The tenth episode of The Muppets, “Single All the Way,” acts as the mid-season finale and may in itself be a bittersweet finale of a different kind. After all, the show is about to be retooled and while that was very much what it needed after the first batch of lackluster episodes, the show found its footing and now I’m kind of afraid of the idea that the retooling will be unnecessary and even harmful in the long run.
Regardless, this holiday episode is a great ending to this version of the show without giving it any outright finality. While The Muppets has had issues telling a half hour of juggled stories, this time they go all-out by giving us an excessive amount of subplots. They work it out in a way that everyone has something to do while the focus never stays on anyone for too long. Yet despite the limited screentime, everything gets wrapped up well enough.
The episode mostly centers around Kermit’s attempt to get Up Late with Piggy’s holiday show up and running as they don’t have much time left before it goes on the air. Unfortunately, special guest Mindy Kaling is a terrible singer and won’t admit it, Santa Fozzie is a broken mess due to having broken up with his girlfriend, and Piggy soon falls into a state of depression. Meanwhile, Yolanda Rat has rigged Secret Santa so that every gift is for her and Sam Eagle has some mistletoe set up so he can get a kiss from his unrequited crush Janice.
The stuff with Yolanda is a treat. As a minor character, she’s always been fun in her limited role, so it’s great to see her get the spotlight for once. Despite how scummy her actions are, she comes off as terrible in an adorable way. I can’t stay mad at her.
It’s really the section of the show with Piggy that makes it all work. While the show had some growing pains working in actual emotion with these characters, it was the hardest when it came to Piggy. Unlike everyone else, she’s portrayed as a completely awful person. When Kermit broke up with her, it was hard to garner sympathy because Piggy’s regular behavior made Kermit seem justified. They basically evened the odds by having Kermit be a bit shady by rebounding with another pig employee and that just made the show initially toxic.
In “Single All the Way,” Piggy starts to come to terms with her own personal faults and realizes that she’s become a prisoner of her own ego. It’s an incredibly sobering scene to have Piggy come to terms with her flaws because of how rare it is. Even her pained outburst at Kermit for reluctantly reminding her that she was the one who got dumped has more emotional power to it than the series premiere. Through this little plotline, we get some strong closure without outright changing the status quo.
The other special guest is the musical group Echosmith, who really don’t add anything to the show other than an amusing Gonzo gag. It’s another example of bands appearing for the sake of appearing. Meanwhile, the Sam/Janice stuff just doesn’t do it for me.
At the end of the day, it’s the Muppets and it’s Christmas. Those guys know a thing or three about making the holidays work and this is no different. Hopefully the quality continues in 2016.
Gavin Jasper is rather intrigued by the random line about Swedish Chef being married. Follow Gavin on Twitter!