David Firth’s acclaimed animation series returns from a five year hiatus to present its eleventh instalment, revisiting the surreal world of one of the internet’s most gruesome characters.
A pre-YouTube phenomenon that began life amongst Flash-based games and animations on American site Newgrounds, David Firth‘s Salad Fingers rose to pop culture prominence through its unapologetically dark humour and fascination with all things grisly. A generation of teenagers has placed Salad Fingers firmly within their internet culture initiation rituals, most now unable to view spoons in the same way again.
While it seemed that Firth had chosen to put the series on the back burner to focus on other projects, including last year’s short film Cream, it seems the animator was slowly working on a new episode.
“It’s a weird episode,” Firth teased in an interview with UniLAD in 2017. “A weird, dark, twisted episode as you can imagine and I feel like it’s the start of a new series in a way.”
The result is Glass Brother, the longest and most existentially troubling instalment of the Salad Fingers series yet. The episode returns to the familiar barren landscape that Salad Fingers has inhabited since his creation, reintroducing viewers to his three finger puppet companions and habit for communicating his innermost thoughts through inanimate objects.
The narrative quickly takes focus on puppet Hubert Cumberdale, with Salad Fingers using a hand mirror to admonish Hubert’s supposed bad behaviour. “You’ll never be a real boy, Hubert Cumberdale,” he tells the puppet, addressing his words to his own reflection. The exchange is a stark portrait of the Salad Fingers viewers have grown to both love and pity; a lonely yet thoughtful creature forced to converse with himself to make sense of his existence.
Salad Fingers then brings Hubert into his shack, telling him it is “time to grow up” before performing a surgical procedure using skin samples to morph the puppet into an oozing, humanistic pile of flesh that he finally declares a “real boy.” In true Salad Fingers style, the scene is unflinching in its gore, with shiver-inducing gurgles and squelches running throughout the sound design to haunting effect.
Mirrors and reflections act as links between Salad Fingers and the antagonists of the episode. They are introduced as Glass Brother, an alternate version of Salad Fingers himself, and Glass Mother, a similarly green-skinned and long-fingered creature armed with a menacing tone. Both berate Salad Fingers, calling him names, poisoning him, and setting him impossible tasks from beyond the reflection. Firth’s animation shines in this portion with layers of shimmering metallic effects and wispy smoke.
Though many analytical readings of the Salad Fingers have attempted to unpick David Firth’s work, the true message behind the series remains subjective. The same can be said of Glass Brother, with Salad Finger’s connection to the inanimate acting as a launching pad to explore themes from abuse and identity to isolation and self-reflection. Is Salad Fingers truly alone? Is he trapped within his own head? We’ll let you guys decide for yourselves.
However viewers wish to interpret this latest instalment, we’re glad to see Salad Fingers return with the promise of more episodes to come.