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
Welcome back to another chapter in Tom’s perpetual nightmare, with the town of Jefferton serving as his own personal Silent Hill and the inscrutable The Mayor being a much more verbose Pyramid Head whose sole purpose is torturing our presumed hero! The episode begins as most stories in this show SHOULD end; namely with good ol’ Tom Peters sitting in a jail cell for the horrible crimes that he’s committed! Now I would have assumed that this is for his involvement in the Pioneer Island fiasco, the Jeffy Incident, or even the Bass Fest Apocalypse, but no; this is for something new! At the prodding of his charming cell mate (Judd Hirsch), Tom begins to regale us with the tale of how he managed to find himself in this unfortunate predicament where he’s being accused of murdering four thousand people (okay…), and of course it starts with The Mayor. From what we can gather in the flashback The Mayor was having a little issue with the city’s landscaper who he affectionately refers to as The Lawnmower Man and he ACTUALLY looks a bit like Jeff Fahey nowadays if you stare at him long enough. The cause of this tension seems to be that The Lawnmower Man is on strike until he can get a simple cost of living increase which is something that The Mayor (as well as most Red State politicians) is vehemently against. After all, why would you want people to AFFORD things in a capitalistic society!? Fortunately for The Mayor, a solution comes waltzing through the door of his office; albeit in a rather odd form.
It seems that Tom’s latest venture is one of his most unorthodox yet as he’s a newly certified salesperson for this horrifying product known as Spray a Carpet or Rug! What exactly is Spray a Carpet or Rug? Well as far as I can tell, it’s this absurdly toxic substance that you splat gobs of onto the ground and it magically turns into a square of carpet (or a rug as the case may be). Imagine if Asbestos was used as a pillow stuffing and you’d have a rough idea of just how awful this product is, so it’s no wonder that Tom finds himself trying to sell it to The Mayor despite the fact that Tom himself is PARTICULARLY allergic to it; so much so that he has to wear a hazmat suit to avoid exposure. Dude. Try selling something else! Maybe something that won’t IMMEDIATELY cause you to have seizures and won’t slowly poison everyone you sell it to! What’s even more horrifying than the fact that Tom is trying to sell this sludge is that he’s not the chucklehead that invented it (that’s some guy NAMED Phil Prebscott played by Bob Odenkirk who does a commercial for the product right in the middle of the episode) which means that this garbage has presumably been poisoning many small towns across the country before Tom got a hold of it, and it’s a rather apt metaphor for how corporations will decimate local environments with absolutely no repercussions for their crimes. After The Mayor sees the goop in action he seems to have come to the same conclusion as I had and comes up with a brilliant idea to not only screw over The Lawnmower Man but to also endanger the lives of innocent Jefferton citizens. The megalomaniacal bastard is gonna replace all the grass in town with this fake carpet abomination!
WOW does that seem like a bad idea, so naturally City Council just rolls over and capitulates to The Mayor’s insidious whims. Well that’s not ENTIRELY true. They manage to hash out a compromise where they’ll only allow him to carpet Jefferton’s Memorial Park as a test run before committing carpeting the whole town. See, that’s how compromise works! Someone gives you a plan that’s gonna kill LOTS of people, and you agree to only kill SOME people! Truly the most 2018 agreement imaginable! Here’s my question though. Why would you do a TEST RUN that’s being performed due to safety concerns in a PUBLIC PARK!? Here’s an idea! If Tom and The Mayor are so confident about this, why don’t THEY get grass carpets where they live? Heck, considering the state of Tom’s yard every time we see it, the toxic chemical slurry might just be an improvement! With his latest contract in hand, Tom gets to work on carpeting all of Jefferton’s Memorial Park which only takes a rather reasonable two hours to do, and The Mayor hands him a massive paycheck for his trouble. Backdated of course… just in case something happens. Nothing’s gonna happen though, right!?
Yeah, we probably should have saw this coming, but no one more so than Tom who was told EXPLICITLY in his training to not expose these carpets to direct sunlight, otherwise a horrible corrosive gas will start to form and poison anything in sight. However, per the usual luck that Tom has in life, when he was getting the lecture he was wearing his hazmat suit, and he didn’t hear a word of what was being told to him. I’m sure the police will certainly find this ironic twist of fate rather hilarious which is why they’re so eager to storm his house, but Tom is being a huge spoil sport about all this as he’s trying desperately to destroy the evidence before they smash the front door.
