With seven seasons full of nonsensical content, Childrens Hospital has found plenty of reasons and excuses to escape the actual premise of being a show about a children’s hospital. Childrens Hospital has bent everything from the series’ plots to genre, and that’s what makes it so fun, actual children’s hospital shenanigans be damned. But sometimes you just want to get back to basics, and “By The Throat” is an episode that realizes that. In fact, “By The Throat” feels the most like the “classic” version of Childrens Hospital of any episode in this season.
Part of that “classic” feel comes from the sense of humor in this particular episode. Funnily enough, despite the high concept world of a conspiracy theory plot, “By The Throat” relies heavily on the classic art form of the “dad joke.” It’s right there from the very beginning of the episode, with the “stat”/”Strat” joke in the previouslies quickly making the direction of this episode (on a humor level) clear. It’s a groaner of a play on words, and it’s followed by like-minded displays in Owens’ roughing it antics and Lola’s work as an informant. But it all works, because “By The Throat” is essentially Bridge Of Spies for people who haven’t seen Bridge Of Spies and know literally nothing about Bridge Of Spies. Why Bridge Of Spies, specifically?
- “Dad jokes” go perfectly with a movie constantly referred to as “a movie your dad loved.” So it’s the perfect marriage there.
- There’s of course the obvious espionage and subterfuge of a spy thriller present in both this episode and (presumably) Bridge Of Spies.
- There’s also the very blatant mention of the Governor’s kid/Lola’s model bridges, as opposed to any other type of models.
Basically, as someone who has yet to see Bridge Of Spies, my early reaction to this episode was to ask, “Is this what Bridge Of Spies is like?” To someone who knows nothing about that movie, the answer is yes. (If you have seen it, then yes, we know it’s not what’s happening here. We think.)
On the non-Spielberg front, while the Childrens Hospital regulars who are present in this episode all nail what they’re given to make this conspiracy come to life, this is 100% Rob Huebel and Erinn Hayes’ episode. Huebel’s work as conspiracy theory victim Owen and a very low-rent Jason Bourne who gets in far too deep is a joy; but it’s Hayes’ work in this episode as Lola the lawyer/sidekick/informant/center of the whole conspiracy that really steps the episode up. The Owen/Lola pairing has always been one of the best original pairings in the series (the best being Cat/Lola), as their characters bounce off each other in a way that’s much different from other pairings, with an imbalance of power and intelligence (usually on Lola’s side). When the show gets the chance to remind the audience of that, it can be something really special, like it is in this episode.
Lola: “Go back to where it all began.”
Owen: “Ancient Mesopotamia. Of course.”
However, each character hits their conspiracy thriller archetypes just right here, not just Owen and Lola. Blake as the faux friend works so well, to the point where you almost trust him… Despite the fact that he’s Blake and there’s no world in which he’s not the backstabbing faux friend. Chief as the authority figure that’s in on the conspiracy plot is honestly just regular Chief and not even the character fitting well into an archetype. Glenn as the one who just follows orders is also a natural fit, albeit one that ultimately diminishes his role in the episode. Plus, that one kid who gives Owen the note is good at disappearing.
Of course, like many Childrens Hospital episode plots, the entire premise dissolves with any single question of logic. “Why was Owen kept out of the loop?” “Why didn’t Lola just tell him the truth in the first place instead of making him jump through hoops?” But those “plot holes” are a great part of what makes it all funny. Because plot holes or not, “By The Throat” is a very solid episode in a final season that’s all about very solid episodes—and it’s also the only one where Blake knocks Chief’s walker over in an act of defiance. That’s a win right there.
As I’ve said before, Childrens Hospital season seven remains the season of writer-executive producer Krister Johnson, and like his other episodes in this season, “By The Throat” comes with an especially “straightforward” nonsense plot. Like “Doctor Beth,” this episode nails the singular plot, though there is a part of me that feels like it doesn’t fully commit as much. However, something as simple and ridiculous as a tongue depressor conspiracy is the type of thing that Childrens Hospital could have easily pulled back in the earlier seasons of the series, which is one of the highest compliments possible.
- When I say that this episode can fit into earlier seasons, I’m talking about how much the episode is reminiscent of episodes like “Frankfurters, Allman Brothers, Death, Frankfurters” and “Hot Enough For You?” (specifically the cure for cancer) and “The Boy with the Pancakes Tattoo.” There’s an argument to be made that that might make this episode slightly derivative, but at the same time, if an episode at this point in the game can so seamlessly be inserted into the peak seasons of the show, isn’t that actually a good thing?
- Ballers’ Rob Corddry plays a mean Strat.
- Chief was right. They’ve never had any “tong depreh sores” at the hospital.
- The fact that there is no Detective Chance Briggs in this episode, especially with the trip to the Sao Paolo police department, is absolutely heartbreaking. Then again, if Briggs did get the chance to help clear Owen’s name, the trail of dead bodies that would be left in his wake might just be too much for the show to handle.
- Speaking of bodies, props to the extras in this episode for their work at looking extra menacing.
- A double feature of “Childrens Lawspital” and “By The Throat”? Don’t mind if I do. I’ll just ignore Owen not remembering that Lola is a lawyer and chalk it up to stress/the eventual hard life of eating “garbage” food.
- In hindsight, Lola in the role of “Deep Throat” kind of means that the episode title “By The Throat” tips off that final reveal. (This was all caused by the [Deep] Throat, you see?”)
- If nothing else, Marco Fargnoli’s directing in said “Deep Throat” garage scene (and that entire scene) makes this entire episode worth it.
- The last time I saw George Wendt, it was a fourth season episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! (which also guest-starred Childrens Hospital’s Beth Dover). Great job, Wendt!
- Chief: “No, please don’t kill the clown! We love him!” Honestly, I laughed before Chief could even laugh at the one.
- Moments before it’s revealed that Lola is the Governor’s child, I said out loud, “Owen is his kid, right?” He kept calling him “son!” The episode got me. It got me.