“No Friend Left Behind”

Grade: B+

“And that’s life! For you. Get to know it.”

Wise words from life coach Karen Grisham.

I like this episode because it centres on one consistent belief, and it’s in the title. Bamford explores her friendships here, most notably with a woman we’ve never before met named Jill Kwatney-Adelman (who Lala messages as part of the classic Anderson Cooper 360 “How you doin?” game of her own).

In the Duluth, we see Bamford and Jill were friends, and although the latter was very unpleasant, she tried, in her own disturbed way, to help Bamford out of her depressed state. When Jill’s crush, Todd, asks Bamford out, Jill is… crushed. She takes it out on Bamford, and explains they’re not friends anymore, even though Jill is married and shouldn’t really be upset that Todd, who is not her husband, likes someone else.

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In the present, Bamford uses Lala’s Anderson Cooper joke text to resolve her ugly relationship with Jill. She seeks Jill out at the one place Bamford knows she’ll be. That place is the sheep herding track. Jill practices with her dog, Rusty. Bamford fakes that her pug, Bert, is also a sheep herder, and that’s why she’s there, not to make up with Jill. It’s all just by chance. Luckily, Bert’s a natural. He’s so good he’s better than Rusty. He’s so good that Jill is won over and wants to make Bert a champion sheep herder, but as Bert explains in his forest voice over, his purpose in life is not to herd sheep, nor to be a painter, or a philosopher, despite being quite gifted with a brush, and quite intelligent; no, his purpose in life is to lie on the hardwood floor, and to sometimes shit where he sleeps.

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In a sad visit to the Past, we see when Bruce is finally fired. Bamford, word class agent Karen Grisham, and Bamford’s injured husband Graham (the perfect man who wore the suit that gave him the ability to swim anywhere) are on set. Bamford’s filming a commercial for the Checklist contraption that allows her to eat a bell pepper on the go (?). Bruce tries to sneak on set and get in the ear of Bamford by wearing both brush, to hide as a shrub, and camouflage, just to hide. She fires him after Grisham winds her up. It’s hard to watch. Bruce is nothing but helpful to Bamford. Luckily, thanks to the fact that he’s in the present as her manager, they patch things up somehow.

The biggest test for Bamford comes in the present. Jill smacks Bert across the face after thrashing him around for not cooperating before an important sheep herding competition. It is horrifying. Bamford rightly loses it, and addresses Jill in a very foreboding, Exorcist-esque voice.

I think this episode was important because it shows her relationship to someone over the course of many years, and it also provides a nice parallel: both women still struggle. Jill is totally irrational with an awful temper. Bamford, of course, still suffers from Bipolar II and lives to day-to-day, attempting survival.

The way Bert comes through for her at the end is heart warming. It’s what she needs in that misty forest: Jedi-like advice from her pug.

Note: I could’ve just used this as my review.

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Some Bits I Liked:

  • “I don’t think they’d say it to your face, but I think they’d say it to all of their real friends, and that would be very funny for all of them.”
  • Re: a dog, “Shake that ass! That’s my love maker.”
  • “Are you prepared to propel this pug to the pinnacle of this profession?
  • Bert the pug
  • JK’s mom died by hockey puck… Sad
  • Todd’s “Hey.” is perfectly detached
  • Bamford can’t eat chips
  • “Gluten-free since 2003! Raise the roof–” “Fuck you!”
  • “You’re like the Vietcong of celiac and this is your bread offensive!”
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