This is the first episode that the Flying Dutchman actually has a big part in, and the first time we’re seeing him since the Halloween episode back in season 1.
It starts with a giant anchor dropping down into SpongeBob’s house… and then suddenly moving to hit Squidward’s house. Squidward decides he’s going to climb the chain up to the ship and give the anchor-dropper a piece of his mind, which sounds like a horrible idea, really. SpongeBob and Patrick follow him, and they find themselves on the Flying Dutchman’s ship.
The Flying Dutchman says that because they’ve trespassed on his ship, they’re cursed and must devote themselves to being his crew for the rest of their lives. Squidward doesn’t take kindly to this, which gets him thrown into the “fly of despair”. You know what I find cool about Squidward? The dude is always ready to fight literally anyone. Unfortunately it almost never works out in his favor, but I still think it’s kind of admirable how willing he is to sass everyone and anyone, even if it means getting thrown into a pit of nightmares.
Anyway, SpongeBob and Patrick, as one could have guessed, turn out to not be a useful crew. The Flying Dutchman spends his nights scaring the citizens of Bikini Bottom, and SpongeBob and Patrick just aren’t scary. Eventually he decides to just eat them.
SpongeBob and Patrick manage to steal his dining sock, which the Dutchman can’t eat without. I don’t know, just go with it. In return for the dining sock, the Dutchman offers them three wishes. Patrick uses the first wish by wishing that they had known about the wishes earlier. SpongeBob uses the second one by wishing Squidward were there with them. They fight over the third wish, and the Dutchman gives it to SpongeBob, who wishes that the Dutchman was a vegetarian and therefore couldn’t eat them.
Unless the Dutchman turns them into fruit, that is. Which he does.
Interesting thing about this episode: there are two alternate endings for it, one where Patrick gets the last wish and one where Squidward gets the last wish. They’re both amusing and can both be find on Youtube, but both end with the three of them being eaten by the Dutchman anyway, though still clearly alive in his stomach (which… how does he have a stomach??). They’re pretty fun to check out.
Another interesting thing about this episode: it was banned in some places for a while because it was deemed “too scary”. Hm. Yeah, as I may have mentioned before, I started watching this show at a slightly older age than most kids apparently started and was too old to be scared by anything in this show, really, but I guess I could see how some of this stuff could be creepy to younger viewers. It does, however, make me wonder how later episodes got away with certain things.
Anyway, this episode is pretty popular among fans and for good reason. The Flying Dutchman is a great character and he isn’t used all that often, and he really gets to shine here. What’s fun about the Dutchman is that even if he’s believably scary to the characters, he’s still funny and even a bit endearing to the audience. We’re not exactly rooting for him but at the same time we definitely don’t hate him. Having SpongeBob and Patrick try and fail to be useful to the Dutchman is really amusing. The two of them are anything but scary so they make good foils to the Dutchman.
While I wouldn’t consider this episode one of my personal favorites, I definitely get why it’s as popular as it is. The spookier setting and tone makes this episode stand out and it there’s a lot of good humor in it as well. The ending, the official one I mean, is a bit unsatisfying, since it doesn’t really end so much as it just kind of stops on a weird and ambiguous note, but the rest of the episode is funny and very enjoyable.
This episode is exactly what you think it’s about.
SpongeBob tries multiple methods of getting a very resistant Gary to take a bath, with no success. It’s an incredibly simplistic episode, too simplistic for eleven minutes, but fine for six minutes, which is how long this episode is.
Yep, since Shanghaied is around fifteen minutes long, significantly longer than the average episode but still too short to stand on its own as a special, its partner episode had to be significantly shorter than the average episode.
It’s kind of hard to have a good story in such a short time frame, which is why a very simplistic idea was the best way to go. They do manage to squeeze out some pretty funny jokes in these six minutes, but there isn’t much about the episode that is particularly memorable.
Okay, so, I debated with myself for a while whether I should talk about this, because I really didn’t want to talk about it, but I also think it would be wrong of me to not say anything about it, so I’ll just talk about it briefly.
There’s a joke in this episode where SpongeBob is pretending that the bathtub is a treasure chest to entice Gary to come closer to it. He pulls out some bars of soap and claims that they’re doubloons, then he winks and says “Don’t drop them!”
I remember the first time I watched this episode after years since I had seen it as a kid, that joke gave me a kind of shocked laugh because I couldn’t believe that such an adult joke was in the episode and that it had gone completely over my head as a child. After that initial shock laugh though, I thought about it more and realized that the joke made me feel uncomfortable because, well, it’s a joke about prison rape.
It’s not uncommon for children’s shows to have some “adult” humor thrown in now and then for the benefit of older viewers, and within reason I think that’s fine. But I don’t even want to hear jokes about rape in adult shows, and I think it’s really creepy to have included it in this. It’s not funny, it’s gross. It’s a very quick joke at least, but it does always give me a few seconds of discomfort when I watch this episode and it shouldn’t have been there at all.
With that out of the way, let’s try to end this on a less serious note. This is an amusing little episode, and probably the best that they could have done with this amount of time and this plot. Gary is very cute and he has a lot of personality in this episode, so that’s fun.