One of the things I love about Heaven’s Design Team is that I always learn something new from each episode. This week’s lesson was that piranhas are quite pretty when seen from the side. For whatever reason I’d only ever seen them with the teeth facing me, and while they don’t have dentition that’s quite as terrifying as some fish, they’re definitely a whole lot more than just a mouthful of dangerously pointy teeth. Also apparently rabbits eat poop, which was something my (very spoiled) childhood rabbit Ingmar never did. He did, however, try to have his way with the cats, making him the reason why they couldn’t be left together unsupervised.
Ingmar’s apparent attraction to felines aside, this isn’t the most cohesive episode of the show, but does have some of the most interesting sets of factoids. It picks back up after the time manipulation device went blooey and regressed everyone except Shimoda (who, as an angel, may not have an earlier state to regress to) before blowing most of them to Galapagos – which is currently set to “jungle” so as to test Pluto’s piranhas. Mars and one of the insect guys (yellow shirt) are found relatively quickly, but the rest of the group has gone farther afield, and it takes using their knowledge of the creatures they’ve all created to get the gang back together again. As plot devices go, it’s a good one, because it allows for us to learn about various creatures without the usual formula of having someone try to fulfill one of God’s less-than-specific orders. When Saturn realizes that Jupiter stuffing his pockets with bean buns may have resulted in the buns regressing back to their ingredient state, that gives them a chance to figure out how to find him: apparently white bean paste is made with lima beans, and lima bean plants have a very unique way of avoiding insect predation. Since Yellow Shirt is there with them – along with master tinkerer Mars – it’s easy enough to create antennae that mimic the function of the kind of mite summoned by lima bean plants. It’s also a nice Halloween costume idea for next year – slap on one of those headbands with antennae on them and tell people you’re a T. pyri mite!
The rest of the jungle escapade isn’t quite as smooth, but it does still give us two different types of piranha, one vegetarian, huge lily pads, and alligators, all of which play their various roles in keeping the (pretty cute) child versions of Pluto, Neptune, Venus, and Mercury on their toes. I wasn’t thrilled to see long eyelashes on the lady gator, as that’s the sort of anthropomorphizing that this series has typically avoided, but I will grant that they’re subtle enough not to feel too intrusive. Most importantly, though, poor Neptune is forced to turn his adorable little otter into the alligator-munching giant otter, a five-and-a-half foot behemoth native to South America. (And sadly endangered – the estimated wild population is under 5,000.) While I’m not sure how I feel about a member of the weasel family being taller than me, it’s probably the animal that makes the biggest impression in this episode, and it certainly doesn’t deserve to have been hunted into endangerment by people craving otter skin coats.
It is striking that, despite endangered animals being used multiple times in this show, there hasn’t really been much of a statement on responsible wildlife/wildlands stewardship. Not that it needs one; it’s more that it is notable in its absence and in what it says about when the story takes place – the design team may all be humanoid, but maybe that doesn’t mean that we should think they’re humans, although that raises a whole slew of other questions that perhaps don’t bear thinking on. It’s not like a show about how God outsourced character creation needs to be grounded in any sort of reality, although I do appreciate how the gift of an elephant skull was nicely used to explain the “existence” of the mythical cyclopes. But it is kind of interesting to think about as this series begins to wind to a close.
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