Bob’s Burgers: S09E14 “Every Which Way But Goose”

Episode Grade: B

Going to start with a bit of a digression, but I promise I’m going somewhere with it.

He’s got some competition, but Jimmy Pesto Jr. might be the trickiest character on Bob’s Burgers in that his most irritating characteristic, his essential wishy-washyness towards Tina, is also his primary function on the show.  We rarely get much of an indication that he’s actually interested in Tina, but the show has come to a place where he can be a potential romantic prospect for her, or not, as each episode requires. Functionally, this means that the show can have Tina and Jay-Ju as a quasi-couple one week, then have Tina free to pursue another crush the next without going through some tedious break-up story each time. This status-quo can be irritating from one point of view, in that we’re nine seasons in and this relationship hasn’t really changed from what it was midway through season one, but it allows the writers a good amount of flexibility.

(This is also why, despite my fanboy wishes, Tina and Zeke will probably never be a thing. If Zeke was going to date Tina, he would actually date her, since he’s big-hearted and enthusiastic in all the places where Jimmy Jr. is disinterested and noncommittal. If the show ever actually paired up Zeke and Tina, they’d have to either a) figure out a way to break them up in 22 minutes while keeping them in character, or b) keep the relationship going for awhile, which would limit their storytelling options with Tina.)

So, keeping all that in mind, we get to the plot of this episode: Tina is waiting for Jimmy Jr. to ask her to the Eighth Grade Dance. Not only that, Tina’s zombie theme has been chosen, so this is obviously going to be the greatest night ever, right? Well, not exactly. Bob’s Burgers is rarely cruel to it’s characters (though it has happened), but straight up wish fulfillment isn’t really their style either. Jimmy Jr.’s not going to just ask her, because then we wouldn’t really have an episode. Instead, he’s going to prevaricate and Tina’s….. going to pour her heart out to a goose at the park?

OK, so it’s a fairly well established family trait at this point for the Belchers to anthropomorphize animals and inanimate objects, but sometimes the show pushes this from ‘endearing character quirk’ into ‘potential sign of mental illness’. For me, this was one of those times. The rest of the Belchers are rightly concerned when they read Tina’s journal entry detailing her imagined future with Bruce the goose, but honestly it felt to me like the show took Tina to a level of crazy the episode wasn’t really prepared to deal with.  For contrast, look back to “Tina And The Real Ghost”, where Tina may have initially believed in Jeff, but realized fairly quickly she was talking to an empty box. Here, even Jimmy Jr.’s confession that he actually did want to ask Tina to the dance, if not for his tragic butt injury, doesn’t even register because Tina is hung up on the goose. Jimmy Jr. just actually admitted interest in her! At a zombie dance! This is the dream! It just all seemed a little off. Even Gene and Louise seemed to think so, as their usual jokes came off a bit subdued in the face of the question as to whether or not their sister had some sort of break.

In contrast, the b-plot was pretty much an unqualified winner, and pushed this one into solid B territory when it otherwise might’ve flirted with a C. Gretchen is always a lot of fun, and her, uh, let’s say aggressive flirting style was good for a few laughs, as were Bob’s reactions to the whole situation. Her prospective dates could’ve been fleshed out a little bit, and it might’ve been funny to see Teddy in the mix, but as a b-plot it probably got as much attention as it needed.

Goose-droppings:

  • Storefront: Big Old Kitties: Senior Cat Adoption Agency. Exterminator: Rats What She Said.
  • I felt like Bob was acting as a surrogate for a certain segment of the audience when he elected to remain in suspense regarding Tina’s Erotic Friend Fiction.
  • “Eatin’ brains and doin’ cocaine.” Gene pitching the 80’s high-school zombie movie we all need.
  • Perhaps this is just personal experience talking, but geese are dicks, Tina. If you must unburden yourself on waterfowl, ducks are much less likely to bite you.