Rating: 4 (of 5)
One of the running jokes of the series is that Yor, for all of her domestic incompetence, is superhumanly capable physically. That gets reinforced here. A second, more developing running joke is that Yor is probably the last person who should be teaching Anya anything beyond just basic physical fitness. The combination of the two lead to two of this episode’s three funniest scenes, which involve what Yor can do with a dodge ball. You do not want to ever play against Yor in dodge ball.
An epic dodge ball match, with the kids all believing that a Stella is at stake, is the subject matter of this heavily Anya-focused episode, though both Damien and the bearded teacher also get their chances to shine. The revelation that the former feels intense pressure for living under the shadow of a stellar older brother makes him a bit more sympathetic, while the latter is getting reminded the hard way that little about young children is truly elegant. They get into silly name-calling matches and over-dramatize even little things like a simple dodge ball match as a matter of course. That puts high stakes on something which should just be simple fun or, at most, light competition. (Although I’m sure there are a lot of people who don’t remember childhood dodge ball fondly.) Naturally, that also means that the other side’s ringer is a hulking brute who looks and sounds almost like he could be a football pro lineman.
That sets up the episode’s other top joke and most inspired moment: the flashback scene where the overdeveloped kid meets with his father and we see that, for all of his size relative to the other 6-year-olds, he’s still 6-year-old-sized compared to his father. The episode uses other training sequence scenes to show Damien and his friends imagining various scenarios that are far less dramatic than what they appear to be, so perhaps the implication here is that a lot of what we’re seeing is colored by perspective? In any case, both Anya and Damien end up with chances to shine. Even though both ultimately fail, the one who comes out looking best is, somewhat surprisingly, Damien. He’s got a more gallant spirit than he understands or would care to admit.
With good support from the animation, this is a solid but not spectacular episode.