Vice Principals S01E07 Recap: 'The Good Book'

Last week, I spoke about a certain sense of familiarity or regularity that Vice Principals seemed to developing. Six episodes in, the HBO sitcom finally started feeling less like a show that would end after a total of eighteen episodes, and more like a show with confidence, a show that had been around for a while and had found its footings, both with how it wanted to treat its characters and how it wanted the plot to go. It didn't feel like filler, or a waste of time, and I appreciated it enough to give it a great score. This week with "The Good Book", that feeling most certainly continued, showing us how familiarity is both a tool this show is comfortable using to its advantage but also willing to mess with, since, after all, there are a finite amount of episodes left in its run.

"The Good Book" actually kind of starts off weak, with a cold open that merely exists to proclaim the concept of the episode. The kids are off, but the teachers are still working. Dr. Brown has organized activities to help the teachers bond and work better together in the wake of her orchestrated spat with the English teacher. But she also has tasks for her titular vice principals, as Gamby has to inspect the school (while depressed about what happened at his daughter's motocross thing), and Lee is punished for getting caught spitting in Brown's coffee by having to babysit her two sons, whom we already know to be little menaces.

The episode has all the makings of something you might see out of any normal sitcom. The kids sneak off to get high, their father sneaks around the school because he wants to see them, we see Gamby and Snodgrass get closer and closer before they finally make out on the rooftop towards the end of the episode. But it doesn't feel like I'm watching The Big Bang Theory, and not only because this show is willing to go into vivid detail describing Brown's ex fucking a stripper, or Lee showing porn to minors. What sets VPs apart is both in how each episode seems to up the ante with jokes, one liners and gags (and you bet your ass you'll get your fill of those in the notes & quotes section below, but also in how it treats its characters and the more important moments they go through.

For example, both Gamby and Brown are going through emotional turmoil in this episode. They both have a lot to deal with and are having trouble processing it. Brown is trying to keep the school from falling apart coming off her major loss with the textbook fiasco, and she's just found out one of her Vice Principals might be trying to sabotage her. Meanwhile, her house is still burned down, her kids are devils and her ex is sneaking around the school. Gamby is dealing with an apparent falling out with his daughter after messing with her motocross thing, and he's socially awkward so he doesn't know how to handle the Snodgrass situation.

Brown wounds up getting good advise from Gamby, who through his own experience shows her that a parent's love is paramount and taking that away, even from a shithead father, is devastating. That allows her to bring her family back together. And Gamby goes to Lee to teach him how to insult people, basically, which allows him to defend Snodgrass to the other bozo teachers about her shitty YA novel and gets Snodgrass to make out with her.

That leaves Gamby on a pretty high positive. He has a girl, he's in good with Brown, and he even makes up with his daughter after he's basically proven right when she takes a tumble and meets her at the hospital. You gotta wonder how the show is going to knock him down a few pegs in the final episodes of the season. Lee's in a pretty rough place, and both have lost sight of their inevitable goal, so there will surely be something there to shake things up.

And then there's Snodgrass, who's fascinating to me as a character, especially considering we only truly got to know her starting last week. She's attractive but incredibly insecure. She's clearly a clinger when it comes to relationships, and there's some damning evidence that she's only using Gamby to make her ex jealous. Maybe she truly cares for him after he defended her and bonded with her, but there's an easy way for all of that to crumble if the show truly aims at knocking Gamby down as the season wears on. Of course there's the other teacher Gamby slept around with too, as she knows about Gamby's book on Snodgrass.

Speculation aside, there did seem to be a fair amount of set-up in this episode. Gamby getting closer to Brown and Snodgrass (in different ways, of course), winding up in a generally happy place. Brown getting a win but still showing her emotional weakness. Lee continuing his tumble down. Shit's going to go down for sure in the season's final two episodes. "The Good Book" does a lot to set that up, but it's also really funny and satisfying, and for that, it gets 8.5 French dip sandwiches out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • Things I need a gif of immediately: the kid throwing his brother off the desk in the chair, and Lee tackling a clown for no discernible reason.
  • "What is wrong with him?" "Oh I don't know, probably some stupid sports thing."
  • "One of them looks like Will Smith, and other one, well, I bet he's real nice."
  • "Large black male?"
  • "So why you gay?"
  • "It's definitely the hardest job in the world." "Wardrobe mistress for Kinky Boots on Broadway."
  • "Why you keep checking your phone? Nobody fucking calling you."
  • "How many fucking zebras did you have to fuck to get that on?"
  • "Not so gay now, am I?"