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Superstore - Workplace Bullying - Review: “Fight, Fight, Fight!”



In an episode called "Workplace Bullying", you would expect a lot of tension and infighting between the employees of Cloud Nine. While we did get some tension and infighting, the episode primarily revolved around the lengths some people will go to in order to avoid confrontation. Was that necessarily a good thing?

For the first time in a while, the cold open ended up playing a very important role in the central plot of the episode. During the opening minutes of the episode, Jonah (Ben Feldman) stumbled on a thief (Kale Clauson) robbing the store's safe. Jonah stumbles through a conversation with the thief, trying to get him to stop. However, the thief is able to get away with the money after he says "Excuse me" and Jonah excuses him. However, all is not lost, as Dina (Lauren Ash) tackles the thief and says:

“Jonah, I just did a Law & Order-type zinger!”
After the opening theme, Jonah and Dina talk to the police about what happened. When Jonah reveals what he did, his capabilities are questioned. Dina insults Jonah, calling him weak for not being able to stop the robbery as it was occurring.

As a result of the robbery, Jeff (Michael Bunin) comes into give the employees a talk. Surprisingly, he says to not go what Dina did, saying that engaging with any criminal physically can cause injury (which makes sense, but still). Instead, he praises Jonah for his inaction. This creates tension between Dina and Jonah, but also a delightful conversation in which the store's employees debates when it is or isn't okay to let a thief go. Highlights include a discussion about baby Hitler, bombs being strapped to babies, and this absolute gem from Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom):
“What if it’s baby Oprah, but the person stealing it is Beyonce?”
After the meeting ends, Dina treats Jonah harshly because she feels like Jeff was treating her unfairly, and it was all Jonah's fault. As a result of her treatment, Jonah approaches Jeff and tells him to back off with the praise in order to get things to turn back to normal. However, Jeff instead reports the incident to HR and gathers the employees into the break room for a discussion on workplace bullying. (Am I the only one wondering how he can gather so many employees at once during the workday? Also, who is manning their posts while they're away? Is he just separating the employees into groups so that he can talk to one group at a time while another group does work? Am I looking too much into this?). Just like before, what was supposed to be a simple discussion on workplace discussion goes totally off script, this time about what kind of names the employees have been called (and all are pretty cruel).

Obviously, the workplace bullying discussion does not work at all. When Dina approaches him again, Jonah says that he could have totally taken the robber, and Dina challenges him to a fight. Sometime later, Dina, Jonah, and the other employees gather outside the store. Dina tries to fight Jonah, while Jonah yells and gets her to stop. His protests don't work; the thing that does stop the fight is Jonah's erection. Dina sees that Jonah gets an erection during the fight and stops it immediately. Curse you, human biology!

The employees dissipate after that. However, later, Dina approaches Jonah and says that she understands why he was acting the way he did today (she thinks that he was trying to one-up her) and why he got the erection: lingering sexual tension. Yes, Superstore fans, Dina thinks that Jonah is attracted to her, but she says that they can't be together.

In my notes about this episode, I wrote "WE ARE ON THIS AGAIN WE ARE TIRED IT IS THE THIRD SEASON. WHY ARE WE AS A COUNTRY SUBJECTED TO THIS?" in all caps when watching that scene. I stand by my all-caps anger (even if I'm not exactly sure who is the "we" I was speaking up). Dina's crush on Jonah was so cringeworthy during season one that I had blocked it out of my memory. It's not out of character for Dina to bring it up with this, I just wish that we didn't have to do this again, especially for this plot that was already uncomfortable enough! I find Dina's clueless cruelty just as funny as the next girl, but I felt like in this episode it was too intense. Instead of laughing at the situation, I just felt really bad for Jonah. Sure, I laughed at a couple of lines here and there, but the plot just didn't hit the mark.

The one plot this episode that did hit its mark was Amy's (America Ferrera) struggle to fit in. In the wake of the robbery, she institutes a buddy system for the employees to use for safety. Initially randomly choosing Myrtle (Linda Porter) at random, she switches her choice to Cheyenne. However, Cheyenne says she wants to be Mateo's buddy instead, because they go to trivia night together. Amy finds out that the majority of her friends are invited to trivia night and tries to feel included (all without telling people how she really feels, because feeling aren't cool).

First, she tries to impress her coworkers with her trivia knowledge. When that doesn't work, Amy tries to throw out the idea of trivia night completely, instead befriending some of the employees that weren't invited to trivia night. However, when plans made with these coworkers end up seeming unappealing, Amy backs out and is instead back to square one.

The story culminates in a confrontation in the break room with Cheyenne and Mateo (Nico Santos). Amy is putting away her things with dumb blonde new hire Kelly (Kelly Stables), walks by and says that she's excited for trivia night. As a result, Amy finally breaks and asks Cheyenne and Mateo why she isn't invited to trivia night, because she loves trivia. Cheyenne and Mateo explain that they thought that she wouldn't go because she'd turned down after-work hangouts before, so they never asked.

Hearing this, Amy emotionally explains how before, she was married and had a kid to take care of. Now, however, Amy is divorced, and her kid is able to take care of herself. America Ferrera's acting is really great in this scene. Every vocal shift, every expression was perfect. The writing for Amy's story was great, but Ferrera really sold it for me.

In the end, Amy gets invited to trivia night. It's a happy ending, except that means Amy abandons her new buddy Sandra (Kaliko Kauahi) alone, at night. Sandra is forced to decide whether she wants to risk walking to the bus stop, where a shadowy figure stands, alone. Let's hope Sandra is found alive next episode, because I love her awkwardness too much to lose her.

Sandwiched between scenes of Amy's fantastic awkwardness and Jonah's uncomfortable awkwardness was the C-plot that was barely a C-plot. Glenn (Mark McKinney), struggles to fire an underperforming security guard, Ken (Baron Vaughn). Every time Glenn approaches Ken, Ken believes that Glenn is trying to move him to a different position. First, Ken just changes his spot in the store. Second, Ken believes that Glenn is trying to give him a different job in the store. Ken fails at being a sales associate just as bad as he fails at being security guard.

...And that was pretty much it. There was relatively little screentime dedicated to the plot, and there was never any true resolution to the store. Ken just became a sales associate, and that was that. Don't get me wrong, it was funny, but the story felt incomplete with what little screentime it had.

Personally, I feel like "Workplace Bullying" needed a little bit more work. I have my fingers crossed that the next episode is much more my style.

What did you think about this week's episode of Superstore? Who do you think was more in the right, Dina or Jonah? Do you feel as sorry for Sandra as I do? Share your answers in the comments below!







 
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