My Thoughts on Regular Show, Season by Season (Part 3 of 4)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Sorry this post took so long! I wrote it at a leisurely pace and intermittently worked on MLP episode reviews too, plus real life stuff. The good thing is that my next Regular Show blog post will be my last one, whenever that comes out. It may take a little while though!


Season 6: Mordecai’s Love Life Falls Apart

It’s always thrown me off that Mordecai’s mother has the exact same voice as Leela from Futurama.

Due to CJ’s presence, Maxin’ and Relaxin’ (6.01) may seem like yet another season premiere focused on Mordecai’s love life, but I view it more as a classic tale of learning to respect your mildly embarrassing but deeply loving parents. I really like that the show takes some time to expand on both Mordecai and Rigby’s relationships with their parents and give depth to their childhoods. Their childhoods are explored further in the movie, which I am choosing not to cover in this blog post series. Mordecai’s mother seems like an archetypical embarrassing mother, but this whole time CJ finds her perfectly cool and nice, reminding us there’s more to her than just that. Towards the end, the ghosts of Mordecai’s awkward childhood memories remind him of all the nice things his mother did for him after each memory, which leads him to shed his characteristic Mordecai awkwardness and apologize. Rigby’s relationship with his parents is much more difficult, as we’ll see in season 7.

In The End of Muscle Man (6.06), Muscle Man proposes to Starla in a way that only he would: tricking all his friends into thinking he’s about to die by getting them to fulfill his bucket list. He even gets Death in on it, until he turns out alive and reveals that all this is a metaphor for becoming his new, married self, even though Starla likes him just the way he is. The episode ends with the rest of the park crew all angry at Muscle Man for this prank, except for High Five Ghost who gives him—you guessed it—a high five. While a brutal prank for the viewer, this episode also shows us how Muscle Man becomes his inner caring self in the weirdest, most backwards ways, and it sends a genuine message about staying your true, usual self for someone you love.

Kind of crazy that this is STILL before Rigby and Eileen are confirmed to be dating.
(But by this point, they probably already are.)

While most episodes focused on Rigby have him do something incredibly foolish and struggle to get his way out of it, Eileen Flat Screen (6.08) is completely different: it consists entirely of him being a total sweetheart to Eileen. He goes to great lengths to set up a flatscreen TV Eileen won in a college competition, talks extensively about her personal life and all the things they do together, and bashes on Eileen’s nasty roommate who gets ousted from the house at the end of the episode. This episode knows how unusual this is for Rigby: near the start, Mordecai says he’s freaked out by how nice Rigby is being. But love can do surprising things to people, and Rigby is no exception. I find this whole episode really sweet, and a good example of Rigby’s character development. It ends with a surprise reveal: the flatscreen TV shows Margaret is back in town, working as a news reporter. It won’t be long before she and Mordecai get all queasy and awkward again.

I could have sworn the title card of this episode had Thomas’s name transition to “Николай” (Nikolai in the Russian alphabet), but apparently not.

Before I get to the important stuff in The Real Thomas (6.09-10), I’d like to take the time to discuss Benson’s difficult love life. Near the start of the episode, he tells his employees that he has a new girlfriend named Natalie—it turns out he broke up with Audrey, his previous love interest, and no one else remembers his healing process for some reason. While one can assume their memories were wiped due to wacky shenanigans, I think it’s symbolic that so much of Benson’s romance arc has taken place offscreen. It shows that he has a long history of not getting recognition for the hurdles he’s had to go through, and that’s a big part of why he’s so cranky all the time. The show even has a stand-in for alcohol that only seems to affect Benson: there are many times he’s washed away his sorrows with chicken wings, and they cause him to act wild and loopy. He has a difficult life, and he doesn’t even get much support or attention for it like Mordecai does.

