I haven’t asked anybody else’s thoughts on animated music videos, but generally I’m not a fan of them myself. That’s why I was surprised to be so intrigued by the video for “Treacherous Doctor”, the final single from indie rock band Wallows. Whereas most animated videos do little to capture the watcher’s attention and connect the song and the visual together, this one in particular was captivating and exciting from start to finish. It’s also not animated in a typical cartoon way; the characters and scenes look like they’re made out of felt fabric which adds a unique touch to the project and isn’t something I’ve ever really seen before. With the overall message of the song and the visuals connecting seamlessly, we’re left with a wonderful little film that’s definitely going to stick in your mind for a while.
In the opening scene, we see two people in a waiting room, presumably a doctor’s office. One of them gets called in and we see him laying down on a sofa talking to a therapist. While the therapist is scribbling away on a notepad, our first character is swallowed up by the couch and begins exploring old memories. Some of them seem pleasant while others veer into nightmare territory. Our next patient comes in to speak with the therapist and the same exact thing happens to him. Our two little men are both found in a weird vortex together where they end up morphing into one person. All the while, the therapist is still taking notes, but something interesting is happening to him too. We notice that his hair is getting longer and longer as time goes by. Eventually, we’re taken back to the two characters laying on the couch but instead of being two separate people, they fluctuate between both of their characteristics. With the video being almost finished at this point, the audience might be wondering where it could possibly go from here. Well, right before the curtains close, we’re focused on the therapist, who is doodling two halves of a head connected together by a geometric shape. Afterwards, all of his hair falls out and he dies. The video wraps up with everything coming together in a story book as we end the scene.
As completely bonkers as this video may come across, I find it to be an immaculate representation of the song itself. “Treacherous Doctor” isn’t a happy song; the lyrics are extremely pessimistic and convey images such as crying on vacation and not having much to look forward to in life. This is contrasted by the ridiculously bright instrumental, creating this tug of war between how you feel when listening to this. But that’s exactly the point. Each of these characters seems to represent one side, either the negative or positive things life has to offer. But once they come together, it’s easy to see that one can’t be without the other and the thing that binds them is time, which is represented by the therapist. The way that his hair keeps growing shows the lapse of time throughout the memories of our characters, and his death at the end demonstrates a few things. Firstly, this can signify that as we grow we learn to take the good with the bad and realize that they coincide together. Somehow, just maybe, that’s the thing we all need to realize in the end. Secondly, the way the therapist dies seems to indicate how finite time actually is and that nothing, good nor bad, lasts forever. We are living in a world of constant good and bad, and what awaits us at the end of it all is death. It might sound grim, but then again, with instrumental as upbeat as this one, it doesn’t have to be.