Tom Goes to the Mayor and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros and Adult Swim
Created by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
We’re back with even more of Tim and Eric’s West Wing! Clearly the writing on this show is on par with Aaron Sorkin; especially this episode which has sexual liaisons, international men of sandal making, and a balloon race to decide the future of Jefferton’s political status quo! Well now that I lay it all out there this DOES sound absolutely amazing, so let’s jump right in! The episode begins with The Married News Team Jan and Wayne Skyler reporting on a recent sex scandal that The Mayor has been a part of. Probably not AS bad as when Toronto Mayor Rob Ford got caught smoking crack, but you never want leaked video footage of ANYTHING to hit the evening news.
All of Jefferton is in an UPROAR over the allegations against The Mayor, and his devilish charms (both figuratively and I’m assuming literally) can’t seem to get him out of the spotlight. Fortunately for this bastard, good ol’ Tom Peters walks in with a few PR ideas that he’d like to brainstorm with The Mayor (he even brought a folder!), but the conversation comes to a SCREECHING halt once The Mayor realizes that Tom has been SERIOUSLY injured! Okay, he’s not ACTUALLY injured, but his sandal has a broken buckle. Still, they can’t discuss politics at a time like this! TO THE SANDAL MAN!!
The kindly Sandal Man is played by Bob Odenkirk in one of his more prominent roles on this show, and he agrees to fix Tom’s broken buckle for a price. Tom takes out his checkbook, but Sandal Man has much bigger plans in store for the dynamic duo as he weaves them a tale as old as time! Many years ago, back in Irishland, The Sandal Man was the Hot Air Balloon Man and known the world over! That is… until the tragedy. It was a tragedy SO heinous that it’s kept him on the ground all these years working as a simple Sandal Man and trying to raise his deaf son Shamus who has the singing voice of an angel. With the Great Jefferton Balloon Challenge on the horizon, and a HUGE cash prize on the line, he would like The Mayor and Tom to take Shamus aboard a balloon and BEAT the five thousand lap record (set by Mr. Sandal Man himself), to win the prize money so that Shamus can go to a music school! The Mayor is all for this to honor the legacy of The Sandal Man and the fine work that he does, and even Tom is totally on board given the amount of good publicity that such a stunt would give The Mayor, so the two set forth with young Shamus in tow to fly over five thousand laps around the city of Jefferton! The rest of the episode mostly concerns their week’s long endeavor (presumably never stopping once to resupply) as well as the reaction of the town who have more or less forgotten about the sex scandal that kicked this PR stunt off in the first place. At one point the Married News Team reads a postcard that Tom has sent for his wife Joy which I guess is the perfect segue to address one aspect of this show that ends up falling flat through most of the series. Tom’s wife Joy is mostly just around to be one never ending fat joke and a point of further shame for the audience to heap onto Tom. Every scene she’s in she’s incredibly unpleasant to be around (yelling constantly and belittling Tom) while also always having copious amounts of fried foods around her to further drive the point home that she’s fat. Now the thing is, I DON’T think that Tim and Eric truly HATE Joy as this is ultimately a show about TOM’S failures as a human being and Joy can come off reasonably well and self-assured at points when she’s pointing out Tom’s faults. She genuinely doesn’t put up with his crap most of the time and in some episodes will even leave his sorry ass like she did in Porcelain Birds, but that only accounts for a rather small percentage of the scenes she’s in as most of the time the focus is on her being fat and unattractive. It’s definitely a bad note in a series that is otherwise rather well constructed, and unfortunately it’s made all the worse because there’s really no other reoccurring female characters in the show other than her and Jan Skyler.
Tom, The Mayor, and Little Shamus are on track to break the record after spending ninety six days in the air, but the stress of the situation is getting to them as they start bickering at each other for no reason; going so far as The Mayor pulling a knife on Tom who wants to bring the balloon down before they COMPLETELY go mad. PROBABLY a bit later there, buddy; but then your first mistake was getting into that death trap in the first place. Still, the trio preservers and are mere laps away from the record that will get Shamus into a music school and the media off The Mayor’s back. It looks like all will be right with the world! EXCEPT IT WON’T BE!! JEFFERTON SHOCK!! It turns out that The Sandal Man got his old balloon airborne once more for the sole purpose of stopping Team Mayor from breaking his record! Wait a minute. Didn’t he WANT them to break the record so his son could go to music school? WHY IS HE TURNING ON THEM NOW!? If he didn’t want them to break the record, then he shouldn’t have asked them to do that very thing! Oh well, during the airborne kerfuffle, we learn that The Sandal Man is the reason behind his son’s deafness as he needed to lose weight from his balloon in order to win the big race and the only thing he could spare was his little baby boy who crash landed to Earth and lost his hearing in the process. The Mayor, after hearing such a sad tale of obsessive ambition, decides that that is a BRILLIANT maneuver and convinces Tom (with only a bit of resistance) to throw Shamus off the balloon now so they can match The Sandal Man’s lightning fast speed!
Oh I’m sure he’s fine! He managed to survive this once before, and he was just a baby then! Team Mayor catches up with Sandal Man’s balloon at which point The Mayor takes Tom’s restored sandal and throws it straight into their helium filled adversary; popping a hole in it and presumably leaving Mr. Sandal Man to die in the wreckage. And with that, the race is won! I guess that prize money is going to Shamus’s music school after all, even though he’s in intensive care at the hospital and is now currently fatherless. At least on the latter front though, Tom has decided to step up and do the right thing by adopting young Shamus to give him the sort of home that he deserves; namely one without a baby throwing bastard who fixes sandals. Tom may have thrown Shamus off of a balloon, but he wasn’t a baby at the time, so I guess this could be considered an upgrade! Oh wait; never mind. Shamus is dead. The end!!
This is a really solid episode that manages to balance its absurdist humor with a solidly structured story line which I tend to prefer over the more nonsensical ones like Vehicular Manslaughter. The only real flaw in the episode (something that they even cop to on the commentary) is with Sandal Man’s motivation. He wanted the two of them to break his record, but then at the end he tries to stop them from breaking his record. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and I won’t let it slide on the show being absurdist in nature, but at least we get a cool balloon episode out of it as well as a mid-air balloon battle; something you don’t see very often! There are great episodes like Porcelain Bird and Rats Off To Ya that are clever in the way they discuss real world problems, but sometimes you just want these two to go on an adventure which this episode certainly is, and it’s a good one to boot! Or should I say… to SANDAL!? No… no, that doesn’t make any sense.
The Recap Recap!!
- No one showed up for this episode other than Odenkirk, but then a celebrity cameo might have been distracting in an episode that is this tightly focused on the main story.
- His only contribution this time around is during the How Much segments. Whenever Tom got hit with the slime, a voice in the background (Bob Odenkirk) can be heard shouting “SLIMED!!”
Tom Who Now?
- When the representative from the National Porcelain Bird Center calls to confirm Tom’s order, she refers to him as Mr. Peter.
Fun Facts from the Commentary!
(NOTE: Since Tim & Eric are… well Tim & Eric, anything said on the DVD commentaries should PROBABLY be taken with a grain of salt)
- It’s another commentary with Bob Odenkirk joining the duo, so it’s mostly them pointing out jokes that they liked. Bob Odenkirk really liked the vomiting in this episode!
The Bonus Screenshot