The show had fun with some 80s inspired costumes in last week’s “The Tryst”, but that was just a tease for this week’s Halloween-themed episode. The aptly named “Halloween” may be the most entertaining installment of the show thus far. The writers certainly made use of the series’ talented ensemble successfully, with the usual exception of Natalie Morales, every actor is given his/her moment in the spotlight. Plus, there is a lot of fun character interaction that hasn’t been explored previously. We already knew that Kate and Bert make a fine comedic pair, but this episode the dynamic between Kate and Jackie provides ample opportunities for comedy to arise.
Jackie continues to grow as a presence on the show, much to my liking. The writers seem to really latch onto her as a character and, as of now, is one of the most fully fleshed personalities of the series. Despite the fact that this episode shows Jackie at her most cartoonish, (creepily stalking Kate and Bert clad in a trench coat, ski boots and a cloth bag over her head) it is a great display of Michaela Watkins’ abilities. It is truly a delight to watch her do her thing and the writers do an adequate job with reeling her in and humanizing the character. So even though she is quite over the top and almost unbelievably clueless at times, her endearing qualities (which mainly come from the love she has for her son) balance it out. Watkins’ distinctive line readings and performance style are a great mix of comically broad and surprisingly subtle (“Oh, are you guys doing a bit right now?”), which provides her scene partners a lot to react to. Most of the weird, crazy humor of the episode originates from Jackie’s eccentric personality, but seeing Kate react to the insanity that is Jackie is sufficiently amusing. Their scenes together are entertaining and their final heart-to-heart was equal parts sweet and funny.
Unlike the previous episodes, Kate and Pete are in two separate narratives and apart from a quick phone call, their stories are not related whatsoever. This is the first time Pete significantly veers off from his straight man role and shows some hilariously obsessive tendencies. It is also the first time that made me believe that this man could have actually married both Diane and Jackie. His adamant need for justice and retribution totally relates to Diane’s rigid, and strict disposition, their respect for order and integrity is something that they probably have in common and potentially brought them together. And the ease with which he becomes completely obsessed with this “hooligan” and devolves into a maniacal loon shows his ability to transform into an absolute whack job (anybody who utters the words, “…you show me your butt, I give you candy” is officially named a whack job), much like Jackie herself. Pete’s decent into madness gives Bradley Whitford the opportunity to ham it up and is also a good scenario for the cast to play around in. Diane is, surprisingly, the voice of reason and more even-keeled adult for a change and Warren, suffering the side effects of an ill-timed dentist appointment, delivers some amazing nuggets of comedy. Even Hilary proves to be a worthwhile asset, “Oh my God! Hilary is giving him a blow pop!”
“Halloween” is certainly a great episode of “Trophy Wife” and shows the growth the series has taken in the short amount of time since its premiere, it is becoming evident that the writers are coming to their own and have a clearer sense on what they'd like the show to be. The cohesiveness of the stories and the constant output of jokes and gags keep up the pace and make for a fantastic half hour of comedy.
Quotes & Observations
- “Not funny, guys, you know I’m scared of bad teeth.”
- “Wait, hold up. Robert Downy had a son?”
- “I’m Queen Elizabeth. Let the eat cake!”
- I appreciate the refusal (on the writers’/producers’ part) to take advantage of Malin Akerman’s obvious hotness and dress her up in a slutty/sexy costume. Instead we are treated to the hilariously elaborate but also unsexy centaur getup. Is that chest hair she has on her top? Is she supposed to be a boy centaur?
- Speaking of gender-bending Halloween costumes, as soon as Warren walks in Ellen immediately comes to mind, thinking that the likeness will be a punch line to a joke, but nope, he is actually dressed up as Ellen, making it even better. That kid really is comfortable in his own skin. His inebriated impression of Ellen dancing is definitely a highlight of the episode, as well as his pratfall at the end. So good. Ryan Lee is also becoming a stand out in this great cast.
- “For the love of Vishnu…”