(L-R): Jon Lajoie, Stephen Rannazzisi, Katie Aselton, Mark Duplass, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer

It would not be an episode of The League if it didn’t kick off (pun strongly intended) with a cameo by a pro-footballer that even the most dedicated viewer may not understand. Maybe because it was the season premiere, so they went with a more recognizable bit—or maybe because I spent Super Bowl Sunday last year with the side of my family that surprisingly loves and respects organized sport—but I actually understand the debate Marshawn Lynch and Taco have about running in v. throwing a beer bottle to Kevin (Taco throws it; Kevin falls into a BBQ pit, natch). And thus, we begin the seventh, and final, season of The League.

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It has been long argued that The League is Seinfeld for bros: In no other show have events and set-ups been paid off as diligently or neatly than in these two. But this calculated approach to story-telling only works when we’re delighted by how everything comes together—get even a little lazy, (or maybe be a semi-improvised show with extremely busy performers) and a whole episode becomes predictable and stale, re: most of the sixth season. However, with this episode I cautiously declare that The League is back baby! Dumb jokes delivered with mercenary precision? Check. Silly plotlines wrapped up in intelligent and satisfying ways? Check. A pure return to character for all these sh*t-sipping frittatas? Check and check!

We find four-sixth’s of our gang suffering through a soccer match during the “Fantasy Football equinox”—the halfway point between football season ending and its beginning. To celebrate the occasion, Pete leads everyone to the garage so they can present their ideas for a new “Dre” trophy. I’ll admit, this made me groan just a little bit, like, “A list of bad trophies? Cool.” Oh, dear friends, I was a fool to judge so hastily! Honestly, the scene is a joy. Such a clean, pretty way to crystallize each character; seeing how each member of the group approached the task felt like a character design prompt one might be given in film school… but in the best way possible?

First, we have “semi-boring, semi-clever, asshole-everyman” Pete giving us a semi-boring, semi-clever trophy with not a “bronzed turd” atop, but an actual turd spray painted bronze. “Accidentally-pathetic” Kevin unveils a trophy featuring a photoshop of Andre making out with another Andre. Of course, Andre loves it, rendering the trophy useless to the group. “Douchey, superior, condescending Ruxin” makes a meal of showing off an Original Klumberg Design for a penis/Andre hybrid trophy—complete with hoodie half-foreskin. Our “burned-out, Shakespearian-jester” Taco seemingly runs in unprepared with a pile of garbage—before Andre points out it’s all stuff from Menage a Cinq (“Haha, yeah, your business failed”), and Jenny points out “it’s not 2013, Taco.” Taco insists that that’s the joke, duh. Lastly, “faux-classy, claws-out” Jenny unveils a perfect replica of The Dre, before adding an extra, little Dre to the first one’s extended hand, via the butt (“To commemorate the moment The Dre became a living legend, and a part of your anatomy.”) The scene culminated with “oblivious, sincere, hard-to-love/easy-to-hate” Andre ranting about how he’s starting to think these guys might just be making fun of him! You’d feel bad if he weren’t wearing that shirt.

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This is The League at its prime: showcasing each of its members complete dickheadery, while somehow also reinforcing why these guys actually do stay friends with each other. The flip of last season’s Beach House Trophy McGuffin to this season’s Beach House Punishment McGuffin makes me more excited than nervous, so I’m reserving judgement at the moment.

Just try to make me sick of Taco, The League, I dare you. Taco is wonderful and gets a deservedly wonderful plotline: as someone “so in control” of his life, it’s freeing for to “give that up, even for a moment” in the form of being hazed. He’ll be our common thread throughout the episode’s various stories.

Our first conflict: The Return Of Meegan. Which begs the question: How many times can “someone’s surprised that Andre is boning out of his league” be used as a plot device before it renders itself obsolete? The second source of discord revolves around the port-a-potty set up in Kevin and Jenny’s living room, thanks to the first, failed, Taco-hazing-attempt. Kevin announces CB (“Chalupa Batman”) is potty training, so you probably see where this goes, but it’s a clean plotline that might seem unnecessary, if not for providing both the best “Rafi Entrance” and “Look Into Rafi’s Bathroom Habits” scene.

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The final plot driver is Jenny, who wins a chance to announce the third round draft pick through a sweepstakes the Bears were having—“Don’t you guys remember?” It’s either a very weird plug for a real giveaway, or the most tactfully tactless exposition ever. Kevin spends the episode complaining that she should let him do it since it’s his birthday, giving us a taste of vintage Kevin helplessness. This is the kind of plotline that could make me deeply uncomfortable in different hands, but Aselton’s Jenny is so secure in herself—and Kevin is so easily dismissed—that his incessant whining and childish assertion that he should get to read out the draft becomes sweet instead of cruel.

It all comes together at said eponymous“other” draft. While Jenny prepares for her big moment, Pete learns about Andre and Meegan when he sees a message left open on Andre’s phone signed “Meegan” (although, who signs texts? I’m gonna go ahead assume it’s an email for my own sake). As Pete and Andre tear through the drafting floor, they knock a guy unconscious. Kevin and Ruxin stumble upon this passed out Junior Draftsman (is that the term?) and field a call from the Seattle Seahawks Elder Draftsmen about which player’s draft card to submit. With fourteen seconds left on the seemingly-unneccesary giant clock, Kevin just makes it, providing a surprise bonus payoff I was not expecting! (“With Seattle, it’s proven: You gotta run it in”). When Jenny time to shine finally arrives, Taco barges onstage in his McGibblets-terror-suit, thanks to a punishment from Pete, causing Jenny to literally crash and figuratively burn.

In the end, no one really gets anything they want, no one really learns anything, and I’m really excited for the final season of The League.

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Stray Observations

  • ‘Sup frittatas? I’m honored and excited to be taking over reviews for The League’s final season. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about my general lack of football knowledge, feel free to e-shout at me over on Twitter, or in the comments here.
  • “…but there is a six-way tie at the top for first with zero points.” “Soccer sucks.” I love this glimpse into the fact that when football’s not happening, these people do still hang out.
  • “Um, actually Pete, I have a question: where did you get that outfit? Footlocker?” “Yeah, actually, I did.”
  • “I’m sorry guys, but all I see…is a big poop, me kissing myself, me as a dick, a reminder of my failed business, and me putting my hand in my ass!”
  • “‘All right, all right’ - Matthew McConaughey”
  • Not a ton of Kroll/Ruxin plotwise, but, as for jokes, he came with fire: “No! Let me finish my mislead!” “What’s that?! Kettle corn?! Sweet and salty!!” “I was gonna say a tandem bicycle with penises for handlebars. No one appreciates what I do for this group.” Agreed, Ruxin, agree.
  • Omg the slider that comes out of nowhere because Kevin “eats when he’s nervous” I am so here for this episode.
  • Three good NFL player cameos? In one episode? Happy day!
  • “Brian?! Haha, what’s up everybody. I love this new kitchen system—it is so much easier to sh*t while I cook. Speaking of which…who wants garlic bread? Fresh out of the…oven?” Oh, sweet Rafi, never leave me. Never change.
  • “Just a good old-fashioned garlic-bread-butt-shove.”
  • “Joke’s on you: I don’t choose my hats. They choose me.”
  • Andre “tipping” his bucket hat before explaining why his girlfriend calls him “Honeybadger” just…Andre is so perfectly, sweetly, awful again.
  • Katie Aselton’s hair looks amazing.
  • Jon Lajoie will never age a day in his life.
  • “They gotta be the dumbest people in all of Chicago, man.”

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