The League: The Freeze Out Review
By Alex Hall (@AlexKHall)
For the first time all Season 4, I sit here scratching my head trying to process just what happened on the latest episode of The League. At some points, I was laughing just as hard as I have through the season’s first two episodes, and other times I found myself hoping a scene would just end.
In “The Freeze Out”, we see the gang split up for the weekend. This marks the first occasion this season when the cast hasn’t been on screen together for most of an episode.
Kevin, Ruxin, Jenny and the party-bashing Andre find themselves at birthday parties for their friends’ children. Being the group’s remaining single members, Taco, Pete and surprise guest Rafi enjoy a weekend of paintballing.
Before the weekend begins, Ruxin takes Kevin to his favorite authentic sushi restaurant in the area: Spooky Sushi. The two laugh about the ridiculous name of the place before meeting their chef, Wesley who happens to be white.
Both Kevin and Ruxin are taken back by not having a Japanese chef in a sushi restaurant. This leads to some quizzing of Wesley, who explains to his customers that he has been a Japanese chef for 14 years and studied over a year in Japan to learn the trade. Still, the two try their best to leave, eventually leading Wesley to call Kevin and Ruxin racists for their behavior towards him.
This was a fun little scene, especially for fans who watch the FX show Justified, as lead actor Timothy Olyphant plays Wesley. He does a phenomenal job in this comedic role but it felt like this scene could have been great instead of just satisfactory. It was like the audience was aware of what joke the writers were trying to convey, but ultimately failed and ended up conveying “you know what we mean” with Wesley eventually calling Kevin and Ruxin racists.
When the weekend finally begins, Andre does as promised and shows up at the birthday party and greets Ruxin, Jenny and Kevin. The three poke fun at Andre’s suggested idea of performing magic for the kids, with Jenny hitting the punch line by saying if he does so, “they’ll shut this place down faster than Penn State.” Kevin and Ruxin also run into Wesley again, who is at the party with his Japanese wife and child.
As this story progresses, Ruxin continues to feel more and more ill before blaming his sickness on food poisoning from Wesley. The sushi chef explains how he’d never do such a thing, before Andre comes into the scene and declares his friend is suffering from appendicitis.
Out on the paintball field, Taco and Pete are about to begin a game of capture the flag before Rafi makes himself known among the crowd. This is Rafi’s first appearance in Season 4 and his character is always a highlight of any episode he appears in. The great thing about Rafi, is that in a show of over-the-top characters, he is seen by the others as over-the-top even by their standards.
The paintball scenes are shot in a very Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2-style, with Rafi pretending as if he is in Vietnam fighting an actual war. Pete and Taco take the event far less seriously, with the former calling several times during the game to ask Kevin what his team’s fantasy football score is.
Kevin proceeds to “freeze out” his friend by refusing to tell the scores and actually switching Pete’s phone to Portuguese before the two parted ways for the weekend.
The paintball story was certainly the stronger of the two, with Rafi being the biggest reason for that. At one point during the story, he goes rogue after being hit and just starts screaming “Gattaca!” and shooting everyone in his sight. This was hilarious but without his surprise appearance, this episode would have received far less stars. In fact, he earned the episode a whole star just on his own.
This two-story dynamic instantly allows the writers to tell two separate stories in one episode, but it also creates the pressure of having to make both stories equally entertaining. Unfortunately for the show runners and fans, this did not happen in “The Freeze Out”. Rafi pulled a Greg Jennings and carried the show on his back. There were some funny little moments throughout the episode, but it’s still the weakest of the season so far.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.