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Recap / SpongeBob SquarePants S 1 E 6 "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy" / "Pickles"

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United States airdate: August 21, 1999

Canada airdate: April 29, 2000

SpongeBob and Patrick meet their heroes from their favorite TV show, but they are disappointed to find out that they are retired. This prompts the two to try and get them out of retirement and fight crime again.

The episode begins with another exciting episode of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy handily beating yet another villain with their signature “Raging Whirlpool”. SpongeBob and Patrick, dressed as their heroes, cheer and proceed to play pretend that they’re the real heroes. Using a pair of donuts as rings, they unite and go outside to play with Squidward. But when Squidward as “Reflecto” gets fed up at their playing getting in the way of his tan, he tells them to go to the local retirement home to meet the real ones and get out of his hair. Our dimwitted duo travel to Shady Shoals Retirement Home and meet their heroes, now two old men who just want their TV fixed. Unswayed by Banacle Boy and the warden kicking them out and Mermaid Man being sent into panic attacks at the word “evil”, they try their best to remind them of their heroing days, up to and including faking a purse snatching and painting the Invisible Boatmobile (“It’s supposed to be invisible!”). The later turns out to be the last straw as the heroes use their powers to have their fellow elderly form an angry mob and toss the duo out. This in fact makes them feel young and start heroing again with "The New Adventures of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy". The episode ends with Patrick congratulating SpongeBob on a job well done, to which SpongeBob thumbs up and winks to the camera. The End.


Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy provide examples of:

  • Accidental Marriage: A delusional, senile Mermaid Man, a confused SpongeBob and the warden of Shady Shoals take part in this hilarious exchange.
    Mermaid Man: Listen up you villains, I wanna eat my meat loaf! If you don't get out of here, then by the power invested in me, I now pronounce you man and wife!
    Mermaid Man: (Talking to the warden, pointing at SpongeBob) You may kiss the bride!
    {A wedding theme is played as SpongeBob is thrown out of Shady Shoals and rolls home, where Patrick is waiting for him)
    Patrick: Did you reunite our heroes?
    SpongeBob: No. But I'm married.
  • Actor Allusion: Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway previously starred together in a different nautical-themed TV show, McHale's Navy, albeit with the roles reversed: Borgnine was the straight man and Conway was the funny one.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bad "Bad Acting": SpongeBob and Patrick, pretending to be a helpless young woman and a crook, respectively, to get their heroes back into crime fighting. It doesn't work.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Mermaid Man goes absolutely bonkers whenever someone says "There's evil afoot!"
    • Never paint the Invisible Boatmobile. SpongeBob and Patrick learn that the hard way.
  • Brick Joke: "DOUGHNUTS!"
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Mermaid Man. Of course, he's probably just senile.
  • Cool Old Guy: SpongeBob's speech about old people being great as it regards to Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. Complete with a live-action shot of an actual Cool Old Guy giving him an approving gesture.
  • Crazy-Prepared: "Ever alert, Mermaid Man has trained himself to sleep with his eyes open!"
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy finally come out of retirement thanks to SpongeBob and Patrick, though they are the ones who they fight, and with that, they start a new show.
  • Expy: Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy are rather obviously based on the 1960s version of Batman and Robin (with an Aquaman twist, of course).
    • The Invisible Boatmobile is a mix of the Batmobile and Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • When Mermaid Man is attacking the water fountain, one of the other residents can be seen shaking his head in disapproval.
    • When SpongeBob tells the duo that they're almost finished painting the Invisible Boatmobile, Mermaid Man seems to approve of this. At least until Barnacle Boy yells about how it's supposed to be invisible.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: "It's not me, you old coot!"
  • Harmless Villain: Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy go out of retirement to put a stop to stopping two idiots such as SpongeBob and Patrick.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The next episode of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy features the two of them...playing checkers against each other, and it's presented as an intense "battle of wits".
  • Old Superhero: The titular dynamic duo, of course. They're old and retired in a quiet community, at least until a certain sponge keeps bothering them. They come out of retirement in the end.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Invoked. SpongeBob and Patrick go all out to convince the now very elderly Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy to come out of retirement to continue fighting evil, never realizing that they're essentially forcing two tired old men (one of whom is now notoriously senile) to satisfy a fanboy obsession and putting everyone in their retirement home through hell in the process. Their pride once they've accomplished their mission at the end is all the more hilarious as a result.
  • Rage Breaking Point: The elderly heroes get increasingly annoyed by SpongeBob and Patrick, but it's painting the Invisible Boatmobile so that it's visible that causes Barnacle Boy to declare their retirement is over.
  • Rousing Speech: SpongeBob gives one as he vows to reunite their heroes
  • Sleeps with Both Eyes Open: Barnacle Boy warns Mermaid Man can get annoyed if his nap is disturbed; we are then treated to a shot of Mermaid Man sitting still with a big smile on his face.
    SpongeBob: Ever alert. Mermaid Man has trained himself to sleep with his eyes open.
  • Southern Belle: When Disguised in Drag, SpongeBob puts on these mannerisms.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: When SpongeBob and Patrick are playing, they use doughnuts as rings. When Barnacle Boy presents the actual rings, Mermaid Man happily exclaims "DOUGHNUTS!!"
  • Trauma Button: Mermaid Man will lose his mind whenever he hears the word "evil". He starts showing signs of recuperating from this by bringing back his superpowers to destroy the "evil" sponge and starfish.
  • Unsound Effect: The new Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy show is full of them ("Sit!" "King Me!" "Hang up!"). At the end SpongeBob winks at the camera and is followed by a graphic that reads "Wink!"
  • When Elders Attack: "Fighting" SpongeBob and Patrick, the elderly heroes summon sea creatures for help. The other fish at the retirement home respond and, despite their age, get rid of the young pests.
    Barnacle Boy: [surrounded by old fish] The creatures of the deep seem to have lost some of their luster.
"Let me guess, Tiny. A small salad?"

