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 another episode of Mayor Hard! The Tom Peters Story! It’s a very special episode this time around because not only does it guest star John C Reilly, it’s ALSO my favorite episode of the entire series! How did it manage to pull THAT off!? Let’s find out!! The episode begins with some happy news for once as Tom is going to The Mayor not to ingratiate himself into The mayor’s latest scheme (or to propose one of his own), rather to give The Mayor a bubble gum cigar and inform him that he is now a Step-Grandpop! It seems that one of Joy’s eldest daughters (who we have never seen before) has just given birth to a beautiful baby wolf person that they named Joy after her beloved grandmother! Whether this means the father is a wolf or Tom is being INCREDIBLY insensitive towards someone with extra body hair (as if women don’t have enough problems conforming to societal beauty standards when they’re grown, let alone as a baby) is something that we’ll sadly never know, but he is left to look after her while Joy and the kids are visiting one of her exes. What we DO know is that The Mayor is so overjoyed for Tom that he reminds him how important it is to update his Friendship Alliance profile to reflect the good news! Truly the most important ritual of the modern era, but sadly Tom has never heard of such a thing which begs the question, what exactly is Friendship Alliance? It’s Facebook. That’s it. Well, okay. It’s PROBABLY based more on Myspace as this episode came out in August of 2006 and Facebook wouldn’t be available to the public for another month while Myspace had a two year head start being released in 2004 (which ended up amounting to nothing once the competition took hold), so chances are that was what they were referencing when they initially wrote this episode.
Without any hesitation, Tom opens up a Friendship Alliance account (when he PROBABLY should be looking after Little Joy) and is stuck with… one friend. And that friend is Gibbons. Well he could try reaching out to The Mayor, but I get the feeling he curates his Friends VERY strictly, so that’s probably a no go. Oh wait! Someone just messaged him! A man named John C Reilly (played by John C Reilly) seems to have found his profile and wants to meet him for lunch! Sounds… perfectly legitimate I guess. Still, Tom is a guy who is CLEARLY starved for some amiable interactions with other humans, so he agrees to meet John at a restaurant called Sauceman’s which is basically a buffet that ONLY has sauces. You bring your own meat (or vegetables, but they don’t mention THAT in the commercial) and just dip it in the giant tubs of delicious sauces! This is actually an idea that Tim & Eric have had since the show began, so it’s nice that they finally found a place to put it in one of the episodes! When Tom arrives and finds John (they’re both wearing bright red sashes as a way to identify each other), the two hit off immediately; laughing at each other’s jokes and enjoying delicious homemade meats with restaurant style condiments! In fact, things go SO well that John invites Tom out to go deer hunting with him tonight which sounds SUSPICIOUSLY like a murder plot, and Tom manages to make a smart move for once in his life and politely declines John’s offer. Well John does take it pretty well, but then they get into a HUGE fight over which one of them will graciously pick up the check which seems to indicate that John MAY not be as good natured as he appears to be.
The reason that this is my favorite episode is due almost entirely to John C Reilly’s performance who is a phenomenal actor of both comedy and drama, and his skills are as sharp as ever in this brilliantly written episode. Maybe it’s just me, but every time I watch this, I just hang on to every word he says and his subtle inflections in each scene which wildly switches the tone from jovial to utterly menacing. Sadly we have to say goodbye for a brief moment as him and Tom conclude their dinner date and Tom then goes BACK to The Mayor to give him another gift; this time a balloon bouquet for introducing him to Friendship Alliance and therefore leading to his wonderful meeting with John! Oh, well speak of the devil! John’s calling him RIGHT now while he’s visiting The Mayor! I wonder what he’s up to! Well it turns out he’s killed someone and is turning to Tom for help!
I’m sorry, WHAT!? Yeah, in the time between their mostly pleasant lunch at Sauceman’s and now, John managed to accidently kill someone while hunting. Not just anyone though! Oh no, it turns out that the victim here is none other than sweet Gibbons. May he rest in peace.
