The Hanniest episode yet.
Dave, Allen, and Jerry all show up to a Halloween party dressed as Han Solo. They stand outside and argue about who has to go home and change. All three claim they’re the most like Han Solo, and end up frantically quoting his most iconic lines. Inside the party, no one even knows who Han Solo is.
This is a surprisingly funny episode.
I don’t usually appreciate media that relies too heavily on references to other pop culture, because when people don’t get the reference, the joke tends to fall flat (see: the Shawshank Redemption disaster). But in “Han Wars,” I think the reference actually works. Star Wars is ubiquitous enough that people unfamiliar with Han Solo are few and far between, and anyway, I don’t think you need to know anything about him for this episode to be funny.
I enjoy the ridiculousness of this situation and the even more ridiculous way it escalates. I enjoy that the characters use “Han” as an adjective, each one insisting that he is the “Hanniest” in his friend group. I enjoy Allen’s assertion that he’s Han-like because he wears vests, after which Jerry points out that sweater vests and Han vests are two very different things.
I also think this is one of Highly Gifted’s more successful attempts at social commentary. Instead of hitting us over the head with a point of view, “Han Wars” subtly slips in a serious issue without breaking the flow of the humor. And instead of Dave dismissing Jerry’s concerns about racism in Hollywood, Dave promises to write angry letters on Jerry’s behalf. It feels like an acknowledgment that racist casting is a big deal, even if the episode is overall pretty silly.
I also appreciate the reaction of their classmates at the end. It’s such a familiar and real scenario—in their social anxiety, the boys are utterly convinced that they’re on the brink of humiliation, but their worries are utterly unfounded. Instead of expressing horror that they’re all dressed as Han, Tess guesses that the boys are supposed to be “waiters, with guns.” It’s uplifting to remember that the people judging us worst are often, in fact, ourselves.
To be clear, I wouldn’t say this episode is a masterpiece. Episodes of Highly Gifted are so short that it’s really impossible to develop any joke to its fullest potential. And the flow of the episode is still damaged considerably by the constant ads that break up the content. But if I were to recommend Highly Gifted to a friend, this is definitely the episode I would choose. I can honestly say that I enjoyed it.