United States airdate: August 21, 1999

Canada airdate: April 29, 2000

When SpongeBob believes that he forgot the pickles on a Krabby Patty, his life is turned upside down.

It’s a busy day at the Krusty Krab but SpongeBob handles every order that he comes across and leaves every customer happy. That is until a fish, half as wide as he is tall, walks up to order. He orders, in his words, “a Double Triple Bossy Deluxe on a raft, four by four, animal-style, extra shingles with a shimmy and a squeeze, light axle grease, make it cry, burn it, and let it swim”, to which Squidward snarks. It turns out that the customer is none other than Bubble Bass, the most picky patron to ever set foot in the Krusty Krab. SpongeBob is assured that his meal is exactly as he ordered… until Bubble Bass reveals he forgot the pickles! SpongeBob tears the patty apart, trying to find such a simple mistake while Mr. Krabs is forced to give Bubble Bass is money back. With his confidence shattered SpongeBob is sent in a tizzy, unable to make a Krabby Patty and is sent home. Mr. Krabs is soon forced to get SpongeBob back as every patty, fry, and yes even the shakes are burn to a blackened crisp and the restaurant is losing money and customers fast. He finds SpongeBob and his house mixed up and in disarray and decides that he will stick with the little yellow guy until he remembers how to make it, even if it takes days. SpongeBob eventually gives up in frustration… until he makes it perfectly. Mr. Krabs says it’s time and the two return triumphantly to the Krusty Krab. Word spreads fast and Bubble Bass shows up again, confident that he’ll beat SpongeBob again. SpongeBob gives him his meal perfectly until Bubble Bass reveals that SpongeBob messed up yet again! That is until SpongeBob notices something. It turns out that Bubble Bass was hiding the pickles the whole time to get free meals and harass restaurants. With his scam and cover blown, Bubble Bass hightails it out of there as fast as his girth allows. The crowd gives SpongeBob three cheers and Squidward three boos, the last one (“Boo! You stink!”), ending the episode.

Pickles provides examples of:

