Episode Title: "Two Large Pearls and a Bar of Gold"
Writers: Mike Schwartz & Jonathan Ames
Director: Tristram Shapeero
It's been a while since I've checked in with struggling novelist/freelance writer turned private investigator Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman), but "Bored To Death" is swimming along through its third season as Jonathan tries to uncover the name of his true father… from the ashes of a burned down sperm bank. Although the building was long gone years before Jonathan had any idea about his parentage, he still manages to get a clue in the scene at the end. All it costs him this week is whatever he paid for the fur intended for his mother. At least he says it was for his mother…
Unlike Jonathan, his friend Ray Hueston (Zach Galifianakis) remains hopelessly stupid. Earlier this season, Ray couldn't tell his infant son from another child in a stroller and he made the incredibly asinine decision to cheat on his girlfriend Leah (Heather Burns) with Belinda (Olympia Dukakis), a woman nearly 40 years his senior. The only comedy that comes from those two together is coming entirely from Dukakis. Galifianakis just makes Ray come off like a douchebag.
This week, Leah catches Ray letting Belinda bathe him in a bubble bath and the jig is up. Dukakis is pretty funny as she bows to Leah and begs for forgiveness. All Ray can do is belatedly ask for an open relationship and run out of the apartment while wearing only his soap suds. His antics just arent' very amusing. Of course, Leah breaks it off with Ray and he goes running to George Christopher (Ted Danson) with his sob story. Naturally, George takes Ray in and gives him place to stay and free food from his restaurant.
The writers have to be making Ray this much of a jerk by design. There's no other way to describe it when he tries to explain away his affair with Belinda as "elder love" and when he gets increasingly bossy and childlike while ordering George around in his own apartment. Galifianakis can be funny in movies, but he's just coming off as extremely unlikable in "Bored To Death."
As for George, he's still dreading his daughter's impending marriage to a man nearly his age… and seeing a woman named Josephine (Mary Steenburgen). Since Danson is actually married to Steenburgen, I expected better chemistry between them. But instead there's an odd creepiness about the way Josephine is so eager to have George and the way that he pushes her away. It just comes off strangely.
But whatever flaws the characters have individually tend to melt away when the trio team up for an adventure. And in this week's episode, Ray and George tag along when Jonathan is hired by Henry Stevenson (Rene Auberjonois) to guard a valuable piece of jewelry for his daughter, Patti (Casey Wilson) before her wedding. Patti was the girl who took Jonathan's virginity in college and she takes the opportunity to try to collect on their decade old pact. Namely, she wants Jonathan to sleep with her on the eve of her wedding, and she's not shy about asking.
While Ray and George play war and talk through their respective emotional issues, Jonathan fails to "perform" despite Patti's eagerness and he blames his impotence on George's story from earlier in the show. At that point the lights go out and a burger attempts to steal the necklace from Jonathan's briefcase. Jonathan's defense of the case with a fencer's sword is actually really exciting as he manages to strike his attacker. For once, Jonathan seems like he's going to win a fight that matters… until the thief simply traps his hand with the briefcase and steal the necklace.
George tries to spear the thief with a flagpole and he misses badly, but least he tried. Ray does nothing and he is pretty much useless, both in the situation and in general.
Returning to Patti's father with the bad news, Henry yells at them for stupidly letting the thief get away… until Jonathan notices Henry bleeding from the same spot where Jonathan jabbed the thief with the sword. Caught, Henry admits that he stole the necklace for the insurance money to pay for Patti's wedding. He was sure that he could steal it from Jonathan because he took one look at him and thought he was pathetic.
Auberjonois gets the best lines of the night, when Henry explains that the family won't be truly wealthy until Patti's grandmother dies, because "Everyone in Phildelphia is waiting for someone to die!" Schwartzman's facial expression was also hilarious when Jonathan heard how lightly regarded he was by Henry.
In the end, Jonathan lets Henry pull off the insurance fraud for Patti's sake. And although Patti no longer wants to sleep with Jonathan, she thanks him for reaffirming her love for her presumably more virile husband-to-be. Still, I wouldn't mind seeing Patti return to pursue Jonathan again. There was something about Wilson's bubbly performance that made Patti really appealing.
The strength of "Board To Death" remains the wackiness that ensues whenever Jonathan brings Ray and George on a case. Bringing them together covers up the respective flaws in all of them. But the performance of the episode still belonged to Auberjonois' Henry. Maybe he should make a return engagement as well.
Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.