Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp R29 Binge Club — Episodes 1-8

Photo: Saeed Adyani/Netflix.
We already know what happened on the last day at Camp Firewood in the summer of 1981 thanks to the cult classic film Wet Hot American Summer (2001). Now, 14 years later, the whole gang is back for eight glorious episodes in Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. The jokes are as sharp as ever, and it's an amazing recurring visual joke to see all of the actors — now 14 years older and even more famous — once again playing 16-year-old camp counselors full of teen angst and uncertainty. The entire season dropped on Netflix this morning, so grab yourself a burger and a s'more and get ready for R29 Binge Club: WHAS: First Day of Camp Edition.

Episode 1: Campers Arrive
Right away, we’re oriented. It’s 10:47 p.m., and there are 11 hours until the campers arrive for the first day of camp. The theme song remains the same, although the images have been updated. H. Jon Benjamin, who only appeared in the original film as the voice of the can of mixed vegetables, is there in person. Ben (Bradley Cooper) kisses Susie (Amy Poehler), so I’m guessing they’re a couple. The rest of the gang is all there, looking a little longer in the tooth, but like old friends who bring back a flood of warm memories. Suddenly, the intro is over, and it’s action time. It’s now 7:45 a.m. on June 24, 1981. The flag heads up the flagpole, and it’s time for another summer at Camp Firewood.

Mitch (H. Jon Benjamin) is the owner of the camp, and he’s leading a staff meeting with original Wet Hot camp director Beth (Janeane Garofalo), and Greg (Jason Schwartzman), who’s playing another new character (boys’ head counselor, he later announces for our benefit). Right off the bat, Benjamin addresses the elephant in the room.

“Some of you were campers last year, but now you’re all 16 or 17 years old. So do not think that being a counselor means that you are a camper with drinking privileges,” he says, looking at the staff comprised of clearly 30-to-40-year-old actors. How’s he going to keep these teens, with their raging hormones in line? With the promise of seeing Alan Shemper, Catskills comedian extraordinaire, at the final talent show.

We're reintroduced to the characters in the wink-triggering, self-referential way that’s become a hallmark of writer / director David Wain and his co-writer Michael Showalter humor. Andy (Paul Rudd) zooms in on his motorcycle, a week late for work. McKinley (Michael Ian Black) tries to make a joke about Andy's mother, only to have Andy reveal that she no longer dresses himself, and McKinley should really apologize. Victor (Ken Marino) makes some sexual remarks and humps Neil’s (Joe Lo Trulio) head. Coop (Michael Showalter) insists he’s dating Donna Berman (Lake Bell). Katie (Marguerite Moreau) reveals that she has a boyfriend at the stuffy Camp Tiger Claw, while Andy checks her out.

Cut to Katie’s cliché preppy boyfriend (who’s wearing not just one but three polo shirts, all with their collars popped) Blake (Josh Charles), who’s spying on her from across the lake at Camp Tiger Claw. With him are the two idiot sidekicks every leading douche who’s clearly going to lose the girl in a setup like this needs, Graham (Rich Sommer) and Warner (Eric Nenninger). Graham can’t understand why Katie would slum it at Camp Firewood when Tiger Claw has Jet Skis and veal scallopini. Rich people jokes!

Back at Camp Firewood, the campers are arriving. The kids have always played second fiddle to the counselors in WHAS, but two of them — Amy (Hailey Sole) and Kevin (David Bloom) — get bigger introductions than the rest of the campers in the arrival montage. So, I'm thinking maybe their story will actually go somewhere. Meanwhile, Andy is making his intentions to win Katie away from Blake quite clear. Mitch is telling Beth what a dynamo she was in bed last night in graphic detail. Just the usual stuff you talk about when children are present.

As of 8:34 a.m., arrival time is over, and it’s straight to the playhouse. Susie and Ben are dressed as Raggedy Ann and Andy, and Amy Poehler and Bradley Cooper's characters are going for it. The rumor mill is apparently still abuzz, wanting to know if they're still a couple, and the answer is a resounding "yes." They rub cheeks to confirm their relationship status. As viewers of Wet Hot American Summer know, Ben and McKinley have a commitment ceremony in the film, so will Ben’s sexual awakening occur in these eight episodes? I say hell yeah.

