Boris denies fathering the Coronvirus’s children while Trump tries to resolve a border crisis in the Himalayas in the latest episode of Spitting Image.
This recap of Spitting Image season 1, episode 3 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
When it opens with James Corden getting socked in the mouth — finally! — and Prince William campaigning for environmental preservation so his kids can continue to shoot grouse, it seems like Spitting Image episode 3 is taking things a little easy. No such luck. Elon Musk is still moving to Mars, leaving behind his fortune in BitCoin, Trump is siccing his hairpiece on White House senior staffers while trying to resolve a border crisis in the Himalayas, Boris Johnson is about to dispatch Dominic Cummings to appease Northerners, and Prince Harry gets involved in a neighborly dispute with LeBron James. It’s business as usual if the business in question is offending as many people as possible in a twenty-minute span.
Thanks to its last-minute editing, the most controversial topic of the last few days — that of creatives being advised to retrain by the UK government — is enthusiastically mocked in this episode in appearances by Idris Elba, who is told by Rishi Sunak that his skills — yes, even the smoldering — are either useless post-Covid or always were, and is advised to become a care worker by a Post-it note reading “Just say care worker” stuck on Sunak’s computer monitor. Adele, meanwhile, has retrained as a car alarm.
There are some cutaways to less frequently-attacked targets this week. Keir Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet is depicted as blithering infants who have their lunches prepared by their parents and just want to draw pictures of dogs and use the bathroom. And Ivanka Trump tries to mingle with New York’s movers and shakers but just finds herself dining in a “small booth” that’s really just a toilet cubicle. The show is thoroughly stolen, though, by a returning Xi Jinping, who is insisting via TikTok that the app is definitely, absolutely not an attempt by the Chinese to steal private data. He’s teaching a new dance called the “Jinping Shuffle”, every step of which involves sharing personal information. “Everyone must do it,” says, Jinping cheerily. He means should!
But it’s the usual targets who’re in the firing line in Spitting Image episode 3. Trump is being electrocuted by a Twitter fact-checking algorithm every time he tells a lie, which is eventually enough to stop his heart — tweeting that he loves Melania provides enough voltage to revive him. Behind in the election polls, he needs a big foreign policy win, and Pence suggests getting involved in a border dispute between India and China that he has to simplify down to a hamburger metaphor. Trump puts his best man on it: Jared Kushner, here depicted as an obvious mannequin being wheeled around by Ivanka.
The most lighthearted subplot involves Prince Harry getting into a rivalry with LeBron James since they’re now part of the same cul de sac “team”. They agree to a friendly game of basketball that ends with LeBron scoring a three-pointer with Harry’s head. Still, at least he stuck up for himself.
As usual, the most savage criticism in Spitting Image episode 3 is reserved for the current Conservative Cabinet, who’re forced to deal with dissatisfied Northerners protesting local lockdowns. Boris: “I thought we built a giant ice wall between us and them?” Gove and Priti Patel get off rather lightly; both have little fantasy sequences which involve Boris’s severed head — Gove is drinking cocktails from it on an island getaway, and Patel is ashing her cigarette in its open mouth while tormenting immigrants. It’s comparatively mild compared to the thrashing Boris and Cummings get. The former, charmed by the physical embodiment of Covid-19 being female, takes it to bed and makes love to it with Margaret Thatcher’s Greatest Hits playing in the background. Nine months later, he denies having fathered its baby: “Not my child,” he says, “looks nothing like me.” The alien Cummings is still the most consistent source of gags. When asked if he’s from the North: “Yes, that’s where my pod landed.” When asked if that’s where he went for his eye test: “Yes, eye test. I certainly wasn’t malting my exoskeleton.” Brilliant. Cummings mind-melds information about Northerners from Boris and meets their leaders in their natural habitat, which is obviously the pub. His recommendation when he returns is their complete annihilation — and maybe they should build that ice wall after all. Boris is excited at the idea of an infrastructure project. This is fiction, but only just.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.