Tina’s hoping for some science friction.
Tina couldn’t be more excited to see who’ll be her partner for the science fair, and she’s thrilled when it turns out to be the ultra-smart Susmita. Tina comes up with a nonsensical project about peanut butter, but Susmita wants to build a radio telescope and “listen to the sun.” Tina suggests that they up the ante and send out a message to real-life aliens. But Henry won’t stand for that—he thinks contacting aliens is a good way to get the earth destroyed.
Ignoring Henry’s warnings, Tina and Susmita set up a huge satellite dish and send a Morse code message out into space. Meanwhile, Henry bribes Louise and Gene with the promise of frozen yogurt and hooks his computer up to Susmita’s. Soon Tina and Susmita have received a threatening message from another planet.
Believing that it’s their last day on Earth, Tina encourages Susmita to ask out the boy she likes—before making out with Jimmy Jr. and Zeke and ensuring that her family knows she loves them. The next day, Henry sends another message implying that the earth has been spared, but Gene and Louise feel guilty and confess their betrayal. Tina wants to try contacting aliens for real, but Susmita agrees with Henry that it’s not a great idea. Their scientific differences lead Tina to leave Susmita, hurriedly attempting to put together her own peanut-butter themed science fair project.
At the science fair, Tina announces why she thinks it’s better to attempt the first contact than stay hidden, and she actually changes Henry’s mind. Susmita finally confesses her love to Henry, who returns her feelings.
In the B plot, Bob buys five miniature coatracks online, mistakenly believing that he can return them. After trying and failing to sell them, Bob is able to lure Jimmy Pesto’s customers into Bob’s Burgers by telling them that he has coatracks, whereas Jimmy forces customers to put their coats on the backs of chairs.
While the premise of this episode is cute, Tina’s emotional reactions are pretty unrelatable here. It’s hard to imagine that someone so reluctant to do schoolwork would reject an A-worthy science fair project—that she barely had to work for—in favor of haphazardly assembling her own just because of a difference of opinion. While it’s true that Tina is ideologically-minded to a fault, the fight between her and Susmita feels totally unwarranted in this context. At the same time, the episode peddles a pretty good message—that we shouldn’t be afraid to reach out and make contact, because, while we might get hurt, the alternative is to die alone. This is a moral that can apply to everything from kids trying to make friends to the current U.S. immigration situation. In this case, it’s used to describe both extra-terrestrials and the high school dating scene, and it works.
Some comedy highlights:
- Tina saying “hell yeah” in class and then remembering where she is and correcting herself
- The mailman saying “I’m living the dream” because he “loves carrying things”
- Gene claiming the moon is a liar
- Teddy, at the idea that he’s Tina’s father: “I wish”
- Linda going on about tiny tents for “little runaway mice”
- The idea that the alien didn’t tell his boss about Earth because his boss “took forever” in the bathroom and then the guy’s “shift was over”
- Jimmy Jr.’s idea that we should make the first contact because the aliens “could act in alien movies”
- After Susmita and Henry start beeping at each other in Morse code, Louise saying “I hope the aliens destroy Earth right now”
As for the B plot, I think it’s maybe the funniest one yet this season. The idea of tiny coatracks is hilarious in itself, but the conclusion is so wonderfully ridiculous that I can’t help but smile. It’s always fun to watch Bob get the upper hand over the arrogant Jimmy Pesto, and this storyline, while simple, feels more original and creative than Tina and Susmita’s arc. “We made contact with aliens… Oh no, now they want to kill us!” is a pretty standard sci-fi plotline, and this episode doesn’t do much to recreate it in a new and exciting way.
Honestly, the highlight of this episode is watching Tina and Jimmy Jr. share such a hyper-passionate kiss. I don’t even really ship them, but it’s always great to see Tina going for what she wants and getting it. I love the assertive, bad girl side of her—but I also love the sweet side that wants her siblings and parents to feel loved before the Earth is invaded. Maybe this episode doesn’t boast the most interesting plot, but I still can’t help but love Tina Belcher.