Ben and Susie introduce a guest choreographer they’ve brought in from New York City to help with their production of Electro City, Claude Dumet (John Slattery). He arrives ready to work and immediately gropes Susie. Well, now we know what happened to Roger Sterling in his later years.

Victor and Neil make a bet to see who can have the most sex that summer, so the mystery of how their plotline from the movie came to be has been solved.

Back in Coop’s bunk, Kevin is getting bullied by Drew (Thomas Barbusca) and his minions. Coop tells Kevin to challenge Drew to a burp fight to earn his respect. Later on, Drew, “the burp king of Westchester,” defeats Kevin in the contest. This probably explains why we didn’t hear too much about the campers in the movie.

McKinley helps Arty (George Dalton) find the radio station, and his all-too-familiar transgressions begin.

Donna Berman, Coop’s girlfriend, finally gets to camp. She messes up his hair, gives him a hideous puka shell necklace, and asks him to suppress all of the emotional things he clearly wants to tell her. Coop deserves better.

Greg overhears Mitch worrying about how much it costs to run a camp on the phone, but Mitch tells him not to worry about it. Mitch is eating from a can of vegetables. As movie fans know, he later voices a can of vegetables, so this is clearly foreshadowing. Wet Hot American Summer is like the Citizen Kane of mixed vegetable leitmotifs.

Right before the credits, two men in hazmat suits empty a barrel of neon green toxic sludge into the woods, then board a truck that bears the name Xenstar. Oh, did you think this was just going to be a run-of-the-mill comedy about a summer camp without a mysterious toxic waste dump storyline? Heck no, this is Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. Onto episode 2!
Photo: Saeed Adyani/Netflix.
Episode 2: Lunch
We open in New York City at the offices of Rock & Roll World magazine, which is staffed by comedy greats like Jordan Peele and Paul Scheer, whose character pitches a profile on Grandmaster Flash. Peele's character isn't feeling it. Lindsay (Elizabeth Banks), who has never learned how to eat anything slathered in barbecue sauce and / or use a napkin, says that she’s got an idea.

“There’s this summer camp I heard about up in Maine. I’m thinking about going up there under cover … get the real story, right? What the teenagers are doing when their parents aren’t around. I know I’m 24 years old, but I could pass for a teenager with the right clothes,” she says. “I could pull this off. I have a degree from the Columbia School of Journalism.”

Her editor doesn’t believe she can pass for 16 (if only he could see some of the other people at Camp Firewood trying to pass for teenagers), but with a flip of her hair and a quick half-up hairstyle, everyone is on board. “Five thousand words on summer camp, make it count,” Lindsay's editor says. So, Lindsay is Never Been Kiss-ing WHAS. Game on. “Little did I know, this summer camp in the woods of Maine would change the trajectory of my entire life,” she reveals in a voiceover as she struts into camp after the credits roll.

Activities have officially commenced at Camp Firewood. Coop and Katie’s activities seem to consist of counseling their campers about how to deal with members of the opposite sex. Coop is in the midst of advising Kevin about how to talk to Amy when everyone runs off to stare at a sexy new counselor from Israel, with jean shorts and Birkenstocks adorning his long, tan legs. His name is Yaron (David Wain), and Donna is smitten. Meanwhile, Coop is worried.

One of Katie’s campers gets her period in the middle of cheering about how stupid boys are. When she emerges from the bathroom after using a tampon, she’s blossomed into the Abby Bernstein (Marisa Ryan) we remember from the movie. I was wondering when she’d show up.

Back at Electro City rehearsals, Claude’s assistant Rhonda (Michaela Watkins) has arrived from New York City to help everyone rehearse. Susie insists they break for lunch and Claude agrees, but Ben thinks they should keep going because the musical is in such dismal shape. During the break, Ben confronts Susie to ask how she could embarrass him like that, and she says they should make up by having angry sex. He insists that no, their first time should be special. The sexual tension between these two … you could cut it with pretty much anything. That’s how tenuous it is. Just break up already.

Lindsay is trying to figure out all of Camp Firewood’s dark and dirty secrets. She also notices a strange cabin and makes it her mission to find out what’s inside.

