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Snufkin and the Park Keeper is the seventh episode in the 2019 television series Moominvalley.

Synopsis

Incensed by the Park Keeper, Snufkin plots a cunning revenge. But when his friends get the blame for his actions, Snufkin must come to their rescue.

Plot

Little My floats inside a large bubble underwater, until the bubble is popped by a fish. She emerges to the surface of the river, and sees a wicker basket floating nearby, which she climbs into. The basket contains craft materials, and she peers at the yarn, scissors and buttons as she wonders to herself about what she has "to live on". Little My finds some odd white seeds, biting into one before exclaiming in disgust. She decides to conserve her energy and naps in the basket as it floats downstream.

In the forest, Snufkin plays his mouth-organ. He spots a cluster of what appears to be mushrooms growing on a log, however when he touches them they fly away, revealing themselves to be some type of butterfly. Snufkin smiles as he watches them fly, saying "the forest belongs to us all". He inhales and begins to play his mouth-organ again, then turns and walks straight into a large metal fence, getting the organ stuck in his mouth. He looks upon the high fence in shock, reading out signs that say it is a "private park" and not to enter "without permission". Snufkin becomes cross and questions whose permission is needed, then spots a Hemulen Park Keeper trimming a group of very neat trees within the empty park. Snufkin frowns in anger at the Park Keeper.

Meanwhile, Snorkmaiden and Moomintroll are in a small rowing boat on the river. Snorkmaiden is trying to enjoy the "dreamy night", appreciating the scenery, and becomes annoyed that Moomintroll "always [has] to be doing something", as he prepares to go fishing. Snorkmaiden asks him to join her in enjoying "the moment" and he agrees to do so, right after he has found some bait for fishing with. Snorkmaiden sighs and tells him not to look in the work-basket as Little My is sleeping there. Moomintroll scratches his head and finds a leaf, which reminds him of when he earlier sailed under a branch and was knocked backwards. He realises that he must have knocked the work-basket, containing Little My, from their boat and into the river, and he eats the leaf to hide the evidence of his accident, looking worried. Snorkmaiden sees him and asks him what he's doing, and Moomintroll stutters out a response before suggesting that the work-basket fell into the river "all by itself". They decide to journey in search of it. Snorkmaiden sees that Moomintroll is worried and reassures him that Little My is "very resourceful". Moomintroll replies that he was thinking about the bait, but that they can search for Little My as well. Snorkmaiden returns to staring out from the boat with a frown.

The work-basket containing Little My floats elsewhere on the river, before being reeled in by Snufkin. He pokes Little My with the hook of his fishing rod and says not to be afraid, to which Little My replies that she's "not even afraid of ants", and Snufkin is surprised to find her inside the basket. She spots Snufkin's camp and asks him what he's cooking, and Snufkin jokes that a "little one" like Little My needs milk, to which she responds indignantly, then they share a smile. While Little My enjoys some of Snufkin's cooking, Snufkin says that the main thing in life is to "know one's own mind", to which Little My replies: "you said it, pal". She asks what's on his mind, and Snufkin's expression becomes distant as he tells her that he was "starting to feel enclosed" and had to get away for a while.

We see a flashback to the Midsummer Bonfire, with many people attending such as Moominpappa, Moominmamma and Mrs Fillyjonk. Snufkin sits on a log next to Moomintroll, laughing with him, however he becomes tense when Moomintroll disappears to get them drinks, looking around with wide eyes. When Moomintroll returns Snufkin has disappeared, and Moomintroll sits down with the drinks, looking sad as he pushes Snufkin's drink over to the empty spot where he had been sitting. Snufkin narrates the flashback, saying that it isn't that he doesn't like people, but he can feel "caged in" sometimes, and explains: "every now and again, just for a while, I need my space".

Back in the present, Snufkin packs up his belongings and assures Little My that he will return, but before he does so, he needs to "settle an account" with a "villain". As Snufkin frowns, Little My asks if the villain is big or small, to which Snufkin angrily replies "small". Little My says that this is good, because small villains "break more easily". Snufkin tells her that tools may be useful, and she reminds him about the work-basket she arrived in. Snufkin notices the white seeds inside the basket and asks where Little My got them from, and she explains that they "just arrived" after her, Moomintroll and Snorkmaiden's trip to a "craggy old island" ("The Secret of the Hattifatteners"). Snufkin recognises the seeds and says they will be "perfect", and praises Little My for finding them.

