‘Happy Endings’ prank war gets explosive and slimy

By Alex Ewald,
Max vows revenge for a prank gone awry, but Penny's engagement gets caught in his crossfire.

It begins and ends with overblown payback in Happy Endings’ latest episode, “The Marry Prankster,” which aired back-to-back with “Our Best Friend’s Wedding” on Tuesday night.

When Dave (Zachary Knighton) and the gang set up Max for a fake lottery win, apparently because he pranked Dave’s food truck with a “Guns-for-Sandwiches” flier, Max (Adam Pally) has the best winner’s freak-out ever. Even more than when Jackie won the lottery on Roseanne during that final awful season.

It’s almost sad to see until he horrifyingly dumps on everyone (“You’re all dead to me! Hahahaha!”), and promptly rips his shirt off, telling each co-conspirer, ‘f--- you!’ When Dave spills to Max, he menacingly vows revenge on every one of them for playing along. Everyone is rightfully pretty alarmed.

Married couple Brad and Jane (Damon Wayans Jr. and Eliza Coupe) are the first ones to go down — Max fills Brad’s favorite things, his lotions and “crèmes,” with stripper glitter. Jane later gets barraged with exploding whipped cream in a waffle meant for Dave.

In the meantime, after months of no job and housewife status, Brad starts his new job as a CFO, which a very happy Jane does make — until she finds out what “CFO” stands for: Chief Fun Officer of a gym for kids. She throws some shade at his workplace for a little bit before the two kiss and make up and almost do it in a ball pit. They agree the nasty job will be temporary.

Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) goes to incredibly desperate lengths to ensure her immunity, as a result of she, Penny and Dave almost getting paint ball-shot by a delicious-looking muffin platter setup. Girl goes nuts trying to cut a deal Max to spare her. The tiny psycho shows up at Max’s apartment and voluntarily cuts half her hair as a peace treaty from getting pranked, defecting to the enemy lines by helping Max set up Dave and the rest of the gang. After rigging a couch to spring a cushion on Dave, Alex convinces him it’s not by sitting on it herself, and promptly is flung onto and smashes their coffee table.

Penny (Casey Wilson) and Jane later arrive at Penny’s condo to flower petals leading to an engagement ring from boyfriend Pete (recurring Nick Zano), followed by an ecstatic Penny getting slimed standing by the phone.

Thinking it’s another prank, she hunts down in a full-on wedding dress Max to his apartment, where he denies it. Um, guess that means Penny’s actually getting engaged to a real person, then!

While the two free Pete from the toilet seat Max glued him to earlier that day, Dave and Alex fill the engine of Max’s unlicensed limo with popcorn that will promptly explode out of it. Max gets back in the car, and the limo promptly blows up in flames. But surprise again! Max dramatically reveals himself in one last scheme assisted by Alex, and Pete gets down on one knee for Penny, who returns the ring to propose with.

Only a screwball, rapid-fire show like Happy Endings, in which I never take anything seriously, could have an escalating prank guerrilla war lead up to a beautiful (that’s the right word, right?) moment.

At the very, very least, I’ve never seen a comedy with a more original proposal set-up, arguably sans Monica and Chandler’s, than in front of a burning car exploding popcorn-rain, the gal already wearing a (slimed) wedding dress and giving the ring to the guy, who’s just been unglued from a toilet seat. That was new, sort of charmingly so.

The writers probably realized they’d recycled Alex’s “dumb blonde” routine for three seasons too long — the majority of her gags have been of the dimwitted, cutesy ingénue variety (not complaining about that, though).

But Alex’s surprise-reveal a la The Usual Suspects as the original prankster queen of Dave’s food truck took the cake. Alex stops limping on her uninjured leg and removes a hacked-up wig, while the gang receives a fax saying, “Gotcha!” What a maniacal little blonde devil.

The series, in its third season, airs Tuesdays at 9/8C on ABC until March 19.

Tonight’s Happy Endings Top 10 highlights:

10. Penny wearing the wedding dress: Hello, Max!
Max: Oh my god, are you having a breakdown? Let me get my camera!

9. Brad: Did I mention I’m black?
Interviewer: Several times.
Brad: Affirmative… action?

8. Max: Pete, where were you? You missed my best prank!
Pete: You glued me to the toilet, Max!

7. Flashback-Jane making good use of the stripper glitter in Brad’s lotions and crèmes. No surprise there.

6. Penny: So Brad got a job, that’s great!
Jane: Great? Really? What else is great? Syphilis? Men with bangs? Waking up with a dead dog in your damn bed?
Penny: If had known that dog was going to climb in bed with me I never would’ve had so much chocolate in there.

4. Max's name troubles: “Max Broom,” I mean “Mark Blum,” dammit, Max Blum! The weiner, I mean “winner”! “Why can’t I get my name right?”

3. Penny: It’s true, Max hath scammed us all … Remember when he buttered my yoga mat? And my welcome mat? And my neighbor, Matt?

3. Max: And when it comes, my revenge will be served like the tennis serve of a seventh grade girl: slow, out of bounds, and I will pull balls out of my skirt.

2. Guy to Jane: Hello, ma’am? Do you have a child here? We don’t normally allow alone adults to leer at the children.

1. Pete proposing to Penny: I love everything about you. I love your big heart, and I love your even bigger head. I love how last night when the waiter asked, “Do you want a doggy bag?” you didn’t just say no. You lied and told him we were going on a three-week Alaskan cruise.

Tonight’s comedy winner: Alex Kerkovich!

Image Courtesy of ABCMedianet.

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