Winter has descended on the Happy Endings gang, and you know what that means! Excellent physical comedy! Oh, and Brad and Jane's annual Spring Smackdown. An explosive fight between their friends that emerges every year to usher in the beginning of spring, Penny and Dave look forward to their Smackdown windfall: free steaks and Ice Capades tickets purchased in anger for him, white wine, flowy pants from Bassett by Angela for Angela Bassett and a fleeting sense of superiority over Jane for her. They decide to push Jane and Brad into a fight to hurray things along, but, as Alex warns them, even the smallest change to the yearly event is bound to have dire consequences. "It's like The Butterfly Effect," she predicts. "The one little movie lead to Ashton Kutcher doing a lot of bad movies."
Meanwhile, Max is literally turning into a bear. "We're going to go ahead and throw away all your old wigs," Dave taunts, but not even a limited hairpiece wardrobe was enough to woo Max out of his SAD-induced hibernation coma. The man doesn't have one intelligible word in this entire episode, and Adam Pally just kills it anyway. His slow decent into his animal state ( i.e. Winnie The Pooh) is spot-on, between his eating honey out of a jar with his bare (pun alert!) hands, riding a unicycle while wearing a trash can hat and guarding his young. "Be careful! He's very protective over his cubs," Dave warns as Max snuggles his Cubs…cubs. "They're both signed by Mandy Patakin. He sat next to us at a game once."
So, while Brad and Jane skirt the edges of a fight, bickering about siracha and Brad's pube stylings, ("It's called a bro-zilian," Brad declares. "Next thing you're going to tell me there's no such thing as a scro-tee."), it's only until Brad's secret correspondence with his ex (Likes: competitive swallowing) comes to light that the brawl begins. Like Jane didn't have exes Jamal, Malik, and Lawindian all waiting on the backburner this whole time! The two storm outside and get into a fight to end all fights…which is just a ruse to give the rest of the gang the explosive Smackdown they're expecting. This scene is excellently played, right down to Brad hurling a garbage can in mock fury. "I'll wash those gloves as soon as we get home," Jane snarls. "Are you ready to switch to online billing?," Brad rages. This scene is a perfect example of the show's synthesis between the actors and the writers; the more they work together, the more they keep on raising the bar for themselves. Is that overstating it a little? I DON'T CARE! Go write your own recap if you disagree. No, please don't. I just said that becuase I was angry.
Sadly, because the fight was fake, Penny and Dave don't get the satisfaction that usually comes with consoling their distraught friends. "Let's just rage-chill," Brad says, even in the face of Dave's party time leather duster and need for a visit to the chop house. "Rage-catch up on Downton Abbey!" Over at Alex's place, Penny is practically giddy. "The pinot and the pants are flowing," she chrips. "To what degree of shambles would you say your life is in?" Since Jane's not actually depressed, she uses the time she would normally set aside for crying to team up with with Alex and go prank crazy on Penny, sleepover-style. "Did I hope I would pee my bed? Because I did. Right through to the boxspring," Penny muses while chipping her unmentionables out of the freezer.
So of course Brad and Jane then have to get into an actual fight over who left the terrace door open, thus kicking Spring Smackdown back into high gear. It's at moments like this that the ensemble lifts the show's more traditional plot lines to a new, higher level. Oh, and the fact that Brad is apparently a bird magnet. "I can't help it! They're attracted to my cologne," he shouts. "That's because it contains trash amounts of nightcrawlers," Jane fumes. Shouts Brad, "It's Japanese!" Just flawless.
The rest of the gang finds their favorite couple then, sitting in their freezing apartment in their underwear surrounded by filthy, filthy, filthy pigeons, and coaxes them back to reality, just as they all coax Max out of his full-length sweatsuit and oven mitts. Was there any chance in the Devil's blue hell that Brad and Jane weren't going to make up? No, but the show values its characters and trusts its actors enough to let them work their magic anyway. And dear god, the cured pork shoulders hanging in Dave and Max's place? It's the little details that matter the most.