Bored to Death
So much for wrapping things up neatly on what might be Bored to Death’s final season. In this episode’s final scene, George is dancing with his daughter, having begrudgingly accepted her wedding to Bernard, Ray is swaying with that old woman he met earlier, and Jonathan is making out with his sister Rose. See, he was just about to tell her that they’re more Luke/Leia than Han/Leia (despite Jonathan’s seemingly magical ability with a gun), but he’s just too happy in the relationship to end it. “We all have our thing,” Ray says — or something to that effect — and I guess Jonathan has found his thing, and that thing is incest?
I dunno. This whole incest plotline has left a bad taste in my mouth; it feels far too dark for Bored to Death, normally a show that finds levity even in gangster beatings and senseless murdering — and in the case of last night, even parental disappointment. I suppose there had to be something to ground the fantasy action star scenes in which Jonathan found himself starring.
The episode begins right where we left off last time: Jonathan is in the aquarium talking to the hat store owner who is, in fact, his father. He had been running a racket as the owner of the sperm bank, providing all the seed himself — with thanks to “cases of vitamin E” — and Jonathan is coming to grips with the fact that he and Rose share at least half their DNA. Jonathan leaves to speak to Ray about this new development, who only provides the advice to “wear condoms … It’s Brooklyn, after all.” (BECAUSE OF ALL THE CASUAL SEX WE HAVE WITH OUR SISTERS.) And despite seeming completely unaffected by the new development, he returns to the hat store to seek more clarity, finding his father packing up his things to leave in a hurry. Seems he owes some people money, and when those hooligans show up, Jonathan tails them to the nearby baseball stadium.
Earlier in the episode, Jonathan’s dad speaks to the dichotomy of existence. Dark needs light, he says; good guys need bad guys. “Nothing I Can’t Handle” speaks directly to this dichotomy by making the bad guys really bad — the men who kidnap Jonathan’s father are barely logical and extremely trigger-happy — and making the good guys really good. After Jonathan’s discovered by his dad’s captors, his dad makes a deal: He’ll go out and get the money he owes, and Jonathan will stay behind as collateral. The grin on his face as he exits betrays the fact that he’s probably not coming back, thus Jonathan is trapped in a baseball locker room with three guys ready to rough him up. So he fakes a call to his dad and lets George know what’s happening and that he needs rescuing. George leaves the restaurant, where he’s planning his daughter’s wedding. Ray leaves a Super Ray signing event, where he’s receiving some much-needed hero worship by superfans. The word “hero” gets thrown around a lot in our world, and in Bored to Death, George and Ray’s unwavering commitment to their friend is downright heroic. I mean, Ray was signing a guy’s penis! A real hero can leave that behind for the sake of the greater good.
George and Ray arrive at the stadium and concoct a ramshackle plan, per usual. George lures the gangsters out of their hiding spot by speaking over the PA system, and Ray plus his minions (Gabe from The Office chief among them) charge at the gun-toting bad guys like they’ve got nothing to lose. Only they very much do have something to lose, their lives, and they quickly decide to retreat. One guy falls over. And once he realizes his friends are in serious danger, Jonathan snaps into fantasy suave detective mode. He knocks the bad guys out with a bat, runs around the bases as they fire at him, slides into home while grabbing a gun and firing off a few rounds that disarm — but not wound — his assailants. Clearly, “wish fulfillment” is a huge part of Bored to Death’s appeal.
But after showing us that in fact Jonathan’s dad didn’t ditch out on him, the action shifts back to George’s On Jane, where George has prepared a feast for his daughter and Jonathan can tell Rose the truth. But he doesn’t, and he kisses her as the final credits roll. I’m not quite sure what the future holds for Bored to Death, but it gave its viewers a taste of the fetishized Brooklyn lifestyle, highlighting struggles with growing up (with Ray and Spencer), accepting that things don’t go your way all the time (with George), and longing for a life full of mystery where there wasn’t any mystery before. If only it didn’t have to end on a much more uncomfortable fetish entirely.