Recap / Asterix in Switzerland

In Condatum, a Roman Quaestor named Vexatious Sinusitus is investigating the actions of corrupt Governor Varius Flavus when he is poisoned by his quarry. He has, however, heard of Getafix from Ceasar's epileptic rantings and sends his guard to fetch the druid. Bound always to help the sick, Getafix goes to Sinusitus accompanied by Asterix and Obelix. He soon realises what has happened, though he keeps this detail from Flavus. Getafix can cure Sinusitus, but the cure requires the silver star (now known as the edelweiss), a rare flower that grows only at very high altitudes, and so dispatches Asterix and Obelix to Helvetia (or Switzerland as we call it today) to find one. In the meantime, Sinusitus will go back to the Gaulish village, supposedly as a hostage to ensure Asterix and Obelix's safe return, but actually to get him away from Flavus. Nonetheless, this gives Flavus an extra reason to want to stop Asterix, and he sends a messenger to Genava, the capital of Helvetia, to ask the local governor Curious Odus (an old friend, and equally corrupt) for help.

In Helvetia, the two Gauls find themselves constantly chased by Odus' troops, but evade them with the help of some friendly Helvetians. Eventually, they come to the mountains and begin climbing. Unfortunately, Obelix is in a drunken stupor by this point, but a group of Helvetians help Asterix to pull him up behind them (together with a Roman legionary who grabbed Obelix's hand at the bottom and spends the entire climb clinging on in desperation). They finally find a silver star and continue to the top: Gaul is an easy descent of the other side of the mountain away.

Back in the Gaulish village, Varius Flavus arrives to pretend to be upset about Asterix and Obelix not getting back and the Gauls having to kill their hostage — at which point a fully-cured Sinusitus emerges from Getafix's hut and punches Flavus into the sky, telling him that, when he lands, he'll be thrown to the lions along with Curious Odus. Sinusitus then becomes the first-ever Roman to join the Gauls at their traditional banquet.

Tropes

  • Bamboo Technology: The "Cuckoo" clocks.
  • Big Eater: Most of the Romans, who are eating incredibly rich food such as tripe fried in dripping and served with honey, and cheese fondue.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Sinusitus. As a Quaestor, his job was to investigate corruption (and also murder), so he's exactly this. In modern-day Italy, questore is an actual police rank.
  • Continuity Nod: Geriatrix still has the club he took from Magnumopus in the climactic battle in the previous album, Asterix and the Roman Agent.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: For losing your piece of bread in the cheese Fondue for the third time.
  • Corrupt Politician: Varius Flavus, who collects a fortune in taxes, only to divert them to his personal hoard and spend the remainder on orgies, while sending just a few pieces of gold to Rome. To a lesser extent, Curious Odus, who for the most part doesn't actually seem especially worse than most of the other Roman authority figures seen in the series, but is quite willing to be part of the plan to kill Sinusitus.
  • Covered in Gunge: The people attending the orgy become increasingly covered in a thick blanket of melted cheese.
  • Darker and Edgier: Not that the album doesn't contain the usual Asterix humor, but this story has one of the more darker plotlines of the Asterix series. The whole reason Asterix and Obelix have to go on their quest is to save an innocent man from assassination by poisoning. The fact that two of Varius Flavus' poison rings turn out to be empty heavily suggests this isn't the first time he disposed of an opponent in this manner.
  • Flower from the Mountaintop: Asterix and Obelix have to pluck one. The flower is of course edelweiss.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • After swimming and climbing a mountain to get Asterix and Obelix one Roman complains about doing all these activities. His centurion snaps back: "We're not taking a holiday here." Amusing, because today both swimming and mountain climbing are holiday activities in Switzerland.
    • When Asterix uses Obelix' body to slide down the snowy mountain he references another popular Swiss sport and holiday activity: snow sliding and/or skiing.
  • The Ghost: the famous pirates have this role in the story. They don't appear on screen, but are mentioned by Vexatious Sinusitus; apparently, they attacked his ship while he was on his way to Gaul, but fortunately got into an argument with each other and sank their own ship.
  • Heavy Sleeper: Obelix misses most of the excitement, sleeping through climbing a mountain and several battles due to him drinking a whole barrel of alcohol. His description of Helvetia after the fact is "Flat."
  • National Stereotypes: The Helvetians (Swiss) are portrayed as punctual, obsessed with keeping everything clean, and very good at banking. They are also seen playing Alpine horns, yodeling and eating cheese.
  • Neat Freak: Most Swiss people shown, something that many would call Truth in Television.
  • Poison Ring: Varius Flavus has so many of these (and has apparently used almost all of them) that he has trouble finding the still-loaded one.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Sinusitus, excluding Caesar, the first honest Roman official in the series.
  • Running Gag: Every time the possibility of eating boar's tripe fried in aurochs' dripping is mentioned, someone will excitedly ask, "With honey??" At one point, one of Flavus' guards falls into a cauldron of cold boar's tripe fried in aurochs' dripping, and as he eats the contents, he asks if anyone has a spot of honey.
  • Save the Villain: Getafix decides to help curing a terminally ill Roman, despite the fact that Romans are usually their enemies.
    • A Swiss beats up a Roman, then gives him medical aid afterwards, because even their enemies should receive medical help (a reference to the fact that the Red Cross was created by Swiss Henri Durant).
    • Even Obelix checks the pulse of a legionary he's just knocked out.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Asterix and Obelix have their tire changed by Antar, the mascot of the French service station Antar. In the English version, it is changed by Bibendum, the mascot of Michelin.
    • The orgy scenes at Varius Flavus' palace in Condatum are a spoof of similar scenes in Federico Fellini's film Satyricon.
  • Swiss Bank Account: Where Asterix and Obelix spend the night without being bothered by Romans.
  • Take That: The palace of international conferences where Asterix, Obelix, and Petitsuix hide from the Romans is a reference to the various international peacekeeping organisations with headquarters in Geneva. Given that the floor is held by a delegate giving a long-winded speech that has bored most of his audience to sleep, we may conclude that Goscinny and Uderzo were not impressed by such organisations! Or just political organisations in general.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Varius Flavus poisons Sinusitus's vegetable soup to keep him from discovering how much he has been skimming off the top of the taxes he is supposedly collecting for Rome.
  • Vacation Episode: Asterix and Obelix travel to Helvetia, aka Switzerland.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: While it's mentioned that both Varius Flavus and Curious Odus will have their day in the Circus over their actions, no mention is made of Flavus' tax collector Caius Eucalyptus, who was very much in on the scheme and disappeared from the story at the halfway point. Granted, Eucalyptus did seem smarter than his boss (in particular, warning him that Rome might get a bit suspicious if he carries on holding huge orgies while claiming to earn no money), so he may have taken more care to hide his misdeeds.
  • William Telling: Asterix does some archery and hits a bulls-eye, just narrowly missing an apple balanced on a boy's head. Spectators were impressed, but felt something was missing.
  • Windbag Politician: The peacekeeping conference is a bunch of tribal chieftains speaking in turns to wake up all the others.
  • Yodel Land: A very romanticized version of Switzerland is shown here, with all the Alpine clichés thrown together.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Recap/AsterixInSwitzerland