Wednesday, May 2, 2018

REVIEW: 'Brockmire' - Charles' Birthday Forces Brockmire to Realize How Valuable His Friend Is in 'Platoon Player'

IFC's Brockmire - Episode 2.02 "Platoon Player"

Jim shows up at Charles' birthday dinner and meets his judgmental family.

Last week's season premiere closed with the tease that Morristown was about to infect Brockmire and Charles' new life in New Orleans. They have moved up in the world to more success. It's certainly an upgrade for Charles while Brockmire is able to comfortably enjoy all of his vices while being recognized and appreciated everywhere he goes. And yet, it's also clear that it's going to take a bit for the true spirit of the show from last season to come down to New Orleans. Jules is still no where to be seen. In fact, Uribe is barely in this episode at all even though the final beat of the premiere showed him coming to the city to visit Brockmire. Sure, he stops by for a couple of jokes at the beginning of "Platoon Player." It's significant that Brockmire and Uribe have been having a wild and crazy couple of days while high on drugs. They switched clothes and eventually went their separate ways of partying and sex. It's nothing that Charles isn't used to at this point. He has a routine for how to track down Brockmire in this crazy and large city in order to get him to the various appointments for the day. Charles knows the pattern of sex, alcohol and drugs. He understands exactly how Brockmire is going to act in any given situation. He has found a way to profit off of those vices as well. And yet, it's actually Charles' family from Morristown that shows up questioning his life choices and whether he can be happy while trapped in such a codependent relationship with a middle-aged white man with dozens of problems. It's such a fascinating story because it further fleshes out Charles' life and the relationships he had long before he met Brockmire at the start of the series. He has changed so much over the course of the series. But this relationship is also fundamentally the same with him willing to do so much for Brockmire.

All of this occurs on Charles' birthday. Charles simply wants a day to enjoy his new life in New Orleans without having to actually care for Brockmire. He still has a job to do. He's running multiple businesses in order to profit on Brockmire's brand. In fact, he seems the most scattered when it comes to the actual job he was first hired to do for Brockmire. He was initially tapped solely to be his assistant in the announcer's booth. Brockmire needed someone who was good with the technology and could keep him organized. Brockmire still needs that because this is still a career he loves so much. He is so committed to being a professional baseball announcer. That's his dream life. But it's also completely ridiculous that he can't reach over and press a button himself at the top of an inning. It's also crazy that he has no idea where the sheet of paper is with this game's corporate sponsor and the message that he needs to say to the crowd. He can riff and make all of these awkward pauses simply seem like a part of his way of performing. He really is a skilled performer when it comes to just talking into a microphone. This job just requires him to do more than that. He knows all about baseball and can provide the commentary there. But he also has to be aware of so much more and he rarely is focusing on anything other than himself and his desires. As such, he sees Charles as distracted when in actuality Charles is busy running around doing many different jobs in order to make as much money as possible off of Brockmire.

Charles' business skills have been really successful as well. He feels the need to treat himself for his birthday. He has formed relationships in the city beyond Brockmire as well. Brockmire is the one always going out for sex and drugs while forming instant connections with people. But here, it's important to note that Charles can also just cut the line to get the last pair of sneakers in the store. It's also there where he is teased with potential inspiration for another podcast he could start running. The shoe salesman has an idea for a podcast that Charles immediately connects with. He believes he could record the first show right now as long as the other guy is willing to just start monologuing for an entire hour. Again, that may not be the best formula for a successful podcast franchise. Brockmire talking for over an hour uninterrupted is a clear part of his brand. He just shares these crazy stories that other people can't believe he is making up off the top of his head. It also shows that Charles could be even more successful if he was committed solely to podcast. He could focus on more than just Brockmire. And yet, the two of them need each other as well. There is always the fundamental misunderstanding between them with Brockmire always deciding to get Charles the items that he himself would actually want. For his birthday, Brockmire gets drugs and a prostitute for Charles even though Charles has never shown any interest in either one of them before. It's clearly a hassle for Charles most of the time because Brockmire is such a narcissist. And yet, it's fascinating to see the show explain why Charles continues to stay and do so many jobs for Brockmire. He could be even more successful if there was some distance with Brockmire. But it's important to note that this is the only kind of relationship he has ever known in his entire life.

