This Kidding review contains spoilers.
Kidding Season 2 Episode 3
After a stellar second installment that really set the course for the rest of the season, Kidding slows things down a bit while everyone adjusts to their new status quo. Seb is out as Jeff’s manager and showrunner, Deidre is officially beginning what looks like will be a messy divorce, and Jeff is without his show wondering how he’ll reconnect with his audience of “friends” that need him. “I’m Listening” is a much smaller version of Kidding than “Up, Down and Everything in Between,” but not every episode can have extravagant musical numbers and profound emotional catharsis.
Piles of mail from children are accumulating as Jeff recovers in the hospital, and while he wants to talk to each and every one, he also wants a chance to converse with Peter. Unfortunately, Jill has forbidden it. Peter even sends Jeff a letter, writing that he would like to talk as well, but as long as both men honor Jill’s wishes, the chat seems impossible. That’s when Jeff has the bright idea for a new toy; instead of a doll that talks to children with canned phrases, Jeff wants to create a Mr. Pickles doll that listens, sort of like a baby monitor for all of the children that need a friend.
Seb immediately brings up the ways that this toy could be a disaster and exacerbate Jeff’s image problem in the wake of his Christmas speech, but since Seb has officially been fired, Jeff won’t hear any of it. Seb is pretending to take his dismissal in stride, but he’s already secretly maneuvering to keep his control over Jeff. While Deidre is spiraling in the midst of her divorce and after finding out that the IRS is looking into her fake charity, Seb asks her to look after Jeff, and at the same time asks Jeff to look after her. By telling both of his children to look after the other, he can continue managing them both.
That said, Jeff has no problem with Deidre taking over the operations of the Pickles empire because she’s one of the only people that he trusts. The problem is that Deidre is occupied by more pressing matters and not exactly in love with the current state of the show. To prove that he’s willing to make changes, Jeff allows Deidre to cut his hair which she’s always hated. The show of faith is enough to light a fire under Deidre, and she claims she’ll do what it takes to get Jeff’s show back on the air.
While Jill tries to serve Jeff his divorce papers, Jeff is heads down on trying to get his new toy developed. While attending a meeting with the toy makers, Jeff discovers that Seb is trying to block the development of his listening doll. Jeff confronts his father, but Seb remains steadfast that as long as he’s alive, he’ll be trying to control the Pickles empire. The episode flashes forward four months, and we learn that Seb lost his battle over the doll and over his right to control the business, looking somber at his own retirement party. Meanwhile, Jeff has begun conversing directly with the toy owners like he planned, but is already seeing some of the negative effects that Seb warned him about.
Elsewhere, Will discovers a gift from a mystery giver that contains a book on dark magic. In it, he learns of a trick that’s meant to turn back time, and Will instantly tries to perform the trick to bring his brother back. In the process, he makes a discovery that Jill lied to him about not donating Phil’s organs, and tracks down the child that received Phil’s eyes after the accident. Instead of bringing his brother back, Will discovers that he’s still out there in the world in some way.
As I said in the intro, it’s not the deepest episode of Kidding, but it does move the story along from where we left things last season into what we’ll be focusing on this time around. It’s also worth noting that there’s an appearance from Tara Lipinsky, who has been left with a voice box following her accident and it appears she’s harboring a grudge against Jeff. Between the doll, Seb’s unwilling retirement, and lingering enemies, it looks like there are plenty of things still left around to keep Jeff from finding his way back up from the falls.
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.