The Muppets Recap: Going, Going, Gonzo

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By Karen Valenzuela, @VictoriaNoir89

ABC’s The Muppets is at its best when it reaches back into its bag of old Muppet gimmicks. This week’s episode was a great one for that exact reason.

You can feel this show starting to really find its warm core as the episodes go on. The last few episodes especially have really brought out the warmth of the Muppets, the sweetness that captured so many fans over the last 40-plus years since Jim Henson first brought them to life.

As the episode opens, Miss Piggy is trying to persuade Kermit to allow her to promote her new line of bottled water on Up Late with Miss Piggy. He tells her no, in spite of how marketable it is. (Just kidding. It has lipstick on the rim, as though Piggy has already had a few drinks from it. Because how delicious. Drinking water from the same bottle that a pig drank from. Apparently it also has 30 grams of fat, which…what? It’s water.)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt guest stars on the show and sings a duet with Piggy. How timely that they choose an old Sinatra great: “Fly Me to the Moon.” As always, Gordon-Levitt is overwhelmingly charming as they sing together. But when Sweetums misses his cue to lower the giant glowing moon behind the singing pair onstage, Kermit has to send Gonzo backstage to find out what’s going on.

Muppets 9 TNM PIC 1
Don’t read hees, don’t read hees, no joo can’t read hees poker face.

As it turns out, Sweetums sneezed, causing him to break his headset, which is why he missed his cue. Sweetums sneezes again and lets go of the rope. Somehow Gonzo’s gotten caught in it and he goes surging up into the rafters. His misfortune causes the moon to start swinging back and forth behind Gordon-Levitt and Piggy, even while they attempt to continue the song. In spite of how close the giant pendulum of moon doom comes to taking them both out, they muddle through, and Gonzo eventually frees himself, going through a series of incredibly painful violent situations before he finally crashes onto the snack table.

His spirit of adventure is reawakened after the harrowing, death-defying incident. And he decides he wants to try to recreate his old Gonzo the Great act. YES! YES, YOU GUESSED IT! The cannon!! Finally!!! When he broaches the subject with Kermit, our favorite frog tells him he’ll make room for Gonzo to do the cannon act on the show. One problem. Gonzo has made Piggy’s bad list after the fiasco he caused with the moon.

Kermit goes to bat for him with Piggy, telling her he thinks the show could use “some splash” in the form of Gonzo’s old shooting-himself-out-of-a-cannon act. Piggy only relents when Kermit says her Piggy Water can sponsor the jump. Anything to sell that water! (Which apparently tastes like butter and that’s seriously sickening). Gonzo even has to wear a suit Piggy Water provides for him and he has to call himself The Great Gonzo Brought to you by Piggy Water…“even answering the phone and stuff” because that’s what the contract says. And, because he’s the best executive producer ever, Kermit also snagged Dave Grohl to perform during the stunt. (Kermit is like the Muppet version of Zac Levi with all of his showbiz friends, am I right?)

Because being terrible scientists is what Bunsen and Beaker do best, they do some “experiments” to deem the probability of Gonzo surviving the stunt. And it’s not very encouraging. It causes Gonzo to have plenty of doubts and fears. And he starts searching for ways to get other people to call off the stunt so that he doesn’t have to do it. Kermit, being the smart and thoughtful frog we all know he can be, recognizes that Gonzo is afraid. He tells him he should call it off because he doesn’t want his name being associated with Piggy Water, which the FDA has deemed more of a sauce than water (SIIICK!), thus giving Gonzo a way out that doesn’t make him seem like a coward. Gonzo finally admits he’s scared after a little pressure from Kermit, and they both decide it’s best to call it off.

When Up Late with Miss Piggy airs, and Dave Grohl plus Electric Mayhem plays his song, “Learning to Fly,” Gonzo watches from the producer’s booth. He asks Kermit if he really thought he could’ve made the jump, and Kermit admits that if anybody could do it, it’d be Gonzo. When Kermit turns around, Gonzo is gone. Terrified, he runs up to the roof and sees Gonzo poised in his cannon! The cannon shoots the Great Gonzo all the way to the next building and into a vat of Piggy Water successfully! GONZO IS ALIVE! And Gonzo and Kermit are adorable! YAAAAAY! (Kermit flail)

Meanwhile, Scooter has a major life realization. He was standing right next to Gonzo when the moon mishap occurred and he has a “What if it had been me?” moment. His near death experience makes him want to live! He wants to see things, do things, be spontaneous! (Cue patting Scooter on the head and telling him he’s sweet.)

He goes to the right people—Electric Mayhem! He wants to live like them. On the edge. (Scooter, no. Janice tried to make you hang your aura on a hook when you came in. You don’t want what they’re having.) Janice convinces him to let her pierce his ear. And y’all know I love Janice, but I question her hygiene and the hygiene of whatever needle she’s going to be using to pierce Scooter’s ear. Scooter has a complete freak out as Janice tries to pierce his ear. He refuses to let her do it, even forcing Dr. Teeth to hold his head. He goes Chuck-After-Downloading-The-Intersect-2.0 on the band and throws Animal into a lamp, wrecking the place and dashing out.

