This review contains spoilers.
9.2 Gregory’s Beard
Last week’s series opener didn’t just deliver in terms of quality; it also returned the El Dude Brothers to their familiar odd-couple dynamic. If anything could be said to be missing from that episode, perhaps it was the onslaught of sneering judgements that the duo regularly bestow upon each other. Instead, under the makeshift banner of a sort-of-truce, our two heroes formed a temporary alliance to return to a comfortable state of domestic unhappiness.
With the status quo restored, Peep Show let rip with a wonderful second episode that took full advantage of Mark and Jez’s return to acrimony as they took potshots at each other from vantage points of dubious superiority. The episode’s opening found them trading barbs about Mark’s unwillingness to turn on the heating, culminating in an internal monologue (“mousetrap in the Frosties”) that underlined that it isn’t masturbating to Dobby’s Google Maps icon that really gives Mark a thrill; controlling every aspect of his friend’s life whilst revelling in his misery is what really floats his boat.
Speaking of boat-floating, things took an interesting turn for Jez this week as his perennial quest to fall in love with pretty much everybody resulted in him hooking up with Joe, the boyfriend of one of his life-coaching clients. Mark observing that Jeremy has ‘always been a bit slutty’ was classic Corrigan understatement. The webcam conceit here was nothing short of classic: framing Jez’s sexual latest sexual awakening against a Greek chorus of Peep Show regulars was a masterstroke. Mark’s conservative, dyed-in-the-wool British discomfort was palpable… and even more hilarious when juxtaposed with Dobby’s visible excitement and the detached interest of Gregory, her New York squeeze.
Hipsterdom was in Peep Show’s satirical sights this week, coming under fire for its self-absorption and general pomposity as Gregory live-tweeted his headache and blogged about counterfeit coffee.
Despite the comedic prospects afforded by lampooning Gregory and his beard, however, the real star of this week’s show was undoubtedly Super Hans.
From his nonchalant reaction to Jez’s gay antics (“Hmm. Fair play.”) to his description of Mark as a “meat-and-potatoes, straight-up-and-down, Beef-Wellington, Don’t-trust-the-Argies, dick-in-the vagina, cheddar-cheese and chicken-tikka-masala-man”, Super Hans’ contribution to the episode was inspired. His casual references to ‘doing’ his friend and garrote murder show that although his wild days may be behind him, the degenerate beast that is Super Hans will always be lurking deep beneath the ‘Norm’ that he’s aspiring to be, like some depraved cross between Robert Louis Stevenson’s Mr Hyde and Blue Velvet’s Frank Booth.
With Hans’ wedding taking place in the show’s climax (and only four episodes to go before the show’s concusion), this may well have been Matt King’s last hurrah as the Super Hans of old; if that’s truly the case then he left by stealing the show and, fittingly enough for the drug-addled loon, finishing on one hell of a high.
In the aforementioned wedding, Jez took centre-stage with an impromptu, rambling best man speech about sexual identity that came to focus on fluidity instead of fluids. (“Generally I don’t have Mark’s jizz on my leg.”) Meanwhile, Mark’s epiphany that he was finally over Dobby was hamstrung by fisticuffs and recrimination by Gregory and his digital sleuthing. It’ll be interesting to see if the flatmates are allowed to continue this fledgling journey of enlightenment as we continue through this final series or if next episode, things will return to normal with Mark once more pining for Dobby and Jez seeking nothing more than the pleasures of the flesh.
Whatever does happen, as long as the quality is this good then we’re in for a treat. The show has begun its final series with a couple of great episodes and has the swagger of Johnson in his pomp sailing around with an air of confidence about it like the last Beamer out of Saigon. Speaking of Johnson, hopefully we’ll get to see more of him, Sophie, Jeff and a few of the other regulars in the coming weeks, as well as seeing how Mark resolves his differences with the William Morris-loving Jerry.
As for this week though? A real treat. Peep Show is so becoming right now that this week it literally became its title: the peep show segment through Mark’s webcams serving as the episode’s highlight with everything else being not too far behind. Honk that horn El Dudes, on this form, you’re riding off into the sunset in style.