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Monster Fish is the eighth episode in the 2019 television series Moominvalley.

Synopsis

When Moominpappa and Moomintroll's 'story battle' gets out of hand, a monstrous fish comes to life and Moominhouse is overrun by a wild jungle.

Plot

In Moominvalley, the ground is dry and the river has completely evaporated. Moominmamma looks at her dying crops and comments on the "unusual" hot weather, telling Snorkmaiden that if they continue to go without rain that they will be having "pine needle surprise" for supper. Snorkmaiden asks what the surprise is, and Moominmamma tells her: "you can have my portion". Snorkmaiden fetches a jug of water to pour on the plants and to her and Moominmamma's surprise, Little My is thrown from within the jug. Little My complains about Snorkmaiden draining her "swimming pool" and tells them that they need to give her a good reason for doing so, or a good meal, or they'll be in trouble. Moominmamma reassures her that "the boys" will be back soon, and Moominpappa and Moomintroll appear, carrying a large crate between them, much to everyone else's relief. Little My comments that they caught fish "pre-packed" and Moominmamma asks what happened. Moominpappa begins to tell them his tale.

The story begins with Moominpappa and Moomintroll travelling to the beach to fish. Moomintroll complains about the heat, and asks why they don't fish in the stream, and Moominpappa points out how drained it has become. He tells his son that it should be "father and son, toiling together". They arrive at the beach and push their rowing boat out onto the ocean. Time passes as Moomintroll and his father sit and wait for the fish to bite, eventually falling asleep. Suddenly, Moominpappa jolts upright, waking Moomintroll and he announces that that the "largest school" of fish he has ever seen is coming. Moominpappa points the fish out to his son, saying that they are packed together "so tightly" that they could almost be "one gigantic fish". Moomintroll says that he can't see a thing. Moominpappa tells him that it is heading towards them and fetches his fishing rod. When Moomintroll asks what he is talking about, Moominpappa dramatically announces: "the Mameluke". A gigantic fish jumps up out of the ocean with it's mouth wide open.

Moomintroll interrupts his father, and we return to Moominmamma, Snorkmaiden, Little My and Moomintroll sat listening to Moominpappa's story on the grass outside Moominhouse. Moomintroll says that he doesn't remember a giant fish, however Moominpappa scrapes his nails on the crate to make a horrible noise which silences his son. Moominpappa tells him not to interrupt and continues his story, saying that it was the "legendary" Mameluke alright - and that it took his bait.

Back in the ocean, the Mameluke dives into the sea and pulls on the end of Moominpappa's fishing rod, pulling the rowing boat along behind it. Moominpappa calls it "the catch of a lifetime" and tells a scared Moomintroll to fetch him a net. The net is revealed to be much too small to catch the Mameluke in, so Moominpappa decides to "tire it out" instead. The boat continues to be pulled by the Mameluke until it stops, and then the bobber on the fishing rod is pulled under the water, and Moominpappa says that the fish is "decending". He hands Moomintroll the fishing rod while he searches for useful equipment, however the fishing line begins to be pulled towards the water. The boat descends into the sea, much to Moominpappa's delight and Moomintroll's fear.

Moomintroll continues to hold onto the fishing rod and is pulled further and further into the water after the giant fish, until he decides to let it go and swims back towards the surface. He watches the fish disappear into the depths with relief, however it suddenly swims around and follows after him before catching Moomintroll in it's mouth. The Mameluke leaps proudly out of the water again, and is then jumped on by Moominpappa, who spins the giant fish around and ties it up with rope, then throws it onto the shore. He tells the fish: "give me back my son, you barnacled blighter", twisting the rope uncomfortably until the Mameluke begins to spit out the contents of its stomach; first Moomintroll and then a large crate. The fish begins to come free from its binding and disappears back into the ocean, before surfacing once more to send Moominpappa's hat back to him with a powerful jet of water from its blowhole. Moominpappa looks at his son and complains that he let go of the rod.

