[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Solar Opposites.]
Solar Opposites, the follow-up from Rick and Morty creatives Justin Roiland and Mike McMahan, has given Hulu a bonafide hit. The series (which you can watch right here) quickly achieved the #1 most-watched status during its premiere and early run when it launched in May; nearly half of Hulu’s 32+ million subscribers checked out the NSFW adult animated series, and with good reason. It’s not an R&M knock-off but rather it’s a platform that lets Roiland and McMahan push the limits much further than any broadcast or cable channel would allow, while continuing to evolve the American animated sitcom tradition. But as good as the story about a non-traditional family of advanced aliens crashing in the suburbs was, there was a sub-story that absolutely took viewers everywhere by surprise.
Everything in Solar Opposites proceeds normally (as normal as this bizarro extraterrestrials-come-to-Earth story gets anyway) for six episodes. The “kids”, Yumyulack and Jesse, have been shrinking humans down — sometimes randomly, sometimes systematically — to perform experiments on them and occasionally store them in The Wall, a massive maze-like array of terrariums and tubes. The “kids” pretty much forget about the little humans. Then, in Episode 7, featuring the innocuous title “Terry and Korvo Steal a Bear” and the logline, “Whoops. Terry, Korvo, Yumyulack and Jesse work together to steal a bear from the zoo – with hilarious consequences,” viewers get a totally different experience. The aliens do indeed steal a bear, but that adventure takes a backseat and plays out in snippets of sequences shown in the background. The real A story here is that of the civil unrest in The Wall and what the people who live there are doing about it.
“The Wall episode”, as it’s been called, received acclaim from just about everyone. Most of the people I’ve talked to about it said that Solar Opposites should have been about this story all along. I’ll respectfully disagree there. The meta nature of the shrunken humans being stowed in the wall to fight for survival while the aliens carry out their selfish suburban adventures adds a necessary layer of madness and context to the telling of their tale; without the framing story of Solar Opposites, “The Wall” arc is just a post-apocalyptic survival story about oppressed classes rising up against the elites, which we’ve seen before. But now that The Wall story and its characters are established, yes, we absolutely need to see more.
As Roiland and McMahan revealed in a chat with Syfy, the idea to tell a story about the people trapped in a wall was on the co-creators’ minds from the beginning. As Roiland puts it, “We had always loved the idea of slowly putting in the Wall stuff and having a story developing in the background of the show. Like a C story in one episode, maybe a B story. And then we always loved the idea that eventually, we build to a full-on complete episode in the Wall.” McMahan commented on the episode in question being a sort of unholy hybrid of Frasier (the background bear-stealing plot) and The Wire (the horrors within the Wall).
The “Wall War Episode”, as McMahan refers to it, packs in a half-dozen pop culture titles dealing with post-apocalyptic class warfare and focusing on the extremes people go to in order to survive, all in one episode. Roiland summed it up:
“I just love the idea of someone watching an animated show about aliens and suddenly, they’re watching a completely different show about a society that’s almost kind of post-apocalyptic. Having to restructure humanity and figure out what [it’s gonna be]. Is it gonna be totalitarian? Is it gonna be a democracy? What are we gonna use for currency? What are our rules? Who enforces those rules? That’s all the shit that Yumyulack wanted to see when he was putting people in the Wall.”
So now that the shock value of seeing how Tim (Andy Daly) and Cherie (Christina Hendricks) inspired a rebellion against the Wall’s leader, the Duke (Alfred Molina), and how Steven, a simple mouse-milking dairy farmer played by Rainn Wilson, got caught up in the madness, Solar Opposites finds itself in a unique position: Fans will absolutely be looking forward to the next chapter in the Wall World story, perhaps to the detriment of being less excited for the alien family’s story itself. But that also allows Roiland and McMahan a bit of wiggle room with how they handle that story going forward.
We already have an idea of what Season 2, which has already been ordered, will look like, as Roiland revealed:
“It’s just a totally different show within a show and there’s a lot of really awesome, fun ideas that are happening in the Wall for Season 2. It’s interesting because we’ve talked a little bit about what do we do after Season 2 if the show goes a bunch more seasons. And we’ve got all these crazy ideas. It’s Schrodinger’s Cat and we haven’t really 100% opened that box all the way, but we’ve talked about a few things that are really insane. I don’t wanna say anything because it’s just so far down the road. But the Wall is definitely a part of it.”
McMahan added more context:
“[W]e’re treating it like a built world. With the Wall, our big priority was, every season we’re following these characters serialized in the Wall as dramatically with a bit of a comedy tinge to it, but really trying to treat the story for them like it’s serious for them. The type of story, first season, that we told about the Wall was about the haves and the have-nots and rising up and making the world a better place; and betrayals; and this kind of War of the Roses.
“Second season, the same Wall, same characters, same timeline. It’s gonna keep moving forward, but a different type of dramatic storytelling. You’ll have to tune in next season to see, if we did War of the Roses first season, where do we go next season?
“It might be even better than first season. It’s crazy.”
So we know that Chapter 2 of The Wall World is coming in Season 2, as is the machinations of the characters who are now in power, the uneasy alliances forged by those who were betrayed, and even more insanely creative (and just plain insane) explorations of the shrunken-down scale of a civilization of humans who milk mice, eat candy, and wear Polly Pocket clothes to survive. More of all of this, please.
And if you haven’t seen any of Hulu’s Solar Opposites, click here to check it out now!
Dave Trumbore is Collider’s Senior Editor overseeing Games, Animation, and all those weird Saturday-morning cartoons no one else remembers. Test his trivia IQ on Twitter @DrClawMD