Episode Grade: B+
No, there was no new Bob’s, I’m just a week late. Last week’s late airtime combined with a nasty head-cold meant that there was no way I was writing anything worth reading last Sunday, then life got in the way during the week. All apologies. Luckily, we had a bye-week this week, so I figured I’d use the off night to get back up to speed. Partially for completeness sake, but mostly to give anyone who still wants to discuss this episode a place to do so.
As it happens, this was the type of episode that does give us a few things to talk about. Personally, I thought it was pretty great, but I also think this might be one of the most “Your Mileage May Vary” episodes they’ve done in a while. Both the A- and B-plots rely on elements that can be divisive amongst the fandom, whereas the plots themselves are strongly reminiscent of plots we’ve seen before on the show. Multiple times, in fact. Yet the episode succeeds anyway, first by bringing the jokes, and secondly by adding an unexpected twist of character development at the last minute that prevented the episode from being a total retread.
Let’s start with the B-plot. Pretty much ever since Larry Murphy’s promotion to the main cast a few seasons back, the show has struggled to find a balance where Teddy is concerned. The last couple seasons often ended up forcing him into plot-lines where he wasn’t necessary, while he’s been conspicuously absent from large stretches of this season. Add to that the character’s own struggle to find a balance between “well-intentioned, if bumbling best friend/uncle” and “shouty sad-sack” and a Teddy appearance can quickly go off the rails if the viewer isn’t in the mood to indulge him.
Early on, things didn’t look promising, mostly because we’ve seen almost this exact scenario play out many times before: Teddy has something bothering him that he needs Bob to care about. Bob does not care. Bob and Teddy go through a few cycles of yelling at, then apologizing to, each other. Linda makes Bob make up with Teddy. None of this is anything new, so if it’s going to work it requires sharp dialogue and and at least a few small twists on the form. To that end, Mort, Jimmy Pesto, and Trev were well deployed (Trev might even have had the line of the night), and the writing pulled it’s weight. Personally, I could listen to Jon Benjamin and Larry Murphy go back and forth for an episode just by themselves. I’ve always said that you can tell the two voice actors have a blast doing these scenes, and I’ve always thought it added a nice little layer to Bob and Teddy’s odd friendship.
Meanwhile, over in the A-plot, the kids were on similarly shaky ground, partly due to Gene being at his Gene-ist early on. Gene is a lot by himself, both for other characters and for certain segments of the audience, and arming him with a drum synthesizer multiplies that exponentially. Frankly, it’s hard not to be in sympathy with Dino the pawn shop clerk, even if he could be a littler nicer to children (though if Gene had been in there three times a week… yeah, I get it).
From there, the focus shifts over to Louise and another well-worn Bob’s trope: Louise consumed with seeking vengeance for someone who emphatically doesn’t want her to do so. Again, this is a plot that needs to get over on its jokes, since the biggest departure early on from when we’ve seen this before is how blatantly Louise disregards Gene’s wishes, which was almost off-putting. Really, Louise spent a lot of this episode in early-season mode, continuing an odd trend that’s popped up at times this season. That any of this works is in large part due to Gene, who comes off as reasonable and measured as we’ve ever seen him. This ends up salvaging and even elevating the episode when it leads to his climactic speech to Louise about how he doesn’t need, or want, her fighting his battles for him. Here, we get a glimpse of a more self-sufficient, assured, and reasonable Gene, a boy starting to grow into himself. This hint towards future character growth is especially critical given that the rest of the episode hit so many familiar notes. If Bob’s Burgers is going to continue to produce quality episodes, and I see no reason why that won’t happen as yet, these small moments of growth are crucial towards staving off inertia.
- Storefront: The Bloom Is Off The Nose Wart Removal
- Exterminator: Flea Willy Pest Control
- “For a guy who doesn’t steal stuff, you sure spend a lot of time at the pawn shop.”
- “He probably had a sexy dream about me, and now he doesn’t know how to act.” “It doesn’t seem like it’s that at all.” “What else could it be?” “Well, probably the exact thing he said it was.” “No. A woman knows.”
- “I’m John Wick, and Gene’s my puppy. And you’re the guys that did something to that puppy, but I’m not sure what since I only saw the trailer.” I did like the combination of genuine menace here with the fact that Louise is nine.
- “Who was mean to Gene? What’d they do to my precious little lamb?” Zeke remains the best.
- “Dammit Jimmy Jr., this is not a ‘Lady In Red situation!” “Why is it never a ‘Lady In Red’ situation?” What I loved about this line is the implication that Louise and Jimmy Jr, specifically, have had this conversation multiple times in the past.
- Lots of good jokes tonight, but my biggest laugh was probably Teddy’s sudden windsprint through traffic when Mort goes into the restaurant.
- I would totally go see Bell Biv Devo.
- Trev: “I want what they have.”
Last note: while the specific circumstances that led me to miss last week hopefully won’t be repeated, my work and school schedule this spring carries the risk of me spreading myself pretty thin. My goal is to keep writing these things as long as I’m able, but if something’s going to give, it’s going to be the thing I don’t get paid for/get school credit for. This may mean I just end up posting threads with much shorter recaps/reviews some weeks, but I’ll try to get at least something up night of for people to comment on it they so desire.