Highly Gifted delivers its best episode since the pilot through a renewed focus on its leading man.
Three separate episodes of Highly Gifted have now suggested, if not outright confirmed, that Dave Alberts is kind of a dick. While ‘Do Nerds Dream of Electric Sex?’ stumbled for me by explicitly telling us this point rather than showing it with Dave’s actions, this week returned to the portrayal of a teen venting his frustration at being undersexed and over-bullied.
In this regard, ‘Albertsauce’ is arguably a spiritual sequel to the show’s pilot, with the former revealing how Dave reacts to bullies compared to the latter’s depiction of his dating life. The idea that online trolls are often ostracized in real life is effective if unsurprising, and it’s a smart decision to simply allude to this cycle of behavior instead of explaining it. I don’t doubt that the unseen Mike Lewis can be a jerk sometimes, but subjecting strangers online to the same treatment isn’t inherently justified. Not to get overly preachy, but karma can manifest itself in funny ways.
Likewise, in my opinion, the humor this week was the most consistent of the entire series so far. This was largely due to more characters being given significant amounts of dialogue; for instance, Dave’s friend Alan (Drake Bell) is officially introduced and wastes no time demonstrating the difference between geekiness and intelligence. One-liners such as “Sorry! I just saw ‘The Martian’” and “You should wear lots of layers” are instantly quotable in a way that this show doesn’t always manage, even at its best, and quickly conveys Alan’s unearned naivete. Meanwhile, the increased number of cuts between characters coupled with the scenes from Dave’s game made the animation appear even smoother and impressive than its predecessors.
It felt imperative Highly Gifted simply try something different after two episodes with nearly identical premises, and ‘Albertsauce’ will probably appear vindicating for anyone who thought the show had potential. I still have some concerns about worldbuilding that have remained unaddressed, specifically the ages of the characters, but overall this latest installment is currently the episode that seems to best embody the Lehrer boys’ series as a whole.