Fishlegs is perhaps my favorite Dragons character, after Toothless and Hiccup, of course. In the books, he’s Hiccup’s best friend, and he looks more like Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who voices Fishlegs—a skinny dark-haired kid with glasses. But for all the physical dissimilarities, they’ve kept the essence of the character, a nerdy and loyal friend who recognizes Hiccup’s brain over brawn. So I was happy to see a Fishlegs-focused episode.
Fishlegs is playing hookey from combat training on a deserted isle when Meatlug, his loveable Gronkle, finds a glowing stone that changes colors. Gobber identifies it as a “stone of good fortune,” and Fishlegs is immediately besieged with offers of trade, including “twenty sheep and my firstborn, Gustav” (who is pretty darned cute). But Fishlegs can’t take the pressure. With Hiccup and Astrid along, he returns the stone to its isle. It’s there they discover the stone is actually a dragon’s egg. They return the egg, but not before incurring the wrath of the adult dragons, who just happen to be invisible and breathe hot green acidic goo instead of fire.
Fishlegs and company escape, but Snotlout has followed them in hopes of finding more “stones” to trade for riches. He does quite well for himself, acquiring, among other things, seven yaks, four chickens, a matching set of battleaxes, and Gustav (who quickly becomes a little Snotlout, or, as I like to say, Mini-lout).
The Book of Dragons says the color-changing eggs/green acid spouting dragons are Changewings. Their chameleon-like ability to adapt their color to their surroundings makes them virtually invisible. The Changewings are also vicious about protecting their eggs, and work in teams to retrieve the stolen eggs. Thus, Berk is attacked by invisible green acid shooting dragons until all the eggs can be recovered.
The teens retrieve the eggs Snotlout traded, but the Changewings are still hanging around. It’s Fishlegs who realizes Snotlout is holding one egg back. He goes into “Berserker” mode, throwing weapons and scaring Snotlout into surrendering the egg. Fishlegs then confronts four Changewings to return the egg to them. As they depart, Fishlegs collapses ala Hiccup after his first face-to-face encounter with the Night Fury.
With minimal damage to Berk (one house demolished by Stoic and Gobber trying to attack a Changewing, and one outhouse door dissolved in green goo), Hiccup and Fishlegs are finally able to record the Changewing’s appearance in the Book of Dragons, and talk of finding another to (study and) train it.
“A Gem of a Different Color” had several little scene gems (the nod to Fishlegs possibly being a Berserker, the post-hostile dragon close- encounter flop, and the sassiness of adored little Gustav), but a couple scenes off, in that the character’s actions didn’t make a lot of sense. When Fishlegs retrieved the last egg from Snotlout, he could have just placed it in an open area for the dragons to retrieve it. Instead, he cornered himself to be surrounded by them. Yes, the premise of the scene was to bravery define as doing the right thing even when you’re afraid, but it took me out of the moment, because I didn’t see it as brave. I saw it as stupid.
But I suppose I shouldn’t quibble about “oh shit” compared to one hundred attaboys.”
[Screenshots from Cartoon Network via Berk's Grapevine]