The Story of Catcher Freeman

Infobox Boondocks Episode
Title = The Story of Catcher Freeman
Airdate = January 28, 2008
Season no. = 2
Episode no. = 27
Production no. = 211
Writer = Aaron McGruder
Director = Dan Fausett
Guests = Donald Faison
Episode list = Infobox Boondocks Season 2

"The Story of Catcher Freeman" is the twelfth episode of the second season of the Adult Swim animated television series "The Boondocks" and the twenty seventh episode overall. It first aired on January 28, 2008.

Plot

The story begins in the Freeman home, when Robert regales the boys with the story of their heroic ancestor, Catcher Freeman. Later, Ruckus drops by and tells his own version of the story. Finally, Huey does some web research and uncovers yet another story.

All of the stories follow the same basic plotline -- Catcher Freeman was a slave, yet a mythical figure in the antebellum South, nearby a cotton plantation where a Confederate Colonel, Colonel George Lynchwater a.k.a. "Massa" Colonel, owns many slaves. The slaves include Tobias, the house slave and cringing lackey to Lynchwater, and Thelma, one of the cooks. Tobias is in love with Thelma, but Thelma does not (initially) return the feelings. Thelma escapes the plantation one night, but after an encounter with Catcher, returns to plan a revolt. The slaves secretly organize the revolt, in which Catcher Freeman (in all versions) plays a pivotal role. The Colonel (and in two versions) Tobias are both killed, and Thelma escapes North and marries Catcher.

However, the three versions have key differences in characterizations (not the least of which is Catcher himself), motives and how the events unfolded.

Robert's version shows Catcher Freeman as an escaped slave turned dashing highwayman-like character, almost superheroic in his combat skills. While he kills several white men, he does so only in defense of other slaves. After rescuing Thelma during her escape, he inspires her to find her own bravery, and return to lead the other slaves to freedom. He pledges to return to spearhead the assault. Before leaving, he gives her a revolver, solemnly telling her that she will know when the time is right to use it. The next day, the revolt begins, yet the Colonel, informed of the revolt by Tobias, lays in wait with several soldiers. Catcher and his band appear and turn the tide, leading to a climactic swordfight between Catcher and his nemesis on the steps of the Plantation. Catcher wins and beheads his foe, and victory seems complete until Tobias, distraught over the death of his master, levels a flintlock at Catcher. Catcher stands bravely, ready to be martyred. A shot rings out, but it turns out the shot wasn't from the flintlock -- it was from Thelma's revolver. Tobias collapses dead. The slaves escape to the north, and Catcher retires from his swashbuckling heroics to the more subdued heroics of assisting with the Underground Railroad. Riley for his part shows complete disbelief at the story, pointing out the anachronisms and that the story seems to be made up of clichés from the action genre. At one point Riley points out that one of slaves make a reference to Batman when Batman wasn't made yet causing Grandad to tweak the story.

Uncle Ruckus then gives his own version of the tale - Catcher Freeman's name was actually "Catch "a" Freeman," and he was a slave used to capture other runaway slaves. In Ruckus' version, Catcher is animalistic, barely able to speak, and unable to even walk upright, yet can somehow jump from tree to tree (Riley declares it "some ol' Tarzan shit"). Also in Ruckus' version, the white people are kind and the slaves live a life of relative luxury and sloth. In this version, Thelma is a vile seductress and leads the evil and ungrateful slaves in an unprovoked attack on the Colonel. Thelma seduces Catcher and ties him up as he sleeps, so that he can't come to his master's aid in the upcoming battle. Tobias is shown as heroically standing at his master’s side as the waves of attacking slaves close in, made to look like a subhuman horde of vampiric, bulletproof barbarians biting away at the army. When the slaves win the battle, it is couched in Ruckus’ telling as a heartless and unprovoked massacre. Catcher, too dumb to know he was betrayed, goes with Thelma up north.

As Robert and Ruckus argue over whose version is correct, Huey presents the web-searched version of the story.

In Huey’s version, Catcher Freeman did not even exist at the start of the story. Instead, Thelma finds the will to fight back when she kills a white rapist during her escape, and becomes the figurehead of the revolt exactly one week later. Meanwhile, Tobias, who is revealed to be a mulatto bastard son of the Colonel, has developed the world’s first screenplay (before film’s invention) and convinces his father it is worth financing. To make sure the screenplay does get the funding, he tells the Colonel about the revolt. But Thelma gave him false information for the time of the attack and it turns out to be at that moment, whereas Tobias thought it would take place in a week. Despite this, the revolt succeeds and Thelma and the Colonel square off with the swords on the steps of the plantation. Tobias, not wanting the Colonel to die before he financed the project, fires the flintlock at Thelma’s back, but the struggling fighters turn and the Colonel is shot instead. Tobias, noticing everyone is looking at him, prudently pretends the shot was on purpose, and thus the legend is born as Tobias becomes known as Catcher Freeman. This version of the story is denied by both Robert and Ruckus as it conflicts too heavily with their own versions. The episode ends as Riley prepares to give his own "version" of the story, where Catcher has 300 hoes, Thelma is a super hoe, and he rides on 24" chrome.

