Vice Principals has been a weird trip, with nine episodes of the two nastiest protagonists this side of the gang from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This week’s episode, “End of the Line”, ends the season with a bang. Literally. Actually, several bangs, if anyone’s counting.
“End of the Line” begins immediately where last week’s episode, “Gin”, left off. Vice principals Gamby and Russell have locked Principal Brown in the bathroom of her hotel room after she has gone on a rampage, drunk on gin. Russell recorded the entire episode on a spy-camera pen, and the two escape the hotel room with victory in their sights. They have all of the blackmail they could possibly need in the footage, and they’re ready to use it.
While Vice Principals protagonists are certainly awful human beings, Gamby has shown potential to be decent as the series has progressed. When Russell brags about their accomplishments in ruining Brown’s career, Gamby tells him that he’s not proud of what they did. He knows that destroying another person’s livelihood isn’t right, but he does it anyway. There is an interesting dichotomy between the ways Russell and Gamby process their feelings about Brown and her downfall. Gamby maintains some humanity, while Russell is probably a bona fide sociopath. He just doesn’t care about the feelings of others.
After burning all evidence of their plotting, Gamby and Russell invite Brown out to the train tracks behind the school. They then show her the footage from her gin-soaked night on the town and she breaks down. Kimberly Herbert Gregory is phenomenal in the scene, her emotions ranging from fear to rage to despair. She screams obscenities, cries, asks the men why they did this to her, and then proceeds to beat them senseless. She kicks the tar out of both Russell and Gamby, though she is eventually forced to stop when Russell explains that he can upload the video to the internet in seconds. Defeated, she screams once more and then hobbles away, one foot bare and the other clad in a leopard-print stiletto.
Faced with terrible blackmail, Brown resigns. Gamby and Russell’s plan has worked, and they intend on making the most of it. They hold a meeting with the teachers at North Jackson and explain that Brown is gone for good. Some of the teachers seem pleased, while others are concerned. Gamby and Russell shut down any questions that might hold them accountable, and Gamby is particularly hard on Amanda Snodgrass, whom he was secretly dating until a blow-up over her ex. Victory within reach, Gamby goes right back to being a jerk after showing the ability to be decent.
Gamby and Russell share a nice moment before going into the superintendent’s office. They compliment one another and reaffirm their friendship. It would be sweet if they hadn’t built their entire relationship on the destruction of another person’s life. Gamby is almost likeable, his childish demeanor and desire to do right by his daughter making him far more palatable than the vicious Russell. The two enter the superintendent’s office as vice principals, and leave as the two new co-principals of North Jackson High. They celebrate by dancing and hugging.
After Gamby’s daughter Janelle got into a motocross wreck, Gamby talked her into never doing it again. He got her a new horse and is happy to see her back in a hobby he approves of. Janelle’s stepfather, Ray, comes to the stables to talk to Gamby and tells him that he’s jealous of the relationship Janelle and Gamby have. Ray may be the only genuinely good adult person on the show. He has yet to do a single mean thing. He’s the show’s moral compass, though there isn’t much morality to be had otherwise. The conversation hits home for Gamby, however, as he gives Janelle a brand new motocross bike as a present. Gamby is growing as a character, and it’s interesting to see him change through the show’s series of insane events.
In a callback to the first episode, Gamby and Russell raise the flag together. They are riding high, their dreams accomplished. The series is great when it has short scenes without dialogue, and this episode is no different. Gamby and Russell stride down the hallways of North Jackson, triumphant. They are victorious. Brown is gone, and they are the principals. Gamby apologizes to Snodgrass and the two kiss only to have Miss Swift interrupt them. There’s an emergency, she tells Gamby, and he rushes outside to see his car and Russell’s car aflame.
The two cars burst in a fireball and Gamby walks over to inspect what happened. He blames Brown and calls Russell on his walkie-talkie. After an episode that seems like things are working out for the vice principals, it ends with startling violence. A masked man approaches Gamby and shoots him twice – once in the shoulder, once in the abdomen. Gamby falls and lies on the pavement, bleeding. The episode ends with him lying there, and we won’t know until next season who shot him or how serious his injuries are. It’s unlikely that he’s dead, given the series’ name and Danny McBride’s involvement, but things definitely aren’t looking good.
- Though it’s not a funny moment by any stretch of the imagination, Dr. Brown’s emotional breakdown when Gamby and Russell blackmail her is fantastic. Gregory has been incredible all season and this is another reminder of her talents as an actor.
- Gamby and Russell strolling down the hallway triumphant. It’s hard to root for characters as morally bankrupt as these two, but it’s fun all the same.
- Dayshawn makes Gamby and Russell chocolate chip pancakes to celebrate their new position.
- The ending – it’s a genuine shock and reminds the viewer that Vice Principals isn’t a comedy for those weak of constitution. This is a dark comedy of the meanest sort, and it’s not about to get any lighter.