DID YOU JUST CASUALLY OFFER TO MURDER SOMEONE?
After the series’ highs of “I’m With Stupid,” Con Man finds itself settling back into familiar ground at the biggest con of the year: Shock-A-Con. While it is natural that the show would need to re-focus a bit after the events of the Long Con (as excellent as the episodes were, there was little in the way of development on the main Doctor Cop Lawyer plot), it is a little disappointing that these episodes seem to have slowed the momentum coming out of the previous episode to such a degree.
That’s actually why this is a combined, two-episode review: functionally, not much happened in “Back to the Past” and “Dawn of Girth.” That isn’t to say that these episodes aren’t enjoyable – on the contrary, they’re solidly funny – but they seem mostly concerned with setting up the season finale amidst some jokes rather than furthering the story on its own. Such consequences are the unfortunate downsides of the 12-minute webisode format perhaps, but such issues are brought glaringly to the forefront in cases like “Back to the Past” in particular.
“Back to the Past” primarily performs to reintroduce the viewer to the ridiculous Spectrum cast: the hot mess Tiffany Gizela (Skyler Day), the super right wing Stutter Dawes (Henry Rollins), the overweight/underweight Brenda White (Liza Lapira), and Wray’s “deep fried twinkie” Dawn Jones (Amy Acker.)
Each character gets some time to shine as they invade Wray’s (and Bobbie’s) hotel room, with Stutter getting the best of the set. In a span of only five viewing minutes, there are jokes a plenty, and the cast delivers them superbly. Tudyk and Rollins, in particular, take MVP for this scene (“It’s a gun, Wray. It is safety.”)
But really, that’s all that happened. Wray then goes to talk to Jack, and episode ends. It ends on a classic gag, sure, but that’s about it. Doctor Cop Lawyer’s female lead Finley Farrow (Laura Vandervoort) and the Ambivalence death maze are both introduced, but they have almost nothing to do with either this week’s episodes.
Thankfully, “Dawn of Girth” does provide a little more in the way of development with the introduction of Girth Hemsworth (Liam McIntyre), Wray’s main rival in Doctor Cop Lawyer’s titular role. Girth crashes Spectrum’s cast signing, and, with all of his Aussie charm, not-so-subtly cements in everyone’s mind that Wray is a sci-fi actor – not a cop, not a doctor, and not a lawyer. And that is, frankly, diabolical, given what we know about Wray’s insecurities as an actor.
As much as I may gripe about entire episodes being devoted to merely put the pieces into place, “Back to the Past” and “Dawn of Girth” did set up the dominoes well enough, with some great jokes in between. The best indicator of a good setup is if you find yourself wanting to know what happens next, and I did find myself itching to see the next episode to find out if Wray will finally become Dr. Ofr. Blade Slater, Esq. To its credit, I’m not totally sure which way it’ll go: Con Man has been good about propping Wray up – and equally as good as slapping Wray back down, so we’ll have to see in the season 2 finale.
RATING: B/B-. While “Back to the Past” and “Dawn of Girth” are both funny in their own rights (“Past” definitely edges out “Girth” in this regard), it’s hard not to judge them for what they don’t do when it’s so close to the season finale. “Pin Cushion” and “I’m With Stupid” had similar issues, but the absurdity of the content (i.e., Of Mice and Men as a musical) made it easier to push those issues aside and just bask in the revelry. With “Past” and “Girth” back in reality (so to speak), limited development became more noticeable.
- Riki Lindhome and Josh Dean are pitch perfect as the 24-hour comic-con livestream duo, Janet Carney and Rico Java. As a person who has done coverage on the convention floor, I can tell you that their feigned, overcaffeinated excitement is all too familiar. By day 3 of any con, you just want to crawl into a ditch.
- Bruise Camp-Bell died. May he rest in peace.
- Re: Ambivalence movie trilogy: “Have you read the books?”
“Me neither. So good!”
“Uh, right? My favorite one is, probably, maybe, two?”
- Rico Java sniffing Finley Farrow’s hair. Not that I’ve ever done anything like that.
- Bobbie’s houseboat got impounded. She would definitely live in a houseboat.
- “Pick yourself up by your boobstraps!”
- “Brenda, you have lost so much wei—-ait a minute!”
- “Did you say ‘cut’?” “No.”
- The legendary Generalissimo himself, Stan Lee, makes a cameo, talking about how he has to go make some cameos. Super meta.
Con Man is available for your consumption now exclusively at Comic-Con HQ. All of season 1 is currently available, while season 2 will release 2 episodes per week. The Con Man video game is available on iOS and Android, and the Spectrum comic book is available to download here. All photo credits to Comic-Con HQ.