It’s remarkable just how long it’s been since Regular Show built an episode around Rigby. Although the recent “Wall Buddy” focuses on Rigby’s immaturity, he still more or less shares the spotlight with Mordecai, meaning that you have to go all the way back to “One Pull Up”—which aired nearly a year ago—for the last episode that made Rigby the undisputed protagonist. In the intervening time, Regular Show has offered plenty of Mordecai episodes, all built around his pursuit of Margaret, but Rigby has remained in an odd zone somewhere between “sidekick” and “the more annoying of the two joint protagonists.” So it’s telling how Regular Show goes about constructing an episode in which Rigby can be the featured hero. He doesn’t face up to and move past a fundamental character flaw, as Mordecai did in “Meteor Moves.” He doesn’t earn the respect of a terrifying authority figure, as Mordecai did in “Family BBQ.” No, Rigby just brags about how awesome he is at an arcade game, gets hustled by a jerk, and then regains his confidence by calling upon the greatest guy he knows: his younger brother Don.
It’s only right that Rigby’s braggadocio gets him into trouble, while his idiocy gets him out of it. What’s interesting about “Bank Shot” is how self-aware Rigby appears to be. He’s his usual, obnoxious self at the outset, but it’s justified in this instance. He actually is as good at Bank Shot as he claims. For once, he’s writing a check that his butt can cash—at least until a man with an actual backboard for a head and the actual name Cash Bankis challenges him to a game. Even then, it isn’t hubris that does Rigby in, because that implies he overestimates his own abilities. Rigby attributes all his success to his gut, which he treats as a separate entity. All he has to do to win is not over-think—which shouldn’t be a problem for Rigby—and so he’s as shocked as anybody when his gut fails him. This all seems right, somehow; after all, even when Rigby is great at something, he doesn’t consider himself connected to that success. This episode is less about Rigby learning a lesson and more about him reconnecting with the strange, inexplicable part of himself that affords him such bank-shooting prowess.
The episode avoids the standard Rigby character beats that were on ready display in “One Pull Up” and “Wall Buddy.” Both of those episodes revolved around Rigby recognizing the ways in which he was being an idiot, a jerk, or an idiotic jerk. They were about Rigby’s laziness and selfishness, and it was only when he showed the slightest signs of maturity that the episodes’ central conflicts could be resolved. Here, however, Rigby is surprisingly adult about how he handles the situation. Though it’s definitely silly of him to accept a challenge from an obvious Bank Shot hustler—even Mordecai thinks Cash is weird, so nothing good can come of this—Rigby recognizes his error straight away and works like mad to clean his mess. He goes to all the trouble of constructing a replica of the Bank Shot game, and, even more impressively, he swallows whatever is left of his pride and begs for help from Don, who is Rigby’s little brother in only the technical sense.
Don represents a fascinating example of how Regular Show can repurpose a character. In his only other appearance, the aptly titled first season episode “Don,” Rigby’s brother was designed as an exemplar of easygoing perfection, a genuinely nice guy who had it all and yet still considered Rigby his role model. In other words, Don was there to drive Rigby bonkers for absolutely no good reason, which is pretty much the reason why Rigby does anything. While “Don” did end in reconciliation and greater understanding between the two brothers, it’s noteworthy that “Bank Shot” doesn’t even bother with revisiting the old character dynamics. William Salyers—who is generally in top form in this episode—plays Rigby as embarrassed, even crestfallen, when he realizes he has to call Don, but their in-person interactions are relentlessly positive. Rigby immediately admits to Don that he ran his mouth off to the wrong guys and got himself in big trouble, which demonstrates an unusual degree of honesty. Perhaps he realizes that his brother loves him unconditionally, so he is in a safe enough place that he can drop his normal defenses.
I suggested earlier that Rigby regains his confidence and wins the final wager because of his idiocy, but it might be more accurate to say it’s Don who is being stupid. After all, outside the context of a brother’s unconditional love, Rigby has never done anything to earn such unwavering support from his more-accomplished brother. And yet Don never doubts that Rigby will win, and it’s all because of a gut feeling. Don and Rigby are vindicated by what happens at the end of the episode, as the God of Basketball—voiced once again by Carl Weathers—arrives to report that the shot Rigby lost his hat on is still bouncing towards the hoop. As Rigby observes, his gut was right all along, and he only erred when he started over-thinking, just as he warned his friends at the beginning of the episode. What this means is that, unlike most other Rigby episodes, this isn’t about the show’s universe punishing Rigby for his latest fault or wrongdoing. For once, he is rewarded for being true to himself, because his true self might be silly and a little obnoxious, but he’s still fundamentally harmless, and he deserves to win a hell of a lot more than Cash Bankis does. This episode is a sweet triumph for Rigby: Don is there to witness the victory, and Rigby wants him there for that moment.
Besides, “Bank Shot” stands out as one of Regular Show’s funniest entries. It features one of my favorite one-liners of the season in “This gold really holds in the moisture.” But where the episode really excels is in its off-screen noises. A car crashes after Rigby’s first failed bank shot, an unseen Benson screams as a ball repeatedly smashes a window. And, in a gloriously absurd moment, the returning basketball flushes the toilet before hitting the hoop. The staging helps keep the focus of the episode tight on Rigby, but it’s just funnier to have these disasters left to the imagination. And, in the midst of Rigby’s big redemptive arc, “Bank Shot” still feels entirely justified in airing a minute-long short film about a basketball bouncing around the world and finding love with another basketball. Yes, that sounds like all that Regular Show could ever hope to be.
- Incidentally, if each order of gold-plated chicken wings cost $245, as is suggested by the bill that Cash holds up, he and his crew would have needed to order 49 of them to rack up a bill of $12,000. That’s assuming they didn’t leave a tip, which seems like a very safe assumption.
- I was really hoping that basketball was going to phase through Hi-Five Ghost. I just want that little guy to get involved!
- It remains deeply unsettling to see the essentially humanoid Don walking around stark naked. But hey, he’s just imitating his beloved older brother, so who am I to judge?