In the dining hall, we see Gene (Christopher Meloni) for the first time in the series, but Gail (Molly Shannon) calls him Jonas. He has a really strange hairstyle, and they’re ENGAGED. They’re getting married later today.

Greg and Beth are in the woods talking about Mitch, but mainly insulting each other. They spot the men in hazmat suits dumping toxic waste and decide the best thing to do is approach it. Not only that, Greg dips his finger in it and tastes it. He estimates that given the ecology of the situation, they only have 24 hours until the sludge destroys all the plant and animal life in the surrounding area. This sounds dire, but not as dire as what happens to Kevin in the dining hall next.

Earlier that day, Kevin had an urgent need to go to the bathroom, but he unfortunately didn’t make it in time. So, he pooped in his bathing suit and hid it in the woods. Drew finds the soiled bathing suit and brings it into the dining hall to make fun of Kevin. Coop then pretends to be a strange woman named Miss Patty Pancakes (just one of many alternate characters Michael Showalter will play in WHAS:FDOC), who likes to defecate in other people’s bathing suits and hide them in the woods, to get Kevin off the hook. Then, still dressed as Patty Pancakes, he confronts Donna about how close she’s getting to Yaron during an archery lesson. It’s all a little silly, especially because Coop is still waving around the shit-stained bathing suit on a stick.

Back at the toxic sludge puddle, Mitch reveals to Greg and Beth that he allowed Xenstar to use the campgrounds to dump the waste to avoid foreclosure. He rants about how he did it out of love for the campers, who require a lot of money for things like volleyballs and nets (they need "both"). Mitch falls backwards into the waste. This is probably the last time we’ll see H. Jon Benjamin in person in the series, but he’ll, of course, live on as the voice of the can of mixed vegetables. Of course, it’s hard not to also hear Bob Belcher and Sterling Archer when he speaks as a disembodied voice, but I digress. Episode 3, here we go.
Photo: Saeed Adyani/Netflix.
Episode 3: Activities
Welp; spoke too soon about that being the last time we’d see Mitch (H. Jon Benjamin) in person. Episode 3 opens with him doing the whole “getting out his last words while drowning” thing that happens in a lot of comedies, but isn’t really funny when you think about it — after all the person is dying and all that. Anyway, now Mitch is gone, and Greg and Beth devise a plan to hide his death from the campers’ parents. This whole toxic sludge plotline is also a callback to the movie, when Bunk 8 wants to keep watching The China Syndrome, a 1979 movie about a nuclear power plant that's leaking toxic waste.

Donna goes to visit Coop and brings him a shofar, which she bought for him in “Yerushalayim.” Also, she bought shofars for everyone, not just Coop and Yaron can play “Amazing Grace” on his. Maybe it’s time to dump Donna and find someone who really loves you, Coop.

Andy puts the moves on Katie by giving her a massage, which of course Blake and his cronies are watching through binoculars from across the lake. Everything in this scene is ridiculous, from Andy offering Katie a piece of his “long brisket” to Graham and Warren playing croquet. Oh caviar and corndogs, you clearly don’t mix; just like Graham said.

Beth and Greg go to the kitchen to ask Jonas for help hacking into Xenstar’s mainframe computer. They know he was in the military and Vietnam. He pretends he doesn’t know what they’re talking about, but Beth engages him in hand-to-hand combat. Gail overhears the whole thing, and now knows that her fiancé is lying about his identity. Well, we already knew that, because in the movie, Christopher Meloni’s character is named Gene, and he’s a disturbed veteran who says things like “I’m gonna go fondle my sweaters.” Oh, and Mitch returns as the voice of the can of mixed vegetables at the end of the scene. Welcome back, voice of Mitch.

Blake makes an appearance in Katie’s bunk and reveals that he’s not just a huge asshole, he’s also anti-semitic. Katie says she might not be able to make it to the Tiger Claw dance tonight because she wants to see Electro City. Blake issues an ultimatum: Katie comes to the dance, or they’re done.

Donna returns to Coop’s bunk to apologize for getting too close to Yaron. She gives him a hideous hat and an even uglier shirt. Stop trying to change him, Donna! And Coop, stop letting her change you. Teenage relationships are so frustrating, especially when they’re being portrayed by two adult actors talking in a really stilted way, you know?

