Well, after all of that talk about how recently The League seems to be going in circles and repeating the same patterns, tonight’s episode sure did shut me the hell up. What was even happening? What a strange half-hour of television, even for The League. Or, actually, it was especially strange because it was The League. There wasn’t any talk of fantasy football (the very activity this show is built around), almost all of the main cast were missing (they seem to be dropping like flies; Ruxin is still away from last week and the other three only show up for a minute or two at the very beginning), and the entire episode is a weird mix of murder and porn and drugs with an ending slightly reminiscent of Spring Breakers. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it.
“Rafi And Dirty Randy,” written by Jason Mantzoukas and Seth Rogen and focused on their respective, titular characters, didn’t feel like an episode that fits within the world of The League—even though we’ve already established how fucked up that world is. Of course I expected things to get a little weird in an episode about Rafi and Randy but I was not prepared for a cold open that featured Jorma Taccone getting shot in the head. (The immediate cut to the catchy theme just made it that much more, though.) Upon hearing the news of his friend’s death, Rafi meets up with Randy in the library where they plan a little “vigilante justice” (within earshot of all the library’s employees and patrons). Randy quits the job that he was actually fired from four months ago and the two guys head out on a road trip—in a car they stole from Kevin.
What follows is a montage of pure beauty as the two friends drive to Los Angeles. An indie flick soundtrack plays as they blow lines (but then fall asleep) and discuss their plans while laying on the hood of the car (but the car is still moving) and comment on the beauty of the world (and how dead animals turn Randy on). It’s one of the funniest sequences The League has done in recent history and though I’ve never seen The Guilt Trip, I can only hope there was a little mocking of that road trip movie included here.
When they do arrive in Los Angeles—after they’ve stopped to jerk off at the Grand Canyon, of course—the episode just keeps testing the limits of ridiculousness. Rafi blows up Kevin’s car. Will Sasso shows up to accidentally hail Hitler. David Krumholtz and Andy Daly (as Joel and Ethan Cocque) shoot porn in the unclean room where Spazz died. A little-person porn star pretends to be an 11-year-old and pole dances in front of her “peers” at a birthday party. Randy shoots Kevin Nealon.
Nothing makes any sense, really, but that is what’s so great about these characters. You just sort of accept whatever dumb, shitty thing they do. Everything Rafi says and does is screwed up but Rafi believes that it’s actually normal. He’s so sure that getting revenge on Spazz’s murderer is the only course of action that you just go along for the ride. I’ve never been a huge Rafi fan but I get it—and Mantzoukas’ delivery is especially on point throughout this episode. His “OF COURSE” response to setting a cat on fire is so matter-of-fact and hilarious.
“Rafi And Dirty Randy” is full of manic pacing. It’s an episode devoid of focus and encouraged by short attention spans—even the two characters get stuck in overlapping rapid-fire side conversations that occur in the middle of scenes, distracting both them (and the viewer) from what is happening. There’s also such incredible escalation happening throughout that it only seems natural when it fast-forwards a year to Rafi and Randy working in porn and shooting guns in the air. There are shades of Rogen all over the script and I really do hope he and Mantzoukas collaborate more often because it’s the hardest I’ve laughed during this show in a while. It’s very alienating and incredibly weird—I can definitely understand why fans might dislike it—but I think it’s also clever. It’s an atypical episode of The League as a whole but everything that happens feels very typical in this strange little world.
- I’m not really sure how to grade this. It’s not a good episode of The League because it’s not exactly an episode of The League—but it’s a very, very funny episode of television—so I’ll go with that.
- “Why are you drag racing Korean teenagers?” “It’s the only way I get a boner anymore.” “Your fetishes are getting, like, really specific.”
- Of course Randy and Rafi met in a mental hospital.
- Oh yeah, and Rafi’s dead? Maybe? Do we buy this? I mean, it is a year from now so Rafi could still be hanging around on The League for the rest of the season but nah, death doesn’t seem likely on this show.
- “Rafi And Dirty Randy” definitely felt like a backdoor pilot pitch to FXX. As much as I loved this episode, I’m not sure I could watch something like this every week.
- Kevin and Jenny were only it for a few minutes but both had some pretty solid reactions to everything related to Rafi.
- Callback to Rafi’s pocket hot dogs!
- I’m glad the actual fantasy league wasn’t talked about tonight because I’m currently 0-3 so the topic is a little sore.