Is it terrible that I kinda like Brett? Sure, he’s a bully who cheated on his wife, disrespects Steve Urkel, and obviously has seen every Fast & Furious movie at least six times (I can picture him mouthing the dialogue along with Vin Diesel). But at least he’s taken the right message from his favorite franchise: the importance of family. I imagine if he’d leaned more into the carjacking aspect, Zoë would’ve served him with divorce papers a long time ago.
Brett gets caught trying to sneak out of Xavier’s mansion, so Danner hauls him into the studio to hear his account of the night. In his best Dom Toretto voice, he launches into the tale, only to be interrupted by Aniq, who sends Danner rooting under the desk for his cellphone while he applies his mad mnemonic skills to the intercom. His faulty button-pushing causes the TV screens to shuffle clips from Xavier’s entire body of work, and, man, is it poignant to see what Xavier contributed to popular culture in just 12 years. He humped floors while singing about women’s erogenous zones. He hunted peckish hippopotamuses with Will Forte. He brought to vivid cinematic life Mr. Daryl Franklin Hall. That seems to be it, really, but you don’t need more than three great works to become culturally indelible. Xavier is the James Dean of trash media.
Yasper, installer of the least intuitive A/V setup in California, pops into the studio to fix Aniq’s intercom kerfuffle. Now the good buddies can retire to the water closet to sift through garbage and listen in on Brett’s secrets. This sounds like my perfect evening: puzzles, great acoustics, and hot, hot murder goss. Though I suppose I could just watch the Oxygen Network in my powder room and get the same effect.
With Aniq and Yasper gone, Brett resumes his story, which of course begins with a badass, tire-screeching car swivel into a parallel-parking spot. Our midlife depressive Corey Hart strides through the outdoor corridors, removing his shades only when Zoë confronts him about appearing at the reunion after promising to stay home with Maggie. Brett vows he won’t stand in the way of Zoë doing her own thing tonight as long as that thing is standing in a virginal row with her lady friends and being home by 9 p.m. Sliding his shades back on, he struts into the gymnasium. He’s a man with a mission, baby, and that mission is to thoroughly muzzle his wife’s muffin — I mean, preserve his family.
Brett assures Danner he’s “inconspicuous” while watching his wife’s party interactions. In Brett-speak, being “inconspicuous” means he stands right out in the open, staring unblinkingly at Zoë while masticating hors d’oeuvres. Once he concludes that Zoë’s conversational partner, Aniq, poses no sexual threat to him, he takes five to go christen the urinals. Initially, he seems to be alone, but suddenly Xavier appears beside him like a studly tinkling phantom and the two engage in a (literal) pissing match. Though Xavier can change his pee pitch, Brett can go louder and longer. But how quickly a gift becomes a curse: Xavier exits the bathroom to mack on Zoë while Brett is still midstream. What’s a man with a healthy flow to do? He lights on the idea of playing his wedding slideshow in front of the entire Class of 2006, which surely will cause Zoë to leap into his arms and back into their marriage, and … nope, she’s leaving the gymnasium.
Brett rushes after her and runs smack into the drunk and rambling Chelsea. Man, something terrible happened to this girl, right? According to Aniq, she turned from “class prez to hot mezz,” experiencing a breakdown and becoming an alcoholic seemingly because of something Xavier did to her on Saint Patty’s Day. I’m not getting “murderer” vibes from Chelsea’s direction (not that my vibe sensor is particularly astute), but I’m genuinely afraid to learn what so traumatized her.
Brett doesn’t have time to share in my concerns; he’s got a clam to jam. Maggie’s already done this through her surprise appearance on the bleachers, and Zoë — annoyed that everyone in her family seems to be trying to block-o her taco (I’ll stop) — demands that Brett take Maggie straight home. Brett promises not to follow Zoë to the after-party, but he’s thwarted by the realization that Kevin Koala is currently en route to said after-party. Brett’s word may be his bond, but Maggie ain’t sleeping until she gets her tiny pouch-mammal, so off they go.
Brett speeds after Yasper’s car, zigging and zagging through traffic in true Toretto fashion and hollering out the window, “Koala! She needs her koala,” which I guess sounds kind of like “I’m gonna kill all of ya.” (Full disclosure: I just spent a full five minutes saying both phrases over and over again like some marsupial-fixated sociopath.) He arrives at Xavier’s house only to be denied entrance by the security guard. But Brett is too fast, too furious to be stopped, and he and the guard engage in an extended fight scene that spills into the catering area from the driveway. Victorious because of street smarts and a skillet, Brett enters the house to get the bear and shove Aniq into a prawn-dappled bush, which draws the attention of Zoë and Xavier on the upstairs balcony. Brett advances the steps to rough up Xavier, and ohmuhgawd, finally, jaunty-hat alert! It’s a purple leather beanie with an adjustable strap, and it absolutely deserves to be chucked off the side of the balcony (Danner knew the hat fell first!).
Zoë leaves, uninterested in watching Brett and Xavier’s (now figurative) pissing match. But before any fisticuffs can ensue, Xavier says something that acts like a karate punch to Brett’s heart: It was Brett’s controlling nature that caused him to lose his wife. Brett puts his fists of fury away and finds Zoë, promising to sign the divorce papers and be completely and utterly honest with her … right after this final lie, swear to God. Brett is wiser than he looks; I imagine poop-based fibs work like gangbusters to get out of conversations.
As Brett searches for his wandering daughter, he spies Chelsea chatting privately with Xavier, Yasper taking selfies alone in the studio, and Mr. Shapiro living his best life with one of his former chemistry students. He finally finds Maggie, plops her back into the car with the koala, and goes inside for his keys only to learn that Xavier has just joined Jaunty Hat in that big Ed Hardy store in the sky.
Aniq, who has been eavesdropping on the story while Band-Aid-ing together bits of garbage-pail note, feels terrible that he so misinterpreted Brett’s behavior. He also seems to be misinterpreting the note, which is a song lyric, right? I’m just not sure murderers write their incriminating documents in rhyme. In any case, Aniq notices that the Es on the paper match those in the “I have diarrhea” pronouncement scribbled on his neck, and he feels right on the cusp of solving the murder. What would also solve the murder is whatever has been recorded by that Daryl Hall eyeball camera. Private eyes: They are watching you.
• Breast-milk products aren’t that bizarre a thing, but I can imagine Indigo is a real menace to the cheese-sample workers at her local Costco.
• Brett’s not great in the “safe driving” or “appropriate language” departments, but keeping fruit snacks in one’s glove compartment washes away a lot of sins.
• Joan’s vote for homekilling king: Sure, Brett’s Facebook password matches the word on Aniq’s neck, and it’s super-credible that Brett can’t spell it worth a damn (that H-placement is tricky). But I don’t think Brett is inclined to write songs, especially ones without family or car terms mentioned anywhere in the lyrics. I’ve got my eye on Yasper, a musician very familiar with the tech equipment and the layout of the house and who’s almost definitely going to get his track-blessing request denied. Ska-pe dun-dun-duuuun.