This Kidding review contains spoilers.
Kidding Episode 8
Kidding typically leans more heavily on the drama side of the dramedy equation, but “Philliam” is the series at its most harrowing. Taking a break from the present-day storyline to explore the Pickles’ home life prior to Phil’s death and the lethal injection of Jeff’s prison pen pal, “Philliam” offers insights into all of our central characters and serves a great bit of table setting before our final two episodes of the season.
The most interesting aspect of “Philliam” is the way that the episode presents Jeff’s relationship with his two sons. It’s always been hinted at that Phil was a bit of a problem child, but in seeing Phil’s so-called outbursts, it’s clear that Phil was just seeking attention from his dad. Jeff is a good man and doesn’t intentionally neglect his child, but with a big heart pulling him in so many different directions, he can be somewhat of an absent parent. The matter isn’t helped when instead of parenting his son directly, he points Phil to read a chapter from his parenting book.
On the flipside, Jeff seems to have a much better relationship with Will. Seeing Will and Jeff bond over some chocolate milk is somewhat sad considering how strained their current relationship is. Will in general looked to be much closer to his family, inspired by his aunt’s philanthropic efforts, even if they’re exaggerated. Will is shown as a thoughtful, sensitive kid, making his weed smoking and vandalizing seem more troubling. If Will was given a check for $100,000 today, there’s not a chance he’d be using it to protect bees.
As interesting as it is to see the Pickles family functioning as a more stable unit, Darelle’s bittersweet backstory is the highlight of the episode. We learn that Darelle’s father is awaiting the death penalty for murder and that he developed a pen pal relationship with Mr. Pickles despite having never watched his show. Darelle’s father was a gifted illustrator who wasn’t given a chance to shine and eventually snapped, and the only thing getting him through his time in prison is his dream on being complimented for his drawing by Mr. Pickles.
Darelle’s story about his dad at dinner, with an insensitive Will asking questions just to prod Jeff, is a great little tale about access and privilege. The moment is tenderly acted by Alex Raul Barrios, who is finally given room to properly introduce us to his character. Darelle’s conversation with his dad, where his dad reveals his connection with Jeff’s puppet the Fly who “eats shit every day” yet finds something to be positive about, is moving and you forget about the fact that you’re sympathizing with a man who reportedly killed four women. When asked how a man could be driven to kill like that, Jeff replies that everyone has their breaking point, and now we’re watching Jeff in the midst of his.
The episode at least ends on a high note, with Jeff giving Darelle a job at the studio, something that his Dad would have longed for. In the present day, when Darelle finds Jeff after his freakout in Seb’s office, he extends his hand to help Jeff, and Jeff notices the same forearm tattoo of the Fly that Darelle’s Dad had. Luckily, Jeff has people in his life that can help drag him out of a breaking point. It’s a touching ending to a largely standalone episode and another great example at how Kidding is able to expertly utilize its half-hour runtime.
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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