Bob's Burgers' Season 3 Premiere: Hats Off

Bob's Burgers S03E01: "Ears-y Rider"

Now in its third season, Bob's Burgers doing what it can to bring to build on its positive word-of-mouth and draw in new audiences. The show is, simply put, a delight (it wouldn’t have been an Editor’s Pick here on otherwise!), and “Ear-sy Rider” was one of those very funny season premieres that tells a newcomer what he needs to know while still rewarding those who've been watching for a while.

Mort’s funeral home played host to the memorial for the leader of the biker gang the One-Eyed Snakes (“God gave you a halo cuz he couldn’t make you wear a helmet.”). The group then celebrated at Bob’s Burgers, of course, and while they did wreck the place, they also left an IOU, to be redeemed at any point.

The same day, the kids encountered a group of high school bullies who controlled the corner of a street. Louise, never one to back down from, well, anything, confronted the leader, Logan, and they managed to sneak by once. The second time, though, Logan stole Louise’s trademark ears.

Needless to say, it was ON.

While it was easy to guess how “Ear-sy Rider” would play out, with Louise calling in the IOU and having the bikers confront Logan, the episode made the journey to that destination into something hilarious. Louise’s stalking of Logan—going to the high school, jumping at him from opposing escalators—was a nicely executed montage that culminated in tattling in Logan’s house while Louise sipped on tea. It was a terrific way to round out the sequence and still keep the episode moving as Logan claimed to have tossed the ears away at a taco place. (“Which one, Logan?! IT’S A CHAIN!”)

What I ultimately loved about the episode wasn’t that Louise’s life fell apart without her ears, as you might expect. Yes, Logan’s did improve (he got a prom date and his test scores went up), but even in the absence of her signature headwear, Louise maintained her confidence and personality. So while the episode did offer a message about Louise’s strength of character not being defined by the ears, it didn’t overplay that. It still allowed room for Louise to grow and still be roughly where she was at the start of the episode.

And despite all this, new viewers were able to get a sense of the show Bob's Burgers is: Bob is kind of hapless but caring. Linda’s a little daffy (“Why would someone steal the sign for Ball Street? Oh! Haha!”) but protects her kids. Tina (“My hands smell like onions. It’s nice.”), Gene, and Louise are weird, random, and uncannily confident, respectively. "Ears-y Rider" was such that someone coming to the show for the first time could get an idea of everyone without having to worry about who the characters were, even though it was an episode about who one of those characters is.

Bob’s Burgers draws its strength from wrapping the bizarre in the sweet, without allowing either to overpower the other. So when the episode's two conflicting forces—the bikers and concerned parents—came together over the birth of Mudflap’s kid and realized that their neighborhood is just fine the way it is, the oddness of the bikers and the “white collar parents” being in one place felt completely earned.

Quotes & Notes

– Tellingly, Bob’s blue collar restaurant allowed two very different classes to meet and come together in a moment of unity. It’s an in-between space where otherwise distant groups can meet.

– “Someone threw a Sno-Cone at my windshield this morning. I thought I drove into a rainbow. It was terrifying.”

– Critter’s buttons were great: “For tickling a cop.” and “Fooooooor not being associated with the White Power movement.” Oh, and they make meth. These are horrible, but perfectly nice people.

– “Hey, you don’t want to mess with my sister. She’ll wear down your self-esteem over a matter of years.” I love you, Tina.

– On the specials board: (“Doesn’t come with cilantro. Because cilantro is terrible.”) It’s not terrible. I love cilantro!

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