I figure I might as well get back into the Halloween swing of things the same way I did last year, with Are You Afraid of the Dark? I really wish it didn’t end with a question mark; it makes all my sentences look moronic. Anyways, this is an episode from Season 2, and here are your links.
We begin with Gary meandering through the forest, when he steps on a balloon and pops it. Gary doesn’t seem surprised, just annoyed. I can only imagine he’s totally pissed when he’s suddenly assaulted with confetti and streamers.
This is all occurring because it’s Gary’s birthday, hooray! In honor the occasion, David, the group’s resident whiney emo kid, has prepared a special story. I don’t really know how you concoct a special horror story for someone’s birthday, but if anyone can do it, it’s the kid that probably kills small animals for fun. Turns out he’s just borrowing one of Gary’s “magical characters.” You unoriginal twit. Gary seems excited and asks which one is being borrowed. It’s a great question, until you realize Gary has precisely one character he uses multiple times. David throws some funfetti birthday cake mix on the fire and begins. Submitted for the approval of The Midnight Society, he calls this story…
Meet Keith Saunders, car crash survivor. The crash mangled his leg, so he’ll never be able to walk without a limp, and it’s also damaged his general outlook on life.
Keith’s a bookworm and spends his days in the library, where the homely librarian has a crush on him. But, proving that you’re never too ugly to be a douche bag, Keith ignores her advances and hits on other girls right in front of her. Stay classy Saunders.
Later on, Keith sees an advertisement for a magic shop that offers potions that will supposedly turn you into a new man. Obviously, Keith is intrigued by this idea. The magic shop is of course run by Sardo, Gary’s only recurring character.
In typical Sardo fashion, he accepts whatever Keith can give him for the potion, in this case, $20. Sardo warns that the potion is very powerful and Keith must only use one drop at a time. Keith then adds a drop to the water bowl of a pet rabbit Sardo keeps in the store, because Keith is just a huge dick.
Keith watches as the rabbit transforms into a much less mangy looking rabbit, and leaves the store, excited with his purchase. After he leaves however, the cage begins smoking and the rabbit, whose name we learn is Harold, transforms into a strange gremlin like creature.
Back at home, Keith takes a drop of the potion and immediately begins going into convulsions. When they pass, Keith emerges with….slightly tussled bed head.
Keith’s new hairstyle fills him with confidence to the point that he’ll boldly wear a leather jacket. It also seems to have eliminated his limp, so that’s just bonus points. How does Keith use these newfound good looks? By trying to steal another guy’s girlfriend, introducing himself as Keith’s cousin “K.C.” We’re left to imagine what trysts K.C. might have gotten himself into, as the story advances to the next morning, where Keith wakes up to find himself back to normal. Normal aside from the strange new growth on his chest.
As he leaves his house, he’s accosted by the library, who inquires as to who was entering and exiting Keith’s house yesterday. Keith doesn’t feel like discussing it, and quickly ends the discussion by insisting they just walk to school. Keith Saunders, lover of awkward silence. At school, Shelly, the girl KC was hitting on, mentions to Keith how great she thinks KC is, prompting the librarian to ask more questions about him, and Keith again brushes her off.
Later that evening, Keith notices strange splotches on his hand, so he puts on a single black glove. Because that’s how you divert attention away from your hand. He also tosses the potion in the trash, but quickly reconsiders when Shelly calls and asks KC to come over and watch TV…or “something.” In the noble pursuit of getting laid, Keith takes another drop of the potion, transforms and then spends the evening with Shelly, getting her to agree to go to the school dance with him. All it’s costing you is your humanity as you slowly turn into some kind of hairy leper, totally worth it bro. The next morning, Keith wakes up with fangs and some killer mutton chops. He decides this needs attention, and goes to see Sardo.
Turns out, Sardo failed to read the potion’s full warning, which states that “Before bringing out the best, one might fight the dark dragon from within.” Sardo of course has no idea what that means and Keith is left to figure it out on his own. He returns home and collapses in agony, while the librarian girl, who’s name is apparently Mariah, breaks into his house. Under other circumstances, I’d have to consider her a stalker. She can’t get Keith to unlock his bedroom door though, because Keith is too busy looking like an extra from The Lord of the Rings.
Even as a freakish looking troll creature, Keith is still able to brush off Mariah’s advances. When is she going to get the message? Undaunted by his new horrific appearance, Keith sneaks off to the dance anyways. No physical deformities can keep Keith from reaching second base! He takes a drop of the potion and painfully transforms into “KC.” Under his sweatshirt he’s wearing a snazzy blazer, and now I’m upset we didn’t get to see a clip of Keith the Troll in evening wear.
Not to be outdone in the crazy department, Mariah follows Keith, then breaks into his locker and steals the potion. Keith, you may want to talk to the proper authorities about this girl. Mariah, having no knowledge of what the potion does, decides to down it like a champ, and polishes off the entire bottle. This can only end well.
Meanwhile, Keith is busy creeping out Shelly by telling her he’s experiencing the best moment of his life as they slow dance. Unfortunately for Keith, athleticism and good looks trump just good looks, and Shelly’s old flame Gary manages to steal her back after winning the “Best Athlete” trophy during the dance. Gary and Shelly also win the award for worst subplot in an Are You Afraid of the Dark episode. Stand up and take a bow!
The moment is quickly ruined by Mariah’s crazy babble about how wonderful the potion is, and how Keith can now fall in love with her, because she loves him and now she can be a pretty girl like Shelly (who really isn’t that pretty) if that’s what he wants. I’m beginning to have my doubts about whether or not Keith makes it out of this episode alive. Soon Mariah begins doubling over in pain and Keith takes her outside the dance, where she tells him that she drank the whole bottle. Dumbfounded, Keith asks why, and Mariah explains that she did it for him, because he wanted a beautiful girl.
Keith and Mariah have a heartfelt discussion about how much Keith hates himself, and it ends with Keith crying over the fact that Mariah may die because of his mistakes. That’s one hell of a guilt trip she’s managed to lay on him, considering she’s the one that stalked him, stole his stuff and consumed the potion all by her own decision. His tears however magically heal her and restore her to normal. Keith then realizes that coming to terms with himself has led him to defeating the dark dragon, though Mariah claims to have no idea what he’s talking about. Wow, now it’s his fault and he’s the crazy one, Mariah is a goddamn sorceress. I’d like to assume they live happily ever after, but seeing what havoc she can wreak on his psyche in just a few minutes, I’m betting that relationship doesn’t end well.
The Tale of the Dark Dragon is a solid episode, and one that definitely stuck out for me when thinking back about the series. I can’t say it’s well acted, as Keith is entirely annoying, and I can’t say its well written as Keith is a total twat for most of the episode. Despite all this, I’m still a fan, even though it spends 19 of its 20 minutes sending terrible messages about body image. Really though, it’s just a spin on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story, and AYAOTD usually brings the goods when it comes to adapting classic stories. In case you missed all the Dr. Jekyll connections, it’s foreshadowed quite obviously in the first few seconds of the episode.