The Epic Quest of Unfathomable Difficulty!!!
Wander and Sylvia are on the run again from the Watchdogs. Sylvia fights them off as Wander is distracted by something. Once she dispenses with their pursuit, she asks what could've caused Wander to leave Sylvia to fight alone. Wander has found ... a sock. Just one. By itself. Which means someone, somewhere, not only has a sock without a mate, but possibly a cold foot! Wander swears to find the owner of the sock.
Sylvia tries to convince Wander it's not that serious, but he will not be dissuaded. Finally they find a hotel where there's a lost and found, and Sylvia convinces Wander to leave the sock there. They're almost out the door before the bell service alien suggests that they go on an epic quest. He describes a number of arduous tasks and quests they must go on to get to the guru, while the screen shows them undertaking them as described. They make friends, and enemies, face dangerous obstacles, rescue multiple princesses, but finally, finally, finally make it to the mountaintop where the guru awaits to answer them one question.
Fortunately, Wander finds a return address inside the sock. Unfortunately, it leads them to a dark, downtrodden planet. They are captured by the ruling despot, and they ask the executioner if this is his sock. He says it's not. They ask if the ruler lost a sock, and the executioner says yes — but he simply bought a new pair. As they are lowered toward boiling oil, Wander's sunny disposition and optimism give out. He says that it's just an old sock that doesn't matter to anyone, and lets it fall.
Sylvia uses her tail to catch the sock, telling Wander that it does matter to someone: it matters to him. With that, she flings the sock at the despot, and asks if it's his sock. The despot rages, and continues lowering them, until a sweet voice out of nowhere admonishes him not to. Destructor looks down at the sock, which has landed on his hand and is now a puppet, talking to him. Destructor recalls his childhood, when he was a happy kid in a sunny kingdom on the happy planet. His father told him if he was to rule someday he'd have to give up childish things, and took the sock away, tossing it into the trash. In his grief for the loss of his toy and best friend, the happy kid became the Despot who ruled the dark and unhappy planet. But now, reunited with his sock, he reverts to the beautiful, happy, golden disposition he had as a child. He opens up the jails and releases all the prisoners, forgives his father, and makes all the prisoners dukes except one... who he makes an archduke. The sun returns to the sky and it begins raining gold.
Wander and Sylvia are also set free. Father and son wave goodbye to them happily. Wander and Sylvia look a little flummoxed.
- Wander: ... I just thought somebody's foot was gonna get cold.
Tropes appearing "The Epic Quest of Unfathomable Difficulty!!!"
- Added Alliterative Appeal: "Sylvia, this is somebody's sock that means that there's a sad, sockless soul out there, with a very cold, naked foot, pining away for their one lonely sock's twin!"
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Discussed. Sylvia tries to end the quest by claiming the sock is hers, and even attempts to put it on although it won't fit. Wander points out that he's never seen her wearing socks or shoes.
- Bears Are Bad News: The Grizzlons of Grizzly Forest are bear-like beasts that chase Wander and Sylvia as they cross the forest.
- Big Eater: Wander and Sylvia gorge on Blargg's Diner's finest cuisine.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: The second princess rescue.
- Continuity Nod: Twice during the quest, Wander rescues a princess, which was something he'd always wanted to do.
- However, he doesn't seem to care. He literally throws Princess Galactia away when the sock catches fire (in favor of blowing the fire out), and the second princess can tell that he's not really into rescuing her.
- Creator Cameo: Craig McCracken said on Twitter he did the voice of Distructor when he is voicing his sock.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In the past, Destructor's father tossed away his sock puppet saying he should grow up if he were ever to rule the kingdom. Destructor responded by dethroning and imprisoning his father, enslaving and transforming the kingdom into a darker version of its former glory, and basically becoming an Evil Overlord of a tyrant.
- Fisher King: Destructor's kingdom is a hellhole if he isn't kept in check by his sock friend. When he is, the kingdom is a Sugar Bowl paradise.
- Gainax Ending: The episode's ending itself. It's so confusing to Wander and Sylvia as it is to the viewers watching it.
- Hand Puppet: What the sock actually was.
- Here We Go Again!: The end credits show Wander finding a lost teddy bear on the ground and making the same vow that he will find the owner. Subverted when a little girl comes to retrieve her teddy bear, and Wander just shrugs it off saying, "They can't all be epic quests."
- Hermit Guru: Wander and Sylvia go to consult one. The trek to find him is incredibly perilous and complicated.
- Morality Chain: The sock puppet really keeps Destructor in check.
- Orphaned Punchline: The answers to "the riddles three of the Blarnian Bridge-Troll".Wander: A triangle, a child's laughter, and "to see time fly"!
- The Quest: The episode is an Affectionate Parody of this trope.
- Scary Scorpions: The Great Hoarder Scorpion is of the giant variety.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Three of them, in fact.
- First, Wander travels the long, perilous journey to meet the guru and ask his one question, and then blows it by asking "Is this your sock?" rather than "Whose sock is this?" The answer, by the way, is "No."
- Then after all that, Wander discovers that the address of the owner was inside the sock all along.
- Finally, Wander and Sylvia are about to be executed by the owner of the sock, Destructor, who doesn't seem to care. This is subverted when Sylvia tosses the sock to Destructor, who recognizes it as his long lost sock puppet, instigating a HeelFace Turn and saving them all.
