One of the first things we hear Bob Belcher say to his family, in the series premiere “Human Flesh,” is, “You’re my children and I love you, but you’re all terrible at what you do here.” This line sets up his character perfectly: a loving father who often pushes his passions onto those around him and is disappointed when they don’t exhibit the same enthusiasm for them. Whether it’s something he bases his world around, like running a restaurant, or a fad that he grows tired of by the following week, like Caking (in season two’s “Bad Tina”), Bob’s suffocating of those who love him can occasionally overshadow how much he truly cares about his friends and family. It’s hard to think of an episode where this side of his personality has come out as much as it does in “Late Afternoon in the Garden of Bob and Louise.”
The episode begins with Bob upset (what else is new?), both because Louise broke his zester and because he keeps being rejected by the Community Garden. He decides to go speak to the garden master, who just so happens to be Cynthia Bush, mother of Louise’s teenaged nemesis Logan Barry Bush. In exchange for being allowed membership in the garden, Bob gives Logan a job, trading in Louise’s happiness for his own and using his broken zester to guilt trip her. Linda is on Bob’s side, until Cynthia (whom she hates) begins sitting in the restaurant, requesting chamomile tea and typing on her laptop about the “simple people” running a “sad, underperforming restaurant.”
Even when made aware of his family’s frustration, Bob still refuses to fire Logan, and even makes him employee of the month. It’s only when, as Louise is about to ruin his garden, Bob yells out, “Louise, please, those are my babies” that he comes to his senses, realizing how selfish he’s been. Bob will always be irrational—it’s who he is—but this moment of self-awareness was satisfying.
This wasn’t a particularly great episode. It’s not as entertaining as “Midday Run” and it doesn’t contain anything as funny as the b-plot of “Speakeasy Rider,” but it does offer a glimpse into a defining quality of Bob: his blindness towards the discomfort of others when he’s in his “happy place.” He is so convinced that what he wants is what’s best for everyone, and he’ll defend it beyond the point of reason. In the best moment in “Late Afternoon in the Garden of Bob and Louise,” a catchy musical number showcases Linda and Louise’s unhappiness contrasted against Bob’s glee. Speaking of which, when’s that Bob’s Burgers soundtrack coming out?
“I had more zest for this zester than I do for life.” “It was simply the zest.”
“Consolation seeds. I’ve been there.”
“You can’t throw a rock without hitting a kid volunteering at a hospice.” “Oh, I hate those kids who volunteer at hospices.”
“Say hello to the newest member of the community garden.” “Hello.”
“That is not appropriate for the workplace.” “You are not appropriate for the workplace.” “You’re not appropriate for your face.” “I bet when you reconnect in your 30s, you guys will get married.”
“I’m in the mile high five club.”
“It would be fun to quit if I didn’t love this job so gosh darn much.”
“You’re my angel…dust. Sorry, that’s a drug.”
“Absolutely not.” “AbsolutelyNot at…what…dotcom?”