CHICAGO - Welcome back to "Welcome to Flatch" recaps! In this week’s episode, "Maniflatch Destiny," Barb takes Kelly under her wing while Cheryl‘s chickens make enough eggs to go around. Just starting the show? Here’s our recap of the season two premiere. Ready to binge? "Welcome to Flatch" is streaming on Hulu, and you can also watch new episodes On Demand or via FOX Now.
How do you solve a problem like Jaime Pressly’s Barb Flatch? The newest addition to "Welcome to Flatch" is a bit of an enigma. With her bottle-blonde perkiness and hot-pink-forward fashion sense, she’s a flashier character than the quirky yet unassuming residents of our beloved town. But beneath that extroverted giggle lies a woman humbled by an acrimonious divorce and the dissolution of her real estate company, forced to start over again in the kind of town she’d normally consider beneath her.
If "Maniflatch Destiny" is any indicator, showrunner Jenny Bicks and co. seem to think that Kelly Mallet (Holmes) is the secret sauce to integrating Barb’s over-the-top personality into the more muted colors of the "Flatch" palette. Let’s see if it works!
Eat, beach, sleep, repeat
WELCOME TO FLATCH: L-R: Sam Straley and Holmes in the "Maniflatch Destiny" episode of WELCOME TO FLATCH airing Thursday, Oct. 13 (9:02-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2022 FOX Media LLC. Cr: Brownie Harris/FOX
Since Kelly followed Barb’s advice and kicked Shrub (Sam Straley) out of her house last week, the Mallet cousins’ friendship is a lot stronger. So strong, in fact, that Kelly and Shrub decide to steal some eggs from Cheryl (Aya Cash) and egg’s Barb’s house! Too bad Barb’s home, though, so they egg Father Joe’s (Seann William Scott) car instead. (He’s supportive, naturally, choosing to compliment Kelly’s aim.)
Still, Barb’s presence has already drawn the interest (and ire) of a lot of the women in Flatch. Cheryl loathes the changes Barb has made to their shared offices, particularly the fact that she’s replaced all the doors with bright pink beaded curtains. (They’re pretty hard to angrily close, for one thing.) Nadine (Taylor Ortega), meanwhile, is thrilled a flesh-and-blood Flatch family member is back in town, since Barb is the last person she needs to complete her (not at all creepy) Flatch family hair tree. "I take hair extraction consent very seriously," she assures us; we’ll take your word for it, Nadine.
But it’s Kelly’s connection to Barb that forms the basis of this episode’s A-plot. Barb, presumably seeing something of herself in the ambitious but unfocused Kelly, decides to take the young Mallet under her wing and teach her how to achieve success. The key, of course, is every modern girlboss’ mantra: "Manifesting" — complete with vision boards and everything. A vision board, as Kelly explains, is "like a Ouija board, but instead of sending dumb ghosts to your friends, you get cool stuff you want." And what she wants is a pontoon boat. The first step? Snag an internship at Just Barb’s Realty.
For Barb, it’s mostly an excuse to have someone unpack her stuff and rub her feet. But Kelly takes to the job like she did the "EnergizeHer" MLM last season — she’s desperate not just for a road to success, but for female role models she can take after too. The results are mixed: Kelly’s Barb-ian combo of floral blazer, pink sweatpants and hot pink heels is a look, and she makes a cute sign for Barb’s realty business. But when she hands over mail that includes divorce papers from Barb’s ex Bert, Kelly accidentally sends her new boss into a full-on meltdown.
WELCOME TO FLATCH: L-R: Holmes and Jaime Pressly in the "Maniflatch Destiny" episode of WELCOME TO FLATCH airing Thursday, Oct. 13 (9:02-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2022 FOX Media LLC. Cr: Brownie Harris/FOX
It’s here Kelly realizes that Barb doesn’t actually have it all figured out; she’s a mess, breaking down in frustrated anger about the road her life has taken. This time, it’s Kelly who has some advice — don’t hold the anger in, let it out. And Kelly and Barb do, by egging the beef jerky shack run by Barb’s old high school boyfriend. It’s a neat bonding moment for two women who find kinship in their shared ambitions, which Kelly capitalizes on nicely by convincing Barb to actually pay her minimum wage. (One step closer to that pontoon boat, baby!)
Mickey about town, Mickey about town!
WELCOME TO FLATCH: Justin Linville in the "Maniflatch Destiny" episode of WELCOME TO FLATCH airing Thursday, Oct. 13 (9:02-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2022 FOX Media LLC. Cr: Brownie Harris/FOX
As for Shrub, he’s got problems of his own. Since he’s not at Kelly’s anymore, he’s been staying with romantic rival Mickey (Justin Linville), enduring the white-hot agony of sleeping on the same couch Mickey uses for his public access show "Mickey About Town." It’s almost worth it since he gets to be near Beth (Erin Bowles), who is naturally Mickey’s most frequent/only guest. Even so, it’s enough to drive Shrub crazy.
Shrub’s main source of support is Father Joe, who decides to teach him how to drive as a distraction. It goes about how you’d expect, with Shrub mistakenly turning on the wiper fluid and causing Joe to scrape the door and knock the side mirror off Cheryl’s brand-new pride-and-joy pickup truck (which she’s named "Kimmie Jean").
As with Kelly and Barb, however, the teacher soon becomes the student, as Shrub — who can drive just fine without Joe "always talking and confusing" him — goes dumpster-diving for new parts to fix up Cheryl’s car. A few coats of paint and a custom chicken decal later, Kimmie Jean is back to normal, and Shrub’s resourcefulness gets Beth to admit to the camera that he’s a "stone-cold fox."
WELCOME TO FLATCH: L-R: Seann William Scott and Sam Straley in the "Maniflatch Destiny" episode of WELCOME TO FLATCH airing Thursday, Oct. 13 (9:02-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2022 FOX Media LLC. Cr: Brownie Harris/FOX
Stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to
As usual, the most charming bits of "Flatch" are the times the show nods at the town’s quirkier side characters. Mandy (Krystal Smith) has taken it upon herself to lead Bible studies, chiding God for kicking Eve out of Eden, and starting a Monday Night Sing Along Service (BYOB) where attendees sing TLC’s "Chasing Waterfalls" from the pews (complete with guest saxophonists!).
It’s a fun, spirited little moment that serves as a nice break from the chaos of Kelly and Shrub’s respective antics.And as season two progresses, that seems to be the groove "Flatch" has settled into, which is both a boon and a detriment to the show as a whole. While Barb has made for a welcome shakeup to the cast, the show’s focus on her in these early stretches has left little room for the Flatchians we know and love; Cheryl and Joe, in particular, feel stuck in a rut, like the writers don’t quite know what to do with them now that they’re a settled item again. (Maybe their storyline will get some much-needed new energy now that they’ve asked Shrub to move in with them.)
WELCOME TO FLATCH: L-R: Seann William Scott and Aya Cash in the "Maniflatch Destiny" episode of WELCOME TO FLATCH airing Thursday, Oct. 13 (9:02-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2022 FOX Media LLC. Cr: Brownie Harris/FOX
Hopefully, we get some more screentime for them soon, as Barb beings to blend into the ensemble rather than taking center stage, and Kelly and Shrub get out of their respective limbos and take some real steps towards character growth. At least that’s what your recapper is manifesting for the show as the season continues.
"Welcome to Flatch" airs Thursdays on FOX. Recaps run weekly, and you can read them all below.
About the writer: Clint Worthington is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Spool, and a Senior Staff Writer at Consequence. You can find his other work at Vulture, Nerdist, RogerEbert.com and elsewhere.
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