So this is it! The final season of Portlandia. You know it, I know it, and the episode knows it, though it doesn’t directly tell you. Most of these sketches have to do with looking back and moving on, and while it does so in a hilarious way, it also feels like the beginning of the end, but lets go through this piece by piece.
We begin with a sketch with a couple, with their child, seeing a van for sale in the middle of the street. They see this van and think of the adventure possibilities, before their thoughts get dark and unfortunate. It’s an ok sketch, about as good as the concept could be. I love the passive aggressive relationship their fantasies. The idea of their imaginations taking them to endless possibility before their logic takes them back is pretty clever.
Before we get to the titular sketch, Riot Spray, the through line of the episode, we’ll go through the rest.
The next, and the best sketch of the show is the police station scene, that has the live podcast running through it. This is a wonderful parody on true crime podcasts like Serial. The podcasters getting in the way of police work is funny in on of itself, but the mid-interview interruption for a word from their sponsor blue apron had me laughing harder than I’ve laughed in a while. It’s a very smart, and clever sketch.
Next we get a Candace and Toni, the bookstore hippies, as they take a trek to Candace’s old farm, with special guest, Ed Begley Jr. This was a pretty fun sketch to begin with, but then it became a weird zombie movie parody, with horses in place of zombies. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think that it’s a parody on bikers, and how they taunt their victims. Either way, they shoot at the horses to survive… or at least to keep the horses from messing up their yard. I love how out of her element Toni is, as Candace and Ed Begley Jr. just blow her off as a city girl, and how these farm people are super causal with their guns.
Finally, we get to Riot Spray. Spyke and Iris are listening to the radio, and getting mad about all these political puppets! Spyke decides that he should either get his band, Riot Spray, back together, so that he can be heard, and dole out his grievances with rock, or move to Canada! So Spyke decides that he should get his band back together, which consist of actual rockers Brendan Canty (of Fugazi), Krist Novoselic (of Nirvana) and Henry Rollins (of… well, Henry god damn Rollins). The chemistry between these rockers is so great, that you believe that they use to be in a band together, and the comedic timing with all these people is on point. Especially Rollins, who looks physically intimidating, but is able to deliver lines like “When I was younger I hated everything, now I like a lot more things!” with a teddy bear like adorableness. Adorableness from the fact that these rockers have kind of grown out of rock! They still know how, but they would rather go to a restaurant, or not carpool because they independently have places to be later, and go to yard sales. The moments where Spyke see his past self, and friends tells a lot about what they are trying to say, and parody with this scene. The idea of the guy who holds on to his past too tightly is one that doesn’t get parodied enough, and they do it well here.
After he quits trying the band, he takes option B and moves to Canada, but not before getting stopped by the Canadian boarder patrol. Terry Crews as a Canadian boarder patrol cop is a damn joy. He uses this opportunity to get his inspiration on as he convinces Spyke that he doesn’t hate his country, he doesn’t hate his band mates, or any of the other things he hates. He truly hates himself, which is something he must confront at home (and because Canada doesn’t want Americans to move in with them… which as a Canadian, is kind of true… but I didn’t tell you that.).
Portlandia is back with all its wonderful weirdness I hope we’ve all come to love. Even when a sketch isn’t funny, it’s charming. It’s going to be a bittersweet last season, but I’m looking forward to every minute!