Wander gets split into multiple personalities, and Sylvia has to put them back together again to get the real Wander back.
Sylvia is trying to chase a Squill around a tree to try to catch it and convince it to go home with its mother and siblings. Wander, in the tree with the mom and other babies, tries to ask the mom Squill for a nut to entice the baby, but instead falls out of the tree on top of Sylvia. The baby Squill, still afraid, runs off up a hill into a very scary cave.
Wander, of course, unable to see the little thing hasn't got safely home yet, follows it. He insists he couldn't live with himself if something happened to the baby. Sylvia doesn't like the look of the cave, and warns Wander away from it. But the more she says "No!", the more he steps toward it, finally entering the cave with an apology.
- Wander: I'm sorry. I love you.
Inside the cave, Wander is looking for the baby Squill, but is amazed at all the pretty magenta-pink crystals, which pick up his reflection. He doesn't notice, however, that the reflections develop their own animation as he walks by, and they watch him go.
Sylvia watches worriedly and freezes in horror as Wander screams. She is relieved as he shouts "This is beautiful!" immediately after. But eventually the Squill comes out on its own and Wander — doesn't. Sylvia enters the cave and is trampled by dozens and dozens and dozens of stampeding Wanders rushing out to spread out all over the face of the tiny planet.
In the cave, however, are a couple of Wanders: one, wearing glasses, who explains what has happened. The reflections in the cave have literally fragmented his personality into separate, individual Wanders. The original one is caught in the beam of light in the center, and to Sylvia's horror, he's becoming transparent. The Genius!Wander explains that she has to find all the personality fragments immediately and reunite them with the original or the original will disappear completely, and irretrievably.
Sylvia starts by thanking Genius!Wander and OverlyDramatic!Wander, shoving them back into Wander. His Blank White Eyes show tiny pupils to indicate the tiny amount of progress she's made. As she ventures outside the cave, she meets Dancing!Wanders, and Girly!Wanders, and Cheerleader!Wanders, and TreeHugger!Wander, the Sad!Wanders, the MostLovable!Wander, the Hero!Wander, the Badguy!Wander, and many, many more. Sylvia is overwhelmed by Wanders and is afraid she can't do it, but some of the Wanders cheer her on, and convince her she can. Sylvia hatches the plan to lure each Wander by what his traits are. She lures the Girly!Wander by throwing a tea party; she lures the Badguy!Wander by shouting that there's a helpless damsel. Hero!Wander responds to Girly!Wander's cries for help. MostLovable!Wander goes to console all the Sad!Wanders, and before long, Sylvia has gotten all the reflections with all the different aspects of Wander back to the crystals. But no — there's still one missing. Contrary!Wander, who gets a kick out of defying Sylvia and refusing to do what she tells him.
Sylvia is dismayed and thinks that this part of Wander she could maybe do without. But she realizes Wander's not really Wander without every little part of him, even the part that gets on her nerves. She catches him by putting up a bunch of signs telling him not to come to the cave, and returns him to Wander as well. Wander springs to life, saying he's never felt better — and is ready to race off and stop Lord Hater. Sylvia is ready to go with him until she realizes the Wander she knows only wants to make friends with Hater. She can't figure out what's wrong until the crystal reflections point down to the littlest crystal in the cave that's missing its reflection. There's still one personality fragment missing.
Quasi!Wander insists he's fine without that last fragment, and they should just go on without it. But Sylvia says she's learned that every part of Wander is important.
Sylvia finds the last Wander fragment, who is explained by Zen!Wander:
- Zen!Wander: The helper helps because he knows what it is to be helpless.
Tiny little Helpless!Wander is curled up in a corner, looking afraid, but Sylvia gently coaxes him into her arms, then returns him to the almost complete Wander. All 420 pieces of him back together, Wander is himself again.
He and Sylvia push an enormous rock in front of the cave.
- Wander: I would hate for anybody else to go through what I went through!Sylvia: [gently] I love that part of you, buddy.
The cave safely sealed off, they Orbble off into the midday sun.
Tropes appearing in The Wanders
- And I Must Scream: As they leave the planet, Wander remarks that he'd hate to see anyone else go through what he went through, implying that on some level he was aware that he'd been shattered into fragments of himself and was incomplete and in danger of just fading from existence.
- Blank White Eyes: Wander after all of the 420 aspects of his personality have taken off is just standing there with these, indicating there's nothing to him without all his personality fragments. As Sylvia begins putting them back, they go from blank to pinpoint pupils, getting larger until his eyes have normal size pupils again when she's pretty much got him back together — almost.
- Bottle Episode
- Borrowed Catchphrase: Sylvia uses Wander's "ding" noise when she comes up with an idea on how to catch Contrary!Wander.
- Hero!Wander is pretty much who he was for most of "The Boy Wander".
- Badguy!Wander is who he turned into at Doomstone for "The Bad Guy".
- The various characters Wander plays while giving himself an award in "The Greatest" appear, most notably Girly!Wander.
- Cerebus Retcon: The ending puts Wander's Chronic Hero Syndrome in a whole new perspective.
- The Cutie: Admit it, Helpless!Wander is insanely adorable.
- Does Not Like Shoes: TreeHugger!Wander.
- The Dreaded Pretend Tea Party: Inverted. Sylvia threw the girly pink tea party knowing some aspect of Wander would come willingly and she could riff off that to attract both Badguy!Wander and Hero!Wander.
