One is struck by the undercurrents in this supposedly ‘lightweight’ episode. Lizzie’s quote to Gordo and Miranda that there’s more to Kate and Larry than meets the eye is perhaps as good of a way to describe the episode itself, due to the groundswell tapped throughout this episode.
While on the surface nothing more than a conventional ‘fun’ episode, this episode actually ends up slightly enhancing some long standing plot threads. No one is the focus of this one; it revolves around the cast of Lizzie, Larry, and Kate. And as a consequence it fleshes out Larry and Kate’s characters to a degree not seen in a while. Instead of bit players, the story really dwells upon them as people. In doing so we get to know more about Larry and Kate, which is always a good thing.
However, before the explorations of their characters in this episode are discussed one thing needs to be said. The first thing one notices in watching this is that Ashlie Brillault, the actress who plays Kate, looks somewhat ‘puffy’ in the face. Whether she’s gained weight, or it’s just an optical illusion created by the turtleneck sweater she’s wearing, I don’t know. Fashion Note To Kate: Don’t wear turtleneck sweaters!
Now, back to Larry and Kate. Larry has a lot more ‘bite’ to him in this episode, especially in the way he stands up for himself to Kate. Whereas in times past he would have just taken the insults thrown his way and sulked about it, he fights back here. And in doing so some telling things are revealed about Kate.
At one point Larry lashes out at Kate that maybe she’d have more friends if she were more considerate. With Kate responding that everyone loves her and wants to be her. She makes this claim, that everyone likes her, no less than twice during this episode. Once verbally, and another in the hallways of her own mind. And in such ways that it sounds more like she’s trying to convince herself than anybody else.
So much is made of Kate’s not being liked, and of her thinking/wishing herself liked in this episode that one comes away with the feeling that this is an important subject to Kate. Larry very pointedly remarks upon the fact that she isn’t liked. And Kate, just at pointedly, tries to assert that she is in fact liked. Repeatedly. This seems to be an issue that the producers of the show want to get across, and goes hand in hand with the long-standing plot thread concerning the “redemption” of Kate.
Not only is Kate’s longing for true friendship touched upon, but Larry’s self image is on display as well. Larry sees himself as a super smart, super cool, chick magnet. And in the course of this we see his occasionally antagonist role come to the surface again by way of his actually contemplating blaming Lizzie for starting the food fight even though she didn’t do it. This after her standing up for, and praising, him earlier!
Also notice the subtle touching upon of the long-standing thread of his attraction to Miranda. In his version of events, the girls are all swooning over him, Miranda especially. Miranda’s rash on her arm turns into a blinking animated heart shape in his version of events as she sighs over him.
The episode really belongs to Kate and Larry. They both are humanized to a greater degree here. Lizzie is just sort of along for the ride, and takes a backseat. As for Gordo and Miranda, most of their screen time is dedicated to flashback sequences in the various interpretations of the events leading up to the food fight.
There is a moral to this episode, and while the message is good, the context appears to make it seem a little weak. Feeling bad morally for not stopping a food fight? How is one not living up to their moral obligation by not stopping a *food* fight? If it were a real fight, like a brawl, I could understand the self-chastisement. But a *food* fight? A food fight isn’t a real fight. No one gets hurt. It’s a food fight for crying out loud. Inconsequential. So to feel bad over not stopping it seems a bit much to me. What is there to feel bad *for*?
And speaking of food fights, the classic “Food Fight” is a standard sit-com staple. In fact, it goes back to before television. Who can forget the masters of the food fight? None other than the Three Stooges? “Woob, Woob, Woob, Woob, Woob, Woob, Woob. Nyuk! Nuyk! Nyuk!”
As for the subplot, it’s a good one. Matt and Lanny miss the bus back to school from a field trip and then let fate decide whether they should do the “responsible thing” or take the day off “Ferris Bueller” style. It’s interesting to note that it’s Lanny who suggests they let a coin flip decide it as opposed to doing the “responsible thing” right off the bat as it looked Matt was about to do.
Matt and Lanny spending a day around town is fun to watch. But one has to wonder how they could not only pay for ice cream, but also afford tickets to a baseball game. Baseball tickets are not cheap! Just how much spending money *do* Sam and Jo give Matt to go to school anyway?
Overall, this episode combines a main plot that is strangely complex for a ‘filler’ episode with an airy little ditty of a subplot. Not bad, but a little odd to categorize. But worth watching if for no other reason than the expounding of Larry and Kate’s characters.