The first season of a show can be hard to nail down, especially when your style, humor, and voices lend themselves to heavy comparisons to one of TV’s biggest adult cartoons. Solar Opposites established itself as a funny, charming show with a compelling B-plot after its premiere in May 2020, but despite Korvo sharing a voice with Rick Sanchez, it was unlikely that this Hulu original was going to see a fraction of the cultural impact that Justin Roiland’s other project, Rick and Morty, has made.
That being said, Season 2 is no longer bound to the hand-holding that Season 1 had to do regarding its worldbuilding, as the earliest episodes of Solar Opposites often devoted a lot of time to Korvo explaining the mechanics of some Shlorpian device to Terry (Thomas Middleditch). Now that we understand the Replicants, the purple Pupa (Sagan McMahan), the Wall, and the mission to either get off Earth or destroy it, we can skip the exposition and go straight to the late-Season 1 frenzy.
And let me tell you: the Solar Opposites-brand frenzy has been really refined.
The running gags in this season are really fun. The random jabs and/or proclamations of love for Hulu are back, but all of the other forms of blatant product placement (e.g. the pilot’s KFC ending) have been exorcised from the show. In its stead, we get another running gag of Terry and Jesse (Mary Mack) repeatedly referring to their group as “The Solar Opposites.”
Speaking of the group, we get more interesting character combinations this season than we did in Season 1. Originally, the Solar Opposites were often split up age-wise, with Terry and Korvo taking on the titular plot as the A-story, the Replicants going off as part of the B-story, and the Pupa or citizens of the Wall taking up the C-plot. Korvo or Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) could have gone off on their own, but generally speaking, it was adults with adults, kids with kids, and tiny people with mice and other tiny people.
This time around, we get Korvo and Yumyulack together, Jesse and the Pupa together, all four Shlorpians in one plot, all four of them split-up. And even when we do fall back to the adults in one story and the Replicants in another, it doesn’t feel tired because everyone’s a much stronger character now.
Korvo not only finds his voice as a whiny stick-in-the-mud who’s not as wise or cultured as he wants to believe (which sounds insulting but is just his character), Justin Roiland also figures out Korvo’s tonal voice to where it’s now fully separate from Rick Sanchez, something that I thought unthinkable when the show premiered.
The whole voice cast actually brings it this season. I’ve always been a huge fan of Mack’s and Giambrone’s performances as Jesse and Yumyulack respectively, but I really enjoyed Middleditch’s Terry as he and Korvo got a little more bicker-y with each other this season. And on a cast that features great voice work from Andy Daly, Kari Walghren, and Tiffany Haddish, it’s still little Sagan McMahan’s Pupa whose voicework (which has grown from just being grunts and one-word lines) really tickles me every time.
Speaking on Andy Daly and his role as Tim, we do get a grand return to the Wall this season.
It started as a little side gag in Season 1 with Yumyulack shrinking people he doesn’t like and putting them into a system of ant farms, but as the season wore on, it slowly garnered more and became less of a joke-source and more of an inventive Lord of the Flies-esque tale with elements of Gulliver’s Travels.
With gum raiders, mouse milk, a religion dedicated to Jesse, and an incredibly compelling cast of characters like Tim, Cherie (Christina Hendricks), and the Duke (Alfred Molina), this sub-plot was one so interesting and well fleshed-out that many viewers wondered why this wasn’t just a series about the Wall. I, for one, love seeing such dire action sequences juxtaposed against Terry and Jesse “fighting” for their right to party.
Though not appearing to reach the same grand scale that Tim’s messiah-like uprising and Judas-like betrayal had in Season 1, Season 2’s introduction of Sterling K. Brown as “Halk” and a new murder mystery plot do a great job bringing us a new perspective of the Wall in its post-Duke era.
On the whole, Solar Opposites Season 2 is a fun ride that carries a lot of heart. Though it doesn’t have the shock factor that Season 1 had with the Wall’s inception, this season still benefits by being able to jump right into the jokes. There were multiple callbacks to unfinished plot threads from Season 1, we got deeper lore about Planet Shlorp and the tiny people, and we got to see whatever mayhem would be reeked via the episode’s titular device (e.g. the “Earth Eraser” or “Rad Awesome Terrific Ray”). And, despite it lasting 3 seconds, the “bleep bug” gag is probably my favorite across both seasons just for how out-of-nowhere it was.
And while I do stand by my previous statement that I don’t see this show ever having the cultural impact of its predecessor, as long as this show continues pumping out seasons in under a year and Rick & Morty remains in limbo, Solar Opposites will remain the champion of my heart.
If you liked Season 1 of Solar Opposites, you’ll probably enjoy Season 2 on the whole even more. It’s consistently funny, consistently inventive, and an immensely rewatchable 4-hour binge.
The new season of Solar Opposites can be streamed this Friday, March 26, on Hulu.
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