Little My and Snufkin make their way through the forest, with Snufkin playing All Small Beasts Should Have Bows in Their Tails on his mouth-organ. Little My names the tune, surprising Snufkin by knowing it, and he plays the song again while she sings along and climbs and cartwheels through the forest. The two of them laugh then hide behind a large log as they near the private park. Snufkin quotes the song's lyrics, saying that "there's only one person who should be locked up in a Hemulen jail" as he looks over at the Hemulen Park Keeper in anger. Snufkin tells Little My that they will give the Park Keeper a scare with their seeds - Hattifattener seeds. Little My is shocked to find out what the seeds are, telling Snufkin that she almost ate one and that a Hattifattener might have "burst out of [her] stomach". Snufkin laughs and reassures her that the seeds only grow into Hattifatteners if sown on Midsummer's Eve, which is that night.

Snufkin begins to sow the seeds inside the fence of the private park, explaining to Little My that the seeds must be sown sparsely so that the Hattifatteners "won't get their paws entangled". The two of them sit back to wait for the Hattifatteners to grow, and Snufkin says that "now the fun begins". Snufkin points out the various Hattifatteners as they rise from the ground, watching as he says they will soon take their first steps. Little My tells him that she can smell sulphur and Snufkin tells her that it is the Hattifatteners, who are "especially electric" when "new-grown". Inside the private park, the Park Keeper has noticed the smell and walks over to a crate full of forest creatures, thinking they are causing the sulphuric smell. A bolt of electricity travels across the ground of the private park, and more follow until one travels through the metal buttons of the Park Keeper's jacket and electrocutes him. A metal weather vane is also hit by an electric shock and flies out of the ground, and the Park Keeper notices the dozens of Hattifatteners in his park who are slowly coming closer to him. He backs away into the metal gates of the private park and is electrocuted as the Hattifatteners approach him. Snufkin laughs as he and Little My watch, enjoying how the Park Keeper is "shining like a full moon" while Little My seems shocked. The Park Keeper opens the gates and runs away with the Hattifatteners dispersing after him. Snufkin announces to Little My that it is time to "liberate the land", and she follows after him as he walks away.

Snorkmaiden and Moomintroll come across Little My's footprints in the forest and the work-basket as they search for her. Moomintroll seems unhappy that Little My "took the bait", and Snorkmaiden responds with fear at the idea that someone has ensnared Little My, and Moomintroll explains that he meant his trout bait, the Hattifattener seeds. Snorkmaiden shakes her head, then notices that there is another set of footprints beside Little My's, and Moomintroll takes her hand as they continue their search, telling Snorkmaiden that he knows the forests like "the back of [his] paw" as they follow the footprints.

Back at the private park, Snufkin and Little My have torn down all of the Park Keeper's signs. Snufkin looks for a match and becomes distracted by Little My pointing out the little forest creatures left behind, which all look quite similar. Snufkin tells her that they are Woodies, and the creatures stop pestering Little My and walk over to Snufkin as if entranced, gathering around him to his despair and distress. He tells them to run to their Mamma, and Little My points out that they may not have a Mamma, as the Park Keeper was looking after them. Snufkin says that he isn't used to children, and doesn't know if he likes them, and he clutches his bag to his chest as he backs away from the Woodies and tries to escape from them. Little My laughs, saying that the Woodies seem to like Snufkin, and follows him.

Not long later, Snufkin peers from behind a tree then relaxes, seeing no sign of anything nearby. However, he turns to find the Woodies stood in front of him expectantly. Little My watches as Snufkin repeatedly tries to evade the Woodies and sneak away, and she helps to get the Woodies' attention and return them to Snufkin every time, much to his surprise. Snufkin shakes one of the Woodies from his leg and it lands in a puddle of mud, upsetting it and making it cry, and the other Woodies cry too. Snufkin slaps a hand to his head, then seems to resign himself to looking after the Woodies, carrying one under each arm as he leads them towards an empty house in the forest.

Elsewhere in the forest, Moomintroll talks to Snorkmaiden about how "magical" the fog is, shutting them off from the forest behind it's "majestic grey walls". Snorkmaiden asks him if he means that they are lost, and he admits that they are. He spots some very small forest people placing a pinecone on a tiny campfire, and attempts to ask them if they have seen Little My, however they respond in a language he doesn't understand, chirping and dancing. Snorkmaiden suggests that she and Moomintroll make their own Midsummer Bonfire, and this time she takes his hand and leads him away, saying: "leave this to me". They walk in the direction of the now-liberated park.