Anyway, this bombshell of a two-part episode reveals that Thomas is a Russian spy, and his real name is Nikolai. Rigby is the first to notice something off, but since his encounter with Thomas was in the middle of the night, no one believes him at first. The rest of the park crew has a typical “no, he would NEVER do that” mindset about this innocent-seeming guy, which makes it easy to feel Rigby’s frustration. He knows he’s loony and hard to take seriously, and this must bite hard for him when he’s finally trying to better himself. It turns out that Thomas has been secretly installing equipment in the park to transport it over to his homeland, but he wasn’t told of a nasty twist: that the mission would destroy the park and kill its crew. Natalie (whose real name is Natalia) is the mastermind behind this plan, and Thomas ultimately defects against her in favor of saving his friends.

I think Thomas is a MUCH more interesting character after the twist than before. This is largely because it’s hard to make an “extremely generic guy” character stand out in a show whose entire premise is about crazy things arising from mundane situations—even the title “Regular Show” reflects this theme. It’s common for spies to pose as someone generic so no one suspects a thing, and Thomas did it a little too well. This episode ends on a bittersweet note: Thomas declines the offer to work full-time at the park since he now has been a traitor in Russia and the USA, but the crew remembers him fondly, and he appears once more in season 7. Benson’s reaction to Natalia’s death is also worth noting: he is heartbroken because he was holding out hope that they could work things out despite her villainous ways, which shows how painfully tough his love life is.

There was also a Christmas special in season 4, but I didn’t have anything to say about it.
(Also, this scene is in Mordecai’s imagination.)

Season 6 has a Christmas special that’s basically two separate episodes: The White Elephant Gift Exchange (6.11) and Merry Christmas Mordecai (6.12). The former is about Muscle Man’s prank gifts and ends with a prank to both the park crew and the viewers; the latter is more relevant to the show’s overarching story because it ends with Mordecai kissing Margaret right in front of CJ, plus a reveal that Margaret is going to be Eileen’s new roommate. This starts up a new degree of Mordecai romantically embarrassing himself that prevails through the rest of the season. Margaret gets several awkward moments too, like when she pretends to have a boyfriend only to admit she still has feelings for Mordecai. I think that since I’m a lot older than I was when I first watched Regular Show, I can enjoy the romance episodes a lot more than I used to. The show’s increased focus on character arcs makes it easy for adult viewers to connect to, and I’m glad the show decided to have its characters grow and develop rather than keep falling back to the status quo.

Since I’ve procrastinated so much on this post, I figured I may as well skip to the season’s finale: Dumped at the Altar (6.31). It’s a turning point in three characters’ romance arcs: Muscle Man and Starla get married, Rigby admits he’s dating Eileen, and Mordecai gets dumped by CJ. I’ll go over them each one by one. For Muscle Man, this episode serves mainly as a celebration of his character development and sentimental side. He freaks out and smashes things because he can’t find the letter from his father, but eventually Rigby finds it, and Mordecai reads the message filled with posthumous fatherly pride.

This episode is also a major point of character development for Rigby. After he drops the aforementioned reveal to Mordecai, it becomes clear that Eileen is a good fit for him when he says that he wanted to rub his romantic happiness in Mordecai’s face, but Eileen told him not to and he actually listened. Eileen is the only person who can keep Rigby’s mischievous nature under control, which is miraculous when you think about it. Based on his own successful experience with love, Rigby gives his best friend some earnest romantic advice for once: to go with his gut.

So how does Mordecai interpret this advice? After reading the letter from Muscle Dad and seeing how happy Muscle Man and Starla are together, he gives a speech about how he isn’t so sure he’s found the perfect soulmate. CJ is driven to angry tears and breaks up with Mordecai in her last speaking role in the entire show. Though this is a painful moment for Mordecai, it is his first step in being honest with himself about his romantic difficulties, so it serves as character development for him too. After the speech, Rigby tells Mordecai that that’s not what he meant by “go with your gut”, ending this episode on a bitter note.


Season 7: Rigby Gets His Act Together

This episode has some bookending which I hadn’t noticed until writing this post.
It starts with Rigby beating Eileen in a video game by jumping across a closing drawbridge, and Rigby does the same to pull Mordecai out of Dumptown.

