Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Bo joins the Cloud 9 family on Superstore, and it goes as well as you’d expect

Mark McKinney, Ben Feldman (Image: NBC)
Mark McKinney, Ben Feldman (Image: NBC)

Thanks to Johnny Pemberton’s regular gig dealing with half-Zephyrian heritage on Son Of Zorn, Cheyenne’s fiance Bo Derek Thompson has been absent for much of Superstore’s second season. The last time we saw him was all the way back in “Dog Adoption Day,” wherein he inadvertently brought Glenn’s credit to further ruination by co-signing a lease on a new house. And while that’s a long time in the world of the show, I can’t say his absence has been too keenly felt in the interim. Pemberton’s a funny actor, but compared to the staff of Cloud 9, Bo is so committed to his white boy rapper persona that he moves past their eccentric-yet-grounded attitudes and into the realm of borderline cartoon character. (No word on whether in this universe Bo also has muscular animated legs.)

“Spring Cleaning” brings Bo back into this world, as he decides to look for a job at Cloud 9 to make some extra cash to pay for his upcoming wedding. It’s a move that does mean we have to spend more time with the character, but after an extended absence his’s presence is more welcome than it could be. And while it starts out playing his stupidity for broad comedic effect, it manages to cut that with a dose of big box reality—which they then use as a delivery system for further broad stupidity as he decides robbing the store is the answer to all of his problems.

Pushing Bo directly into world of the show also lets him get some face time with the rest of the Cloud 9 cast, a constant rotation that lets each of them get some good moments. Mateo’s normal smug superiority finally finds a worthy target when Bo thinks he can make $5,000 in a week, and Nico Santos’ cackle in that moment is delicious. Smarmy pharmacist Tate offers some bad advice on moving painkillers and some genuine admiration of the mustache. (“Blesses and kisses,” Bo responds.) And when he starts to think about making some money an even more illicit way, he even finds a way to break through Dina’s hyper-suspicious mind with an offhand Jack Bauer comparison. It spreads out his nuttiness, rather than keeping it contained in one or two interactions.

Of course Bo’s incompetence would never let him pull off a robbery like this—broken cameras and blind security guards aside—and rather than let it get to that point “Spring Cleaning” brings in Cheyenne to head him off early. Here’s where the difference between these two characters is clear: Cheyenne may be just as dim-witted as he is, but her young motherhood and constant exposure to reality adds a degree of pathos that his fantasies lack. Nichole Bloom plays the gradual suspicion and eventual frustration well, and sells that despite everything she does love this dolt. The move lets Bo walk out of the store in triumph, or at least back out in triumph once a scorned Dina makes sure he doesn’t leave with that vest.

The other major plot of the episode provides some instant payoff to the developments of “Glenn’s Kids,” where Jonah struck up a connection with Glenn’s foster daughter. While this sort of friction isn’t anything new to explore, writer Josh Malmuth does so in very in-character ways. Jonah’s determination isn’t a boss/father thing, he just wants to keep his track record of being tight with all his girlfriends’ fathers intact. (He’s still close to some of them “I just took Naomi’s dad to a train museum!”) And Glenn is blissfully unaware of any ulterior motive, happy to have someone to hang out with at work and to guide him to what’s definitely his first-ever Mexican restaurant experience.

While Jonah at repeated points says that this could turn into special treatment, “Spring Cleaning” avoids the fellow employee resentment angle and just builds on how uncomfortable this proximity to Glenn becomes. From odd questions about liking snow to being followed to the urinal for small talk to a transparently fake drawing for Cardinals tickets, the awkwardness builds up into another of those break room blowups that are becoming Superstore’s best moments. It steers out of becoming too bad for either of these characters and returns to status quo, Jonah once again lying about how close he is and Glenn either too naïve or willfully ignorant to acknowledge the truth.

Kaliko Kauahi (Image: NBC)
Kaliko Kauahi (Image: NBC)

Despite being an episode called “Spring Cleaning,” only one of this week’s plots revolved around actual cleaning, when Amy and Garrett find a stack of unclaimed photos and devote themselves to figuring out exactly why the woman in the picture looks so familiar. Garrett and Amy aren’t one of the show’s regular pairings, but it’s a pairing that works because the two characters bring something out in each other. Amy’s more willing to engage in time-wasting adventures instead of working, and Garrett’s more willing to become invested in those time-wasting adventures. It creates a nice feedback loop between the two, drawing out their lesser-used traits—as well as getting some amplified joy watching Jonah become increasingly uncomfortable in his new assistant role.


What also makes this subplot work so well is Superstore’s awareness on the oft-pathetic life of the Cloud 9 employee. Amy’s interest in the photos goes beyond curiosity, it’s because she wants to know how someone at the store managed to graduate up to owning an oak table and French press. (“Do you know how much disposable time you need to make a French press? Too much.”) With every former coworker they research either in prison or on meth, she needs to see a success story. It takes the eventual reveal that they’re Cloud 9 promotional pictures into tragicomic territory, as the two spent all this time chasing after a fantasy. Garrett, thankfully, still manages to close on a comedic beat by being sure he’s seen her naked.

Everything goes back to normal by the end of “Spring Cleaning,” with one major exception as Glenn gets a phone call from Jeff: 10 percent layoffs are coming to Cloud 9. Looks like Jonah may regret stepping back from his assistant position, Cheyenne regret that Bo isn’t there to fall on the sword for her, and Amy and Garrett regret that they couldn’t find the secret to life after Cloud 9. (Dina lives a life free of regrets, so she’ll be all right.) Superstore doesn’t normally play the cliffhanger card, and this sets a strong foundation for the last two episodes of the season. Let’s see just how rough things get.


Stray observations:

  • Best “Life In A Big Box Store” interstitial: No real sections tonight, but at the end of the cleaning montage the grimace on Sandra’s face when she finds the dead mouse and shoves it back under the counter wins an honorable mention.
  • Amy’s nametag: Jeanne.
  • All of Bo’s “know what I’m sayin’” lines brought up a lot of parallels to J-Roc from Trailer Park Boys. It would not surprise me in the least if Bo’s next get-rich-quick scheme was living in a car and growing dope.
  • Of course Dina knows the breakfast hours of local gas stations.
  • Technically, a beef quesadilla does make for the closest equivalent of a Mexican cheeseburger.
  • Jonah’s handwritten nameplate is somehow the saddest part of his brand new position.
  • Tate will never hand any foul balls he catches to a kid. That’s a move Dina respects.
  • Second episode in a row we’ve had a blurred image in the break room thanks to Bo’s t-shirt. Mateo: “Why does the middle finger look so weird? Oh, it’s a penis. Clever!”
  • Garrett’s joy at seeing Jonah in the Cloud 9 tie is infectious. “It’s like you’re a little tiny businessman!”
  • “Our theme is Sick as Hell.” “Or maybe it’ll be Dope as Ass? We’re still trying to decide. Together.” True love.
  • “Does that look like a piece of a butt to you guys?”
  • “Look at this, our cycles are syncing up already!”
  • “And listen, if he masturbates to me on his lunch break, that’s his business.”
  • “Do you think this is chocolate sauce or blood?”
  • “You’re too good for me.” “Totally.”