If you’ve returned to Camping in hopes of finding Kathryn McSorley-Jodell has somehow become more grounded, more believable, or at the very least, more tolerable, you will be disappointed. I can’t get the image of Kathryn carrying Orvis — well past the carrying-age — into the local medical center and screaming for help after he’s (gently, let’s be honest) knocked over during a flag football game, out of my mind. Perhaps it was meant to be funny in a slapstick way, but my only note was: “Is this person for real right now?”
And so Kathryn brings her camping weekend reign of terror to the outside world. She demands that they give Orvis an MRI and a full body scan (“I don’t even know what that would mean,” Dr. Chan responds), despite the fact that Orvis repeatedly says he’s fine, shows no signs of a concussion, and both Dr. Chan and Walt insist Orvis just took a tumble (of course it was at the hands of Jandice, OF COURSE). This is her miracle baby! She will not let him unknowingly bleed internally!
As with all things, Kathryn quickly makes Orvis’s “accident” very much about herself. The nurse comes in to find that she’s hooked herself up to the machine to check her own vitals, as her body is “breaking down” after dealing with Orvis’s trauma. She winces any time Walt attempts to comfort her. Clearly, the thing she is most mad about is that none of the rest of the group has made it to the hospital to see her pain and how she pushes through it. How dare they not be there to witness the horrors she deals with on a daily basis, you know?
The problem with this character seems to be that the show wants her to somehow be both ridiculously unlikable and sympathetic. In “Going to Town” Kathryn delivers a quiet speech to Orvis about how “you can feel fine, but also know that you are a ticking time bomb.” That the scariest part of life is knowing that sometimes “your insides don’t match your outside.” Kathryn is emotionally traumatized from her surgeries and in this instance we’re supposed to remember that, to feel a bit of pathos, to understand where she’s coming from. But honestly, wouldn’t it be better if we just didn’t? Even with this backstory, her behavior is terrible and in no way redeemable, so maybe we’d be better off not trying to muddy the waters by halfway towing this line.
Anyway, while Kathryn, Walt, Orvis, Harry, and Nan spend their second day of this four-day trip in the hospital for paranoia’s sake, the rest of the group ditches that idea and after some prodding by Jandice, end up at the local saloon in town doing jelly doughnut shots. Even though George tries to explain that yes, Kathryn is tough and “hot with rage,” but she also “loves intensely” and is extremely loyal, it seems like everyone is thankful for a small reprieve from the party itinerary.
Don’t get it twisted though, just because the rest of the camping party can breathe again, doesn’t mean they are having The Time of Their Lives. Everyone on this show is pretty awful, and all the alcohol only enhances that. Take Joe, who should most definitely not be drinking, least of all because it makes him crankier and meaner than he is while attempting to be sober (seriously, why is Carleen with him?). After he’s done passing shots to his 15-year-old daughter (she throws up soon after and waits outside with a local teenage girl until the grownups have finished their debauchery), he heads over to the bar and casually makes a racist comment to Nina-Joy. Nina-Joy tries to shrug off the incident but is out of sorts for the rest of the afternoon. When she tells George about it, he gets fired up. She doesn’t want him to mention anything, which of course means he will.
George confronts Joe about it, who assumes he is just doing one of his bits because Joe didn’t mean anything offensive by it. It’s definitely not a bit. He doesn’t care that Joe’s late wife was black, he tells Joe that he isn’t allowed to speak to Nina-Joy ever again. Oh, and he’s “not afraid to use [his] physical body” should it come to that.
Joe has another problem after spending the afternoon getting drunk, and it comes in the form of Jandice. Jandice is fresh off of having extremely loud sex in an extremely inappropriate location — this time, a flimsy boutique dressing room. She leaves Miguel, who left his wallet in the store, to go handle the situation with the owner. The guy is not thrilled with what took place in his shop (“I just wiped up your semen with a paper towel”). While Miguel is buying a $5,000 ring (John Cusack gave it to Liz Phair, so) to appease him, Jandice saddles up to Joe at the bar and asks what he’s coming down from. Joe’s addicted to oxycontin. After a very casual conversation about how the opioid crisis is a dark piece of America’s history, Jandice offers Joe an oxy, just to take the edge off. He’s very into that idea. So that should be fun to deal with later!
Thankfully, everyone survives their big day in town and returns to the campgrounds to listen to Kathryn chastise them all for not Venmo-ing her ahead of time for what was supposed to be their fancy steak dinner that night (George forgot the pick up the steaks). They had to have known there’d be no reception out in the woods. Ah, just another day on a camping trip with Kathryn McSorley-Jordell. At least Jandice seemed to have a blast — she remarks on the day with a maniacal laugh just loud enough that you can’t hear Kathryn grinding her teeth in anger over this “coyote” that has been let loose in her camp.
So, like, when are these two ladies going to have it out?
• “Should I be continuing to home palpate?” I’ll be laughing at Garner’s line reading of this for days.
• I would watch an entire 30-minute show that is just David Tennant and Bridget Everett as their Camping characters sitting in a waiting room chatting. They are the buddy comedy we deserve. Tennant’s facial expressions as he listens to Everett’s Harry explain that Nan suffers from “…fear of the dark followed by fear of a second World War II, stemming from a belief in reincarnation and a strong sense that Hitler’s on his way back to us,” was perfect.
• “I boom opped the Robert Downey Jr. episodes of Ally McBeal, so I’m pretty sure I know what drug withdrawal looks like!”