After a string of episodes that took place more in the Brinkley house than in Ava’s studio, “New Boss” returned to the Ava set with mixed results. In last week’s joint birthday party, Reagan and Chris switched roles by choice: Reagan pretended to be the laid-back member of the Brinkleys, leaving Chris to stew about bizarre guest behavior and enforce some boundaries. This episode had both Reagan and Chris acting in ways completely outside their established characters, both provoked by circumstances into the kind of people they usually quietly mock.
In a jolting little bit of cast-changing—presumably because Jason Lee had other work to attend to—Kevin has absconded to Idaho for a new job, leaving an extremely mopey Ava in his wake. This was a little hard to reconcile with the weeks-long build-up of Kevin and Ava’s relationship, and harder still to believe that Ava would sit around pining and not, say, hit the clubs hard with a rebound sleazoid ex. In any case, Reagan and Ava both start off the episode with heightened emotions, Reagan because one of her business idols, the mellifluously named Yvonne Encanto, has recently acquired the show.
At the office, both women fall immediately into raptures over Yvonne’s bold if nonsensical leadership style and flawless, flawless calves. She even remembers Reagan from her insightful questions in her NYU media studies class. (“There are more where that came from,” Ava reassures her. “Hoooow’s… tricks?”) But just as Yvonne has Ava and Reagan get all hopped up on powerful women speeches, Yvonne leaves them with her willing right-hand man, Luke, in charge. “I don’t want this to turn into a ‘who has the biggest vagina’ contest,” Luke asserts, but Ava and Reagan are not impressed. It’s predictable that Reagan wouldn’t necessarily work with a direct boss that well, but her squirmy indignation to Luke’s request for a creative budget didn’t seem warranted. Reagan’s a professional producer; surely she must have had to churn out a few bullshit reports in her time for a similar underling?
In any case, Reagan’s budget submission, a 180-point “NO,” so perturbed her that she couldn’t muster more than “half an ‘aw’” at an adorable picture of Amy eating carrots. Plus, it meant that Luke deprived her of her required coffee pods. Caffeine deprivation? That’s both cruel and unwise. And it eventually leads to Reagan breaking down into sobs, with Ava crying along with her.
Reagan has always been the stable one on Up All Night, even if her attempts at keeping order occasionally reach into the realms of obnoxiousness. Having her break down in front of a new boss isn’t just a role reversal; it’s a contradiction of everything we know Reagan to be. But then, who hasn’t had that day?
Chris, thanks to the triumphant return of Will Forte as fellow stay-at-home dad Reed, also has one of those days. But it’s one where you convince yourself that you’re a lot more badass than you actually are. Reed’s uncle Wolf left him his old motorcycle, and Chris and Reed set out to fix it in a rush of testosterone and new leather accessories. Of course, the neighbor who has any expertise in working with motorcycles happens to be the incredibly dweeby Gene, and once the hog is up and running, no one wants to risk riding it. It takes a call from the weeping Reagan for Chris to amp himself up, hop on the hog, and march into Luke’s office to give him a talking to. This is a far cry from the easygoing party Charlie image that Chris usually cultivates, but it’s still believable. Both characters took interesting turns, so it’s a shame that the story was so incoherent.
But “New Boss” did end with two of my favorite moments of the episode. First, Ava pours one out on Kevin’s lawn to symbolize closure. And second is the Ava fifth-anniversary show finale, which featured a kangaroo, a rabbi, and a little girl singing Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor.” Now that, I could use more of.
- A look into Ava’s morning habits: “Why don’t you start your day with a glass of champagne like the rest of America?”
- A look into Ava’s casiotone habits: “It’s an original composition: ‘My Love is in Idaho, And My Heart Hurts Like Knives (I Don’t Want To Do The Show)’”
- The 1980s shout-outs to Will Forte’s jacket were particularly excellent, as when Chris couldn’t restrain himself from saying that he’s “lovin’ every minute of it.”