Back outside Moominhouse, Moominpappa finishes his story by saying that thought the Mameluke got away, it gave them their "treasure" - the crate. Moominmamma opens the crate to find a lot of seeds, ones that are "not like any" she has seen before. Moomintroll tries to interrupt his father, however he continues his dramatics, telling them that "just like the Mameluke", the crate is also from "warmer climes". Moomintroll finally interrupts him to burst out that "there is no giant fish". Snorkmaiden tells him not to blame himself for letting go of the fishing rod, and Moomintroll only becomes further exasperated. He tries to explain himself again only to be interrupted by Little My, who complains that there isn't anything to eat. Moominmamma attempts to reassure Little My and Moomintroll, telling them that "thanks to Moomintroll" they won't have to eat any creatures, "legendary or otherwise", as their unusual heat should be perfect for growing the seeds quickly. Snorkmaiden helps Moominmamma to plant the seeds, saying: "so long pine needle surprise".

Moomintroll approaches his father, saying that his tale wasn't the truth, and that there was no giant fish. Moominpappa invites his son to remind him of how he thinks it happened. Moomintroll says that after they got the beach and rode out to sea, they cast their lines. Then they sat in their boat until the crate "happened" to float by. He remembers how heavy the crate was, and that he hurt his paw, and saw a worm, then stops as he realises that Moominpappa has fallen asleep. Moomintroll wakes up his father, unhappy that he fell asleep. Moominpappa apologises, though he says "that's why I'm the storyteller of the family". He tells Moomintroll that he's sure his son will get the hang of it when he's "a little older". As he enters Moominhouse, Muskrat tells Moomintroll that he can sense a storm coming, as he always gets a headache when it is about to rain. Almost immediately after this, rain begins to pour, and the rest of the group runs inside the house, with Moominmamma urging her son to come inside. Moominmamma tells him that they can see if their seeds have sprouted, and Moomintroll replies that "anything seems possible today". As the rain continues, it weighs down the crate until it's sides fall open, and the seeds spill out onto the grass. The seeds begin to shake and then bury themselves underground.

Later, Moomintroll wakes from a nap inside Moominhouse. As he leaves the house, he comments on the smell of "warm ground" and then gasps in shock to see the grass outside his house is covered in sprouting plants. Little My scares him by jumping out and saying "boo" and Moomintroll tells her in a dramatic tone that he thought she might be one of the "killer plants" outside their home. Little My dismisses his concerns and tells him that she is going to find some ants to eat, however her ankle becomes caught in one of the vines of the new plants. Moomintroll says that they are dangerous, but Little My tells him that she's "not scared of salad", and sits atop the plant. Moomintroll tells her to listen, saying that he can hear the plants "crackling" and preparing to grow "like wildfire". Little My remains unconvinced, until the ground rumbles and she is sent upwards when the plant she is sat on becomes a large beanstalk. The other plants grow and begin to wind around Moominhouse, to Moomintroll's horror. He runs to find his father for help.

Inside his study, Moominpappa is writing down his latest tale of the Mameluke. A large piece of fruit falls in front of him, which he mistakenly thinks is a gift from his wife. As he turns to thank her, he instead sees a vine growing through the roof of his study, with more tendrils creeping in through the open window. Moominpappa hears his son's shouts for him, and looks out of his window to find Moomintroll balancing on a large cluster of vines on a piece of wood. Moomintroll asks his father what he should do, and Moominpappa replies: "it's your story, Son, you'll have to decide". The vines attempt to climb inside the window and Moominpappa quickly shuts them. While Moomintroll wonders how to get inside the house, Little My flies past, using a large leaf as a parachute. She lands on the piece of wood beside Moomintroll, and tells him that it is all his fault, and that he is "just like" his "potty" father. Moomintroll suddenly seems enlightened, telling Little My that that is "the answer", and he kisses her on the head, much to her disgust. Moomintroll announces that he must be the hero of this story, before diving into the tangle of vines below. He wrestles through the plants before bursting through a back door into Moominhouse, Little My following not long after him.

