In the end, it’s so blindingly obvious that Childrens Hospital had to stage an epic action-packed finale to bid goodbye to its military base setting. I wasn’t chomping at the bit for that beforehand, but when the episode passed the 11-minute mark with none of its plots wrapped up and I realized what was going on, I was immediately on board. This two-part extravaganza had a slightly muddy look to it, but largely did a really nice job integrating all the war violence and explosions and making the carnage look realistic. Childrens Hospital has always been a show that performs wonders with limited resources, but “Coming And Going” was just showing off.
Written by David Wain, Rob Corddry and Jonathan Stern, the episode paired off characters and gave them little mini-adventures to have while the base accidentally goes to war with the U.S. military (mostly because of Glenn’s recklessness). It’s a bunch of disconnected plots that ever really come together, but “Coming And Going” nonetheless does a great job just tying everything together through the epic power of montage.
Thinking they’re going to see Oprah, Sy shanghaies Chief into accompanying him to Tokyo even as she makes every effort to be disgusting and unappealing, for example warning him that she farts heavily on long car rides because of an uneven sphincter. “It’ll be like roses to me.” “I can absolutely guarantee you it will not.”
I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me basically as long as the characters to get the joke: they go to the opera, not Oprah! I even wrote in my notes, “Oprah’s set is an opera house.” I thought the while thing was just another surreal joke. Instead, it’s an obvious one, but it provides the necessary connective tissue for everyone else, because when you cut between war chaos and opera performance, you automatically assure huge gravitas.
On the base, Owen is in search of his very first orgasm, and is prompted by Rabbi Jewy McJewJew to have sex with Lola in an attempt to find it. The joke is, again, a simple one: Lola agrees, but sets out a number of terms that guarantee the event will never stray into the realm of intimacy. Only when they finally lock eyes, as the base is collapsing around them, does Owen have an orgasm (Rob Huebel is the master of horrifying sex noises). He then realizes he’s had plenty of them, which is the smartest button to that joke.
Cat is locked in another room trying to help a suddenly very pregnant Val give birth, having called a bomb threat into the airport to stop her boarding a plane. A stubborn, angry Val insists on being serviced by a four-year-old she calls “Dr. Littlegirl,” who has the best non sequitur lines of the episode. Again, this plot probably wouldn’t have been that interesting on its own, but lined up along with everyone else, it has much more impact.
Probably the best, and definitely the silliest plot, is Glenn’s sudden realization that he feels nothing, which prompts a game of Russian roulette, firing an RPG at an incoming American helicopter, general bullying of guest star Jack McBrayer and the ultimate realization that helping others is its own reward—the Jewish notion of Tzedakah.
It’s all ludicrous, and all the more so since bombs are going off around everyone as this happens. But the whole thing works spectacularly. I don’t know whether it’s just the historic power of the montage or not, but I felt my heartstrings getting tugged by the end of it. As we fade to black, Sal Viscuso tells us that their military adventure is at an end, and I wonder what the future holds for this show. I fully expect it to return and do something just as balls-out silly as last year, but we will see.
- “It ain’t brain surgery.” “Well, that is literally what it is.”
- “Glenn, you’re Jewish, you can see Oprah any old time.”
- Cat can’t imagine she caused much trouble. “It was a bomb threat, not a bomb promise!
- The military takes things seriously. “I want boots on the ground. Boots with guns.”
- Chief likes Oprah’s “warm-up band.” “Who is it?” “The Tokyo Philharmonic.” “I would have guessed Goo Goo Dolls. You know, I am literally addicted to meatballs.”
- “Attention staff. War is not the answer. Unless the question is, what is the singular of wars. That is all.”