See, this is why “meeting people” and “making friends” is for suckers! One day you’re just hanging out, the next you’re helping them cover up a serious crime! You can’t win! Anyway, Tom manages to extricate himself from The Mayor’s office (albeit not without raising a bit of suspicion) and heads back to his house to meet up with John and figure out what they’ll do next. Granted it was probably a poor idea to bring his very volatile friend to his home where Little Joy is growling in a nearby carriage, but this is a crisis, damn it! We can’t ALL think clearly under pressure! Okay, let’s slow down, take a deep breathe, and figure out what happened. It seems that Gibbons was riding a deer in the dark (because of course he was) and John, who was out hunting, couldn’t tell that it was a short man and took a shot at it thinking it was some kind of creature. After realizing his mistake, John buried him in the abandoned lot he was shot in (do they get many deer there in Jefferton) and didn’t even bother to check if he was still alive. Woof. Not a great situation to be in, but at least the cops have yet to catch wind of this which gives them a chance to plan their next move. A tip that kids are smoking tobacco? Mobilize the SWAT team! Gunshots? Nah. That right there is a constitutional right! While discussing the best way to pretend this didn’t happen and just live with the guilt for the rest of their lives, fortune strikes yet again as we cut to Gibbons who has just woken from his headshot wound induced nap (the wound by the way seems to have disappeared) and we learn that has the digging skills of Bugs Bunny as he tunnels his way underneath the streets of Jefferton. He also seems to have Bugs’s legendary sense of direction as well as he takes a left at Albuquerque and winds up breaking ground right in the middle of Tom’s living room! Well that’s great! Gibbons is fine so there’s nothing to worry about, right!? Well… not quite. You see, John’s not the kind of guy who likes surprises and so when the man he’d already murdered came bursting out of the ground in front of him, he instinctively grabbed a floor lamp and started bashing Gibbons over the head with it. I mean really though, wouldn’t you? You never know WHO could be a zombie in this day and age!
John is IMMEDIATELY overcome with regret over the fact that he almost murdered the same person TWICE now, but it’s too late to change gears now and so they need to come up with a way to keep Gibbons quiet. Tom isn’t too thrilled about all this, but the fact that John shot and THEN beat a man back to back in the same night makes a compelling case for not calling the cops or taking him to a hospital. Besides, who needs doctors anyway? Duct tape is good at fixing anything, and rat poison is nature’s anesthetic! For Tom though, things are going far too extreme way too quickly and he reaches the end of his rope once The Mayor shows up at his doorstep unannounced looking for Gibbons. Tom wants to come clean to The Mayor figuring that if anyone can help them he can, which admittedly is a PRETTY bad idea (when does The Mayor help ANY situation?), and so John handles the situation as he usually does. This time grabbing the OTHER floor lamp, he proceeds to beat the man into unconsciousness; all the while Little Joy is off to the side in her stroller witnessing this horrifying act. Oh I’m sure she’ll be fine!
As ridiculous and cartoonish as this all is, the genuine attempts to make this a thriller are actually quite effective and is yet another reason why this is my favorite of the series. Tim & Eric spend a good chunk of the episode’s commentary talking about the music composed by Davin Wood and how good a job it does of setting the mood (something I absolutely agree with), but it’s not just that. John C Reilly is terrifying at points with his anger flaring up at the drop of a hat, and the camera angles even get across the utter nastiness of the situation. It’s a perfect mix of both jaw clenched tension and gut busting comedy which is something I’m quite fond of when done right (my favorite movie is Dr. Strangelove which is nothing BUT that), and while this never really gets TOO intense like some of Adult Swim’s more recent contributions such as Too Many Cooks or This House Has People in It, the effort is noticeable and greatly appreciated. Now that Tom’s become another victim instead of just a collaborator, John has to figure a way out of this situation on his own with step one being to get rid of The Mayor. While John is doing that, Tom gets all pissy at the quite Groggy Gibbons and blames him for their current predicament (if he didn’t have the TEMERITY to get shot, none of this would have happened!) and even yells at Little Joy for grumbling too loudly; going so far as to call her a freak. Ah, there’s the Tom Peters I know! True the stress of this situation would get to ANYONE, but Tom lives his life under so many layers of emotional barriers that we only get to see the real him when his defenses are completely shattered. Not what I’d call the BEST therapy, but if there’s a silver lining to ANY of this, I guess that’ll do! John meanwhile almost manages to convince The Mayor to leave, but at the last moment he catches a whiff of Gibbons’s beard and immediately jumps through the window to save him! Sadly the one heroic moment The Mayor has is undercut by John who is not far behind and ready to introduce him to Mr. Floor Lamp. Now all three of them are tied up and John