- A Simple Plan: You'd think returning a lost sock would be a simple thing. You'd be very wrong.
- Stunned Silence: As Destructor is turned good by the sock, which reunites him with his father and saves their whole kingdom, all Wander and Sylvia do is just stare on, shocked confusion written all over their faces. They remain this way even as they leave at the end.Wander: I just thought someone's foot might get cold.
- Troll Bridge: One task Wander and Sylvia has to perform to find the guru is answer the riddles of the Blarnian Bridge-Troll. Who looks completely different than the eponymous troll from "The Troll".
- Unfolding Plan Montage: Forms the bulk of the episode, as the lost-and-found fellow tells Wander and Sylvia what their quest entails.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Destructor really missed his sock puppet.
- World-Wrecking Wave: Seen during the Flashback, when Destructor becomes evil after his father throws away the sock puppet.
Wander and Sylvia are doing their usual wandering through space thing when they come across a doorknob suspended inexplicably in space. Upon opening it, they find an all-white space that seems to go on forever, the door vanishing behind them.
As the pair discuss their situation, they realize the Void is voice-activated and psychoreactive. They begin summoning up all manner of silly things to have fun and play with each other. Sylvia tires of it fairly quickly, and wants to find a way out. For a little while, Wander accomodates her, still being as silly about it as possible. But eventually, Sylvia gets serious about wanting to leave the Void, while Wander is still all about having fun and seeing what he can imagine into reality with the Void's properties.
Sylvia figures that the Void won't generate an exit until both of them want to exit at the same time, and asks Wander to stop playing around and leave with her. They head back into space — until Sylvia realizes that they seem to be passing the same patch of space over and over again. Wander wasn't really ready to leave and imagined a cartoon background and a treadmill to make it look like they'd left. Sylvia is not amused, but Wander tries to entice her to play some more. She remains focused on getting out, to no avail. Wander escalates his playing to the point of generating multiple versions of himself to be his audience while he performs, and press-gangs Sylvia into being his literal puppet.
Sylvia finally loses her temper, but keeps it under control as she reminds Wander that he's completely ignored her wishes while indulging his own — and that while the void may supply lots of imaginary fun: she, Sylvia, is real. Abashed, Wander apologizes and says that he can imagine all sorts of things but he could never imagine a better friend. With that, the real door leading out appears and the pair depart.
Before long they run upon a window hanging inexplicably in space.
Sylvia turns around before Wander can even suggest trying to open it.
Tropes appearing "The Void":
- An Aesop: While pretending and imagining things are fun, the people around you who care about you are real, and you can't imagine anyone better than them.
- Bait-and-Switch: The traditional Establishing Shot appears to be of a golden planet, but when Wander's reflection appears on it, it pulls out to reveal a door handle.
- Behind the Black: At first Sylvia thinks they have found the exit, but then notices that they keep passing the same planet over and over. She then realizes they are still in the void, on a treadmill in front of a revolving backdrop. She of course didn't notice this before, or feel the treadmill underneath her. This could be the void's doing, though.
- Disney Acid Sequence: Wander's song "Inside Your Mind", which starts with multiple colored Wanders playing in a jug band and gets weirder from there.
Wander: Oooh, make up things you wanna see! Like a psychedelic bumblebee!
- They even reference it in song:
- Door Roulette: In tandem with and alongside Scooby-Dooby Doors — complete with oncoming train and various Freeze Frame Bonuses.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Among the things seen when Sylvia repeatedly slams a door that are only seen for a second include an early sketch of Wander, Wander's voice actor Jack McBrayer in the recording booth, a picture of the show's composers The Two Man Gentlemen Band, a picture of Craig McCracken, and a message from him that reads "Thanks for watching Wander Over Yonder and still framing this shot! - Craig".
- Here We Go Again!: In The Stinger, Lord Hater and Peepers encounter the void.
- Homage: The music number is modeled after the "They Both Reach for the Gun" number in the movie Chicago.
- The Lonely Door: Taken up a notch. The only thing visible is the doorknob.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: The void makes real whatever the visitors who enter it want. However, it won't let them leave unless all of them want to leave.
- Alternatively, Sylvia wanted to leave with Wander, and therefore wouldn't open until Wander wanted to leave as well.
- Me's a Crowd: Wander creates a theater full of Wanders — as band, audience and crew for his "Inside Your Mind" song. But they're not splitting chores. He wants to have fun, so all of the Wander copies want to have fun too.
- Minimalist Cast: Only Wander and Sylvia appear in this episode.
- Perspective Magic: Wander and Sylvia split up and go different directions, Wander towards the foreground, Sylvia to the background. This makes Wander a giant and Sylvia very tiny.
- Say My Name: Sylvia's frustrated cry of "WANDER!" following the "Inside Your Mind" number.
- Scooby-Dooby Doors: Wander makes dozens of doors appear, and Sylvia goes in and out of each one in a vain attempt to escape.
- Visual Pun: At the very end of Wanders musical number, Sylvia turns into a marionette that Wander uses; she has literally and figuratively become his puppet.
- We Are Not Going Through That Again: At the end, Wander and Sylvia run into a giant window, but Sylvia refuses to go in.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Sylvia shows clear disdain towards Wander for being so wrapped up in the Void that he's neglected Sylvia and how she wishes to leave.
- White Void Room: Obviously.
- Wraparound Background: When Sylvia and Wander first enter the void, they notice that if they walk offscreen, they loop back around.