Season 2, Episode 8
Everyone's still in roast mode.
A botched season finale could dampen an entire season. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, it’s noticeable. This is especially true when the show is serialized or partially so. Crashing relies on what comes before it more so than it points to the future. Fans of Pete Holmes know everything ends up okay but, as I’ve written before, this show is about the journey; not the destination. I’d be remisced as well to not mention my unwritten rule of not writing in first person for these reviews to remain completely objective. It’s just how I learned how to review. Yet here I am, tackling this finale in a manner that is usually reserved for a Daddy’s Home or CBS sitcom. “Roast Battle” isn’t a terrible or even bad episode of television – it is a wasted opportunity for Crashing though.
Missed opportunity is probably the better description. Either way, this episode feels as if it should’ve aired in the middle of the season rather than end it. Let’s recap what happened at the end of the freshman year. In “The Baptism,” Pete was racing to tell his wife that they should be together. Jess was getting baptized and Pete was ready to give himself back to the ex-wife that cheated on him and the Holy Ghost. In the end, he ended up where he was at the beginning of this season which is spending time with the adulterer that ruined his marriage – Leif. Pete had a goal for the episode: to get his wife back. But “Roast Battle” instills Pete in a break up that needed to happen while also shoehorning a comedy institution into the matter. Only one of them worked (spoiler alert: it was the latter).
The breakup itself – Holmes’s fans would know – was going to happen at some point (presumably, Jamie Lee’s Ali is her with a name change). The two are friends in real life even after a life changing relationship. This is breakup will surely play a role in the future of the series but, for now, Pete seems okay. He leaves the city to go on his mini college tour and even stay son stage a little longer just work some things out. This comes after a massive fight in which Ali deemed Pete he’s too sensitive and unable to be a real comedian. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
No matter how much I am dismayed with this episode (again, I never write in first person so this is pretty serious), any mention of Roast Battle brings a massive smile to my face. If you don’t truly understand the concept of two comedians taking jabs at each other for prize money, then I urge you to read my reviews of the Roast Battle specials on Comedy Central. I have an unabashed love for the series. No shame. The Wave, Jeff Ross and host Brian Moses made their way to HBO’s Crashing for the greatest crossover and I was not displeased.
The Ali and Pete situation takes away from what should have been a triumphant win for the latter. He’s worked hard to find himself, his voice and what he’s able to contribute to the world of comedy. Imagine the hurt he feels when Ali says he has none of that. No party is in the right when one accuses the other of getting too personal and the other accusing one of taking things to personally. Pete should feel bad for what Ali said when the two battled on stage – given it was foreshadowed since the episode began. Ali should feel bad when Pete mentions he had to come up with jokes from the top of his head to win (her line That's even worse. That means you were speaking from the heart” is painful to hear). We know Pete is a fighter but him digging deep to A). stave off both Tony Hinchcliffe and Ali to make it to the finals; B). his willingness to admit how much their words hurt without fear of repercussion; and C). even more willingness to leave the first woman he’s loved in a while because she made him feel bad is one of the most courageous things he could do. Last year, he would’ve found a fantastical way to solve his problems. This year he’s getting rid of them.
Should you watch “Roast Battle?”
As stated before, season finales are hard. I’m in the camp that they need to wrap up the current storyline while also introducing others. But they don’t have to all work that way. If they do deviate, they need to feel like a finality. “Roast Battle” does not feel that way. What it does offer, however, is The Desolation of Smaug level importance – engaging and fun with a very middle story feel. Crashing was a little wayward with its focus this year. Season one had Pete wanting to be a real comedian. Season two puts him closer to the goal but it’s less defined. “Roast Battle” didn’t help matters. Yet the stories in the season were good to experience.