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

The Inbetweeners: “Reading Gives You Wings”

Illustration for article titled The Inbetweeners: “Reading Gives You Wings”

Things settled down a bit on this week’s Inbetweeners but the show still hasn’t quite found its groove yet. It wasn’t as unfathomable as last week’s episode, for “Reading Gives You Wings” played out like one enormous product placement for Red Bull, which it no doubt was, with some humor injected at random points. Overall it was a decent, if not particularly noteworthy, episode.

The recurring weirdness from last week was Johno, an Australian deck builder who may or may not be Neil’s Dad’s gay lover. Johno is everything the boys wish they were: confident, tanned, cool, able to dispense advice on any subject, no matter how bad that advice may be. Even Jay basks in Johno’s guitar-playing greatness with nary a comment. He doesn’t have the most to do in this episode, but he was a nice foil for Neil’s goofy Dad, whose slow motion awful dancing was one of the best parts of this week.

McKenzie, as usual, has a grand scheme to get together with a popular girl. This time it’s lab partner Samantha Morrison, who shows a flicked of interest in McKenzie’s knowledge of the newly renovated school library. “She saw it. My library swagger,” McKenzie confides to the camera. But nothing really goes right for him, so why should it start now? The library, it turns out, has had all its books replaced by cases of Red Bull. The corporate sponsorship provides no actual learning materials, but there is a skate ramp. And a climbing wall. And a dude doing wheelies on a motorcycle. And a giant lemon wedge chair that Neil happily tackles over and over again.

McKenzie is on the side of good, learning, and straight-lacedness. He can’t let this pass. At the very least, he has to impress Samantha. So he decides to organize a protest with the help of Johno and his protest songs. Unfortunately, directly before the press show up to see McKenzie’s grand statement, he learns that Samantha likes Red Bull, as it makes her horny. That tiny little tidbit is enough to completely derail the strung out McKenzie, and he belly-flops on live TV. It’s not much of a narrative, but it does get in a few good moments, like aforementioned lemon wedge chair, and the line “somebody’s been on the dictionary obstacle course, I see.”

Simon’s relationship with Lauren was always a sham. It was just a distraction from Carli, who has been his crush for a decade. Lauren’s a shoplifter, which Simon manages to talk her out of. She responds surprisingly well to Simon’s exhortations that she stop stealing, much to his relief. But then, for some reason, Carli and Bobby are fighting awfully. At a trip to the mall, Simon abandons Lauren in a store to comfort Carli. He then doesn’t stick up for Lauren when she walks out of a store with sunglasses on her head. Would a security guard really tackle someone for such an innocent mistake? Would a teenage boy really leave his best chance of getting laid so easily? Would a slip of a thing drag a burly guard into the mall fountain? No part of that was convincing, or did much more than put Carli and Simon conveniently together. But The Inbetweeners is creeping towards a sort of autonomy that’s very promising, even if the progress is sometimes painfully slow.