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 Big Fish Freezers, and BOY are we in for a doozy toady! This is the episode where everything about Tom starts to make sense as we finally get to meet his dad! Sure it probably won’t be as emotionally draining as seeing what Clay Puppington had to deal with as a kid, but Tim & Eric are not ones to half-ass an opportunity like this (despite their intentionally tacky style) and I’m sure we’ll get lots of very revealing insights today! The episode begins with Tom waiting at the Jefferton Airport (because Jefferton can afford one of those apparently) and holding up a sign for his father who is arriving any minute now! Well speak of the Devil (no not The Mayor, although we’ll get to him soon enough) there he is! Tom is so overwhelmed with happiness that he can’t help but embrace his father (Bob Balaban) in a beautiful display of affection! One that his father rebuffs without hesitation. Well then! I think one giant piece in the Tom Peters puzzle just fell into place! It’s clear that his father is emotionally distant to his son so he has to seek that affection in other male role models like The Mayor! Do you SEE what you did, Mr. Tom’s Dad!? All those deaths are because you couldn’t give him a few more hugs!! Then again, I’m not about to let Tom off the hook just yet considering he’s a grown ass man and STILL manages to act like a fool. Case in point, his father is a Fish Freezer Salesman who is here on a layover for a big Seafood Convention where he’ll make the majority of his sales for the fiscal year and his next flight leaves in eleven minutes (Oh hey! That’s how long an episode of the show is!), but instead of simply greeting him there and maybe getting a cup of coffee, Tom has this ridiculous itinerary all planned out where his father will somehow visit several Jefferton locations in a brief window of time and even have a meal with Joy and the kids for exactly one minute. Don’t worry though! Tom will keep of all of this with his trusty stop watch and he even factored in explaining the itinerary into the itinerary! Tom’s dad Mr. Walt Pickle (if you recall in Surprise Party, Joy’s last name is Peters which Tom took when he married her) may have a lot of explaining to do, but he surely can’t be held responsible for ALL of this!
Things only get more awkward once they get in the car where Walt makes it quite clear just how much he doesn’t want to be there as well as how devastating it would be if Tom made him lose his flight, and for a brief moment I actually felt a tinge of sympathy for our hapless hero. This is such a guy move and it always feels like a childish cry for attention where someone will intentionally go out of their way to martyr themselves by doing something FOR YOU while completely running that nice gesture by constantly reminding you of just how much they’re sacrificing. Walt doesn’t want to do any of this and he probably doesn’t even want to deal with his son for as brief of a layover as this is, but rather than be honestly selfish and refuse to leave the airport, he’s gonna be selfishly selfless which helps literally no one. With that kind of mind game, especially from a dad where you get the added benefit of feeling like a disappointment, it can be a serious drain on a person’s psyche and it’s all starting to come together why Tom seeks out acknowledgement and approval from male authority figures like The Mayor no matter how toxic those people may be. Speak of the (literal) devil! If you thought this situation couldn’t get any worse, well take a guess who they JUST SO HAPPEN to find on the side of the road with a broken scooter!
Of course The Mayor doesn’t recognize him, but he implores them for help in saving his precious scooter; a request Tom is a bit hesitant to oblige, but the thought of him spending the day with his two daddies is more than enough to convince him to make room in the itinerary! Like with most things in Tom’s life however this doesn’t go as planned as The Mayor requests Tom take the scooter to a far off scooter repair store rather than simply dropping it off at The Mayor’s office, and while he’s off dealing with that The Mayor and Walt should enjoy a nice lunch together at a gimmicky seafood restaurant called Fishanelli’s. Walt is nothing if not an opportunist it seems (something Tim Heidecker points out in the commentary as something he shares with Tom) and is more than willing to ditch his son to have an impromptu business meeting with The Mayor to try and sell him on some industrial freezers. Sounds like a raw deal for the guy who wants nothing more than validation and emotional support from his daddies, but his talents are probably better served being a Gofer on The Mayor’s behalf and drops the two off at the restaurant. The best part of this scene at Fishanelli’s with Walt and The Mayor is watching someone RELATIVELY normal actually talking to The Mayor and slowly start to realize who the heck he’s dealing with which is something we as the audience know already from the previous twenty-four episodes but surely comes as a shock to anyone who finds themselves caught within his orbit. Pretty much everyone in this show is some variation of a caricature on Middle America, and while Walt is certainly a TAD exaggerated in his seeming contempt of his own son, he’s still very grounded and socially well-adjusted to the point that he can recognize a person like The Mayor for who he is after spending only a few minutes with him. Now that’s not to say he doesn’t TRY to get a sale going (that Pickle drive for entrepreneurial success runs DEEP in his veins!), but once The Mayor starts talking about fish wearing top hats Walt knows it’s time to grab the check and run as far away as possible.
