[9.5/10] What a great episode. The main story knocked it out of the park, with a great (semi-moral) dilemma for Linda. Does she reward Louise for standing up for the downtrodden (in this case, Pocket-Sized Rudy), or does she punish Louise for breaking the rules and keep herself in the good graces of Mr. Frond, thereby maintaining her spot as the head of the Wagstaff bake sale and allowing her to shove it in her rival’s “conventionally attractive face.”
The result is a great Linda-Louise team up episode (in line with the superlative “Mother Daughter Laser Razer”) where the two Belcher woman go on a great caper together. Linda smuggling Louise out of in-school suspension, and then the pair of them having to avoid and evade Mr. Frond (and his amusing, six-toed mom) made for an exciting and surprisingly tense adventure for the two of them, with some heartwarming moments to shore things up.
The B-story, with Bob turning to Teddy to help him run the restaurant in Linda’s absence when a rush of cyclists comes through, was non-stop laughs. Teddy’s enthusiasm combined with Bob’s encouraging but exasperated demeanor is always a recipe for great comedy. Teddy’s exuberance for being behind the counter, his overzealous efforts to take people’s orders, his bizarre rhyming system for remember who ordered what, and his unfortunate jalapeno-related blindness all made for guffah-worthy moments when the episode would check in with the pair.
And even the C-story, which featured Tina, Gene, Jimmy Jr. and Zeke, trying to slip Louise notes while she was supposed to be in in school suspension was quite good despite its brevity. The banter among the kids is always great, and I loved the fact that the kids’ notes turned out to be the perfect cover for Louise to show Mr. Frond her “essay” about what she learned in would-be detention. It’s that kind of elegant storytelling choice that makes those abbreviated side-stories feel more necessary to the proceedings.
Plus, even though you just knew Louise was going to make it back in time, the episode did a really great job of playing out the tension of her and Linda racing to get her back to the classroom before Frond arrived. Nice use of editing and music to heighten the silly drama of the moment.
All-in-all, this one is a real keeper.