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

Childrens Hospital: “Chief’s Origin”

Illustration for article titled Childrens Hospital: “Chief’s Origin”

Man, was that outrageously good or what? I’ll admit that I started out treating this episode like Val and the other doctors treat Chief’s origin story—rolling my eyes and only vaguely paying attention to what I feared would be a bunch of cutaway gags. There’s Megan Mullally as Chief’s father, in realistic hairy legs and y-fronts! Now Blake is daydreaming about making out with himself! The gags worked, but it’s the mad, episode-by-episode cohesiveness of every plot that makes for a true Childrens Hospital masterpiece.

Things got better quickly. The Chief’s story of woe (she was born with a disease that made her sing uncontrollably, and ruined her body in med school trying to cure it) was fine, but a little too ordinary for this show. Yes, I’m saying that about a plotline that involved a child performing brain surgery on herself, but it’s true. Things can be far wackier on Childrens Hospital.

But the show really had fun with the monotony of everyone’s daydreams. Instead of cooking up increasingly bizarre material, things got more and more boring. Val dreams of telling off Sy, and then Blake dreams of the exact same thing. We get a pointless flashback to the Chief being told she’s finished with her internship, and then Lola inserts herself into it (“Oh, my daydreams suck!”). Owen imagines himself being hit by a car like Chief was, and his dying body being tended to by… himself.

I liked having the joke from the “previously on” segment about Chief being “born” to perform this operation actually paying off in a plot sense. At the same time, the ultimate revelation that she had been drinking “Parkinson’s Juice” is the kind of merry lunacy we know and love on Childrens Hospital. But after that, things really went off the rails for a brilliant final two minutes.

First, it turns out Chief’s story is a story within a story that she’s telling in her old age to much more attentive doctors. Sy and his heretofore-unrevealed twin brother Jerry then reveal that they murdered Owen, Lola, Blake, and Val for not listening in an absurd, violent, hilarious montage that concludes with Owen figuring everything out and getting stabbed with a mustache for his troubles.

Finally, we’re within a story within a story within a story, as one of the doctors listening to Chief testifies in court about the murders. We know it’s the future, because his collar is turned up, and we know it’s court, because there’s the flag of Brazil hanging behind him. Then he laughs maniacally into the camera until the episode ends. It’s no surprise that Rob Corddry wrote this one. Every episode of this show messes with the format as much as it can and in new and unique ways. But Corddry is probably the most willing to just straight up unnerve the audience. In the end, there’s no logic at work here. Just unhinged, anti-comic genius. Honestly, that shot of a man laughing in our faces like the world’s about to end is the difference between an A- and an A for this great episode.


Stray observations:

  • Chief was so named not because of her Native American heritage, but because her mother looked at a Scrabble board and picked it over “WHORE.”
  • Although she does mistakenly refer to the baby as “Whore” like 10 seconds later.
  • Nice cameo by Nick Offerman as Chance Briggs, shooting Blake to death.
  • Val is the master of pretending she knows what’s up. “Yeah, of course. That’s what I say. If I don’t say it, who will? Because they’re not me, because they can’t, so nobody, just me. I’ll say it.”