unless they want to be haunted for the rest of their lives. Although I guess being forced to do a ghost’s bidding could count as haunting too? Whatever, either way SpongeBob and Patrick feel so guilty that they agree.
It’s a really cruel trick on Squidward’s part, and he treats SpongeBob and Patrick terribly, forcing them to do ridiculous and, in at least one case, impossible tasks. Like Naughty Nautical Neighbors, Squidward is meaner in this episode than he is in most, but he gets some swift comeuppance for it.
While cleaning up Squidward’s back room, SpongeBob and Patrick find a comic. I’m not sure why Squidward would have it, but it’s there. SpongeBob reads it and there’s a story about the Flying Dutchman in it, how after he died his body was put on display in a shop (gross?) and so now his ghost haunts the seas because he was never properly laid to rest. I just realized that this is the first time the Flying Dutchman is mentioned, yet he himself doesn’t appear in the episode. Kind of cool that he was mentioned and briefly introduced to us before he actually appeared as a character on the show. Anyway, this gives SpongeBob the idea that they should put Squidward to rest.
So then the episode takes a turn for the slightly disturbing, as SpongeBob and Patrick keep trying to bury Squidward and plan a funeral for him, despite Squidward’s insistence that that isn’t what he wants. What did Squidward expect though? How did he foresee this prank ending? Did he think he could keep it going forever? He comes clean to SpongeBob about the prank, but even that doesn’t discourage SpongeBob. He just thinks Squidward must be in denial about being dead. So when Squidward isn’t paying attention, he blows a bubble that envelopes Squidward and drifts to the surface. The best thing about having no continuity is that you can end episodes like that and then not have to deal with the consequences.
I’m not sure why this episode gets so little attention. I don’t think it’s amazing or anything, but the plot is interesting and a lot of the jokes are funny and I can’t really find any glaring flaws in it. I suppose SpongeBob and Patrick’s naivety is pretty exaggerated. How do you mistake a wax replica for a person? How do you think a person can just melt like that? Still, I guess it doesn’t bother me too much. It’s exaggerated but it’s funny, and the story it leads to is fun and entertaining.