Last week's episode ended in such a defined way, I almost forgot there were two more episodes to go in this second season of Bored To Death. And in many ways, "Escape From The Castle!" feels like a retread back to routine. Jonathan meets with a dermatologist who has a case for him, which, as usual, isn't really a case but more the type of thing you'd do for a mob boss. He's asked to deliver a letter to Hee, the apple of the doctor's eye, whose family has forbidden her from seeing this doctor because he's Irish. (And who can possibly hate the Irish?) Nothing ever goes according to plan, though, and soon, Jonathan, Ray, and George are at Spa Castle, running away from security guards with the transvestite Hee inside a laundry cart.
"Escape From The Castle!", though, was one of the most richly comedic pieces of television Bored To Death has done so far. It starts with Jonathan sitting in the doctor's office, reading a pamphlet titled, "Port wine stain: What can be done?" Later, Jonathan teaches his class, and the cute student from the other week stays after class, making her move on Jonathan and then immediately asking him to spank her. Any feeling that the moment was forced went away once that janitor walked in to see what the commotion was.
The entire spa scene was a hoot: Jonathan dressed like a woman or rather draped his face in towels in the hopes no one would notice he'd infiltrated the women's locker room. George was so oblivious at one point that Ray had to ask, "Are you sure you're the editor of a magazine?" And we learn that George's new driver doesn't know martial arts, but he can certainly lower his body temperature. This season has been great at situational comedy, like the end of the spa scene where Jonathan, Ray, George, and Hee throw shelves in the way of their pursuers, but these other little comic touches really bring the world together.
I like the way George and Ray's relationship has developed. Season one had them on essentially friend-of-friend terms, and this year, they've had plenty of chances to bond. Their stoner-rescue mission in the Gowanus canal episode really brought them together, and tonight demonstrated the kind of friendship that's grown out of everything. I don't see them as best friends but as people who can't help but want to catch up every time they're around. They deeply care for one another and don't need to show it all the time. I find it comforting that they have some alone time in the locker room, and George immediately asks if Ray wants to go get stoned. So the pair sit poolside, catching up, smoking up, and ogling beauties who walk by. It's, like, if they can make it, we all can.
Coming up onto the season finale has made me realize how not far Jonathan has come. He's more consistently entertaining than he's ever been, but he kicked off the season distraught over the rejection of his second novel and clinging to Stella with everything he had. Once that ended, not much changed. At one point, Jonathan was so lonely, he made a move on Leah, the lowest thing he could ever do to Ray. That was his one moment of low-grade philandering. Ray's used his heartbreak to find reinvigorated success as a comic book writer and become a much more aggressive person overall. George was forced to come to terms with his lifestyle when he falsely believed he had cancer. I guess Jonathan is always going to be pretty on-the-level, but there's so much potential in playing with his highs and lows. Tonight we learn he loses the fiction writing contest in The New Yorker to Louis Green—who in fact submitted a similar story to Jonathan's, one where Louis is the hero and Jonathan the weak one. These disappointments need to stop being thrown around with no consequence.
I'm not sure what else there is to say about "Escape From The Castle!" While it did little to set something up for the finale, it was a solid episode with steady laughs and a compelling, twisting-and-turning plot. (Hee as a transvestite? Definitely did not see that coming.) There's still a lot to play with on this show, which makes the recent news of a third-season pick-up that much more exciting.