Video Game High School - Season 2: Episode 5

Happy Holidays (quite literally plural) from VGHS!  This week the campus celebrated L33tmas, a student created holiday to combat Dean Calhoun's grinchyness that combines every imaginable annual celebration into one giant Frankenholiday. Of course the holidays take a toll on stress levels, and the already frazzled Brian D. finds himself pushed to the emotional brink. Meanwhile, everyone's favorite Power Rangers-esque cybernetic television personality Shot Bot finds himself facing decommissioning by the network due to low ratings and is forced to go full-on Johnny Five; on a mission to sniff out a scoop that will save his career. And scoops there are to be had at VGHS, where The Law fights alone to recover his reputation and dignity from the douchey machinations of Shane Pizza. With only one episode left this year the season arc reveals itself to have been The Law's and his gradual sub-plot path to redemption. Episode Five marks the most Law dense episode yet, setting up a Law heavy finale that finally puts him back in FPS competition. A lot of the fun this from the episode is derived from this half, from the wonderfully inspired strangeness of the Shot Bot centric cold open to The Law's new obsession with his graphically displayed milky white thigh muscles. In addition to the fun this section also does a good job setting up the finale dramatically, giving him stakes in the events of the next episode that the main cast currently lack. In retrospect the writers did a fine job compiling The Law's goofy sub-plot antics into the narrative spine of the Season and making the end of his journey back into the game that much more fun to anticipate.

Brian's story, that comprises the other half of the episode, finds his level of stress endurance finally broken, leading to a blowout that puts his friendships in jeopardy. As demonstrated frequently this season, the cast and crew have a real ability at contrasting their goofy comedy with surprisingly effective drama. While not too largely different Brian's trials from Episode Two, his climactic blowout actually carries some sting, and it's subtly implied that all isn't entirely forgiven with one of his friends heading into the finale.

As usual, a lot of the fun of 'VGHS' is derived from the level of detail applied to the world and L33tmas gave the set and costume designers a playground to run around in. If one didn't already feel inspired to give the episodes multiple viewings, this one certainly makes it a necessity to catch all of the inspired work put into the hybrid holiday background gags.

It's bittersweet moving into the final episode of the year, premiering this Friday, but it was recently revealed that in the timeline of the show Season One was Brian's first week at school, and Season Two is only the first half of his first year. This means that there is definitely a planned Season Three on the way, but also that the fine creators at Rocket Jump have many more stories they want to tell in the VGHS world. That as fun and creative as this season has been, it's only a drop in a big 8-Bit pool of ideas waiting to happen. That my friends, is the best L33tmas gift we could wish for.

Score: 4/5

Directors: Matthew Arnold & Freddie Wong

Writers: Matthew Arnold, Will Campos & Brian Firenzi

Watch it here!