It’s safe to argue that BASKETS is the best thing on television right now.
The Zach Galifianakis, Jonathan Krisel and Louis C.K. comedy has kept up a steady, sterling second season with one hand’s worth of valleys but plenty of peaks.
We had Chip’s journey through homelessness with the Matrix gang, capped by Morpheus’ monologue and subsequent (likely) decapitation. Then Chip stumbling through a gesture of kindness, handing Morpheus’ daughter her father’s pan flute.
We had Christine, determined to overcome every freakin’ obstacle thrown at her, wading alone in a lake, a beautiful woman in a bathing suit putting herself in front of everything.
We had Chip dancing in the rodeo, his moment to shine denied by his contract wife. Then a simple but effective dance between Chip and Martha, their friendship at times more complicated than meets the eye.
The moments add up. Christine giggling like a schoolgirl after receiving Ken’s call. A frightening Dale chucking food into his wife’s microwave while his kids watch nervously. Martha applying the clown makeup to make up for her inefficiencies as a manager.
And in just eight episodes. Baskets has been a special treat this season, effortlessly blending barrel comedy, slapstick, heavy drama and an environment that proves a perfect backdrop for these fringe normal folks.
So now comes “Yard Sale,” nearly as good as the best we’ve had this season, and yet another wonderful half-hour of television. Chip shows some big heart. Heck, Dale does, too, in his own weird way. Women are empowered. The future is realized. And all hail Christine Baskets, the toughest lady in Bakersfield, California.
It’s up to Christine to sell her mother Esther’s old junk (like the Travelocity garden gnome), but that falls apart relatively quickly. She can’t bear to just let things go, especially when it’s the house, which brother Jim attempts to take for himself. We soon find out that Jim can’t just take it for himself, and that he’s been taking for himself forever, and much of that is the fault of Christine’s father, who apparently lived to loathe women.
Only a few seconds of Jim snaking his way through the house with his real estate agent Marissa is all one needs to compare him with President Donald Trump. He throws “inspectors” at Christine like it’s the dirty word she’ll never be able to discard, when – let’s be honest – the guy has no idea what he’s talking about. He has a Quiznos franchise. And of course he’s still wearing his Quiznos jacket.
Jim’s a sorry guy, and it’s a little unfortunate that there doesn’t seem to be anything redeeming about him, but he’s really here to give Christine the final push she needs to take full control of her life. Not for one second believing him, Christine gets the skinny on Esther’s will and reveals she gets everything, including the house. And she does it to Jim’s face while he sits in his dopey hotel room yelling at Suze Orman on television.
Seriously, the guy is Trump.
Whatever. Christine wins (“she’s a classy blond”) and heads to the bank to deposit her share. It’s there where we get another memorable scene: Christine breaking down into tears of mourning, turned quickly to tears of joy, to the very patient and kind bank employee. It’s beautiful to watch Anderson go through about 30 emotions in only a few seconds. Christine has lost her mother, defeated her brother, escaped her father’s reign and conquered her life. Of course she’s going to want a selfie with the nice woman. And of course it’s amazing.
Christine isn’t the only woman getting empowered in “Yard Sale.” Trinity returns because she spots who she thinks is Chip on a Baskets Career College billboard. Nope, it’s Dale, who then pushes Trinity to Chip. But that’s fine, because Chip wants to help her (she just stole some poor guy’s laptop because she needs money), and he does it the only way he knows how: let’s get a job at Arby’s.
That succeeds, mostly because his old co-worker is a Juggalo who clearly finds Trinity attractive. But it’s great to watch Trinity develop quickly from “Noodles! Noodles! Noodles!” to learning Arbyspeak on her first day on the job.
As for Dale, he has … intentions. After watching daughter Sarah zoom away on a bike with the bro-ish Heath (not Keith), he decides to take matters into his own hands …
By bringing them helmets and condoms.
And yet somehow there’s heart in all this. He sees despair, he sees frustration (from Nicole), so he takes action. More importantly he sees that Sarah is in distress (Heath was just about to rape her) and gives her a ride home (even if he nearly shoots one of the bros in the process). Yes, somehow Dale, the most illogical character in the Baskets world, ends up proving somewhat logical this time around.
And then he loses his business, as the college’s board of trustees votes him out as president and installs Trish.
First off, Dale needed to lose the business. He needs to be down – way down – since the rest of the main cast is in relatively good shape right now. That said, the acknowledgments from Nicole felt a little unearned. I’ll give Sarah a pass (she’s a teenager) even though the whole Sarah-Heath storyline feels too convenient and rushed.
But let’s give Krisel and Co. the benefit of the doubt. Maybe there’s some deep Dale exploration coming in season three – that would be worth it.
As for Chip? After doing his good deeds, Chip sees circus trucks pulling into town. Is a job afoot?
Next week is titled “Circus,” so you best believe we’ll find out!
Hopefully we get some sort of development between Chip and Martha, whether it’s some acknowledgment that the two need each other more than they’re letting on, or just more hijinks between the two. Martha’s been somewhat underutilized the last few weeks (though watching her grow annoyed with the yard sale customers is good fun), so getting her back in the mix would be wise.
But even with half a Martha, a rushed Dale conclusion and a mostly one-dimensional bad guy in Jim, “Yard Sale” is terrific. There’s so much to love about it, primarily the Christine Baskets revolution. Get on board now, cause the train’s about to leave the station.
Season 2, Episode 9 (S02E09)
Baskets airs Thursdays at 10 PM on FX
Timothy, who grew up on The Golden Girls and Seinfeld, writes regularly about entertainment, arts and lifestyles for a number of publications.
Follow Timothy on Twitter: @timothymalcolm
Keep up with all of Timothy’s reviews here.
Timothy Malcolm | Contributor