Field Trips are always something I looked forward to in school, and I had the same anticipation for this episode of Vice Principals when I saw that “The Field Trip” would be the title of the episode. A field trip always broke up the monotony of the class room and somehow, being out of the school environment always showed new sides to the school administrators who went on the trip. The same logic was certainly applied for this episode. Though it’s only the third episode, the writers must have figured that spending majority of the running time away from the halls of the school will allow us to forget about Neal’s pursuit of Dr. Brown’s demise and job and let us to find out more about his character.
The problem is, as I said above, it’s only the third episode. Last week’s outing was unpredictable and escalated Gamby and Russell’s war against Dr. Brown immensely. With the momentum of last week’s fire still burning brightly, it feels weird that the show would ease off that plot so early on. Also, sidelining Russell for almost the entire episode when he and Gamby’s scenes have been far and away the best aspect of the show thus far seems misguided.
It’s not that we can’t explore these two characters individually, it’s just that this episode doesn’t really show us anything about Gamby that we don’t already know. We know he’s not liked by the other teachers; we know that he’s insecure and threatened by other people easily. The only time I’m surprised by Gamby is when he’s with Russell, like when he suddenly hulked out last week and got caught up in breaking shit. Basically, I think the best things we could learn from these characters will come from them interacting together.
The episode centers on Neal realizing that his crush Ms. Snodgrass is going along on an overnight field trip with the handsome, likeable young teacher Mr. Hayden. Threatened by Hayden, Gamby weasels his way on to the trip and convinces Russell to let him have Russell’s file on Ms. Snodgrass so he can manipulate her into liking him. But predictably, Gamby acts like “a bitch ass” ruining the trip for the other teachers, only becoming useful when he discovers that two drunken students are missing and rallies the other teachers to locate them. There are some funny moments, especially coming from the awkward, hot-for-Gamby Ms. Abbott and a waiter who is not having any of Gamby’s sassiness, but nothing tops the first two minutes of the episode, when Neal and Lee are disparaging Dr. Brown, the morning after they burned down her house.
I have to come back to Ms. Abbott though. After Gamby regretfully sleeps with her, she discovers Russell’s binder on Ms. Snodgrass and is disturbed by the in-depth information it contains. She’s right to be horrified; within the binder, Russell has acquired information as sensitive as shredded up bank statements that have been reassembled, which says a lot more about the darkness of his character than anything we find out about Neal in this episode. Now with Ms. Abbott knowing about this invasion of privacy, it’s a loose end that could come back to hurt Neal and Lee.
After turning things up a notch last week, Vice Principals dialed things back considerably and broke up the duo that has proven to be their not-so-secret weapon. The episode was still enjoyable, but you can’t go back to average after being incendiary.