NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Superstore” are present in this review
Man, it’s great to reunite with the Cloud 9 crew! The second season of Superstore picks up immediately after the conclusion of Season One as well (now comfortably on a Thursday 8:00 P.M. timeslot for both Canada and the U.S., rather than the messy Monday for U.S./Friday for Canada arrangement from Season One), with the employees facing a big wave of apathy from their corporate overlords, as they walk out of their jobs in protest of Glenn’s firing. They could just go home and move on with their lives, but obviously, we wouldn’t have a show if they did that. What’s the alternative then? I guess they’ll have to take the fight directly to Cloud 9 with a strike!
“Strike” is an enjoyable season premiere for the most part, and certainly kicks off Season Two on a distinct note, showcasing the support network that the Cloud 9 employees have built around each other, at least beyond Dina. Dina is still working as normal for Cloud 9, even assuming her old assistant manager role by the look of things, and a subplot of sorts has Dina trying to look good to Cloud 9’s visiting corporate examiner and mediator, particularly by attempting to quell the strike of her fellow employees.
The main plot presented the protagonists in an interesting new light, since most of Season One firmly painted Cloud 9 as the plain and simple bad guy of their situation. One way that Season Two of Superstore especially starts out on the right foot is aptly demonstrating that things aren’t that simple. Even the mediator quickly points out that Jonah and Amy are in over their heads with their protest, and despite their noble intentions, this quickly becomes apparent with a series of very funny mishaps, chief among these being Jonah accidentally tweeting out to his 1,500 Twitter followers that people can protest at Cloud 9, but he failed to specify what the protest was for, so people just start protesting random things.
One of the potentially touchy jokes that the show manages to avoid making mean-spirited, barely, is that many of the protesters are petitioning for a ban on transgendered people in the store’s bathrooms, and pretty much most other places in town. This also ties into an amusing moment with Garrett, who meets a very attractive woman at the protest that he has a lot in common with, only to discover that she’s among the transphobic protesters that aren’t supposed to be there. Garrett handling the situation in a typical Garrett fashion was very funny though, resolving to have sex with the woman at least six times, and then refuse to put out after that, until the woman re-examines her life and principles. You know, that just might work. Once again, Garrett proves to be one of the smartest characters on this show, in his own twisted way.
The same can’t be said about Dina, who doesn’t paint herself as any more competent than the protesters. Even being outside of the protest and having to carry an entire subplot largely on her own shoulders though, Lauren Ash remains one of the funniest actors on this series, as Dina fumbles increasingly aggressive ways to try and disperse the strike. After resolving to try and hose the protesters away, she tries and fails to use a garden hose, in one of the episode’s best laugh-out-loud moments, before bringing out a power washer, and destroying Glenn’s car windows with it.
Mateo also didn’t have complete loyalty to the strike, trying to sneak back and forth between the strike and the inside of the store to look like he’s working, though while these moments were mildly amusing, the joke didn’t totally land. Mateo never ultimately suffered any consequences for playing both sides of the conflict, with his treachery escaping the watchful eye of even Amy, and it just seemed like too much of a stretch that the corporate mediator wouldn’t notice that Mateo is obviously wearing one of the ‘Boycott Cloud 9’ shirts. That leads into the second nagging flaw of this season premiere as a whole; The fact that everything pretty much goes back to normal by the time the episode ends. For all of the material about Amy and Jonah poking a sleeping giant in the name of saving Glenn’s job, nothing really comes of it. Even Glenn’s firing is just conveniently reversed, which feels pretty unrealistic, even for a light-hearted workplace sitcom. Cloud 9 only asks that everyone sign a letter apologizing for the walkout in order to get their jobs back, including Glenn, and that’s it. Naturally, everyone concedes to this, and why wouldn’t they?
Again though, we wouldn’t have a show if the employees walked away from Cloud 9, so maybe there was no other way for things to end, without compromising the framework that NBC has gone to such lengths to perfect for Superstore. The promise made between Amy and Jonah to keep fighting their corporate oppressors ended the episode on a nicely sweet note, and capped off a season premiere that, while lacking lasting impact, was funny and uplifting enough to get the job done. With the fallout from Season One’s finale now resolved, we can now look forward to a full, proper second season for what is arguably NBC’s best new sitcom of the previous 2015/2016 catalogue, and it looks like the minimum-wage grind of Cloud 9 hasn’t lost any of its appeal as it starts its sophomore run.
- Distinct way to put the ensemble in new circumstances
- Cloud 9 being painted as more than a simple bad guy
- Dina's predictable and hilarious failure to contain the situation
- No actual consequences for the strike, including Glenn being fired
- Mateo's side-switching doesn't feel that funny