What would you dooo-ooo-ooo for a brand-new car? (For maximum impact, sing to the tune of the Klondike-bar jingle.) That seems to be the question on everyone’s mind this week as the Party Down crew works an event for a fledgling political group with Nazi-adjacent ideologies. Ron has taken the questionable gig because his van is about to be repossessed. Throughout the episode, we find out that Sackson, Henry, and even Roman have bent their morals to make enough cash to either purchase or maintain their respective vehicles.
We’ve seen the Party Down crew take on less-than-savory jobs in the past, but it’s never literally catered to white supremacists. This episode oddly encourages us to see far-right extremists as people, even going so far as to introduce America’s favorite gruff cuddle bear, Nick Offerman, as a wealthy Hitler sympathizer named Dermott. The cameo is delightful, especially since it pairs Adam Scott with his old Parks and Recreation pal, but sadly we don’t get to see Offerman and his IRL wife, Megan Mullally, share the screen.
Dermott is helping to bankroll the PI2A Symposium, an event headed by a nervous dude named Stuart (Calum Worthy). The symposium proudly features PowerPoint presentations focusing on “disordered twinks” and “full-on skull-shape stuff” and a keynote speech in which Dermott lauds the ideals of Hitler’s Germany. Stuart is certainly a fascist, but he gets a bit squirmy when Dermott insists on saying the quiet part out loud by throwing Hitler into the mix, so he asks his investor to cool it with Sein Führer.
News of the nature of the event starts to trickle through the Party Down staff, and everyone has a slightly different reaction. Lucy is outraged, refusing to allow her lovingly prepared food to be eaten by these people. Ron impotently argues with her while simultaneously trying to wrangle Kyle into circulating with the trays, but Kyle decides to join the protesters gathering out in front of the venue instead. It’s the least he could do for his image after the whole Nitromancer debacle, right?
Lucy continues her standoff with Ron, and in an impulsive huff, she smacks two large plates of appetizers out of his hands. Ron is no stranger to insubordination, though. Determined to work the event and get paid, he slowly slinks the last tray out from under her nose, eyeing her carefully in case she makes any sudden moves. He gingerly pivots toward the door and — ding! — catches the tray on the doorjamb. The ’dervs go flying, and we’re all reminded that Ken Marino is the king of physical comedy. Honestly, when I saw this scene for the first time, I laughed so hard that I had to pause the episode for a good five minutes. Every time I think of it, I still laugh. In fact, I’m laughing as I type this. God, this show is so funny.
At first, Sackson is too busy filming spon-con for his TikTok page to really care about the Nazi of it all. To Roman’s utter surprise, the dance video Sackson filmed in Jack and Evie’s reflective bathroom garnered over a million views. Roman is jealous, as his prestigious vlog has probably never seen such numbers, but he does generate enough traffic to buy a new certified, pre-owned car. Sackson dismisses the idea of a used car, stating that he wants to buy an actual new car, but first he has to wrangle with Wombachu. He’s not clear on what exactly Wombachu is, but he drinks it until he makes himself sick … and then drinks more of it. He’s gotta stack those bills somehow, pride and intestinal health be damned. Cars cost money. (Why he doesn’t just empty out the bottle and pretend to drink it on camera is unclear.)
In the wake of the Nazi revelation, Henry is the only one who manages to keep his shit together, putting his head down and continuing to tend bar. Ever the dutiful bartender, he even goes so far as to tolerate Stuart’s constant whinging about how difficult it is to start an extremist hate group. Later in the episode, Henry claims that “some people still suck, but they’re still people.” Knowing that this is Henry’s ethos explains why he’s actually a really great bartender. He’s always listening and keeping an eye out for motivation and character, which is why he’s also such a good actor.
The middle of the episode is chaos, as everyone is everywhere all at once. While Henry sneaks across the street to grab a set of keys from Evie so he can give them to two of his students, Kyle heads outside to protest. At first, he just wants someone to run lines with him, but when the protesters question his commitment to the cause, he really gets into it. Kyle has always been a people pleaser through and through, and here he gets swept up in the anarchy of it all just because some random chick scoffed at his motivation. But being seen protesting a Nazi-adjacent event is kind of exactly what Kyle needs for his career right now, so maybe this is a step in the right direction to uncancellation?