Cultural References

* The Catcher Freeman theme music at the start of the episode is also the music from Glory when they were charging Fort Wagner.
* The entire episode seems to be a tribute to the film "Rashomon"
* Robert compares Catcher Freeman to Malcolm X, Nat Turner and Barack Obama.
* The slaves reference the 2007 Writer's Strike after Tobias tells them about his screenplay.
* Robert's version pulls a lot of influence from action movies, and his characterization of Catcher Freeman is akin to a comic book superhero.
** Uncle Ruckus' story seems to follow a zombie survival movie bent, as the slaves are often shown as monstrous ghouls feasting on human flesh.
* The slaves mention Batman, which, as Riley pointed out, is an anachronism, as Batman was created in 1939.
* Riley compares Catcher (Uncle Ruckus' version) with Jason Voorhees. Specifically, in a scene where he dramatically emerges from the water to capture a rafting slave. This is likely a reference to the end of Friday The 13th when Jason emerges from the water to kill the protagonist.
* The decapitation of the slave master by Catcher Freeman is similar to that of Jango Fett in .
* Robert's ending of the gunshot ringing out belonging to someone other than the aiming villain could be a reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark when a sherpa points a gun at Indiana Jones, and a gunshot rings out... but turns out to have been fired by Marian Ravenwood (off screen), killing the gunman instead.
*Catcher Freeman states that he is going to remain a soldier until the war is won, which is a reference to the lyrics of the Boondocks theme by Asheru.
*The tale of Catcher Freeman bears strong similarities to Alex Haley's novel "". In the novel, the heroic African warrior Kunta Kinte has his name changed to Toby, while Catch Freeman is later revealed to be Tobias. Both Freeman and Kinte are distant ancestors of the story tellers. Also, the historicity of Haley's novel was challenged, just as Huey challenged the two accounts of Catcher Freeman.

Notes

* The animation fast forwards, like a VCR tape, as Riley abbreviates the story.
** Similarly, Uncle Ruckus' story stops and rewinds upon Riley's request.
* This marks the first time Uncle Ruckus was shown doing the same odd job depicted in a previous episode, as he comes in with a leafblower, as he did in Tom, Sarah and Usher.
* In Uncle Ruckus' version, the slaves are singing "Don't Trust Them New Niggas Over There" as they picnic in the cotton fields. The song was written by Ruckus' in the show's first episode "The Garden Party" to warn the residents of Woodcrest not to trust the Freeman family.
* Catcher Freeman in Uncle Ruckus' story resembles an ape -- from the way he walks to his tree acrobatics. This is likely a reflection of Uncle Ruckus thinking black people are "monkeys" and sub-human.
* In Robert's version, Catcher Freeman tells Thelma that she "must remain a soldier 'til the war is won," which is a lyric reference to the Boondocks theme song sung by Asheru.
* In Uncle Ruckus' version, a black woman is shown preparing a watermelon martini. However, this is an anachronism as well -- martinis were not invented until 1887, and Radical Reconstruction, which would certainly preclude this setting, started in 1863.
* Riley mentioned that Catcher Freeman is doing some "Old Tarzan Shit!" A reference to the old Tarzan movies.
* The voice for the character Tobias is provided by Donald Faison, who plays Turk on NBC sitcom Scrubs. Also, Donald Faison is the second cast member from Scrubs to guest star, behind John C. McGinley who played the White Shadow in "The Real".
* Crystal Scales the voice actress of Libby from voices Thelma Freeman in this episode.
* It is interesting to note that Uncle Ruckus has a picture of Thelma and Catcher 'living miserably ever after' which distorts whether or not his story was true or not.
* In Grandad's version the slaves are singing "Save Our Black Asses" as they pick cotton.
* While the slaves are plotting in Uncle Ruckus' story, the slave quarters are depicted as a luxurious mansion -- another example of Ruckus' highly questionable embellishments.
* When Huey is reading Robert, Ruckus, and Riley the real story of Catcher Freeman, Ruckus interrupts Huey and asks him if he got the story from "madeupmonkeyshit.com." This site actually does exist as an extra web page for The Boondocks.
* This also marks the very first episode that the original ending credit song is not played. Instead it is replace by a version of "Our Black Asses"


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