Wow, leave it Bob’s Burgers to kick off the wrap up of Season 4 with a bang. A two-part cliffhanger with musical numbers, a Bond theme parody, deformed carousel horses, and Zach Galifianakis proudly yelling “Ya mo be there”? What’s not to love?
This A+ episode centers on the Wonder Wharf, the sketchy seaside amusement park that has seen better days but is in some ways the heart of the New Jersey community where Bob’s Burgers is set. The maniacal Felix Fischoeder (voiced by Galifianakis) really wants to sell off the property to build oceanfront condos, and uses Bob as his foil with the promise of an upscale burger restaurant on the ground floor. He tasks Bob with convincing his elder brother Calvin (the landlord of Bob’s Burgers) to sell since the restaurateur has some strange sway over the millionaire.
The plan, of course, works (helped in no small part by the duet Calvin and Bob sing about the glorious future ahead for them both), but is quickly scuttled thanks to a carousel horse nicknamed “Mr. Goiter.” Tina’s favorite wooden steed is about to be demolished and does what she can to protect it, ending up attached to it by way of a bike lock. Eventually freed, she reminds her father of how important Wonder Wharf is to her and the town. Bob quickly comes to his senses and helps bring Calvin back to his. And just as they’re ready to gaze out upon the sunset, Felix shows up wielding a gun (“It’s where I keep my bullets!”) and holding them hostage. To be continued…
This is where writing about a 22-minute sitcom episode gets tricky, especially when I pin it with a perfect score. I can’t make connections to larger themes about community and small town charm and the plight of the working class, mostly because I’m not that kind of theorist, and this show seems to want to avoid such heady discussions.
How Bob’s Burgers achieved perfection tonight was by connecting all of its strengths to make one Voltron-like whole. All the throwaway lines from the characters were sharp and funny (Eugene, about to ride a roller coaster for the first time: “I’m going to die and I never got to see Hall & Oates!”). They weaved in musical elements in ways that never felt corny or distracting, not even Tina’s heartfelt “Goodbye, Mr. Goiter … I love you so much!” And the performances by all the voice talent were spot on, especially Jon Benjamin’s ability to convey so many different sides of Bob with the slightest inflection and Galifianakis as the mentally unhinged Felix.
It’s for all these reasons that Fox still rightfully sees such promise in Bob’s Burgers even if the number of viewers has yet to return to the heights of the first season. Loren Bouchard and everyone involved are hitting their creative stride in a big way and should make for an incredible second part to this cliffhanger season finale, as well as setting the table for a great Season Five.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.