“I only try to talk during meals. That way it keeps me from eating” – Sara Lipinski.
The recap that takes place before this week’s Kidding catches us up on a whole host of plot threads and moments from the last handful of episodes. We’re in the thick of Jeff’s breakdown now and as the show works towards next week’s finale we’re given a whole host of bad actions to mull over.
Jeff seems to have less control over his life than ever. Seb discovers the destruction of his office and potentially makes contact with the Mr. Pickles impersonators in Siberia, who then indulge in leaving threatening and disturbing phone calls for Jeff. I know we’re supposed to believe that these are hungry voice-actors, but with Carrey obviously doing the voices it’s darker and more impactful to see it as Jeff taunting himself over the idea of being replaced in his show. His darker side has taken many forms over the course of the series from acts of destruction to the murder of an animal; these voices could just be another means to express depravity.
This week an online user has created a downloadable game named ‘Lt. Pickles’ in which you take control of Jeff and execute the characters from Puppet Time with a disturbing retro Doom-esque shotgun, leading to the best hand-made title sequence of the series so far. Whilst I wasn’t particularly fond of the cut and paste stylings of it for the first few episodes, now that they’ve started incorporating aspects of the plot I find them ever so charming. As the game is released for free online, Seb sends his lawyers in to hunt it down whilst Jeff himself becomes enamored with it as a way to seemingly truncate his inner anger towards the happiness of the characters around him. It also acts as a way for Carrey to dwell on the inner workings of the character too, his facial expressions continue to sell the performance and dictate the clear line between where Jeff ends and Mr. Pickles begins.
Meanwhile at school Will has unleashed three chickens (labelled ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘4’ – classic) in the lunch hall in order to impress the girl that he likes, which of course brings Jeff, Jill and Peter to his principle. I can’t help but like Peter, he seems to get along with Will and understand his lashing out in order to get the attention of the girl. But he’s too nice, both Jill and Jeff are broken like their son, and stick up for his lewd behaviour to his principle, stating that “sometimes the world needs assholes, they’re living their best lives”. Judy Greer has been incredibly underutilised throughout the series and the brief moment where she breaks down over Will’s lashing out reminding her of Phil’s behaviour just proves her talent. As the Piccirillos then attend a family meal together, harkening back to the unity of last week’s flashback episode, we’re given the most disturbing imagery of the episode. Michel Gondry is back on directing duties these last two episodes, and it’s sequences like Jeff’s nightmarish flashback where he’s able to use as many visual tricks he can. Will offers to show his parents a magic trick (I love how he’s genuinely passionate about magic still), and begins to appear in impossible places across the deteriorating waffle restaurant. Jeff peels back his menu and stares at the wallpaper dripping from the walls as it reminds him of the Chinese restaurant he hurt Phil in last week – supposedly the last time he ever expressed any sort of anger. As the table begins to spin and Jeff is thrown back and forth between the Waffle House and the Chinese restaurant he screams and slams his fists down on the table, forcing him back into reality. We’ve seen Jeff do this before, both on dates and with Vivian, maybe this isn’t a new thing? I like the idea of this being the first time the audience can see what drives Jeff to lash out.
Meanwhile Scott (Bernard White) doubts Dee’s commitment to their marriage after finding Pickles-san performing a naked puppet show for her, and even brushes off the very homosexual urges he’s been having for the entire series. Catherine Keener milks her moments for all their worth, and her relationship with Scott is strained as he blindly believes himself to be a straight man and eventually leaves the home to take a break – prompting Dee to give into temptation and proposition her Japanese visitor for sex. They can still only communicate in English through the use of puppets (a wonderfully surreal plot device) and as Pickles-san admits he’s taken a vow of celibacy as part of his role, Dee’s darker side comes out and she forces him into intercourse. It’s uncomfortable for sure, as Pickles-san calls out “no” multiple times whilst Dee uses him to relieve her tension, losing their ability to speak to one another in the progress.
Tara Lipinski and her lesser known sister Sara are also back as ‘Pickles on Ice’ is rebranded as ‘Tara Lipinski visits Pickle Falls on Ice!’ without the input of Jeff. On the opening day of the show, Seb pushes Sara to take on the role of Mr. Pickles, with Jeff seemingly away at a meal with his family, cashing in on the Lipinski sister’s antagonistic dynamic. Frank Langella continues to play Seb as the driest character on television, whilst his actions may seem hurtful and even evil, he seems to always be straight with everyone, and treats nobody any different. Unlike his children, he’s cut off his emotionality, and therefore destroyed any notion of him lashing out. He’s numb, and one of the most fascinating characters on the show, to the point where his frank conversation with Maddie about his wife leads to fits of uncomfortable laughter. His conversation with Jeff about his impending breakdown is stark and on the surface emotionless, despite us knowing that he genuinely truly cares for his family’s wellbeing.
“Last year your eyes were soft. Now you’re a bagpipe of insanity” – Seb Piccirillo.
Jeff of course returns from his nightmarish meal to find his replacement, possibly the final breaking point for him. Then, even when he attempts to suppress his anger in the ‘Lt. Pickles’ game sat next to Tara Lipinski’s biggest fan young Brian in the audience, he’s refused access as Seb’s lawyers have removed it from the internet. Suddenly he begins to see the images from the game in real life, as the virtual shotgun takes aim at the exaggerated characters on the ice rink. He fires off one shot, then another, and another whilst Sara begins her big spin equipped with the disturbingly-detailed Mr. Pickles head. Jeff takes aim at Mr. Pickles and fires and Sara’s skate blade slices Tara’s neck leaving her bleeding on the ice.
I’ve continuously wondered since the murder of the Lipinski’s parrot whether Jeff would make the transition to human murder, and it makes sense that his actions would be brought about by a technicality. As the crowd screams out, Seb sees his empire crumbling, and no matter how much young Brian blames himself for Tara’s death, Jeff knows it was his intention that made it happen. Perhaps this will allude him into thinking he has some form of higher power? Maybe the guilt will just drive his breakdown darker and darker? What does this mean for Puppet Time and Seb’s career? We’re left with a lot of questions surrounding the fallout within next week’s finale, and I can’t wait to find out.
One thing’s for sure, Jeff definitely tried to kill Mr. Pickles, and the perfect place to do so would be on live television…