Hey, everyone. RobBarracuda here, and it’s time to talk about episode 4 of Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter, “Dignity Cap”. Dramatic reveals and uncovered secrets are all over the place in this episode, so make sure to get your dignity caps ready… and clench.
The episode opens with Neon Joe hitting up Sunny’s tavern after a long day of work, and Sunny presents Joe with a cocktail inspired by him called the “Neon Glow”. Joe takes a sip and isn’t too keen on the taste of it, but he thinks it looks cool. He starts to vent about enjoying his time in town and especially visiting Sunny’s bar and shooting the shit with him, saying that he lost his best friend a while ago and is considering getting a new one. The moment is interrupted by Barry exiting the bar with a giant bag of camping equipment: apparently he goes on forest retreat every now and then to connect with Mother Nature. Sunny tries to steer the conversation back on track, but Joe gets cold feet and leaves.
The next day, Joe and Sheriff Dalton are at the mayor’s office where Joe is negotiating a deal to capture the escaped werewolf Matt. The mayor agrees to a new contract instantly, handing Joe another 75 grand to continue his work. The two of them leave, getting briefly interrupted by some weird guy looking for a bathroom, and the mayor begins speaking into the weird voice recorder to relay that she’s set up some kind of bait for Joe.
In the red surveillance room, we see that the mayor and the doctor have taken Matt captive as he begs to be let go and asks about his ghetto white boy clothes (Sean John jeans and Timberland shoes). The doctor informs him that he can transform into a werewolf at will, but he doesn’t seem to recall anything that happened after the werewolf attack that put him in a coma. He escaped when he came to, but the doctor was able to find Matt via a tracking device placed in his pants. The doctor lays a trap of some kind, leaving some red cubes and the torn pants near an old tree, and the mayor plans on using this to get rid of Joe once and for all.
Joe is out and about in the woods investigating, when suddenly Sunny shows up out of nowhere. He reveals to Joe the secret of who he really is: a cy-bot (half cyborg, half robot) who uses a ship hidden in an old Garrity oak tree (the one from earlier) as a base. The mayor, the doctor, and himself are from a planet far away from Earth and crash landed on Earth, losing power to the ship and being stranded for thousands of years. Sunny is worried because the cy-bots are normally peaceful, but the mayor’s gone insane, and he hands Joe a baggie full of gelatinous cubes: the red ones shrink you, and the green ones grow you. Joe is put off by these paranoid ramblings, even rescinding his offer to make Sunny his best friend, and Sunny leaves Joe alone. He continues his investigation, catching a glimpse of the weird guy from the mayor’s office again.
Susan and the sheriff are in bed together, with him promising to protect Matt from anything that might try to hurt him. He gets an emergency call about the ripped-up Sean Johns near the oak tree, and he leaves Susan to investigate. Meanwhile, Cleve and Joe are together working on constructing a giant decoy hacky-sack to find and lure Matt to them. Cleve asks about how Joe became a werewolf hunter, and Joe decides this is a good time to reveal his backstory, tearing off his shirt and revealing a lengthy summation tattooed on his back. Cleve, however, is unable to read any of what’s on his back, killing the dramatic tension (Goddammit Ross—I mean Cleve).
Joe goes ahead and tells it himself: his real parents left him in the woods where he was adopted by werewolves. His adoptive father werewolf cheated on his werewolf mom with the nanny, causing the adoptive mother to kill herself. He took up werewolf hunting in the hopes that one day he would find his adoptive father and kill him to get revenge for his mother. After telling his story, Joe gets a call about the torn-up Sean Johns and heads off, but he gets interrupted by the sudden appearance of the weird guy who’s been following him around the entire episode. He reveals to Joe that he’s here to help him achieve closure with his father.
Sheriff Dalton arrives at the oak tree where the Sean Johns were found and finds them as well as the baggie of red gelatin cubes. He takes one out and, against his better judgement, takes a bite, and he shrinks down to the size of an insect.
Joe is at the strange man’s house(?) where they prepare to meet Joe’s father. He is told to wear a specially designed guillotine on his penis that’ll cut off the tip if his anger goes above a certain level (remember what I said about “clenching” at the beginning?). Soon after, Joe’s father (played by Reg. E Cathey) finally shows up.
Back in the cy-bot’s ship, Sunny is being held captive by the mayor for violating cy-bot code and blabbing to Joe about their existence. The two argue back and forth about their code, and Matt gets so tense and frustrated that he transforms into a werewolf and roars, which somehow briefly restores power to the ship. The mayor beats Matt with an alien projectile weapon to duplicate what just happened, and she confirms that Matt might just be the key to finally escaping Earth. However she realizes that one werewolf, despite the immense power generated by their roars, isn’t enough and that another is needed.
Joe, his father, and the stranger are all wearing the penis guillotines to keep their emotions in check, when Joe’s father reveals that he lied about the affair, believing Joe and his mom would be safer away from his father. He begs for forgiveness from Joe and tries to apologize for everything, including Joe having never killed a werewolf, which surprises Joe. His father has been tracking him down all across his travels, taking care of Joe when he was sleeping and killing werewolves with well-timed shots so that Joe would never notice. Joe starts going off about his fantasies of the day he would finally get to kill his dad. The situation gets continuously tenser until Joe’s father leaves the room.
Barry is off in the woods on his retreat, and he drinks some tea that’s clearly drugged with something. He wanders off aimlessly and comes across the giant decoy hacky-sack where Cleve is hiding. He tries to get Barry to go away, but he interprets the hacky-sack as asking him to have sex with it. Meanwhile the sheriff, still tiny-sized, walks through the grass and comes across the entrance to the ship in the base of the tree.
Joe’s father escapes into the woods and tries to get the guillotine off of his penis, but the full moon causes him to transform into a werewolf, causing enough stress to chop off the tip of his penis and force him to emit a load roar. This gets the attention of the mayor who sends her lackeys out to find this other werewolf. They exit through the door that the sheriff was outside of, and he uses this opportunity to sneak inside. Exploring the halls of the ship, he comes across the golden book from episode 2 and takes it with him. After leaving the ship, he comes across Joe and tries to get his attention, hitching a ride on his boots and waiting for a moment of quiet to call out to him. Joe eventually notices the sheriff on his boot, and he remembers what Sunny told him about the gelatinous cubes. He hands the green one to the sheriff who eats it and grows back to normal size. The episode ends with the sheriff trying to present the golden book to Joe as evidence of whatever’s really going on in town, but unfortunately it remains miniature-sized. There’s also a credits gag of a younger Neon Joe practicing catchphrases.
Almost every secret that the series had been holding onto from its first three episodes is now out in the open. The mayor, doctor, and Sunny are all miniature alien robots, and Joe hunts werewolves on a quest for vengeance. The material between Joe and his father is surprisingly engaging and legit dramatic, even with all the silliness of the tattooed backstory and the penis guillotines. Jon Glaser’s performance comedy-wise is great as always, but he also gets more serious moments throughout to unveil deeper sides of Joe as a character, and he portrays these moments excellently. Another pro of this episode are the effects incorporated, especially the scenes where the sheriff is the size of an insect. The actual integration of green-screened backgrounds with the actors is fairly smooth and cohesive (at least by television standards), and the sense of immersion created by the smaller scale is rarely ever broken. The scene of the sheriff riding on Joe’s boot is particularly impressive and quite visually memorable. The identities of the mayor, doctor, and Sunny was rather unexpected. While the series did explicitly hint at an alien background for them, I can’t say I expected mini-alien robot cyborgs. I honestly had them more pegged as either Predator-type aliens or something more akin to the monsters from the TV film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Langoliers. There’s now only two mysteries left: their true forms and what is up with that golden book. A great penultimate episode packed wall-to-wall with twists and great performances, and I look forward to the finale of this miniseries.