“None of this makes sense unless you live here.”
If you’ve been watching Trial & Error religiously since you first found out about it and you’ve been frantically trying to tell everyone you know that they should be watching it, too, then you know exactly what Josh means when he utters the above sentence in the opening moments of the first of tonight’s two new episodes. It’s one thing to say that this is one of the funniest shows on television at the moment, but trying to offer specifics about why it’s funny… Yeah, that tends to be a little bit more difficult, since so many of the biggest laughs are directly tied to knowledge of previous moments, most which are nearly impossible to explain. Sure, you can try, but any attempt will inevitably send you sputtering to the same concluding statement: “You know, you really just need to watch it.”
Like Josh, I’m glad I came to East Peck, and I hope like hell that I’m provided with the opportunity to return again. For now, though, let’s just take a look back at the final two episodes of season two, shall we?
To say that there’s a lot going on over the course of episodes nine and ten just doesn’t cut it. It’s already well established that Trial & Error is one of those shows that all but requires more than a single viewing of every episode, just because the jokes and visual gags are popping up at such a frantic pace that the odds of catching them all in one go-round are pretty darned slim. With these episodes, there’s the added pressure of knowing that the end of the season is nigh, so everything’s got to be wrapped up in the neatest little bow possible, and that’s a bit of a problem when you’re dealing with matters of murder, which are notoriously messy.
Also messy: when a pregnant woman’s water breaks, which is what poor Carol Anne experiences in the midst of Jesse Ray’s retrial. After eagerly watching this storyline throughout the entire season and anxiously waiting to discover the identity of Carol Anne’s baby’s daddy, it somehow never occurred to me—not even with all of her reminders that Josh really wasn’t necessarily the father—that we were on a path which would ultimately lead to a conclusion where Josh wasn’t the father. Given his reaction, I would argue that it never occurred to Josh, either, or if it did, then he clearly never really allowed himself to believe that there was a possibility that things were going to go that way. Either way, the end result was the unexpectedly heartbreaking moment when he left Larry’s skate wrench on the bench and walked away.
Oof. Thanks for the punch to the gut, Trial & Error.
Still, before breaking our hearts with the revelation about her baby’s parentage, the last moments of Carol Anne’s pregnancy resulted in a number of great laughs, starting with her final trip to the veterinary gynecologist and another guest appearance from Jayma Mays’ husband, Adam Campbell, who’s probably the only actor who could’ve gotten away with that gag about giving her a treat for being a good girl. Mays made the most of the physical comedy in the subsequent courtroom scene, although I’d argue that the funniest moment belonged not to her but to everyone else in the courtroom, since I laughed hardest when they got so invested in her travails with the folder that, when an item slipped out of it and landed on the floor, they all simultaneously went, “Awwwwww…”
Yes, the sudden lowering of Carol Anne’s voice was ridiculous, but when combined with her water breaking, it gave Josh a great line: “You sound like James Earl Jones, and you just turned the courtroom into a slip-and-slide!” Yes, it was gross when Carol Anne demanded that her long-suffering intern clean up the residual effects of her water breakage so that she could continue with her case, but it’s hard to argue against the recurring cutaways to said intern, which never failed to score a laugh. In other words, in terms of comedy, the pregnancy proved to be the gift that kept on giving...except, of course, for that whole thing where Josh wasn’t actually the baby’s father, where it brought nothing but tears.
It still hurts, Trial & Error, and the wound’s not going to heal anytime soon. I hope you’re proud of yourself.
But enough about the miracle of life already: let’s get to the death…or deaths, rather, since Lavinia is on a real tear when it comes to tying up loose ends, taking down not only Forge Clooney and Rev. Tats but—God help us all—Mickey Moose. Lavinia may have plumbed the depths of awfulness by lacing the poor creature’s food with cyanide, but the resulting memorial parade was truly a sight to behold, one which was filled with more jokes that I can begin to cite here. (I will say, however, that I quite enjoyed the “3 DAY MORATORIUM ON MOOSE MEAT” sign.) It also provided an opportunity for Lavinia to detail all of her despicable actions up to that point and for Josh to look as horrified as we’ve ever seen him, with the possible exception of when the stuffed bear was struck by the arrow.
