Regular Show: "The Postcard"
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Regular Show: "The Postcard"

Hi-Five Ghost never seeks the spotlight. He doesn’t make a fuss when his friends get into yet another absurd scrape, and he’s always ready to do his bit to put things right, but his participation rarely makes much of a difference. The most common role for Hi-Five Ghost is as the guy who falters in the early going—a minor plot-mandated sacrifice meant to prove the seriousness of the threat that Mordecai, Rigby, or Muscle Man ultimately overcomes. Indeed, even in stories where Hi-Five Ghost forms a featured quartet with those guys, there’s no guarantee that he will get so much as a line. He’s fundamentally a background character who just happens to hang out with Regular Show’s main characters. After all, he’s the only regular character whose name is just a description of what he is. But it’s not even as though Hi-Five Ghost spends all his time trying to get people to high-five him. Such an obvious gag would make him a one-note character, but at least that would give him that one note to play. As it stands, Hi-Five Ghost is just a dude, and he’s a fairly nondescript one at that.

Given all that, “The Postcard” could never hope to be a piercing look into the depths of Hi-Five Ghost’s soul. This episode can’t do for Hi-Five Ghost what “Bank Shot” did for Rigby or what “Power Tower” did for Muscle Man, because such stories require character arcs that Fives is not equipped to undertake. An episode like “Bank Shot” succeeds because it creates a scenario in which Rigby must face the consequences of his braggadocio and overcome his deep-seated self-doubt. What happens in “Bank Shot” might be Rigby winning a silly arcade game against a total jerk, but what matters in the episode is Rigby becoming a better person, if only slightly. Indeed, because Regular Show is so concerned with the young adult’s worldview, a solid chunk of its best stories are about growing up and maturing into a more complete person. That formula doesn’t work for a likable but underdeveloped character like Hi-Five Ghost, so “The Postcard” turns that potential narrative weakness into the story’s fundamental strength.

After all, “The Postcard” only works as a story because Hi-Five Ghost is the exact same person at the beginning of “The Postcard” as he is at the end of it, a fact that’s particularly impressive when you consider that the episode spans four years. He and Celia are in a position to pick up exactly where they left off—heck, she didn’t even dye her hair a different color after all that time in Prague—to the point that their ultimate reunion features a line-for-line callback to their opening exchange about the quality of the café’s Americanos. Hi-Five Ghost’s life is in stasis, but it’s the nice kind of stasis. Consider the episode’s first present-day scene, in which Benson distributes the day’s mail. In what has to be the most wonderfully, hilariously immature joke in the show’s history, Benson reprimands Mordecai and Rigby for their home-delivery subscription to Fart Weekly, the cover of which prominently features a naked butt breaking wind. Beyond the fact that I can’t quite believe Regular Show got away with a joke that crass, this moment matters because it reminds us just how much Mordecai and Rigby still have to grow up. The subsequent dialogue, in which Muscle Man asks about his tax return, is a rather dry exchange, but it confirms that Mitch Sorenstein is much closer to adulthood than his coworkers. None of those three characters are quite where they should be or where they want to be. Only Hi-Five Ghost is in a stable enough position to go on a romantic quest this goofy.

And make no mistake: Hi-Five Ghost and Celia’s love story in “The Postcard” is deeply, deeply silly. It’s fitting that a character defined by his willingness to go with the flow would meet a woman who, by sheer coincidence, shares all of his thoughts and opinions about everything. The romance montage never tops the hilarious specificity of the initial gag, as we learn the pair share a passion for down-tempo electronica, but this is a character-building exercise as much as anything else. Hi-Five Ghost is so agreeable and enthusiastic here that it might seem insincere if he were any other character. And, with that statement, “The Postcard” establishes specific contours for who we understand Hi-Five Ghost to be—and those parameters can then be subverted. Hi-Five Ghost is so naturally positive that he responds to Celia’s lack of a cellphone with a joyful “Me too!” before realizing the sad implications of that situation. If someone in the audience didn’t care about Hi-Five Ghost before that moment—not that I seriously believe anyone so callous could exist—then he or she should be won over by his heartbreak when he realizes he might never see Celia again. And that momentary gloom just makes it all the more endearing when he agrees to Celia’s cockamamie postcard plan, happily observing that it’s the most logical way for them to stay in touch.

Hi-Five Ghost shows quiet desperation throughout his search for Celia, and he gets in an emotional breakdown or two, but “The Postcard” realizes it can only push the character so far. The episode is as much about Hi-Five Ghost’s friends rallying to support it as it is about Fives himself. The story allows this bond to go uncommented upon, as there is never any question that Mordecai, Rigby, and Muscle Man will do whatever it takes to help their friend reunite with his lost love. That’s significant in its own way, as pretty much any park staffer would be moved to thank Mordecai and Rigby for their unexpected assistance in such an endeavor. Hi-Five Ghost can take it for granted that his friends have his back. Even then, they can’t hope to match the kind of support offered by Fives’ brother Low-Five Ghost, who flouts every police regulation in the book in order to help his brother.

Low-Five Ghost’s insane decision to drive through the mall—it’s cool, he used his loudspeaker to tell everyone it was a routine procedure—is one of several terrific gags in “The Postcard.” As with other recent episodes, this story has a crazed energy to it that makes each joke that much funnier. There’s the quick cut to Benson holding up the issue of Fart Weekly, but that can’t compete with the subsequent blitz of reminders that, yes, today is March 20. In the long, distinguished history of shows using news broadcasts to impart vital information, it’s hard to imagine any quite as gleefully pointless as a guy screaming the date three times over.

Speaking of pointless, Wes and Wesley’s obsession with chop-busting is a tangent from the main story, but it’s the sort of digression that Regular Show does so well. Low-Five Ghost’s warning that our heroes will have to chop-bust the forensic investigators right back feels like it could be setting up some weird side quest, but “The Postcard” keeps the interactions relatively grounded. The episode does suggest a potential personality trait for Hi-Five Ghost when he gets inordinately real with his chop-busting, but his momentary inability to read the room is just the setup for some particularly fine chop-busting from the forensic investigators. In some future episode, Regular Show might do well to expand on the idea that Fives is sometimes too blunt for his own good. But for now, it’s time to let Fives have his happy reunion with Celia. If anyone on this show has earned that happiness, it’s him.

Stray observations:

  • I don’t really understand why Wes and Wesley would need to device a complex mathematical equation to solve just what Celia wrote in her postcard, but I approve of their thoroughness.
  • Seriously, Fart Weekly is maybe my favorite joke in the show’s history. (I’m very proud of myself.) It’s not just the utter brazenness of putting a guy’s butt on the cover; honestly, I think my favorite thing about it is that it’s Fart Weekly instead of Farts Weekly. The latter suggests a magazine simply devoted to the week in farts, whereas the singular fart suggests the magazine is concerned with the deeper philosophical meaning of the very concept of the fart. (I continue to be very proud of myself.)

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