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Night of the Groke is the ninth episode in the first series of the 2019 television series Moominvalley.

Synopsis

Moomintroll's mind starts to play tricks on him when he's left home alone overnight for the first time. But soon, his worst fears are realised.

Plot

A Hemulen cooks fish over a campfire in a deserted part of the forest in Moominvalley. He hears rustling noises nearby and calls out that he only fishes "for one" and so they should be on their way. The Hemulen walks closer to the source of the noise and is scared by one of the Woodies jumping out of the bush, before laughing off and running away. Behind him, his campfire is extinguished and fog begins to cover the area. A moaning noise is heard. The Hemulen walks back to his campsite and tries to peer through the fog. He looks up and is shocked to see two large eyes staring back at him, and as the fog disperses a large dark figure with two glowing yellow eyes is revealed.

Moominpappa places his pick in the stone of a mountain to hoist himself up, and climbs onto the ice-covered peak. He declares "victory" before Moominmamma's voice interrupts him, and his mountain victory is revealed to have been a daydream he had while defrosting the freezer. Moominmamma is cleaning the house, but Moominpappa seems disillusioned, asking "are we not Moomins?" and saying that they should be "hiking the hinterland" instead of being "stuck inside". Moominpappa pulls Moominmamma up with him to climb onto the table, and Moominmamma agrees that they could have a stroll on the beach, after lunch. Moominpappa agrees with her idea, eagerly talking about barbecuing the "fruits-de-la-mer" just like they did "in the old days". Moominmamma prepares to collect dinner plates, matches and various items for them, however Moominpappa insists that it is the "wild, free life" for them, and that they should go "this instant", before barrelling out of the room past Moomintroll, singing. Moominmamma tells her son that she's afraid Moominpappa has decides to live a life of "wild abandon", and Moomintroll asks: "again?" Moominmamma tells her son not to worry, as she's sure they'll be back by the morning.

Later, Moominmamma and Moominpappa head off on their journey with a hamper. Moominmamma tells Moomintroll where to find extra food, and to be his "brave, little self", before Moominpappa eagerly pulls her away in the direction of the beach. Moomintroll tells them that he can survive for one night, however, once he closes the door and realises that he is alone in the house, he starts to look worried.

Sniff has arrived at Moominhouse, and is asking Moomintroll why he has to stay the night, as he was planning on "making a model of [his] nose" that night. Moomintroll tells him that he can do that tomorrow, however Sniff reminds him that he practices "running backwards" on Thursdays. Moomintroll struggles to find a reason to convince Sniff to stay before saying that he needs his help to get some plum jam from the cellar, which instantly piques Sniff's interest. The two open the door to the cellar, both nervous at how dark and "cob-webby" it is, and Moomintroll starts to make a plan for their journey into the cellar. However, he exclaims in pain when a nervous Sniff bites his thumb, and Sniff explains that it hurts when he bites his own thumb. The two of them then run blindly down into the cellar.

Not long afterwards, Moomintroll is sat on the steps to Moominhouse, eating a jar of plum jam, covered in cobwebs and shaking with nerves. He tells himself that it "wasn't so bad" and reassures himself with the jam. Sniff asks Moomintroll if jam attracts "giant-footed forest ogres", and Moomintroll tells him that there are no monsters in Moominvalley. Sniff shows Moomintroll the large footprints in front of Moominhouse and hops from one to the other, wondering if it might be two giant-footed forest ogres, or more, and Moomintroll becomes worried and says he will get Moominpappa. Sniff stops him, and tells him to imagine what might happen if they "capture" the monster, saying that they might get a reward, then they could buy a yacht, "or some roller-skates". Moomintroll says that they could be heroes, and begins to imagine retrieving a trophy from his father, miming holding it up. He tells Sniff that he's right, and they decide to catch themselves a monster.

The two of them begin to set up spring-loaded traps using rope attached to thin trees, however one of Sniff's trees escapes from the rope knot and hits Moomintroll, who falls into one of the traps and sets it and several others off, becoming tangled up in the rope. They make a new trap with a large crate to fall onto the monster and trap it, however this time Sniff becomes distracted by flowers, sniffing one and then sneezing, pulling the stick out from under the crate and trapping Moomintroll beneath it. By the time night has fallen, the two are digging a large hole in Moominmamma's vegetable patch, for the monster to fall into.

With the large hole dug, Moomintroll and Sniff hide behind a nearby bush to wait for the monster. Moomintroll hopes that his mother won't miss her vegetable patch "too much", and Sniff tells him that if they catch a giant-footed forest ogre then "nobody will mind". As they wait, Sniff loudly eats a carrot from the vegetable patch, irritating Moomintroll as he tries to stay quiet.

