“The light of the body is the eye: if. Therefore, thine eye be single, thy. whole body should be full of light.” – Matthew 6:22
We open in on on a legally blind kid- James (Luca Bleau Darnell), but faintly seeing Puppet Time. After a surgery (most likely prompted by love to see Mr. Pickles proper), his vision comes into focus, allowing him to see Mr. Pickles (Jim Carrey) in all his glory, as God intended.. that is until perusing the channel to find out Puppet Time won’t be shown that week. Welcome to Kidding (Showtime) episode 3, “I’m Listening.”
Back in the hospital, Jeff’s room is flooded with fan-mail. He wonders the halls of the hospital reading a bunch of them too himself, including one from Peter (Justin Kirk), his recipient who wants to talk with him, even though Jill most likely won’t make that a reality. The fans seem to miss Mr. Pickles and going through an MRI, a flash of happiness flashes across Jeff’s mouth.
In the hospital room, Jeff meets his roommate through the back-lit scrim of a hospital curtain. This person clearly is using an Electrolarnyx, and Jeff opens up to her, bemoaning he has too many ‘friends’ (read: fans). This stranger, friendless, claim to see the world for what it is- “An airport hotel room, where people wait in line to fuck you in the throat.” What a fitting roommate to keep him company. Jeff claims he knows how to fix it, but it will entertain controversy and gain him, enemies. His bedridden therapist claims that having enemies is a good thing because it means you’re true- that being beloved makes people question your intentions. When asked if the mystery person behind curtain number one has enemies, the reveal comes. Good ole’ Tara Lipinsky (as herself) from the first season, who fucked Jeff over for his Pickles on ice idea and subsequently was met with karma when a skate blade wanted to make friends with her fucking throat. Com-e-dy!
Back in the house of Diedre (Catherine Keener) and Scott (Bernard White), the passive-aggressive practice of Post-It Noting items is underway. If Diedre wants the piano and learns to play it to spite Scott, Scott wants complete custody of Maddy (Juliet Morris). He believes Diedre is an unfit mother and he wants to prove it through her finances. Every year, she pays hundreds of thousands to a charity monikered the “Indica School for Girls”, however according to the forensic accountant hired by Scott himself. Despite Diedre trying to wiggle her way out of it the best she can, but she’s dead to rights… and possibly soon dead to Maddy’s world. This causes her to flip the felt out and destroy her workshop.
At the hospital, Seb (Frank Langella), wheels Jeff out and agrees to step away from the brand without any animosity. This is perfect because Jeff relays his new idea to Seb in the car home. This would be a Mr. Pickles doll outfitted with the technology akin to an Alexa or Google Home. In Jeff’s words, “I want eight inches of me, in every child’s bed.” (Come on, that’s a SOLID joke!)
Before getting into his apartment, Seb asks of Jeff to stay with Diedre for a bit and help her through the divorce until she gets back on her feet.
As a frantic Diedre is on the floor, cleaning up the mess she made being the mess she is, she turns to huffing the spilled industrial-strength adhesive until a knock is heard. Super giddy and euphoric, Diedre greets Seb, with him relaying to her the same thing about Jeff and seeing him through his divorce as well. He also wants Diedre to take over the business under the condition she put the kibosh on his worst impulses. As Jeff enters, he immediately relays his mad idea of putting an unsupervised wi-fi connected doll into the hands of every child. Compromised, Diedre immediately falls head over heels with the concept. Oh Seb, what have you done?
Back at home, as Will (Cole Allen) tidies up, a gift falls from the shelf. Picking it up, it’s a present addressed to Will himself but the from field is left blank. Peeling the paper back, he’s confronted with a tome titled Deus Mathematica: Math, Magic & Mysticism. Opening the cover, he discovers the check-out card dating back to the latter ‘40s and ending at the latter ‘90s. Will opens to a random section of the book, which so happens to be the chapter “The World’s Greatest Magic Trick: How To Turn Back Time.
Right next door, Jeff is going through the house he bought to stay close to his family. Now wrecked and ravaged, his real estate agent pleads with him not to sell. After Jeff relays his erstwhile hope for the house to be a mirror to his family, he realizes the truth that it is but a metaphorical tomb, the agent vows to draw up the paperwork and have it on Zillow by the end of the week. Jeff notices Peter with his big lollipop Jeff gifted him in the hospital.
“Neither can the wave that has passed by be recalled, nor the hour which has passed return again.” – Ovid
Jeff goes next door to talk to Peter but he’s met with Jill (Judy Greer) at the door and divorce papers. Jill takes Jeff aside and just wants him to sign the damn forms. In perfect Pickles form, Jeff seems to want to make a meal out of the signing as Will observes from his window. His friend B.D. reads from the Spell Book, instructing Will to close his eyes and seeing a moment he’d like to return to. Will looks at a picture of his ‘complete’ family and does just that. He proceeds to place Phil’s old ephemera on his old bunk and proceeds to sit on it, awaiting further instruction. Will reads the next step depends on one thing: Will.
