Mr. Krabs is sleeping in his money bath, then he smells something burning, SpongeBob then tells Mr. Krabs that it smells like Plankton with his new explosives. Plankton then explodes the Krusty Krab, while his machine caught SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs. Then Pearl comes to the kitchen and scares Plankton, which makes him go to the Chum Bucket.
He tells Karen about his fear of whales and she tells him there's no whales in the Chum Bucket. Then, Mr. Krabs, disguised as Pearl, scares Plankton. He enters in the Chum Bucket and Mr. Krabs appears saying that he wants the meat of Plankton. Plankton then runs away and has nightmares about an evil Pearl eating him and his cousins.
Plankton appears in the road, about to commit suicide by being run over by a bus, but SpongeBob talks him out of it and whispers to Plankton Mr. Krabs' worst fear and tells Plankton that it is Mr. Krabs disguised as Pearl. Plankton decides to torment Mr. Krabs with a mime. Later, SpongeBob scares Plankton away with holographic whales to keep him from getting the formula. SpongeBob then releases Krabs and the mime continues to torment him, but considering Mr. Krabs' change in attitude towards the clown after Plankton fled, it is implied that Mr Krabs wasn't afraid of the clown at all (and his fear earlier was a facade).
( ‣ ) Associated production music
( • ) Original music
( ◦ ) SpongeBob music
‣SpongeBob History Song - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [title card] ‣Hawaiian Sting 12 - Otto Sieben [Krabs takes a money bath] • ? - Nicolas Carr ["Something don't smell right."] • ? - Michael Bolger, Nicolas Carr [SpongeBob cooking Krabby Patties] ‣Crime & Danger Sign No. 3 - Hans Conzelmann, Delle Haensch ["Explosive?!"] ‣Steel Sting (f) - Jeremy Wakefield ["It didn't go off."] ‣Guerilla Warfare - Harry Bluestone ["A dud, huh?"] ‣Zelle 501 - Gerhard Trede [Plankton tickling Krabs] •Steel Sting - Jeremy Wakefield ["Clever."] ‣Guerilla Warfare - Harry Bluestone [Plankton smells blubber] ‣Drama Link (g) - Hubert Clifford ["Call off your daughter, Krabs!"] ‣Drama Link (e) - Hubert Clifford ["Stay back, whale!"] ‣Steel Licks (a) - Jeremy Wakefield [Plankton leaves] • ? - Michael Bolger, Nicolas Carr [Krabs gives Pearl mall money] ‣Tympup B - Sammy Burdson, John Charles Fiddy [wacky bucks] • ? - Nicolas Carr [Plankton running home] ‣Sneaking About - Phillip Green ["My triumphant husband returns."] ‣Austin Western - Mladen Franko [flashback to Plankton's ancestors on a picnic] ‣Lovely Scenery C - Mladen Franko [whale eats them] ‣Sneaking About - Phillip Green [Plankton takes out the trash] ‣Tales from the Swamp (a) - Ron Goodwin ["I'm hungry!"] ‣Wooden Bear - Gil Flat, Tony Tape, Florian Voelxen [empty laboratory] • ? - Nicolas Carr [16 paranoia-filled days later] ‣Lonely Stranger - Laurie Johnson ["Yes, I can hear you."] ‣ ? [Pearl snickers] ‣Death Throws - Harry Bluestone, Emil Cadkin [Plankton's nightmare] ‣ ? ["Hey, Plankton!"] ‣Cellar Search - Philippe Pares ["Gastric acid?"] ‣ ? [Plankton crying] ‣The Drunken Sailor - Robin Jeffrey, Tim Laycock [Krabs disguised as Pearl] ‣Hawaiian Sting 10 - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [Plankton driven to suicide] • ? - Michael Bolger, Nicolas Carr [Krabs in his office] ‣Steel Sting (g) - Jeremy Wakefield [Plankton lying in the street] ‣Hawaiian Sting 1 - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [SpongeBob tells Plankton about Krabs' secret fear] ‣Vibe Sting - Dick de Benedictis [Plankton laughs evilly] ‣The Drunken Sailor - Robin Jeffrey, Tim Laycock [Krabs putting on the disguise] ‣Drama Link (d) - Hubert Clifford [Krabs tries to scare Plankton] •Vibe Sting - Nicolas Carr [Krabs imitates Pearl] ‣Shock Entrance - Harry Bluestone ["The jig is up, Krabs!"] ‣Dramatic Cue (e) - Ronald Hanmer ["Secret fear?"] ‣Dachshund Walk - John Fox, Mac Prindy [Krabs afraid of mimes] ‣Slide Whistle Song - Nicolas Carr, Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [ending]
This episode is widely deplored by many fans and critics including Stephen Hillenburg himself, and is considered by many to be one of the series' worst episodes (if not, its absolute worst), because Mr. Krabs drove Plankton to having disturbing nightmares and drove him to attempt suicide, Mr. Krabs (despite his actions) was portrayed in a completely protagonistic light and only got his comeuppance for a few seconds (and this may be no comeuppance at all as it was implied that he was not afraid of the mime), neither SpongeBob nor Karen showed any empathy for Plankton when he was scared and sad, and SpongeBob betrayed Plankton.
