Episode Grade: A
I know I’ve said this before. but the best episodes of Bob’s Burgers in recent seasons tend to be the ones that make good use of the show’s deep bench of great supporting players, most often the Wagstaff student subset. Just this season we’ve had “The Taking of Funtime One Two Three”, “Tweentrepreneurs”, “UFO No You Didn’t”, and “What About Blob” (among others) find success by leaning into these well-developed side-characters, while still keeping the Belchers front and center. This can be a tricky balancing act to pull off; one of the common complaints about latter-day Simpsons episodes is that they began to structure episodes around secondary characters, to the point where the Simpsons themselves were reduced to supporting roles. The fact that this hasn’t happened on Bob’s yet should be taken as an encouraging sign as the show approaches double-digit seasons.
This week, we got solid contributions from Alex, Courtney, Rudy, and Jimmy Jr. that illustrate how much work the show has put in to developing these characters on the sidelines. As noted earlier this year, Alex and Courtney have progressed from occasional irritants into Gene’s best friends, which is a nice change in dynamic given that Gene has spent most of this show’s run just hanging out with whoever his sisters were hanging out with. Rudy is still Louise’s erstwhile sidekick, but a couple well-deployed snarky lines from him tonight gave the impression that our Regular-Sized friend is starting to assert himself a little more. As for Jimmy Jr., well, he’s still pretty self-absorbed, but he’s also changed enough that he can’t just ignore Tina anymore, as would’ve been the case just a few seasons ago.
Yet, even given all of that, this is still the Belchers’ show. Gene ends up grabbing the biggest bit of the spotlight (though, honestly, this was a pretty balanced episode in terms of screentime), first regaling the group with his tale of the failed Free Scoop Day, then falling victim to a faulty bike chain and forced to actually run the mile. And he actually finishes! Because he wants to! Louise steps into her usual role as scheme planner (with a suprising assist from Courtney), and in keeping with her development over the past few seasons makes a feint at accepting the loss of Gene before quickly agreeing that they have to go back for him. Over in the C-plot, Competitive Tina makes a welcome appearance, initially wanting to run with Jimmy Jr before quickly switching to wanting to destroy him. And then she does! She may still have her crush on him, but she is much less willing to put up with his crap at this point.
Back at the restaurant, Bob, Linda, and Teddy have a standard Bob, Linda, and Teddy at the restaurant subplot. While the call back to Cake was fun (Cake 2: Cake My Breath Away), this one got most of its enjoyment out of how much fun it is to listen to Bob and Teddy go off on each other. Nothing too special, but good enough not to notably drag down the episode. At least Bob got to see the show, the look of joy on in face during the closing credits was fantastic.
- Storefront: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Brother- DNA Testing. Exterminator: Save The Last Ants For Me Pest Control.
- A lot of great visual touches in this one. My favorite might’ve been Louise slowly shaking her head back and forth while Coach Blevins and Frond are announcing the mile.
- The sequence immediately after the assembly deserves a shout-out: Louise and Rudy’s tandem freak-out, Jimmy Jr. triggering Tina’s trash-talk, Gene and Alex discussing the viability of a note from Dr. Goodoctor. Just about a perfect segue into the meat of the episode.
- “Hug me like you got lost in an amusement park and just found your mommy!” That did seem like a good hug. Louise missed out.
- “Oh, crap, I forgot my hard hat.” “Why do you need a hard hat?” “‘Cause I’m gonna demolish you.” Once again, Trash Talk Tina is the best Tina.
- Between “I feel like we’re not doing this for Gene.” and “Someone’s fishing for a compliment… Good job Louise!” Rudy had a great night.