‘Birdgirl’ Episode 5 Review: Topple the Popple

The day is April 23, 1985. The brutality known as the “Cola Wars” is in full swing. Coke is riding strong, but its direct competitor, Pepsi fires back with its most savage sortie to date with “the Pepsi Challenge,” a campaign that turns the tides in their favor. This causes the Red-Giant’s eyes to turn green, causing them to launch one of the biggest misfires ever in wartime since, the Battle of Little Bighorn- they reformulated their signature taste. In the penultimate episode of this season of Birdgirl [adult swim] titled “Topple the Popple”, we’ll take a look at why the bromide of “change is good” sometimes can’t compete with “don’t fuck with a good thing.”

We open in on a criminal transaction to which Birdcat is witness. Birdgirl (Paget Brewster) appears like the Dark Knight himself, only to be overshadowed by her luminescent phone call. It’s Meredith (Negin Farsad) and Judy is missing an all-staff meeting. Vowing to be there in a few, she dispatches all the enemies, save for the boss with Birdcat finishing the job, biting dude in the dick as Birdgirl makes her signature window-shattering exit.

Meredith heats up the crowd by telling a joke about her being a slam poet which is met by that same hilarious disembodied guffaw. Smashing in comes Birdgirl who makes a highly efficient mid-elevator transformation into Judy. Addressing her employees, she announces their new transition into the world wide web with the internet. The Sebben & Sebben sandwich board team isn’t impressed.

Their purpose of the new technology is to convey to a larger audience the company’s message of being progressive and ethical, and with that, Judy’s transfixed on a massive statue of their tentpole product, the ridiculously shaped Topple Popple Soda. Thusly, her first order of business is redesigning the can itself, which is met with audible dismay from the crowd. Charlie (Lorelei Ramirez) reminds her to stay on track with announcing the company’s new access to email. Their “you’ve got mail” is a soundbite of Charlie’s “it’s mail time” jingle.

We observe Jessica from accounting opening her first email and a graphics-heavy GIF of Charlie announces that the email was a phishing scam. Clearly, Charlie was taking point on being the graphic designer of all this.

In her office, Meredith and Charlie help their boss choose her picture for the company website. Both look awkward and unrewarding for a female CEO, and Judy knows this… all she wants to do is a redesign of the can. Both are for her doing it, once she gets it past the board.

At home, Paul (Tony Hale) is having a nightmare involving him running from something into an elevator, only to be assaulted by razor blades before he wakes up. After being comforted about it being a dream, he’s back in, now starting off in a doctor’s office, then running down the same hall, stuck at the elevator but this time as the doors open, assailed by saw blades. He wakes up, but something feels off. He lifts up the covers to a shining green beam, claiming “it’s back.” Apparently, he sleeps in the nude as well. Gross.

At the board meeting, Judy tries to deflect her real intention. Dog with a Bucket Hat (John Doman) realizes she’s lying because her forehead swells when she lies. He snatches the blueprint she’s surreptitiously hiding to show it’s the old design of the Topple Popple can and the new design. The board room has a conniption fit. Dog informs Judy her father designed it on a cocktail napkin and that people travel thousands of miles just to fuck next to the Topple Popple statue itself.

Dog suggests running it by Carlo, the Topple brand manager (asleep in his chair). Dog admits that Phil Ken initially designed him, and with an outstanding legacy and his only advice to Dog was to never touch the can. To be fair, Judy doesn’t want to get rid of the old design, she just more options for those without Paul Bunyon phalanges. She doesn’t care what others say and right then and there approves the redesign. People aren’t happy right off the bat.

The CEO’s directed to a live interview on the demise of the Topple Popple can. Though the reporters maintain she killed a legacy, Judy assures them she isn’t changing the contents, just the vessel itself so normal people and not solely the Andre the Giants of the world can COMFORTABLY imbibe it. I mean, shit has the girth of a Planter’s can! One last indignity befalls the interview, as Judy maintains Sebben & Sebben will always honor its past before the iconic statute is unceremoniously bulldozed over behind her.

Elsewhere, someone behind a computer watches Judy’s interview. They take a sip of Topple, crush the can in one hand, and chuck a Pharmer Phil’s Apple Axe into the tv screen.

Paul is at his the pediatrician’s office, and eager to show her his discovery… his foreskin has returned! After marveling at it, she’s violently attacked by it. Paul doesn’t notice right away, thinking that because foreskins are physically highly sensitive and paul is emotionally sensitive, it was high time it just came back home. Paul only notices when the fucker nearly strangles the life out of the doctor for part in the separation.

-back in Judy’s office, Meredith gets pumped on Topple in preparation for their next move. Judy partners Gillian with Mer for a branding strategy, including a TikTok campaign. Just then, a crazed topple fan with a vintage shirt takes a run at Judy, only smashing into the window. Ostensibly the crazed Topple fans have been storming the offices all morning. Charlie asserts that if you fuck with a classic product, there will be a certain amount of blowback.

At Dr. Shiela’s office, Paul’s foreskin properly introduces himself as Graham (Joe Lycett), having once belonged to a group of ancient people of sensitivity and feeling (Native Americans) who roamed the plains of North America until Christopher Columbus and his ships came, bringing Christianity and its “customs” along. I mean, the subjugation of Native Americans is simply my speculation on the matter, but the graphics don’t lie.

Graham says Paul is just like his dad, and with that, the foreskin releases Dr. Shiela and pounces back onto Paul. Shiela calls for security, they try to shoot the dick/foreskin but Graham is too fast, making an escape out of the window with Paul following suit, but is saved by the flying foreskin.

