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I guess I just like liking things

We’ve only known these characters for five episodes, but we already know how important Ted is to the whole process at Veridian Dynamics. This episode seems designed to specifically point that out, creating a situation that removes Ted and showing us how quickly everything falls apart when he’s gone.  Now, part of that might be that Linda gets put in charge, and even though Linda’s very likable, Linda shouldn’t be in charge of the particular group of assembled scientists.  In fact, one wonders why Veronica puts Linda in charge, since Veronica knows pretty much everything and rarely makes a bad decision — in fact, have we seen Veronica make a bad decision yet? One does not spring immediately to mind.  You could argue that putting Linda in charge is a bad decision, but you could also argue that Veronica knew it wouldn’t work, thereby showing Ted’s importance to the team.  Veronica goes out of her way to tell people she doesn’t care about them, but her actions speak differently.

So Ted (full name: Theodore Margeret Crisp) has been deleted from Veridian’s system and trying to get himself “re-leted” causes even more trouble, in a way only big corporations can manage.  Veridian as a company gets handled in so many different ways throughout the course of the show, but it’s Dilbertian method of handling employees is the foundation all the other things are built on. “We should freeze an employee to see if we can” is no more right or wrong to “The Company” than trying to hire someone other than Ted for Ted’s job because on paper the new guy looks great, nevermind how good Ted is with the group he’s in.  In one of the later sequences in this episode, when Veridian is rebooting, we get a glimpse at how large the company is (in fact, Veronica tells me there are only three countries left big enough to bully Veridian into doing something – not companies, countries). It’s easy to imagine that Ted’s team is one of a hundred such teams worldwide, so in the grand scheme of things, yes, maybe Ted is replaceable. To those of us watching the show, of course, he is not. It’s not called “Ted’s Fine, But We Could Use Anybody,” after all.

The show is a study in group dynamics, I think. People do best when they’re in a position best-suited for them.  It sounds like a stupid thing to even say, but in a place like Veridian it seems like it needs to be. Linda is a great member of the team…as long as she’s where she is. Her not being good at leading the team is not a statement on women leaders as a whole, it’s a statement on this one particular woman leader (please remember that Veronica is on this exact same show, and she’s an example of a woman leader who Gets Things Done, if you need a reminder that Better Off Ted is not making sweeping statements about gender here).  We’ve already seen other examples of people not being good at things when placed in a different spot: remember Phil & Lem both trying to be the boss, for ten minutes at a time? Now, granted, we don’t get to see everyone try their hand at leading, but it isn’t too hard to imagine what sort of nonsense a Bhamba- or Patricia-led team might get up to.

Veronica eventually saves the day (and Ted’s job) by forcing the Veridian system to reboot, but even her rebellious act is couched in the company’s terms. “A parachute won’t be any use at those heights,” Lem says. “From a legal standpoint it will be,” answers Veronica in a phrase that makes perfect sense to anyone who’s even slightly familiar with the company, even though she’s completely made it up. Veronica is whip-smart and shows it all the time, if anyone would happen to notice it. I sometimes get the impression she’s been put in her place of leadership largely out of fear, rather than any sort of recognition of her intelligence (though we do find out later in the series there was some major sexism taking place, too).

In the end, of course, everything works out. Linda leads by leading everyone to Ted’s house so he can tell them what to do. The heist goes awry and Veronica has to fix things when her boss tells her to hire someone else. Veronica, it seems, is the most powerful person at the company, as the underlings can’t do stuff without her, and her subversion of her superiors is what makes things work best.  The series might be better named “Better Off Veronica,” but you’d miss out on the rhyme and history behind the actual title, even though it’s becoming more and more clear to me that this show doesn’t have anything to do with John Cusack’s second-best movie.

