This Vice Prinicpals review contains spoilers.
Vice Prinicpals Season 2 Episode 2
Neal Gamby is on a warpath for revenge. Looking for his shooter, it’s likely that Gamby is going to slip further into the darkness that his little vigilante act brings out. Combining his normal, morally grey and often reprehensible behavior with a thirst for vengeance is the recipe for a monster. Thankfully, this week Vice Principals decides to show the conscious that’s still lurking in Gamby even as his paranoia and suspicion grow.
It’s clear that the unsolved nature of Gamby’s shooting is going to be a negative influence on Gamby’s life, but perhaps not more negative than Lee Russell’s influence. Though the pair have developed a genuine friendship based on their shared domestic and professional miseries, it’s apparent that Russell is serving almost like a devil on Gamby’s shoulder. Likewise, Russell is misguidedly inspired by Gamby. Vain and desperate for respect, Russell is hurt when he learns of the other teachers talking behind his back, but he claims he’s following Gamby’s example when he dementedly fires several of the dissenting teachers. Power drunk and letting his ID run wild, Russell feels emboldened by Gamby and encourages him to embrace similar unsavory tactics while looking for his shooter.
Following a new suspect in the case serves as the B-plot to Russell’s battle against the school’s staff. The latest suspect is a boy named Robin that once upon a time was expelled by Gamby after Gamby planted drugs in his locker. When Gamby begins spying on the boy, he learns about the rough circumstances of his life. Instead of doing something wrong-headed to make Robin’s life worse, something Russell would encourage, Gamby decides to help the boy get back into school. It proves that even though he loses his way easily and often, Gamby still has a soul somewhere in that body. And though I hope that the episodes moving forward won’t follow this template, introducing and crossing off suspects, I appreciate the short, complete story that Robin and Gamby were given.
The episode still traffics in plenty of uncomfortable laughs, like Russell calling his wife a queef and Gamby just assuming the race of his shooter. Jokes such as those earn cringe-laughter and highlight the complete lack of self-awareness that these characters possess. Also, once again the episode is shot with a distinct, noirish quality. I like that the show is suggesting that Gamby may begin to see the errors in his behavior while Russell becomes more maniacal. I also appreciate the writers taking their time with the Gamby and Snodgrass situation. Gamby’s continued interest in Snodgrass is just another thing that humanizes the character and makes this more than a show about watching horrible people do terrible thing.