Charles was raised with an extremely unhealthy and codependent relationship. His father has never really been present in his life. Whenever he does show up, he wants to have an opinion about the choices Charles has made and how he should be the one supporting his mother because no one else is willing to put in that time and effort. But he has also started a new family that he clearly loves more. Meanwhile, his mother has married a new man who is such a complete pushover. He may be perfectly nice but everyone in the family keeps abusing him with insults and he just lets them. He has no problem with just how flirtatious his wife is with her ex-husband. He just sees it as completely harmless. He's too hungry to put up a fight. This is a very specific kind of family bond that helps inform Charles as a character so much. His mother is furious that he has left her for a new life in New Orleans. She is clearly a narcissist too. She demands so much attention and care from Charles. She would be perfectly fine having him live with her for the rest of her life. She had that kind of relationship for so long that she now views the person who took him away from her with such disgust and vitriol. No one in the family approves of having Brockmire in Charles' life. And yes, he is a lot to handle - especially when he shows up and gets into a huge fight with the waitress about the sex they had the night before. Charles doesn't want Brockmire at this dinner at all. He just wants to be surrounded by his loving family on his birthday. He wants to treat them to a nice meal that he can pay for. He wants to show off his success to prove that he is happy and healthy in New Orleans. But all they see is a man corrupting their son.

It's so surprising to see Brockmire stand up to Charles' family for him. Brockmire is completely willing to just sit in silence for the rest of the meal after such a horrible first interaction with the family. But he is also so proud of the work that Charles has done for him in revitalizing his career. Yes, it's out of selfish interest that he is working overly hard to keep Charles in New Orleans with him. His life would quickly spiral out of control if Charles was no longer there to help him throughout the day. But he's also standing up for his best friend against the family who isn't realizing just how well he is doing in this new city. He stands up to the family because it's clear that they have their own problems that have traumatized Charles and the various relationships he has in life. But he's also accomplished more than they have as well. Brockmire is proud to point out just how much money the two of them have made in the past year. It reveals that Charles earned $600,000 in profits from simply exploiting Brockmire as much as possible. Brockmire is surprised by that amount as well because he believes the 60/40 split in the profits of their business went the other way. In fact, he is coming to realize that Charles has many of the claims on their actual lives in New Orleans. Brockmire has his baseball announcing keeping him in the city. But he's mostly living in Charles' life right now simply because Charles needs a relationship like the one he has with Brockmire. Sure, it can be toxic most of the time. But Brockmire is willing to fight for his best friend when he needs it the most while also calling in a huge favor in order to get him the birthday present that he actually wants. That just further proves this as a relationship that is actually good with how it functions even though it's still not entirely healthy in the slightest.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Platoon Player" was written by Joel Church-Cooper & Carl Tart and directed by Maurice Marable.
  • Uribe has been asked to retire from the Morristown Frackers. So, it's clear that Jules is still making a lot of changes to the team after the brief success they had last season. She is looking to build on that. As such, Uribe could be a significant problem for him because he's getting older and has problems with drugs and alcohol just like Brockmire. But it also means that Uribe may be crashing with Brockmire and Charles for awhile this season.
  • There is so much talk about ass eating during sex this week. Brockmire sees it as the one thing he looks to do right away. His recent sexual partner sees it as a desert that the man has to earn. It's such a sexually frank conversation as well that the show has always been confident in having. It's hilarious because it's happening in such a public place with Charles' entire family being able to hear everything about the debate. And yes, Brockmire is absolutely in the wrong for wanting to eat ass before kissing on the mouth.
  • It's also surprising that Brockmire even remembers that it's Charles' birthday. He keeps forgetting that Charles even requested the night off despite the reminders literally written on his hand. Of course, it's just a ruse so Brockmire could spend this night with Charles in a surprising way. But to him, that means sharing a prostitute he has hired for this special occasion. That's a dream that Charles does not reciprocate in the slightest.
  • Of course, it's also very amusing to see Chastity as the sex worker with morals. She believes her profession is justified because there are prostitutes in the Bible. But she draws a line at lying because it's a sin. All it takes is three hundred dollars for her to keep a secret or to share it. So in the end, she gets $750 from Brockmire and Charles without having sex at all. So, it was a very profitable night for her.
  • Brockmire would rather keep it a secret on how he was able to get an apparently sold-out pair of sneakers for Charles after he threw up on the pair that Charles bought for himself. And yet, Charles is able to deduce pretty quickly that the only famous person who Brockmire knows who would actually do something like this for him is Joe Buck.