Bits and Pieces:

  • Someone has pried a window open on the 20th floor, so Linda’s natural instinct is to throw a crash dummy out of it to freak out floors 1-19. Later, they throw perfectly good cupcakes out that window, for reasons I don’t completely understand.
  • Linda accuses Ted of loving rules so much that he’d marry rules if he could and have rule children and live in a house made of rules. “You mean live in a house made of my own children?” he responds.  This is one of many great exchanges in this episode.
  • Phil and Lem wonder if Ted likes yogurt, and you get the distinct impression that “wondering what Ted likes/does” is a common pastime for the two of them. later in the episode we see they were both right about their particular ruminations here
  • “If only Ted were here he could tell us what to do without him.” – Phil
  • “Stop it! We’re scientists, not people who can examine every variable of a phenomenon to determine an accurate understanding of a specific event. Ted’s late. We can’t know why any more than we can unlock the secrets of the universe.” – An amazing line from Bhamba. In an episode filled with great lines (like most episodes!), this one might be my favorite. Nobody calls him on it, they just kind of look at him for a beat and move on.
  • “Blah blah blah. No wonder the system deleted you.” – Veronica
  • When Linda is first put in charge of the lab, the following exchange from Bhamba and Lem is a particular highlight:
    Bhamba: “See if you can follow this: Lem is an idiot.
    Lem: “Well see if you can follow this: that hurt my feelings.”
  • Linda uses the phrase “Full-frontal nerdity,” which, if it didn’t sound so naughty, might be this site’s new tagline
  • Speaking of naughty, I mention this without comment because it’s amusing, but don’t really know what else to say about it: Ted only uses his junk for good, not evil. With great junk comes great responsibility. Let us never speak of Ted’s junk again.
  • When Ted tries to explain his middle name, Veronica says “I don’t care.” Ha!
  • “I know it’s hard to accept that giant companies don’t care about people. I know how hard it was for me when I first realized it… when I was 8.” – Another great Veronica line
  • “Ted is the shiniest employee we have!” – Linda
  • Rose, the smartest TV kid ever, figures out who Dr. Bhamba is from his “we live alone and we die alone” line. Love that.
  • “Okay, Patricia, consider me hugged.” – Ted
  • “I’m pepper because I’m spicy” – Lem, figuring out which of the salt & pepper he is during the caper planning

  • During the caper, another fantastic exchange between Lem and Bhamba:
    Lem: “Did you disable the camera?”
    Bhamba: “Did you disable your stupid question filter?”
    Lem: “I thought I did.”
  • “You’ve all disappointed me. That’s punishment enough. …I’m kidding, get in here.” – Veronica


Veridian Dynamics. Individuals. We believe everyone is special, irreplaceable, and will follow the thing walking in front of it. That’s why we celebrate all individuals, even ones going nowhere. Veridian Dynamics. Because you can’t spell “individual” without “Veridian” and “U” and an “L.”

Ideas/Inventions mentioned in this episode:

  • A million fish in Lake Michigan grew fur – listed as a mistake, but still a pretty interesting development, I think!
  • Some sort of experiment in which the crash dummy needs to be hit by a train
  • Personal jetpack, which Lem gets to try out and the plot even hinges on
  • The octo-chicken, one of my favorite inventions ever, even if the very thought of it weaving webs and chasing people freaks me out as much as it does Linda

Coworkers named/seen:

  • Janet S. Crotum, Human Resources – We hear her name as “Janet” in this episode, but we find out her complete name later in the series
  • Ryan, the overly talky security guy. His wife is talked about as being 400 pounds, but she’s nowhere near that big when we meet her later in the series. Retconned!
  • Patricia – We’ve seen her before, but she finally gets a name. She has a crush on Ted, as most people seem to. She also seems to gravitate quickly towards the idea that people who are missing or late are dead. “People die, Linda. Ask my dead neighbor.”
  • More Bhamba!
  • Jim from Marketing, who takes Ted’s office when Ted gets deleted
  • Chet, Veronica’s boss. We’ve seen him before, but I think this is the first he’s been named?

Next week: S01E07 – “Get Happy”

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