For much of “Eat, Spray, Linda,” we’re watching awful things happen to Linda on, of all days, her birthday. At the beginning of the episode, we learn that she hates celebrating her birthday, a fact that you wouldn’t expect with her character but it makes sense. She’s in her 40s, and birthdays have come to be reminders of the fact that she’s getting older. As the episode goes on, she has the worst birthday of her life, beginning with burnt toast and an annoying trip to the grocery store, which eventually leads to locking her keys in the car, broken glasses, getting sprayed by a skunk, and a chase through a town chalk festival.
Because of this the episode has to eventually lead somewhere sweet. We love Linda too much to watch an episode of her being tortured by everything imaginable without having a payoff, and boy does it have one. Unlike most episodes in this season, there isn’t really an A plot and a B plot. There’s just a full, celebratory plot that feels like a tribute to one of Bob’s Burgers’ most lovable characters.
The episode begins with Linda waking up on her birthday, feeling down at the thought of having aged another year. Meanwhile, Bob and the kids are planning a spa day in the kitchen and, wanting to buy more time, send Linda to the grocery store. It’s there that everything falls apart, as Linda gets gum in her hair, rips her pants, and gets locked out of her car. When the store won’t let her use the phone, she gets on a bus heading to the wharf, before finding out it’s heading to the wrong wharf.
Meanwhile, Bob and the kids go looking for Linda, along with Teddy. As they go to all of the places she could have gone to, Bob begins to learn about Linda’s life outside of the house, going to a bakery she’s been banned from (for eating too many free samples), a hotel she frequents to use the bathroom, and a pet store she goes to with Louise—seeing Louise perk up at the sight of a puppy is the cutest character moment for her in a while.
In the end, Linda gets back home, has her spa day, and Bob has respect and love for her in a whole new way. It feels weird calling an episode where Linda gets sprayed by a skunk (twice!) a classic, but “Eat, Spray, Linda” certainly is one, an ensemble piece that utilizes all of the characters brilliantly while also highlighting one of them and showing us why we love her.
“A Site for Sore Thighs Massage Parlor” is one of the best store signs in the show’s history.
“A mayonnaise hair treatment? Mom’s hair’s going to shine like a beautiful sandwich.”
“Well, anyway, thanks for letting me vent, Ginger. Sorry for the long voicemail. Call me when you can.”
“Stupid birthday. I hate cups.”
“Is Chaka Khan in town?” “Nope, she doesn’t come through until December.”
“What did that baby do?” “He’s just a jerk.”
“She does her B.M. in the P.M.”