The only thing I didn’t like about this episode of Working is that it takes us one step closer to there being no more episodes of Working. Comedy is somewhat unique in that when it’s at its best it usually looks effortless, when in fact when it comes to entertainment there’s almost nothing harder than great comedy. Trust me, it ain’t anywhere near as easy as Working made it look this week.
It’s such a pleasure to witness a primer in situation and character comedy like we saw here. This series is so comfortable in its own skin – it just knows what buttons to push and when, and we’ve built up such a comfort level with the characters that seeing actual change come to their lives really has impact. But familiarity has not bred contempt or even routine here – Working has been smart enough to raise the ante in its final acts by taking the relationships to places they’ve never been before, and that makes a huge difference.
The balance between plot progression and comedy was exquisite this week, the best it’s been all season (and it’s been good). We start with Souta and Inami (where else can we, really), where we find Souta still proving that denial is more than a river in Africa. But even he’s at 90% belief that Inami likes
him hairpins, thought he’s still working hard at repressing his own feelings (resorting to self-abuse to do so). His gift of a set of hairpins was spot-on for someone who is in fact in love, and it hit the mark in a big way. Inami’s reaction is pretty unmistakable, and it’s clear that she’s pretty much left that violent girl in the rear-view mirror for good.
Against this backdrop we have Souma, torn between his delight that the two couples in his orbit are finally coalescing into single planets, and frustration that the principals are so tight-lipped about it. And Yamada (who has one of her funniest episodes ever) is vexed that Souma isn’t paying any attention to her, so she decided to turn spy on his behalf. The results are predictably disastrous (and painful), but the payoff is hilarious when she and Souma join forces as the salacious twins. I also loved the bit where Aoi tried to use Daisy to make Yachiyo demonstrate what happened between she and Satou like a demented abuse counselor.
Next we turn to straight comedy, as Popura is feeling nonplussed and the rest of the team is unsettled by that unusual turn. Aoi convinces them that it’s due to the fact that everyone else is so consumed by their problems that they’re slacking, but it turns out to be a canker sore (Kyouko’s cheek-deflation is a classic sight gag). Combined with a cavity that canker sends Popura home to bed and Nazuna to Wagnaria in her place, the latter providing quite a shock to Otoo-san (who calls her Taknashi’s Onee-san) when he arrives back from the road. The payoff here is a fever dream where Popura finds herself as a mahou shoujo with a tiny Satou-san as her sidekick after “Maou-sama Takanashi” shrinks everyone else in the world. The best bit here, clearly, is that Popura’s magical stick turns out to be an actual stick, and a shabby one at that.
The headline of course is saved for last – as it should be – when the last great unresolved plotline finally gets a giant kick forward. I’ve never liked Souma’s mean-spirited ploy to keep Aoi and Kirio separated (it’s one of the reasons he may be my least favorite cast member) but the dam is finally broken this tine around. There’s a lot of great comedy woven in here, rooted in the fact that both these siblings are such utter baka. Inami and Souta are aghast that they never made the connection, in fact. And the kicker is that both idiots ended up using the same fake name – the apple clearly didn’t fall far from the tree here (and it didn’t get fully ripe before it fell, either).
I can sometimes find Aoi a bit much to take, but both she and Kirio are on fire this week (example: Aoi thinks she can fool Krio by climbing into the attic and donning the Souta-wig – and she does fool him. So which one is the bigger idiot?). The question for now, of course, is what becomes of these two going forward. Now that Kirio has found her that means their mom is going to find out too, and there’s no apparent reason why Aoi shouldn’t be going home. How will Working resolve this little drama – and how will Mrs. Otoo (the housewife in the bushes) factor into that resolution? As hot as Working is running right now, I can’t wait to find out.