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

The League: “Baby Geoffrey Jesus”/“The 8 Defensive Points Of Hanukkah”

Illustration for article titled The League: “Baby Geoffrey Jesus”/“The 8 Defensive Points Of Hanukkah”

I have to admit that I was dreading this season finale—not because I was bummed to see the show temporarily end, but because I was worried that it would disappoint me so much that I’d become sour on the future of the series. This season has been squarely average. It hasn’t been so bad that I wanted to completely give up on The League, but I’ve found most of it so uninteresting that I wanted to put off watching new episodes. Neither episode tonight was perfect, but they were both much better than expected. Both were weird, sometimes gross, and laugh-out-loud funny in a way that’s been missing the last few weeks. Ultimately, I found them both satisfying.

“Baby Geoffrey Jesus” finds the league entering the playoffs—Jenny vs. Ruxin and Andre vs. Ted (“Andre vs. AIDS: a battle I’ve been preparing for my entire life!”)—and, of course, conniving against one another. As I hoped, and as many of you predicted, it’s time for Andre to finally get one over on Pete. Andre’s set role within the group is the punching bag, the guy that everyone kicks when he’s down (and he is almost always down)—but everyone’s been extra ruthless to him to season. After last week, when Pete’s affair resulted in Andre getting punched in the face, there was no way The League could end the season without Pete getting what he deserved. It turns out Andre’s been planning a long con the entire time, posing as Vernon Davis on Twitter and posting fake updates that would cause Pete to adjust his roster accordingly. This eventually leads to Davis himself pretending to be injured in a tweeted picture. Pete takes the bait and loses, landing a spot in the Sacko/Ruxin bowl.

Meanwhile, Jenny goes out with her ex-boyfriend Ben (Ryan Hansen! Always making sitcoms better!), a.k.a. her sex record guy. Kevin is worried that she’s cheating on him because he’s not the most appreciative husband (slamming the door in her face and falling asleep during oral sex). The predictable truth is worse: He’s helping her with her lineup. Fantasy football is what brings Kevin and Jenny together more than anything, because it’s what they’re most passionate about—so, understandably, this is what finally sets Kevin over the edge.

Aside from Ryan Hansen, there are a few equally wonderful faces popping up in both episodes: Jason Mantzoukas triumphantly returns as Rafi, scolding Ruxin’s closed-door bathroom policy, admitting to sexually assaulting a priest, and cutting off the tip of his penis in an attempt to convert to Judaism—you know, typical Rafi behavior. I know I’ve been hard on Rafi’s character in the past for being too much, but it’s becoming clear to me that he’s a great and important character when used correctly (and sparingly enough)—which, honestly, kind of worries me about next season, since he is ostensibly dead.

To my complete delight, the always-welcome Lizzy Caplan also makes a guest appearance as Ruxin’s uptight sister (great casting, though nothing will ever beat Jeff Goldblum as Ruxin’s father). She manages to fit right in with the established cast, even though her character is so drastically different from them. As uptight as she is, though, she’s still Ruxin’s sister—so it’s completely believable when she ends up having sex with Rafi solely to piss her brother off.

In “The 8 Defensive Points of Hanukkah,” Aziz Ansari shows up as Henry, one of Andre’s doctor rivals. His character is very reminiscent of Tom Haverford, right down to the idea of turning a hospital into a club, but it’s a character that Ansari clearly plays well. He doesn’t overtake the screen here, content to just drop in funny one-liners (“Let’s turn this G.I. Joe into G.I. Joe: Retaliation") and hang off to the side. It’s a nice little storyline for Andre: Henry winds him up and convinces him to go into business together, Andre gets duped into signing a contract that would send him to El Salvador to work on No Child Cleft Behind, but an accident results in Andre actually becoming the number-one plastic surgeon. It’s yet another win for Andre, and one he really needed.


But the guest stars, as great as they are, aren’t all that made these episodes work. Taco, once again, has a new business, but this one works a hell of a lot better than last week’s pubic barbershop. Taco’s decided to create the Eskimo Brothers Database, where he keeps track of everyone who has slept with everyone. It’s the closest Taco will get to a passion project, and it fits in nicely with both the episode and the show as a whole. It brings up past hook-ups and running gags (Andre’s sister has a giant file; through Jenny, Kevin is Eskimo brothers with Ruxin’s dog) and is great fodder for typical Taco jokes (he uses the computer as a file cabinet, and only types on the keyboard because he likes the sound). It’s also the catalyst for the episode’s bigger moments, like getting Ruxin to blackmail a priest or smashing Henry’s hand.

The season’s final moments during the Nativity play are just about flawless. As I’d hoped, and again as some of you predicted, we finally get the reign of Jenny when she just narrowly beats Andre and wins the league. The show also cleverly puts her husband at the very bottom of the league, so he’s now the reluctant recipient of the Ruxin trophy. It all leads up to the funniest moment of the entire season: Ruxin gleefully dancing with a gospel choir, singing insults to Kevin. It’s a beautifully blasphemous celebration—what better for a show that treats fantasy football as a religion? Amen, The League. I suppose I’ll stick around for another season.


Stray observations:

  • The “Pete and Kevin as a couple” story was a bit contrived, but I liked the way the two interacted so much—brushing their teeth together, planning dinner—that I didn’t mind. It was weirdly sweet, actually.
  • Taco’s so serious about EBDB that he’s been fact-checking everyone’s entries, including Andre’s: “Most of these women are dead, and they died on the Titanic.”
  • “I’ve actually died a bunch of times but the hospital always makes me alive again.”
  • Between Baby Geoffrey’s disturbing open-door policy with Rafi and the way he threatened his classmates with a knife, he’s definitely giving Ellie a run for her “disaster” title.
  • Ruxin’s reaction to Rafi hiding behind the door and scaring him was just perfect.
  • As for my last fantasy football update? Well, let’s just say I’m glad my league doesn’t have a Ruxin trophy.