Episode Grade: A
A lot of Bob’s Burger’s best Gene episodes follow a pretty recognizable formula, in that Gene will find something odd that he suddenly, deeply cares about, then drag his sisters, and which ever local kids are handy, along for the ride. In “Stand By Gene” it was a two-butted goat. In “O.T.: The Outside Toilet” it was a talking toilet. Tonight, it was a patch of bio-luminescent plankton. Each time, the common theme is that Gene is suddenly and utterly consumed with something no one else would give a second thought to, yet Gene’s enthusiasm is infectious enough to convince others to help out. With such a formula in place, there’s always the risk of diminishing returns, especially nine seasons in. Indeed, the early part of this episode felt almost like a beat-for-beat recreation of the aforementioned “O.T.”, with Gene feeling uncharacteristically despondent before discovering the object of his infatuation.
The success of this particular episode rests on two main factors. The first is the fact that this formula has a pretty high rate of return (I would put both episodes I mentioned above up there with the best this show has ever done). The second is that Bob’s Burgers has a strong enough grip on its characters to use them in different ways within the formula to avoid a feeling of repetition. Here, Gene is driven to help the plankton blob because he (somewhat bizarrely, but then this is Gene Belcher we’re talking about) identifies with it. Louise actually comes up with the scheme to save the plankton, rather than just being along for the ride as is her usual mode in Gene-centric episodes. Tina is a little more in the background, but the mid-episode appearance of Duncan and his sexy ankles gives her a fun little runner that would probably have strayed into creepy-Tina territory if given too much more attention, but worked fine as it was. Lastly, Sasha was a fairly inspired choice to round out this group, both because his money gave the kids the backing they needed to take on the yacht club, and because each appearance of his has moved him ever so slightly away from a one note snob into a more fully realized character.
Which brings us to the restaurant b-plot. Over the years, we’ve gotten small hints here and there that there might be a little more to Trev than his typical role as Jimmy Pesto’s toady. Here, we learn that no, there really isn’t, but he’d really like to be just a little bit nicer. Linda agrees to help, because of course she does, but this little sub-plot mostly just serves as an excuse for Linda and Teddy to brutally rip on Bob, to frankly hilarious effect. Even if the end result of her training wasn’t anything more than Trev getting out of high-fiving Jimmy one time, this little interlude at least move Trev into a place where they could use him in slightly different ways in the future, which is useful on a show nine seasons in.
All this might not sound like “A” territory for Bob’s, as it does tread a bit of trod territory, but everything was executed well enough that it really didn’t matter. Really, this episode was one of the few unqualified successes of this season.
- Storefront: Pelvis Has Left the Building- Hip Replacement Clinic. Exterminator: Squish Me Baby One More Time. Really feels like they’ve used the exterminator one before.
- For Shuck’s Sake Oyster Bar has to really exist somewhere, right?
- “This is the album where your fans go: ‘Ew, what happened?'” “And then you go to rehab, and your comeback is amazing.” Louise and Tina have Gene’s career all figured out.
- “So it’s gross during the day, but fun and frisky at night, like leather pants.” Tina Belcher, fashionista.
- Bob’s admission that Gene was rocking the dish-rag/ascot look was a fun callback to his appreciation of Trashion back in “Tina, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”.
- Glencrest Yacht Club security hasn’t improved any since we last visited.
- Is bio-luminescent plankton/algae is thing on the Mid Atlantic? I’ve lived in the region my whole life, and I’ve always associated it with tropical regions.
- “Dammit Gene, you gave me goosebumps.” Such is the power of Gene that he can even make Sasha care about plankton.