After last episode’s literal shit show, The Detour attempts to let the Parker family have a little R & R with “The B & B.” On paper, it’s smooth sailing: Delilah spends the entire episode sleeping off the food poisoning, Jared spends the entire episode falling in love in the “Eagle’s Nest,” and Nate and Robin finally get some time to just be a couple, instead of a couple of parents. That’s the ideal vacation for the Parkers, and Robin even says as much when she talks to Nate about how they’re not “beach people.”
Of course, all of this comes at a price, even for Delilah, who did nothing to deserve it (except for wake up still a part of this family).
“The B & B” ultimately works as a set-up episode for The Detour, building up the bizarre world of Dr. Rob’s (Tom Amandes) bed and breakfast for an extended stay on the premises and another fall for the Parker family. As the season goes on, The Detour has done well to get in and get out of each episode’s detours, but an episode like “The B & B” works best in giving the audience a taste of how the show can continue the premise (at least with this particular trip) for an extended period of time without just making every episode a new stop.
With an episode like “The B & B” and even last week’s “The Restaurant,” it’s easy to criticize The Detour for being a show that heavily trades in stereotypes. You have stereotypical millennials, stereotypical reverends, stereotypical racist ladies, and now, stereotypical southern gentlemen (with a hell of a twist) and stereotypical Russians. It’s all very broad, especially right out the gate. It’s also the type of thing that walks a fine line, because while broad sells, there’s a difference between being broad and good and being broad and bad. The Detour works because it ultimately gets the fact that most people encountered in an actual road trip end up being little more than stereotypes when it comes to memories and recounting stories.
Plus, the Parkers themselves are intense liberal stereotypes, so it’s not as though they’re immune to this.
Whille Robin somewhat learning from her antagonizing of the reverend in the previous episode is a step in the “right” direction for the character and family—as her just going with the flow and saying she believes in ”heavenly spirits” encourages Dr. Rob to continue their new friendship—even that comes at a price. As I said last week, a lot of the fun of The Detour comes from the fact that no matter what the Parkers do, they’re doomed. Probably until Nate tells the truth about this trip, that is. His lie to Robin in this episode about his weirdness being the result of him accepting an award buys him some time on that front, but karma just comes back even more in this southern hellscape of a bed and breakfast.
In hindsight, it’s very obvious that Dr. Rob’s bethrothed is Svetlana the daughter instead of Oksana the sexpot. The only scenes that really work all that much to hide that are the croquet and dinner scenes, but even in the latter, Oksana is at the head of the table while Dr. Rob sits next to Svetlana. It works on a basic level because it’s so easy to accept Oksana as the gold-digging fiance. “Love is a luxury. And marriage is a business transaction, okay,” pushes that narrative too, but it also makes the revelation that Svetlana is the fiance even more… Well it definitely makes it so, so creepy. This emotional Southern gentleman—whose ancestors freed 10,000 “people,” aka “slaves”—who Robin is so smitten with is an absolute creep. And the drunk Russian gold-digger that Nate is smitten with pimps out her daughter to that creep. It starts off bad and becomes worse, because that is the Parker curse.
While Natalie Zea has no doubt been the MVP of the series, as Robin gets the vacation she wanted in the first place, this is really Nate’s episode. He’s the one who drinks vodka and sweet tea non-stop (while complaining about vodka and sweet tea non-stop), and lets an attractive woman hitting on him get to his head. Though it helps (and shows that The Detour isn’t just one-note) that “The B & B” doesn’t repeat what “The Restaurant” did in having both Nate and Robin go overboard in their beliefs, instead treating this relaxation time as such. The Detour is over-the-top in nature, but what makes it work is that the show (and Jason Jones and Samantha Bee at the helm of the show) knows when to do things. It knows what it is, even early on in its run, much like TBS’ other new series, Angie Tribeca, does. That’s just as good a hook for a new show as anything else.
Above all else, The Detour works in depicting a married couple that manages to both be toxic but perfect for each other. As I’ve said before, Nate and Robin are essentially good hangout comedy characters who ended up having kids, and “The B & B” really highlights that. As Oksana ponts out, Robin spends the entire episode calling Nate a “fat douche,” and he spends the whole time lapping up Oksana’s flirtations with him. Nate propositions Robin for sex while brushing his teeth on the toilet. It’s the type of thing that, on any other show, could make audiences question why the couple is even together (other than the kids), especially since sitcom couples can be so hard to actually get down. But the characters address the fact at the end of the episode: They’re happy in a state where they don’t have to “try” with grand gestures. The Detour has constantly reminded the audience that Nate and Robin are still into each other, even though they drive each other crazy; in fact, that driving each other crazy may be why they’re so into each other.
Though, if we’re being honest, neither Jason Jones nor Natalie Zea are “duds” when it comes to looks, despite that being an integral part of the plot in this episode. Television, you know?
With the exception of the recap in the beginning, “The B & B” is all Parkers, with no check-ins with Nate’s former job, Vanessa, or even “journalist” Billy Evans. As such, it’s technically a less chaotic episode of the series so far, but it more than makes up for it in the main plot itself. Because, clearly, “less chaotic” is still part of something bigger: In the recap, we see that Nate’s story is being heard by agents from Forensics, DOI, DEA, ICE, USDA, and FBI, at the very least. “The B & B” is a story all about outside appearances versus reality, and Samantha Bee’s script (her first lone script of the series) nails it. If nothing else, it’s all worth it for the scene of Nate and Robin arguing over croquet jargon. Yes, that actually happens in this episode, as ridiculous (and very white) as it comes across while it happens.
Basically, where else are you going to see Jason Jones go full Color Of Money (complete with a “DAD” shirt instead of “VINCE”) during a croquet game? Exactly.
- Dr. Rob giving out those lollipops is also even creepier in hindsight…
- I have seen the first seven episodes of the series, so a handful of my notes for this episode are actually about how the episode sets up for the next two. I can say that I applaud The Detour for how it works in a serialized capacity.
- It’s strange that this is even a thing, but The Detour and Limitless have both provided my favorite “Russian stereotypes” of 2016 with Oksana and Andrea, Who Knows Things, respectively.
- The Russian Kesha annex song is catchy, but it’s no “Hand.”
- While Nate and Robin admit they’re happy they don’t have to try, I appreciate that they both acknowledge that doesn’t apply to the whole toilet proposition. No one needs that.
- Robin: “You’re aware of how you’re coming across right now, right?”
- Robin: “Wow. You’re such a young mom.”
Oksana: “Yes. In Russia, we have children early so body bounce back. You Americans wait too long. You must’ve been in your 20s when you decided to have Nate.”
Robin: “I’m his wife.”
- Jared is almost too dumb to function in this episode, not because he doesn’t get how creepy the Eagle’s Nest is but because he doesn’t know the kid in the video is him and he tries to go through the screen with lotion. Though, he is certainly Nate’s son as Nate just assumes his son’s been jerking off the whole time. Again: Poor Delilah.
- The Stalin and shirtless Putin paintings are simply nice touches that the show just kind of accepts and moves along with.