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The Penguins of Madagascar – “Gut Instinct/I Know Why the Caged Bird Goes Insane” Recap

by on October 13, 2011


Gut Instinct: Every day at the zoo, Gladys feeds the zoo animals treats, much to Alice’s displeasure. After Gladys slips and falls on a mango pit that came from the Lemur habitat, King Julien faces the wrath of the zoo animals. But Skipper’s gut has a different say (literally) on this, prompting an investigation. All the signs point to King Julien, but was it really him this whole time, or is it merely the insatiable need for vengeance at hand? And can they save King Julien in time before his punishment?


I Know Why the Caged Bird Goes Insane: Once a year, the Invention Expo (INVEXPO) showcases the latest inventions, to Kowalski’s delight. And this year, it just so happens to be at the Central Park. When a billboard breaks his legs, Kowalski is unable to attend, so he begs the other Penguins to go in his place. While in solitary confinement, he slowly turns insane, scaring the people and other zoo animals. He also notices a Space Squid landing, gathering inventions for an invasion. But will anyone believe him?


After the showstoppers that were “Time Out/Our Man In Grrfurjiclestan,” “Gut Instinct/I Know Why the Caged Bird Goes Insane” had a tough act to follow. Thankfully, both episodes followed up beautifully. The latter pair follows a similar theme as the former since one episode (“Time Out” and “Gut Instinct”) was straight-up comedy while the other (“Our Man In Grrfurjiclestan” and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Goes Insane”) goes for action with a darker tone. Also, both pairs had one episode (“Time Out” and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Goes Insane”) that involved a pair working together (King Julien and Kowalski in the former, Kowalski and Marlene in the latter).

“Gut Instinct” freaked me out just a little bit at first because apparently, Skipper’s considerable stomach (to which the writers like to acknowledge with episodes like “Brain Drain,” “Fit to Print,” and now this) literally has a mind of its own. And while I liked Gladys, it seemed like she was just there to get the main plot started. I’m not sure if she was just a one-time character, but here her purpose seemed diminished as she was not seen after she slipped and fell. That ends the complaints about this episode.

There were funny moments spread throughout “Gut Instinct,” such as when Rico purposely covered “Do Not” so the sign read “Feed the Animals.” When I saw Alice search Gladys for treats, I thought that her patdown on Gladys is something the TSA could learn a thing or two from. It was also pretty funny when Gladys mistook the lemurs for cats and gave them cat food. Meanwhile, Kowalski”s “Rump-Whomper” invention seems more suited for naughty children than zoo animals. Imagine what would happen if parents built their own… but I digress. After watching this episode, I feel compelled to give Skipper either a round of applause for knowing the truth, or some Alka-Seltzer to help his gut based on the number of times (and the sounds) that his stomach made noises. It’s just the combination of small, yet funny moments such as those that made “Gut Instinct” a great comedy episode of Penguins.


Based on the title alone, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Goes Insane” had me thinking that this would be a Rico-centric episode. But at the same time, I also had a feeling that we would be exploring Kowalski’s “mad scientist” side a little more. It was fun watching Kowalski slowly-but-surely slip into insanity as he was locked in solitary confinement while INVEXPO was happening. Especially with the way that he terrified Private and the visitors; it just further establishes the fact that, deep down, Kowalski really IS a mad scientist. I don’t know if it is one, but I liked how they referenced what happened in “All King, No Kingdom” by having Kowalski “talk” to the animals on the wallpaper.

Even though Penguins is meant to be an animated comedy, there were fewer moments where I found myself laughing in this episode. One of those instances was when Marlene mistakenly thought that salt would kill a Space Squid. I understand why there were fewer laughs here; after all, this is a darker episode than most. But at the same time, the lack of comedic scenes show that Penguins can be versatile as it can be pure comedy in one moment and completely serious in the next. Also, I really enjoyed the teamwork between Marlene and Kowalski. As the only recurring female zoo animal on the show, it’s great to see episodes that feature her. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Goes Insane” marks the second episode where a Penguin teams up with Marlene (after “Haunted Habitat”), and it shows that she can answer the call of duty when needed.


If you’ve read the last recap, then you know already that the Columbus
Day premieres were one of the best events for Penguins in a long time.
These two episodes definitely contributed to that statement as “Gut
Instinct” is a classic Penguins episode that’s just silly fun, filled to
the brim with laughs (and regurgitating sounds from Skipper’s belly),
while “I Know Why the Caged Bird Goes Insane” shows how versatile The
Penguins of Madagascar is with its various emotions and atmospheres. I
don’t know why more people aren’t watching this series (especially when
some Saturday mornings, SpongeBob leads into this), but they should.
Between these episodes, it’s too close to call; but I have to choose the
better episode. So, by the amount of care Alice has for her job, I
declare “I Know Why the Caged Bird Goes Insane” as the better episode
because of its darker nature and by having Marlene be Kowalski’s ally
against the space squid.

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