This is one of the most mature and best storytelling attempts made in the series. Once again they highlight Ariel's fascination with humans, except this time she gets much closer to them than ever before.
Storyline 1: Ariel and Flounder are visiting Archimedes, Ariel's newest friend. He's a specialist in human things, making him at outcast among the other Atlanticans, but is of course a magnet for Ariel's questions. Ariel and Flounder explore Archimedes' home in an old shipwreck, discussing humans and checking out all sorts of human things.
Storyline 2: Sebastian is leading his Crab Scouts on an expedition in the Wilderness. The Crab Scouts are a playful bunch, which brings them to odds with Sebastian's stuffiness and insistence that they follow the Crab Scout Manual for all their needs.
Storyline 3: A human man and his pet cat Penny are aboard a ship, waiting to go on an expedition of their own in a small submarine which looks like a metal fish. The human in particular is intrigued by the idea of merpeople, although his cat is a little skeptical.
The stories are brought together when the human and pet cat set aboard their metal fish and enter the underwater realm. The metal fish is spotted by Ariel, who immediately sets off after it, followed closely by Archimedes and Flounder. Sebastian, too, gets up close and personal with the metal fish, and knowing that it's the work of humans, he sets off with his Crab Scouts to inform King Triton.
But the metal fish turns out to be flawed, and a leak bursts through. The submarine is sent caveering through the ocean and gets stuck in a rock formation. Ariel is the first to reach the metal fish, and when she looks into the view-finder, she sees the human trying hopelessly to stop the leak. Just then he turns around and they meet eye-to-eye — both are amazed and rendered utterly speechless by the moment.
(Continuity error: In the movie, Ariel states that she'd never seen a human as close as she sees Eric on the deck, but in this episode Ariel gets much closer to the human submariner.)
Ariel decides to help the human, but she can't figure out how. Just then King Triton, Sebastian and the Crab Scouts arrive. King Triton is, as expected, utterly furious. But Ariel and Archimedes manage to convince him that there is some benefit here to helping the human explorer. The basic gist of their argument is that not all humans are evil, and humans and merpeople are closer than most people think.
Coming to a decision, the Crab Scouts use muddy-puddy to seal the leak, and King Triton grudgingly uses his trident to push the metal fish to the surface (mostly just to get rid of him), leaving Ariel to watch longingly as her first human "friend" leaves her world behind.
When the young man resurfaces, he brings with himself the delightful memory of Ariel, and decides to pen a little tale about it.
While I love this episode to bits, there are two things that stand out in my mind. First of all is Archimedes. He's a great new character, but to accept him into Ariel's world brings forth the pondering... Where is he by the time the events of the movie come around? He's obviously a better specialist in human things compared to Scuttle, so why would Ariel ever need to consult the sea gull when she has him? What happened to Archimedes?
Secondly is King Triton. His response to the human and Ariel's interaction with the human is strangely mild. I mean, let's compare this to King Triton from the movie, who totally loathes humans and loses his temper more than once because of Ariel's defence of them. The King Triton in this episode is much more tolerant of the human and of Ariel, and in my mind there is only one explanation I can think of. Between this episode and the movie, something really big happened; something that totally sealed Triton's hatred and fear toward humans; something humans did to him, or to his people. And I'll leave that thought at that.
|Archimedes:||Some things I know the human word for. Those are statues, those are potteries, and those are called an-chors.|
|Flounder:||Gee, I always thought those were fishing hooks. For really big fish.|
|Ariel:||Have you ever actually met a human?|
|Archimedes:||Yes. Once I brought food for some shipwrecked humans.|
|Ariel:||What were they like?|
|Archimedes:||Well, they kept rubbing their eyes over and over, and staring at me strangely.|
|Archimedes:||They think merpeople are a myth.|
|Archimedes:||Believe it or not, they think we exist only in their imaginations.|
|Archimedes:||Well, (Triton) believes humans will destroy our world, Ariel. You and I have a bit more faith in humans.|
|Archimedes:||Adventurous, isn't she?|
|Flounder:||Is water wet?|
|Mariner:||I can't believe it! The fish fly like birds! The plants are dancing! And look, Penny, the sun! Down here it's blue as a cornflower!|
|Sebastian:||I tell you, Your Majesty, it was a USO. Unidentified Sinking Object.|
|King Triton:||This can only be the work of humans!|
|Sebastian:||Humans! It's my worst nightmare! Next to the nightmare where you're yelling at me.|
|Sebastian:||Crab scouts! Rule number 1: Stay away from humans!|
|Crab Girl:||But Sebastian, what about the Crab Scout Oath? "Lend a helping a claw to everyone under the sea."|
|Crab Boy:||And that guy's totally under the sea.|
|Ariel:||Can't you see?|
|King Triton:||See what? See that humans destroy our world?|
|Ariel:||The human is an explorer, like Archimedes. An adventurer, like me.|
|King Triton:||But you are not a human, Ariel!|
|Ariel:||I may not be all human, but I'm part human. And so are you, daddy.|
|Archimedes:||It's true, sire. We're all part of the same family. The family of life.|
|Archimedes:||But not today, Ariel. A human in the sea is like a fish out of water.|
|Ariel:||Yeah, a fish. Or a mermaid.|