The last season premiere or finale to focus on Mordecai’s love life, Dumptown, U.S.A. (7.01) is one of the freakiest episodes of the entire show, and I mean that in the best way possible. After his breakup with CJ, Mordecai has gone missing for two weeks, and Rigby discovers that his best friend has been running away from his problems on an island where single men drown out their sorrows by living like slobs. Benson reveals he’s a longtime veteran of Dumptown, which is very logical and hammers in how unlucky his life is. To get to Dumptown, Rigby has to force Eileen to break up with him, and though they’re back together a few episodes later, this still shows the difficult sacrifices Rigby will make for his friend.

As for what Dumptown itself is like, Regular Show is at its finest when it combines realism and surrealism, and this episode does so perfectly. The island’s effects on its inhabitants, like slowing down their perception of time and turning them into complete slobs, are incredibly freaky, but it’s also a realistic metaphor for the bout of depression people go through after breakups. Another realistic metaphor is when Mordecai sees his reflection in a saxophone and finally notices what he’s become. It’s also nice to see Rigby bail Mordecai out of problems for once; Mordecai often had to bail Rigby out of trouble in the early seasons, but now things are reversed. This is going to be the norm throughout season 7.

Local News Legend (7.04) is notable for giving Margaret an episode to herself where her role isn’t “Mordecai’s love interest”, and it’s such a cool thing to finally have. In this episode, Margaret wants to get a weekly news segment to herself where she always “mar-gets” the bad guy, but a mysterious figure tries to sabotage her job with misleading tips that cause Margaret to make a fool of herself. Margaret eventually discovers that the mysterious source is her rivalrous coworker Jackie, who traveled back in time to prevent Margaret from getting her own segment, and she proves that she does indeed mar-get the bad guy in an enthralling scene that shows us what Margaret is made of. A big theme of season 7 is tying loose ends and doing things the show could have done sooner before its space-oriented final season, and this episode does that well.

This episode reveals Benson’s last name to be Dunwoody, leaving Mordecai and Rigby as the only main cast members who logically should have last names but don’t.
(Well, maybe Skips too.)

I believe The Dome Experiment Special (7.05-06) was the last episode I saw on live TV—everything after this, I had to watch on my own volition. It starts up the other major theme of season 7: building up to the storyline of season 8. The park gets enclosed in a dome for a month and monitored by mysterious scientists, and while Benson is hung up on proving the date in an email was wrong and lurks around in the bushes like a wild warrior, the rest of the crew make the most out of these conditions, and High Five Ghost shows a surprising command of leadership that gets Mordecai and Rigby off their lazy asses. At the end of the episode, the park’s wealthy owner Mr. Maellard waves off the experiment as something he blew money on for fun, which makes it seem like a one-off. However, this isn’t a one-off at all, and the episode’s placement early in the season helps us ease into the plot of season 8. Watching this episode in retrospect, it’s clear that Mr. Maellard is covering up the true destiny of his son Pops—we learn the whole story near the end of the show, and I’ll have a lot to say about both characters when we get there.

I am bringing up Sleep Cycle (7.13) solely because it feels like a throwback to the early seasons, with a mundane problem that Mordecai and Rigby need to do something crazy and surrealistic to solve. In this case, the problem is that a movie marathon ruined their sleep schedules, so they must go on a life-threatening race in outer space to get their sleep cycles back. While some people may whine about how much better a show was in the good old days, I personally really enjoy when a show’s late seasons throw back to the format of the early seasons. It demonstrates that while the show has progressed and evolved greatly through its course, it recalls its roots as it nears the conclusion.

Just Friends (7.14) finally closes the book on Mordecai and Margaret’s romantic tension, and although the title spoils how it ends, it’s still satisfying to get to this one. With support from their respective best friends, Mordecai and Margaret try spending a platonic night together, but they constantly run into romance-oriented scenarios as though the universe wants them to be a couple. In the final scene, a chef at a Japanese restaurant shows them the future they could have as a married couple, but Mordecai and Margaret mutually agree they’re better off not bothering with any of that. While this is a rewarding conclusion to Mordecai’s romance arc, he largely falls to the sidelines for the rest of season 7 as many others (most of all Rigby) go through major character arcs, leading to some difficult moments in the season 7 finale.

