Focusing on a lost love from Randy's (Ethan Suplee) childhood, this week's episode goes for that delicate balance of comedy and heartfelt drama that My Name Is Earl fans have come to know and love, and it succeeds on every level.
At the Crab Shack, Earl (Jason Lee) and Darnell (Eddie Steeples) try to teach Randy how to blow bubbles with his gum one day, when Joy (Jaime Pressly) walks in while she's in the middle of disciplining Dodge. It seems the youngster has developed a crush on a neighbor girl which Joy is determined to thwart since she doesn't like the girl's mother. The discussion causes Randy to recall his first love. Back when he and Earl were young, they were sent, as punishment, to spend time at the lake with their Aunt Gail, a large woman with a tendency to employ them for some pretty gross chores (most involving manipulating her various folds of flesh by hand). However, Randy was saved from this torture by a young girl he called Pinky due to her pink hair and clothes. She called him Skipper, for his rock-skipping prowess. But after spending much time together and growing fond of each other, she stood him up at the bridge where she told him she'd kiss him for the first time. He never saw her again.
Earl begrudgingly agrees to help Randy locate the now-grown Pinky, since he says it will probably end badly. At the lake, they encounter the same proprietor who had been in charge all those years ago, who's now a rickety old man. After hours spent going through old records, he tracks down Pinky, calls her, and informs Randy that she'll meet him by the bridge at four o'clock. Sure enough, a woman dressed all in pink with pink hair is waiting. And when Randy calls her name, she turns around to reveal that she is . . . Joy!
After the initial shock wears off for both of them, the story of why they never kissed gets pieced together. Sick of doing chores on his own and jealous of Randy's good fortune, Earl simply can't take it when he finds out that Randy is going to get kissed by a girl before him. So he brings a note to Pinky/Joy that he tells her is from Skipper/Randy which says that he's found someone else and wants nothing to do with her. Of course, young kids do regrettable things, but Earl even tried to kiss Joy himself, which hilariously led to her screaming, "Pedophile! Pedophile!" and kicking him right where it hurts. Back in the present day, Randy is understandably furious with Earl. Earl tells him that the item never made his list because he was too ashamed to write it down. Now that it's on the list though, the only way he can cross it off is to get Joy to give Randy the kiss he missed out on.
When Earl considers that he needs Darnell's permission, this definitely seems easier said than done. But surprisingly, he has no problem with it since it was part of their oral prenuptial agreement; Joy claimed Skipper as the one freebie she could indulge in if he ever resurfaced. With Darnell covered, Earl asks Joy. She refuses, but then agrees to go through with it if Earl can somehow break up the budding puppy love between Dodge and the neighbor girl, Tiffany. He agrees and, after Joy goes off to hold up her end of the deal, Earl writes another fake note, but this time to Tiffany. After breaking the young girl's heart, the plan ends much as it did when he was a kid after giving the girl a hug and saying the note can be our little secret, a woman screams "Pedophile!" before giving him another, probably more painful, kick just like the last one.
Faced with having to kiss Randy, and perhaps due to having her memory of Skipper so drastically changed, Joy puts her meanness into overdrive. Randy does his best to try to recreate their childhood memories with orange soda, a Bobby Brown tape, and tic-tac-toe. But she only wants to get things over with, throwing homemade, toxic mouthwash and a bad attitude his way. He meekly leaves, saying that the feelings he's trying to recapture are impossible to create. When he goes to the lake and begins skipping rocks, though, Joy finally remembers the childhood experiences Randy's been trying to recapture. She brings him a note saying, "Do you still like me?" and they spend the day doing all the things they did that summer. In the end, Randy expresses his worry that he'll never have true love or, as he puts it, what she has with Crabman all the time. Assuring him that he will, and caught up in the moment, Joy kisses him in the most genuine way he could hope for. In true Randy fashion, he tries his best to follow through with his original plan of putting his hand up her shirt.
The last few moments of this episode were some of the most emotionally intense I've ever seen on Earl. Most who aren't completely cynical and are watching in earnest would have a tough time not getting choked up, just a little bit. Although we seldom think about it, there are many Randys in the world who never get the chance to experience the exhilaration of new love at least once, as everyone deserves to. Also, I've said it before, but these types of episodes really make me admire the writers involved. You can tell they're not just throwing a schmaltzy episode together because they feel they have to either, but there's real sensitivity involved — or they have everyone fooled.
But enough of that, let's finally get around to mentioning some of the great comedy that the writers unleashed on us as well. I've saved most of what I can remember for the end, but as always, let loose with your favorite moments as well.
- The running joke, begun by Randy in the beginning, of claiming people are dead. The look on Darnell's face when Randy says he killed his old girlfriend is priceless. Oh. Okay. That's cool, I guess . . . Even the old man at the lake gets in on it. Pink hair? She's dead son. Just kidding. Zing! It culminates in Earl finding out that Anna Nicole Smith really is dead. Too soon? Perhaps, but I chuckled.
- Randy: Bitches. Little 10-year-old bitches . . .
- Old man: My penis lost feeling in 1993. I lit a match to it a few years ago. Nothing. People live way too long these days.
- Earl checking Randy for B.O., bad breath, and boogers before meeting with Pinky. Two mediums and a large.
- Randy keeps Pinky's note in that plastic sleeve where grownups keep their credit cards.
- Joy: Now I'm questioning my taste in everything. Is Darnell hot? Are Christians really the best? Is Sinbad really funny?
- And finally, my absolute favorite part of the episode. In the flashback to Joy's little prenuptial clause, we find out that Darnell apparently proposed to her by singing with some barbershop quartet, complete with the hat and striped shirt.
Focusing on a lost love from Randy's (Ethan Suplee
) childhood, this week's episode goes for that delicate balance of comedy and heartfelt drama that My Name Is Earl
fans have come to know and love, and it succeeds on every level.