“Fire!” was an exquisitely bizarre episode of The Inbetweeners. Was it a misstep along the way of a relatively solid season? Was it a trumpet blast announcing a new, weirder direction for the show? Only the next couple episodes will tell us. But as a standalone episode, “Fire!” didn’t work as well as the past few episodes have. Will’s turn as a faux-teen detective, and his turn as a hero—which barely counted as a plot twist along the way—left me scratching my head, not laughing. But the David Gordon Green-esque camerawork, and a few bright spots in the party scenes prevented the installment from being totally unwatchable. It was mostly just confusing.
As per the romantic twists last week, both Jay and Simon, improbably, have love interests now. Simon’s girlfriend Lauren isn’t quite a known entity. She’s a tad edgier than Carli, but mostly what we know about her is that she loves making other girls feel jealous. She’s also willing to make out in the bushes, which is an obvious plus for Simon. But she’s nothing much more than an obstacle between Simon and Carli right now, and not a spectacularly convincing one at that. Sure, she’d be annoyed by Simon’s thwarted dating attempts. But I’m not sure the rest of the character is funny or believable.
Jay, meanwhile, continues to date a 13-year-old. He invites Simon and Lauren to a party that Bree tells him about. The catch is that in order to go, Simon has to abandon his babysitting duties. He happily does that, with assurances from his little brother that the party line will be Simon was there all night. Unfortunately, as the gang finds out through Bree’s awful directional skills, the party is at Simon’s. It’s like a rave, but for 12-year-olds. For some reason, Carli is there and no one calls the police.
Jay tried to make moves on Bree, in that inept, learned-from-porn kind of way. “I like to start with the shoulder blades,” he informs her, as she giggles. Alas for him, that is the exact moment where Bree gets her first period. Somehow, Bree doesn’t know to expect it, or what’s going on, and she runs out of the room screaming. Carli has to cajole her from behind a closed bathroom door.
And Will? After last week’s ultimate humiliation, he semi-redeems himself by putting out a trashcan fire. He then spends most of the rest of the episode trying to figure out who set the fire. The answer, of course, is Neil. “I wanted to know if feathers would burn,” he chuckles. What? Why? If The Inbetweeners writers want to bank this hard toward crazy, why now? It’ll be a better show if it’s not stuck in neutral—in some territory between a knee-slapping sitcom and an experimental drama. Let’s hope it figures itself out soon.