This is a great episode of television. This is a great episode of The League. But the high caliber frustrates more than it satisfies: Where was this episode two weeks ago? Where has a smart, self-aware take on Draft Kings been? Where has a pitch-perfect Rafi been? The episode shoves these and more under our collective noses, taunting us what with their solid jokes and interesting premises!

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“The 13 Stages of Grief” is the episode of The League we were promised in the first five minutes of The Episode That Must Not Be Named. And it’s a great episode: Rafi moves in with Ruxin–to guide him through the eponymous 13 stages of greif–while Andre tries to salvage the Michelin star rezzy and Kevin has to tally The League’s fantasy scores by hand. There’s even some exciting set up: Meegan’s back, with a bun (taco) in the oven, and Pete announces he’ll be competing in the Draft Kings tournament (finally making this weird, hamfisted endorsement deal work for us). Even the question of the show‘s final victor is nicely tee’d up with the announcement that everyone‘s eligible for the finals in a “winners take-all” game.

Highlights of the episode include Kevin’s frenetic, analogue Fantasy scoring, complete with visor and grungey old college sweatshirt, culminating in a breakdown at the end as he admits to accepting help from Chalupa Batman for the math (Kevin was in the weeds!) Not to mention deeper plumbing of Rafi’s bathroom-slash-kitchen habits, and a very specific candle-based weakness. Even Pete’s insistence on bringing up his Drafts King team gets handled with tact and dick-jokes.

With “13 Stages,” The League proves it’s still capable of producing an extremely enjoyable, true to form episode–which makes the unevenness of the season so frustrating. Because, taken as a whole, this final season oscillates wildly between solid, well-written, well-acted episodes and absolutely batshit insane ones. It’s an episode like this that might reward continued commitment to a fledgling show, but when a team is in their seventh season, this type of quality invokes a feeling of grief. Grief over the lost possibilities of a perfect season. With a season of the highest highs and lowest of lows, one wonders what could have been, had the season maintained a more even keel. But at least Rafi has some tips on how to deal.

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Stray observations

  • “Just make me the champion I lost my wife.”
  • “Wait a second, Brian, did you grow up with four fathers?”
  • A wonderful guest performance from Rizwan Manji
  • Rafi’s one weakness: The vanilla candle…
  • Some good nostalgia for the fans in Kevin’s big anti-Drafts Kings speech: “I’m inside me!” “That only happened like one time”
  • Taco’s “Junk Mail” folder on the message boards

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  • And his reading of Jenny’s “Bullshit:” “Bull’s hit… Basketball related.”
  • What was fogging up the glass on Ruxin’s side?! His breath, or general dick heat?