Last year, showrunner Shion Takeuchi unveiled the mysterious and chaotic shadow government to the world via her adult animated series Inside Job. During the moment when Rick & Morty was losing its steam in quality, Inside Job filled the whacky sci-fi void with a zany workplace comedy that balanced raunchy humor and grounded adult themes. Inside Job might be one of the few animated shows right alongside Bojack Horseman to discuss the psychological effects of repressed childhood trauma while still being endlessly funny and creative in its episodic narratives. After spending time with the overworked, exhausted, and socially awkward team leader Reagan Ridley (Lizzy Caplan), it’s hard not to see a bit of yourself in her.
After its shocking cliffhanger at the end of Part 1 involving Reagan’s deadbeat dad Rand (Christan Slater) hijacking Cognito Inc, Inside Job Part 2 instantly became one of my most anticipated returning seasons of the year. Following the events of Part 1, Reagan is at rock bottom. She’s advised by her co-leader/best friend Brett (Clark Duke) to go to group therapy to vent her anger about her selfish father taking back his old job at Cognito Inc as CEO. She meets the frustrated Ron Staedtler (Adam Scott), an employee of her arch-rival company the Illuminati, who is sick of working as a mind-eraser. Their mutual hatred of their jobs sparks something meaningful for both of them, which provides a surprising heft of focus for the latter half of the first season.
Takeuchi and her team of writers cleverly misdirect viewers, having us think that the pissing contest between Rand and Reagan would be the overarching anchor of Part 2, but instead they focus on fleshing her out further via the romantic plot line. This writer isn’t the biggest fan of the “let’s give the lead a romantic interest” trope in television, but with an independent workaholic character as compelling as Reagan, it’s a joy to witness. Through Ron Staedtler, Part 2 delves into the trials and tribulations of navigating adult romances.
Similar to the first half of the season, the blend of mature themes and sci-fi workplace shenanigans is well-balanced, especially when the plot centers on Reagan navigating newfound love. The vocal performances by Caplan and Scott elevate the rom-com quality of Reagan and Ron’s relationship while indulging Party Down fans’ nostalgia. (Lizzy Caplan might not be in the reboot, so this is the best we will get.) The casting works on all cylinders, with their deadpan deliveries and cutesy banter driving the romance naturally.
Rand Ridley’s takeover slightly shakes up the status quo as Part 2 continues to follow the same suit as its predecessor, where Reagan and her team go on wacky science-fiction-led comedic missions. This time around, the episodic adventures are more streamlined, focusing on the interpersonal relationships between Reagan and her team, but hardly any of them particularly stand out. The gripping serialized tone that was interwoven towards Part 1’s finale reverts to a raunchy and silly one that more or less got a little stale after it took a while to find its footing in the first half of the season. The writers dial back on the vulgarity in Part 2, allowing characters—particularly Brett, Rand, and surprisingly Reagan’s once-killer machine ROBOTUS (Chris Diamantopoulos) —to be more fleshed out. With the episode count going down from ten to eight, some of the pacing in Reagan’s romance is far too rushed to land a sizable impact later down the season’s road. That said, the focus is stronger as the writers understand the best components of Part 1 and add depth to that. Brett gets a great feature plot line that furthers his character, trauma, and neglect in a funny social-political episode called “Brettwork,” which may well be the best episode of Part 2.
In exchange for the less-than-raunchy atmosphere, the amount of pop culture references in each episode is cranked to 11, and it’s very hit or miss—not in the fun South Park way either. Some jokes poking fun at disgraced assholes such as Alex Jones and Elon Musk garner genuine laughs, but when you have Keanu Reeves as a vampire or Jay-Z and Lin Manuel Miranda as members of the Illuminati as an essential part of worldbuilding, it comes across less inspired and more meme-worthy.
Inside Job Part 2 remains entertaining and binge-worthy, with this latest batch of episodes adding an enticing depth to Reagan through a genuinely heartwarming romance. The shadow government hijinks are more or less repetitive this time around, but the show still manages to compensate with identifiable adult characters more nuanced than a lot of live-action shows these days.
Rendy Jones is a film and television journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. They are the owner of self-published outlet Rendy Reviews, a member of the Critics Choice Association, and a film graduate of Brooklyn College. They have been featured in Vulture, The Daily Beast, AV Club and CBC News.