When this episode begins, Henry is reading a book quietly while Punky is making increasingly absurd faces at him. She is “bored out of my skull.” She tells Henry that he will not be able to peacefully read his book unless or until he comes up with something to alleviate her boredom.
Henry then proceeds to sell her on recreational fishing. He relays a story about a decade’s long endeavor to catch a huge fish named “Big Al.” Henry once almost had Big Al, but he shook the hook loose, spat in his eye, and then took off. Plausible. But Punky is sold and before Henry can stop her, she gets on the phone to call all of her friends.
In the next scene, we see Henry leading Punky’s “Walk Pool” to a lake *somewhere* outside of Chicago. No other parents in sight. Is this real life? Not only did the State of Illinois turn over an 8 year old girl to an unrelated old man, that little girl’s brand new friends were then allowed to get in the car with a relative stranger and drive together to a lake? Really?
The trouble-making Italian kid from the Walk Pool episode, Scotty, threw Margeaux’s sun hat into the lake. Brandon the doggo jumped in and fetched it. However… for the rest of the episode Margeaux is wearing a hat with a chunk of the brim missing. Implausibly, based on Walk Pool, this was pretty much the only real trouble the kids gave Henry on this trip.
But the kids eventually got bored. Punky talked them into staying a bit longer. But she confessed quietly to Henry that her heart wasn’t in it and she wants to know when they’re leaving. Henry says he had hoped she’d love fishing because he loves it, too. And at this point… Punky tells Henry that she loves him for the first time on the show.
Henry suggests going home to think of things they both like to do. And at that moment, Punky finally gets a fish on her hook. Henry offers to help her reel it in, but she declines the help, because she has PUNKY POWER. After reeling the fish in, the rest of the afternoon makes a more positive turn for the kids and fishing. They end up catching several and Henry the photographer takes pictures of each of them holding a fish they caught.
“Go on, Margaux. Get in the car, ride out of town, to a lake, and rely on this tired old man we do not know well to take care of you. See you this evening!” This show is completely insane.
In this episode, we get our first “I love you” from Little Orphan Punky to Henry AND we get our first “PUNKY POWER!” in the series. Pretty important half episode.
I am almost positive that Soleil Moon Frye was not faking the reeling in of that fish. The mix of fear and focus in her eyes told me the story that reeling it in was all too real for our young star. Whether acting is a job, or not, no eight year old wants to be pulled into a large body of water by a wild animal – even a fish.
I do not know if fishing with a grandparent is still a rite of passage for 21st century kids. But this episode was nostalgic for me as a 20th century kid and I enjoyed it.
“Who are you calling a baby?”
“I’m just asking!”
“Are you saying you don’t like fishing?”
“Let’s put it this way. I’d rather go to the dentist.”
“I’ll tell you what I love Henry. You! And I know you love me.”
“Pull back, reel in. Pull back, reel in. The fish is trying to do the same thing!”
“Well, what do you think of fishing now?”
“There’s only one thing to say. I’m hooked!”