This scene shows us that Rigby isn’t so dumb after all.
He just needs support from the right person.

Rigby’s character arc in season 7 is spread across five episodes, starting with The Eileen Plan (7.16). After he learns that as a teenager Eileen wanted to marry someone brilliant, Rigby regrets dropping out of high school and goes back so he can graduate. This episode has some difficult moments as Rigby hides his high school studying from an increasingly furious Eileen, who keeps having to cancel her plans with him. After Mordecai lets it slip to Eileen that Rigby is on a field trip to a cave, Eileen enters the cave and gets lost in it, so Rigby uses the skills he learned in class to save his girlfriend and blow his classmates’ minds. Rigby’s next two high school episodes (Hello China and Gymblonski) follow a similar formula where he accomplishes something awesome at the end, showing us he’s come a long way since the show started. This one is probably my favorite of the high school episodes because of how much it looks into Rigby’s insecure side, and for the heartwarming moment at the end.

Although Muscle Man was the meanest to Thomas back when he was an intern, here he treats Thomas with deep respect and cries near the end.

Guys Night 2 (7.24) gives Thomas a proper sendoff, where he hangs out with the park crew one last time and they have to help him stay undercover so he can board a submarine and live his life in freedom. It’s a very bittersweet episode, showing that while the park guys (especially Muscle Man) now think Thomas is the coolest guy ever, he envies that they don’t have to constantly live in hiding and is grateful to have them as friends. He spends the episode being a sly badass who deceives CIA agents with clever tricks, all the while protecting the only friends he’s ever had. As I said before, Thomas became a much more interesting character after his identity was revealed, so I’m glad the show brought him back one last time.

Mordecai doesn’t know how lucky he is to have such unconditionally loving parents.
Not everyone gets that luxury.

I consider Rigby Goes to the Prom (7.29) Rigby’s counterpart to Maxin’ and Relaxin’ because it focuses on his relationship with his parents, which is much more difficult than Mordecai’s. The reason Rigby visits his parents is because he wants to take a cool car to prom with Eileen, and since he wrecked Don’s car while earning his gym class credit, his dad’s car is the only viable option. His father knows that he would only visit them if he wants something from them, and given how difficult his upbringing was, can you blame him? While Rigby’s mother at least is an understanding parent—she gives Rigby the key to her husband’s car, and tries talking sense into the rest of her family—his father is obsessed with his car and filled with pride for Don, saving none for his elder son.

What’s interesting about Rigby’s dad is that he isn’t just a generic aggressive father: he shares a lot of personality traits with Rigby, which is why they clash so much. Every metaphor and attempt at reasoning flies right over his head, like when one student at prom says his dad let him borrow his favorite suit because he loved his son that much, or when Rigby’s mother sees a metaphor in her husband’s frustration at a small TV that he wishes was more like his bigger TV. Rigby’s father is so impulsive and stubborn that when he finds out his car is missing, he heads all the way to his son’s prom to get it back, and only at the end does his inner care for his elder son awaken: when the car is wrecked, he asks Rigby if he’s doing OK, and that soon leads to a reconciliation. Rigby and his father are both to a degree at fault in their troubled relationship, but now Rigby is finally taking steps to earn some of the fatherly pride that Don has been showered in.

One more thing worth noting is that this episode reveals Eileen didn’t go to prom in high school either because no one asked her out, so this was a chance to tie a loose end for both her and Rigby. It’s a nice little parallel between the two, showing they have more in common than you might think.

Ah, the good old “two love interests meet by crashing into each other”.

Season 7 has had many opportunities to discuss Benson’s character development, and I’ve chosen to do so at Pam I Am (7.34). In this episode, Benson gets a new love interest named Pam, a dome scientist with interests and a demeanor very similar to him, and he gets some chicken wings so they can eat them undercover in the dome lab. Oh yeah, right. The dome is back, and it surrounds the park with a free means of exit through the last few episodes of season 7. This along with a few episodes foreshadowing Pops’ origin story serves to ease viewers into the genre shift of season 8, which I’ll talk about when I get to, well… season 8.

