When it comes to Mordecai’s agonizingly slow, barely existent courtship of Margaret, the real question isn’t so much when will these two lovebirds (pun absolutely intended) get together as it is just what Margaret sees in Mordecai in the first place. Mordecai is, as Rigby suggests at various points in tonight’s episode, a wuss and a loser. He’s a coward who, despite the overwhelming evidence that Margaret reciprocates his feelings for him, is still so terrified of rejection he can’t even bring himself to put his arm around her. Worse, his fear manifests as off-putting awkwardness, as he disobeys his own internal monologue by tearing off some paper towels and suggesting Margaret wear them as a makeshift quilt. It’s embarrassing for all involved, but it’s important to see Mordecai at his absolute nadir before he can finally bring himself to make his long-awaited move.
“Meteor Moves” concludes the loose trilogy that began with “Do Or Diaper” and “Picking Up Margaret,” with last season’s “Bad Kiss” acting as a vague prologue. Mordecai and Margaret have gradually acted on their feelings over the course of those episodes. In retrospect, it was the right decision for Mordecai’s character to undo their initial smooch in “Bad Kiss,” as neither of them really understood then what their relationship actually meant, if it even existed. That erased first kiss was a release for all their pent-up, confused feelings for each other, but the pair—or maybe just Mordecai—hadn’t yet reached a point of maturity where they could sensibly deal with its aftermath. Mordecai still had a lot of growing up to do before he could truly pursue Margaret, and that’s what this season’s trilogy of Margaret-centric episodes have provided. In “Do Or Diaper,” the universe finally forced him to be honest; in “Picking Up Margaret,” the universe finally forced him to prove why he was worth kissing; and now in “Meteor Moves,” the universe finally forces him to show that he’s actually capable of being honest about his feelings. Basically, the cosmos has had to drag him kicking and screaming into emotional maturity, and it’s only really in this final episode that Mordecai moves from passive to active when it comes to his romantic feelings for Margaret. None of this really reflects all that well on him, but it’s hard to quibble too much with the results.
Let’s not forget Rigby’s role in all this. Mordecai’s best friend was largely content to defer to Muscle Man in “Do Or Diaper” and didn’t have much of a role in “Picking Up Margaret,” but he’s a key instigator of this episode’s events. While his own constant harping about the friend zone reveals some of his own immaturity—Rigby is a guy whose views on relationships have clearly never moved much beyond sophomore year of high school—his primary motivation here is to get Mordecai to bust out of his cowardly stasis. On some level, he’s trying to be the supportive friend, but he’s also clearly fed up with Mordecai’s constant stalling. That’s understandable considering Rigby is the one who has had to listen to Mordecai drone on and on about Margaret for the last few years. He’s ready for this to be over one way or the other, as revealed by his complete freak-out during the meteor shower. The episode makes brilliant use of Rigby, because it’s such a natural extension of his essential place within the Regular Show universe. He’s the man (or raccoon) of action in the sense that he always has to be doing something; as lazy as he is, he can’t deal with inactivity, with sitting still. He’s the raging, uncontrollable id to Mordecai’s eternally cautious, paralyzed superego, and so it’s quite right that Rigby’s frantic outburst triggers the final buildup towards the big kiss.
But before we get to the meteor shower, it’s worth examining Mordecai’s self-described deep conversation with Margaret. As I noted earlier, it’s always been a bit of an open question what Margaret actually sees in Mordecai, and the heroism he displayed in “Picking Up Margaret” doesn’t really provide an answer. As Rigby says at the start of this episode, that earlier adventure was ultimately just Mordecai taking Margaret to the episode, which means it was really just him doing her a favor. For all its craziness, that amounted to little more than a single gesture—a grand, romantic one perhaps, and it’s not difficult to see why Margaret might feel so moved to kiss Mordecai at the end of it—but that’s really a one-off thing. Relationships need a sturdier foundation than just fighting off some cellphone-obsessed punks, and Margaret and Mordecai’s discussion hints at what such a foundation might be. Mordecai is still terminally awkward, and his joke about working at the park for the rest of his life rings a little too true, but he displays real sympathy and support for Margaret as she pursues her dreams; he never even faintly suggests she should stay behind if she’s going to miss him so much, for instance. He’s a loser, not a jerk, and so there’s hope for him yet.
In a fairly inevitable development, the much-discussed Friend Zone is revealed as a dangerously real thing, in which a talking meteor keeps would-be lovers in their own personal knockoffs of the Phantom Zone from Superman II. (Fine, maybe that specific development wasn’t inevitable, but you get the idea.) This is where “Meteor Moves” has to thread a fine narrative needle, and I’m not entirely sure it succeeds. The Guardian of the Friend Zone is a sage, helpful sort, and he confronts Mordecai with the brutal truth of all his past missed opportunities. The key idea here is that Mordecai has been presented with myriad opportunities that were, if not perfect, then at least more than good enough. For so long, Mordecai has refused to take control of his own life, essentially allowing fate to determine whether he and Margaret ever get together. Well, the universe has frankly done its part on multiple occasions, and now it’s up for Mordecai to stop wimping out. The big meteor-framed kiss is nice, but the fact that they silently hold hands as they walk back to the car is the really important, beautiful moment.
The only problem here is that resolution, as sweet as it is, comes dangerously close to sidelining Margaret when this is just as much her story as it is Mordecai’s. She is kept in her pocket dimension while Mordecai and the Guardian have their climactic chat, and she has no idea what’s going on once the Guardian temporarily lifts the barrier between them. This narrative streamlining does make some sense, as the point of the Friend Zone imprisonment is for Mordecai to recognize that it’s his inaction that has kept him and Margaret apart. But surely that’s just as true for Margaret—she also could have more concretely followed up after the events of “Picking Up Margaret,” for instance. Regular Show has done such a good job in these episodes in making Margaret more than just some prize for Mordecai to win through his actions, so her exclusion from the Guardian’s rebuke is a moderate miscalculation. It would have been messier for both Mordecai and Margaret to be completely honest about their feelings, but it also would have been more mature. But then, if this really is the start of something for those two, there’s plenty of time to explore their relationship in hopefully illuminating detail. This could be the start of a new era for Regular Show, and I’m excited to see where this now goes.
- So this all means we can officially start the countdown clock for Rigby and Eileen, right?
- Did anyone recognize the voice of the Guardian? I think that might have been Wayne Knight, but it’s times like this I wish I could find voice credits for these episodes.