It’s all a matter of perspective in “A Seat on the Rocket”, as different angles reveal new truths for Jeff and his family.
This recap of Kidding Season 2, Episode 8, “A Seat on the Rocket”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The cleverly-constructed Kidding Season 2, Episode 8 opens from the perspective of children watching the 1986 Challenger disaster on television. We see their excited little faces become horrified as the space shuttle breaks apart and their dreams are shattered. Also looking on is young Jeff Pickles (Jonathan Dylan King), who visits an equally young Deirdre (Lena Drake) with an idea — what if he used the television to put those dreams back together?
Modern-day Jeff (Jim Carrey) is attempting to do that by broadcasting an episode of his show in multiple languages to account for all the missing international Pickles’ who have quit following Fil’s death. The ways in which the cold-open connects to the here and now aren’t immediately obvious, but they become so throughout the episode, as we keep witnessing the same clutch of scenes from different perspectives. “A Seat on the Rocket” treats each moment as a minor puzzle, spinning and swapping the various pieces until a clearer picture emerges.
Things are unclear for Peter (Justin Kirk), who is drunk on the giant hand in the television studio, unable to deal with Jill (Judy Greer) having turned down his marriage proposal. When Jeff attempts to speak with her about it, she’s still fuming that he took Will (Cole Allen) to the Phillippines, and Will is still annoyed that Jeff won’t fight for Jill — he insists a normal person would want Peter to die, which just goes to show what his interpretation of normal is. At a loss, he heads to Seb (Frank Langella) but is turned away: “Sometimes the things in your head are different from what they really are,” Seb says, which is a truth that we’ll discover as things go on.
For instance, Jeff wakes up Josip (Johnny Kostrey) using the all-hearing Mr. Pickles toys, and tasks him with assembling a new family of morally righteous international Pickles’, but the connection is cut off and Jeff is threatened by a man who claims to know where he lives. We return to Jeff filming his apology episode, but this time from the perspective of Deirdre (Catherine Keener), who is livid that Astronotter (Gwen Hollander) is being used to advertise the new Mercedes S-class with Blake Griffin. We also see Will calling for Seb from Seb’s perspective — he’s in the grip of romance, getting physical with the “woman” who resembles his ex-wife, but who is really a man exploiting his vulnerability.
Scott (Bernard White), meanwhile, has befriended Blake Griffin in his own weird way, bonding over pleasuring women despite the fact he’s gay, and when Deirdre goes to see him to try and negotiate the return of Astronotter — who is in the background in high heels, posing with the Merc — we flash back to their college-age relationship, to young Deirdre getting high and being inspired by Christa McAuliffe, who she watches die on the Challenger. This is moments before young Jeff knocks on her door proposing to repair the dreams of children that were destroyed by the disaster, which we see again from her perspective. This is the birth of Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time, the antidote to a freak tragedy that resonated with two very different people for very different reasons.
Deirdre is determined to get Astronotter on the next NASA shuttle, for old times’ sake, and returns to threaten Scott with Maddy’s (Juliet Morris) ax. He wants one more day a week with Maddy in exchange for the puppet, but Derrell (Alex Raul Barrios) interrupts with news that the Mr. Pickles dolls have all been taken offline and Jeff’s personal information has been leaked online. We catch up with Jeff receiving that threatening phone call, now with the additional context that there’s a pyromaniac pickle enthusiast out for his blood.
Naturally, Jeff rushes to Jill and Peter’s house, but we mostly see his frantic knocking on the door from the perspective of Jill and Peter themselves, who ignore him to repair their rift. Jill proposes that she’ll say yes to his proposal when it feels right — a counter-proposal they’re both happy with. Jeff, panicking, swaps the numbers on the house outside, so the pickle jar Molotov hits the neighbor instead. When Jill, Peter and Will come outside, Will sees the rearranged numbers as another in his Fibonacci sequence. As far as he’s concerned, time continues to be rewound. “A Seat on the Rocket” seems as fitting an episode as any to draw that conclusion from.
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