This Baskets review contains spoilers.
Baskets Season 3 Episode 3
Baskets does an amazing job of expanding its world by fleshing out and gradually humanizing its ancillary characters. The series also isn’t afraid to build upon whatever’s working, even if that means deviating from its original template. As I’ve said before, though we started with Chip, Christine is now more commonly the center of Baskets and that’s perfectly fine because she’s an engaging, multilayered character.
“Crash” demonstrates the series’ fondness for its side characters by looping back in two from its past. Half of the episode is focused on Jody (the Juggalo who used to work at the rodeo until Chip got him a job at Arby’s), and Trinity (who used to be a traveling performing vagrant until Chip got her a job at Arby’s) as Chip tries to get them to work as clowns for Baskets Family Rodeo. Chip is present for most of these scenes, but, as often happens in latter-day Baskets, he’s more of an observer. Like in the previous episode, he’s involved in setting plots in motion, but sits most of the actual drama out and, again, I’m cool with this laid-back Chip.
The final scene of this storyline doesn’t even include Chip, as Trinity shows up at Arby’s to work out her problems with Cody in the back office. For a show with such goofy premises, Baskets remains rooted in human moments. The plot is introduced as a problem for Chip to solve: he needs to hire clowns for the rodeo. However, he fails completely. Every clown he hires quits or gets fired, but by the end, it’s clear this was really about Cody and Trinity’s relationship all along. We don’t feel bad for Chip because we’re happy that Cody and Trinity have worked everything out (plus, Arby’s seems to offer a far more solid career path for them than rodeo clowning).
The other storyline is concerned with Christine and Eddie. Eddie was kind of just a crazy old man before, but “Crash” redefines him as a tragic character with a severe alcohol problem. Christine, being the nurturing type that she is, starts letting Eddie live at her house. Eddie also reminds her of her (also alcoholic) father and Christine sees him as a version of her dad who she might be able to fix.
The culmination of this plot is super dark and extremely well-executed. Eddie comes home with two people he met at a bar and accidentally knocks over a vase. It’s a small crisis, but it triggers in Christine a childhood memory of having to drive her drunk father to the hospital—a memory that causes her to retreat into her own head and start vacuuming. It’s an impressive depiction of anxiety; though the past event is a lot more dramatic than the present one, the connections one’s brain makes are not always obvious. A drunken male figure is central in both, but, more than that, there’s the theme of Christine attempting to take charge of a situation although she isn’t fully capable of doing so.
Luckily, in the present, Chip shows up to help sort everything out. It works with Chip’s more recent, gentler persona and it’s sweet to see that he’s there for his mom when things get overwhelming for her. He failed to hire any clowns, but he still gets to be a bit of a hero.
“Crash” is a dark episode of Baskets but it’s consistently funny too. The opening scene of all the clowns Chip hired off Craigslist unceremoniously quitting is hilarious. Tragic though he may be, Eddie is almost always funny to watch. And Chip and Martha get a scene together that’s (unsurprisingly) the funniest of the episode. Martha thinks Ronald McDonald is a clown who actually works at McDonald’s. “God, you’re easily marketed to,” says Chip.
A dark, moving, and hilarious episode all around. It’s everything I want in a Baskets!