In a plotline I actually sort of forgot about, Lindsay, J.J. (Zak Orth), and a bunch of counselors whose names we definitely don’t know are outside that mysterious cabin. J.J. tells a story about the summer of 1974, when a counselor named Eric’s (Chris Pine) band was scouted by a camper’s dad who was an A&R guy. The band went upstate to record an album, and Eric lost it. He got in his car and drove all the way back to Camp Firewood, and no one ever heard the band’s recordings. Apparently, he still resides in the mysterious cabin. Lindsay calls her editor to say she’s found her story. “Don’t get too close,” he warns. Eric and Lindsay are clearly going to get very close. But hey, wouldn’t you, if you stumbled on Chris Pine in a cabin in the woods?

Jonas hacks into the government mainframe with Beth and Greg, which sends a signal all the way to President Reagan (again played by Michael Showalter) in Washington. He orders his men to “activate The Falcon.” The Falcon turns out to be Jon Hamm, who’s wearing a trench coat and awaiting orders by a pay phone in Buenos Aires. His target is now set: Greg and Beth. The summer of 1981 at Camp Firewood has a lot more international intrigue than my sleepaway camp did in the early aughts.
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Episode 4: Auditions
Henry Newman (David Hyde Pierce) finally makes an appearance, and things don’t appear to be going well. He’s trying to get published in an astrophysics journal, but to no avail. His girlfriend is leaving him. His rival, Brodard Gilroy (Rob Huebel), keeps besting him. Finally, he tells off the department head in an epic drunken rant, which leads to a colleague recommending he retreat to a summer cottage in Maine. The cottage is, of course, right next door to Camp Firewood. It’s perfect; he’ll take it.

Back at camp, it’s now 3:29 p.m., and everyone’s getting ready for a hypnotist ("Weird Al" Yankovic). But first, Electro City needs to re-cast its leads. Cue the audition montage with the soon-to-be-hit song “Heart Attack of Love.” Katie is trying out, too, and she urges Andy to read for the male lead.

The Falcon (Jon Hamm, looking every bit the debonair rogue assassin) has now landed in Maine, and he’s at the town's general store. Some teenage hooligans walk in and start harassing the shopkeeper, so The Falcon turns his wrath on them. He takes out the teens with a sweeping kick, then throws a match on them and walks out of the store as it blows up behind him.

Gail is starting to get suspicious that Jonas is lying about his identity, so she goes to the town's Hall of Records to find out who her fiancé really is. There, she meets Jeff (Randall Park), and there’s clearly a spark between them. This is great, because whoever Jonas Jergenson was, he died in a plane crash, and a man named Gene Jenkinson assumed his identity. A regular ol’ Don Draper / Dick Whitman situation, if you will.

Back at the playhouse, Ben and McKinley meet for the first time, and it’s adorable. Ben is wearing a dance belt (and a tip of the hat to David Wain for offering all of us a shirtless Bradley Cooper in skin-tight nude bottoms), and McKinley is urging him to realize how “creative” he is. Ben doesn’t realize that he’s "creative" yet, but the two have a nice laugh about how they’re going to be performing in a zoot suit together. This seems like the start of a beautiful relationship.

Ah, Kristen Wiig! She’s Courtney, the uptight one at Camp Tiger Claw who desperately wants Blake to dump Katie and start going out with her. Her gingham outfit is everything, as are all the preppy terms she manages to turn into double entendres — although, to be fair, coxswain isn’t that hard. (That's what she said ... sorry.)

Back at the playhouse, the leads have all been cast in Electro City, when Andy shows up to do a last-minute audition. He performs a song he wrote called “Champagne Eyes,” and everyone falls in love with him. Claude takes the opportunity to grope Susie some more during Andy’s song. Andy gets the part, of course, because when you have the chance to cast the coolest guy in camp in a musical, you do.

Right before the credits roll, Greg and Beth realize that The Falcon has just been pretending to be the hypnotist the entire time. He takes out a gun and tries to shoot them as they flee (in very slow motion), but misses. Worst assassin ever.

