After an intensely bizarre episode, Childrens Hospital is back to its standard level of bizarre with “Me, Owen.” There’s a murderer on the loose at Childrens (because why wouldn’t there be?), and he’s copycatting murders from 15 years ago. Or is he? (He’s not.) It’s a flashback episode, and better yet, it’s a very loose, tangential sequel to season four’s fantastic “Childrens Lawspital” (both episodes directed by Ken Marino); however, this episodes decides to go the gritty, grey crime drama route instead of just plain lowly old Law & Order. The episodes also follows the first rule of Childrens Hospital: It’s never a bad thing when Detective Chance Briggs (“you old bucket of shrimp”) is on the case. Maybe that’s more of a guideline or even just a fun fact, but it’s still very much true. Nick Offerman’s gruff schtick, paired with his somewhat unhealthy attachment (and attraction) to his old partner Owen Maestro is always a recipe for laughs, and “Me, Owen” delivers on that.
The investigation goes through barely a handful of characters, since as is now usual, most of the cast is gone. Because of that, Chief and two guest stars—Chet and head paramedic Brad Lendricks (Tony Hale)—are the prime suspects. Despite the fact that the victims are Cat’s ex-boyfriends, she is never really questioned, which is just the type of crack police work we’ve come to expect from anyone on Childrens Hospital. It doesn’t matter though, because this episode is an origin story, first and foremost: the origin of Briggs and Owen’s partnership and friendship. Their first day as partners 15 years ago was them working on this original case, and even 15 years ago, Chance Briggs was tough as nails:
“The rule book’s never been on the streets!”
(It’s no “Your case is grass!” but it’s up there.)
The episode manages to put in a nice touch of continuity—sort of—only to eventually say “screw that,” laugh in any type of continuity’s face, and just ride the insanity train all the way to ludicrous town. In one of the 15 years ago flashbacks, Owen introduces Briggs to his trusty Motorola. As you may remember in a flashback from the first season, the reason Owen finally followed through on his dream of becoming a doctor in the first place was because of an argument he and Briggs had over the correct date on 9/11. Briggs got out his own Motorola to settle the score—as he believed it was 9/12, the idiot—and the rest was history. Understandably, Owen immediately hit him with the harshest words of all: “I quit.”
But after some back and forth, Briggs tells Owen the “real” story of the first day they met, and any semblance of continuity is thrown off the Childrens Hospital roof. According to Briggs they really met 22 years ago, when Briggs worked the night shift at a veterinary clinic. He befriended a baboon, made it obedient, shaved it, and that baboon was Owen. One can only assume that what happened after the fact was a reverse Tarzan, if you will. None of this really addresses the Owen family history from “Party Down,” with Stephen Root and his Chinese mom. Because it makes him a baboon.
By the time the episode gets to the baboon and “me, Owen” stuff, the prior peculiarity of the episode title has already been forgotten in favor of the semen-covered plot, so it’s even more of twist when it does happen. Owen and Lendricks react the same way the audience should, with pause and so much confusion about what they just experienced with that flashback that they can’t even really begin to unpack it. But even though it completely undoes that back story, it’s not a problem at all. Childrens Hospital does that stuff all the time, and this is just the right amount of weirdness that it’s known for. Valerie Flame is John Hamm, after all. It’s fitting that executive producer Jonathan Stern is credited with writing this episode, as it probably feels the most like a classic (like seasons two through four) episode of Childrens Hospital, even with the lack of cast members.
Tony Hale is great in his small role, as it is very difficult for Tony Hale not to be great in any role. (The exception is his small role in a season four episode of Dawson’s Creek, by the way.) Hale’s delivery of the line “The sex is amazing” is mesmerizing, and it’s hard not to laugh at such a bizarre, borderline offensive (with a question mark behind that) situation. Mark me down as someone who would want to see an episode about his character’s Orange Is The New Black-style adventures.
Compared to other police investigation episodes of Childrens Hospital—that really is a subset of episodes at this point—“Me, Owen” isn’t the pinnacle, but it’s still a strong episode, especially in this season. The episode really is a good showcase for both Rob Huebel and Nick Offerman, and Ken Marino obviously has some fun directing another crime episode. You’re not going to learn that at the Academy.
- How dare people say Cat was cheating at Hide and Seek? She’s just really good!
- Lendricks: “I used to masturbate in the closets at work. Is that a crime?”
Briggs: “In Iraq, yes. And also here.”
- “It takes a baboon to know a baboon.” I couldn’t agree more.
- If Childrens Hospital ever wants to crossover with Burning Love, Owen and monkey heart Tamara could probably make it work.