Meanwhile, the faceless hacker launches a DDoS attack on Sebben & Sebben. The same person in the office who got their first email excitedly opens up their second email. It’s from Topple Nation. They’ve hacked the Sebben & Sebben offices, threatening to contact them at 2:00 pm.

Gillian presents her new pitch to Judy the new design, citing ‘women, children and the terminally ill’ being finally able to join the Topple Team. Meredith created the Topple tagline: “Get your hand around it!!”, but their presentation is hacked. Judy, Mer, Charlie, Gillian, Dog, Evie, and Brian pow-wow on what to do. Gillian took it upon herself to categorize the invective about Judy on the Topple boards: weird, weird-violent, weird-sexual, angry-weird, angry-sexual, and funny.

Judy is contacted on her cell. It’s Topple Nation. The requests? One? Publicly apologize for her decision in the redesign. No-go. Two? Admit that she is unqualified to run a company her father built from the ground up. Nope. Three? Admit that she’s a bitch. Now number three gets Judy’s goat. Because she won’t do that, Judy’s phone number had been published online. Judy doesn’t care. She tells them to publish whatever they want. Mer supports her, but doesn’t want to get murked over a soda can… so she sends brian along with her and Gillian to continue the topple launch, as if anybody it’s to get murdered, it’s him. Judy sends Evie (Sonia Denis) and Dog to use the hate posts to track down Topple Nation, with Dog down to clown because that means a walk!

Flown to the land of Prepucian, Paul feels like he belongs. According to Graham, so did his father. Turns out, he sold Paul’s foreskin to the Prepucians for 7 bucks. Feeling guilty, he wandered the wilderness. When they found him, he was half-feral, and so the Prepucians nursed him back to health. He spent a long of time among them.

Gillian (Kether Donahue), Mer, and Brian (Rob Delany) arrive at Topple Popple’s first product launch. Mer especially isn’t happy, as some horny dudes mistake the two as the ‘Topple Girls’, surrounding the car, full moons included.

Paul is introduced to Miriam, the foreskin who saved his father. It gave paul an explanation for why his dad left. Along with their transmitter (6G) is their sacrificial altar. Since Paul’s birth ruined any hope for a united pact between mankind and foreskins, his death must be live cast on IG.

Back at the offices, Judy’s notified her bank account and social security has been released… along with a sex tape. The only caveat is, it’s just Judy playing with Sir Peter Pants (we know the joke.) This is worse than a sex tape. Judy requests from Charlie is a wireless account and a laptop as she goes into her Birdgirl arsenal. She tells Charlie she has to get her one of them. Portending perhaps?

As Brian is up on stage at the launch DJ’ing to an adoring crowd, Gillian and Mer are still stuck in the car fuming, as Brian’s the one to be murdered. Pissed, they peel out of Topple Fest.

Birdgirl and Charlie surveil Jessica from accounting with that laptop from afar in a coffee shop, Charlie questions whether it was a good idea to give her the laptop. Birdgirl has a trick up her sleeve. It’s to get Topple to infect the coffee shop’s wireless, sending a chain effect all around the city.

At his imminent sacrifice, Miriam uses the power of 6G to summon Instagram stories. She addresses the crowd on the big screen, but the feed is interrupted by Topple Nation’s Firewall Breach Ddos. Paul’s ability to break free and run away sends him tumbling into the forest. With the alarms sounded, Graham finds him. It’s not in his character to kill him, so he’ll help Paul escape if he reciprocates the favor.

In the van, Gillian and Mer tell Judy the launch went “meh.” Topple Nation calls Judy through an old school line, which is the only one working now. They threaten to release her CEO headshots along with her medical records. Judy completes the trace and gets an address.

Evie and Dog arrive at the address and are immediately taken captive, just mere seconds before the van arrives. Birdgirl through the wrong house. It’s the house next door they want

Brian goes in first, claiming he can reason with the guy. He’s surprised out it’s a larger lady with meathooks for hands and proceeds to get his has handed to him.

Pauls stands outside of Helen’s house, a woman who was with Graham for 37 years until his host body died- Paul’s father. They ring the doorbell, the theme song to the Jetsons (which is a class Hanna-Barbera nod.)

Gillian checks in on Brian, but since Birdgirl is the one in costume, she continues in. They tussle and after a silly boob pun as Birdgirl has her in a grip. The woman is arrested, and the thing is all is well that… wait, now Charlie’s nethers are trending. Brian made a copy of all their files, sent them to the news networks, and told them to release ‘em if they haven’t heard from him. He thinks it’s a failsafe. He doesn’t understand you send it to the press if you WANT it to get out.

Helen is united she’s reunited with Graham and then REUNITED via Paul and though Graham wants them to be a throuple, Paul decides to mosey-on down the road, imbued with a newfound purpose to bring feeling back to mankind.

We conclude with a genius TikTok video a la Drake feating Evie and Dog with a Bucket hat. Their strategy is to mollify everyone, claiming that though the slimmer version is available, it’s not a hip and OG and as Phil Ken’s design.

It seems as though they may have taken a page out of Coke’s playbook after all. After public backlash, Coke owned up to their transgression and reintroduced the O.G. Coke under the banner of “Classic” and have since then reigned supreme. Though the foreskin B-plot was surreal, it somehow fits in Birdgirl. Everything in situ.

Robert Kijowski
Robert J. Kijowski is a screenwriter who enjoys a good chuckle and an even better weep when indulging in art both good and even better bad. He enjoys the company of strangers in a theatre but adores the camaraderie of friends watching Netflix. He also loves to talk- a lot. This can be read through his recaps and reviews on the Workprint or heard through his weekly movie podcast, After the Credits. His presence can be felt through Facebook, Spotify or Ouija. Don’t use the latter though- he almost always ghosts people.

Latest articles

Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

%d bloggers like this: