The peerless run that Bob’s Burgers has been on of late continues unabated this week. And all it took was a swollen tongue, Linda’s crazed love for cheerleading, and Gene’s internal wellspring of team spirit.
It all begins with Tina deciding to try out for cheerleading, so as to be closer to the action at wrestling matches (“When you get within 10 feet of the mat, that’s the splash zone”). As you might imagine, her audition doesn’t go well at all, and it ends with her cartwheeling into the judge’s table and biting her tongue so hard it swells up.
In the stands, though, is Gene, cheering his older sister on like a mad man. So much so that he’s invited on the team, and immediately set in the middle of a rivalry between himself and Todd, the other male cheerleader.
From here, it’s hard to tell who is the more crazed character in the episode. Is it Linda, who positively wigs out when she sees Gene in his cheerleading uniform? Or is it Mr. Ambrose, the cheer advisor (voiced with the manic glee that only Billy Eichner can express), who views every moment with the squad as a chance for a dramatic moment? Doesn’t matter which one you choose, both are hysterical and add so much to an already great episode.
On the other side of the story is Tina, who can’t be understood by anyone with her messed up tongue. Naturally, Louise decides to be her interpreter. And naturally, she outrageously changes everything Tina says. It wouldn’t be so terrible, if Louise’s catty “translations” of comments to Jimmy Pesto, Jr. weren’t getting him all riled up. The trio end up on a “date” together at a revolving pie restaurant atop a hotel. In spite of Louise’s attempts to undermine her sister with demands for more pie, it all ends with Jimmy and Tina smooching.
The tale of Gene, the trumped-up drama between him and Todd, and the big cheerleading competition that closes out the show almost seem anti-climactic with everything that happens before it. But the strange hints about Gene’s sexual preferences that get dropped in the mix (Todd: “You deserve the top. I’ll be the bottom”), and their failed stunt that lands them in a heap atop Mr. Ambrose, sure make for a great conclusion to one of Season Four’s best episodes.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.