At the beach, Moominpappa reels in his fishing rod while Moominmamma makes a campfire. Moominpappa reveals his catch to his wife - a very small fish - and she congratulates him on his "magnificent haul". Moominpappa begins to try and light the fire with two rocks, however Moominmamma saves their time by lighting it with a match. Moominpappa admires her actions and says: "Moominmamma, you wild thing".

Back outside Moominhouse, Moomintroll remains watching the hole-trap while Sniff has fallen asleep and has begun snoring beside him. Suddenly, Moomintroll hears a rustling noise and wakes up Sniff, pointing out that something is setting off the traps. The two of them slowly turn around as they realise that there is a grunting sound coming from behind them, and they run away. Sniff stops himself from falling into their hole, however Moomintroll crashes into him and they both fall to the bottom of it. Moomintroll and Sniff clutch onto each other in fear as the look up at the top of the hole, and then a light fills the hole as Snufkin stands above them, holding their lantern. He clears his throat - the source of the grunting noise - and outstretches his arm, asking if they "need some help?" The other two sigh in relief.

Rescued from their hole, Moomintroll and Sniff dust leaves from themselves as Snufkin asks them what they were hiding from. Moomintroll tells him it was a "giant-footed forest ogre". Snufkin tells him that "they don't exist", and eats a carrot. Sniff argues that "they do so too so", and tells him to look at the "giant footprints". Sniff explains that the forest ogres have "big noses", "huge teeth", and "very big feet", and Moomintroll nods in agreement. Snufkin tells them that he made those footprints, to their surprise. Snufkin points to the "big old shoes" he found, which he is wearing over his regular footwear, and shows them that the shoe size matches the footprints. Sniff and Moomintroll ask why he is wearing them, and Snufkin says that he did so to "see what life is like in someone else's shoes". Moomintroll asks what it is like, and Snufkin replies "uncomfortable", kicking the big shoes off into the hole. He tips his hat to them and bids them goodnight, before walking away. Moomintroll and Sniff exchange nervous glances as they watch Snufkin leave.

Snufkin walks back towards his campsite, however he sees something out of the corner of his eye and stops, crossing his arms and looking a little cross. Moomintroll and Sniff run to catch up to him, and, not realising he has stopped, Moomintroll runs into Snufkin, and then Sniff runs into Moomintroll. Snufkin asks them if something is on their mind, and Moomintroll tells him that they are coming with him. Snufkin asks "really?" and Sniff tells him that they're scared, before Moomintroll amends that they are hungry, and adds: "and you always have such tasty stew". Snufkin allows them to follow him, telling them to "try to keep up", much to Moomintroll and Sniff's delight.

At Snufkin's campsite, the group sits around his campfire with bowls of stew. Snufkin tells them that there are "no monsters in Moominvalley", and Moomintroll frowns at Sniff in response. Snufkin says that the only thing they need to fear is "fear itself", that and the Groke. Moomintroll's eyes go wide, and he says that he's heard it mentioned, looking scared. Snufkin tells them that the Groke is a "mysterious, silent grey shadow" who haunts the wilds and brings an "icy cold" wherever she goes. He says that her very presence could "freeze your heart solid". Elsewhere in the woods, the Hemulen watches as his campfire freezes over, and he runs away from the large, dark figure in the centre of the ice. Sniff steals Moomintroll's bowl of stew, much to his annoyance, and suggests that they could use the Groke "as a fridge", much to Snufkin's annoyance. Snufkin tells them that you "certainly" don't want to meet her on a dark night "like tonight". Moomintroll asks why the Groke is "so awful", and Snufkin replies that "maybe she isn't, really", and that perhaps she just "reflects our own fears". Snufkin says that the Groke is a "misunderstood creature", and Moomintroll tells him that he doesn't understand, to which Snufkin says: "exactly". Just as Snufkin is about to eat his stew, he finds that it has been taken out of his hands, and both Snufkin and Moomintroll watch with a frown as Sniff finishes off the stew. Sniff notices them looking at him and tells them "what do you expect if you tell me scary stories?" and says that it is "comfort eating". Moomintroll points out that he's eaten "the lot", and reminds Sniff that he's not "the only person in the world", and that he needs to learn to think of others. The tent closes behind them and Snufkin has disappeared inside it, saying to them: "sleep well". Moomintroll, frowning, points at the tent and looks to Sniff, saying: "now see what you've done".

