The Cuphead Show has not failed to disappoint with its second season. Cuphead and Mugman have broken out of prison, and they are back to their old shenanigans. They remain entertaining while paying homage to rubber-hose animation.
I watched season two with Harel Cohen. He played the game and beat it – an act of true sorcery – and has been a genius when relaying his strategies. We agree that Baroness von Bon Bon is an awful person but super entertaining to watch. She also made us both hungry, and while she tried to make us sick of candy, I just wanted to bake.
Does The Cuphead Show still match the spirit of the original game? Yes, but because we have occasional continuity, cracks are forming in Cuphead and Mugman's relationship.
Brothers In Arms
Cuphead and Mugman are still loving siblings. They get into shenanigans, and add Chalice to the mix when she knocks on their door. Elder Kettle also shows he cares for the boys, even while they exasperate him.
Something has changed, however; Mugman is less patient with his brother's shenanigans and less willing to go along with the visibly dangerous ones. He keeps extinguishing the matches for Cuphead's impromptu jetpack, and yelling at him to chop firewood for the winter like Elder Kettle asked. Mugman also kicks Cuphead out of the house for stealing his carefully-saved Halloween candy. There's a sense of growing impatience.
We see this start in the jail episode. After a few failed escape attempts, Mugman gives up and decides they should serve their sentence. Cuphead's solo escape attempt (which follows a fight with Mugman) leads to him being electrocuted. It takes Cuphead's growing despair for Mugman to snap out of it and make a new plan.
Mugman is not perfect, however: one solo episode has him snapping at the ice cream man for interrupting his quiet time and then spoiling the book that he's reading. He also plots to drop a piano on Cuphead for surpassing him in piano lessons. This mug has become a little more sadistic, perhaps from prison experiences. He is perhaps traumatized about the fact that their life went awry in a matter of weeks.
Best Episode of the Season
That would probably be "Release the Demons!" Both the Devil and King Dice appear, and King Dice is woefully underutilized. I suspect that Wayne Brady is too busy and expensive to be a regular villain, since otherwise he steals the show as King Dice.
We find out why the Devil hasn't gone after Cuphead: he needed weeks to recover from all those invisible sweater burns. After that, depression and ennui hit him, along with the realization that his bad temper was going to do him in one day. The problem is that all attempts to curb his bad temper lead to the Devil setting everything nearby on fire. That includes two demon armies that he wished to sic on Cuphead, the finest and second-finest.
The third-finest demons, along with King Dice, have to go and capture Cuphead while the latter and Mugman are traversing a "scary" corn maze with cheesy puppetry. We get some hilarious gags as Cuphead mistakes the demons and attacks for special effects, casually walking over a monster turtle and dodging a vulture acid attack. The music also helps, borrowed from the game's Mausoleum levels.
"Ask for tickets!" I said when the monsters didn't pay the admission fee for the maze and the usher ran for it.
"Would you risk your life for tickets?" Harel asked.
"You make a good point," I admitted.
King Dice and the Devil screw the pooch independently. Wanting his former glory back, King Dice schemes to wipe out the other demons before taking Cuphead personally. This may have worked if Devil didn't see him dancing, and sent the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to grab the Cup. The Horsemen freeze King Dice on site, before Mugman accidentally scares their mounts. Then Stickler appears, revealing that because the Devil dawdled, Cuphead's soul contract expired.
"Release the Demons" showed there were long-term consequences for everyone's actions. Cuphead's determination to prove himself nearly endangered his life because he failed to recognize real monsters. The Devil procrastinated and sabotaged Stickler, leading to him losing the soul. And King Dice shot himself in the foot by proving he wasn't a team player.
Worst Episode of the Season
Harel may think ‘Lost in the Woods’ is the best song in Frozen 2; I haven't seen the movie, but he agrees with me it’s the worst episode of the show. I find the episode terrible in terms of characterization. Funny, but terrible.
The Cups and Elder Kettle prepare for the winter. Rather, Elder Kettle and Mugman do; Cuphead spends his time blowing up fireworks. When Elder Kettle tells Cuphead that they need to cut firewood now to be able to enjoy the winter, Cuphead responds by blowing up the firewood pile that Elder Kettle just finished, arguing that now "the hard work" is gone. As punishment, Elder Kettle sends him to chop more firewood in another part of the woods. He doesn't take an axe.
Mugman at this point was too good for his own good. He could have helped Elder Kettle, and let Cuphead figure out on his own he can't expect to find his way back without a compass. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way that you can't rely on other people to clean up your messes.
Instead, Mugman follows to help his brother. Cuphead in response blows up their axes, and Mugman's compass, when he realizes the sun is going down and they don't know where they are. He claims that he can get by in winter without worrying and find his way home. When reality proves him wrong, he locks Mugman out of the cabin that Mugman built carefully to wait out the cold, and steals his food. Mugman was going to let him freeze out of anger that Cuphead got them in this mess, but felt guilty because they're still brothers.
Naturally, Cuphead learns nothing by the end of the episode when Elder Kettle finds the boys fighting in the snow, revealing they were only outside for a day or so and weren't far from the cottage. He orders them inside before they get sick. Mugman apologizes to Cuphead for losing his temper, only for Cuphead to send him flying in a rocket. Cue the credits.
No one suffers long-term consequences, and that is why the episode sucks. Some character development would have been great, but it was sacrificed for comedy. That was disappointing.
Awaiting Season Three
The best and the worst episodes combined in an interesting way with the season finale, "The Devil's Pitchfork". After Cuphead dismisses Mugman attempting to do something nice for him by building a tandem bike, they find the Devil left his pitchfork in the woods. Mugman is naturally cautious and scared, but Cuphead picks up the weapon and starts playing with it. Soon the Devil catches up to them, willing to leave in peace if they give back the pitchfork. That doesn't end up happening.
We learn that the Devil may be less powerful without his pitchfork, but he is still dangerous. After Cuphead opts to zap him too many times rather than hand over the pitchfork, the Devil loses his temper. He kidnaps Mugman, as an equivalent exchange since Cuphead took "something of value" to him.
Cuphead finally faces consequences. Mugman said, in "Lost in the Woods", that his brother only survived because others would bail him out. Now no one can get him out of this jam. He has to either come clean to Elder Kettle about this fiasco with the Devil, or rescue Mugman.
Season three will bring the ultimate test to Cuphead: can he finally face himself in the mirror, and change for his brother's sake? Or will it be fireworks again? The season two teaser clip of him saying "Let's go" hints that it will be the former. But we have to wait. Like we did for the DLC.
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