Back in the kitchen, Lucy and Roman are gearing up for a rebellion of their own, but not before getting a dose of reality. As the protest rages on outside, Dermott makes his way back to the kitchen to compliment the chef. Lucy is enchanted by his attention to detail. Offerman chews up the scenery with delight, delivering vividly memorable lines like “You must feel like an eagle on a Greyhound bus” and “It’s like falling from a great height into a fjord” with gusto. And when he says, “I loathe your politics, but I appreciate your art,” it feels almost like a commentary on the need to separate the art from the artist in the wake of the Me Too era. Obviously, the roles are reversed here — with the abhorrent mind-set being practiced by the appreciator of the art, not the creator — but it’s still a valid critique. Minutes later, when Sackson reveals to Roman that his vlog’s audience is full of Nazis and incels and incel Nazis, the question returns: Is it cool for Roman to profit off creating content for these types of people, even if he didn’t purposefully mean to do so?
Ultimately, both Lucy and Roman decide that they want to rid themselves of cognitive dissonance by exercising their right to fuck some Nazis up. So they douse the remaining appetizers with Sackson’s leftover Wombachu. But before they can bring the trays out to the floor, Kyle snatches them up and delivers them to the protesters. No worries, though — the protesters were plants placed there by Stuart to drum up outside interest in the symposium. Stuart gets the attention he wants when a gang called the Rowdy Boys — presumably a fictional stand-in for the very real neofascist group the Proud Boys — arrives to bully and fight the protesters, but the gang doesn’t know that the protesters are also Nazis. It’s Nazis all the way down … except for poor Kyle, who ends up getting pummeled something fierce.
The Rowdy Boys end up causing damage to the event space, which Stuart is then responsible for paying to fix. He heads into the kitchen to tell Ron that payment won’t be forthcoming. Henry is there talking to his students Riley and Cloris about Riley potentially quitting the school play because she doesn’t see the merit in acting. Even though he has been kicked about by Hollywood, Henry still has a healthy respect for the craft as well as a desire to flex his acting muscles. As Stuart comes in, shouting about how he can’t pay, we can see the moment when Henry decides to intervene with his superior thespian skills.
Adam Scott delivers an acting performance for the ages here. As he begins to shift into character as a desperate, downtrodden, borderline hysterical dude, we’re seeing Scott act as Henry acting as this fictional dude. Henry makes a few overly dramatic choices that serve to give the game away to the viewer before he reveals that he’s been acting the entire time, but overall he’s pretty convincing. In fact, he’s convincing enough to get Stuart to bend his no-Hitler policy by asking for a financial boost from Dermott. Dermott is thrilled that Hitler gets to stay on the menu, and everyone gets paid.
In the end, Nazi money spends just like regular money, and Ron gets to keep his van; Roman gets to enjoy his certified, pre-owned car; and Henry gets to fix up his old junker. The coda to the episode sees Henry reminiscing about his old BMW as he shows his students the “beer ad” he was in 20 years prior. At first, they’re delighted to discover that Mr. Pollard is the star of one of their favorite memes, but Henry scoffs at the image. He cues up the commercial on the iPad, and for a glorious moment, it seems as if we might actually see it! Alas, we don’t, but we do finally get to hear the line reading that earned Henry his fleeting fame. He’s still not having fun yet. But he may be getting closer.
• Evie is very cute and sweet, but her presence in this episode didn’t make a ton of sense. I did love the way she cautiously asks what the event is even though she seems to already know.
• When Lucy said, “I hate when people I agree with look stupid,” I felt that.
• Stuart has an ex-wife? He looks way too young to have an ex-wife! I truly thought he was in his early 20s, but a quick search shows that actor Calum Worthy is actually 32 years old. Share your skin-care secrets, Calum!
• What’s up with Donkey Doug, a.k.a. Mitch Narito, appearing as a protester but getting no lines? Narito had a very memorable recurring role on NBC’s The Good Place as Jason Mendoza’s idiot dad, and it would have been so fun to see him play off Kyle, the resident idiot of Party Down.
• Roman yelling about Henry having sex is so high school but also exactly what food-service staff talk about when they’re not sprinting around in a service aisle. Restaurants run on gossip like America runs on Dunkin’.