An owl hoots nearby and Moomintroll and Sniff begin to look scared. They edge closer to the tent and Sniff asks if there is any more room inside and is met with silence. Moomintroll tells him that they'd "better get home", and leads Sniff back to Moominhouse, which is just on the other side of the river. Moomintroll says to that he is going to have "the rest of that jam" when they get home, and Sniff says "me too", to which Moomintroll asks: "haven't you had enough to eat?" Sniff begins to explain himself, however the two of them are startled by another noise, and their lamp begins to flicker. Moomintroll begins to reassure Sniff that it is "nothing", however a Hemulen suddenly runs across the bridge, looking very scared. The Hemulen calls for them to run "for their lives" as he disappears into the forest. Moomintroll tells Sniff that it was just a "false alarm", however they look back towards Moominhouse to see a large, dark figure with glowing yellow eyes approaching them, spreading frost on the ground. Moomintroll and Sniff realise that it is the Groke and run away, however Moomintroll stops and lifts his lantern to look at the Groke more closely. The Groke moans sadly, and Moomintroll watches in horror as she freezes the stream, and Sniff returns to push Moomintroll away with him.

Moomintroll and Sniff arrive at Snufkin's campsite, terrified as they try to get his attention. Sniff realises that he can't knock on the door, so says "knock knock knock" as he mimes knocking on the tent. The tent door unzips and Snufkin sticks his head out, asking them what it is. The other two turn around and exclaim "the Groke", looking back at where the Groke herself has crossed the bridge over the stream and is heading towards them. Snufkin is surprised and tells them to quickly get inside the tent. Once inside, Snufkin tells Moomintroll to turn off the lantern as Sniff remarks that they must be the "first creatures" in the "whole of Moominvalley" to see the inside of Snufkin's tent. Snufkin reaches out towards Moomintroll and tells them to keep quiet, and Moomintroll notices his breath clouding in the icy air. One of the tent poles ices over and Sniff sticks out his tongue to lick it, then struggles to pull his tongue away. The shadow of the Groke is seen as she passes by the tent slowly, moaning sadly. Moomintroll notices that she is moving away, while Sniff comments that he was "almost a lolly". Snufkin leaves the tent to watch the Groke in interest as she leaves the area.

Back inside the tent, Moomintroll holds the lantern and realises that the Groke was attracted to the light. Sniff tells him that it was more like the Groke was "scared" of him. Snufkin tells them all that they were fortunate, and that he hopes that nobody else is sitting "outside by a campfire" that night. Moomintroll suddenly looks worried, and asks Snufkin which way he thinks the Groke was going, and he says it was "definitely the beach". Behind him, Sniff finally pulls his tongue free from the frozen pole. Moomintroll gasps and stands up in the tent, calling out for his Mamma and Pappa.

At a cliff on the beach, Moominpappa is warming his paws by the fire. He comments that "this is the life", without any "fuss" or "home comforts", just "simple, wild living". Moominmamma tells him "of course, dear", before offering a choice of three pillows to sleep on. Moominpappa throws another stick on the campfire, and the light of it attracts the Groke from down in the forest, who sighs somewhat happily, her eyes glowing bright yellow as she follows the light.

Moomintroll leads Sniff and Snufkin to the beach path that his parents used. Sniff exclaims that Moomintroll will be frozen, and Moomintroll replies that so will his parents, if he doesn't warn them. He attempts to follow the path, however it is completely covered in ice, and he slips over. Snufkin skates over to him expertly and helps him up, saying "we'll help you". Sniff looks worried as he repeats "we?" and Snufkin tells him that he can stay there, on his own, pushing Moomintroll down the path before sliding after him. Sniff looks around fearfully before telling the other two to wait for him, and he falls over on the ice before pulling himself up and shuffling after them, calling out Moomintroll's name.

Further down the path, Moomintroll struggles to get his balance on the ice. Snufkin holds onto his paws and tells him to bend his knees and "lean forward" as they slide on the ice together. Moomintroll puts his arms out and starts to improve, skating forwards on one leg in delight. Snufkin tells him "that's the way", skating past him to jump over a large log, before calling back to Moomintroll to jump, too, however he slips underneath the log instead, and Sniff follows after him, crashing right into the log and taking it with him. Snufkin comes to a halt at the top of a small slope of ice and steadies Moomintroll, then Sniff barrels after them and sends them flying with the log. The three of them land on the log, with Moomintroll getting stuck inside it, and they try to navigate it over rocks and steep drops, until they all finally become free from the log. Snufkin and Moomintroll hold onto each other as they skate more warily, while Snufkin leads the way, saying "who needs rollerskates?" Sniff crashes into a tree and icicles almost fall onto him before Moomintroll pulls him out of the way, and Snufkin skates between the icicles like a slalom. The three of them laugh and enjoy their ice-skating as they continue the path to the beach.

