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Hand to God
“Hand to God” starts with one of the well-connected jokes in the series, with George Michael talking about Ann’s religious group not liking the show Nip/Tuck. “Well, you know, they don’t like anything. Something about God wants people to age naturally. I don’t know. Ironically, she likes Gangy.” And honestly, this definitely isn’t among the “best” episodes of the series, because it doesn’t stand alone very well, and it doesn’t connect stories as well as that joke did. But I don’t get to talk about Buster a lot, and this is my favorite Buster episode by far. Tony Hale constantly forgetting he has a hook for a hand is a perpetual motion machine of comedy. And seriously, this is not the “we found out something major about the central plotline” kind of an episode. This is about everyone getting accustomed to Buster’s hand being gone. Or rather, people not getting accustomed to it.
And it’s coupled with a really great mini-plotline about Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ non-blind lawyer character Maggie coming back non-pregnant (though everyone thinks she is). It ties up the Maggie plotline, in which Michael went from assuming he was the father of a baby and regrettably deciding to care for it to finding out he wasn’t the father of a baby and then regrettably deciding to care for it. Michael’s heart and mouth are on a quicker connection with what his brain is tied into. The fake bellies and the updated fake bellies and the real bellies are a good example of the short domino effect this show has of ending its sub-plots effectively. In a short amount of time, a large amount of backstory is implicitly delivered for these homosexual cops, played with gusto by the always amazing Jay Johnston and Jerry Minor, and this baby that didn’t exist in the way that we thought it did. Comedies should always grasp onto mini-arcs.
“Mom, you’ve got to stop starting conversations like that.”
Buster’s missing hand and missing memory are the combined source of so many memorable moments in this episode, it almost outweighs all the others on sheer Power of the Single Joke. Before it’s definitively clear what’s happened, Ian Roberts’ Dr. Fishman says that Buster is “all right,” implying that he’s lost his left hand. Perfect start. Then we get Buster jovially accepting the seal-sourced amputation of his hand – “I heard there’s gonna be a bay-bay,” - which means he doesn’t have to go to Army, enough so he can casually make a hand-related pun to Michael. But when Michael tries his own lame pun, Buster freaks the fuck out. “Get. Him. Out of here. Get the [bleep] out of my room!” By the time it gets to the end of this storyline, with Buster screaming, “I’m a monster!!!” while tearing apart the living room, it could only end in one way. In an end. With a claw in it. “Hey, campers.”
“Close call there, Bullet. I am so sorry about that.” One of the most progressively uncomfortable moments in this series is when Jay Johnston's cop says that Jerry Minor's cop was hiding inside Maggie's house - the one that Michael urged George Michael to break into - and that his gun was drawn. Just a weird little moment of character mortality that just doesn't happen that often. And the fact that Michael's first instinct is a casual joke is all the more amazing.
Things That Make The Episode Memorable
“You’ve been warned about touching.” “You said spanking.”
Tobias stands up to make his comment about a seal only reacting if it had a taste for mammal blood.
Watching G.O.B. try to catch seals using a cat, though it is severely under-utilized.
George Michael gets a “Her?”
G.O.B. gets a claw in his ass. Still.
“Welcome Home Buster” banner.
While Lucille feels terrible about thinking Buster’s hand being bitten off had something to do with her prayers, she then prays again, declaring it okay for G.O.B.’s hand to be the next hand to go, should that be necessary.
“Give my son the juice!’
The joke involving George Michael mistakenly going down to the morgue beneath the hospital is incredibly stupid and silly, but it’s played perfectly, and his implied future discomfort is absolutely worth thinking about.
“Up yours, Granny!” “You couldn’t handle it!’
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