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

Bored To Death: "The Case Of The Stolen Sperm"

Illustration for article titled Bored To Death: "The Case Of The Stolen Sperm"

I'm sorry about the late posting, guys, but it was worth it for what I felt was the strongest episode of the season thus far. (Insert weekly questioning of why it took so long…) Not only was the story far more compelling when it revolved around one of the main characters, but for the first time in the show's run, I felt like there was some thought behind-the-scenes about how best to shoot the episode, some directorial touches to break up the monotony, etc.

Ray, as he's known to do, is freaking out. He thought he had a good relationship with the two lesbians he's been selling his sperm to—fans of his who want their baby to be artistic—but is surprised to find out that they cut all ties without so much as a heads up. He senses something is wrong, so he recruits Jonathan to help him out; rather, Jonathan hears about the problem, then recruits himself to step in. I still can't stand Jason Schwartzman's cold, removed "detective voice", and thankfully the only moment comes at the beginning during his chat with Ray. Before long, Jonathan and Ray are off to gather information about these mysterious lesbians, first to the coffeeshop they all hang out at, then to the food co-op they're members of. To get the ladies' address, Jonathan and Ray have to get one of the co-op members high, and this begins an unbearable scene in which she and Jonathan talk about what it feels like to get high—they feel like they're missing people who are right around them. Back and forth, they talk about this.

It's not the last time a character mentions something about being high in the episode, but I'm going to pretend it is, if only because everything else was pretty damn entertaining and only mildly distracting with stoner talk. (Watching characters talk about weed while stoned is about as much fun as watching your stoned friends talk about weed, while you're sober.) The co-op lady leads them to the lesbians' apartment, and there they find a list of other couples who have been apparently buying Ray's seed on some sort of sperm black market. They're chased away by some orthodox Jews, but they're able to salvage the list. What next? "No one messes with my friend's semen," Jonathan deadpans, and we're off on a montage of door-to-door greeting, ladies seeing Ray, looking away in disgust, and doors slamming. They finally get to a couple that's pregnant—Samantha Bee plays one half of the duo—and Ray's ecstatic. He's going to be a father, and the mother hates him. Such is Ray's luck.

Though the episode suffered a little from not bringing George into the main fold, as it did last time, George is still around. The three main characters get together by the end, when Ray can celebrate his fatherhood and George can laud the pair for their first writing/editing collaboration. He and Jonathan, though, spend some time drinking together earlier in the episode, where they run into George's archnemesis over at GQ and a guy who reviewed Jonathan's book for Slate—negatively, and played by John Hodgman. The four chat briefly the first time, all the while the GQ guy making fun of George's age and his fledgling magazine. But George gets him back, oh boy, does he ever, with an editorial that slams GQ with enough vitirol for a hundred lifetimes of hate. GQ guy challenges George to a boxing match, and Jonathan awkwardly challenges Hodgman/Louis Green  to the same, which Green hesitantly accepts. The superiority oozing from these characters was palpable, and it makes for a window into what will certainly be a delightfully snoody literary fight next episode.

This was by far the most natural of all the episodes this season. The central problem felt more immediate because it was happening to Ray, and Jonathan shoe-horning himself into the fold gives him more of a sense of purpose, like he's got something to prove. George got to flex his passive-aggressive magazine editor muscles, and the guest stars were put to good use. I'd say keep it up, if there weren't so few episodes left. I guess that's what the next season is for.

Stray observations:

  • I still can't stand Jonathan/Suzanne scenes. Something's always off about them, I think it's because Suzanne is way more caricature-y than anyone else on the show. "I bought him to get over you," she says about her dog. Wow, that's some gall.
  • "Mouth like the anus of a starfish."
  • "I was jerking off purely for medicinal reasons."