'OK K.O.' packs a punch with season finale
On April 6, the season finale of Cartoon Network’s “OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes” premiered, entitled “You’re In Control.” The series, created by “Steven Universe” alumnus Ian Jones-Quartey, first aired in August 2017 and has arguably become one of the most unique cartoons on television.
The episode, a double-length special, revolves around two things. First, the hero, K.O. (voiced by Courtenay Taylor) learns to control his darker alter-ego T.K.O., who is brought on by negative emotions and counteracted by positive ones. He is helped by his friends Dendy (Melissa Fahn), a “Kappa” with a knack for science; Rad (Jones-Quartey), a slacker alien teen with muscles to spare; and Enid (Ashly Burch), an overall cool teenage girl with a sarcastic attitude.
Second, the evil Lord Boxman (Jim Cummings) unleashes his latest and greatest creation, Boxman Junior, on the denizens of Lakewood Plaza Turbo, the central setting for the protagonists. Junior doesn’t sit well with Boxman’s other robot creation, Darrell (also voiced by Jones-Quartey), who proceeds to get revenge on his father for neglecting him.
“OK K.O.!” treads the line perfectly between being comedic and threatening. For example, toward the end, Lord Boxman is shot out of a cannon straight through the opening credits of the show (a hilarious fourth wall break), and in the same scene he is disturbingly betrayed by his own creation. This example and the episode as a whole encapsulates the tone of the series magnificently.
The animation for the finale is top-notch. When K.O. lets T.K.O. out of his mental cage and he lets loose on Boxman Junior – all but destroying the Boxmore factory – the fight between them is non-stop, fast-paced action. The shot of T.K.O. and Junior flying around a giant version of Darrell is particularly eye-catching, as is the scene where Rad, Enid and Dendy leap up to hug T.K.O. to let him know that he is loved and appreciated, which returns control to K.O.
This is a key moment of the episode, and arguably of the entire series. K.O. needs T.K.O.’s power to defeat Boxman Junior, but T.K.O. is too dangerous to be put in charge. So in the mind-space, K.O. takes the cage T.K.O. was normally kept in and turns it into a punching bag. T.K.O. lets his anger out on the punching bag, which allows K.O. to use his power out in the real world. K.O. tells him that, “To get something, you have to give something.” The lesson here is that people shouldn’t bury their negative emotions, but rather use those emotions in a constructive manner.
It is unlikely that this is the end of T.K.O.’s story. The character was first brought forth by the still-mysterious Shadowy Figure (Steven Ogg), who will most likely become a central antagonist come season two. Also, when T.K.O. and K.O. shake hands, T.K.O. sinisterly tells him “No take-backs,” hinting that whatever the negative consequences of their deal are, K.O. will be stuck with them.
The episode finds its real MVP in the character of Darrell. Back in the first episode, Darrell was the first villain K.O. fought, and since then has become more and more of a comic-relief character, being disrespected by his fellow robots and abused by Boxman himself. In this episode, as Boxmore is being blown to bits by Boxman Junior and T.K.O., Darrell calls up Boxman’s board of investors headed by Cosma (Marina Sirtis), and is appointed to head the company after Boxman is fired into the sun.
The episode’s title, “You’re In Control,” has a double meaning. It both refers to K.O. being in control of his powers, and to Darrell being in control of Boxmore. Both developments are sure to make season two of “OK K.O.!” just as great as season one, if not more so.