"Severed Head Showcase" - Key & Peele Review

Key & Peele
“Severed Head Showcase”
Season 5, Episode 4

If the order’s to let him go, I don’t know why he’s here in the first place.

Now that we all know Key & Peele is ending after this current season, these sketches – along with the vignettes – are becoming deeper in meaning, speaking to our society in terms such as race and sexuality. I find it an odd coincidence that many of their sketches are topical to the point where they eerily mirror an issue in the news today. That coupled with the notion that the writers wrote these sketches up to over a year ago really speaks to the predictability of our terribly bleak society. Much like the gospel choir in the cold open, we grow dysfunctional without a clear leader or real sense of being. They lost him only to time knowing he’d come back and yet they fall into chaos regardless.

At the opposite end of the civilization spectrum, we find Key and Peele portraying angry tribesman who are fighting against warriors. Presented in a 16:9 format, the first sketch of the night contains the best make up and costuming the show has ever had. Peele cuts a head off (in slow motion of course) and shows it to his compatriots. He screams, they scream. This happens several times until the screams lessen at which point Peele searches for alternative glory with the head. He humps it, spins it on his finger and so on. This is a classic story of how jokes can go wrong or play out differently. The best bit is when Peele pulls out a piece of paper with his joking material written on it.

Just as Peele took center stage in the first sketch, Key is the star of the following one. He plays a gullible guard that always falls for Peele’s suggestions that he be let out of jail. Key is innocent enough as he steps aside for the felon to walk out. Each conversation and subsequent release is compounded by the fact that Key believes he’s being tricked via reverse psychology. The final sketch of the night is in the same vein with Key again suggesting he’s being reversed psychologized as he says he’s not a huge fan of the Nolan Batman movies.

The penultimate sketch is the highlight of the night though. A parody of Sportscenter called Teaching Center that follows teachers and their acts of teaching. I’m doing it no justice right now. From switching schools to “getting drafted” by schools and even highlights of teaching moments give the sketch a leg up on others shown tonight. And the graphics are well done to the point of complete realism. Then, in a seamless transition, there’s an accompanying BMW commercial featuring not an athlete but a teacher. It’s spot on.

Should you watch “Severed Head Showcase?”

Totally. Teaching Center is special in its own right. Last week’s episode was a return to form for the series following a middling episode. Now, with the knowledge of the series ending, we’ll have to take assurance that the guys will allow for a proper ending. The vignettes are getting more mundane yet remaining interesting in subject matter. I can’t wait until we get to our destination.