Maybe there are some things Jon Hamm isn't good at.
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Episode 5: Dinner
Victor and Neil decide to prank call Jonas / Gene, and it of course goes awry. They decide the only option is to flee the camp, rather than incur the wrath of the angry cook. This is their plotline for the rest of the episode, and to be honest it's not that interesting.

Back at Electro City rehearsals, Andy is frustrated with how things are going. He wants to quit because that’s his style. Susie gives an inspiring speech urging the “beautiful, broken son of a bitch” to get back on stage. He does, and Andy and Katie resume hip thrusting. Backstage, McKinley watches Ben do the same. They’re wearing matching shiny unitards. It’s magical.

On the lawn, a bunch of kids are setting up for Gail and Jonas’ wedding. In the arts and crafts cabin, Gail is having one of her vent sessions with a group of precocious campers, one of whom is apparently a licensed therapist. She spouts platitudes at Gail like, “When you point a finger at someone else, you point three back at yourself." This proves to be exactly what Gail needs to hear, and it alleviates her doubts about marrying Jonas / Gene.

Greg and Beth are in town visiting a lawyer named Jim (Michael Cera). They want to take on the U.S. government over Xenstar’s toxic sludge. “Hold all my calls,” says this small-town Maine lawyer. He thinks they’ve got a case. He’s suspected Xenstar for years now and tells Greg and Beth to lay low while he prepares the case. They hide out in a nearby motel, which of course leads to them hooking up.

There’s a lot of teenage drama going down during dinner. Yaron is once again coming between Coop and Donna. He’s using the Pythagorean theorem to propose a threesome, but due to his Israeli accent, Coop thinks he’s saying “turd,” not “third.” Andy is trying to fart his way into Katie’s heart, and it might be working. Lindsay tells J.J. he can touch her left breast if he takes her to the mysterious cabin.

Outside, McKinley and Ben are flirtatiously rehearsing their zoot suit number. Inside another cabin, Ben’s girlfriend Susie (are they still keeping up that charade?) is having a romantic meal with Claude Dumet, and she’s disabusing Dumet of any notions that she’s just some “off-Broadway hussy that’s going to give him a BJ to get a part.” It still takes very little convincing for Susie and Claude to get naked and have sex.

Jonas comes clean to Gail about his real identity (Gene Jenkinson), and they start their wedding. The ceremony is interrupted by Jeff, the city hall records clerk, who tells Gail that he’s fallen madly, passionately in love with her in just the short time they spent together. She tells Gene she has to pursue things with Jeff, and the priest declares Gail and Jeff husband and wife. Also, Gail is a Mennonite because sure, why not?

In the now-darkened kitchen, Gene dons his crop top and signature bandana that fans of the original Wet Hot know and love. Welcome back, old buddy. Now go hump the fridge.

J.J. leads Lindsay to the mysterious cabin, where she runs into Eric (Chris Pine). He tries to White Fang her. “Get out! Go back to where you came from!” Lindsay runs away. Eric gets out his guitar and strums a magical, white light-producing chord as the credits roll.
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Episode 6: Electro/City
Lindsay is sprinting through the woods wondering about Eric, the prodigal musician. “What makes someone hide like that — and for so long? Did he still play music, and how did he get groceries?” I was actually wondering that last part myself. Back at camp, it turns out Eric followed Lindsay, and he invites her to come with him. She does because again, Chris Pine is offering her his handsome hand.

It’s now 7:30 p.m., and Electro City is about to begin. The leads are fighting because Andy admitted his love for Katie with a fart, and while he thought she confirmed her affection for him with a smile, she’s actually just a smiley person. Blake is spying at this exchange through binoculars, of course.

In the audience, the two love triangles are having showdowns. Kevin and Drew are fighting over Amy. Yaron and Coop are vying for Donna. Luckily, everyone goes quiet to watch the opening number of Electro City, which is a glorious hot mess in the way that sleepaway camp musicals always are. Andy comes out and sings one line, and the crowd goes wild. Expect to see Electro City cleaning up at the Tonys in 2017.

Time out on Electro City’s opening night so we can watch the legal battle over the toxicity of the groundwater in Waterville, Maine. It's Michael Cera's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment.

