It was obvious the minute Rachael (Kristen Gutoskie) introduced Mac (Tom Austen) to A-rab as her husband you knew their marriage wasn’t going to last the summer. What you probably didn’t guess was how it would end or that it would end before the series finale.
After focusing attention on gossipy, annoying women last week and making me wonder just how terrible the show’s writers think American women are, the petty and annoying rivalry between Rachael and Hope (Emer Kenny) was pushed aside for an exploration of manhood that opens with Mac in Apocalypse Now-mode, exploring his soul in the mirror while applying war face paint. Mac, it turns out, is a super athlete from Wyoming, as opposed to the sensitive Australian (or is it South African?) he looks and sounds like, with the public speaking skills of U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochle.
The face paint isn’t for Color War; it’s for the basketball team pep rally as they get hyped for the big game against archrival sports camp Camp Wimoweh. Presumably this rivalry is between staff members and not campers as you would traditionally think when it comes to camps. But the absence of campers, minus the chunk bunkers, is becoming an alarming trend in this series of Beaver Falls. Flynn (Sam Robertson) even chides Barry (John Dagleish) for spending so much time with the campers this episode to which he responds with a sarcastic “That is, I don’t know, our job isn’t it?”
Focusing on the staff instead of the campers is kind of par for the course in summer camp pop culture, but having free-flowing beer at what appears to be a camp sanctioned pep rally for a basketball game seems a bit anachonistic, no? The drinking age in the U.S. is 21, after all, and surely not all of the staff members or campers if they exist are of legal age. We just saw what can happen with that in the real world when campers weren’t even around and it involved real handcuffs.
As a sports fan – albeit mostly for the sport the British invented – the way Beaver Falls has approached sports has always been troubling to me though the basketball game (with cheerleaders of course) was a little more believable than the scene from series one where campers (or were they staff members?) were dressed in American football pads with no helmets running around the field (If there is a traditional overnight camp in America where they play tackle football I’d like to hear about it). Still, Mac’s skill is a bit over the top – he dunks every basket with all the skill and grace of someone who has never played the game before.
So while Beaver Falls turns into what I like to call Tough Guy Camp for one episode, beneath the display of primal manhood and confessions from Flynn about how many women he slept with at camp last summer (can anyone say double standard?) is a secret that the “Mac attack” has been keeping from everyone, his wife included, that explains his disinterest in “sex after marriage.” The painful truth comes out when Barry gets Mac high and Mac leans in to kiss his British mate. Playing it cool, Barry assumes it’s just one of those crazy things people do when they are high and tells his mates about it for a laugh. A-rab (Arsher Ali) immediately thinks about Rachael and runs off to tell her about it, which in turn leads to a huge scene at dinner (again, no campers in sight) with the Camp Wimoweh crew, to which Mac lies and says it was Barry who came on to him, timed just as Barry shows up wearing a pink soccer uniform.
Disturbed that Mac would dime him out like that, Barry runs off to find Mac as the basketball game gets underway and tries to demonstrate that guys kissing is no big deal just as the chunk bunkers – who are supposed to be on assignment to make a video for Bobby showing how tough and manly Beaver Falls is – capture them in the woods kissing.
The video and the screen Bobby has set up to show a live feed of the game appears to be setting up that oh so familiar teen comedy prank where a video of Barry and Mac kissing gets shown to the whole camp, but things never quite get that far because a Camp Wimoweh player calls Mac the f word (the word the British use for cigarettes, not the curse word this show uses liberally) and he lashes out so violently it becomes obvious to Barry and eventually to everyone what Mac’s secret is. As for the video, well, Barry’s attempts to cover for Mac and show everyone the video to prove that he was the one who came onto Mac backfires when a video the chunk bunkers were making, a medieval Lord of the Rings-style film involving Smallie (Joshua Warner-Campbell) in a dress, gets played instead, making them once again the laughing stock of the camp. Again, it’s not clear who exactly that camp is though since so little of the action involves anyone who doesn’t look 25 and has a fake American accent.