“The Merry Prankster”
I only have one complaint about this very lovely episode—I don’t think I can live in a world where Dave is a better prankster than Max. It just doesn’t make any sense. Look, I realize there was a lot going on this week and the show simply didn’t have enough time to devote to Max’s pranking of the gang, but Dave constructs such a beautiful, evil scheme to start off the episode. He successfully convinces Max that he’s won a lottery ticket using the magic of DVR technology, and Max instantly freaks out, screaming “FUCK YOU!” at everyone and proclaiming them all dead to him (my screener was un-bleeped, which made it all the more shocking).
But then, of course, he realizes the trick and promises sweet revenge on everyone involved, even poor Pete, a hapless bystander. And his revenge basically consists of everyone getting slime dumped on their heads. There’s something with a muffin container and paintball guns at one point? But none of it has the originality or elaborateness of Dave’s opening gambit.
Now, there is one exception: Max and Alex combine to pull off a truly sick trick, convincing everyone he’s blown up in his limo and reducing Dave to tears. But in the closing moments of the episode, it’s revealed that Alex is the real mastermind behind everything, and there’s a whole Usual Suspects joke with a fax coming in, and a limp being reversed, and even though that’s a 20-year-old joke it’s still extremely funny, all the better that Alex is getting the last laugh for once. I got no beef with that. I just think Max would really excel at cruel pranks, and I want this addressed at some point. Another prank episode in season four, please! And yes, there will be a season four. As long as we keep talking about it, we’ll just will it into existence.
What’s surprising (and very clever) about this largely bonkers episode is that in all the chaos, it slips in a truly surprising proposal from Pete. Penny’s getting married! She’s at least engaged! To a handsome, normal man! Sure, he moved quickly, but Penny’s singledom had become a bit of an old gag, so I’m glad the show wants to try something new. I’m a little miffed this twist got spoiled (on TV Line, or something like that), but I suppose it’s my own fault for clicking on the link. I just didn’t think Happy Endings spoilers could really exist!
But the magic of this twist is that it truly comes out of nowhere, so much so that Max gets to have a genuinely happy reaction, just like all the rest of the gang, and Penny gets proposed to while wearing a paint-stained wedding dress, which sounds like the end of a plot confirming her singlehood. Instead, it’s happily bucking her trend of relationships ending in farce. It’s a very nicely-done moment by all involved, particularly Casey Wilson and Adam Pally.
“Our Best Friend’s Wedding”
I briefly thought this episode was going to go for something very unpredictable—having Penny and Pete elope, and robbing us of all the wedding-planning storylines and roadblocks I assumed we’d encounter over the rest of the season. I think I’m just a little loopy, though, because obviously Penny needs to have a crazy wedding and lots of freakouts before and during. This episode was pretty slight, taking place entirely at a wedding convention, but it had some strong material.
I liked how close to the bone some of the jokes were re: Alex and Dave’s failed wedding, which certainly would put me off the whole process for the rest of my life. Everyone gets uncomfortable when Alex starts bitching about what a bridezilla Dave is, and the two can barely talk about the idea of trying a wedding again when they make nice at the end of the episode. This also serves as a reminder of how much these characters have developed since the pilot—all the jokes about the weird things Alex wanted (a bouquet of fireworks, a petting zoo) and Dave’s persnickety planning speak to the Dave and Alex we know now.
The Max/Brad plot felt like it had been done before on this show, and I was worried it was just going to develop into a bunch of pseudo-gay panic jokes where Brad is afraid to pretend to be in a couple with Max because he’s a straight dude and so on and so forth. What I liked about the final gag (the two, as part of their ruse, are forced to kiss) is that Max was just as grossed out as Brad. And yeah, obviously I loved them giggling and skipping away, with Brad shrieking, “I felt it! I felt your whiskers!”
The main point of the episode was to get Pete to agree to a real big wedding, despite Alex and Dave’s bickering and Jane’s psycho wedding planning. That all worked fine for me, but Pete still isn’t all there as a character who might well be in every future episode of the show (I’m sure the writers have all sorts of things planned, but hey, it’s definitely a possibility). As we enter the final few weeks of the season (sob), I hope Nick Zano gets a little more to do.
- Among Max’s scams: hacking Brad’s Ancestry.com account to convince him he’s the third Williams sister.
- Max failing to say his name right every time he threatens the gang? Priceless.
- Robert Picardo’s guest appearance as a nameless interviewer was most welcome. Brad mistakes his daughter for his son, his wife for his brother, and his dog for his baby. “Did I mention I’m black?” “Several times.”
- Didn’t even really mention the subplot of Brad getting a job at a fun zone for kids. Best exchange out of that one: Jane calling his taking the job a panic move. “Just like when 9/11 happened and you full-on supported the war in Iraq.” “WE WERE LIED TO!”
- Alex’s final triumphant Keyser Soze line: “I’m not as dumb as I am.”
- Max got Penny a blender, reveals that they all have to hawk them. “We each have to push 15 units and give me the money, or I am in a very bad way with some very bad people. Greek Orthodox.”
- Penny won’t even comprehend the word elope. “If you want to serve antelope at the wedding, I’m game for game.”
- Max thinks Brad’s fantasized about him. “It’s not like you never thought about it, Harvey Chocolate Milk.”
- “I wanna marry you. Because we’re gay homosexuals together. I love you, and all your parts. They’re so good. Mmm. Like your butt. I love your butt. I love resting my head on your butt.”