In the house, Snufkin finds a barrel of beans to feed the Woodies with. Little My leaves him alone to deal with the little creatures, repeating his earlier words back to him that "every now and again" she needs her space. Little My spots a plume of smoke in the distance and walks in its direction.

Outside the park, Snorkmaiden and Moomintroll are keeping warm by a campfire, which is actually the Park Keeper's signs that they have set on fire. Moomintroll comments on how lucky they are to have found a "pre-made bonfire" and says that Little My may see the smoke and find them. They hear a gate open behind them and Snorkmaiden hopes it is Little My - instead it is the Park Keeper with a Police Officer, who spots Moomintroll and Snorkmaiden burning the signs and orders for the Police Officer to arrest them. The Park Keeper touches the Police Officer, giving her an electric shock, and she warns him to stop touching her or she'll arrest him instead. The Police Officer asks Snorkmaiden and Moomintroll to explain themselves, however they are confused, and before they can speak the Park Keeper says that they pulled down his signs and burnt them, pointing at their "pre-made bonfire" as evidence. The Police Officer finds it hard to disagree with the "evidence", and says it isn't easy for her or Moomintroll and Snorkmaiden, picking them up under each arm and taking them to jail. Little My appears from where she was hiding under a bush and says: "that's what you get for not having bows in your tails".

Back in the house, a radio plays while Snufkin washes dishes and the Woodies eat their beans from bowls. Snufkin teases the Woodies by asking them: "who wants to return to the sandbox?" and they laugh in response. One of the Park Keeper's burnt signs is thrown onto the table, surprising Snufkin and the Woodies, and Snufkin switches off the radio and dries his hands on one of the Woodies' fur before finding Little My stood on the table. Snufkin realises that someone has been burning the signs from the park and says that he would like to "shake their paw". Little My tells him that he probably already has, saying that he knows them "well enough" and that, thanks to Snufkin, their "fat, fluffy behinds" are on their way to jail. Snufkin looks wide-eyes and says Moomintroll's name, to which Little My adds "and his moll", meaning Snorkmaiden. Snufkin looks upset, saying how he had felt "like a prisoner" in the house with the Woodies, and he sits down at the table to put his head in his hands, his added weight launching the Woodies up from their bench.

At the police station, Snorkmaiden and Moomintroll are thrown into jail. They protest their innocence, and the Police Officer says that "they all say that". The Park Keeper admires the jail cell, saying to the Police Officer that it must be nice to be "all powerful", however she tells him that she doesn't like locking people up, and prefers open spaces. She looks at a painting of the "wild flower fields" she ran through in her youth, which the Park Keeper dismisses as "sentimental rubbish". The Park Keeper leaves, telling the Police Officer to give Snorkmaiden and Moomintroll a "stiff sentence", then electrocutes himself on the metal lock of the door and causes the bell above it to fly off the wall. The Police Officer sits down and begins to crochet, while Moomintroll and Snorkmaiden look at each other.

The Park Keeper walks away from the police station, still getting electrocuted every few steps. Once he has passed, Snufkin, Little My and the Woodies emerge from the bushes and sneak towards the police station. Snufkin gestures for them to follow him and the Woodies copy him, gesturing for Little My to follow, which she responds to by rolling her eyes.

Inside the police station, Snorkmaiden asks the Police Officer what she is making. The Police Officer reveals her crocheting to be a connected jumble of pom-poms, gloves, hats and socks, and she explains that she doesn't know what she's crocheting, but that she feels happier when she is doing it. Snorkmaiden says that it is a shame she isn't making slippers, and the Police Officer becomes interest, saying that she doesn't know what size feet Snorkmaiden is. Moomintroll watches in surprise as Snorkmaiden gestures for the Police Officer to unlock the jail cell so she could measure her feet, and the Police Officer agrees to let her out "for a moment", saying it "wouldn't hurt" to do so.

Back in the forest the Park Keeper returns home, to the house that Snufkin and the Woodies previously stayed in. He finds the empty barrel of beans and bowls on his table and becomes annoyed when he finds many children's drawings of himself with exaggerated features stuck up on the wall. He calls out for the police, yelling that "there's been more sabotage" as he rushes out of his house.

Snufkin and Little My climb onto the roof of the police station using the Woodies as a makeshift ladder. Snufkin opens the hatch above the jail cell and peers into it, hearing Snorkmaiden squealing in what he interprets as pain. He gasps in shock as Little My tells him that, thanks to him, their friends are being "tortured". Snufkin looks determined as he says that "there's no time to waste" and that he must rescue his friends, and he crawls into the hatch. The Woodies turn towards Little My, and she tells them: "don't look at me, I'm not looking after you". The Woodies jump into the hatch after Snufkin and disappear. Little My smiles, saying that all the "loose ends" are "neatly tied up" as she shuts the hatch and jumps from the roof.