Back at the musical, McKinley and Ben perform their big zoot suit number. When the curtain closes, they kiss. “Intermission!” Susie calls.

Gail and Jeff are already steeped in awkwardness. They’ve been married for about two hours and have nothing to talk about, even though they’re clearly watching one of the best musicals of our time. The costumes alone would take all 15 minutes of intermission to discuss. Anyway, Gail and Jeff agree that they rushed into marriage and should probably split up. But first, break-up sex.

Breaking up seems to be the theme of the night. Ben and Susie admit that they both cheated on each other — she with Claude Dumet; he with McKinley. Susie says they can move past it, but Ben says that he’s in love with McKinley. They agree to be friends. They’re so evolved for 16-year-olds.

Andy and Katie sing an emotional ballad to one another about sparks (literal ones because, you know, the show is called Electro City and Andy's character is getting electrocuted) and fall in love melodically. Across the river, the Camp Tiger Claw assholes are doing their two favorite things at their formal: insulting Camp Firewood and dancing the foxtrot. Huzzah!

Our leading man and woman nail their final song and dramatic lift, then commence making out as REO Speedwagon’s “Keep On Loving You” plays in the background. In the mystery cabin, Lindsay and Eric are doing the same. Everyone seems to be caught up in the moment. Claude Dumet asks Susie to come to New York with him. She reminds him that she’s only 16, and their relationship is entirely inappropriate.

Back in town, Jim is celebrating his victory over Xenstar when The Falcon takes him out. The Falcon also shoots Greg. “Save the camp,” Greg urges Beth as he dies.
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Episode 7: Staff Party
McKinley invites Ben to the staff party, but Ben says he’ll already be there because he’s deejaying. His DJ name is DJ Skimask. Sure. Anyway, Ben asks McKinley to be his date, and they agree to walk there together. They’re all smiley and happy.

Over in Victor and Neil land, Victor is treating everyone to a gratuitous shirtless scene. Whatever Ken Marino is doing to keep fit, it's working. He’s making those jean cutoffs and hoodie look great. They’re planning how they’re going to get laid at the staff party.

Lindsay is on the phone with her editor, admitting that she’s gotten way too close to her sources and doesn’t want to do the story. Her editor demands that she turn something in by midnight, and they both slam the phone down.

At the staff party, DJ Skimask is on the tapedecks while McKinley dances. Katie asks Andy to dance, and he blows her off with some weird analogy about the menu at a Chinese restaurant. Victor and Rhonda (the choreographer/playwright) are hitting it off, and she tells him to meet her in his bunk in 30 minutes with four prophylactics. Neil brought his girlfriend from home, Shari (Beth Dover).

The whole gang joins together to sing a song about a wolf while Andy plays the guitar. Lindsay delivers a voiceover akin to the closing montage of The Breakfast Club. “Teenagers are archetypes…the nice guy, the popular girl, the rebel, the goodie-goody, the sweetheart…” on and on it goes, with a few jokes in there. “Everyone was represented at Camp Firewood, and everyone was welcome, including me,” Lindsay finishes. How sweet.

Since the entire staff is at the party, the unchaperoned kids are playing Seven Minutes in Heaven. Kevin declares his love for Amy and asks her to be his girlfriend. She says she doesn’t think of him like that and goes into the closet with Drew. Teenagers are so cruel.

Back at the staff party, Yaron, Donna, and Coop are about to become three. Yaron talks about how it’s the “true meaning of kibbutz.” Coop really isn’t down with this threesome, and he hates what he’s wearing. He breaks up with Donna. Finally.

The typesetter at Rock & Roll World calls the camp nurse. It turns out they’re old friends. He faxes her a copy of Lindsay’s article, and the counselors confront her. “Friends don’t pretend they’re not music journalists and then write stories in major national print magazines!” Lindsay says she’d trade her entire rock-'n'-roll lifestyle for the chance to stay with the gang at Camp Firewood, but she can’t, because she’s a 24-year-old reporter. J.J. rips up her article, and Eric calls her a bloodsucker. Lindsay cries and walks off into the night with her suitcase.

