This Baskets review contains spoilers.
Baskets Season 3 Episode 9
Baskets has now managed to squeeze two holiday episodes into this season without them feeling much like holiday episodes at all. This week, it’s Christmastime, but you’d hardly know except the characters specifically mention it and, in one scene, Christine and Chip go Christmas tree shopping. Christmas isn’t even the focus of “Basque-ets.” The day itself is sped through so we can get to Martha’s birthday, which happens to be the day after.
It’s a nice contrast from how pretty much any other series makes a big show of holidays. As the years go by, I personally find that holidays come and go increasingly more unceremoniously. Going all out requires so much effort for something that’s over and done with in just one day and Christine realizes how unnecessary it is for such a low-key celebration with only her and Chip in attendance. They get a fake tree and the day hardly registers. It’s just interesting and cool to see a show treat holidays so casually.
Of course, Christine and Chip make up for it by pulling out all the stops for Martha’s birthday, which ends up being a colossal, tense disaster. There’s been a theme this season of the Baskets family (well, mostly Christine) trying to make Martha’s life more exciting, but instead just making it worse. On their Vegas trip, Christine learned she had to be a better listener, but she seems to have all but forgotten that now, delivering lots of hilarious, tone-deaf lines, like when Martha says she’s turning fifty and Christine replies, “Fifty?! That’s awful!”
On the bright side, “Basque-ets” ends on a much sweeter note than “Women’s Conference” did. Even though Christine and Chip accidentally expose Martha’s secret relationship with the Basque shepherd to his wife (yes, turns out Martha’s a mistress; she’s a very complex woman), and even though Martha decides her other relationship with the trucker isn’t going to work, she says it was one of her best birthdays. Plus, her and Chip have a couple of good moments.
Chip has been trying to be a gentler, nicer guy throughout season three and he actually voices it here, saying he’s been “practicing his empathy.” He’s come a long way from the insensitive jerk he was at series’ start and seeing him make the effort to give Martha a special day is touching, if imperfect (“You should be flattered how many people want to be with you even though you’re so close to death,” he blurts at one point). In fact, Chip and Christine seem to be getting along well, too. There’s a good amount of dysfunction on Baskets, so it’s nice just to see characters interacting pleasantly.
It’s a really funny episode too, mostly because of Christine’s lines. At the Basque restaurant, she shouts at Martha, “They have cow tongue. I don’t want it, but I wanna see someone eat it!” And I love it when Ken, hiding in the restaurant’s bathroom, calls Chip’s phone: “Listen, I’m in the bathroom.” “Congratulations, Ken,” says Chip.
“Basque-ets” also ends on a good, emotional note. After meeting the trucker, Martha tells Chip, “Sometimes you just know when a relationship isn’t meant to be.” Later, when Chip tells Ken to go talk to Christine, he tries to recall what Martha said but misremembers and ends up saying the opposite: “Sometimes you just know when a relationship is meant to be.”
It works great because it’s a subversion of the standard trope of “character hears good advice from another character and then passes said advice onto another character.” Chip, however, gets it wrong, but his version ends up being more inspiring by accident. It’s touching, while simultaneously flawed and goofy, just as Baskets should be.