If you would like to read my review of the last episode, click here.
Synopsis: A death in Russell’s family forces Gamby to step up to the plate as North Jackson’s acting principal. (HBO)
Writers: Danny McBride, John Carcieri, and Jeff Fradley
Director: David Gordon Green
Running Time: 30mins
For as long as the show has been on the air, it has relied on the despicable nature of Gamby and Russell. While that may no longer be quite the case with Gamby, Russell is still going strong. But this changed a little in this episode as both characters had redeeming moments.
The episode started with Russell forcing the teachers to participate in what he called a team building exercise but was really just a glorified boot camp in the hopes of breaking them all down. He enlisted the help of a group known as the Sweat Dogs who have worked with several businesses and other organizations. They believed their work with the teachers wasn’t going far enough so they decided to go further to reeducate them, or in other words brainwash them, using a process that they called Think Change.
All of this was interrupted, however, when Russell got a phone call informing him that his father had passed away. Russell was never close with his father because he always seemed to favor his two older sisters Lynn (Breeda Wool) and Lacey (Emily Johnson) over him. He was definitely not looking forward to seeing his sisters but despite that, he still wanted to be there to support him so he tasked Gamby to take his place and be the principal for the day.
None of Russell’s family thought he’d be there so they planned his father funeral and made arrangements without him. Once his sisters had him in private, they argued over their father’s model airplanes and then went back to bullying him which maybe explained why he ended up the way he was. He wanted to get back at them but this was still his father’s funeral so he was conflicted.
Russell wasn’t scheduled to talk during the funeral but he still fought his way onto the stage but instead of exposing his sisters, he made an emotional speech and thanked his father and sisters for getting him to where he was. Russell may have looked to be a changed man but of course it was just an act seeing that before he left, he destroyed all the model airplanes in a fit of rage.
Gamby took his new job seriously right away but did not appreciate the information overload. Then came the morning announcements that were not as easy as Gamby thought they were going to be due to his awkwardness. Even with Russell gone, the teachers would have to continue their team building exercise and they were not thrilled about it. Gamby tried to act tough when the Sweat Dogs challenged his authority and looked weak. He couldn’t even lie to Superintendent Haas after the teachers complained about them.
While Gamby watched the teachers being put to work in the gym with one of them struggling, he finally stood up to the Sweat Dogs, touting the teachers’ many achievements to prove that they were not worthless. Then, in a great moment, the teachers rallied around Gamby one by one and they all stood up to the Sweat Dogs. This ended up being the real team building exercise.
Overall, this was the best episode of the series so far full of great moments with Gamby and Russell for different reasons. Gamby’s sense of humanity has grown with every episode and his standing up to the Sweat Dogs was his finest moment. Having the teachers rally around him will boost his confidence. Russell was still despicable in a way but it was satisfying to see him get his revenge.