Moral Orel: Praying
Note: This is an early review. The episode airs Sunday, or you can watch it here now.
Clay: Orel, throw dogma a bone: pray correctly.
I liked this episode. I didn't love it, but I liked it.
First, the animation and effects keep improving with every subsequent episode, and this one had several moments where I was really impressed with what they were able to accomplish, especially with the dream-like meditation scenes: Orel's room disassembling and reassembling as he slips out of, and back into, reality was unlike anything the show has done before, and his encounter with a Buddha who speaks like a Southern waitress was probably the pinnacle of the episode, a combination of great visual effects and funny, but poignant (but weird) dialog.
I also noticed this episode had a quicker pace to it than other episodes. The gags were more rapid-fire and much of the episode had a more "cartoony" feel to it than usual, at least in terms of pacing. Typically, Moral Orel is a show that takes its time and doesn't try to throw too much at you at once, but a faster pace was fitting for this particular episode as the denizens of Moralton went crazy putting pressure on Orel to win the Praying Bee. Orel gets caught up in the whirlwind of praying correctly, which is what drives him to meditation rather than the pain of "normal" praying.
However, my favorite episodes of Moral Orel are the ones that, while weird and twisted, have an underlying depth and profundity to them, and while those concepts weren't absent from the episode, it felt like the balance was a little off. The finally scene where Orel wins by letting go of the angry voices of his parents and teachers and simply "communicating" in his own way was touching, but I wanted more of that throughout the episode. In retrospect, this is an episode in which an eleven-minute runtime was a detriment. I would have liked to see how it would have played out as a full half hour.
I give it a 6 out of 7.
Additional thought: What this episode had that every episode has had so far is a ton of "pause button" gags, little signs and doo-dads in the background you'll miss unless you freeze-frame the episode. It's worth watching once for the main story, and a second time to catch everything you missed the first time.