This Kidding review contains spoilers.
Kidding Season 1 Episode 6
The tagline at the end of this week’s Kidding, given courtesy of Pickles on Ice’s resident rabbi staff writer, says that good and evil cannot devour the other, but warring inside of Jeff, they’re certainly going to try. Though Jeff has sort of compartmentalized his anger and hurt, the anger that last week caused him to harmlessly lash out at a table, it’s starting to become more of an issue as more stress and grief has been laid on him. If Jeff isn’t careful, his impulsive rage may end up doing lasting damage to the Pickles brand, just as Seb fears.
Part of the reason that Jeff is becoming more unhinged has to do with Vivian. Just as he’s allowed himself to start a new romantic relationship, the whole thing is due to prematurely end because of Vivian’s worsening condition. She’s resigned herself to her illness and makes it clear that she doesn’t intend on continuing treatment, which is hard for Jeff to hear. In his eyes, their time together has just begun and he can’t help but wistfully imagine the life they could be missing out on together. Getting involved with someone with a terminal illness was a precarious position for Jeff to put himself in given his mental state to begin with and it certainly looks like it’s going to be the thing that pushes Jeff completely over the edge.
However, before that happens, Jeff is going to attempt to get as much time out of Vivian as humanly possible. When persuading her to continue treatment doesn’t work on its own, Jeff uses all of the resources at his disposal to create a special Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time segment solely for Vivian, urging her to finish her story on her own terms, not just to roll over and die. In this scene, the viewer is finally able to see the magic of Jeff’s show and talents as if we lived in the world where Mr. Pickles was an institution. It may come across as sappy to some, but it has the perfect bittersweet, dreamlike sense of whimsy that Michel Gondry routinely delivers in his best work. It’s transporting and proves what a big heart Jeff truly has.
That’s the good side of Jeff. The bad side of Jeff can’t get over the fact that Tara Lipinski is going to be masquerading as Mr. Pickles every night for his adoring fans. Even if one astute little girl makes the apt comparison that Jeff is like Santa and that Tara will be like the Santa at the mall, Jeff isn’t interested with sharing his persona, especially if it’s someone who cannot be trusted. We come to learn that Tara isn’t the wonderfully polite Olympian that she may pass herself off to be after meeting her twin sister Sara (no, it doesn’t rhyme). It’s a hilarious scene where Lipinski gets to have fun playing a cracked version of herself who’s verbally and emotionally abusive to her sister, which we learn about through the pair’s epileptic, talking parakeet.
If that sounds weird, that’s because it is, but it gets even weirder when Jeff goes out of his way to induce a seizure out of the bird, killing it, then making it look like it escaped when in actuality it lies dead in his pocket. Every time Jeff does something nefarious or slightly off, I find myself inching closer to the TV. Carrey is excellent at giving Jeff a dead look in his eye every time he’s about to blow his stack, and the final bit of screen time, with Jeff stuffing the dead bird down the garbage disposal seems to suggest that Jeff’s going to get worse. Evil can’t devour good, but it can certainly overshadow it.
Meanwhile, when Jeff is dealing with Vivian, Deirdre tells Jeff that he can talk to her, but who can Deirdre talk to about her issues? Through flashbacks this week, we learn that Jeff and Dierdre were children of divorce and that Dierdre took it especially hard, which is why she is so afraid to put her daughter through something similar. Still, living with all of the stress and anger over her husband’s secret life is negatively affecting her daughter anyway, causing Deirdre to blow up over the smallest annoyance. Maddie and Dierdre are able to makeup, but Maddie unknowingly reveals that Scott knows that Deirdre knows about his infidelities, making their family unit one step closer to crumbling.
Finally, last week’s telegraphed gas explosion is narrowly avoided, so we can chalk that one up as an unnecessary cliffhanger. Still, the avoided catastrophe inspires Will to act out on the things that his brother Phil was never able to do before he died, which includes smooching a lot of cute girls in his class. This of course causes Cassidy, who is harboring an obvious crush on Will, to get upset. Will needs a little instruction on how to handle girls, but he’s not likely to turn to his Dad for advice, which will likely cause more rifts in the pair’s relationship.
Despite the wonderful puppet sequence, this is one of the more slight episodes of Kidding yet, but still works well overall. Jeff is setting himself up for a big fall and he’s barely containing the darkness that’s in him now. Also, the battle over the Mr. Pickles Ice Show definitely isn’t over, which could bring out even more ugliness from Jeff. Evil can’t devour good, but Jeff’s evil is hungry.
Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.
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