Thursday, September 24, 2015

REVIEW: 'Review' - Forrest Gets Some Terrible News That Changes His Life in 'Happiness/Pillow Fight/Imaginary Friend'

Comedy Central's Review - Episode 2.09 "Happiness/Pillow Fight/Imaginary Friend"

Forrest experiments with being relentlessly upbeat and conducts two reviews from a difficult location.

Forrest has done a lot of horrifying and personally devastating things throughout his tenure of host of Review. And yet, none of them could ever - or will ever - top him killing someone on purpose. It's a dark tragedy that haunts his every action. It was a moment that made last week's episode such a rousing success. It fully delved into the horror of the comedy. It was hard to watch as Forrest complied with this latest review with no vetoes left but it was even more difficult to look away. He is able to move onto the next review at the top of "Happiness/Pillow Fight/Imaginary Friend." But his ongoing emotional state is still very much in turmoil over what he just did to someone who was hoping to turn his life around.

His next review is the polar opposite of what he's feeling. He is asked what it's like to be happy all of the time. It's a new review that he can dive into completely in order to forget about the horror he just brought into this world. It's a nice change of pace for him after just having to do his darkest and most compromising review yet. Being eternally happy is not something difficult to do. He can walk around the office with a smile on his face. His co-workers can't get him down because he always has a solution to even the gloomiest of news. But that's because the darkness of reality isn't personal to him. Yes, everyone eventually dying from skin cancer is a major concern. But Forrest doesn't care because he can simply bring a parasol to work.

What truly starts to turn this review of happiness around is when Suzanne finally returns for the first time since the big wedding fiasco. Forrest has caused her so much pain because of the show. More than anyone else, Suzanne has dealt with the most of Forrest's commitment to whatever his viewers want of him. She would have the grounds to get sole custody of Eric and rip Forrest from their lives forever. And yet, she is still holding onto some hope that Forrest is a decent person and the man who she got married to. When she talks about taking some time completely away from Forrest, she only talks about it as a temporary situation. A two month trial to see how everyone feels about it afterwards. Forrest has left his family before for an extended amount of time. He was lost at sea for three months! But this is something that has the potential to take his family away from him permanently. He has to react happily despite how terrible this proposition is. To make matters worse, the police finally show up to arrest him for murder. It was an inevitability that he would have to deal with the repercussions of his actions. This was bigger than anything else he has ever done and it needed to carry massive consequences. When Forrest lands in jail, he wants to drop the entire conceit of the show for the first time. This is real and he can no longer continue going along with the show. And yet, Grant pushes Forrest to continue.

Despite his new environment, Forrest continues to issue his reviews for whatever his audience wants to hear about. It's more difficult than the high-tech studio and the outside world. But Forrest is still able to create a structure for continuing to produce new segments for the show. It's one filled with toilet paper drawings of stars and AJ providing the various sound effects. But Forrest and AJ are able to continue their banter. Forrest is able to continue having the show dictate his life even though the show has landed him in his worst predicament yet. He is still so committed to the show. That's entirely because Grant can fuel his ego with the hope of creating great television and captivating his vast audience. Fortunately though, the two reviews he's asked to do in prison are relatively simple ventures - being in a pillow fight and having an imaginary friend. But as is often the case, the simplest reviews lead to the most personal devastation and dark hilarity.

Forrest is only in jail for a little while as he waits for someone to post his bail in his murder case. In this place, he has the potential to be truly crippled by what he has done and how he got to this point. He can't because the cameras are still capturing his every move as he continues his pursuit of reviewing life. A pillow fight is an innocent request. But put against the backdrop of prison it makes it that much harder to realistically pull off. Fortunately, the prison's therapist doesn't really care enough to put any serious thought into what Forrest has suggested as a group activity. A big event is scheduled that pits the inmates versus the guards. Again, this activity is meant for youngsters. But the reality of the people who are playing it makes it the most painful pillow fight ever. The inmates' pillows are filled with weights. They have put so much effort into smuggling and hiding various items while on the inside. They all seem to end up in the pillows which creates an act of violence in the prison yard - and Forrest is to blame for this display of brutality. He ends up getting the most hurt out of anyone. His nose is broken and he is hit by the guard's taser gun. So this wounds up being his worst experience of the episode.