  • An Aesop: Have faith in yourself even when you thought you made a mistake. What saves this from being a Broken Aesop is that during Bubble Bass' first attempt Spongebob had little enough confidence in himself to think he forgot the pickles, the second time he's so confident in himself he knows he didn't forget them and considers the fact Bubble Bass lied.
  • Annoying Laugh: Bubble Bass's shrill, winny-like cackle makes Spongebob's famous "dolphin cry" laugh seem pleasant by comparison.
  • Benevolent Boss: As greedy as he is, Mr. Krabs sees that SpongeBob is in bad shape after supposedly messing up Bubble Bass' order, and kindly lets him take some time off. And when it's clear his restaurant's survival depends on SpongeBob's return, he personally goes to SpongeBob's house and waits day and night for the little guy to figure it out.
  • Big Bad: Bubble Bass.
  • Big Eater: Bubble Bass' morbidly obese physique and ludicrously large menu order speaks for itself.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Squidward getting tossed around by Bubble Bass. And that's just in the opening of the episode.
  • Confidence Sabotage: Thinking he forgot to put pickles on a Krabby Patty really messes up SpongeBob, so much he can't even find the front door or figure out how to go to bed.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Since this episode was written before Plankton had become a recurring character, it seems pretty jarring seeing SpongeBob explicitly reveal the Krabby Patty's recipe to the audience... twice!note 
  • Epic Fail: Squidward, as substitute cook, manages to burn a Krabby Patty, French Fries, and a milkshake.
  • Fat Bastard: Bubble Bass.
  • For the Evulz: Bubble Bass clearly got a kick out of screwing with SpongeBob by saying he had messed up his order, and aside from the two bucks he demanded as a refund for the supposedly botched burger, he didn't really gain anything from the scam aside from some sadistic amusement.
  • Gaslighting: Bubble Bass deliberately hides the pickles under his tongue so he can trick SpongeBob into thinking he forget them for no reason other than to break his confidence for kicks (though scamming Krabs out of two bucks wasnt a bad incentive either).
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: The pickles hidden under Bubble Bass' tongue.
  • Hash House Lingo: SpongeBob has his own version, while Bubble Bass is quite fluent in it. Someone actually deciphered it.
    Bubble Bass: I'll take a double triple balty deluxe, on a raft, 4x4 animal style, extra shingles with a shimmy and a squeeze, light axle grease, make it cry, burn it, and let it swim.
    Squidward: We serve food here, sir.
  • Heroic BSoD: SpongeBob, after Bubble Bass tells him that he forgot the pickles.
  • Jerkass: Bubble Bass. His Establishing Character Moment paints him as a shrill snob and he's eventually revealed to be a crook, since he had SpongeBob's pickles under his tongue the whole time, not to mention someone's car keys.
  • Kick the Dog: Bubble Bass' tossing Squidward around definitely qualifies.
  • Lethal Chef: Squidward while subbing for SpongeBob at the grill.
    Customer #1: Hey, he burned my patty!
    Customer #2: He burned my fries!
    Customer #3: He burned my shake!
  • Mind Screw: SpongeBob's house after he loses his confidence could give Salvador Dalí a run for his money.
  • Mouth Screen: When Bubble Bass is gloating when he believes SpongeBob forgot the pickles again, the camera cuts to a close up of his mouth as he laughs. This is how Spongebob is able to notice that Bubble Bass keeps tucking his tongue behind his teeth and, as a result, how Bubble Bass has been deceiving everyone.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: SpongeBob trying to make a Krabby Patty in front of Mr. Krabs.
  • Oh, Crap!: Bubble Bass realizes that he's in a lot of trouble when his cover is blown and pathetically runs out of the Krusty Krab to escape punishment.
  • Overcomplicated Menu Order: Bubble Bass orders the Double Triple Bossy Deluxe on a raft, 4 x 4, animal style, extra shingles with a shimmy and a squeeze, light axle grease, make it cry, burn it, and let it swim.
  • Read the Fine Print: Mr. Krabs tries to hide the money back guarantee by putting it in very tiny text at the bottom of the menu, hoping no one would find out about it. Unfortunately, Bubble Bass did.
  • Reality Ensues: Played for Laughs near the end of the episode, where we see Bubble Bass pathetically running off as fast as he can, wheezing thanks to his poor shape and obesity.
  • Serious Business: Forgetting the pickles on a hamburger sends SpongeBob into an existential crisis!
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Turns out SpongeBob never forgot the pickles the entire time — Bubble Bass put them under his tongue to mess with him.
  • Shout-Out: "Four-by-four animal style" is a recipe used by In-N-Out Burger, four patties cooked with mustard and served with four slices of cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, and tomato. Seeing how there's an In-N-Out Burger within a short drive from the Nickelodeon Animation Studio, this can't be anything but.
  • Showdown at High Noon: SpongeBob's showdown with Bubble Bass reeks of it. It even includes dramatic stares and appropriate music.
  • Spaghetti Western: SpongeBob's rivalry with Bubble Bass is played as this as a joke.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: SpongeBob becomes one after his breakdown.
  • Title Drop: Several times.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Attempted by SpongeBob when he asks for three cheers for Squidward for filling his post while he was away. Subverted when they boo him instead.
  • Too Upset to Create: SpongeBob gets so upset about forgetting to put pickles on a Krabby Patty that he is unable to remember how to prepare one. It gets so bad he can't do anything at all, even talk with proper syntax. Once he is able to relearn how to make a Krabby Patty, he returns back to normal.
  • Unreadable Disclaimer: The Krusty Krab's literally microscopic money-back guarantee provides the page image.
  • Unsatisfiable Customer: Bubble Bass isn't just demanding, he's downright sadistic, hiding the pickles from his Krabby Patties under his tongue just to trick Spongebob into thinking he failed at his job.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Bubble Bass makes a break for the front door after he realizes the jig is up.
  • Wangst: Invoked with Mr. Krabs crying over losing $2.
  • You Are Fat: Squidward doesn't mince his words when Bubble Bass first approaches the counter.
    "Let me guess, Tiny. A small salad?"


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