I feel like before we dive into the second episode of this seventh and final season of The League, there’s a really awkward elephant just kind of hanging out in the room, like Rafi behind the couch with his watermelon girlfriend.
By now, there’s a pretty solid chance you’ve heard about Steve Rannazzisi, better known to League fans as the guy who plays Kevin. See, a few years back he started telling people that he narrowly avoided dying on 9/11, because, according to his story, he was supposed to be at work on the 54th floor of the World Trade Center that day. Only as it turns out, that’s not at all true. In fact, he never worked at the WTC to begin with, and for some inexplicable reason decided to lie about his “near death” experience on that horrible day.
It’s kind of strange that this news came out today, on the day the second episode aired, and only a few days after the 14th anniversary of 9/11. So…do we talk about how wildly inappropriate this lie was, and how idiotic it was to make something like that up? Honestly, I’m not sure we really need to hammer on this point too much more than has already been discussed on social media and in the news all day. Even Rannazzisi’s costars have come out basically saying, “He’s an idiot who made a mistake, but we believe he’s remorseful and we’ll still support him.” His Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson gig is probably getting yanked, and Comedy Central is on the verge of canceling his stand-up special that they were all set to air. And now…I feel like I’ve said way too much about this. How about we move on, eh?
Let’s get down to business: the draft. Finally, after last week’s unexpected departure from the usual League season premiere formula, we’re getting to the league’s fantasy draft which, it’s been decided, will now be auction style rather than a standard snake draft. I’ve never done an auction draft before, and while I’ve heard they can be fun, I’m kind of glad about that. Mainly, because match can kiss my ass, if we’re being honest.
The episode is a little scattershot in general, focusing on Andre’s developing relationship with Pete’s ex-wife, Meegan, who is suddenly a fantasy football expert. At a dinner (that Pete wasn’t supposed to know about) for all of the show’s couples, suddenly the idea of a couple’s league comes up and we’re given a potential goldmine for comedy with Ruxin’s wife fired up about the idea.
Unfortunately, it’s a thread that doesn’t really go anywhere, because her father gets sick and she has to head out of town to visit him in the hospital. There goes the fun of seeing an increasingly frustrated and flustered Ruxin, straight out the window. That’s a genuine shame, because “flustered” and “frustrated” are two of the things Nick Kroll does best.
The actual auction draft has some solid moment, mainly coming from Rafi and Taco having absolutely no clue what’s going on (and Taco mentioning that Sebastian Janikowski is his Eskimo brother, which, of course he is), but the idea that these guys would so readily go along with Andre’s idea to do an old-timey dress up draft seems a little farfetched. These guys are dedicated to their league, I get that, but they’re also dedicated to foiling Andre at every turn.
Fortunately, Pete calls Andre out about how ridiculous the draft is, leading to a sequence that winds up being…just bizarre. Thanks to Rafi, the cooks at a Chinese restaurant confront the gang in a back alley, leading to Andre brawling – quite ably – and fending off the chefs (some of whom have knives). I half expected it to wind up being a dream sequence, because it was patently absurd, even by The League standards, but nope: it actually happened. Somehow this punching bag of the league is an asskicker, because…humor, I guess? It was a joke that came a little out of nowhere, and didn’t really land for me. And to make things worse, the episode abruptly ends immediately following this strange turn of events.
It’s easy to see the plot threads that the show wants to pursue this year, but the series really seems to be lacking a little focus so far. Obviously we’re only two episodes deep, so there’s plenty of time for the story to tighten up and become more clear, but considering this is the last season you’d hope they’d have their eyes on the prize a little more, rather than introducing a bunch of different ideas and kind of throwing them all at the wall to see what sticks.
There were some genuine moments of good comedy, but honestly, the show made even less sense than usual in tonight’s episode. Here’s hoping things get on track next week.