They say that you have to hit rock bottom before seeing the light. Well, Jim Brockmire is in the cellar when a freak accident causes him to make a drastic life change.
“Life is meaningless chaos. The only control you have is when you create some of your own.” – Elle
It’s a Montage!
Montages can be incredibly helpful when accelerating a story timeline or they can be the most annoying convention ever. In Brockmire’s case, the opening sequences are integral to what has happened to our favorite sportscaster.
When we last left Jim, he was finding a co-dependent relationship in the wrong place with the wrong gal. Elle (Carrie Preston) is already a tad crazy but now we get to see just how bonkers she really is. Constant mind f****** is the name of the game.
Elle spouts impressively deep philosophies sucking Jim into her world. Before he knows it, he is playing her games like stealing a cane from a blind man, having sex in the front row of a theater that is showing a movie for kids and taking random pills that he found in the stash pocket of his pants.
All of this comes to a head though when Elle asks him to play Russian Roulette. At first, Jim balks. He knows that this particular exercise is going to end in tragedy but when Elle poses the question “What will you feel when you hear the click of the trigger, relief or regret?” Despite the consequences, he is hooked and wants to know the answer.
Jim suggests they let the gun decide who goes first. He spins it and it ends up pointing in Elle’s general direction. Now, there is only 1 bullet in the chamber, right? Of course, she puts the muzzle of the .38 to her head, pulls the trigger and she shoots herself.
Brockmire flips out when he notices that the chamber has 5 remaining bullets. After he is sufficiently worked up, Elle laughs at him. She didn’t do any permanent damage.
Doing the right thing, Jim takes Elle to the hospital. This scene gets pretty dark and touches a nerve. When Brockmire asks Elle the answer to relief and regret, she refuses to tell him because he didn’t take the trip. While he is explaining that he tried to, she cuts him off by saying you think you had it rough because your wife cheated on you and your daddy didn’t love you.
At this point, you can see just how seriously mentally ill she is when she follows Brockmire’s indictment up with “I know what real pain is.”
Now, Jim can see that this relationship is in a bad space. He leaves the room but before he can escape, Greg (Joe Knezevich) asks who he is. Brockmire thinking it is a member of the press or some fan bristles but then Greg thanks him for bringing Elle to the hospital.
The two men start talking. Greg admits that Elle has tried suicide five times before and he just wants it to be over with. Jim looks at him incredulously. Greg then reveals that she used to be the CEO of her own company.
While he is expressing his feelings to Brockmire, Jim starts doing this weird interpretative dance explaining that he took some “Molly” and his body is just so turned on by the sound of the heart monitors.
Profusely apologizing for his behavior while continuing to dance, a disgusted Greg asks him what is wrong with him to which Jim retorts, “So much.”
A Year Later
We catch up with Brockmire who is now working at Sober Unities as a counselor. He appears to be calmer but still loquacious until Charles (Tyrel Jackson Williams) shows up.
Jim is completely taken by surprise. When Charles asks Brockmire why he never called him to let him know he sobered up, Jim responds with he was afraid that he wouldn’t like him.
What happens next is truly touching. Charles explains to Jim that everything good in his life came about because of what the two of them built together. Then in an emotional moment, they both admit that they love each other.
Charles tells him that Oakland wants him to be their back up announcer. Surprisingly enough, Jim is apprehensive at the thought of taking the position. He declares that he is better off at Sober Unities because he doesn’t do well in the real world. Charles reminds him that he is still a baseball man.
When Brockmire asks if he will go with him, Charles shakes his head and says that he can’t leave New Orleans because he has built a life for himself there. However, he tells Jim that someone may be interested in going with him.
Jim turns around to see Jules (Amanda Peet) standing there. After a few awkward moments of catching up on each other’s lives, Jim takes her to his room.
My Latest Regret
Jules asks Brockmire why he never made amends with her. Being truthful, Jim says that she had a nice life and he didn’t want to hurt her. She then tells him to go ahead and say what he needs to say and that she is tough and can take it.
He explains to Jules that life is a series of choices. The dark ones led him to being sober but every choice that he made that took him in the opposite direction of her is what he regrets the most. He calls her his latest regret.
You can see that she is deeply moved as she bravely fights back tears. It is evident that they still care deeply for one another.
The Last Sunset
The episode ends with Brockmire wanting to do the adult, sober thing of watching the sunset. Jules whips out her flask. Both men look at her.
She shrugs and explains this is a depressing place. You didn’t expect me to stay sober, did you? They all attempt to appreciate the view before them but in true Brockmire fashion, Jim asks how long does a sunset take?
And just like that, Brockmire is back!
In a recent interview with Gold Derby, Brockmire star, Hank Azaria stated that “In the Cellar” is the best episode of the season and I have to agree with him. Even though it is dark, there are some priceless moments in this finale.
The entire opening montage sequence with various crazy scenes between Carrie Preston and Azaria are disturbing but yet hysterically funny. I found myself laughing out loud at certain points and then wondering if something was wrong with me for enjoying the gallows humor.
However, when Brockmire is in the hospital and he is watching Elle connect with Greg, you can see in his eyes that he realizes he has no one. The sadness that is conveyed in that look could almost bring you to tears.
Joel Church-Cooper’s writing has been sublime. He is a master at finding the humor that defuses serious situations from becoming too black. Conversely, you can get sucker punched when you least expect it because you will be laughing yourself senseless and then bam, out of the blue you will get a touching scene like the one where Brockmire calls Jules his “latest regret.”
Hank Azaria, Tyrel Jackson Williams, Amanda Peet and Hemky Madera were at the top of their acting games this season. I don’t think a finer cast exists in television comedy.
It’s the End of the Season, Bummer!
Now that Jim has been sober for a year, I can’t wait to see how that resolve will be tested in Season 3 when he and Jules make the move to Oakland. Why do we have to wait until next April?!
Susan Leighton can be found on Twitter and Facebook @SusanontheLedge as well as Instagram @convirgin. She is also featured on Friday Night Tights, the ultimate pop culture wrap up show at Nerdrotic Podcast every Friday night at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT. You can catch her writing on horror and other things that go bump in the night at 1428 Elm.