This episode very nicely balances the sitcom potential of corporate sending a secret shopper to spy on the cast as they work with some character development on leads America Ferrera and Ben Feldman. Feldman has just aced a store policy exam, which he can’t stop bragging about, aggravating supervisor Ferrera. It comes up in relation to the secret shopper (i.e. Feldman wanting to do things by the book, Ferrera wanting to do things customer-focused) but otherwise their eventual arc is separate from the episode’s shenanigans.
Because while manager Mark McKinney is freaking out about the secret shopper, at least he’s not doing anything absurd about it. Some of the staff are going overboard, well, mostly it’s Lauren Ash, who’s harassing every customer she suspects of being the secret shopper. But she’s also picking her targets based on various biases. Her whole subplot is discomforting and fantastic.
Nico Santos is also flipping out about the secret shopper, trying to climb over his coworkers to get the possible raise, which just gives Colton Dunn the chance to prank him. There’s also some stuff with McKinney (and Santos) getting the wrong idea about a coworker being a plant, which the show nicely resolves by the end.
Ferrera and Feldman get a lot of interplay, including a bickering match over the store’s intercoms—which also gives Dunn at least one of his excellent rejoinders—before ending up banished to the stock room. They argue some more, they wreck havoc, they bond. It works out rather well, with Feldman showing a little more grit than usual as he’s unaware of why he’s grating on Ferrera so much. Once they get it worked out, it leads to a rather nice resolution for them. Before the punchline to the secret shopper arc, which comes in two phases. A shock laugh, then a series of little shock laughs.
Really nice episode. It gives Ferrera and Feldman a great showcase while still keeping the laughs coming in.
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