It’s hard to review episodes of Bob’s Burgers sometimes because every episode, even the weaker ones, are so consistently good. I absolutely loved last week’s episode, and while I’m not as enamoured of this one, it’s only because the plot is fairly simple and less weird and wacky, but it works.
Bob and Linda, on a wine-fueled whim (“This is why we made a no signing up for things when drunk rule”–oh Bob, we are thought-twins), sign Bob up for a burger cooking competition at Wonder Wharf. Bob is competing against Jimmy Pesto, who seems to have become even more pathetic since the last time we saw him, and the hip, charismatic up-and-coming celebrity chef Skip Maroosh (Kumail Nanjiani, whose voice I immediately recognized because I watch a lot of Portlandia). Bob is planning on using an unusual, delicious ingredient–black garlic–to kick up his burgers a notch until he realizes that Gene, who was in charge of packing the black garlic, has forgotten it at home. When Gene messes up AGAIN and accidentally squishes the garlic against his shirt, the kids book it to Figjam, a pretentious specialty food store, to buy more and stop the owner, who’s banned the Belcher kids from the store for being irritating and disruptive, from sabotaging Bob’s recipe.
Food is an important part of Bob’s Burgers, and not just because the show’s title includes the name of one. It would’ve been easy to have a show about a struggling burger restaurant be in such dire straights because the food sucks, but Bob’s Burgers proved early on that Bob is actually a phenomenal burger chef. He cares about great flavour pairings, fresh, high-quality products, and hilariously bad burger puns (“Put it All On Black Garlic” Burger). The reason why the restaurant does so badly is that it’s located in a tacky tourist resort town, where convenience, 2-for-1 drink specials, and “Italian-flavoured foods” are far more popular (although I can’t imagine Jimmy Pesto’s getting good publicity from a competition where all three judges spit out his “Just a ton of oregano” burger).
Bob ends up losing the Best Burger competition, a lame corporate-sponsored cookoff with a biased host who hates him, but with foodies, he wins big. The Belchers arrive back at the restaurant greeted by a lengthy line of eager patrons who all want to try the black garlic burger. Bob will probably continue to be under-appreciated by mainstream audiences, but among people who know quality and have great taste, he’ll always be No. 1. And the same can be said of the show itself.
This is also a sweet episode for Gene and Bob. I dislike Gene-heavy episodes when the show focuses too much on his manic energy and eccentricities, but here we get a glimpse at how goal-oriented and driven he is, especially when he knows he’s messed up. Gene acknowledges his mistakes, takes full responsibility for them, and will do whatever it takes to set things right, even if it means having the willpower to ignore a chocolate robot and a hot fudge car wash. While Bob is initially angry, he realizes that he secretly wants Gene and the kids to be late with the garlic, because it gives him an excuse to channel his frustration into something other than his fear of failure. Bob’s specifically picked Gene, his least responsible kid, to have the most important job as a way of sabotaging himself. It might seem mean, but it ends up being quite sweet, as Bob admits that he loves Gene for exactly who he is, and that means accepting his tendency to become easily distracted, as well as his big heart.
- It was a small sideplot, but I’m really loving how frequently the show brings Mickey back, and his part-time job as a pedicab driver and friendly rivalry with ripped giant Manny (“They’re like snakes inside of a leather armchair,” Tina says about Manny’s massive calf muscles) was great.
- I’m always glad to see Ron, Hugo the health inspector’s sidekick. He’s a sweet guy, and his understated, mild-mannered niceness is endearing. I’m especially glad to see him without Hugo, who was one of my least-favourite reoccurring characters back in the first three seasons.
- If there are any Brooklyn Nine-Nine fans in the house, the “excellent mouthfeel!” guy and Detective Boyle would probably get along swimmingly.