| Headless clown! HEADLESS CLOWN!|
|Invader Zim Episode|
|Next:||Walk for Your Lives|
|Episode No:||Episode 16a|
|Airdate:||July 12, 2002|
|Writer(s):|| Eric Trueheart|
SPOILER WARNING OF DOOM: This section or article may contain spoilers!
When Zim's constant requests to the Tallest get on their nerves, they attempt to remind him that he is an Invader, not a battle soldier, and that he doesn’t have the training to use the equipment he requested.
Zim is adamant, however, so the ever-crafty and sadistic Tallest make a deal: in order for Zim to prove himself to them, they send him to Hobo 13, an elite training facility that only the best of soldiers stand a chance of completing with their limbs intact.
Meanwhile, the Tallest use this opportunity to make bets among their subjects. When all of them bet against Zim's survival, however, they force a lowly Service Drone named Bob to bet 500,000 monies on Zim succeeding.
On Hobo 13, Zim joins a large group of other trainees of various species, including Skoodge (who has also been promised a reward from the Tallest in the event that he passes), as well as the perpetually headache-ridden Throbulator and a female alien apparently made from crystal.
The alien in charge of the tests is the only member of the Hobo race seen who is simply known as Sergeant Hobo 678, he is irritated by Zim from the start. He explains to the trainees that they will be expected to complete a series of grueling challenges in order to maintain their honor; anyone who fails will be eliminated and transported to the "Holding Pen of Pain." As such, the group is strongly encouraged to choose the best possible contestant to be their leader... almost instantly, however, Zim chooses himself as the leader.
Unsurprisingly, Zim is far from an ideal leader; in almost every challenge, he unnecessarily exploits his teammates in order to achieve victory. During one challenge, where they had to cross a canyon inhabited by the meat-thirsty Hogulus, Zim actually punts Skoodge into the canyon to distract the beast; when the Sergeant calls him on it, he tries to drain energy from another teammate's suit to have enough power to lift and throw a boulder at the monster. He gives up quickly when this proves to be too slow of a process.
However, Zim himself remains intact throughout the challenges, disgusting the Sergeant, chagrining the Tallest and delighting Bob. Finally, Zim has only one teammate left with him upon reaching the Fortress of Pain - who he promptly uses as a battering ram to break down the Fortress' doors.
Expecting victory, Zim eagerly scurries in, but he is met by the Sergeant, who expresses his disgust with Zim's callous recklessness calling him a disgrace to Hobo 13.
However, impressed by his tenacity, he challenges Zim to a duel, saying that it will be his final challenge. At first, the Sergeant has the upper hand, but Zim uses a technique to drain energy from his opponent's power suit into his own, defeating him easily and completing the challenge.
After Zim wins, the Tallest give him his own ship; however, they lock the controls, setting Zim (and the bound-and-gagged Bob) on a crash collision course for the Sun. It is unknown how Zim and Bob escaped.
End of Spoilers: There are no further spoilers for this section or article. You can breathe now.
The following tracks from the episode are found in the Invader Zim Promotion Disc, and are in order, as follows:
- Hobo's Theme
- Gear Fight
Facts of Doom
- When Zim is leading his squad through the swamp filled with aliens, he throws a rock towards his other team members and the aliens attack them by attaching to their faces. This manner of attack may be a reference to the Alien movies which Jhonen is a fan of.
- The cybernetic alien in the maze section of the course resembles one of the Squid machines from The Matrix movies.
- This is one of the episodes with DVD Easter eggs.
- The DVD animatics show a completely different canyon scene than the one seen in the episode as Zim was meant to be talking to Crystal and actually managed to lift the rock and throw it at the Hogulus but Skoodge still gets hurt. Zim's fight against Hobo 678 was also meant to be longer.
- Skoodge was originally meant to eat some of his own skin to survive. This was changed due to looking too gross, however this can still be seen in the animatics for the episode.
- This is Skoodge's last appearance in Invader Zim before its cancellation.
- Some fourth wall breakage occurs when Zim flies from Earth to Hobo 13, and says, "GIR! GIR! Check it out!"; he starts humming the first part of the Invader Zim Theme Song.
- Skoodge supposedly died when the Almighty Tallest convinced him to become part of the cannon sweep in "Battle of the Planets", but when Zim says, "Skoodge? I thought the Almighty Tallest killed you!", he replies, "Yeah, but I'm okay now." This is apparently due to the fact that Nickelodeon prohibits character deaths of any kind on their shows. Skoodge would have been revealed in "Day of Da Spookies!" to already be living with Zim after Blorch's acquisition by the Irkens.
- This is the second time in the series that the Irkens (in this case Bob) cheer for Zim; the first is in "Battle of the Planets".
- One of the aliens in this episode looks similar to a Skoolchild on Earth named Zootch. There is speculation saying he, like Zim, is an alien in disguise.
- In the commentary for this episode, Jhonen Vasquez learned that Richard Horvitz knew nothing about the show since he failed to hum the theme song properly.
- Nickelodeon disliked this episode because they felt it had nothing to do with Zim's mission despite the fact that Zim only went to Hobo 13 to get the equipment to conquer/destroy Earth.
- Several Invaders are shown onboard the Massive and partaking in the betting against Zim. This implies either that they've all managed to conquer their assigned planets, or that "real" Invaders are allowed to travel between their planets and the Massive at will.
Inconsistencies and Animation Errors
- Invader Skoodge's appearance in this episode is noticeably inconsistent with that of his other appearances. He doesn't wear a PAK in this episode, despite the fact that Irkens can only live without their PAK for ten minutes, and his pink gloves and pink boots are changed to the standard black gloves and boots worn by other Irkens. Skoodge is also depicted as being slightly smaller or of equal height to that of Zim, whereas he had a slight height advantage over Zim when seen standing next to him in "The Nightmare Begins".
- When Sergeant Hobo 678 was hitting the Hogulus towards the end of the episode, his right arm was flashing.
- The color of the metal on Sergeant Hobo 678's head keeps changing colors throughout this episode.
- When Skoodge landed at the Hogulus' hooves, his pants disappear.
- Shortly after Tallest Purple says he needs a refill, the camera angle changes and it shows the glass as being completely full, though he never got the refill he requested.
- Several of the aliens have no power suit. Although the two without arms and legs cannot physically wear a power suit (apart from the back device over Zim's PAK, but it's possible that that is specifically designed for an Irken PAK) there are three aliens that can wear a power suit, but simply don't.
- When Zim climbs out of the canyon, three of his teammates came back after being eliminated in the first challenge.
- In the final scene, Table-Headed Service Drone Bob has one free hand, which he uses to gesture towards the Sun. However, he doesn't simply use that hand to take the tape off of his mouth and tell Zim.
- When Zim was talking to the Tallest and the camera was behind Tallest Red and Purple, Purple's PAK was the same color of his body armor until he was seen again.
- Before Zim opens the door by slamming Throbulator's head against it, look at Zim's eyes when he says, "Yes... soldier." They don't move when Zim's head moves back a bit.
- Shortly after the Sergeant lectures them about a leader's responsibilities, Zim says "My battle tanks await..." but his mouth says something else, suggesting that the script was changed even after animation of the episode had already begun.
- When the Sergeant says "Ha! Weak!", the caption says "ha! Quit it!"