Andy and Katie get over themselves and start making out. Blake sees them engaged in the world’s sloppiest kiss through his binoculars, and he rouses the Camp Tiger Claw gang to wage war on Camp Firewood.
Photo: Gemma La Manna/Netflix.
Episode 8: Day Is Done
Things have really escalated on the first day of camp. A quick reminder that the camp owner died in a toxic sludge puddle, and the boys’ head counselor was assassinated. Now, it’s 11:36 p.m., and President Reagan is ordering the joint chiefs of staff to destroy Camp Firewood and everything around it. One of the chiefs asks if they can avoid incinerating the camp across the lake (Tiger Claw) because his kids go there, but the President can’t make any promises about the casualties of war. No one says anything about all the innocent children who could die.

Back at Firewood, The Falcon and Gene are having a knife and kitchen utensil fight. It’s both slapstick and badass at the same time, which also describes the two men having it (Jon Hamm and Christopher Meloni). Gene even pauses to hump the fridge. The Falcon runs off with the can of mixed vegetables, but it’s not Mitch. Gene managed to save Mitch by pulling the old switcheroo. It turns out he’s been working with The Falcon the whole time; they were in the same unit in Vietnam. Beth wants The Falcon to explain why, if he's their ally, he had to kill two innocent people. The Falcon, unfortunately has to run. He has a thing. Gene has to "squirt some cherry juice on his pubic mound." Oops, that was a slip. He meant to say that he’s going to take the train caboose to the Puget Sound.

It’s time for the big faceoff between Camp Tiger Claw and Camp Firewood. The Tiger Claw gang comes marching in with their implements of war (canoe paddles, badminton rackets, field hockey sticks, croquet mallets). Blake and Andy are about to come to fisticuffs when Coop reminds everyone about the truce the two camps brokered three summers ago. Too late; the rumble begins. Andy and Blake are both amazingly skilled with nunchucks. Courtney stabs Victor with a sterling silver oyster fork. Things are getting heated.

Eric knows just what to do. He mousses up his hair, grabs his guitar and pick, and starts playing a song about friendship. I now see the point of Bradley Cooper being DJ Skimask. Since he was only available for one day of shooting, the ski mask allows them to easily use a body double and still include Ben in more scenes. Right now, he’s playing drums for Eric. It’s pretty brilliant, as is Eric playing “Higher and Higher.”

That is, until Eric is taken out by snipers. Somehow, Lindsay saves the day. “I am a journalist!” she yells, coming between the military and the campers. She convinces President Reagan to turn the tanks around. “There’s one thing I’ve never been able to conquer, and that is freedom of press,” he says. Beth isn’t happy. “What about the toxic sludge?” she demands.

Reagan asks one of his men to stay behind to deal with the toxic waste, and Ron (Judah Friedlander) volunteers. As movie fans know, Ron is Gail’s ex-husband. They have a moment, but it’s bittersweet, since we all know that their relationship will unravel over the course of the next eight weeks.

The counselors decide that Lindsay can stay, what with her saving the camp and all that. I wonder how her editor at Rock & Roll World will take that news.

Then, it’s the SECOND day of camp. What is this madness? The title just promised us the first. Coop recaps the last seven episodes for Kevin, who's not particularly interested because he's still sad that Amy rejected him. Donna and Yaron tell Coop that they’re leaving to explore one another in Europe. Coop is fine with it.

At the flagpole raising, Andy is being his typical withholding self. “We just spent the whole night together; give me a break,” he says when Katie asks if they can go to breakfast together. “I love you; I’ll see you at breakfast,” he concedes when he gives him a dejected look. Classic them. Coop looks longingly at Katie, so that’s off and running.

Gail and Ron are apparently engaged. Abby asks Victor how it’s going. Mitch the mixed vegetables can tells Beth that he knows she hooked up with Greg, but he wants her to move on. He promotes her to camp director. “By the end of August, everyone will feel like they’re 15 years younger,” he says (wink wink). “1981 is gonna be the best summer ever.” Beth looks over at the cabin next door and exchanges a glance with Henry.

At the lake, a memorial is set up to Eric, but one week later, we see him hitching a ride to New York City. A falcon flies by, and “Higher and Higher” plays us off. What a weird, strange first day/week of camp that was. Now, grab a buddy and jump in the lake to cool off.
Photo: Saeed Adyani/Netflix.

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