Moomintroll and Little My find themselves in an empty room and peer around, seeing vines grow through the ceiling. Little My points out that the plants are in the house, and Moomintroll hunts for a weapon, moving past hedgecutters to retrieve a paddle ball toy. Moomintroll and Little My head upstairs and open a door to find the living room is full of wild, exotic plants. Little My suggests that they won't need any "fragrant forest air fresheners" anymore, and Moomintroll says that he doesn't think they're alone. He spots a large shape in the distance, and points it out to Little My, saying that he thinks the "jungle" has attracted a "wild animal". Little My takes the paddle ball from him and tells him to let her "deal with this one", and she jumps out at the mysterious creature, only to find Muskrat, eating some fruit. Muskrat comments that it's a "funny thing" how the day he decides to sleep inside the house, the "outside decides to come inside". He continues to pontificate on what is outside and what is inside, until he notices that Moomintroll and Little My have disappeared.

Moomintroll pulls vines out of his way as he makes his way upstairs, surprised to see birds fly from the trees. He and Little My find Snorkmaiden's room, and she calls out from inside. Moomintroll announces that he has come to rescue her, and Snorkmaiden calls him her "hero" and her "very own king of the jungle". Little My pretends to retch. Snorkmaiden reveals a Tarzan-like tunic which she has made for Moomintroll, placing it on him, and he gives her a crown of flowers in return, saying that she can be his "beautiful companion". They swing away on a vine, and Little My calls after them asking what that makes her, and Moomintroll replies "my trusty chimp", much to her shock.

The story cuts away as we see Moominmamma, Moominpappa, Snorkmaiden sat around the attic of Moominhouse. Little My stands in front of them, interrupting the story and demanding to know why she has to be the chimp. Moomintroll, sat on a chair in front of them, tells her that it is his story and he says "what goes". Moominpappa says that his son is "quite right" and encourages him to carry on, while Little My storms off to sit down. Moomintroll continues his story.

Moomintroll and Snorkmaiden land from their vine on top of Moominpappa, who complains about being walked all over. Moomintroll asks his father why he was on the floor, and he tells him that he tripped over a "dratted" vine. Moomintroll tells Moominpappa that he has come to rescue his mother, however his father says: "sorry old chap, I was here first". Moomintroll follows him and argues that his father said that he could be the hero of his story, but his father tells him that there's "no time to argue", as his mother could be in "grave danger" behind the door. Moominmamma excitedly interrupts to ask if this is her bit, and Moomintroll confirms that it is, but shushes his mother, who is off-screen. Moomintroll and Moominpappa fight over who should clear the vines, then Moominmamma yelps from behind the door and Moominpappa takes charge, pushing Moomintroll out of the way, who frowns. Moominpappa pulls away the vines and Moominmamma runs out of the room, telling him to quickly close the door. Moominpappa asks why, however his pause gives a large flytrap-like plant a chance to escape from the room, and it opens it's mouth to swallow Moominpappa.

The scene returns to Moomintroll telling his story, as he says that Moominpappa's "fatal mistake" in not closing the door almost meant that they were "done for". Moominpappa eagerly attempts to interrupt, how Moomintroll continues, telling them that he was "way ahead" of his father.

Back in the story, the "bush beast" closes in on Moominpappa, Moominmamma and Snorkmaiden and roars. Suddenly, a lasso made from vines catches the beast and pulls it away. Moomintroll appears in his Tarzan-outfit and says "feeling peckish?" before pulling on his end of the vine to tie the plant-beast to the ceiling fan. Moomintroll turns to Little My and says: "trusty chimp, onk", gesturing for her to pull on something. Little My pulls the switch for the ceiling fan with little enthusiasm, which chops the bush beast up into little bits. Moomintroll returns to his family and says: "anyone fancy a fruit salad?" Below the ceiling fan, Little My sits unamused in a pile of vine cuttings and fruit.

