Episode Grade: A
“So what happened? Why’d you close? Sorry, is that rude? I really just need to know because of, um, fear.”
It’s not as though anyone was singing “The Fields of Athenry” or anything like that tonight, but I did find it rather interesting that Bob’s Burgers’ first St. Patrick’s Day themed episode ended up being one of the more melancholy episodes in recent memory. This was almost certainly not intentional, as the episode only engages with the holiday in its deeply silly b-story, but the downbeat tenor of the a-plot felt like a very conscious choice. Put simply, while the possibility of failure has always been a factor for Bob’s Burgers (the restaurant, not the show), Bob’s Burgers (the show, not the restaurant) has rarely explored that prospect so unflinchingly. That the episode is able to explore this territory so thoroughly without sugar-coating or minimizing the long odds against success, while at the same time avoiding turning the show into 22 minutes of despair, feels like a minor miracle. If nothing else, it stands as a reminder that this show is still perfectly capable of great episodes.
For Bob, going to a failed restaurant auction is pretty much the equivalent of grave-robbing, with the added twist that he can’t help but imagine himself in that grave. This is the source of his sympathy for Jules Beachum, the former owner of the restaurant that is now literally being stripped for parts. Now, Jules is a bit of a mess; it becomes pretty obvious early on that he had no shot at running his restaurant successfully, and then it turns out his heart wasn’t really in it anyway, but it doesn’t matter. Bob can’t help himself, helping Jules, even if it leads him to do things he intellectually knows are stupid and illegal. He looks at Beachum BBQ and can’t help but see Bob’s Burgers shuttered. At this point, most shows (including Bob’s, most days) would lighten the mood somehow. Maybe they figure out a way for Jules to keep his restaurant, or at least his flat-top. Maybe Bob gets some kind of reassurance that his talent and drive will save his from Jules’s fate.
None of that happens. Hopefully Jules is a better beekeeper than a restaurateur. The flat-top goes to another restaurant that will almost certainly fail. As for Bob, he stares into the failure-void, it stares into him, and he goes back to work. Success is still not guaranteed by any stretch, but he’s still going to give it a go. It’s possible to imagine an alternate ending where Bob walks back into the empty restaurant, sighs, squares his shoulders, turns on the flat-top, and gets to work.
All that sounds like kind of a drag though, and Bob’s Burgers is still Bob’s Burgers. The kids put in good work all night in keeping the main plot from getting two heavy. Tina and Gene reprise their typical roles an Voice of Pesudo-Reason and Voice of Nonsense respectively, while Louise’s recent turn back towards early-season form works well here abetting Grand Theft Flat-Top. Meanwhile, Teddy and Linda have a very Teddy-and-Linda b-plot, dying food green and passing it out to drunks, before eventually leading said drunks back to the restaurant. What was nice about this conclusion was that it managed to give Bob a small win to close out the night without undercutting the stakes the rest of the episode worked to hard to establish. The future’s never promised, but Bob’s Burgers (and Bob’s Burgers) is still standing.
- Storefront: Let’s Talk About Ex, Baby Divorce Counseling
- Exterminator: Bugshead Resquished Pest Control
- “Don’t Worry Dad. Future-Gene is gonna be a huge Reggaeton star, and you can live in his guesthouse.“
- “Damn Bob and his mysterious hatred of the color green! I am so over that guy.” Wait. Teddy is over Bob? I feel like we should circle back around to that.
- “Those are my dad’s ashes. Just kidding, its pepper. My dad’s dog, Pepper,”
- “I guess I’ll just tell your mom those plates were cursed. There’s no way of explaining how many bad decisions we made back there.”