Last night's Middleman was the second episode in a row where the "A" plot was sort of meh. But for the second week running, the "B" plot, involving the show's characters and their lives, was thrilling and awesome. I'm beginning to wonder if I really mostly like The Middleman for its characters. Spoilers — and shipping, in both senses — ahead. When I heard about the "cursed tuba" plot in advance, I have to admit I wasn't that excited. And the actual contours of the plot didn't excite me that much once I encountered them either: A tuba player fled the Titanic, pretending his tuba was a sick baby, and now he's cursed to live forever as long as the tuba is intact. And whoever hears the tuba played will die by drowning. And there's a Titanic memorabilia collector who wants the tuba, and various other crooks running around, and twists and turns. But for some reason, the zaniness whole tuba thing just sounded a bit (sorry) flat to me. At least last week's episode had some clever bits, like the duck trapped in a space-time warp, and the funny tween bounty hunter who's close to retirement. I think a silly plot like the tuba thing or the boy-band thing requires just tons of inventiveness and energy, sort of in a Hitchhiker's Guide vein, or you risk leaning on one gag for too long. And it felt a bit like that was happening this week, especially with some jokes getting repeated a bit endlessly. On the other hand, it was nice to see our favorite succubus, Roxy, again. The glimpses of her demonic fashion empire are so great, I would love to see a whole episode set in the demon fashion world. Okay, so that's all my quibbling out of the way. Basically, this was an episode about Lacey finally making her move on Sexy Boss-Man, and actually making some headway for a while there. The tuba stuff was just to fill out the rest of the episode. And wow — I actually kind of do want to see those two get together. It probably would kill the show, but it would be fun to watch anyway. They just have such a great odd-couple chemistry — he's in many ways the embodiment of everything she hates, but she also learns to fetishize his old-school manly-man ways. And the moment where he pulls out some Vegan cruelty-free candy to give her is just perfect. They have awesome chemistry — to be fair, they're both unreasonably hot, but there's also genuine chemistry there. I think I'm turning into a bit of a MM-Lacey shipper. And the clip above, where Wendy finds out her boss has been kinda-sort dating her roommate, is just awesome. I think it's the first time we've ever seen MM try to lie to her, and his discomfort is perfect. And the fact that they're handcuffed and facing certain drowning death certainly doesn't hurt either. In some ways, this episode felt like an early Buffy episode — in both good ways and bad. One of those Buffy monster-of-the-week eps, like the one about the ventriloquist dummy and the head-sawing monster, that doesn't quite "click" as a story but is still worth watching for all the funny bits and character stuff. I doubt Middleman is ever going to want to go as dark as Buffy did in later seasons, but I do hope there's a second season where the show finds a similar balance of clever plots and engaging character stuff. For now, it's definitely moving in the right direction, most of the time. What did you think?
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