Over the Garden Wall is an animated short series (just ten episodes) following Wirt and his little brother Greg as the traverse the forest of the Unknown and try to avoid becoming prey to the Beast.
Liminal places are places that are between—between life and death, between human and animal, between madness and sanity, between dreams and reality, even between roles in life. Over the Garden Wall is made of such liminal places.
In the first episode—The Old Grist Mill—we meet the Woodsman who informs the boys they’re in the Unknown, and also warns the boys of the Beast, who sings with the voice of the four winds. Then in Hard Times at the Huskin’ Bee, the boys meet talking bluebird Beatrice and learn not all is as it seems.
Later, we go to a mad rich man’s house—in the episode Mad Love—and help him find a ghost and his sanity—and Greg throws away the two cents they needed for the ferry, rejecting the madness that comes with the tainted money (at least that was my take on it).
Then the boys and talking bluebird Beatrice sneak aboard the frog ferry in Lullaby in Frogland and Wirt learns something of self-worth.
Then we reach Adelaide’s house–“the good woman of the woods” as Beatrice calls her—where the old woman is not what she seems. When the boys run off from Beatrice, they find themselves in Auntie Whispers’s house—in the episode The Ringing of the Bell—where they help Lorna escape her curse and learn once again, that tings are not as they seem.
In the penultimate episode we learn Wirt and Greg are modern boys who are drowning, caught in limbo.
And then the final episode—The Unknown—is Wirt’s showdown with the beast, where he learns not to make the mistakes of others or take on burdens that aren’t his.
3—Music and Mood
The music in Over the Garden Wall is great, mostly old-timey feeling stuff, like from around the turn of the nineteenth century. It suits the vibe of the show, the dress of the characters—except maybe Wirt and Greg, for reasons explained in the penultimate episode. The mood of the show is both matter-of-fact about the fantastical and kinda creepy—perfect fairytale.
Over the Garden Wall is very much a fairytale, with talking animals, strange happenings, and fairytale logic. It was an excellent mini-series, densely layered and packed with meaning but still fun to watch. I will definitely be re-watching this one, and I’m sure I’ll see things I missed the first go-round.