Tonight’s episode of Bob’s Burgers was, pound for pound, the least laugh out loud hilarious installment of the show’s fifth season. And for most any other show, that would be cause for concern. We do like our comedies to actually be comedic. What tonight’s edition lost in spit-take inducing gags and one-liners, it made up for with a nicely silly plot, and an opportunity to see Tina doing something other than rhapsodizing about boys and horses.
The eldest Belcher child announces to her family that she’s outgrown the Thundergirls (the Girl Scout-like organization of which she was a proud member) and is ready to put her sash in the closet. But she’s pulled back into the fold by her troopleader. The manic adult is desperate to find the double agent in Troop 119, who is giving rival Troop 257 all the leads for the best cookie sale locations, and asks Tina to root out the mole.
Naturally, Tina goes about it in the most passive-aggressive and uncomfortable way possible, which inspires Louise to join the troop and turn up the heat. The youngest Belcher kid starts turning all the girls in 119 against each other, a move that infuriates her sister. As a result, Louise leaves to join the hyper-aggressive girls of 257—the ones that are whittling knives as part of their woodworking project.
The whole thing comes to a head when Tina finally hits on the right solution by feeding the different girls in her troop information about a good cookie sale spot, and waiting to see which one would tip off 257. Sure enough, they find a girl named Reena who has, Infernal Affairs/The Departed-style, joined Troop 119 for wicked purposes.
The episode felt good enough, but it also didn’t have enough oomph to really push it into the deliriously weird realm that it usually dives into so readily. Even the stuff happening on the periphery of the main story, with Linda deciding to go blonde and Gene finding a new wardrobe for himself by dumpster diving, didn’t sprinkle in enough absurdity to raise it to the level that the show has reached in the past. But by the time you’re in the sway of a few hours of binge watching this season, you’ll hardly notice that it hasn’t blown you away. You’ll be too busy moving on to the next one.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.