Most of the characters on Delocated probably want to tell Jon off every chance they get. But for the sake of the show’s consistency, they don’t; Delocated only really works if Jon’s allowed to be a completely unencumbered dick. But much like Curb Your Enthusiasm, the show asks its audience to question why it’s worth rooting for the main character to begin with. Is it simply because they’re the center of the show, or are they redeemable in any way? In the case of Delocated, I feel like Jon is often reprehensible in the way he behaves, but he does what he does for seemingly noble causes. Distraught over the loss of his ex-wife, he buys a skins bar and develops a crush on his network executive, humping his pillow as if it’s her. He treats TB like garbage—a guy who’s simply trying to protect Jon’s life—but the behavior comes from a place of loneliness. Jon’s a dick, but he’s a transparent one, in the way that you’re able to see the motives of your childhood bullies in hindsight. It’s hard to full-on hate the guy if you can see right through him.
That’s why when Kurt Braunohler’s character Pete (the guy hired to be Jon’s warm-up comic for his life) delivers the most savage berating of Jon’s character to date at the end of “Warm-Up,” I agree that Pete has some great points, but I feel bad for Jon. The fact that the episode ends right after that, as the closing roll in Cheers fashion, only makes that point all the more salient.
Jon is more desperate in “Warm-Up” than he’s been about almost anything else this season. He wants so badly to win the love of Susan, and has determined that all it’s going to take is a little persistence. (Certainly Janeane Garofalo is saying no only because she hasn’t heard him ask for a date enough times!) He asks for tickets to a taping of Attitude Stool, and picks them up in his full bike regalia while trying to plant the idea in Susan’s head that they share Sam and Diane-level sexual tension. She makes it very clear to Jon that nothing is ever going to happen between them—she is not Diane and he’s not Sam, regardless of how many self-made Becker shirts he wears.
So he decides to kick it up a notch: He meets warm-up comic Pete at the taping, and marvels at how effortlessly Pete can win over a crowd. He surmises that perhaps Pete might be just as good at warming up the audience of Jon’s life, and Pete is psyched to score what he thinks is the ultimate gig. Cut to Pete delivering jokes at a restaurant, the Wang Cho headquarters, and Jon’s loft; people are laughing, and Jon’s able to enter in a blaze of glory.
The problem is that it works too well. Susan watches the footage of Pete in action, and starts to think that perhaps Pete is destined for more than just the warm-up guy for Jon’s life. And when Jon brings Pete to a network meeting, Jon finds out that Pete and Susan have actually begun dating. Pete’s been warming up Susan for Pete, which means Jon’s relegated to the self-bone zone.
Being the naïve son of a bitch he is, Jon thinks the problem is that he hasn’t made a grand enough romantic gesture. So he enlists the help of the Wang Cho guys and constructs a model of the bar from Cheers, inviting Susan under the guise of going on a romantic date with Pete. She enters to a public domain version of the theme song, scripted dialogue between Jay and TB that sets Jon up for testicle-related jokes, and the leader of the Wang Chos supplying a laugh track. Susan breaks the fourth wall (how can she not?) and tells Jon off; and if that weren’t bad enough, Pete returns later in the night to tell Jon off yet again—not for hitting on his girlfriend, but for being the needy asshole who inadvertently drove a wedge between he and Susan. For a minute, Jon chooses to focus on the fact that Susan is talking about him at all. But Pete goes on, and on, and on. He actually gets through to Jon, even, because the only thing Jon responds to is repeating the same thing over and over. He’s like a child in that way.
Meanwhile, Yvgeny is exerting more of his influence over the Mirminsky family by starting the MNCFVC vodka business, producing its famous “Knock Knock, Who’s There, Vodka” vodia from his special potato Helen. Sergei, as usual, is annoyed that Yvgeny is wasting his influence on such dumb pursuits, so he decides to sneak into Yvgeny’s apartment in the middle of the night and swap out Helen for some other potato—taking photographic proof to show Yvgeny later. It’s a childish prank, but between this and Jon, maybe that’s what Delocated has become: adults acting like kids. But those kids are smart little fuckers, so it’s a lot of fun to watch them get out of self-imposed jams.
- Jon comes up with the weirdest sayings: "The higher the dog, the sweeter the chill."
- Some show names from the "network": Earl T's Wife, Count Pizzula.
- Nice to know in the absence of sexual tension, Jon would settle for some "sensual tension."