Bob's Burgers often has to balance the sentimental with the surreal and the wacky, and it’s never an easy task. “Mutiny on the Windbreaker” leaned heavily on the wacky, and was lacking in the sentimental. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but it meant all the weird elements needed to really coalesce, and that didn't happen.
In an effort to drum up more business, Bob had the kids hang out at the docks and pass out coupons to folks leaving a cruise ship. Of course the kids got distracted by a bug, and they didn’t generate any new business—except for Captain Flarty, who wanted Bob to become the new chef on the ship. Bob refused, citing his happiness with his own business (good for him!) so the captain relented and asked Bob just cook for just one night. The family pressured Bob into accepting and they were off, complete with a VIP pass that gave them free run of the ship.
Things started off promising enough. When the Belchers arrived at the port, a crew member was trying to escape, declaring that something was wrong with the ship, but he was quickly carted off. After Bob served his meal, he discovers that Flarty had set sail Puerto Rico and intended to keep him on board as the vessel’s new chef, replacing the disgruntled French chef Duval. I really liked this shanghaied premise, because there are plenty of great jokes that can be done on a cruise ship, and the idea of Flarty being a crazy dictator provided the chance for lots of insanity.
But it never came together. The episode was a jumble of ideas, from the perpetually pooping capybara Kiki to Gene’s attraction to a dummy manatee from a ventriloquist act to Linda’s over tanning and penny slot addiction to Tina’s sexy scalp massages to Bob’s attempts to elude Flarty.
Flarty’s insanity was never really conveyed properly. It was clear he was keeping much of the crew on board against their will (“First one to find him gets their passport back!”), but that wasn't mined for much humor, leaving him as a half-baked crazy sea captain with an exotic pet. He was never comically menacing, and it really hurt Bob’s attempt to not only escape capture but to stop Duval from serving the spoiled oysters.
The rest of the family members each had their own thing going on (as I briefly listed above), and that gave the episode a sense of disconnection. Bob's Burgers is at its best when the characters are working in groups, and when they’re split up, each idea feels a little underdeveloped. Tina’s sexy scalp massage created a great sight gag (she had sex hair from it), and Louise tap dancing with her long nails was cute and funny, but Linda’s cruise goggles—as it were—never completely landed for me, and Gene’s sexual attraction to the puppet was awkward, but not awkward funny. I guess I just prefer my burgeoning sexuality humor to come from Tina.
So, a weak episode of Bob’s Burgers, but next week we’ve got Thanksgiving and the return of Mr. Fischoeder to look forward to. My hopes are high.