S01 x E02: Wembley and the Gorgs

Wembley's just been fed by Ma and Pa Gorg

Wembley likes his life! Don't judge him!

In this episode, Wembley learns an important lesson about the value of freedom after being captured by the Gorgs. He is an excessively agreeable sort, and when he learns that the Gorgs are King and Queen of the universe but have no subjects to order around, he volunteers. He only thinks of his new life as a bad thing when the Gorgs threaten to force his other Fraggle friends to be their subjects too, and realizes this would be pretty crappy for them. Then he saves the day and everyone gets home safe.

But! Children also learn an important lesson about violence as a tool to solve their problems! When the other Fraggles learn of Wembley’s capture, Gobo leads them to the rescue with a stirring battle song complete with snare drum and makeshift armor, and the only alternative plan is Boober’s certainty that Wembley is already as good as dead. A military response is the only response! Then when the rescuer Fraggles, confused by Wembley’s lack of going along with the heroic rescue, get captured too, the first thing Gobo does is poke Pa Gorg in the nose with a stick. When you’re stuck in a cage and have no power, obviously the thing to do is physically lash out at your captors before exploring any alternative options.

Wembley, believing in the goodness of the Gorgs and trusting their promise of a fair trial, mounts a stirring defense of his friends that saves their lives but confirms their arguments that the Gorgs are not interested in fairness but only enslaving Fraggles. Wembley reacts to this betrayal of his trust by biting Pa Gorg’s nose, and then everyone escapes safely back to Fraggle Rock. Seriously you guys, arbitrary authority figures are not to be trusted, negotiations are useless and the only answer is violent attack! Then what happens is everyone gets home safe and Wembley learns that being happy only matters if your friends think you’re free.

Gobo Fraggle playing a drum

Gobo Fraggle, warmonger

Alright, cool. Authority is not to be trusted, and freedom is worth violent rebellion. Which, ok I guess that is the message that gets taught about the American Revolution and a lot of people believe in the value of freedom, but there’s this thing where not everyone has the same perspective on who is an oppressive, illegitimate authority and what freedom means. Like the people who are still nostalgic for the Confederacy because they were justly rebelling against the Federal government’s oppressive attempts to take away their freedom to enslave black people.

Look, I’m a fan of freedom myself, and Lord knows I have trouble obeying arbitrary authorities, but TVTropes claims that Jim Henson conceived of Fraggle Rock when he wanted to do a show “about world peace.” I do see a lot of that in the show, in a lot of ways, but biting people on the nose is not my preferred method of achieving peace. In the real world, the Gorgs don’t just forget what you did by the next episode.

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