New Apple TV+ comedy Loot goes into damage-control mode this week, as a theme park that Molly owns undergoes a public disaster and the billionaire must take stock of her post-divorce holdings.
Sofia goes to an important meeting, Nicholas goes to an important audition, and Arthur goes to a suddenly important soccer game. The show settles into a comfortable groove as it gives everyone an archetype to play with around dependable star Maya Rudolph.
Loot recap: ‘Excitement Park’
Season 1, episode 4: In this week’s episode, entitled “Excitement Park,” Molly Wells (played by Maya Rudolph) is in hot water. During her divorce from her husband (Adam Scott), she received a number of assets she didn’t know he owned, including a cheaply run and unprofessionally operated theme park in the Philippines.
And the only reason she found out she owned it was because there was an accident on a roller coaster. Passengers are stuck upside-down in the loop, and the park needs to fix the coaster in a hurry before things get worse.
Sofia (Mj Rodriguez) is in a panic about it. If the public looks at the disaster and associates it with the charitable foundation, they’re going to look like hypocrites. Sofia rushes off to a meeting but tasks Molly and office accountant Arthur (Nat Faxon) — who’s quickly becoming Molly’s work husband — with figuring out everything Molly owns so they don’t make any more embarrassing discoveries in the future.
They hit an art gallery and an alpaca farm, and then he gets a text from his wife. Can he pick up their daughter, Alex (Annaka Fourneret), for a soccer game? They’d never make it if they drove, but what if they took one of Molly’s helicopters?
An audition and a realization
Meanwhile at the office, Howard (Ron Funches) finds Molly’s assistant Nicholas (Joel Kim Booster) in the middle of printing audition sides. Embarrassed by his dreams, Nicholas swats Howard away at first but after he presses the subject and digs up some of his old commercial work, Nicholas finally relents and agrees to practice his scene with his office mate. Howard thinks he’s good.
However, when Nicholas goes to the audition, he gets cold feet. Then Howard texts him support, and he decides to through with it.
Sofia gets to her meeting thinking she’s going to have to do damage control about the theme park, but mostly they just wanna talk about her because they’re all fascinated by the rich divorcée behind the charity. Sofia’s initially flabbergasted by the attention the bureaucrats give her. Then she realizes this gives her an edge.
If they want to please Molly … maybe they could pass the foundation’s proposal?
An asset, and a liability
Sofia suddenly realizes that she has a powerful ally in Molly, and that she’d be better off trying to approach things together going forward. But that means being careful about Molly’s image.
So, when paparazzi pictures of Molly at Alex’s soccer game standing next to Arthur surface, Molly feels bad about having created yet another public spectacle. She tells Arthur that nothing romantic was going on, and nothing can/will happen between them (in less specific terms than that). Arthur’s visibly sad about that.
But then he gets home and sees that Molly sent him a painting he liked at the gallery they audited that afternoon. Maybe there’s something there after all….
Fine-tuning the awkward
We didn’t get a lot of laughs this week on Loot (and most of them had to do with the amusement park news coverage). That’s forgivable, because the writers are trying to build the office dynamic first and foremost.
Already we have Nicholas and Howard as odd-couple office friend and foils, Sofia and Molly as goofus and gallant company heads trying to fill in the blanks of the other’s personality to make a difference, and besotted Arthur trying not to embarrass himself too much, but also being OK with the guy he turned out to be.
Faxon is doing a pretty good job in the part of Arthur. However, he must walk a fine line between sitcom awkward and regular guy awkward. You can see him trying to imbue the character with real life and melancholy and dependably boring energy. But his hopes do spark up from time to time in very affecting ways.
The writers have so far hit his “uncomfortable white guy” shtick a little hard. (“I felt like a regular Ray Romano!” from last week’s episode should have been the plainer “I felt like Ray Romano,” because a guy who knows he isn’t funny wouldn’t go for the busier diction. That’s a comedy writer’s version of the joke, not the way the joke would have come out.) But Faxon is trying his best to keep Arthur human.
Maya Rudolph is gold
Maya Rudolph did a great job playing Arthur’s cheerleader this week. But I also feel a little trepidation about how, on the same episode that her wealth was tied to a malfunctioning roller coaster that could kill people in a foreign country, the writers rewarded her wealth by letting her impress a boardroom with her humanity and a little girl with a helicopter.
Kind of feels like everyone is just OK with her being super-rich, which isn’t very transgressive or funny. Still, there are worse sitcoms on TV. (Actually, there are basically only bad sitcoms on TV, so this still counts as an outlier.) Plus, I’ll watch anything Rudolph cares about.
Watch Loot on Apple TV+
New episodes of Loot arrive Fridays on Apple TV+.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.