Back in the attic, Moominmamma and Snorkmaiden praise Moomintroll for his story, while Little My calls it "ridiculous" and Moominpappa questions why he had to be the one who let the bush beast escape. He says that the beast could've "just as easily" broken out on it's own, to which Moominmamma replies that the Mameluke could "just as easily" have broken the fishing line on it's own. Moominpappa becomes quiet as Moomintroll laughs. Muskrat tells them all that he can't vouch for "much of anything" he has heard that say, but that "one thing is true": that as long as the vines outside continue to grow, "no-one will be breaking out of anywhere". Moominpappa agrees, saying that they are "stuffed" like cream cheese "oozing out" between vine leaves. Moominmamma looks momentarily disgusted by his analogy. Little My strikes a match and suggests that they burn their way out, and Snorkmaiden blows it out, saying it's not a good idea to burn the house down.

Moominmamma draws the groups attention to the vines, which have begun to fall away from the house. Moomintroll realises that they're dying, and Little My points out that the sun is going in, and that they "can't survive" without it. Snorkmaiden says that all they have to do is wait, and Moominmamma enjoys such a "genteel" solution. Moomintroll and Moominpappa go to the window to look at the vines, and Moominpappa complains that "boring old truth" has triumphed again. Moomintroll suggests that his father makes up a new ending, however Moominpappa says that perhaps Moomintroll should, telling him that his rescue story was very good. Moominpappa admits that he fears he has "lost his grasp", and he crushes a dried leaf in his paw, blowing its remains outside. He tells his son: "when you get older, stories really are all you have left". Moominpappa says to Moomintroll that it's good he's creating his own stories, then Moomintroll says that it doesn't have to be just his, or Moominpappa's, story. Moominpappa realises that he is saying that they could finish the story together, and Moomintroll says "why not?" He repeats his father's words back to him: "father and son, toiling together, as it should be".

Moominpappa gathers everyone around again, and tells them that he and Moomintroll are going to give them a "much more exciting" ending than wilting plants. Moominpappa tells them all to close their eyes, and Little My argues about how she can see the story if she closes her eyes, and Moomintroll says to just close them, teasing her by calling her "chimp".

The story continues, with both Moomintroll and Moominpappa narrating. The entire group are trapped in the attic as the vines burst through the windows and close in on them. Moominpappa says that they were about to be squeezed "like toothpaste from a tube", and apologises to Moominmamma when she complains about his analogy, again. Moominpappa says how "clever old Moomintroll" spotted a way out, and Moomintroll, clad in his Tarzan-tunic, finds them a way out through the chimney, and the group climb onto the roof. The "killer plants" continue to trail up the house towards them, however Moomintroll says how Moominpappa realised that plants have their own natural predator. Moomintroll points to the river, which is now full again after the rainfall, and says how it meant that the bigger fish could return. Moominpappa realises what his son is talking about, and in the story he calls out that he can see it, announcing "the Mameluke" as the giant fish jumps out of the river. The Mameluke lands in front of Moominhouse and begins to eat up the vines like spaghetti. Moomintroll says that, maybe because he let the Mameluke swim away, it came to help them in their "hour of need". He says that "whatever the reason", he will never forget that "final wave". The Mameluke finishes eating all of the vines and jumps back into the river, giving them a wave with it's fin. From the roof, the group waves back.

As night falls, we see Moominhouse safe and free from vines. Muskrat asks them if that is "really what happens", telling them that the moment he closed his eyes, he fell asleep. The group titters and laughs, and Little My says: "keep up, Whiskers".

Trivia

The Secret of the Hattifatteners and Monster Fish are the only episodes to not feature or mention Snufkin.

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