My Top 10 Favorite Episodes of Invader Zim
This past week, we’ve taken a stroll down memory lane as I looked back on one of my favorite cartoons as a kid, Invader Zim. I’ve looked at some of the best moments, the best characters, and the incredible CGI that went into it. Now, my Zim week of Zim nears its end as we get ready for my review of Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus. Before we do that, though, I want to take one last look back at the best of Zim. So, here we are, my favorite episodes of Invader Zim, in no particular order.
What better place to start my list than the very beginning. The title is incredibly appropriate, as it represents the horror-themed work of series creator Jhonen Vasquez. In-universe, though, I think it refers to two things: the Tallest having to deal with the fact that Zim returns from exile, and Dib having to deal with Zim coming to Earth.
As a whole, the first episode does little beyond establish the plot and character dynamics. From the Irken Empire’s hatred of Zim, how Dib’s the outcast and only one who knows Zim’s an alien. Above all, though, it establishes a universal truth about the show’s world: almost everyone is varying levels of crazy or stupidity, sometimes both!
I’M GONNA SING THE DOOM SONG NOW!!
This episode sees Zim and GIR get hit with a hilarious dose of irony, as they get abducted by aliens! The two get abducted by two aliens so monumentally stupid that they think Zim’s human even after telling them he lied. It doesn’t take that long for Zim to escape.
As Zim explains in a call he makes to the Tallest, he found the one species in the universe dumber than humans. I whole-heartedly agree with him. The two aliens, who are actually expy’s from Vasquez’s comics, are among the dumbest beings I’ve ever seen on TV. It’s their sheer stupidity and harmlessness, though, that makes them so much fun to watch.
I brought this up in my previous post about the smartest characters on the show, but I wanted to include it again. When Zim discovers that earth water burns his skin like acid, Dib sees this as an opportunity to destroy him for good. The two prepare for the ultimate water war, but Zim comes ready with the mother of all water balloons.
I liked this episode for two reasons. First, it manages to take something as simple and harmless as a water balloon fight into an epic battle. Second, and as I said in my post on the smartest characters on Invader Zim, it shows how dangerous Zim can be. If his overzealousness and ego didn’t hold him back, he could very well conquer Earth on his own. Plus, I love that smug look of victory he gives as he walks through the watery ruins of the city.
This was one of the episodes of Zim that I kept watching over and over and never got tired of. When Dib gets photographic proof of Zim out of his disguise, the alien shrinks himself down into Dib’s body to destroy his brain. What follows is an epic chase and fight inside of Dib as the two duke it out.
I already said it in my CGI article, but I’ll repeat it: I loved the CGI in Zim. It showed me what computers could do for cartoons, and this episode burned that notion into my mind. Even today, I think it holds up well. Not to mention, seeing Dib flush Zim down the toilet is hilarious.
Zim learns that the planet Mars was turned into a spaceship by an extinct race for the sole reason of “because its cool.” He plans to use it to squish everyone on Earth, but Dib counters with Mercury also converted into a spaceship. The two battle it out on a planetary scale before Zim’s recklessness has him lose once more.
When I first saw this episode, I thought it was the coolest thing the show had ever done. The entire premise is also the kind of crazy only Zim could pull off. An alien race that died turning their planet into a spaceship for the awesomeness? Mercury having a pair of buttcheeks that Dib pilots it from, and even gets stuck in at one point? GIR distracting Dib by pressing all the buttons on his controls, and somehow stealing his cameras when he wasn’t looking? The whole thing’s Zim at its finest.
In the season two premiere, Zim learns that the Tallest are closer to Earth than they’ve ever been. He wants them to come and watch his latest plan to destroy humanity, but when they refuse, he takes matters into his own hands. He hacks into The Massive and remotely-pilots it to Earth. At the same time, an Anti-Irken Resistance, the Resisty, attacks The Massive, and Dib hacks in Zim’s base to destroy The Massive. The Tallest are stuck on the universe’s craziest rollercoaster, and they can’t get off!
The second season of a good show is when they should start world-building and expanding the scope of the story. We got introduced to more of the series lore, such as the origins of The Massive, Dib’s recovery of Tak’s ship, and the Resisty. Had the show not been canceled, I think the Resisty would have had a significant role.
Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you got everything you ever wanted? In this episode, Dib receives all of that, and then some. One night, he’s visited by strange shoe-aliens that grant him superpowers to defend the Earth like never before. Right away, everything seems to go great for Dib. He finally captures Zim, gets the respect and validation he’s always craved, and dedicates his life to studying the paranormal. His whole life seems so perfect. That’s when it’s revealed that its all a lie. Zim put him in a giant simulation so he could get him to admit to throwing a muffin at him at lunch.
On the one hand, I thought it sweet to see the outcast Dib get everything that he wanted in life. He captured Zim, saved the world from the Irken Empire, and made paranormal studies a legitimate science. On the other, I find the fact that Zim set up this big, convoluted plan to learn if Dib threw a muffin at him to be hilarious. To make him even more of a troll, Zim finishes it up by throwing a muffin at Dib’s head. Only Zim would do so much over something so petty.
A day at Skool gets derailed when everyone falls victim to an outbreak of lice. Everyone except for Zim and Ms. Bitters. The entire Skool’s locked down by Countess von Verminstrasser, the Delouser, who’s convinced that the infestation is caused by a Lice Queen. Dib thinks she’s just plain crazy.
I loved this episode because its a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Dib, the one who believes in aliens, ghosts, and the paranormal, thinks the Countess is crazy for believing in a lice queen. She’s exactly like him, right down to her mannerisms and belief in something no one else believes in. And just like Dib with Zim, she ends up being right in the end. The whole thing’s so ironic, and it’s hilarious.
This was the show’s last hurrah before the Christmas Special and the show’s cancellation. If you recall from the first episode, Zim got banished to the planet Foodcourtia for ruining Operation: Impending Doom I. In this episode, his old captor, Sizz-Lorr, tracks him down and drags him back to Foodcourtia to serve out his exile. Zim has one week to get off the planet before an annual food rush traps him there for twenty years!
Aside from liking the premise of a food rush keeping people trapped on a planet, I liked this episode for expanding the series lore. Apart from seeing Zim’s first exile, we got a new setting and look at what life’s like in the Irken Empire, albeit focused on fast food. The big highlight, though, is the epic, city-wide chase as Zim attempts to escape Foodcourtia before The Great Foodening. That, and this one kid keeps showing up as a running gag pointing at Zim.
A mysterious new girl shows up at Skool and proceeds to torment Zim to no end. While Zim’s convinced its because she likes him, he’s shocked to reveal that she’s an Irken! After Zim ruined her chances to become an Invader, she came to Earth to conquer it in Zim’s place and gain the status she craves. Faced with such a deadly foe, Zim has no choice but to work with Dib and Gaz to stop Tak’s plans.
This is my all-time favorite episode of Invader Zim, in terms of plot, characters, and world-building. Most notable was the first appearance of Tak, who I consider the smartest and deadliest person on the show. Had the show continued, she would have had a significant role going forward. This should have been the start of even bigger stories for the show. Now, though, it’s merely an excellent reminder of what could have been.
OH, WAIT, THAT’S RIGHT! WE STILL HAVE THE COMICS, AND ENTER THE FLORPUS! I’m going to go watch the special again and then write my reviews!
Oh, if you guys didn’t know, Zim has his own comic book series now! Crazy right? You can read it right here on this website!
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