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The Golden Tale is the fifth episode in the first series of the 2019 television show Moominvalley.

Synopsis

Moominpappa is inspired to put on a play all about his adventurous youth. But the pressure to fill his father's shoes makes Moomintroll's tail hairs fall out!

Plot

The curtains to Emma's stage open to reveal Moomintroll and Sniff reenacting a scene from Moominpappa's memoirs - playing Moominpappa and The Muddler respectively, with Muskrat voicing Edward the Booble in the wings. The rehearsal starts well, however there are issues with props falling and being delayed, and both Emma and Moominpappa are unhappy with the performance, with Moominpappa calling for them to cut. In one of the otherwise empty chairs laid out for an audience, Snufkin applauds, saying that it is getting "much better".

Moominpappa, caught up with being a director, complains about his play being seen as a comedy instead of a "gripping tale", and he tells Moomintroll to improve his performance. Moomintroll says that he is trying his best, and plays with his tail anxiously, unknowingly causing his tail hairs to fall out. During the next rehearsal, with Snorkmaiden playing Moominmamma, Moomintroll notices that he is losing his tail hairs and misses his cue to catch Snorkmaiden when she jumps out of their makeshift sea, causing them both to fall from the stage. Snorkmaiden, Emma and Moominpappa are all unhappy with Moomintroll's performance, though Little My, who is in charge of the background music, laughs and says that it was "the best take yet". Moominpappa tells Moomintroll he needs to try and find his "inner hero". The theatre slides closer to the lake beside it as Moomintroll leans against it.

Later, Moomintroll struggles to remember his lines and laments his moulting tail, and Moominmamma finds him crying in his bedroom. She takes him to the kitchen and comforts him with a warm drink and a blanket. She gives Moomintroll one of her Grandmother's potions to help with his tail and help to ease his worries, and bids him goodnight.

The next day, Snorkmaiden is on stage rehearsing, this time playing then Hemulen owner of the family house where Moominpappa was dropped off as a baby. She becomes irritated when Moomintroll misses his cue, and Moominpappa himself, in the audience with Moominmamma and Snufkin, asks "where am I?" Moominmamma tells him that Moomintroll told her that he has a "big surprise". Moomintroll finally arrives backstage, much to Emma's annoyance, and she pushes him into a box which her and Little My move onto the stage for the scene. Snorkmaiden continues her lines, but stops in shock when Moomintroll jumps out from his box and presents his tail - turned golden as a side-effect of the potion. Snorkmaiden and Sniff regard his tail with awe; Snorkmaiden wanting to touch it while Sniff asks how much it might be worth. Emma wonders if the tail is real, and Little My complains that they'll never "hear the last of this". Moominpappa walks onto the stage, confused about all of the commotion and displeased about the improvisation. When Moomintroll presents his golden tail, Moominpappa congratulates him, saying that it makes him "a Moomin unlike all others" and that it captures Moominpappa's "uniqueness". While the others regard Moomintroll and his tail fondly, Little My warns them to wait until the "gaudy glow" reaches his head. They begin the rehearsal again, with Moomintroll finding new confidence and pleasing his father with his acting. In the wings, Moominpappa rewrites the script to include Moomintroll's new tail, much to Emma's horror, and she reminds him that they are opening that night, saying "directors, they think it all happens by magic!"

That night the theatre is lit up for the performance, with an audience of mainly Hemulens, woodies, and some of Mymble's children sat in front of it. The lake beside the theatre also has visitors in boats waiting for the show to begin. Backstage in a makeshift dressing room, Snorkmaiden finds Moomintroll and asks him if he is ready for the show, and says "they are going to love it" though quickly corrects herself to mean "the tail, you, the whole package". Moomintroll makes his way to the stage, receiving his props, and, to his shock, a brand new script from his father. Emma comments irritably that she spent the previous night making new props, and Sniff takes off his costume, finding that he is no longer in the script, and begins searching for something else to do. Moomintroll desperately asks Sniff what to do, and Sniff hands him a pot of glue, jokingly telling him to "stick with it".

The show begins, with Snorkmaiden playing the Hemulen during the opening scene. Moomintroll, inside the box, is pushed onto the stage by Little My, and the play differs from before, with Moomintroll jumping up from the box to an audience of laughter. The first page of his new script has been glued to the inside of the cardboard box so he can read his lines. Moomintroll improvises as he performs, and then jumps out of the box as he and Snorkmaiden present his golden tail, the script having been changed to revolve around the tail. Moominmamma and Snufkin, sat in the audience, look at each other in shock, while the rest of the audience responds in awe at the sight.

