I almost let myself believe we were going to have a “moment” there at the end of this episode, but this is Working after all – so Inami took care of that with a left hook.
If any episode has reminded me of the first season, it would be this one. There was the obvious focus on Takanashi and Inami, but it was also a faster-paced episode that relied heavily on physical humor – more in line with the first season that with the more atmospheric tone of most of the eps this year. I’m not sure one is better than the other, but it’s interesting to see the different styles play out. Since this approach relies more heavily on actual “jokes” than drawing humor from mood and setting, there were some bigger laughs and a few gags that fell flat.
For starters, let me say I absolutely loved the inanimate objects this week. Inami’s hairpins were a trumpet and a fried egg, and there’s something agreeable random and silly about that. We also saw the reappearance of our old friend “the hand” when Takanashi walked Inami home. But I wasn’t quite sure to make of the first skit itself, which revolved around Popura and Satou taking a sick day because incompetent Yamada spilled cold liquid on them twice. This necessitated a call from Kyouko to a couple of her underlings from her gang days, twins Yohei (Nakamura Yuuichi – another legend joins the cast) and Mitsuki (Tomatsu Haruka – another legend… I said that already) Mashiba. This was an odd sketch, definitely scoring points for weirdness but not always actually funny. Probably the best gag was the fact that Souma happened to have a compromising picture of Mitsuki from her school days. Once the central conceit was established – Kyouko still has underlings from her time as a gang leader that will work for free – it was pretty much just a case of watching the two siblings fighting. They were well-voiced, but the material really wasn’t all that funny.
Much better was the second half, which dealt with the TakInami drama. I grew tired of the incessant focus on those two last season but they’re fine as long as they don’t become the focus of the entire show, and they’ve been well-portioned this season. When Kyouko relieves Takanashi of his duties as Inami’s keeper in a failed attempt to prove she can be a caring boss, the misunderstandings fly. Inami wants to spare Takanashi from being hit and this claims it doesn’t matter to her, and he’s greatly insulted at her indifference. They don’t speak for a week and you know, I actually felt sorry for Inami for once, she looked so pathetic. Alas for her, Takanashi goes back to comparing her to a dog to explain why he’s so upset about all this, but at least she comes clean about her reasoning and he returns to his role as her trainer. And that’s when we almost had that warm conclusion that would have been so out of character for this ultimately caustic and hard-hearted dark comedy.
In the end, as much as it pains me to admit it, Takanashi appeared to be as close as he’s ever come to actually showing feelings for Inami – dog analogy or not. But there’s still that nagging distrust of older women and the whole androphobia thing, and this doesn’t seem like a show that would ever let a couple happily pair off anyway. Now that those two have had their moment in the spotlight, I’m ready for things to turn back to Popura and Yamada again – they’ve been lightly used the last few eps and as much I like the ensemble nature of this cast, I have to admit that the funniest moments almost always seem to involve those two. And Souma, now that I think about it – but he doesn’t need to be the center of attention to be funny, as he acts as a sort of rogue agent hanging on the periphery of things, popping his head in periodically to cut the others to ribbons verbally before slipping into the background again…