Inside the police station, Snufkin hangs upside down as he looks around for his friends, his hat falling off. HIs eyes widen as he sees Moomintroll and Snorkmaiden out of their cell, with Snorkmaiden being tickled by the ruler that the Police Officer is using to measure her foot size. The Woodies land on top of Snufkin, weighing him down, and he crashes into the cell below. This gains the attention of the other three, who look at Snufkin and the Woodies in surprise. Moomintroll calls out Snufkin's name, and Snufkin says his in return, both of them looking shocked to see each other. Moomintroll asks what he is doing, and Snorkmaiden adds: "with all those children-things". Snufkin begins to explain, however the Park Keeper rushes into the police station, announcing that he has been burgled. He complains about finding Snorkmaiden and Moomintroll out of their cell and tries to usher them back in, however Snufkin closes the door, locking himself and the Woodies inside. Snufkin tells the Park Keeper that they are innocent, and the Park Keeper asks who he is, to which he replies "Snufkin". Snufkin tells them all that he has come to "pay the penalty" for taking his revenge on the Park Keeper. Moomintroll realises that Snufkin tore down the Park Keeper's signs and Snufkin nods. The Park Keeper adds that Snufkin electrified him, to which Snufkin also agrees, although he says that the Park Keeper should thank him for that, as he'll be able to save "a fortune" on electricity bills. Snufkin looks smug as he laughs, and the Woodies copy him and laugh too, irritating the Park Keeper further, who orders the Police Officer to sentence him harshly. She tells him to stop bossing her around, and the two squabble while Moomintroll notices the Woodies drawing inside the jail cell with crayons. Moomintroll suggests to the Police Officer that Snufkin's sentence should be to make five-thousand new keep out signs, to "replace all the ones he tore down". Snufkin looks at Moomintroll in surprise, then thinks back to how he left Moomintroll all alone at the Midsummer Bonfire, and he sadly says: "i suppose it's all I deserve".

The Police Officer agrees that it is fair sentence, giving Snufkin a large pile of paper, and he begins to write the signs with a crayon. Moomintroll whispers to the Woodies, asking them if they want to copy Snufkin, and they begin to take sheets of paper and draw their own keep out signs, too. Snorkmaiden coos over the Woodies helping Snufkin, while the Park Keeper complains that it is "cheating" and the Police Officer tells him to "pipe down", reminding him that it is her jail house. Snufkin notices the Woodies helping him and smiles at Moomintroll, who smiles back.

Later, the wall of the police station is covered in keep out signs and Moomintroll sticks up the last one out of five-thousand. The Police Officer tells Snufkin that his "debt to society" has been paid and unlocks the cell, freeing him. She asks Snufkin if he is sorry and he nods, however the Woodies shake their heads as they copy him. Moomintroll comments that the park became a wide open space, while the jail became a "sign-smothered" park. He tells the Park Keeper and the Police Officer that they may have ended up in the wrong places, and that they should consider swapping. Snorkmaiden leads the group away from the jail house, the Woodies following after her and Snufkin nudges Moomintroll and they share a smile. Back inside the cell, the Park Keeper admires the metal bars then accidentally locks himself inside, calling out for help, however the police station is empty.

The Police Officer is no longer wearing her uniform and has begin crocheting hats for the Woodies, watching fondly as they play in the forest. Snufkin watches also, and says that they are in "safe hands", however he adds that he thinks he will miss his "little children", and that he "almost started to enjoy the responsibility". Moomintroll and Snorkmaiden sit by a campfire with new slippers on their feet, and Moomintroll repeats "almost?", causing Snufkin to smile. Snorkmaiden points out that they never found Little My, but Snufkin tells her not to worry, saying that "Little My can take care of herself". On the river, Little My sails off into the horizon with the group of Hattifatteners following her.

Trivia

  • Although not traditionally part of a work-basket, the Hattifattener seeds could be sown, similar to how the thread could be sewn.
  • At one point, Snufkin refers to Little My "Little Mymble" which means that he knows that she is one of Mymble's children, however it is unknown whether he knows that Mymble is also his mother.
  • The theme of Snufkin struggling with responsibility for others and disliking being followed and admired is similar to his behaviour with Teety-Woo in the second episode of the series: The Spring Tune.
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