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The devil you know is better than the devil you don't, so goes the proverb. But when it comes to our heroes, how well do Astrid (Jana Morrison) and Lilly (Samantha Aucoin) know the details of their own memories?
That's the question posed by this week's monster, who is quite possibly the most creative villain to have come through the portal thus far in Astrid & Lilly Save the World. By exploiting the past traumas of its victims, it raises all kinds of points about memory and illusion, fact and fiction, and overcoming what holds us back.
That said, it also does want to kill people, so we shouldn't praise it too loudly.
So strap in, folks: We're about to get intensely introspective.
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for Astrid & Lilly Save the World Season 1, Episode 5, "A-Borg."**
When Astrid and Lilly show up for school, they each find little jacks-in-the-box in their lockers. Astrid thinks Sparrow left it for her as a cute joke, and Lilly thinks it was Brutus (Olivier Renaud). Valerie (Christina Orjalo) gets one too, as does Tate (Kolton Stewart), and the urge to crank those cranks is simply irresistible.
In reality, however, these jacks-in-the-box are the farthest thing from harmless pranks, and in fact are actually more like landmines that blow up in their recipients'... memories. When the toys explode, they temporarily transport the cranker into their minds, to relieve their worst memory. It's pretty sadistic.
For instance, Valerie is forced to relieve a time she was performing and farted live on stage; and Tate is trapped in a memory of being publicly scolded as a child by his father for slacking at soccer.
Cue Brutus with the DL. The knick knacks are the work of the latest interportal interloper, the Memoragotu, whose gambit is to trap its victims in a loop of their worst memory, feeding off their trauma until they waste away. The only way to vanquish the Memoragotu is to do it twice: the first time in the memory world, and second in the real one.
So everyone's got their work cut out for them.
After Tate forgoes a date with Candace (Julia Doyle) in favor of soccer practice, the spurned lover asks Lilly if she'd like to run lines for Romeo & Juliet with her. Lilly is honored, and invites Candace over to her house after school, incurring Astrid's jealousy.
But a few lines into the Bard's masterpiece, Lilly goes off-script, and goes into a trance, prey to her worst memory — one that just so happens to involve Candace. Lilly was just a toddler when her mothers took her to Candace's for the little diva's birthday, and she was disinvited right there at the threshold of the door. When Candace remembers Brutus's counsel, she storms through the door in her memory to confront Candace and her homophobic mother Christine (Geri Hall). This has a liberating effect on Lilly, who frees herself from the Memoragotu's grasp, as well as her own trauma.
But by this time, Astrid, Tate, Valerie, and even Brutus have beckoned the call of the Memoragotu, and in a trance wandered into town to a makeshift carnival where the monster plans to do something nasty to them.
Lilly, having risen above her memory, helps the others to do the same. Astrid is reliving the memory of when her father left home to pick something up for her and died in an accident on the way back. Astrid still feels guilty that she caused her father's death, and that her mother never forgave her. But as she digs deeper into the memory she realizes this is not true: Her father was heading to the office anyway on that fateful night, and her mother didn't think twice about forgiving her.
When Astrid sees the error of her thinking, she is able to overcome the Memoragotu in her mind and snap out of the trance. The same happens for Tate, who also realizes that sometimes memory is not his best friend, and when he comes to he helps Astrid and Lilly defeat the monster by impaling her through the head on a loose nail (always some of those around at a carnival).
Our heroes collect the Memoragotu's eyeball for the vessel, lift the spell on their classmates and Brutus, and make on their way, seemingly with a bit lighter step as they are freed of the shackle of false memory.