Though there have been brief moments of kindness in this season of Baskets, “DJ Twins” features something a little different: A selfless act on the part of Chip to help cheer up his mother, even though unbeknownst to him she forced his wife to return to Paris. Near the end of the episode, Chip and Martha travel to a rave to convince Cody and Logan (Garry and Jason Clemmons), his adopted “DJ twin” brothers, to cheer up their mom after they abruptly left a family dinner; it’s an affecting moment not only because of Chip’s selflessness, but also because he admits that they can cheer her up in a way that neither he nor his obnoxious brother Dale ever could. “Sometimes you just don’t know how unhappy someone is,” says Christine after the twins leave before they can take a picture with their mom, all but admitting that the only thing that gives her any pride in life are her children. For all of his obliviousness, Chip recognizes this and thinks of someone other than himself, even if that means giving up his chance at winning the Mr. Rodeo competition and farting in the twins’ room out of frustration.
It’s a shame that the rest of “DJ Twins” can’t live up to that touching scene, mostly because of the episode’s slack pacing and thematic repetitiveness. Reeling from Penelope’s departure, Chip decides to throw himself completely into a Mr. Rodeo competition at the behest of Eddie who is tired of seeing him drag his “sad sickness behind [him] like a turd on a string.” Just as he’s won over the Bakersfield crowd and about to impress some Mr. Rodeo scouts, his brother Dale informs him that Cody and Logan are coming to town, meaning that they’ll have to put up with their mother fawning over their accomplishments. Meanwhile, Christine eagerly gets dinner ready, making a cheeseburger pizza, renting a dining room table, and dolling herself up for the occasion, all the while Chip and Dale quietly stew in their respective bitterness.
There are some interesting ideas in the episode, like Dale’s obvious resentment towards his adopted brothers, or how Christine’s love for her children ultimately shields her from some harsh realities, but writer-director Jonathan Krisel treats these strands like window dressing instead of really exploring them. Krisel tries to neatly dovetail Chip’s rodeo rise with his family situation when both stories would be better served if they were tackled separately. Instead, the former is limited to a funny montage and the latter traffics in well-worn material that never really goes deeper than the surface. It’s the one episode of Baskets so far that really felt like it dragged.
Besides the structural flaws, the repetitiveness is the episode’s main problem. Much of it takes place at Christine’s house as she fusses over the entire event before Cody and Logan arrive, and while it’s always nice to see Louie Anderson stretch his legs with the character, both the humor and the pathos of the situation eventually go in circles after a while. It’s not that Christine’s mothering isn’t worthy of exploration, but it’s that we’ve seen it tackled in the last two episodes much better and “DJ Twins” can’t help but pale in comparison.
In fact, “DJ Twins” relies on a few one-note characterizations a little too heavily this time around. While Galifianakis plays the Dale character quite well, with a funny exaggerated accent to boot, the writing doesn’t allow the character to do much else other than act obnoxiously. Of course, this is decidedly the point of the character. Dale functions as the more irritating foil of Chip, which really means that he’s funniest and most effective in small doses, but when he takes up much of the frame and running time, the joke wears out its welcome. And though Cody and Logan are funny presences when they make their appearance, especially the brilliant joke of them bringing Dasani water to the family as a present, they’re not on screen nearly long enough to make a lasting impression.
Fortunately, “DJ Twins” has some very good jokes to make up for the slack. The aforementioned montage of Chip winning the crowd by doing a routine to “Conga” was priceless, as well as the sight gag of Bingo the clown subbing in for Chip at the big showcase and just puking everywhere, but it’s the cricket gag that stands as one of the best constructed jokes in the series. Galifianakis earns the laugh every time Chip cracks an obvious, unfunny joke only for it to be followed by the noise of a single cricket that has found its way into Christine’s house. It’s great comedy like that that allows Baskets to rest on its coattails for an episode.
- For those who haven’t heard already, Baskets has been renewed for a second season! I wasn’t sure if FX was going to renew given the series’ low ratings and its niche appeal, but I’m thrilled people like Jon Landgraf can put their faith in such specific visions.
- Baskets has had a good record of integrating their product placement into the series, whether it’s for location detail or an absurd joke, but the Dasani water takes the cake. The fact that Cody and Logan are so excited to share the Dasani really sells it.
- Cody and Logan deserve their own episode of just spreading positivity and rolling on ecstasy. Their enthusiastic “Bye, Martha!” and “Peace out, Chip!” were day brighteners.
- Besides Chip’s plea, the other most affecting scene is Christine making herself up for the arrival of her boys. It’s a small, but worthwhile moment.
- Dale’s best line has to be: “I’ve been at volleyball practice. Something adults do.”
- I enjoyed Chip’s rejoinder to learning that Q-Tip works with The Chemical Brothers: “Was Kleenex not available?”
- “What about tomorrow for breakfast?” “I doubt it. We’re usually wasted.”
- “Dale certainly can’t cheer her up because he’s so weird.”
- “People love a good well-roped ass.”
- “Well, you can put your socks back on.”