FRANKLIN & BASH: GONE IN A FLASH
There are two odd things about Gone In A Flash, Franklin & Bash's season finale. One, I actually enjoyed the episode. Two, didn't we already establish that Pindar Singh (Kumail Nanjiani), the show's most annoying character, did indeed burn down the man-cave? That being the case, why are we revisiting this idea that this is somehow shocking or new? Furthermore, whatever is Rob Lowe doing in this?
We find that the insurance company suspects that Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) knew that Pindar set the fire that burned down the man-cave and that they set they knew it was intentional (and thus committing fraud to get the money). It doesn't help that a.) the boys have been making a series of jokes about Pindar burning down the house and b.) a bit later on that one.
Again, I keep wondering why is any of this a surprise?
Well, the insurance agent JD (Jay Chandrasekhar) now is going to get them but good. It also helps that JD is a BIG Rob Lowe fan. How convenient that Lowe lives next door (even if Pindar's harassment of him has caused him endless grief and trouble, forcing Lowe to sue Pindar for invasion of privacy...those drones). While it's proven that Pindar did not photograph Lowe, the acquiring of Pindy's computer reveals b.) video of Pindar trying out the Flame of Zeus trick prior to or on the date of the fire, solidifying the case against him.
The Rob Lowe situation is grist for Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell), who has had a running feud with his neighbor for years. However, there are other situations. Charlie (Nicky Whelan) who we find is friends with Mrs. Lowe (hence her appearance at Lowe's house), gets mixed messages from Peter: an attempt to showcase romance goes 'comically' wrong, and she appears both happy and sad to be going. Damien Karp (Reed Diamond) still wants a judgeship, and he comes close to it. The joy liberates him to a tryst with Rachel King (Heather Locklear), and while it seems that both of them are loosening up we find that Rachel is if nothing else, highly duplicitous.
How do they get Pindar out of this situation? By showing (with video) that JD has been harassing them to get at Rob Lowe. Lowe himself finally stops by the pad, and he and Infeld make peace. Rachel's attempt at sabotaging Damien's interview (as well as secretly interviewing herself) blow up in her face, leaving her future uncertain. Gone in a Flash ends with Jared Franklin performing his best magic trick...making summer disappear.
Despite itself, Gone in a Flash does what Franklin & Bash has not done in a long time: be fun and frothy without being idiotic. It goes back to a time when the show didn't take itself seriously but didn't insult the viewer's intelligence. The case is generally light (an arsonist case), there is only one case, and while the resolution is a bit easy (it's JD's fixation with Rob Lowe brings him down) it is a better resolution that what we've gotten in previous episodes.
The other subplots don't work all that well. What Charlie really is to Peter is never settled, and the efforts at comedy (he writes on the beach "Don't Go, Hate You Going" to get a 'montage' moment, but when Charlie's ex comes he, Jared, and I think Carmen and Pindar attempt to erase the message to where it reads, "Go, Hate You") fall flat. It just seems so predictable to see this gesture go wildly wrong.
One aspect that I did enjoy was seeing Karp not go overboard in his looseness like in Shoot to Thrill but slowly ease into a less stiff person. Again, getting screwed (over) by Rachel appears to liberate him. It does show Rachel to be downright evil, which is curious given that for all of Season Three she is the most rational of the lot (granted, she isn't all that rational at times, but given the competition). I can't say this is completely out of character, but it leaves a curious thread for Season Four: will she still be there and if so, will her backstabbing actions be addressed?
The homosexual undertones in Franklin & Bash continue, but at least this time they are more comedic than suggestive. When Jared and Peter attempt to draw information from Pindar they behave like parents with Jared as the mother and Peter as the father since he 'can't talk to him'. While it does no favors for Nanjiani or Pindar Singh to make him this child-like and mentally immature, at least the partners appear to tacitly acknowledge the idea that perhaps their relationship is deeper than most bromances. It doesn't mean it's sexual between Jared and Peter (at least from Peter's part, Jared is still questionable) but these two seem pathologically intertwined.
If anything, Gone in a Flash is fully aware of its own silliness and is a throwback to the fun and breezy Franklin & Bash episodes where the cases light and odd, the main characters loveable not dim-witted or cruel, and ends with a nod to its own sense of self. How else to explain the witty end to both this episode and this season?
Franklin & Bash is a summer series: fun, light, absurd, and until the summer returns, they will disappear. Gone in a Flash is a welcome return to what made me love the show. It's good to see someone finally lit a fire under these guys.
Season Three Overview