I’m trying to figure out exactly how the planning process for this episode went. I want to say it was among the earliest episode ideas I’ve ever had, but then I’m not sure this even resembles that original idea anymore. I don’t even fully remember what that original idea was. Here’s what I do know. Just as I did back with “In Too Deep,” I have once again taken two entirely disparate episode ideas, slapped them together, and called it a day. I’m beginning to have second thoughts about my “A-plot, B-plot” plans. An episode in which Sonic and Amy check up on the Little Planet and watch over it until it disappears was definitely an early idea as well, but it never had anything to with Tails and Charmy’s mission. The plan was for the missing space in the Little Planet plot to filled by flashbacks to Sonic CD, where I would just straight up retell the story of the game, only with actual dialogue added in. In a way, I was kind of excited about doing something like that. I was thinking about making an entire “Unspoken” subseries in that vein, retelling the classic stories as if they were modern. But when I got to thinking about what that would entail…I just couldn’t do it. Of all the classic games, CD is probably the one that is most…thorough about its visual storytelling. It isn’t intensely visual in the way that 3&K is with its storytelling, there’s just a bit less of a story to tell, so it gets it all done. I realized that, in the case of CD, there just isn’t really anything significant that dialogue could add, so I’d be wasting everyone’s time by adding it. But I still felt like the regular appearance of the Little Planet was something that needed to be addressed, so I was left with only half of a functional episode. I decided that using it as a B-plot for another episode was my best bet. I chose the Charmy and Tails plot to stick it to, not necessarily because they meshed well or because it needed that extra content. I really just did it because it was the only way I could get it to fit. Both of these plots needed to happen this season. The CD plot needed to happen on the last day of December, and this Tails-focused episode needed to happen early on so that it wouldn’t be closely condensed with other Tails episodes this season. Thankfully, I had Metal Sonic to tie the two together. The general idea was that you were supposed to expect Metal Sonic to show up in the Sonic and Amy plot, so it would be an even bigger surprise when he shows up for Tails instead. I’m not sure that I managed to pull that off quite right, though. I spent so much more time on the Tails plot, it probably would’ve seemed odd if it was the other one that became important in the end. The general pacing was also really off for similar reasons. If the Tails and Charmy episode had stood on its own, they probably would’ve spent quite a bit more time in the other Rebel camp, and perhaps the rock slide would’ve even happened while they were there instead of before, adding an extra bit of action/drama in the right place. Instead, that ended up being the easiest place to trim the fat, so to speak, so the important part where they meet these other Rebels ended up happening awkwardly more than halfway through the episode, even more awkwardly suddenly interrupting the standard back-and-forth between the two plots that had been going. Oh well.
On that note, let’s talk about those other Rebels. They won’t be becoming main characters, but they will be appearing again in the future. Now that our Rebellion has been fighting on their own for a year, I thought this would be the ideal time to show that they aren’t really alone in the world. When it comes to seeking a better world, no one is really alone. The individual characters, of course, also served individual functions. I wanted Captain Fox to be someone you can imagine Tails easily looking up to, maybe like an older, more mature, Fox version of Sonic. I even considered giving him a little Hedgehog sidekick, but that didn’t seem very relevant. Anyways, I wanted you to be a bit surprised when they came close to bumping heads. The reasons why will be explored in the future. And then, of course, there’s Katherine and Charmy. I suppose I have to back up a bit to Charmy, first. For the same reason that I made Amy into the official counselor of the Rebellion, I spent a long time thinking about how I can give Charmy something important to do. Technically speaking, I can see why it may not seem necessary. The Chaotix work very well when treated collectively as one character, so it almost seems silly to break them apart and analyze them individually. But delving deep into character growth is one of the primary reasons that this story exists. So I could’ve left Charmy as a static, unchanging joke of a character, or I could show him growing up just like everybody else. The choice seemed obvious to me.