Some other niche criticisms are:
The plot hole that Plankton is afraid of whales, even though he has interacted with Pearl before (i.e. "The Algae's Always Greener").
The implication that Pearl is a cannibal seeing as to how she commented "I prefer salad over Plankton anyway".
This is one of the seven episodes that was revealed on the Internet before it aired on TV.
This episode has a rather dark scene, Plankton tries to commit suicide. Suicide is a very serious thing, especially for a show like this as it is very unusual for a children's show.
On the SpongeBob site, this episode is referred to as "One Course Meal."
This is the second time Mr. Krabs crosses the Moral Event Horizon, an action by a villain that is so evil that it eliminates audience's sympathy for the villain and makes it clear that they are unrepentantly evil and will not be redeemed.
Plankton is scared of whales in this episode. Although in earlier episodes, he has encountered Pearl without panicking. However, it is possible his ancestors were eaten after these episodes took place. Also, in one of the episodes, "The Algae's Always Greener," Plankton says "look at his daughter, she's as big as a whale". This indicates that he may not have realized that Pearl was a whale. In a later episode, he interacts with another whale and is not scared of him. This could imply he concurred his fear.
"Coarse"is another term for "rough." Therefore the title of the episode means, "One rough meal."
This episode shows that Plankton is a skilled bubble-blower, as he was able to make a bubble shield strong enough to withstand peas that SpongeBob was spitting at the speed of a bullet.
It is revealed that Plankton is afraid of whales and that Mr. Krabs is terrified of mimes. "Krusty Krab Training Video" mentioned that Mr. Krabs was also afraid of robot overlords.
The main difference between Plankton's and Mr. Krabs' phobias is that Plankton's technically rational, while Mr. Krabs' is obviously irrational.
The transmutator was a scanner in "Plankton!." It's possible Plankton may have modified the scanner into a transmutator since then.
Even though Plankton has encountered Pearl in previous episodes, he's never been afraid of her until now.
When Plankton asks SpongeBob to step on him, SpongeBob declines, saying it goes against his "good nature." However, SpongeBob has done things contradictory to his good nature, such as sabotaging Squidward to win "Employee of the Month," and trying to get Patrick arrested for speeding, out of jealousy in "Driven to Tears."
Karen has no compassion for Plankton over his intense fear of Pearl. Though it could be argued that computers don't have feelings, she has shown emotions before (such as crying).
Just before Pearl comes into the kitchen, Plankton wonders what the smell is. SpongeBob says it smells like blubber, and Plankton panics. In "Spongicus," he says one of the ingredient to his chum is whale blubber, so it's unusual that he wouldn't know what blubber smells like.
Pearl claims the Chum Bucket is "totally gross," meaning she must have gone inside of the restaurant before.
It is unlike SpongeBob to say "okay" and leave when Plankton refuses to let SpongeBob help him, except SpongeBob goes to Mr. Krabs for help which is not helping because Mr. Krabs is the reason for Plankton lying on the road waiting to die.
This also goes along with his infamous line: "Sorry Plankton, but that lies in the face of my good nature, yet episodes like "Boating Buddies" and "Squid's Visit" makes this episode's statement infamous.
In this episode, it is revealed that Mr. Krabs has a fear of mimes. However, at the end, he says he just finds them weird.
It is unknown how SpongeBob knew about Mr. Krabs' fear of mimes. This could be because Mr. Krabs trusts SpongeBob to not tell his secret fear.
In the Dutch version, a narrator read the title card.
The episode's title card has the same font as the title card for "The Inside Job."
The scene where Mr. Krabs puts peas into SpongeBob and he shoots them at Plankton, it is a reference to the Peashooter from the Plants VS. Zombies series of games.
After "16 paranoia-filled days," Plankton is seen having grown a full head of long grey hair falling into his grey beard, as well as claws. Not only do these quickly disappear moments afterward, but the claws could bear a resemblance to Wolverine.
When Plankton has long white hair, long fingernails, and tissue boxes on his feet, it is a parody of Howard Hughes.
When Plankton was about to drop a bomb, Mr. Krabs was naked. When it exploded, he had clothes on.
When SpongeBob goes into Mr. Krabs' office after he erases a drawing of Plankton, his used paper and pencil are gone.
When SpongeBob and Pearl both say "Huh?," the Season 7 DVD captions refer to it as (confused babbling).