Baskets Season 3 Episode 5 Review: Sweat Equity

Business and family get all twisted up in a solid, sad episode of Baskets.

This Baskets review contains spoilers.

Baskets Season 3 Episode 5

For a show that just last episode had a scene where Dale commanded a goat to walk on his back (and then it did), there’s an impressive realism to Baskets, at least in the big-picture sense. We’re five episodes into the season and although it’s about a family who owns a rodeo, we’ve seen very little of the rodeo in operation. It was my assumption that we’d get to that stuff after a few episodes about the speed bumps the family needed to clear along the way.

However, it’s becoming clearer now that the continuing dysfunctionality of trying to get the rodeo up and running is, in fact, Baskets’ focus. And this is a realistic way to tell this story because as “Sweat Equity” reminds us, Christine bought this business on the vague, touchy-feely whim of keeping the family together. There’s no reason they’d be naturally good at running the place and, further, the episode questions whether it was even a good move for the family, too.

Chip, who Christine claims to have bought the rodeo for in the first place, has been pulled into the dull business side of things and hardly gets to do any clowning any more. Dale is losing his mind over Christine’s frivolous spending and the stress is giving him back pain. He brings in Christine’s brother, Jim — owner of several Quiznos and the closest thing Baskets has to a recurring villain — to buy the rodeo from Christine and set it right. Uncle Jim has little interest in owning a rodeo and is doing this purely as revenge for their mother leaving all her money to Christine and because of his disapproval of how Christine is using that money.

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Christine acquired the rodeo with the goal of bringing the family together, but the mixing of business and family has only bred more dysfunction in both and it all comes to a head in “Sweat Equity.” The only thing that doesn’t quit work here is when Dale tries to impress his daughters by taking them on an insane shopping spree and finds his credit card has been maxed out. I know he’s quick to anger and might do something impulsive like this, but he also knows full well his mom recently ran up a ton of charges on his card. What did he think was going to happen?

This is a dark episode, though it’s got its fair share of laughs. Many, surprisingly, come from Dale, a character with who I typically feel less is more. I liked him yelling “Capitalism run amok!” during the shopping spree, him telling his mom “I don’t want walnutted fudge,” and when he calls a lawyer and says, “Hello, my name is Dale Baskets. I’d like to sue someone, please.” Though the funniest moment is when Uncle Jim storms out of the house dramatically as Christine gets the last word in, but then the moment is undercut as she remembers her car is behind his in the driveway and she has to move it so he can leave.

“Sweat Equity” has a great ending, too. Dale goes full douchebag as he’s now planning to sue Christine, but Chip gets a really sweet moment when he tells Christine’s catty friends “don’t talk about my mom behind her back.” Finally, the Korean Baptist church next door to the rodeo that’s popped up briefly in multiple episodes pays off with a brilliant fake-out final scene, when, rather than return to her regular church where she no longer feels welcome, Christine decides to attend mass there. It’s a moment of hope to cap off a sad episode mostly comprised of dysfunctional bickering and it rounds out everything very nicely.


5 out of 5