But Forrest has been proven to take bodily harm and bounce back quickly. That's the one benefit of this show for him. He gets hurt so frequently and in different ways that it no longer phases him like it used to - except for a kick to the balls. The only way to truly hurt him is with psychological and emotional pain. Even that hasn't hit the threshold for getting him to quit the show. If killing a person couldn't do that, I have no clue what ultimately will. Perhaps having an imaginary friend is the first step in realizing what his life has become. It's another very easy task to do but gets out of hand very quickly as soon as another inmate sabotages it. Forrest commits to his reviews very seriously and easily. Most people keep their imaginary friends a secret. Forrest has his - which he has named Clovers - out in the open for everyone to see. That's what ultimately dooms this venture. The other inmates are able to torture him with their own vision of what Clovers is doing. Forrest does nothing but play along. He does his best to keep Clovers his own personal best friend. But the inmates corrupt that thought into something that is much darker and more territorial. Forrest is able to prevail because he is the source of this figment of imagination. But it's still something that gets out of hand. Forrest's dad has no idea how to react to this latest oddity. He chooses to ignore it in order to tell Forrest he's done. That means Clovers is the only person left in Forrest's life. He too is swiftly taken away by other people's imaginations. Forrest is in control of the situation but that is still being manipulated. Whenever someone else says or does something about Clovers, Forrest takes it literally. So when Clovers is killed, he feels like his best and only friend is being taken away from him.

Forrest is able to return to the studio - after his father posted his bail. But he doesn't return the same man as he was before. He has no one left in his life. Everyone else has abandoned him. As he stood over Clover's imaginary dead body, he noted that he realizes just how pointless and cruel his life has become. And yet, he's still back at the studio delivering his review for having an imaginary friend. He's still doing the show. That is the cause of his pointless and cruel life. He still has pending litigation. But he is out and back doing the show. Next week's finale will hit the climax with all of these issues. How Forrest will deal with that should be a wonderful sight to behold.

Some more thoughts:
  • Forrest's reviews this week include: Being Happy All the Time - Three Stars; Pillow Fight - One Star; and Having an Imaginary Friend - Three Stars.
  • Was this the first time a "Previously on Review" segment aired at the top of the episode? It sure feels like it. Though who could forget that Forrest killed someone last week?
  • This was the first time that AJ Gibbs was seen outside of the studio set. She filled the exact same role as always - but it was even more hilarious because of her additional sound effects.
  • As Forrest's dad talks about all the horrible things that have happened throughout this year, it really is staggering to hear about everything that has happened to Forrest, his family, co-workers and friends this season.
  • Forrest: "This was terrible news. But given the perimeters of the review, there was only one way to react."
  • Grant: "But I need you to look at life. In prison."
  • Forrest: "Everything Grant was saying was completely unreasonable. But his argument was compelling."
  • Forrest: "Once again, I was reminded that there are people out there and they count on me to do this work. I could not give up just because I happened to be in jail. Grant had given me the juicer to turn prison into prison-ade."
  • Forrest: "The resulting melee was a terror to behold."
  • Forrest: "What I do know is that my dreams of world peace, and my nose, were shattered in one fell swoop."
  • Forrest: "Imaginations don't always agree."
  • Forrest: "But pretty soon 'Sex with Clovers' became the new slang for masturbation."
  • Forrest: "From all the things this show has taken from me, the loss of Clovers, who had understood and accepted me completely, felt like the greatest tragedy of them all. It was real and totally irreversible. And it revealed to me the total pointlessness and cruelty of everything my life had become."