Anyway, about Benson. By this point in the show, it’s abundantly clear that there’s a lot more to him than being a cranky, yelly boss—he has a variety of skills locked away in his unfortunate backstory, he has bad luck with romance but is always determined to find a good match, he won’t accept being wrong about anything, and under the right circumstances, he can be a very effective leader. I’d say he has the best character development out of all the main cast, followed closely by Rigby. It’s nice that the show throws him a bone with this new love interest—the bone is snatched in season 8 when he’s sent to space, then thrown back in the series finale.

And at last, we arrive at the finale of season 7: Rigby’s Graduation Day Special (7.38-39). Rigby is selected to give a speech at a TV show called Inspire America, and his high school graduation arc is pretty damn inspiring if you ask me. While it may not have involved the most realistic circumstances, it gives viewers a sincere, earnest message of “better late than never”. Or put in a less deprecatory-sounding way, “it’s totally possible to finish that goal you had set aside and forgotten about for years”. This can apply to big things in life, but also silly smaller things like the various creative projects I finished after putting them off for months or even years.

While Rigby is the number one champ of season 7, Mordecai has it a lot rougher here. At the start, he admits that the best thing he’s accomplished over the past year is getting good at a video game, and upon pressure from the rest of the park crew, he begrudgingly drives far away to get Rigby’s favorite brand of coffee soda. He then throws the soda out of the car, picks it back up, and gives it to Rigby as a symbol of their flawed but firm friendship. This is where Mordecai admits how difficult it has been seeing his best friend do so well, because he always liked being the better-off of the two.

Overall, as far as this show’s season finales go, this one really takes the extra mile and feels in some ways like a miniature movie. This especially holds for the ending, where tons of different characters (including CJ and Thomas) appear for the last time as they watch the dome blast into the sky. All seven of the show’s main characters are sent to the dome before it launches, and Eileen unwittingly joins them since she was cooking a surprise dessert for Rigby—this was obviously done because the show’s staff loved Eileen too much to let go of her, which I find adorable. This ends season 7 on a cliffhanger bigger than any ever before.


Whew, this post was huge! Before I finish, I’d like to say season 7 stands out in the show for dealing with heavy topics like depression, rough relationships with parents, jealousy over your best friend, and being a refugee on the loose. It is the show’s peak of exploring the challenges of adult life, the end result of all the character exploration and romantic drama before the shift into sci-fi adventures in season 8.

Most of the main cast have had strong character arcs over the last few seasons. Mordecai fumbles around with romance and comes to terms with the open-endedness of life. Rigby gets a girlfriend who motivates him to better himself and finish high school. Benson reveals his inner talents and does anything he can to get respect from others. Skips opens up about his tragic backstory while remaining the most dependable of the group. Muscle Man uncovers his care for his friends and is the first of them to get married. High Five Ghost shows his sensitive side and reunites with his love interest. Eileen works her way up to becoming part of the main cast, and Thomas defects from his upbringing in espionage to protect his only friends. The only main character who didn’t get much of an arc is Pops, and season 8 is going to change that as his origin is revealed.

I hope to publish my post going over season 8 by the end of this month. Since it’s only one season, it shouldn’t take as long as this post did!

2 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Regular Show, Season by Season (Part 3 of 4)

  1. Was kinda hoping you’d go over the movie. People don’t really talk about it, or even know it exists, but it’s undoubtedly my favorite thing from the show.

    The movie takes place between these seasons you’ve gone over. Elements can be found in Season 7 (specifically the high school arc) and Season 8.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on it.

    Like

    • I haven’t rewatched the movie since… I think it was 2017? When binging every episode this year on Hulu, the movie wasn’t listed. But thinking about it, it might be a good idea to rewatch it and talk about first the movie, then season 8 in part 4 of my Regular Show review.

      Like

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