As the play continues, Moominpappa watches with Emma in the wings and remarks on how well it is going, while Emma walks off, irritated. On stage, Moomintroll continues to improvise and read his lines from parts of his script glued to various props, which Little My notices through a telescope from the side of the stage. She can't believe that he hasn't learnt his lines, and comments that sometimes one needs to "be cruel to be kind" before switching on a large fan. Little My changes the background music to something more fast-paced as the fan begins to blow away the pieces of Moomintroll's script. The audience laughs while Moominmamma looks awkward, and Snufkin pulls his hat over his face. Moominpappa questions why the audience is laughing and watches in shock as the set begins to dismantle. Props fly off the stage, and Muskrat falls, knocking over the scenery, before being pulled up to the roof of the theatre with a rope caught around his leg. A large prop of a moon falls from the ceiling and rolls away, the audience watching in horror as it comes close to them before landing in the lake. Little My laughs at the chaos while Moomintroll stands on the destroyed set awkwardly, and Moominpappa, deeply embarassed, calls for an interval and closes the curtains. In the audience, Snufkin and Moominmamma share another look of worry before Snufkin walks away.

Backstage, Moominpappa asks the cast what went wrong, and Snorkmaiden defends them, saying they did their best, though Muskrat comments: "I didn't". Little My says idly that it got "very windy" and Moomintroll becomes annoyed with her actions, telling her: "you made me into a laughing stock". Little My tells him that he did that all by himself, since the moment he "flounced onstage" with his "ridiculous" golden tail. Moominpappa concurs, telling them that the "tail is the star of the show". Emma, Snorkmaiden and Moomintroll react with shock, and Moominpappa attemps to correct himself, saying that Moomintroll "and his tail" are the stars. Emma and Snorkmaiden react disapprovingly, Snorkmaiden covering her eyes in embarassment at Moominpappa's statement, and Moomintroll takes off his costume, sadly agreeing that he is not the star. He pushes his hat at Moominpappa and tells him "I'm not you, either" before walking away. Before he leaves the stage, Moomintroll tells his father that he will need to find "a new you", and quits the show. Moominpappa tells Little My to turn off the dramatic background music that she was playing throughout the entire exchange, and she does so, laughing and unbothered.

Alone in another area backstage, Moomintroll looks down at his tail unhappily. A door behind him opens, and Snufkin puts his head through, telling Moomintroll that he could always "chop it off", but that the audience might be disappointed. He looks away and Moomintroll joins him and watches as Sniff sells pieces of rope with the ends dipped in gold paint, selling "limited edition" souvenirs to delighted fans. Moomintroll, surprised, observes that "they liked it", to which Snufkin replies: "there's no accounting for taste". Moomintroll becomes cross again, and points out that he's not his father, sadly stating that he is himself. Snufkin cryptically says that he "always did like a happy ending", and when Moomintroll turns to ask him what he meant, he has disappeared.

Back on the stage, Moominpappa steps out in front of the curtains, preparing to announce that the rest of the show has been cancelled. However, he is pulled behind the curtains by his tail, and Moomintroll tells him that they are going to finish the show, the first version, without the "golden tail nonsense". He tells his father that he "never needed" a golden tale to be special, and that he should play himself in the show. Moominpappa tells him that he doesn't know the lines, however Emma reminds him that he does, saying: "you wrote them, didn't you?" Moominpappa takes his script and offers Moomintroll the megaphone, saying that he is now the director. Emma comments that things are "finally" making sense, and Moomintroll, encouraged by his father, uses the microphone to tell everyone to get to their places, announcing that it will be a finale that "they'll never forget". Little My winks at him as she sorts out her background music, and Moomintroll smiles in response. Snorkmaiden collects Moominmamma from the audience, to her surprise, and they walk away.

In the wings, Moominpappa prepares himself for his performance. Little My says that she hopes he's "better than the last guy", and he admonishes her for using the wind machine and puts the music on himself before entering the stage. In a boat on the lake, a Hemulen congratulates them on "aging the actor", and Snufkin, now sat in his own boat, shushes him. Backstage, Moomintroll and Snorkmaiden get Moominmamma into place, ready to play the part of herself. At Moominpappa's cue, she appears, and waves at him, hoping he doesn't mind that Snorkmaiden "thought it best" that she played herself, and Moominpappa tells her: "I don't mind one bit". Moominmamma signals for Emma to launch her onto the stage, and she jumps and is caught by Moominpappa, who spins her around in a flourish. All of a sudden, the theatre slips into the lake and floats there, while Muskrat, still dangling from the ceiling, comments: "how moving". The audience cheers and applauds, and Moominpappa proclaims "what a catch", nuzzling noses with Moominmamma before setting her down onto the stage.

Backstage, Snorkmaiden points out to Moomintroll that his tail is fading from gold back to white. Moomintroll says that he will miss it, "in a way", and Snorkmaiden tells him that she prefers him just the way he is, and they share a hug. Moominpappa calls Moomintroll to join him and his mother onstage, and Snorkmaiden and Little My watch as they take their bows. Snorkmaiden says with fondness that Moomintroll is "a natural", to which Little My remarks: "thanks to me". The audience continues to applaud as the family takes their bows, and Snufkin says "well played, Moomintroll" as he bows, his tail sticking up in the air, back to normal. Sniff, noticing the tail, throws his remaining rope overboard and sails away. Emma, Snorkmaiden and Little My join the others onstage and bow, while Muskrat swings behind them.

Trivia

  • In one of the previous episodes - The Last Dragon in the World - Moomintroll utters the phrase "By my everlasting tail!", which becomes ironic in this episode due to the loss of his tail hairs.
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