Note: This season, my associate Phil Nobile Jr. and I are tag-team recapping Vice Principals. This particular week, however, I'm flying solo. We'll return to our regularly-scheduled format next Monday. Remain calm.
Vice Principals' second season opener found Neil Gamby (Danny McBride) and Lee Russell (Walton Goggins) finally achieving some semblance of control: for Gamby, that meant getting up out of the wheelchair he'd been locked into after being shot at the end of season one, and returning to North Jackson High to re-establish his dominance; for Russell, that meant a gigantic new house and a cush new role as NJH's newest (read: latest) Principal. Sure, both characters still had their personal problems, but things have definitely looked worse for both of 'em.
Tonight's installment, "Slaughter", found both Gamby and Russell losing what little control they might've felt they had during last weekend's season premiere - Gamby's attempts to track down the person who shot him eventually led him to a disastrous encounter with a former student, while Russell wrestled with a faculty that seems all too happy to demonstrate their complete lack of respect for him as a leader. In classic Vice Principals fashion, these attacks on Gamby and Russell's insecurities put our (anti)heroes straight back on their bullshit. Intriguingly enough, it appears that one of them may no longer have the belly for it.
In one corner of the kingdom, an investigation is underway: Gamby's convinced that a student he expelled one year prior is the same person who shot him in the North Jackson parking lot, and when he confronts said student, we learn an interesting thing - Gamby framed this student for selling drugs on school grounds. The student holds an understandble grudge over the incident, and is not shy about throwing this fact back in Gamby's face. For the first time ever, Gamby finds himself questioning his methodology, and before the credits roll he's visiting the former student at his job, offering up papers that will allow him to return to school.
While Gamby experiences this crisis of conscience, Russell's got a different takeaway: framing a student for selling drugs was a necessary evil, and just the sort of take-no-prisoners tactic that's been missing in his approach to earning his faculty's respect. After a failed attempt to win them over with a catered sushi lunch, Russell calls half a dozen of them out into the woods and fires them before collecting up their school IDs and setting them on fire. Russell's thrilled to have his groove back, but Gamby clearly doesn't relish the moment. Moments later, when Vice Principal Nash stumbles across Belinda Brown's missing high heel next to the train tracks, he looks even more shook.
This week's other major development revolved around Ms. Snodgrass, who's now dating a mysterious figure by the name of Bryan. We don't know much about this guy - we don't even really get a good look at him when he shows up in the episode's final moments, whisking Ms. Snodgrass away from North Jackson in an exceptionally nice car - but we can probably rest assured that there's some sort of reckoning for him in the future. Or will there be? Just how soft is Gamby going, anyway?
"Slaughter" moves season two's pieces further into place, and I'm thrilled to realize that I have no idea where any of this is going - there's no telling who shot Gamby, there's no telling if we'll ever see Belinda Brown again, there's no telling if this Bryan character has anything to do with...well, anything. The unpredictability of it all has me very excited. On a tangentially-related note: it's obviously too early to make any sweeping generalizations about this season as a whole, but so far these new eps strike me as less funny than season one's, more introspective and melancholy. That, too, excites me, and I can't wait to see what this thing is once it's all completed.