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

With too many paths to follow, The League loses track of everyone

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We hit the ground running this week, as Pete’s over the moon to have a shot to play (ref) in the big leagues: officiating a community college level basketball game. On the heels of this big announcement is Taco, who has decided to quit sex, as he can no longer deal with the overwhelming amount of concussions – or “cock-cussions” – he’s receiving. Taco’s sex life is a cavern in which I shall never grow tired of spelunking. It’s been tiring this season, always having to wonder, week to week, whether or not Nick Kroll will be in an episode. He’s back tonight, sort of, as his wife-abroad announces she’s getting her veej surgically tightened for him (“vaginoplasty” is never explicitly stated, but I assume that’s the procedure referenced).

At the bar, Jenny and Kevin obsess over The Block, an imagined Battlestar Galactica/The Wire-like television show-within-a-show, which happens to be culminating in its coincidentally seventh season finale. Ruxin helpfully shuts them down, reminding them how awful it is to hear someone talk about a show you don’t watch. As someone often on both sides of the debate (never seen Breaking Bad; would really love to talk to you about Justified) this plotline seems the most compelling. They’re interrupted by Andre, who informs them of a raunchy one-night-stand with his Uber driver – played by Casey Rose Wilson in a perfectly upsetting newsboy cap. As a bonus, we get a glimpse as to Andre’s perception of himself (hint: black, bald, and Australian accent ((but like the Richard Branson type?)))

Overall these are three or four strong, entertaining set-ups for our characters. I’m excited to see where they go. Even as the episode progresses, they play out great: Pete wants to impress the other refs, so he lies about watching The Block and then must actually watch every episode – becoming obsessed with the show in the process. Wilson’s deranged Uber driver/stalker tanks his rating so that she’s the only one available to pick him up. Taco still isn’t having sex. But there’s a weird jockeying for first position among all the stories, wrapping up some then totally bailing on the others.

For its part, Andre’s Uber driver comes full circle. After his date to The Block Party (an almost bachelorette) hails an Uber despite his warnings, they take a Hell-ish drive to the venue, leading to a chase between the driver and Andre that culminates in Taco being concussed out of his concussions and ready to bone another day.

We also watch a video-date between Ruxin and his wife go awry when Rodney begins to jerk it to a frozen, glitchy image of his wife. When the screen unfreezes and she realizes what he’s doing, she freaks out and ends the call. Not the longest plotline in the world, but at least resolves itself.

It’s in Pete’s lane that things start to get messy. To prepare for The Block Party (“get it?”) held by the older refs, Pete gets sucked into watching every episode of the show, and loving it. As he gets sucked in, he devises insane charts and graphs for his fan theories, and attacks anyone he sees with one-sided conversation. It’s Trainspotting, if you replaced the heroin with your ex-boyfriend’s mom’s Netflix account. Even the fictional show-in-a-show is totally fleshed out, as evidenced by Kevin and Jenny’s confusing recap for Pete – and listening to people argue about a show you don’t watch is physically painful, as evidenced by Kevin and Jenny’s confusing recap for Pete. There’s so much effort poured into this story, so when the end of the episode arrives, delivering no final note to the The Block saga, we’re left unfulfilled. There’s no repercussions for Pete’s obsession, or his initial lie. He pretty much says he has watched a show, then watches it, and that’s that. Pete falls asleep during the finale being played at a party… and no one even notices! In real life, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but for a sitcom it’s jarring to be left hanging by any sort of set up, no matter how large or small. It’s like this entire conflict got forgotten, between Andre’s personal Misery, and filling out the details of The Block. And maybe it wouldn’t have been noticeable, if The League hadn’t done such an amazing job at revving it up. To quote the great Rodney Ruxin, the conclusion of the episode leaves one with two bruised plums, sitting at the bottom of a shopping bag.


Stray observations

  • Anyone else notice that Taco always dresses like he’s in Canada or Fargo?
  • Andre vs. Memory-Andre – I actually made my friend rewind the episode a couple times because he kept looking away and missing the joke.
  • Andre’s move: saying “‘People are people’ - Depeche Mode,” then sneezing onto both of his hands.
  • And his Uber driver’s sex-talk: “You’re like a better dressed, street smart Steve Harvey!”
  • Taco’s pause in: “Andre, you’re a… doctor.”
  • This episode really nailed how obnoxious we all are when talking about television: “Agent Baker is kind of my spirit animal,” “I always watched it forwards for Easter Eggs, but never backwards for Egg Easters,” “Kevin that was a flashback! It was a schism within a schism.”
  • I’d watch The Block
  • Of course Andre knows the names of Nick Cannon’s bodyguards.
  • Taco’s beautiful mind: “I was just watching every episode in alphabetical order based on the title.”
  • I would legitimately like to know what was happening in the finale of The Block.