Key & Peele is known to find inspiration in politics. With this week’s episode debuting the day after election night, it’s no surprise that the K&P writers’ room took the opportunity to take a jab at the democratic process (not to mention bring back Luther—but more on that in a second).
In this week’s opening vignette, a passenger van filled with minority voters is helmed by two black Republicans (Key and Peele). Disguised as democrats (“You see the color of our skin, don’t you? How could we not blindly vote democratic?”), they have set up various diversions to prevent their liberal passengers from voting. It’s filled with serious talk, including a mention of controversial voter I.D. legislation, but meshes commentary with humor to create a memorable sketch. When the passengers piece together the drivers’ deception, the men evacuate their mission. They leave their van behind, running robotically through a residential street. They move in unison, wearing cookie cutter “dad jeans” and leather jackets, in what is a hilarious finale to a short, but punchy, first bit.
The second sketch abandons politics, instead taking cues from crime-solving programs like CSI and Sherlock, but with a crude twist. Detective Chuck Vaughn, the “greatest sex crime investigator in history,” is a genius crime-solver who can’t help but jerk off after every major revelation in a case. It’s a simple joke that would become tiresome quickly if not for Key’s straight man character, Detective Samwell, and Peele’s spot-on delivery. Although the sketch might not be the duo’s most appealing, it really, really works. The blue-tinted aesthetic immediately resonates with anyone who has watched glossy crime television (i.e. pretty much all of us) and Peele’s performance is so well-crafted that aside from the moments where his character, erm, energetically masturbates, he seems ready for a storyline in Law and Order.
Working in a similar vein, the next segment takes cues from genre films. This time, we’re given a caricature of ‘80s action flicks, complete with VHS aesthetics and a synth-y score. This sketch is, hands down, the funniest of the episode, with a goofy, decadent look that beautifully mimics a bygone era of filmmaking. Long story short, Key plays a kick-ass protagonist hellbent on saving a beautiful blonde (True Blood’s Anna Camp) from her Columbian kingpin captor (Peele). The excess of the protagonist’s neck breaking-which, hilariously, is his only weapon-is exemplified when four guards fall, in a domino effect, after one man takes a frisbee to the throat. The entire sketch is outrageous, and its poolside location, cartoonish wigs, and denim-on-denim costuming all add to the ridiculously fun nature of the entire scene.
The next sketch brings us back to politics, and shows a return of two Key & Peele staples. Peele’s ever-wonderful President Obama is once again joined by his anger translator (and personified id) Luther. This time, they discuss hot button issues like Guantanamo Bay, Vladimir Putin and extremist Republicans, culminating with a very angry Luther yelling that “[w]e got a James Bond villain running Russia, I got congress full of teabaggers, the earth is burning up, and now I gotta deal with all these whiney-ass biotches from my own party!” It’s a familiar bit that’s popular for a reason and it’s perfectly timed for this week’s election.
The episode’s final sketch brings us into a generic froyo shop where Latiya, a morbidly obese employee, trains a new hire on store protocol. We learn pretty early on that she’s gained her excess weight while working at the shop, and, during the scene, her G.I. boyfriend dumps her on the spot after seeing her incredible weight gain for the first time since his deployment. The vignette ends with Latiya binging on frozen yogurt while her trainee looks on. The writing itself isn’t the crowning point of this particular scene—rather, it’s the hilarious characters that Key and Peele pull off. It’s an absolute treat to watch their exchanges, and the vignette’s success is a testament to the show’s outstanding hair and make-up team.
Overall, this week’s episode of Key & Peele will certainly land well with viewers of the show. Even the interspersed car scenes are finally feeling normal, with the days of interstitial stand-up feeling like a thing of the past. All things considered, the defining moments of the episode, and the ones that guarantee laughs, stem from the tiniest nuances. President Obama fist-bumping a drone, for example—hilarious. Key’s action hero dramatically raising his shoulders after defeating the big villain—sensational. The way Peele’s black Republican punches the word “pissed”—gold. These guys have pinpointed their comedy down to a microscopic level. That’s a sign of professionalism, folks.