Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp Review: “Dinner” (Episode 1.05)

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<i>Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp</i> Review: &#8220;Dinner&#8221; (Episode 1.05)

Every superhero needs his origin story. Batman watched his parents die. Spider-Man watched his uncle die. Hell, a lot of people become superheroes because of deaths. But all it took for Jonas to become Gene—the hero of Camp Firewood—was a prank phone call from Victor saying his food was contaminated with dick farts. With this call to action, we get the final step in the transformation from Jonas to Gene. As expected, it’s absolutely hilarious.

After “Dinner,” I would have no problem with another Wet Hot series focused solely on Gene trying to hunt down Victor so he can “kill him like a soup.” Their chase is incredible, since apparently Gene can skip as fast as Victor can run, not to mention that both of their detection and jumping skills are incredibly impaired for some reason.

This diversion is such an unnecessary part of the show in general and really doesn’t push any of the story forward, but it’s so damn funny, so who cares. The only real impression it makes is that it is one of the last straws in breaking down Gene’s sanity and it makes him slightly late to his own wedding. But Ken Marino’s reaction to Gene finding out who he is after making his phone call is brilliant. The fear in his eyes and his terror as to what to do next might be one of the funniest things in this entire series.

It seems like Gene has been pretending to be Jonas to make Gail happy, but at their wedding, he comes clean to her about his true self, which she accepts. Yet it’s the arrival of Jeff, the man who Gail knew for about five minutes, showing up at the wedding and asking to marry Gail instead that leaves Jonas/Gene alone. Maybe the strangest part of this origin story is that this hardly seems like a catalyst of change for Gene. It’s almost as if this is the first step in Gene being proud of who he is, by letting go of the Jonas persona, donning his apron, bandana, blue cut-off shirt and immediately growing his beard to become the Gene we know and love. He may not be the hero Camp Firewood deserves, but he’s the hero they need.

Electro City is also causing relationship statuses to change all over the place. Susie and Claude have a private, fireside dinner meeting about the show, which leads to them getting naked. Meanwhile Ben and McKinley get closer practicing their zoot suit routine. But it’s the growing relationship between Andy and Katie that is surprisingly charming. Andy is gross and an ass, but his childish ways make it clear why exactly Katie would be interested in him. Besides the fact that he’s, like, cut. From marble. Sure, Andy is, in his own words, just trying to fart his way into that snatch, but his renewed dedication to the play and Katie’s interests as well as his humor make him a completely compelling prospect for Katie.

“Dinner” is also an exciting step forward in Beth and Greg’s fight against Xenstar, as we meet lawyer Jim Stansel, played by Michael Cera. Jim Stansel is briefly mentioned in the film (and the name has been used in the majority of David Wain’s films) but Cera’s Stansel might be the best iteration of this name. Stansel is undefeated in slip-and-fall cases and public urination, but taking on the U.S. government? Well that’s another story. Thankfully Beth and Greg have a dot matrix printout that proves everything against Xenstar, so this should be a pretty open and shut case, right?

We’re headed for an electric night after this electric day, with a musical and a trial coming up, but it’s great to just take a bit of time off of major plot developments to watch the insanity that is Gene’s transformation before we get deep into what is to come. By focusing more on fun tangents than on story, “Dinner” becomes one of the most flat-out hilarious episodes of the entire series.

Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. They might call him Johnny Piss Pot down at the courthouse, but he’s no Freddy Fuddy Duddy. You can follow him on Twitter.