The leap from detective to doctor might not be so obvious. But…what do we really know about Charmy’s personality? I mean, he’s loud, he’s hyperactive, he’s childlike…so basically, he’s a child. But he’s not 6 anymore, it’s been 5 years, so he’s 11. He’s getting to the point where most children would start putting some more serious thought into what they want to do with their lives. And there is one other thing we know about him. He loves flowers. He loves nature. He loves living things. Seems like a prime candidate for a healer to me. (Also he’s a healer in SEGA Heroes, RIP.) More importantly…I kind of needed a doctor. I have been keenly aware of the fact that every new medical feat pulled off by Tails, a thirteen year old mechanic, has been more unbelievable than the last. I certainly could’ve introduced an OC to do the job, but…the way I see it, the canon cast always takes precedence, and I saw this as an opportunity to really build on Charmy’s character in a way that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. I needed him to be able to accomplish something as a character that no one else could do, and this seemed like the most viable option. So this is what I decided on. (Still working on something to do for Cream, though. She’s officially taken the spot of most useless character.)
So anyways, I needed a doctor, I decided on Charmy, and for reasons I can’t talk about yet, I need him to have embraced that role full-force by the end of the season. So I needed to construct an episode that would push him hard into that decision. The mildly traumatic experience of patching up Tails, so closely followed by validation from an authority figure in the form of Katherine, was intended to do just that in the most reasonable way I could think of. And that’s that.
Back to the topic I originally started with, the other Rebels were all named in theme, just as Jackal Squad was previously. This time, the characters were named after…drum roll please…Star Trek characters! We have Captain James (Kirk) and Leonard (McCoy) of the original USS Enterprise, and then we have Katherine (Janeway) and Harry (Kim) of Voyager. Why did I choose Star Trek names? Entirely arbitrary! Sort of. Just like last time. I was debating the name of Captain James the Fox right up until the moment I introduced him. I knew that I wanted to refer to him as Captain Fox, but the first name was up for grabs. Even though the names ended up being inspired by Star Trek, the designs definitely weren’t. That honor goes to Nintendo’s Star Fox series. Captain Fox was loosely inspired by the titular Fox McCloud, and Katherine was similarly based on a character named Krystal. I was originally thinking about playing off of that and calling them Kloud the Fox and Christa the Wolf or something like that, but after the weirdness that ended up happening with Sly, I decided I’d be better off distancing myself a bit with the names. James McCloud is also a Star Fox character, and while I would like to call that a coincidence, it probably was that fact that got me thinking about the possibility of my character being Captain James and referencing Star Trek.
Once that was set in stone, it was intended to be a one-time deal, but then when I got around to naming Katherine, I decided I wanted them to have standard nicknames for each other, and I also wanted to keep the “K” sound, which led me pretty quickly to Katie as a nickname. I could’ve gone for something different as the real name, like Katelyn or something, but the connection from Katherine to Star Trek was too good to pass up as a running theme. Then I needed a couple of throwaway names, and Harry the Rabbit (Hare) and Leonard (Leo) the Lion came pretty naturally.
These kinds of standard “human” names aren’t generally common for Sonic characters, so why did I put so much thought into them for this? Well, it ties back into a theme for the episode as a whole. After all the crazy fantasy weirdness of the last three episodes, with spirits descending from the heavens, space stations falling out of the sky, and some of the most complicated time travel I’ve ever experienced, I really wanted to dial this one back to a very “human” level. This is an episode about people. People getting into arguments, talking about their feelings and their interests, getting hurt because of their own mistakes and moving on because it’s all they can do. The other Rebels were meant to be a reflection of that. While our Rebellion is practically a band of superheroes who typically have superhero problems, the other Rebels are just a bunch of regular guys who happen to be fighting for a cause. This contrast will continue to be explored in the future.
Speaking of the future, what has Metal Sonic done with Tails!? To learn that, you’ll just have to stay tuned…
-And until then, remember to live and learn every day!