If the last Bob’s episode was Louise’s opportunity to learn a life lesson, this week is Gene’s. “Even if you’re sad / Take comfort just in knowing / You’ll be okay, it’s Valentine’s Day / Your heart’s not broken, it’s only growing,” he sings to his sweetheart (as well as the whole school, over the PA system) in “The Gene & Courtney Show.” Gene’s heart has been broken, though, as a result of a stirring Valentine’s Day that teaches the middle Belcher that infatuation can be fickle.
Gene’s journey to that realization kicks off with the mundanity of Ms. LaBonz’s morning announcements, which put the dead in deadpan and push him to start a morning show with his former flame-slash-rival Courtney (David Wain). But this time, the roles in their brief middle-school relationship are reversed: Rather than use Courtney for her dad’s amazing music equipment, Gene really falls in like-like with his ex (and everything from her necklace-as-pacifier and her giggle to her forwardness feels much more endearing). Round two of Gene and Courtney’s on-again, off-again relationship can best be summarized with the evolution, devolution, and re-evolution of the couple’s hand interactions, because, hey, middle school:
Romance aside, the Gene-Courtney team is such a hit for the rest of the school they’re described as the Siegfried and Roy of Wagstaff — their rhyming musical announcements are compared to lions, too! They’re quality entertainment, showbiz godsends upon which their A/V adviser (Will Forte) wants to capitalize. But it’s their romance, rather than their shows, that becomes their Montecore. As the couple falls back in like-like with each other, the quality of their announcements dwindles, leading to an ultimatum: They must go all in on the relationship, or they must revert to friends-only to maintain the show’s pizzazz and professionalism.
While Gene has found a second lease on their puppy love, Courtney has become less Gene-crazy and more into the idea of celebrity. That switch introduces Gene (briefly) to unrequited passion, as well as the elementary concepts of choosing career over love and work-life balance (okay, maybe a stretch, but he’s getting a taste). Hence, his aforementioned poetic address. The full transcription is below, because Gene is a legend:
If you have good times, and if you have good rhymes
You may have found your one and only
But then the one you like-like, says take a hike-hike
Then suddenly you’re lonely
But still be glad, even if you’re sad
Take comfort just in knowing
You’ll be okay, it’s Valentine’s Day
Your heart’s not broken, it’s only growing.
“That was a little mushy, but I think it played,” Mr. Grant says afterward, in a cute wink at the audience. What happens next for Gene and Courtney is unclear, but the former reminds the school that even though love can be a fickle, unforgiving war zone, the battles are learning opportunities. The spiel is more for him, as, by episode’s end, it feels like an attitude he’s internalized. (The poem is his very own, true to his burgeoning artistic-genius Kanye moment!) As arguably the most immature, boxed-in character in the show — and one you might have thought was confined to such characterization — the revelation feels like it entails a whole new Gene, one with an extra dimension of depth and selflessness, one who might be growing up to show signs of early onset Tina-isms. (Kudos to the writers for pulling that off in a nostalgic, relatable way.)
For the other Belchers, the stakes in this Valentine’s Day installment are less intense from a developmental vantage point, but they’re still dramatic enough to make Tina have a broken-record panic attack. The eldest Belcher has been charged with handling carnation donations for the school, meaning she volunteered to torture herself, because everybody wants to know who’s getting the most carnations. (And she wants to know if Jimmy Jr. got her one, obviously.) In nice contrast to the last episode, Louise and Tina essentially swap places. But true to her character’s roots, Louise is here to offer the latter her Mandarkian two cents, rather than act as her sister’s conscience:
“Waiting is fun!” Mr. Frond tells Tina, whispering the moral of her story line earlier on. But she can’t wait, so she rips all the donations open, learning the hard part of the seek-and-ye-shall-find maxim in the process. Her initial consequence is ephemeral, rooted in the realization that J-Ju didn’t get her a carnation. The real drama is bigger: With all the donations opened and mismatched, she’s potentially ruined everybody else’s Valentine’s Day.
To that end, Louise and Linda spend most of their time helping Tina rematch the addressless notes with the anonymous envelopes. Meanwhile, Bob brainstorms surreal ways to actually get the 250 carnations needed for the activity — the best of which involves posing as one of the last living Carnation Brothers and demanding 50 flowers for him and each of his brothers. (Behind his bumbling act of love, Bob had offered to help Tina by supplying the flowers for her gig as Cupid. To no one’s surprise, that never happened.) His ridiculously lame shortcuts to do the deed don’t cut it, but fortunately, Bob’s bromantic BFF Teddy takes him to a Flower Mart, where our hero snags 250 red ones (all for the price of his kids’ college tuition — thanks, Teddy!) from a guy who looks like Peyton Manning, already enjoying career No. 2. (No Steve in sight, by the way!)
Sure, Bob pays the (hefty) price for procrastinating, but his reward? He gets to make out with his wife, after the spouses reveal they were superheroes and both helped cover up their daughter’s mess. (Aww … right? Yeah, let’s hear it for suspect-but-devoted parenting.) Rather than any similar sort of cosmic retribution on her part, Tina is rewarded for all her stressful suffering with a rose and a smooch:
The only person who doesn’t really get what they deserve is Louise, but she’s still a little young for this kind of episode. Maybe next year? As a whole, this year’s episode is a little mushy, but it definitely plays. After all, any Gene-centric episode comes with terrific musical components and wordplay (Ms. LaBonz goin’ onz and onz!). Those perks, coupled with the tiny advances in Gene’s maturation and Tina’s love life, made “The Gene & Courtney Show” another triumph in this series’ already-strong repertoire of holiday material. And for what it’s worth, after Gene pours his heart out to Courtney, he’s also rewarded with a kiss — a strategically placed wrench in their story line.
Will Gene pay the price for his earlier treatment of Courtney, or have seeds been planted here for even more like-liking? Has Gene learned not to place his crushes on pedestals — even if they make him like Mondays and mornings — or has he just snapped back out of infatuation and into being classic Gene? (Also, hopefully those announcements really are here to stay.) We’ll have to wait and see, but luckily the wait for another Bob’s is back down to only six days.
Bob’s Bonus Sliders
- “Sitting is bad for you!”
- “Two words: Bra-vo.”
- “The weather forecast is meh.”
- Tina pants alert!
- Mr. Grant looks like he always has one hand in an electrical outlet and the other in a bag of Doritos.
- The scene that starts with Courtney’s egg comment and ends with the kiss is outstanding. God bless, David Wain.
- Sorry, Doug. Your synth is lame now.
- Ms. Merkin is a good friend.
- Let’s get Teddy on Shark Tank ASAP.
- Okay, everybody: Make sure to send your St. Patrick’s Day and Presidents’ Day fan mail to Dan Mintz.