Every week, the cast and crew of NBC’s megastore-comedy, Superstore, are taking EW readers behind the scenes of each episode. This week, star Ben Feldman, who plays Jonah, clues us in on what really went down in the third episode of season 2, “Guns, Pills and Birds.”
In the 13th century A.D., the first firearm was invented by the Chinese as a successor to the fire lance, a tube of black powder used as a flame thrower. Around that same time, a Persian physician named Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi first documented “coitus interruptus” and the use of birth control methods, involving such things as cabbages and elephant dung. Eight centuries later, Matt Hubbard, a staff writer on the short-lived Matt LeBlanc vehicle, Joey, wrote an episode of Superstore called “Guns, Pills and Birds.” The interconnectedness of these monumental events in the timeline of humanity is impossible to ignore.
“Guns, Pills and Birds,” or as those of us in the business call it, “Script 204,” is arguably the most Hitchcockian episode of the series. The suspense boils just below the surface as the audience waits anxiously to see if Glenn really will have to pay for all the birth control pills he accidentally bought while trying to convince pharmacist Tate (Josh Lawson, an Australian actor who moved to Los Angeles to steal jobs from Americans) not to sell them to customers. At the same time, Jonah (a stunningly versatile and limber Ben Feldman) must grapple with his aversion to firearms after his superior, Amy (played by a brunette actress) forces him to man the gun counter at a St. Louis branch of a fictional big box store called Cloud 9. All of this is happening while an ominous murder of crows invade the store, stitching the tale together in a series of terrifying vignettes among Mateo, Garrett, and Dina (all played by Tatiana Maslany) and culminating in a brutal slaughter.
But perhaps the most impressive feat in an episode chock-full of staggering triumphs, is actually the off camera technological precision with which the show’s special effects team navigated a bird dropping into the silky hair of recent triathlete and liberal elitist, America Ferrera. In a scene where the Amy and Jonah characters find themselves passionately debating gun rights and her disappointment with the men in her life, Hubbard’s script called for one of the aforementioned crows to poop on Amy’s head. In order to achieve this visual, a group of actual adults, who have spent years mastering the art of dramatic aesthetic illusion, built a complex laser machine which was able to pinpoint the exact location of Ms. Ferrera’s head on which to squirt gooey, white excrement. And after only two takes, that incredible piece of American cinema was captured for all of eternity, to be studied by novices and scholars alike just as we do today with tales of the ancient Chinese fire lance and the dung potions of early Islam.
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Superstore airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.