‘Brockmire’ Faces Down His Ex-Wife In ‘Retaliation’

Senior Television Writer
04.19.17 3 Comments


A review of tonight’s Brockmire coming up just as soon as I’m clinically dead for three minutes in a brothel in Macedonia…

We’re now halfway through this brief first season, and “Retaliation” brings us to a couple of major turning points with Lucy’s presence in Morristown and Brockmire inadvertently becoming famous again by egging on the Morristown/Butler riot, stirring up the crowd with angry rhetoric and Godfather references. Timing out big plot points can always be tricky, especially for a show like this that was made with no guarantee of additional seasons. (IFC ordered season two the morning before season one premiered.) Lucy in theory is a card the show could have waited for a while to play, while Brockmire’s infamy has been sold to us as something so pervasive to the culture that you might expect that first video of Jim calling the Uribe/Fatty Boombalatty grand slam to have instantly brought him back into the spotlight.

But Joel Church-Cooper’s choice of when to deploy both feels just about right. Giving us this handful episodes of Brockmire working in obscurity allowed the show to better develop his relationships with Jules(*) and Charlie, and to see him regaining his love of the craft a bit, independent of whatever celebrity he once had. There’s good stuff to come later in the season now that he’s back on the radar, which I look forward to you seeing, but it was nice that the show built to it gradually and let the other elements come together first.

(*) Jules’ devout love of baseball and commitment to lost causes would have been enough justification for her to sleep with Brockmire, but “Retaliation” takes it a little deeper by explaining that she has a history of getting into relationships where she knows there’s no future, and by suggesting that her heavy drinking is actually closer to Brockmire’s form of high-functioning alcoholism. If she’s just the good woman trying to redeem the hopelessly broken man, that’s a one-sided, boring cliche. If they’re both damaged, well, then you have have some real fun and more interesting pathos. (See also You’re the Worst and Catastrophe.)

And Lucy’s return at this stage worked, both because she likely wouldn’t wait to seek him out once she learned he wasn’t dead, and because her visit to Morristown doesn’t really bring closure for Jim, because her apology is only about not telling him sooner about her voracious, complicated sexual appetite, rather than the actual infidelity. The episode-opening flashback shows us that she tried expanding the boundaries of their sex life years ago but couldn’t make any headway with her vanilla husband, and she sure seems extremely happy and at peace with her new life and kinky entourage. It’s a great guest turn from Katie Finneran, and while Lucy’s presence here inspires Brockmire to promote the Morristown/Butler feud as a way to vent his rage at her, it feels like there’s more territory to explore down the road if the show wants to. It’s clear that during his decade abroad, Brockmire turned himself, intentionally or not, into the kind of man who’d be much more sexually compatible with the kind of woman Lucy always was, and I imagine at some point, the two of them might both realize that.

What did everybody else think? And does pop culture need to retire the idea of characters attacking inflatable dancing men, or was the execution here funny enough that you didn’t mind?

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