'Bored to Death': Passive Characters Finally Fight Back



George Christopher: "They've been neutering me for months around here, and I'm not going to take it anymore. I'm going to fight back."

The second season of Bored to Death showed us that its central characters are some of the most passive on television. Over the past eight episodes, we've seen George cede control of his magazine, Ray miss numerous chances to win Leah back, and Jonathan botch both his cases and his girlfriends. There's plenty of humor in their failings, but there's also something faintly tragic about Jonathan, Ray, and George—some part of them that inevitably backs away from a challenge, consistently refusing to grow. It's a relief to see that this week's finale sees all three characters finally retaliating against the forces that hold them back.

For Jonathan, that means confronting sworn enemy Louis Green. This week's episode finds them at odds again, competing for a teaching position at prestigious university. Jonathan spies through a keyhole and discovers that Louis's interview strategy is built around making Jonathan look as crazy and incompetent as possible. In a bold act of self-sacrifice, Jonathan storms the dean's office and attacks Louis, sacrificing his own interview for the sake of ruining Louis's. If Jonathan had any shot at the job before, he certainly doesn't now, but it's clearly a victory just the same (after all, you can't put a price on something like Louis Green getting punched in the head by a security guard).

Meanwhile, the success of Ray's Super Ray comic has come at a price: a stalker who sent 12 emails ("all of them rude") and a disturbing, anatomically incorrect voodoo doll. Ray (who suspects a vengeful Kevin Bacon) enlists Jonathan's detective expertise. In the end, the Super Ray connection turns out to be a red herring; the stalker is Irwin (played by series creator Jonathan Ames), a former one-night stand of Leah's whom Ray chased away. In the end, his rage does Ray a favor; when Leah visits a slightly-wounded Ray in the hospital, she confesses her love for him, and the two finally reconcile.

Across town, George faces the consequences of his cancer misdiagnosis when Kathryn (Mary Kay Place) informs him that his marijuana use is no longer justifiable. He consents to a meeting with a therapist, but balks at the diagnosis: two months of rehab in Arizona. Over the course of this season, George has found his role at Edition consistently marginalized and he's finally had enough. He proclaims, "I'm going to drink as much booze and smoke as much pot as I want, thank you very much," and resigns.

Of course, this being Bored to Death, it's incredibly unlikely that these characters will undergo any real kind of change; if there's anything that this season has made clear, it's that Jonathan, George, and Ray are who they are, for better or for worse. Near the end of this episode, George gives Jonathan relationship advice that doubles as a kind of philosophy for the show:

George Christopher: "You should definitely do it. It'd be fun. Until it, you know, falls apart. There's always a slight chance it could work, so why not?"

In Bored to Death's upcoming third season, Jonathan and his friends will undoubtedly take on more cases, and—if history repeats itself—mishandle them terribly. But, even as everything falls apart, it'll be fun. And who knows? There's always a slight chance that this time, it'll work.

Most emasculating moment of the week: Jonathan and Ray discover that the Super Ray voodoo doll from Ray's stalker has been outfitted with a carefully-sewed, exhaustively-detailed vagina—and are then forced to give the doll to deviant Officer Drake for his (presumably very) personal use in exchange for his help.

Literary reference of the week: George quotes Moby Dick as he laments the indignity of losing Edition magazine to a puritanical new management team ("They stick me with dozens of harpoons!"). When he complains about not the last straw, but the "last harpoon," it's clear that his days at Edition are over.