Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp is many things: a prequel, the weirdest series Netflix has ever or probably will ever order, and the most irresistible celebrity-cameo bait since Movie 43. But who would have expected it to be a superhero origin story? Yes, First Day Of Camp is also the story of how a modest camp director went from barely treading water to sinking into a puddle of decommissioned Nickelodeon Gak, thereby becoming The Amazing Self-Fellating Can Of Vegetables.
“Activities” continues the absurd story of what is hopefully Camp Firewood’s most eventful summer on record, beginning with what is a surprisingly literal backstory for Jonas/Gene’s confidente. Mitch’s transition into Can Of Vegetables is a cool callback in theory, but it’s also something I’d imagine is probably more fun for anyone coming into First Day Of Camp cold than it is for WHAS diehards. The movie is a logjam of comic non-sequiturs, and arguably the best of them is the moment when a can of vegetables suddenly speaks to Gene and affirms his sexual attraction to inanimate objects. It’s a joke that works best with as little explanation as possible, and while it’s still probably just as enjoyable for Camp Firewood newbies, the toxic goo backstory strips the joke of its WTF goodness for fans of the movie.
But Mitch’s ultimate sacrifice moves the plot along at lightning speed. “Activities” begins with Mitch urging Beth and Greg to find a code that will help save Camp Firewood from the evil clutches of Xenstar (a brilliant name for a shadow corporate entity), and ends with them in the crosshairs of a dangerous and rakishly good looking assassin codenamed The Falcon. (Then again, this is WHAS so let’s not assume The Falcon is a codename.) The Falcon may meet his match though, as Jonas’ mask is beginning to slip off revealing the badass fetishist beneath the soft-spoken, camp cook veneer.
“Activities” lays foundation for the rest of the season, but it’s a workhorse of an episode that doesn’t watch like one. It’s also really fun, in part because of what is probably my favorite exchange of dialogue of the WHAS universe:
Katie (as Andy gives her an aggressively pelvic shoulder massage): Thank you Andy, but you can stop now. I have a boyfriend, and these are his shoulders, not yours.
Andy: You telling me you don’t want to hack yourself off a slice of this long, greasy dick?
Katie: I told you I’m with Blake.
Andy: Blake can’t blow your life like I can.
Katie: You don’t even know him.
Andy: I know he’s got a pair of duck boots jammed in his butthole. You’ll come around Katie, Duchess of Snobville.
With slick game like that, it’s no wonder Andy was able to woo Katie away from Blake and his evil, elitist ways. “He’s got a pair of duck boots jammed in his butthole” is a goofy and absurd sentence, but as a description of Blake, it totally works. It doesn’t help that by refusing to adhere to Blake’s exacting make-up standards, Katie is risking her gilded seat beside Blake, the Duke of Snobville.
Katie and her dueling beaus aren’t Camp Firewood’s only love triangle. Coop is still trying to get a handle on his relationship with Donna, who is still digging on Yaron. Coop thinks she’s giving him a special gift when she presents him with a shofar, only to find out that at Shofar Warehouse, the more you spend, the more you save. Coop is a true romantic if he was prepared to entertain a relationship with Katie after all of Donna’s mind games. Turns out Maine is also for lovers.
- Donna on her unusual present wrapping: “It’s easier for multiple takes.”
- Lindsay is getting awesome material for her story with the legend of Eric (Chris Pine!) and the Rockin’ Knights Of Summer. She might even need more than 5,000 words.
- Blake is risking a serious case of binocular eye.
- MVP of the episode: Nurse Nancy with the diaphragm assist!
- Mitch, in his new body: “Don’t tell me about cans. I know about cans. Believe me, I am one.”
- Coop and Donna should really scan the room before they start making out.
- Ron is an aide to Ronald Reagan! He’s literally a punching bag, but still!
- Reagan eats jellybeans by the handful, burnishing WHAS’ reputation for historical accuracy.