- Foreshadowing: Wander's heroic persona was hinted at in "The Helper", during the restaurant scene when he wants to stop Lord Hater. Since he was suffering from having no one to help, he lost his helper persona, resulting in him facing Lord Hater as if he's the enemy.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Two of the "no" signs are different; one says "nope" while another says "nooo".
- Flaw Exploitation: Sylvia exploits the personality traits the Wanders embody to get them back into the crystals, inadvertently with getting Genius!Wander to explain what she needed to do, and ending with putting signs that say no leading up to the cave for Contrary!Wander.
- Homage: To Looney Tunes - Sylvia's lining signs all the way up the hill to the crystal cave that say NO! to entice Contrary!Wander to go in.
- Insufferable Genius: The Wander fragment with glasses is a know-it-all who talks down to Sylvia and sarcastically golf claps after she catches him and OverlyDramatic!Wander.
- Literal Split Personality: All the Wanders represent an aspect of the original.
- Me's a Crowd
- Minimalist Cast: Wander and Sylvia are the only cast of characters to appear. Other than a family of squills, they do not encounter any planet inhabitants like they normally do.
- Mood Whiplash: Most of the episode involves Sylvia trying to chase down Wander's different personality parts in high energy goofy ways, but it suddenly takes a turn for the somber when Sylvia comes across Wander's personified helplessness.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: TreeHugger!Wander.
- Orbital Shot: Happens when Sylvia returns Wander's final personality to him and he reverts to his original self.
- Out-of-Character Alert: When Sylvia finally puts Wander together, he jumps on Sylvia and proclaims that they need to go stop Lord Hater, even calling him a heartless villain. Knowing how Wander views Lord Hater, this is what clues Sylvia that Wander is still missing some parts of his personality.
- Single Tear: Wander sheds one after returning to normal.
- The Stoner:
- The fact that there were 420 different Wander personality fragments.
- Terse Talker: Easily-Impressed Wander only says Thats amazing!.
- Warts and All: Sylvia learns that she needs to accept all of Wander's traits, even the ones she doesn't like. Similarly, the almost complete Wander looks reluctant to let Helpless!Wander back in, but accepts it.
- Wham Line: "The helper seeks to help, because he knows what it's like to be helpless."
- And later: "Home..."
- Wham Shot: The reveal of Helpless!Wander.
Lord Hater fires Commander Peepers, but without him finds himself struggling in his conflict with Sourdough the Evil Sandwich.
Tropes appearing in The Axe
- Absentee Actor: For the first time, Wander and Sylvia don't appear at all, although Wander is at least mentioned.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: Plenty of them given by Lord Hater when it looks like he's about to tell Peepers he changed his mind about firing him, only to ask Peepers how to do something and quickly add that he's still fired.
- Better the Devil You Know: At the end of the episode, the planet representative admits to Hater that she's glad to be under his dictatorship because it's embarrassing to be ruled by a sandwich. All the lazer blasters pointed at her head might also have been a factor.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Lord Hater is viewed as this in-universe. As stated by Sourdough:Sourdough: You're more of a ne'er-do-well than a villain, how bad are you at this?
- Lord Hater mentions the BLACK CUBE from "The Fancy Party" and Lord Dominator.
- Hater still believes that simply placing a flag automatically means he's ruler of a planet.
- Closest Thing We Got: Hater is unable to speak an apology, but Peepers accepts the closest thing he receives to an apology.
- Continuity Nod:
- The parasitic entity from "The Fancy Party" returns. Despite being a sandwich, the entity now calling itself Sourdough, has conquered most of the galaxy, including ones already conquered by Lord Hater.
- Hater losing his standing as planetary conqueror because of his chasing Wander around is brought to light in this episode.
- A Day in the Limelight: For Peepers.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Hater finding out that a planet he was ruling was conquered by someone else is treated like a break-up scenario.
- Easily Forgiven: Peepers accepts Hater's closest-thing-to-an-apology because working for Hater is what he's best at, and without that job he has no purpose in life.
- Evil Gloating: The Evil Sandwich does this while chasing Lord Hater and invading his ship.Sourdough: How are you so bad at this? I conquered this entire quadrant, and I'm a sandwich!
- Gagging on Your Words: Hater can't bring himself to apologize to Peepers.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Peepers shows that while Hater may be powerful, he's the one holding the Hater Empire together (and in spite of his boss's Manchild tendencies too).
- Mood Whiplash: Played for laughs, at the end of the montage of Hater jacking Sourdough's planets he does a pretty Badass Evil Laugh... then randomly breaks into a silly victory dance.
- Never My Fault: Hater blames Peepers for his losing status on the villain leaderboard, rather than his obsession with destroying Wander costing him his resources.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Right before zapping the Evil Sandwich, Hater boasts "Your'e toast!"
- Reality Ensues: Hater learns the hard way that conquering planets involves more than just knocking off crowns and planting flags. Sourdough has to remind him that he failed to leave a battalion behind.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: After realizing just how much he needs Peepers, Hater plants a statue of Peepers right next to his own.
- Triumphant Reprise: The episode closes with one of Peepers' theme.
- Vetinari Job Security: As it turns out, Peepers has this, to his relief. Hater begs him to come back and save his hide, and Peeper turns the battle around.
- Villain Episode: The series' clearest example yet.
- Wham Line: "You're FIRED!"
- Who's Laughing Now?: Hater to Evil Sandwich at the end of the episode.
- Wiper Start: Without Peepers, Lord Hater has no idea how to activate the Hatecraft's defenses. Randomly hitting buttons, he activates, among other things, the windshield wipers and a mechanical hand that picks the ship's nose.