Moomintroll, Sniff, and Snufkin eventually land on the shore of the beach. Snufkin and Moomintroll find Sniff seemingly trapped within a block of ice and cry out in surprise, however it is just a frozen over rockpool that Sniff is holding in front of himself. Sniff tells them that they could sell them as windows and "make a fortune". The three of them then become distracted when they see the Groke nearby, starting to travel up to the cliff where Moominmamma and Moominpappa have made camp. Moomintroll wishes that they could put out his parents' campfire before the Groke reaches them, and Snufkin tells him they can, with Sniff's frozen rockpool. Sniff, however, isn't happy with their idea and refuses to hand the block of ice over to Moomintroll. Snufkin tells them to hurry up, and Sniff says that it is his "gravy-train" and, besides, he is the "fastest runner". Snufkin and Moomintroll watch impatiently as Sniff takes his time to limber up, and Snufkin tells him "this is getting painful, Sniff". Sniff finally hoists the ice above his head and runs backwards, to Moomintroll's confusion, and he asks him where he is going. Sniff tells him that he is going to "save the day" and that he will be "wanting a medal", and he runs backwards up to the cliff, screaming in terror when he passes the Groke.

Sniff reaches Moominpappa and Moominmamma's campsite and greets them with "hello Mr and Mrs Moomin", before placing the ice on their campfire and running away. Their campsite is put out, sending smoke all around them, and Moominpappa comments that Sniff is a "curious creature". The Groke comes to a stop near the cliff and sighs sadly.

Back on the beach, Moomintroll is surprised that Sniff "actually did it", and Snufkin says that "wonders will never cease". Snufkin tells Moomintroll to take a lantern as he picks up the other one himself. Back on the cliff, Moominpappa says "so much for the fire", and Moominmamma tells them that they can watch "nature's own fire display", pointing at two glowing lights moving around in the distance, obscured by the smoke from the campfire. Moominpappa comments "how romantic", pointing it out as a "firefly courtship display", however it is Snufkin and Moomintroll leading away the Groke using the light from their lanterns. The Groke follows them, spreading ice across the sand, and Snufkin suggests that they run, however Moomintroll tells him that they "can't keep running forever". He tells Snufkin to give him his lantern, and Snufkin does, though he looks uncertain and asks Moomintroll is he is sure. Moomintroll places the two lanterns on a log before pushing the log out into the ocean. The Groke continues to come closer, and Moomintroll looks nervously out at the sea while Snufkin's comments about the Groke from their conversation at his campfire repeat themselves. The Groke stops in front of Moomintroll and looks down at him with her large, yellow eyes, as Snufkin's voice says that maybe she just "reflects our own fears". The Groke continues her sad sigh and follows the lanterns out into the ocean.

Moomintroll jumps as Snufkin pokes him on the arm and tells him "nice work". It is revealed that Snufkin was talking into a conch shell, and was likely repeating his words from earlier through the conch shell to Moomintroll. Moomintroll walks out towards the edge of the sea and says that perhaps the Groke is just looking for "a little warmth" in her life, and he wonders if she will ever find it. Snufkin stands beside him and watches the Groke retreat, spreading ice over the ocean, and says that he is not sure, and that light is a "very tricky thing" to catch. Suddenly, Sniff comes running into them and knocks them over, finding Snufkin's hat on his head. Snufkin sits up, looking incredibly cross. Sniff asks where the monster went and Snufkin retrieves his hat, saying: "I told you Sniff, there are no monsters in Moominvalley". Moomintroll explains that the Groke is following the light, and Sniff watches her leave, and wonders why the Groke doesn't just come out "during the daytime" if she "likes light so much". Moomintroll calls back to Sniff as he and Snufkin leave, saying why doesn't he ask her, and that the lanterns "won't burn forever". Sniff gulps in fear and runs after the two of them, calling their names.

On the cliff, Moominmamma packs the hamper, wondering if they should "head home", saying that it has been a "lovely night", but that she is "a little tired". She says that "lucky old Moomintroll" will have had a lovely night's sleep in his "cosy" bed, and Moominpappa adds: "unless he's had a bad dream". The two of them carry the hamper back home to Moominhouse. Moominpappa tells his wife that he fancies giving the house "a thorough clean" the next day, and asks Moominmamma if she will help him, to which she replies: "of course, dear".

Trivia

  • In the English subtitles, the Hemulen at the beginning of the episode is referred to as a "Fisherman", meaning it may be the same Hemulen Fisherman seen in previous episodes such as "The Last Dragon in the World".
  • Sniff's discussion of earning a reward so that he can buy roller-skates is taken directly from the second book: "Comet in Moominland".
  • When Moominpappa returns from fishing to greet Moominmamma, he quotes Robert Louis Stevenson's poem Reqiuem: "Home is the sailor, home from sea, And the hunter home from the hill."
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