After the rush of excitement from “Electro/City” and before the insanity of the final episode, “Staff Party” is the cool down period for Camp Firewood between the show’s two biggest episodes. We don’t even see Beth or the aftermath of The Falcon’s double-murder. Instead the most excitement we get is if Victor will get the condoms he needs. With “Staff Party,” it’s already lights out, and now it’s time to get everyone ready for the last few hours of the first day of camp.
As the Wet Hot American Summer film shows us, Coop has been watching Katie make out with Andy all summer. With “Staff Party,” we get closer to Coop being single and pining and Katie and Andy finally getting together. After Donna and Yaron try to have a threesome with Coop moderately involved, Coop finally stands up for himself and Donna’s attempts to change him. This is just wishful thinking, but I hope if the story of Wet Hot does continue in some form, we cut to the period when Coop and Susie dated. We’ve seen both of them involved in two separate relationships that are completely wrong for them and frankly I just want to see what went wrong between those two.
Meanwhile Andy and Katie’s stupid argument ends when they both realize that it’s been stupid. They grossly kiss and make up, only to cause the beginning of a war between Camp Firewood and Tiger Claw, led by Katie’s former boyfriend Blake. I’ve said this before, but this show is quite an accomplishment in making the audience want to see Andy and Katie together, even though we have already seen how big of a douche Andy is towards Katie by the end of the summer. It even makes me not want to see Coop succeed with Katie, which of course he won’t. And besides, who wouldn’t pick Andy? I mean he plays the hell out of “I Am the Wolf, You Are the Moon.”
Victor and Neil’s virginity bet also heats up, with Neil’s high school girlfriend Shari (played by Beth Dover, Joe Lo Truglio’s actual wife) coming for the staff party and Victor just deciding which girl will be his supposed millionth girl. Things are going great with Shari, until the camp plays a silly, harmless game on her, calling her a pig and oinking at her, causing her to run out of the Round House and away from Neil.
We also for the first time see how Victor acts when trying to pick up girls, which is to act as terrified and nervous as possible. Choreographer Rhonda sets her sights on him though and tells Victor to meet her with some condoms. Victor goes to a convenience store, picks up a comb, TV Guide, keychain, deck of cards, condoms and lube. We get a great play off the typical condom-purchasing scene, where the clerk asks for a price check on every item except the embarrassing ones, leaving Victor to scream that he just wants the fucking condoms and lube.
Victor of course can’t have sex when he has the shot, confused by condoms to a ridiculous level, leaving Rhonda to suggest that he just lie to everyone that he had sex with her. Poor Victor. Maybe one day? There’s only a few episodes in this season where we get an actual arc for Victor, but when we do, they’re always incredibly hilarious. He might be the unexpected VIP of First Day of Camp.
“Staff Party” provides plenty of build up for the final episode as well, with the campers discovering that Lindsey is in fact a rock journalist in her twenties, who earlier that day was set on her camp assignment and now already has it in print. That’s a hell of a turnaround. Everyone feels completely betrayed by her, including Eric, who calls her a bloodsucker, then proceeds to destroy his new song that Lindsey motivated him to finish. Little Kevin Appleblatt finally admits his feelings to Amy during a game of Seven Minutes in Heaven, only to have Amy shoot him down and enter the make-out closet with Kevin’s enemy Drew. And let’s not forget the introduction of DJ Ski Mask, Ben’s DJ persona, which also allows Bradley Cooper to technically be in more episodes that his one day of shooting allowed. To be fair, for only getting one day of Cooper, this show got plenty of material out of him, and he’s been fantastic throughout.
Even though it’s an episode focused on setting up the finale and wrapping up a bunch of loose ends, “Staff Party” is still excellent. It might be a bit slower and less reliant on insanity than the episodes that surround it, but it’s the perfect calm before the storm that ends this first day of camp.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You should try the moo shu pork, you might like the way it tastes.You can follow him on Twitter.