We also briefly seemed to be on the cusp of getting a bonus death, thanks to Dwayne’s unwise efforts to explore the magic and mystery of autoerotic asphyxiation, which… Okay, I’ve got to be honest here: I watched these episodes as advance screeners, and even as I’m typing this sentence, I’m thinking, “Am I wasting my time writing about this? Is this part even going to make it on the air?” Not that Dwayne’s recitation of step two and his subsequent reaction didn’t make me explode into laughter, but even with the onscreen warnings to viewers that “this man is a moron,” the mere inclusion of this material would seem to be confirm definitively that NBC isn’t paying the slightest bit of attention to Trial & Error...and at least in this one particular instance, that’s a good thing, because holy shit, that was funny!
Alas, Anne doesn’t get as much opportunity to shine in these episodes, but between her malady that prevents her from opening her eyes and her subsequent decision to paint fake eyes on her eyelids to disconcerting effect, she definitely earns more than a few laughs herself. Actually, make that quite a few laughs, because I just remembered the visual gag of her dropping the gold bar. Regrettably, the same number of laughs were not provided to Nina: beyond her amusing asides about Josh giving her a “boyfriend look,” she departs the series anticlimactically, leaving behind an entertaining podcast but not much else.
Actually, that’s not entirely true: she tells Josh—and, in turn, the viewer—that he’s in love with East Peck, and even if that’s something we’ve already learned, it’s something that Josh may not have consciously realized. Since it’s reasonable to presume that he still has this information bouncing around inside his head after he learns that he’s not the father of Carol Anne’s baby, it’s something he can latch onto as a reason to stick around town anyway, which means that whenever we get the season three that we so desperately desire and, yes, that we deserve (I know it’s not just me who feels this way), we can count on Josh still being front and center.
I’ve waited until the end to tackle the conclusion of the Lavinia Peck-Foster case because there’s so much to unpack that, to be perfectly frank, I’m really just giving the show the benefit of the doubt that the whole thing makes sense. At a certain point, you just have to sit back, have faith that you’ll make it your intended destination eventually, and enjoy the ride, and if you can’t enjoy a ride from Kristen Chenoweth… Actually, that sentence took a very wrong turn somewhere, but my point is that Chenoweth was amazing throughout the season, and if someone wanted to create a Kickstarter page for a Where in the World Is Lavinia Peck-Foster? miniseries to follow her whereabouts after the end of this season, then I’ve got a crisp $5.00 bill right here that’s got their name written all over it.
Before that, though, I’d prefer to see season three of Trial & Error, because those stories about the East Peck Three aren’t going to tell themselves, but they’d damned well better get told. Seriously, someone needs to make another season of Trial & Error happen. Yes, we get an ending, one which establishes that Carol Anne won the election and that she’s clearly leaning toward a future that involves Josh even if he isn’t the father of her child. Those things are great, of course, but to allow this series to leave the airwaves altogether... Why, it’d be a travesty of justice!
Also, it’d really [bleep] suck.
- The crowd’s differing reactions to the photo of Jesse Ray with Chet and the photo of Chet’s corpse and the ligature marks around the neck were fantastic. (“Oh, yes, that’s far less offensive!”)
- “Guys? Human beings are dying. This was a moose. Maybe we should get some perspective.” “Fuck you, Josh!”
- Lavinia Peck-Foster: not a lemon sherbet fan.
- “I wish my uterus was as fertile as your imagination.”
- I’d really like to think that the seeds of the “DNR” tattoo joke were planted when the character of Dwayne was originally created, and it’s just taken this long for the joke to pay off. I don’t know about you, but with this series, I find that premise completely plausible.
- “Would you suggest that to a man?” “I would if he was crowning.”
- Please, please tell me that I’m not the only person who distinctly heard the Hillboy coroner utter the words “no diggity” at one point.
- As awful a person as Lavinia may be, her speech about life was remarkably poignant: “The secret is to hold on tight to the good times and grit your teeth through the pain, because at the end of the day, life is just a journey…and if you’re lucky, you don’t have to take that journey alone.” Why, it’s enough to bring tears to your eyes...just as long as you forget the bit about how all our journeys end in a hole in the ground.