May 10th, 2015, 9:30 PM, FOX
Invited up the coast to support Teddy while he moves furniture to an expensive but isolated summer home in Craggy Neck, the Belchers do a little semi-innocent snooping while enjoying the luxury of the empty beach house illicitly. While Linda tries to figure out what the tenants are like by studying their pictures, creating a melodramatic story about the owner and his two brides, Bob becomes obsessed with trying to run the game room’s pool table. A storm kicks up and when Teddy comes to retrieve them Linda learns that the home’s owner, Larry, is dead, and becomes convinced that his second wife Helen killed him for his money. Linda puts the family to work reenacting the crime – and when Helen shows up, the Belchers soon discover that Teddy has a secret reason for knowing so much about the widow’s situation, and that Helen has her own motives for keeping him quiet. With the whole family stranded in the fancy seaside home, Bob incapacitated on painkillers due to a bad fall taken during Linda’s reenactment and the ocean wind churning wildly outside of the window, the forced proximity of the situation soon causes Linda – with Tina’s help – to build a case up against the lady in question – but Helen just might have some secrets up her sleeve, and then Linda finds herself on the defensive. Is it a matter of survival or trust?
This episode combines two fun elements: an Agatha Christie murder-mystery parody fueled by Linda and Louise’s sense of the dramatic and a romance story for Teddy, whose lonely life has long had a void in it that only romantic contentment could assuage. The mystery part is actually intriguing, and the majority of it is given life by the mother-daughter connection between Louise and Linda. If Bob and Tina are so much alike that they have a crystal-clear familial bond, Louise and Linda’s relationship has always been fraught with the drama both create and adore; so much of their interaction usually focuses on the conflict between them, but in this one Louise even puts her life on the line for her mother – and appropriate Mother’s Day sentiment if I’ve ever seen one. The ultimate solution to the problem lacks firm resolution and The audience is left wondering if what Linda believes exists only in her florid imagination by the middle of the episode, throwing a surprising amount of edge into Helen’s character and giving the audience pause. If Helen really is an evil murderess, what does that mean for poor, hapless Teddy? Is he safe or will Helen pop up every once in awhile to remark upon the sharpness of the Belcher Family’s knife collection?
If the episode has any real flaw, it lies in what it chooses to do with Bob, Tina and Gene. While Gene floats through the episode laying down witticisms, Tina barely has a purpose in the scheme of things, and Bob takes his usual lumps as the family butt monkey. Maybe the three of them would have been better suited to a b-plot while Linda and Louise were off in the a-plot running wild.
But the overall experience of the episode is a good, funny one, and “Housetrap” is a solid effort all around.
Genuine suspense mixes with Bobbish lunacy and some soft-hearted soft-shoeing from Teddy.