This Vice Principals review contains spoilers.
Vice Principals Season 2 Episode 8
In its penultimate episode, Vice Principals delivered what may have been its finest outing. An action-packed, revenge-filled romp that was as equally funny as technically impressive, “Venetian Nights” finally finds Gamby and Russell airing it out and throwing down. Gamby has been inching closer toward being a redeemable human being the entire season, but now positioned against the true villain that Lee Russell has evolved into, he looks downright heroic rallying the disparate groups within North Jackson High to finally stand up against his tyranny.
Russell’s insane power is on full-display after Superintendent Haas announces that North Jackson has passed the HASP tests with flying colors. Of course, the high test scores came courtesy of Gamby scrambling to save his friend’s skin, but now that Gamby has discovered evidence that points to Russell as his shooter, Gamby looks on from the rafters disgusted by Russell’s arrogant gloating.
That gloating turns into public punishment as Russell uses the guise of a “Gold Star Teacher” award to punish the faculty members that aligned against him. After Russell basks in his moment of victory, he’s then forced to stare down Gamby’s gun as Gamby once again uses his tough guy routine to scare his latest suspect. Gamby gives Russell until the end of the day to resign, but it’s not enough to satiate the teachers, who still believe Gamby and Russell to be in cahoots.
The scene of the teachers in the gym denouncing Gamby because of his friendship with Russell perfectly executes the show’s tone. As the high school students look on shocked, the teachers behave like melodramatic teenagers, turning their emotions up to 11, gloriously overacting. When Vice Principals plays its teachers like the cast of exaggerated ‘80s teen movie, it toes the line perfectly between ridiculous comedy and heightened drama. Fortunately, this scene is topped soon after when Gamby and Russell begin fighting through the halls of North Jackson. Utilizing tracking shots and some long-take steady cams, Danny McBride, stepping behind the camera as the episode’s director, turns the hilariously over-the-top beatdown into a display of camera wizardry by the time Gamby is being escorted out of the school.
Unwilling to let Russell beat him, Gamby hatches a plan to confront Russell at the prom. It’s the perfect setting for the climax of this overwrought episode. Using a diary of childhood secrets, Gamby threatens Russell a final time, and it sticks. Gamby gets a well-earned victory, then slow dances with Snodgrass as the two share a sentimental kiss. With a pulsing ‘80s groove propelling the moment, Gamby’s good conquering evil moment feels like the end of a Nicolas Winding Refn movie. However, a lingering shot on a jealous Ms. Abbott gives credence to my speculation that Abbott planted the evidence in Russell’s Jeep and that she’s the real shooter. I’m sure we’ll know for certain next week.
Season 2 of Vice Principals has been a vast improvement overall, but it hasn’t been more apparent than in this episode. Expertly paced, tense yet silly, and impressively stylized, episodes like this will make me Vice Principals dearly once it concludes next week. With likely one more battle left in the war between VPs, I’m certain Vice Principals will go out with quite a large bang.