Bob’s Burgers: “The Kids Run Away”

(Episode 4.19)

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Bob’s Burgers: “The Kids Run Away”

Who among us, as children, has not threatened to run away from home when the pressure got too great or we didn’t want to clean the kitchen? But how many of us actually followed through on our threats? The Belcher kids are not your average youngsters, as you well know, so when one of them threatens to run, you’d best believe they’re gonna do it.

The runaway in this episode was Louise, an escapee from the prison that is her dentist’s office after learning that she has a cavity. After retrieving her “go bag” (including a fake cell phone filled with candy and Twinkies), she’s forced to bunk with her Aunt Gail after the hotel she tries to stay at will not accept that she is 46 and survived Vietnam.

Once Bob and Linda find out Louise’s whereabouts, they fight fire with fire, betting their youngest daughter that she won’t last the weekend with Gail. Seems like a safe bet considering Gail’s penchant for cats, terrible poetry (“Happy things we should send into space/a jar of mayo/magazine clippings of Scott Baio/that songs that starts with ‘Day-O’”) and her tried-and-true method of falling asleep: pretending it’s the apocalypse and the only way she can be saved is by hiding in her bed.

It’s a hilarious mess, particularly when Tina (both she and Gene hide out there, too) insists they play their aunt’s made up board game, Gail Force Winds, which includes a blender as a game piece and getting past the Cliffs of Huxtable. Impressively, Louise makes it to the end of the weekend, so Linda has to break out the big guns: having Tina offer her sister a celebratory dish of ice cream. Ouch. Eventually Louise does get the cavity taken care of (if only because everyone promises to play act that the trip to the dentist is a life-or-death situation complete with finger guns and pretend grenade explosions).

I’ve probably said this already in my reviews, but Bob’s Burgers really does work best when there’s just one plot thread for all the characters to work off from. The little tendrils that feed off of it make for some great color and weird bits of humor, like Teddy’s suggestion that when Bob and Linda stake out Gail’s apartment they get some food (“Get some steak! It’ll be a takeout steak stakeout!”), but it follows the through line without getting distracted by a second plot or other incidentals. And if it involves Gail’s ridiculous poetry, all the better.

Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.