I loved this episode. There, I said it. I even said it aloud.
It was quite possibly the best sans-Catalina episode to date.
This was one of those episodes that's great to watch, but tough to blog. There's so much going on it's hard to describe it and do it justice. But what the hell...let's give it a try shall we?
The ep opens with Randy at the Crabshack. Randy misses Darnell so much that he's assembled a Scarecrow Darnell to be his drinking buddy. Earl is back at the trailer, gazing mournfully at Darnell and Joy's wedding photo. There's a knock at the door, and it's Sergeant...I mean Captain Murtaugh...I mean...a large angry black man (played by guest star Danny Glover) with lots of questions regarding Darnell's current whereabouts.
Blogger's Note - Mr. Glover's vast body of work in television and numerous movies notwithstanding, I am convinced that it was his performance in 2008's Unstable Fables: Tortoise vs. Hare (played the voice of Walter Tortoise, first cousin to Darnell's Mr. Stuart Turtle) that got him the role of Crabman's dad.
Earl plays dumb, "plays" being a relative term, but LABM somehow manages to see through Earl's ploy. Before you can say Where's Riggs?, Earl finds himself handcuffed to a suitcase bomb. Tell me where Darnell is or become azalea food. What are azaleas? asks Earl.
In Swankyville, Darnell's coming home from his office job when he hears gunshots in the other room. Faster than a mongoose, he grabs up a couple of weighty candleholders and bounds into the next room only to find his boys shooting hookers and car thieves on the Xbox. Joy's had herself a pretty busy day what with microwaving Darnell's TV dinner and pretending to be the maid AND the nanny AND the gardener. Oh Snap, where's her sombrero it's time to cut the grass.
Back in Pimmit Hills Trailer Park, Randy's managed to get himself handcuffed to Earl and the bomb. Neither will fess up as to where's Darnell. But it's okay: Randy Has A Plan. I don't know if screaming and hoping the bomb doesn't go off has ever worked in the history of bombs, but this time it does. The final few seconds were encapsulated in a 24-style split-screen montage of Joy washing the floor (looking very Catalina-esque in her maid outfit), LABM in his car listening to The Girl From Ipanema, Earl and Randy screaming, and Tim Stack in the Crabshack downing a shot and falling off a barstool.
But the bomb doesn't explode, and LABM comes back into the trailer and drops a bombshell of a different sort: He's Darnell's father, Thomas. (Glad to finally have a name for him. I didn't like calling him LABM.) Thomas is glad to see his son has such loyal friends, and after presenting his bona fides (photo of afro-ed father and son) and explaining his past (covert government agent), Thomas tells Earl and Randy that he just wants to get right with his son. After tasting one of Thomas' tears, Earl gets all verklempt and agrees to deliver Thomas' belated birthday card to Darnell.
Earl and Randy sojourn to Joy and Darnell's new digs (courtesy of the Witness Protection Program). Randy wants Darnell to come back to Camden because they have a new black president. Darnell treats us to a flashback of his younger pre-Darnell Harry Monroe days including...
It's this last one that's the cause of all of Darnell's troubles. His Agency sent him to kill a nine year old ruler of a socialist movement ("Why is your government threatened by a pediocracy?"). That causes Darnell to question his superiors at the agency and that caused the agency to put out a contract on Harry Monroe and that caused Harry Monroe to go into the WPP and become Darnell Turner.
Earl agrees that sometimes Dads suck, but maybe this here birthday card from your dad will help. Darnell finds the tracking device in the birthday card just as Thomas bursts into the house, shooting knockout darts at everything that moves. Darnell manages to catch the darts, and father and son engage in a Battle Royale ending in a draw. Thomas calls a timeout with a Murtaugh-esque "I'm getting too old for this" and informs Darnell that the reason he was such a hard-driving father was because he didn't want Darnell to "..be soft like your brother..." What brother?, asks Darnell. Oooh, there's a multi-episode arc in the offing...
Thomas offers Darnell an out. If Darnell will go on one more mission, the agency will forgive all past sins. Darnell grudgingly agrees.
Earl wakes up in an airborne helicopter. Earl, Thomas, and Darnell are on a secret mission, and Earl is there as leverage to make sure that Darnell cooperates. Unfortunately, as exciting as that sounds, Earl is going to miss the fun. Darnell gives him an injection to make sure that he doesn't see anything he's not supposed to. The knock-out drug works as advertised but keeps wearing off and requires frequent re-applications (i.e., repeated injections).
Through Earl's half-shuttered eyes we see Darnell's mission unfold: there's a stolen golden artifact, a covert interrogation, getting buried alive, a lost contact lens, a threatened mass killing (loved Darnell in a burqa), the disarming of an anthrax bomb, and Earl in a diaper.
Déjà vu-ing, Earl re-awakens in the helicopter just wanting to know Is it over? Thomas tells Earl that they had to inject him forty-five times and that Earl may want to drink large quantities of water. And oh, by the way, side effects may include...
The big problem right now, other than Earl's twitching and saying "Geet geet aaack snort" a lot is that the helo's engine is failing and there's only two parachutes for three people. Darnell straps Earl into one of the chutes and throws him out the door. Earl lands safely in a tree, his feet dangling two feet above the ground. Thomas and Darnell fight over the remaining chute. Darnell straps himself in, and giving his father a mighty bear hug, throws the two of them out of the flaming chopper together.
Joy and Randy are despondent in the absence of their loved ones. Their sadness turns to gladness when a large black SUV with tinted windows drops off Earl and Darnell at the front door. O Happy Day! Hugs and happiness abound.
Dinnertime, and the whole gang is seated around the kitchen table. The evening news is on (courtesy of Joe Schmoe's Ralph Garman), and there's been a flurry of international intrigue involving a theft at the Cairo Museum, the crash of a military helicopter, and an anthrax bomb failing to detonate in France. Darnell whispers to Earl, You don't know nothin'. Earl responds, "Geet geet aaack snort." Roll credits.