CHOZEN: Laced, review

Laced is a solid episode of Chozen, but a little light when it comes to giving out more rounded out punch lines.

When Jamal, Chozen’s number one fuckbuddy, gets out of prison, he swaggers right back into our hero’s life, which he proceeds to sabotage on every level. Chozen is hardly innocent in this, happy to go with Jamal’s flow until he wises up to what he’s doing and makes it clear that nobody pulls his strings. Meanwhile, Troy and Jimmy bond over their new shared (and complementary) interests, RPGs and stimulants, and Ricky and Crisco name drop Phantasm to score a gig at the launch party of a new designer sneaker.

Again, we continue to see send-ups of hip hop culture and its often ridiculous and mishandled appropriation by white people. Chozen’s camp analogy distracts the audience by being funny while perfectly encapsulating the situation and once again pointing out the white, middle class, suburban background which undermines his affected thug persona. This throughline, much like the gay jokes, are present enough to give the show its intended flavor without relying too heavily on them.

As per usual, Ricky and Crisco are the least interesting and funny part of the episode, and I don’t want to read too far into things, but that’s my job, so… I can’t help but notice that the two most prominent characters of color are the one-note punchlines, while the white characters, regardless of prominence, tend to get the funnier lines and better development. Come on, writers. I honestly don’t see the point to Ricky and Crisco’s characters aside from being Chozen’s friends from back in the day, and that’s not enough for two series regulars to coast by on long-term. They need some decent stories and fast, or I’d just as soon see them cut from the series, because they’re just sucking up precious screen-time from the people we actually want to see. Having said that…

This was a very strong episode from both a humor and character development angle. The situation is played for comedy and is Sitcom Writing 101; introduce someone who knows the protagonist in a different way from the rest of the cast, sit back, and watch the hijinks ensue. Still, it’s the catalyst for the best character development in the series to date. Funny as it all is, tell me you didn’t feel bad for poor Hunter because of both Chozen’s own shitty behavior and the chaos Jamal added to the mix. And though the story was laced (no pun intended) with jokes, Chozen is legitimately confronted with just how much he’s changed since he got out of prison. Sure, there’s every chance all this will be dashed by the nefarious reset button, but even if it is, that was some quality character action.

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Chozen isn’t the only one to get some solid development here. Hunter scores a little limelight of his own. His initial infatuation has apparently cooled to the level where glazing over Chozen’s selfish bullshit is becoming something of a challenge all on its own, to say nothing of how the situation is complicated by Jamal’s presence. It’s one thing to acknowledge the depth of the show’s writing and intent, it’s another to see it in the motivations and development of the characters, and for a show like this, and I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised at the treatment Hunter is receiving here.

I am ambivalent about the offing of Jamal. On the one hand, his demise, aside from being completely believable, was funny as hell in its execution and completely subverted the promise of his return in the same beat that promise was made. Plus, I can easily see how that could wear out his welcome. On the other, in his one appearance, Jamal is funnier and adds more to the show than Crisco and Ricky have in all their episodes combined. I mean, seriously, even the scrawny, white nerd and the skeezy, drug-addled photographer are more interesting than those guys. Step it up, writers.

On the subject of Troy and Jimmy’s storyline, good on the writers for their little jab at how male gaze-y video games, even the more highbrow ones, tend to be. Queen Vaginismus, the impregnation of whom is the goal of its own side quest? Not exactly subtle, but definitely spot on.

All in all, this episode was very solid. It made use of a throwaway character from the pilot to excellent effect, it was funny, well plotted, and continued to simultaneously subvert and exploit stereotypes. Several comments make it clear that Chozen and Jamal are flip-fucking, and never once are they portrayed as anything but equals, completely rejecting the heteronormative view of gay relationships where one is “the man” and the other is “the woman.” Chozen himself says, “Always have been [on top]… except for those times I wasn’t, but that was a sensual choice.” That’ right. Chozen likes to take it up butt, and he takes it like a man… a man you don’t want to mess with.

Den of Geek Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

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4 out of 5