What is your favorite thing about Edd’s character in A Fistful of Ed? Is there more of a reason behind why he is upset?
When it first came out, I loved A Fistful of Ed for a lot of reasons! First of all, Raven’s scenes are the highlight of season 5 for me, I had loved her art since before she worked for the show, so it was really exciting to see her do the bulk of an episode, and for it to be upgraded from an 11-minute story to a two-parter.
Secondly, Edd was a hard character for me to understand, he has a lot of traits and a fairly consistent only-rational-character role in the series, but AKA didn’t always try to connect his actions to details about his life outside of each episode, the way that the writers clearly understand Eddy’s home life even if they rarely address it. I can’t remember where/when it was brought up, but season 5 was suggested to be thought of as Edd’s season, after season 4′s finale revealed the spotlight to be on Eddy. While Edd did take the focus more often at that point, I didn’t feel like anyone but Raven was digging into his inner life and making him as much of a main character as Eddy. So it was even MORE exciting when it became clear how much the episode was turned over to Raven’s understanding of him.
THIRD, I couldn’t believe I was finally getting what I’d always been asking for. GENUINE EMOTIONS! As much as I value simple slice-of-life stories, the way the style developed toward complicated expressions was begging for a more serious tone than just the show’s usual topics of outrage and failure. When the storyboards were being pitched, there was push-back behind the scenes because it was so unusual to play a scene as outwardly dramatic and break the characters down to tears. But from what I hear it was actually Danny who was most interested in seeing Raven’s vision through, and gave it the green light. I am so grateful that we got the story the way it was originally pitched, because there’s really very little else in the show that suggests how strongly Ed and Edd feel about each other and their group, and we need to see them finally erupt so that Eddy’s exposed backstory in Big Picture Show doesn’t feel out of place in an otherwise numb universe. That they managed to find such an emotional story while not letting up the violence at all is especially impressive. For once, beating people up feels cohesive to the character development, instead of a shortcut to slapstick. It’s also a humongous relief after the focus on the Eds’ increased suffering for the past two seasons, it puts a really nice bow on everything without actually being an ending.
I should also probably bring up the 3-day marathon of the first 5 seasons, leading up to the premiere of Fistful, which was being advertised as the last episode ever, despite ads running during the final day for the Invaded special (and the fandom being completely aware that two winter episodes and a movie were on the way as well). “The Best Day Edder” marathon in April 2007, making fun of a similar-but-disappointing “Best Day Ever” SpongeBob marathon from November 2006, was a dream come true for me, a brief moment where EEnE was treated like CN’s proudest project and celebrated for being the network’s longest-running series. The end of the episode left me quaking, I was so satisfied and excited to see the Eds start winning and protecting each other. The whole marathon was a really inspiring experience for me.
Compared to that, I was pretty depressed leading up to the next series finale, Big Picture Show. It felt significantly more final, and more than two years passed between Fistful and BPS, so it was really nerve-wracking waiting to see if AKA could pull off another big emotional feat. But when information about Edd’s deleted dodgeball-incident-retelling was presented to me, it really cemented my love for the show and permanently renewed my obsession with Fistful.
Basically, after starting school in another town, Toddler Edd was targeted in dodgeball by the other students, who were presumably a little older and jealous of his advanced grades. This provoked Edd to build a dodgeball cannon and go around the school mutilating other students. He ultimately regretted seeing how much damage he could do to the human body and was further traumatized by the shame and ridicule after being arrested, forced to give a public apology and kicked out of his first town. He moved to Peach Creek, hid any evidence he had of the incident in his hat so he knew where it was, and attempted to reinvent himself. It works phenomenally as a backstory for his warring morality and dark side, it would’ve worked well to finally put him on the same level of “bad but improving” as Ed and Eddy, and most of all, it does nothing but support and reinvent previous episodes without retconning anything.
It affects one scene in ‘Ed in a Halfshell’ and one scene in ‘Every Which Way But Ed’, but it affects ALL of ‘A Fistful of Ed’, because Edd’s clumsiness isn’t just being misinterpreted as him being a tough guy. The kids frame it as “it’s always the quiet ones,” suggesting they think Edd has finally snapped from their bullying, and the severity of their injuries makes them treat him like a soon-to-be killer. They have no idea Edd has actually been through that reality already, but it very clearly wears on him throughout each scene, until he’s finally crying in front of everyone on the cafeteria floor. Edd struggles to defend himself for an impressively long time, but the final straw being Ed’s mom banning Edd from his friends suggests that Ed and Eddy are the only people who give Edd the strength to forget he was ever MORE violent than the rest of the characters. When I watch the scene of him alone, in the dark, working and crying in the botany room, it’s now very easy to see that he’s not just thinking about the events of Fistful. He’s stepping back and taking a look at his life, everyone he’s hurt, wondering if he can ever escape it or if it will eventually return to haunt him in every town he ever lives in. Edd probably struggles a lot with forgiving himself– he knows he has to if he’s ever going to move on, but he’s completely betrayed his morals and in retrospect it probably explains why he accepts so much abuse in Peach Creek.
Big Picture Show is the other half of the dodgeball incident coming back to haunt Edd. Fistful makes him think about the acts he committed and the judgement he faced, but it probably helps Edd make it to the cafeteria scene that he knows he didn’t actually do anything and that he was hurting himself at the same time these acts were occurring. In Big Picture Show, the scam not only forces him to see the kids gorily injured, with chunks of their bodies missing, it also causes him to be banished from yet another town by yet another set of angry schoolkids. This (and ‘A Town Called Ed’) plays into why I approach Eddy and Bro’s backstories with so much “history repeating itself”– almost ALL of Edd’s story has been about him having to face the same guilt over and over with slight changes. I wish that the final cut of the movie had included his backstory so that we didn’t have to piece the most important part of his character together from insider info, but it’s still impressive enough to me that so much of it IS visible, even if only through Edd internalizing it in Fistful and BPS.