Muppet or madness?
When first watching the new Three ad, you could be forgiven for thinking it's nothing more than a new campaign, combining a Henson Muppet with an East 17 track.
A simple tale of a fluffy monster that battles back from adversity to start a revolution. Brilliant times, right?
There's a secret lurking behind the whole thing. Watch it once and you'll miss it, but watch it 37 times and you'll notice that there's a lot going on you haven't realised.
1. He's shifting locations at will
Purple is meant to be on some desolate US streets at the start. It's a nod to New York, but the sign for 'Plato's Retreat 2' is an advert for a slightly dodgy club in Fort Lauderdale, which shut down in 2006.
The cars are driving on the left, yet outside Mount Montrose that's clearly a US number plate – despite the doorman being English.
2. Why is the dog attacking him?
OK, so Purple is short, but a dog won't randomly attack a stranger and grab his umbrella. Was he poking him, goading the dog into the attack?
And the dog seems to belong to the chap on the phone – so why isn't he turning? Is he aware… or simply a part of the scenery?
3. Where are his parents from?
It's a little unclear, but that sounds like a Devonshire accent on the Dad, despite them clearly being on a mid-west farm.
4. How does he dry so quickly?
After the hallucination, Purple suddenly dries in a second, and the rain stops. Something happened here – and it's a clear sign of what's REALLY going on.
5. He makes the girl cry
Sure, losing your ice cream is a terrible thing to happen. But slow things down and you'll realise something – she only starts crying when Purple shows up. Is he a portent of something bigger?
6. Nobody cares about the injured cheerleader
Sorry for being HUMAN, but if I'm leading cheers while dressed in skin-tight Spandex and shaking my pom-poms and I hear a scream behind me, I'd turn around to see what's what. The crowd's heads would definitely turn as well.
Then Purple turns up. Nobody looks at him either.
7. Why is he pushing the car over the cliff?
Purple isn't helping the couple in jeopardy. If anything, he's making it worse, by not shifting his weight back and helping counter-balance the stricken auto.
In fact, why is he on the car at all, and suspiciously near the brake cable?
8. Who opened the back door?
In what looks suspiciously like a British kitchen (that's Hartley's jam in the fridge), there's a snake. Nothing weird there, perhaps. Zoos have breakouts all the time.
But look at the back door. It's a split one. If this lady, in her nightwear, was going to open it to have a shufty outside, she'd have only opened the top section, thus giving a modicum of serpent protection.
But someone opened it all the way. And someone just flicked their way out of the fridge at the correct moment.
9. That golf cart's fire is confusing
Look at the front. The flames are licking up from INSIDE. Doesn't seem like it started itself, does it?
10. Quicksand guy in peril
Let's ignore the fact Purple has a quad bike and is ignoring the dying man – why is that sign off centre? The way it's attached hints at two struts, but only one is in shot.
In fact, there's no hint of a second one ever being there. Something seems surreal.
11. Why doesn't he take a risk?
I know what you're thinking. Bomb man doesn't want to cut the yellow wire as it could set off the bomb.
But it's about to blow anyway, and some part of him thinks the yellow wire could lead to salvation. Why wouldn't he take a chance?
Also, there's no chance Purple would have got away in time if the bomb did blow.
12. The final piece of the puzzle
So the finale is something straight out of a fantasy. Purple, despite being the architect of so much doom in the video, is leading a troupe in a hyper-energetic dance.
The bomb dude is alive. The girl has a gravity-defying ice cream. The cheerleaders are dressed in HIS colours. The whole thing seems oddly perfect, which leads us to the only explanation:
13. It's the fevered dream of a dying Muppet
Here's the only plausible explanation: Purple is slumped in an alleyway in Somewhere-In-The-US, his mind flashing images of pain with him escaping as he battles against the grim reality his failed attempt to 'make it' has forced him to live.
It explains why the guy on the phone didn't turn around, why the cheerleaders continued, why the couple in the car didn't beg for his help. He was the main protagonist in his own warped nightmare.
I can't handle the sadness. We've got to find a way to save him. I'm going to go and watch Inception a few times to work out how.