This week Bob’s Burgers season 9 delivered a strong episode focused on Gene Belcher. There is almost no TV trope I love more than grade school friendships that play out like love triangles. The execution of this one was perfect.
The episode brought back Alex Papasian, played by Thomas Middleditch, and Courtney Wheeler, played by David Wain. Bob’s Burgers is better than any long-running show at bringing back characters in a way that feels like a natural extension of the story, not a re-tread. Bob’s Burgers defines its guest characters so well that they almost always work in new contexts and dynamics. I wouldn’t have thought about what a relationship between Alex and Courtney would be like before, but it feels completely organic in this episode.
The beginning of the episode showed that the friendship between Gene and Alex has been going strong. Things took a turn after Courtney asked Alex to be her partner in a roller dancing competition. Alex was happy to be asked to do anything by any girl. Gene missed Alex so much that he sang ‘80s ballad “Alone” by Heart at him. This sequence was a stand out moment for the season.
There was genuine tension as Gene dealt with the loss of the best friend he’s made outside of his family. Ultimately, the kids resolved things in a way that felt sweet and satisfying. The only bad guy was the meddling adult, Courtney’s father Doug (John Michael Higgins).
Meanwhile, Bob Belcher and Linda Belcher felt uneasy when they noticed a woman parked outside the restaurant for hours on end. They speculated about what could be going on until they eventually found out she was an agoraphobe and helped her overcome her fear. It didn’t match the a-plot in charm or character moments, but it had some solid laughs.
Also check out my review of last week’s episode of Bob’s Burgers season 9.