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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Katie and Greg succumb to temptation and Chuck leads a heist on a plot-heavy Great News

Great News / NBC
Great News / NBC
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As Great News heads into the homestretch, Tracey Wigfield and company chose “Competing Offer” as the episode to introduce the final story arc of the season, which involves a lawsuit against The Breakdown from crazed immortality-obsessed billionaire Fenton Pelt (Jim Rash). Remember the story Greg and Katie broke about vegan health food brand Smug Meadow Farms using Bonobo meat in “Sensitivity Training?” It turns out that Pelt owns the company and believes The Breakdown misrepresented the facts in their report. But Pelt’s lawsuit is really a smokescreen to get revenge on Chuck for reporting that Pelt was lying about his age to win science fairs back in 1977. In order for Pelt to drop the lawsuit, Chuck must admit to him that he lied.

Meanwhile, Carol plans to celebrate her one-year intern anniversary, only for Greg to inform her that interns usually stay on for one semester of school and then jockey for paying jobs. She tries to land a job at The Breakroom but Greg can’t offer her a position because of the lawsuit, so she nabs a competing offer from morning talk show Morning Wined Up, hosted by winos Kelly (Ana Gasteyer) and Mary-Kelly (Rachel Dratch), but it still might not be enough leverage for Carol to move forward with her “career.”


On top of that, Diana St. Tropez (Tina Fey) exacerbates the sexual tension between Greg and Katie when she forces them to pull an all-nighter to evaluate the Smug Meadow Farms evidence. They try to remain professional, but Katie’s busty red dress and Greg’s palpable awkwardness constantly threaten to push them into physical territory.

That’s a lot of ground to cover even for a show that treats plot as just another joke delivery system, so it’s noteworthy that “Competing Offer,” credited to Ashley Wigfeld, never feels overstuffed. The episode gracefully crosscuts between its three different stories with ease, which, frankly, is more than half the battle for most sitcoms. Wigfeld also feels no strong impetus to dovetail the stories, but interestingly enough, they don’t feel displaced. Instead, they’re connected by the larger, cohesive world of the series.

Chuck’s story is the most successful if only because it’s the one that incorporates the majority of the ensemble. Great News has a deep bench of supporting players at its disposal, including Sheaun McKinney, Brad Morris, and Tracey Wigfield herself, so it’s nice to see them given something to do beyond the occasional one-liner. Here, Chuck enlists Portia, Justin, Beth, Wayne, and Gene in a needlessly complicated heist to retrieve Fenton’s real birth certificate from Chuck’s ex-wife’s safe. Wigfeld uses the subplot to jam in a funny “laying out the plan” montage solely designed to confuse the gang and emphasize Chuck’s crippled ingenuity. (There’s also a great sight gag involving five separate plumber costumes). Of course, the whole plan goes pear-shaped immediately when Chuck gets stuck in a fence and trips the security alarm, but luckily The Breakdown team breaks him out before Justin, the registered security professional who proclaims he’s “too fat to run,” nabs him.

The Greg-Katie story is comparatively pedestrian if only because their romance doesn’t really feel that unique. Sure, not many first kisses are sparked by a forced dairy-based IBS attack, but the push-pull tension between them has yet to take on a life of its own. Still, there are some sweet moments that derive from Heelan and Campbell’s chemistry. Campbell’s startled reaction to Katie’s dress, and Heelan’s subsequent embarrassment, was a nice moment, along with Heelan shoving Campbell out of the way to chug a carton of milk. It’s silly, and digestion jokes might be a little too cheap, but it sets the tone for Greg’s French-braid-and-vomit-related overture.


In the end, Chuck “confesses” to Fenton to save The Breakdown team’s jobs, but Fenton secretly tapes Chuck’s false confession to help boost his case. Diana unceremoniously suspends Chuck indefinitely. Greg tells Katie their kiss was a mistake because he’s in a committed relationship with Cat, but when he accidentally parrots Carol’s analogy about Camilla and Charles, Katie discovers Carol’s meddling. Furious at her, Katie questions Carol’s commitment to her newfound career, so Carol decamps to Morning Wined Up, which is only one floor below The Breakdown.

When Great News shakes up the ensemble, it never feels too weighty or dramatic. Chuck and Carol will inevitably return to The Breakdown just like Greg and Katie will inevitably couple up, but it’s still fun to watch the journey.


Stray observations

  • Some facts about Fenton Pelt: He was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. He has a B.S. from Harvard University, an M.B.A. from Wharton; a B. Eng. from Stanford; and a U.F.O. from University of Outer Space. He also bought the United States Men’s Gymnastics Team to use as an organ farm, drinks stem cells in martini form, and can write in the language used by the heptapods from Arrival.
  • Carol tries to cover up her various secrets with fake 70s song titles like “I Don’t Have A Secret” and “I Don’t Know Nothing” by Carol and the Liars off of their EP I’m Basically Trying To Get Caught At This Point.
  • Justin is really offended when Katie tells him about her IBS. “I’m a handsome man!” he protests.
  • Adam Campbell’s hurried reply of “I have sisters” when Katie questions his French braid skills is quite funny.
  • “By the way, I broke the thermostat again. Really broke it. The guy said it’d be cheaper to tear the building down at this point.”
  • “Katie, I’m in your texts. You shouldn’t feel like you have to reply to every ad bot.”
  • “How many of you are gardeners?” “None of us are gardeners.” “I’m willing to learn!”
  • “We have got to fight! What would Jesus do if he were under attack? He’d kill the guy with his trident!”

Vikram Murthi is a freelance writer and critic currently based out of Brooklyn.

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