Maybe there are viewers out there who watch “Vice Principals” for a number of different things. For some, they may enjoy it best when Neal Gamby and Lee Russell are going out of their mind to destroy Belinda Brown. For us, that’s not exactly the case since we actually find Dr. Brown reasonably entertaining, and as much as we like Walton Goggins, there aren’t enough redeeming qualities in Russell to make us want to look for him to succeed.
With Neal, it’s a little easier since we see that softer side. The love he has for his daughter is precious, and the hatred he has for her stepfather Ray is ridiculous. This is why for much of this episode, we saw him doing what he could to learn motocross as a way to prove that he was just as cool as Ray, and could still connect with his daughter. Just as you would expect, this all blew up in his face and was rather heartbreaking as a result. Ultimately, he may have taken the fun out of the sport.
Yet, at the same time he did forge a much deeper bond with Amanda Snodgrass as a result, given that she agreed to teach him out to ride in exchange for switching around her schedule. She had her own motivations, given that her boyfriend / fellow teacher Bill had just broke things off because they didn’t have that time together anymore — though it really just seemed like he wanted to flirt around with his new TA. The more Amanda saw that, the more she wanted to help Neal.
While you can argue that it’s somewhat unbelievable that she’d want to help out someone who is as much of a jerk as Neal is, we also didn’t necessarily see anything that she did as particularly romantic, even the hand-holding at the end. She’s just the sort of person who cares, and in that moment she could see how hurt he was. The most important thing for Neal here is that he’s building a friend, and he shouldn’t push that away. The two had a lot of funny moments in here, as well; we don’t mean to make it sound like it is just a sometimes-sad romance.
All the while tonight, Russell and Gamby helped to orchestrate a stolen-book caper involving the English teacher to make Dr. Brown look bad. There were a few laughs, but in the end this one blew up in its own way when Belinda caught Russell spitting into some coffee meant for her. He tried to cover for it, but we don’t think he did.
“Vice Principals” may not be having a perfect first season, but this was without a doubt one of its best episodes. Sure, Danny McBride continually makes us laugh, but there was a softness and a sweetness to it that makes continuing to watch Neal Gamby worth it. Grade: A-.
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