is still no closer to a solution to his problem. Well I guess he could go with killing all three of them, but let’s not cross any bridges before we have to! Tom takes this time to apologize to both Gibbons and The Mayor for… I don’t know, getting a new friend? Yeah, Tom is all “I was so caught up with John that I forgot about my other friends” which makes no sense at all as we never saw Tom brush off The Mayor or Gibbons to hang out with John, but considering this is Tom saying it, it actually kind of makes sense. Again, Tom’s the guy who lives his entire life behind giant emotional barriers and has crafted this WHOLESOME EVERYMAN persona for himself, so naturally a guy like that would find a lesson to be learned in this situation when there really isn’t one. I mean sure, he COULD have learned to embrace his real feelings and work through his issues instead of bottling them up as I briefly mentioned when he called a baby a freak, but Tom’s is in way too much denial to admit something like that. Anyway, what’s gonna happen now? How is everyone gonna make it out of this situation no worse for wear? Well Tom’s had some time to think and so he runs his latest scheme by John. Give each of them (Tom, Gibbons, and The Mayor) a concentrated does of rat poisoning to knock them out for about two weeks. In the meantime, John will pack a bag, get out of town, and never look back. But wait you may ask! What about Tom’s Step Granddaughter Little Joy? Won’t someone need to watch after her since Joy and his stepsons are out of town for a few more weeks? Well, that’s part of the plan as well. If John REALLY wants to be a good friend… then take her. Take her with you, John! And that’s how the episode ends; with Tom pleading with John to take his Step Granddaughter away to never be seen again. I’m SURE Tom will find a way to break the news to Joy!
There aren’t a lot of people in this show that engage with Tom in an authentic way as Tim & Eric’s comedy style tends to focus more on absurdism than genuine character moments, and while there’s certainly depth to be mined in Tom’s ceaseless tour of misery each episode the show’s style very clearly prefers caricatures of lower class Americana to real three dimensional characters. That’s why episodes like this stand out so much when they DO surprise you with the nuance by which they tell a story while never breaking the script as far as the wacky humor you’d expect from them. When you get right down to it Tom doesn’t have a real support network in his life and his search for some sort of real connection with another person seems to drive a lot of his actions in this series. The Mayor always has an ulterior motive, his wife Joy is (justifiably if not very healthily) mean spirited and constantly critical of Tom, and even his supposed Best Friend Gibbons is someone he can barely stand and who doesn’t seem to care much about Tom beyond simple pleasantries and trying to get stuff out of him. John on the other hand wears his heart on his sleeve and GENUINELY wants to be friends with Tom, but his emotional instability makes him a toxic person to be around which is why this situation is all the more tragic and great to mine comedy out of. In a world full of phonies, grifters, and straight up agents of chaos, the only authentic person in this show is a danger to himself and others. The episode is just brilliant in the way it blends genres together and the way that it handles dark subject matter without sacrificing laughs in the process. John C Reilly is made for this kind of material and he shines whenever he’s on screen. Even The Mayor taking a back seat doesn’t detract from this episode as comparatively brief appearances serve the story well and are a riot to watch. Really the only thing you could MAYBE complain about (other than Little Joy being a one note joke) is that there’s not a lot of social commentary in this as it doesn’t really take aim at Social Media except as a springboard for Tom to meet this disturbed individual, but not every episode needs that and focusing too much on that aspect would have taken time away from John C Reilly’s story. It’s funny, dramatic, has a FANTASTIC guest star, and it’s even a little bit insightful of Tom without being too overt or heavy handed about it. What more could you ask for!?
The Recap Recap!!
- John C Reilly plays a man named John C Reilly who befriends Tom before beating the hell out of him, his friends, and kidnapping Tom’s Step Granddaughter.
- Brian Posehn returns once again as Gibbons; Tom’s best friend and the victim of John’s itchy trigger finger.
- Sadly no Bob Odenkirk this episode, but when you have such talents as John C Reilly and Brian Posehn to pick up the slack, you can hardly complain!
Tom Who Now?
- While signing up for Friendship Alliance, Tom misspells his name as Pretters.
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)
- Originally this was two separate scripts; one about Tom being a Step Grandpop and another was the Friendship Alliance story. The Step Grandpop script went in some very odd directions with a secret society of grandfathers who were plotting to assassinate The Mayor.
- Show composer Davin Wood created all of the fantastic music in this episode; from the suspenseful music stings when John starts to go on his rampage to the MC Hammer inspired jingle for Sauceman’s.
- John C Reilly was one of the better actors to work with on the show as he understood the show’s unique filming process right away.