Well by run as far away as possible, I mean he waits for his son to get back and demands that he take him back to the airport right the fudge now which actually is quite a reasonable request considering the flight leaves in TWO MINUTES!! Seriously, the full eleven minutes would be cutting it close to catch that plane so this dude has no one but himself to blame if he misses it! Not even Tom is fully responsible for this disaster! Speaking of disaster, the car ride to the airport gets rather hectic with Tom and Walt in the front and The Mayor in the back all doing rather annoying and distracting things on what should be a simple and quiet journey. Tom gets an angry call from Joy wondering where the heck he is which begs the question of who she even got roped into this considering she’s not one to go along with Tom’s ridiculous schemes, but screaming at Tom seems to be one of her favorite activities so at least she’s getting something out of all this. Tom tries to placate her by explaining that there was a SCOOTER EMERGENCY and tries to pawn the call off on his father who is just done with all of this and can’t even get Tom’s rather beat up headset to work properly. While trying to sort this out, the music starts blaring in the car for some reason, The Mayor is whining about having to go number two, and on top of ALL of that, Tom’s crappy car ends up running out of gas; leaving them in the middle of the road and as sitting ducks for an oncoming truck who in NO WAY sees the car on this flat and straight highway. Geez, I haven’t seen truck driving this bad since Pet Sematary! Needless to say That Walt misses his flight as we hear the plane taking off in the distance while passing over the wreckage of the collision.
Oh but Walt isn’t going down without a fight! HECK no! No matter how injured he (or ESPECIALLY his son) may be, there is no way that he is going to miss that flight. It’s already up in the air? Doesn’t matter! Tom is responsible for this and he will GET his father on that plane! Seems like a tall order for such a mediocre entrepreneur, but he loves his father and will do just about anything to please him even though it’ll clearly never be enough. Case in point, he DOES manage to somehow get his father on that plane (thankfully we don’t see what horrifying act it took to accomplish such a feat, though we get to see his sorry state after doing it), but he can’t even be afforded the goodwill gesture of being allowed to sit next to his father! Instead, The Mayor is ALSO somehow on this flight with them and HE gets the middle seat; acting as a buffer between the two. And so the episode ends with the three of them presumably headed to the Seafood Convention for an episode of this show that we’ll sadly never get!
This show works best when it uses Tom as a symbol of what’s wrong with the American Everyman which is why episodes like Porcelain Birds have stuck with people so much, but there is room to make him a character in and of himself and this is a fantastic examination of what it is that made Tom who he is; not in any OVERT way as there’s never a scene where either one of them talks about his childhood, but everything in Walt’s demeanor and the way that Tom tries to connect with him to no avail speaks volumes for the kind of relationship that they have. To a certain extent it STILL works as an American Everyman story because, if like seventy percent of popular culture is any indication, there are A LOT of grown dudes with daddy issues and I think this nails down the banality of it while still getting some very solid laughs. It’s not like God of War where their story is told alongside a grand adventure or even Christopher Robin which cushions the blow with metaphors and dream like imagery; this is really straightforward and not particularly romanticized which I think is a valuable way to look at this issue and there are few storytellers that can pull it off as well as Tim & Eric which is why this is one of the best episodes of the series. I only wish they had either made it earlier or Adult Swim gave them a shot on the third season just to see if we could have gotten one more episode with this guy and maybe even had Tom confront him in some way. Oh well. I’ll just put that alongside my other Adult Swim wish list along with bringing back Moral Orel and making another Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie.
The Recap Recap!!
- Bob Balaban is Walt Pickle; the straight laced and emotionally distant father of Tom Peters who unfortunately has to spend his layover with his son and The Mayor!
- Bob Odenkirk is the narrator for the Fishinelli’s commercial where he tells us that you get to choose your fish, your dip, and even your waiter!
- Bob also shows up at the end as one of the rescue workers at the crash site, albeit without any lines.
Tom Who Now?
- No one gets Tom’s name wrong in this episode, but The Mayor doesn’t recognize him when they see each other in this episode; par for the course for most of the series, but doubly embarrassing here because it’s in front of his father right after telling him how much work he’s done for The Mayor.
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)
- This episode is Tim Heidecker’s favorite of the series and one of Eric Wareheim’s as well.
- There was a scene planned of Tom visiting the Scooter Store that would have had Dave Willis of Aqua Teen Hunger Force fame cameo in it, but there was no room for it in the final script.
- During the scene where Walt is trying to sell The Mayor on one of his freezers, fans have theorized that Tim & Eric put in a reference to the Linux operating system because there’s a cartoon penguin on the pamphlet Walt has. The two clarify that this is not the case and that they used a penguin to signify coldness.
The Bonus Screenshot