All this is for naught however as his wife Joy had already sold his hazmat suit and so he collapses almost immediately; waking up several hours later already in a jail cell and awaiting his fate by Jefferton’s criminal justice system. Things somehow get EVEN DARKER from here as Tom wraps up his tale to his cellmate who then suggests that the best option right now is… suicide. Not only that, but Tom seems to be SUCH a push over that he agrees to it pretty much immediately (his cellmate swears he can get life insurance AFTER he dies), and so he gets a rope around his neck as well as the chair kicked out from under him and it’s goodnight Mr. Peters. While fading away and going towards the bright light, things get all Kubrickian as he starts to see his past and future selves staring back at him (especially terrifying is a baby version with his signature spikey hair) before he ends up right where belongs most; in the middle of The Mayor’s office. He’s sitting across from his “longtime friend”, but something is off. The atmosphere is thick with white smoke, and there’s a strange echo effect going on. The Mayor is acting suspicious and off-putting (at least more so than usual) as he congratulates Tom for his great work in Jefferton’s Memorial Park and you can hear music start to swell as things slowly turn darker around him. Tom begins to panic as the reality of the situation starts to dawn on him, and the episode ends on a horrifying shot of what is presumably The Mayor’s TRUE form before cutting to credits with only the haunting moans of the damned playing in the background instead of the show’s theme song.
What I like about this episode (and why it’s one of my favorites) is just how far Tim & Eric are willing to go in order to prove that Tom is not just a spineless nincompoop but someone who can cause a great deal of harm and heartbreak if left to his own devices. Sure there have been deaths before in some of their schemes, but things are taken much more seriously here and the ending where Tom presumably spends the rest of eternity in a hell of his own creation is rather well realized and quite chilling to watch. I’ve always maintained that Tom is not a character we should root for; rather someone we should learn from. He’s an example of someone who knows enough to WANT to do good things, but is still selfish and short sighted enough to allow his greed and the will of others (particularly The Mayor) to manipulate him into doing things that are actively harmful, and this is something we should always be careful to avoid in real life. I can see this episode being a bridge too far for a lot of people (the suicide at the end is not gonna work for everybody), but I find this to be one of the most viscerally intense of the entire series and is downright hilarious to boot. We’ve got a lot more episodes to cover, but this is certainly one that I point to as one of the best examples of what Tim & Eric do well and why I find their unique brand of comedy to be so interesting.
The Recap Recap!!
- Judd Hirsch plays Tom’s cellmate in jail who has a nephew that likes to poo-poo and pee-pee all over his walls and ends up convincing Tom to commit suicide.
- Bob Odenkirk plays Phil Prebscott; the mild mannered crackpot inventor of Spray a Carpet or Rug.
Tom Who Now?
- Tom’s brochure for Spray a Carpet or Rug misspells his name as Tom Pe’tres.
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)
- The original title of the episode was Dead Suicide, but they felt it would give away too much about the episode.
- The one thing about the episode they would change is with Tom’s hazmat suit. It’s not clear that his helmet has a faceplate on it as well, and they would have added a reflection or tint it a bit to make it more apparent.
- Eric’s theory as to why The Mayor hates The Lawnmower Man is that The Mayor hates long beards.
- Tim’s original idea was for a Spray-on Drywall machine, but Eric and Matt Harrigan (Executive Producer) had trouble visualizing it so it was eventually switched to Spray a Carpet or Rug.
- The scene where Tom is trying to dispose of the carpet while the cops are raiding his house was inspired by the ending of Goodfellas, though Tim & Eric don’t feel like it REALLY came across all that much.
- While Judd Hirsch was on set, Tim was trying to give direction on what they were looking for in the performance, but the only way he could think of describing it was “act more Jewish”. Eventually he flat out said that to Judd Hirsch and he immediately got what they were going for which is why we got this amazing performance in the episode.
- Eric screened the ending of the episode to his sister as well as his girlfriend, and they were both freaked out which Eric took as confirmation that they did a good job on it.