Scooter returns the next day to apologize to the band for wrecking their pad, but they aren’t upset with him. In fact, they all seem to have enjoyed it. And Janice tells him his aura has turned from the same yellow color it’s always been to a vibrant indigo ever since the day before. Sweet, Scooter. Super sweet. You lived on the edge, I guess. And now your aura is indigo. Like, fer surrre.

After he sings with Piggy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Can I call him Joey? Rizzo calls him Joey. I’ll call him Joey.)—Joey is invited to play poker with Rizzo, Pepe, Big Mean Carl, Kermit, and Gonzo. They’re under the impression that they’re teaching him to play poker, but he swindles, bamboozles, hornswoggles, and otherwise cheats the boys out of their chips, then runs away cackling about taking their Muppet money. WHO STEALS FROM MUPPETS, JOEY?? COME ON! In spite of that, he’s hilarious and charming, so he’s forgiven.

The guest appearances in “Going, Going, Gonzo” were great. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has such a sweet singing voice, and he makes an amazing joke about his 2012 film Looper having a confusing plot, but, “people don’t care about plots. You know what they care about? ACTING!” Dave Grohl’s drum-off with Animal was entertaining, as was his banter with the rest of the band. And “Learning to Fly” was strangely inspiring as the background to Gonzo finally doing that one stunt that had always alluded him in his career as a stuntman.

Kermit’s protectiveness over Gonzo’s feelings and physical well-being is much sweeter in this episode than it was when he butted into Fozzie’s romance with Becky. And the scene in the bar when Kermit tells Gonzo it’s okay to be afraid, how Gonzo takes his hand and thanks him…it was exactly the beautiful amount of heart that makes these creatures so special to so many of us. Couple that with Gonzo’s triumph at the end and how bleeping excited Kermit is for him…MAN! Just a bowl of feels!

The heartwarming force was strong with this episode! But you know what other force was strong? The comedic force.

Here are some things:

  • Miss Piggy: “I lost a lot of money on my shower gel. Still a mystery to me why nobody bought Hogwash!”
  • Miss Piggy: (to JGL) “Now I understand that you started out as a child actor. Why’d you give that up?”
  • Sweetums with a cold is like a bull in a china closet. I think it’s because he’s so giant. Makes me almost feel bad for tall people. Almost. (I’m not glaring at tall people.)
  • Sweetums was disturbingly upset about Piggy putting him on her “list.” Like, he fell to his knees with a “NOOOOOOOOO” and cried into his hands…paws? Claws? I was slightly disturbed. Sweetums, it’s just Piggy. You’ll be okay, sweetheart.
  • You guys know how gung-ho I am about Muppets being bodily thrown across the screen, right? Those limp limbs flailing about as they shoot past…it’s just hilarious. Basically, it’s the first thing I thought of when I heard Gonzo was going do his cannon act.
  • Miss Piggy: “You can get on my list by breathing loud, showing weakness, eating BLTs with the B, or ruining my song!”
  • Scooter: “Why was I spared? What is my purpose?”
    Pepe: “Well, based on that story, it is not telling stories.”
  • Scooter: “This was a wake up call! And not the usual kind where mom comes in and plays a James Taylor tune until I gently stir awake.” Now, is this a mom thing? Or do I have the same mom as Scooter? I mean…what? Nothing.
  • Big Mean Carl gets really angry during the poker game because someone’s picking the good stuff out of the Chex Mix. “The only thing left in here are these stupid brown discs!” I laughed way too hard at this because I’ve thrown the exact same fit before. WHY DOES NOBODY EVER EAT THE BROWN FLAT THINGS IN THE CHEX MIX?! THOSE ARE ALWAYS ALL THAT’S LEFT!
  • Do any of the Muppets know how to actually play poker?
  • Pepe is everything during that poker scene. He. Is. Everything.
  • Piggy needs to stop with the electric shock beauty treatment thing because that cannot be healthy. (And also, because I’m awful, I wonder if her dressing room smelled like bacon after that. I KNOW, I’M AWFUL!)
  • Also I want to be in the Glamour Coma. That sounds glamorous. Which is a step above what I am at any given moment of the day.
  • Floyd: “My friend, Eddy, he lives out in the desert. You can give him a call. He’s got a time machine!”
    Zoot: “Yeah, he lets me use it on weekends! I climb in there on Friday. When I get out, it’s Saturday. The whole thing takes about a day.”
  • Uncle Deadly struggling to zip Gonzo into his suit was pure comedic class. So pure.
  • Kermit: “You know what my dream is, Gonzo? That my friends know they can tell me anything, and I’ll never judge ‘em.”
    Gonzo: “Wow, Kermit. That is a very boring dream.”
  • There was some Muppet dancing in this episode and I ADORED IT.
  • Kermit’s YAAAAAAAY and crazy arm flail when Gonzo made it across safely made me scream and point at my TV! I needed this!
  • The Dave Grohl versus Animal drum solo battle was a great little moment to end the episode on, for sure. Two of the best and most well-known drummers in rock history. Going head to head. Rad.


Catch the winter finale tonight on ABC at 8pm EST/PST! Mindy Kaling will be on and it’s going to be all sorts of holiday spirit-ish!

Rating: 4/5


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