Just as the word is seen, one of Phil’s alarms goes off, scaring the three. It’s turned off, but suddenly a car alarm goes off. It’s Jeff’s. Jeff scrambles to shut it off, forgetting the divorce papers on the hood of his car and speeding off. Fearing that Jeff might have found B.D.’s stash, they go over to the house.
Thankfully, the stash is safe through a small safe door. Will realizes that the house is a mirror image of his house and searches out another small safe door, which he does find. In it, he does find a Phil of sorts. He finds a stash of the letters from donor recipients of Phil’s. Heart, kidney, liver, corneas.
At TOYCO, Jeff sits in silence with the crude prototype for his new idea: a regular talking Mr. Pickles doll in a barrel with a Walkie-talkie affixed. As he awaits the executives, he hears voices. He pulls back the curtain to reveal it’s a double-sided mirror, with the executives on the playroom side. Seb enters and tells them to pass on Jeff’s idea, as it would be dangerous to give him unfettered freedom like that. Jeff chimes in from the other room telling his dad that it would be dishonest to say he can’t hear and see him. Seb pleads with him to reconsider. What if a child calls Jeff on that thing and threatens to kill himself? What if a parent calls and threatens to kill Jeff on account of his Christmas speech. Seb makes it very clear that Diedre isn’t in charge and never was. As long as Seb is breathing, he will assert domain. Angry Jeff suggests Seb just hang it up and retire, though it’s the only thing that made his dominant life mean anything.
In Diedre’s kitchen, Jeff shows Maddy his newest talking creation. She shows him hers, Mr. Chompers. This is the most god awful looking thing to date on the show. It’s a puppet with human teeth. Enter Diedre, who’s freaking the fuck out, coming down from a glue high.
Diedre admits writing checks to herself every year and that if she cannot run a household, how could she possibly run a company to actually cover the expenses of an actual orphanage or charity so the big-dicked IRS doesn’t have her over a barrel (sans lube). After Jeff tells her that she has faith she could put Puppet Time back on the air, Diedre melts down and admits she never liked Puppet Time nor does she like Jeff’s hair. Grabbing a pair of scissors, Jeff knows what Diedre needs to do for both of them to move on.
With hands shaking, Jeff offers up the first hearty strand of his signature locks. After a few audible snips, Diedre freaks out and Jeff is euphoric. Breathing more sighs of relief, Diedre continues on. Once completed, Jeff takes the first look at himself and simply admits, “I thought I’d miss him, but I don’t.” Diedre vows to him she is going to get the show back on the air.
Armed with the letter of Phil’s corneas recipient and his Spell Book, Will approaches the address of the parents who sent the letter. Opening the book, he notices on the check out card the date of 10/9/46. Looking up at the address, he notices it’s 10946.
Knocking on the door, a girl calls out to her brother, James. This is the same child seen at the very beginning of the episode with the surgery. James claims he has to go to wrap a Christmas present, though the holiday was a few weeks back. One might notice the kid is also holding the same style wrapping paper Will’s present was.
With this weighing on him, Will ventures into the street, nearly being hit by a student driver. Havana (Jenna Z. Alvarez) gets out and Will asks if she remembers his brother. She does recall. Will asks if she believes in turning back time is possible. She explains that it’s impossible for the past to sit on the past but it is possible in the same logic to travel forwards in time when nothing is recycled.
CUT to: Four Months Later. Havana drives Will home. They make out in the car. Will is living his brother’s past while bringing it into the future.
Later, a little girl Judy (Aria Renee Kenney) approaches her doorstep. She finds a parcel on her step, compliments of Jeff Pickles. Meanwhile, a freshly shorn Jeff checks his “listen-to-me Pickles” application to see which toys have gone live through the country. Smiling, Jeff extends his podcast microphone arm and gets ready.
Back in Judy’s room, she extracts listen-to-me Pickles from his packaging, closes the door from her fighting brother and baby sitter. In real-time, Mr. Pickles lends a few comforting thoughts about he’ll always be there for her. Setting him aside on her nightstand, Jeff sings into the mic a lullaby. We see Peter or “Big P” opening up his gift as well as Jeff’s creation. We see Seb miserable at his retirement party and sadly eating an Astronotter pop outside of the frivolities. We end on the toy singing to Peter and to James.
As Jeff goes over the good nights recorded by kids all around, we come around to one parent excoriating Mr. Pickles for talking to his child about him and cursing him out. A furrowed brow adorns Jeff’s face until a smile turns it around.
This third episode really upended what I thought of how the series could go, in a good way. It brought everything full circle and we’re delving more into Will’s brilliant character and how he’s handling a fairly acrimonious divorce behind the scenes. He’s lashed out, rebelled and came into himself with finding a little bit of zen in the chaos that is his family. Apple doesn’t fall far, I guess.