The episodes seem to be airing out of order, because Jimmy’s not in this episode and it’s the second episode about Ben’s bad reactions to his parents leaving.
And boy, is it a bad reaction. Liz (the criminally underused Susan Park) catches Ben trying to videotape her in the shower. Ben’s also covered in dirt because he’s been spending a lot of time in his treehouse in the woods with his imaginary friend “Omicron.” Sabrina and Mickey both scold Ben, but not much else. They’re more caught up in their smoking, a habit which they’ve conveniently formed just for this episode.
The Mick’s scheduling has been frustrating (there was an episode on Sunday if you missed it), but it’s annoying that this episode takes the regular time slot when the much better episode “The Balloon” took Sunday. (Also, if we’re talking episodes out of order – where did Kai go?) It works in terms of order of events, but “The Fire” is missing the spiky energy of “The Balloon.”
It does have one thing in its favor: Mickey and Sabrina bond in this episode over the smoking. Sabrina lampshades this irony, since it’s right before they decide to stop. But it’s a surprisingly sweet moment, hearing Mickey telling Sabrina a crazy story about taking cat morphine at a concert. Unfortunately, they flick their cigarette butts into the beautiful Connecticut grass, which ends up burning down Liz’s guest house. But while Sabrina and Mickey know they’re guilty, Liz is sure Ben did it.
And when the fire inspector comes to talk to Ben about the fire, he picks a very bad time. Chip, admiringly, is trying to bond with Ben half as well as Sabrina and Mickey are bonding. The way Chip scolds Sabrina and Mickey, it feels like the show is trying to make him the hardass sibling who thinks a little highly of himself – kind of like Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties. But he’s actually spending time with Ben! Teaching him to ride a bike! Asking him to see a movie! Hopefully he can catch a break in the next few episodes.
But he does a poor job with the bike – it’s a huge complex, there’s gotta be some open road without a gate – and Ben gets covered in bruises and cuts. Chip, luckily, finds a bunch of bandages in Alba’s first aid kit – bandages that are actually her nicotine patches, hidden away like a shameful secret.
So Ben is totally drugged up when the fire inspector talks to him, but even more damning is how he talks about Omicron, using a particularly creepy “robot voice” to re-enact a conversation with him. This gets Mickey and the older kids to finally pay attention, and they go to visit Ben’s treehouse in the woods. Where they find a creepy dude living in it!
Which, ohhhh my God! I thought they might find out Omicron is a person (or an alien, but this isn’t that kind of show), but I thought it would be someone they knew! Not some random guy. That’s super creepy and terrifying. Who knows how much he might’ve messed Ben up? Well, for starters, he taught the kid long division, how to tell time (uh, is that even useful anymore?), and how to whistle – the last is a work in progress.
But he’s perfect for a plot that Alba suggested to Sabrina and Mickey earlier. That if they don’t want to talk the fall for the fire, or have Ben take it for them, they need a random guy, a vagabond, a drifter. Turns out, Omicron went to the woods to smoke himself to death anyway, so he’s fine doing it as part of the prison industrial complex.
They take Omicron to Liz’s house and he promises to kill Mickey and Sabrina if they don’t stop smoking, and also gives Ben that voice-box-thingy people with holes in their throats use to speak. And then…then he has a smoke outside of Liz’s house!!! And we see his throat hole!!!!! And smoke comes out of his throat hole!!!!! Oh my God. So, you know, whatever PSA company worked on this episode to deter us from smoking did a good job. Ugh, that throat hole…
- In this episode, everyone goes to Ben’s room when he’s quietly sitting by himself. Shouldn’t they…play with him once in a while? Or schedule a playdate?
- “What’s cat morphine?” “It’s morphine for cats!” “Right, right.”
- It was painful just watching Sabrina and Mickey run after giving up smoking. I’m glad, considering the last episode, we missed Sabrina barfing, but I’m glad also to know Mickey made fun of her for it.
- There’s also a very funny sequence where Mickey and Sabrina walk into a bathroom after the fire inspector visits and, without even discussing it, prepare the room and themselves so they can secretly smoke there.
- However, the funniest bit was when Mickey and the gang walk in to see Ben batting a pony toy with a hammer. It’s just…the noise the pony kept making when he hit it, combined with Ben’s careful, methodical way of doing it….Personally, I lost it.