Right off the bat, the episode already scored some major points for the rather unique recap/intro. Chris’s maniacal laugh is clearly hinting at him becoming crazier, and the brief interruption with Chef was a genuinely hilarious moment unlike any we’ve seen in any recap before (regardless of it being a rehash of his cross-dressing joke from Total Drama Action).
First line of the episode outside the intro is Dawn, who, as always, was hilarious. And then we finally get a glimpse of intern Dakota: Thoroughly hilarious, always complaining, and being forever abused by Chris. Plus, the new shirt is a nice touch.
Also, setting up the episode’s challenge by revealing several of the contestants’ fears (such as Brick and Cameron) in a manner much more subtle than in Phobia Factor reveals the writers’ stylistic maturity and improvement later on in the series.
Finally, Lightning starts to get some payback for his attitude when he gets repeatedly beaten up by the squid monster. Now there’s some thoroughly hilarious physical comedy. Sam’s use of video game skills in defeating the monster was also epic. Once again, throughout the episode, Sam’s lines were thoroughly hilarious (“I think I can taste my liver”).
“PREDATOR” REFERENCE FTW.
With Dawn and Lightning going relatively early, a majority of the episode allowed for some hilarious conflicting interaction between Scott and Sam, which is fairly reminiscent of Harold and Duncan.
Brick and Jo were much better in this episode than before. While the last two episodes featured these two being more overkilled, the interaction between them here was just right, with Jo saving Brick one moment and then slapping him silly the next. In addition to interaction between them, we saw just as much of them individually as we did together. Brick becoming more hilarious with the revelation of his epic scream and his fear of the dark, as well as his determination to follow his cadet code of honor, and Jo becoming more antagonist with her cutthroat attitude; we finally see that these two are just as good separately as they are together.
Also, finally (dare I say it?), Anne Maria does something that I LIKE; she sticks up for Brick when he vanishes and Jo wants to leave him behind. Hmm. Perhaps she’s not completely worthless after all. Wait. Whoops.
*Mike falls and lands on a tombstone*
Anne Maria: Oh my gosh, Mike! …I think I found a clue! :D
After the rather brief hint at the Anne Maria/Mike/Zoey love triangle in the previous episode, the amount of focus on said triangle in this episode was just right; not nearly as overkilled and over-exaggerated as the series's previous love triangle. The amount of time spent between Mike and Zoey and Mike and Anne Maria was perfect, with the equal amount of focus allowing the audience a good view of both sides of the triangle. Similarly, the overall outcome of the triangle by the end of this episode was perfectly ambiguous; perfect way to lead into the next segment of the triangle.
The Sam and Dakota interaction was fairly good in this episode as well. Maybe not as good as Truth or Laser Shark, but it was still enjoyable.
After three episodes of Brick, Dawn, Sam, and Scott gradually getting better and better as the season progressed, we finally see another character join that league of “Better as it goes along:” Cameron. He starts showing some development that includes taking command of the team once Jo is removed, and overcoming his fear of spiders to save his team. He’s definitely looking more promising.
Finally, another old cast cameo. Izzy's cameo was just as good as Owen's and, once again, was my idea of the perfect classic contestant cameo: Brief, barely significant to the episode, but still somewhat shocking and funny. Plus, more Chef and Izzy. A nice refresher from the new cast, new conflicts, and new friendships, and our first glimpse in quite a while of what was easily one of the most hilarious and epic conflicts of the first generation.
The first major twist of the season: Brick is going to the Rats instead of being eliminated. Now THIS has “promising” written all over it.
With Dakota being fired at the end of the episode, I suddenly realized that there wasn’t nearly as much of intern Dakota as I expected. No matter though, since, knowing her, she’s guaranteed to return next episode.
Overall, this episode was the first that, in my opinion, didn’t overkill any one plot, any one character, or any one relationship too much. And, unlike the last episode, the quality of most of the scenes was much better. The physical comedy was there, the jokes and dialogue were there, and this was also definitely heavy on development (again, particularly Brick, Cameron, and Jo). While the first two episodes had heavy, borderline-overkill amounts of physical comedy, this was the first true episode that didn't rely on the pain to make it enjoyable; while the amount of pain was just right, the development seen over the course of this episode was the best by far out of all the fourth season episodes yet. And, on a side note, the multiple and very subtle pop culture references (Stephen King's Pet Sematary, "Predator," etc.) was a nice touch, too. Charles Johnston really should write more episodes for the series, because this one was golden. After the major disappointment that was the previous episode, this served as a perfect rebound. I’ll give it the first 10/10 of the season.