It's been an uneven third season for The League, one with some serious highs ("Thanksgiving") and some sadly unfunny lows ("The Sukkah"), and this week's next-to-last outing landed somewhere in the middle. I know I've done my fair share of complaining about the rough patches the series has gone through, and "The Guest Bong" had many of the elements that drag the show down, including overly ambitious plotting and too complex a set-up for some of the ending jokes, but it also had a lot of the sharp humor that makes the show worthwhile. I'll be looking forward to the recently green-lit season four next fall.
Tonight's episode began as all good episodes should: with Ruxin spewing disgusting, incredibly entertaining trash talk from his computer. The levels of depravity the writers are willing to go to in these sessions are always impressive, but Ruxin perhaps reached a new pinnacle of eye-wincing graphic horribleness in his descriptions of eviscerating Andre. Alas for Ruxin, the HR guy at his firm happens upon the vulgar recording and restricts his computer access. Ruxin, after trying to explain that "balls deep" could, in fact, apply to a recent suit against a playground's ball pit, shrugs it off: "Years from now, they're going to call that poetry."
Of course, this means that he has to send his threats via e-mail, and, thanks to the vagaries of technology, managing to copy Andre's cleaning lady Andrea instead of his intended target. To prevent her from quitting, Andre promises to go to Andrea's community production of A Christmas Carol bringing Ruxin in tow. During a heartfelt lull at the end of the play, Ruxin learns that he is heading to the Sacco and lets loose a stream of expletives, seemingly directed at Tiny Tim. And who is Tiny Tim's dad? Why, obviously, it's the aforementioned HR rep. Though I appreciated the earnest return of Ruxin's potty-mouthed rampages, the whole plotline seemed too pat, and too restrictive. Nick Kroll has done a great job this season with Ruxin (again, his interaction with Jeff Goldblum in the Thanksgiving episode was one of my favorite television moments all year), but it seems like the show continually stymies him by putting his character in situations where he has to act his way out of a slapstick jam instead of giving him some room to just riff.
Andre's schtick as a cockney-spewing faux Londoner also crossed the edge into ridiculous. The guy's supposed to be a fashion victim, not a total idiot. Andre's affectations work best when they mirror real things people are doing, like with the mixology obsession or the foraging fixation, but this one just seemed costumey and bizarre.
The real villain of the episode is iPhone's tricky autocorrect software. Ellie's new friend Chloe, it turns out, is the daughter of an ex-con, Gavin, that Kevin put away for several years. As Kevin watched him be led out of the courtroom in prison orange, he received a message from Jenny noting that a pen exploded in her vag (autocorrected from bag), and Kevin laughed, making it seem like he was mocking Gavin's fate. The scene where Kevin tries to make small talk with Gavin was hilarious ("How were the pick-up basketball games?" "Violent."), but I thought this plot also ran off the rails pretty quickly. Kevin buys himself a gun that Taco, bizarre force that he is, appropriates into his "guest bong."When Gavin stops by to drop by Chloe's fuzzy for a sleepover, his phone autocorrects his text to read "Coming in with chloroform." Both panic and call 911, and Taco appears, gun bong blazing, in full Mr. McGibblets costume, to tackle Gavin and offer him weed.
First, I doubt that the 911 operator would have put up with the Mean Girls-level telephone triangle even for as long as she did. Second, Taco's role in the proceedings barely made sense. Taco has gone from beloved group weirdo to dude who just comes in, steals shit, and wrecks it. His antics are funniest when they at least riff on what the rest of the group is doing. For most of this season, Taco seems to be in a totally different universe.
I did, however, like Pete's cool-but-overstepping girlfriend Danielle. When she swept into the bar, she seemed like Jenny lite, but unlike Jenny, her football knowledge leaves a lot to be desired. "This is like the fifth base for us," Pete says, terrified, as she messes up his lineup for the final game. Mess with the bull, then you get the Sacco, guys.
- "Cam Newtown!"
- "The James Bond-res" is a wonderfully terrible name for a team
- "Oh, Hotmail, the official email of foreigners and poor people."