Humanity searches for connection, both on a personal level and a global scale, as satisfaction is attained and lost. Kinship is found in unexpected places, whether it’s in nations on the other side of the globe or the other half of one’s self that’s firmly fastened to their own body. Fulfillment is found, but the routine desire for more causes cracks in the foundation as this compromised happiness begins to crumble.
Acceptance is not an easy thing, whether it’s an acceptance of others or an acceptance of oneself. The human mind has a tendency to rationalize or defend itself in a way where acceptance can be a difficult thing, even when it should be easy. The Shivering Truth’s latest episode, “The Diff,” breaks down this idea in many different ways, all of which shine a light on humanity’s need for connection in what’s one of the series’ best episodes.
“The Diff” finds unreasonable beauty in how an independent, lonely nation can actually be the complimentary other half to a different society of lovelorn souls. This idea in itself and the absurd place that the story eventually goes to are so beautiful, but the visuals that accompany it help transcend this theme. Images of these two lonely nations superimposed over each other in order to create the allusion of togetherness is such an artistic way to depict their inherent bond. This instinctual longing between territories becomes so palpable that the layout of the world changes in order to accommodate their connection. It’s a wild, messy expression of love that becomes fundamental to the episode.
One story that becomes the tether to the entire episode revolves around an individual who gains the miracle of sight for the first time, only to be extremely underwhelmed by the “common” banality of it all. It’s not nearly as exciting as he had anticipated. This is a wonderfully twisted extrapolation on the whole “grass is always greener…” adage in the ultimate sense. The world and all of its nature is beautiful, but to be so jaded over the nebulous idea of “more” is unfortunately an all-too common way that people act. It gets to the point where this individual would rather blind himself and be back to the soothing lull of darkness than to have to constantly confront the disappointment that courses around him. The alternative that follows is even more ridiculous as this discouraged soul manages to cheat reality and enter the world “beyond vision.”
Another tale of re-appropriated pain involves a creative spin on kids who get bullied, but attempt to own it and not let it get to them as a way to take the satisfaction away from the bully. Many of the ideas in The Shivering Truth feel like some random observation that Vernon Chatman has had that he then tries to push as far as possible. This is very much one of those situations where a boy who gets tripped by some bullies chooses to remain in a state of constant tripped-ness for his entire lifetime. He uses this destructive act of bullying to imbue the world with more dignity.
The boy creates a tornado of positivity from out of this mean-spirited act. Every surreal suggestion in The Shivering Truth looks gorgeous, but this story features perpetual motion as these forever tumbling lovers go through life in this controlled chaos. Each episode of The Shivering Truth usually indulges in some kind of unusual love story. The tumbling newlyweds aren’t the best romantic parable from the season, but it’s still enjoyable madness. It’s able to use the visual absurdity to comment on some legitimate relationship problems and inspired wordplay about how they’re “just going through the motions” is the style of metonymic brilliance that I come to expect from The Shivering Truth.
This love story gradually morphs into a commentary on “hybrids” and fusion cuisine that demonstrates another genius concept on the show’s part. The actions of the surgeon/ambulance driver/cook wunderkind are simultaneously gruesome and hilarious and tonally it’s a smart way to reflect the duality of the scene itself and the episode as a whole. The Shivering Truth is often at its best when its able to mash together ideas like this that are also able to provide snide critiques on society. It’s such a bizarre digression for the episode to take, but it oddly does feel real in the sense of how thin some people need to spread themselves to survive in the economy.
The Shivering Truth sometimes delivers episodes that are relatively disconnected, but for the most part the series does an impressive job of making its stories dovetail together and share some kind of inter-connectivity. “The Diff” is an especially good example of this and even though each of the segments feel like their own stories, the way in which the initial tale comes back at the end is so well done. This installment is also full of a handful of sleek match cuts and visual transitions that help one story bleed into the next. All of these links really help the episode’s larger theme of ungratefulness come forward. It doesn’t feel like a single frame is wasted in this episode.
The final segment of “The Diff” is arguably the strongest example of the ideas that the episode plays around with as well as a stunning illustration of Jungian theories on the complexity and multitudes that man contains. A man is split in half into his separate selves, which proceed to bully each other and end up in a toxic co-dependent relationship, even if they don’t realize it. The resolution where these two halves of one man find a way to be whole again masterfully ties the whole episode together and really makes this episode a home-run. It’s so satisfying when all of the show’s disparate threads turn out to actually be weaving one giant and disturbing tapestry.
On an aesthetic level, the score in “The Diff” is particularly exceptional. The use of classical string music to help amplify the tension through the bulk of the entry isn’t anything unusual for The Shivering Truth. However, the end of this episode transforms into a synth-like score during the final chapter. To top all of this off, the decaying and bifurcated version of “Long Lankin” that plays over the end credits is the most powerful version yet. It all culminates in a conclusion that’s extremely powerful on every level. That disturbing demon voice is also a nice touch.
“The Diff” could easily be the best episode of The Shivering Truth’s second season so far, but that’s hard to say in a collection of episodes that have all pushed the limits of storytelling and animation as much as possible. All of the ideas in this entry are entertaining and amazing on their own, but this is an episode that truly excels when all of the pieces come together. You don’t need to be able to see beyond vision to recognize that.
Now, time to renew that TownPownder.hot subscription…