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The junior campers of Camp Firewood make their promised homecoming for Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later — though of course, it’s really been 16 years since the original movie premiered in 2001. Now, (most of) the original cast members are back for Netflix’s second installment in the franchise, following 2015’s prequel First Day of Camp, a crucible of self-referential and absurdist comedy from creators Michael Showalter and David Wain.
Ten Years Later opens on August 7, 1991, as the campers come from all parts of the country to honor the commitment they made 10 years prior. What follows is the rekindling of old campfire flames, disillusionment with childhood memories, and a government conspiracy led by Ronald Reagan to destroy the camp (and a secret from his past). And one heck of a watercooler ending.
We’ve rounded up the best moments, in-jokes, and running bits from the new series, now streaming on Netflix. Walla-walla-hoo! (And beware: SPOILERS AHEAD.)
Adam Scott as Ben (Episode 1: “Reunion”)
The first and most obvious wink at the audience is Adam Scott replacing Bradley Cooper in the role of Ben, McKinley’s husband and Susie’s formerly closeted ex-boyfriend. In one of the first scenes, Ben admits to McKinley (Michael Ian Black) that he’s nervous about the reunion: “None of them have seen me since I got my nose job,” he says.
“You had a deviated septum. You were snoring like crazy. It was a medical issue,” assures McKinley. “Besides, you look exactly the same to me.”
Only a show like Wet Hot could get away with such an unceremonious replacement and pass it off with a nose job joke. Cooper wasn’t able to shoot the reunion due to scheduling issues, but Wain tells EW that Cooper could still appear in potential future incarnations of Wet Hot.
Claire and Mark were here the whole time! (Episode 2: “Softball”)
Claire (Sarah Burns) and boyfriend Mark (Mark Feuerstein) return to Camp Firewood for the 10-year reunion, just like the rest of their fellow junior campers. They have relationship problems just like the other campers, too: Claire confides in JJ, who is in love with her, that she suspects Mark of being unfaithful and asks if he knows anything. (Cut to Mark making out with Nancy in the open). JJ denies knowing anything. “I don’t know what I was thinking,” she says. (Cut to Mark and Nancy screwing behind some hay bales.)
The joke is that neither character was in the 2001 movie; the show just plugs them in as though they were always there. During the second episode, the show stitches new footage of Claire and her boyfriend into a flashback to the original movie, to hilarious effect: “It’s always fun to get away from camp, even for an hour,” says JJ on the bed of Beth’s (Janeane Garofalo) truck. Cut to the couple. “Totally,” Mark says to no one, while Claire laughs.
Deep Throat (Episode 3: “Tigerclaw”)
Elizabeth Banks’ Lindsay finally gets time to shine in episode 3. While her pals are at camp, Lindsay is stuck at her newscaster gig. Her producer wants her to do fluff pieces, but she wants more hard-hitting news, so she jumps at the chance when a mysterious man calls her and tells her to meet her in a parking garage with the “biggest case of political corruption this country has ever seen.”
Which is how Lindsay winds up in a dim parking garage with a shady man with a wide-brimmed hat, a cigarette, and a trench coat. He’s trying to tell her the big lead, but he keeps getting interrupted by a couple looking for their car. “This goes much deeper,” he growls before Lindsay cuts him off: “You know what, they’re circling back.” He promises a big political scandal and tells her to go to an address where all will be revealed.
When she goes to the house at the given address, she finds a picture of Camp Firewood’s class of 1921. The corner of the photograph reads “Ronnie Reagan,” leading her to figure out the former president’s plan to destroy the camp.
“That’s how it always works in the movie” (Episode 4: “Lunch”)
McKinley has been growing suspicious that the nanny, Renata (Alyssa Milano), he and Ben hired to watch their baby at the reunion is actually a homicidal maniac. In episode 3, he calls the nanny service and learns they don’t have anyone under the name of Renata Murphy. The nanny claims that’s because she’s recently divorced.
But in episode 4, Claire reaffirms McKinley’s paranoia by walking him through the horror movie trope of the jealous murdering nanny: “That’s how it always works in the movie. They do some investigating. They find something suspicious. The hot nanny has a perfectly reasonable excuse for why it happened. It’s textbook. She totally has something to hide. It’s all part of her master plan. Give the parents a false sense of security, just gives her more time to just tear their life apart. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. This is a circular conversation.” Tell us about it.
After McKinley sees the nanny practicing stabbing with a knife, he’s convinced of Renata’s bad intentions and tells Claire they’re partners now, leading to a fun bit in which he insists — repeatedly — they’re in this “50/50.” (“I will not agree.”)
Master Chef (Episode 4: “Lunch”)
In a great cooking montage, Gary cuts up peppers, eggs, and onions like a hibachi chef. He ends up serving mac ‘n’ cheese.
Neil wakes up with a bang (Episode 5: “King of Camp”)
In a running joke, Neil (Joe Lo Truglio) falls asleep in the first episode, and every so often the camera pans to his bed to remind you that he’s there. He doesn’t wake up until episode 5, and when he does, he teaches Vic to have sex by humping a mattress.
Vic loses his virginity (Episode 6: “Rain”)
Vic (Ken Marion) has always been in-your-face raunchy and horny, despite still being a virgin. Donna (Lake Bell) and Yaron (Wain) approach him about not being able to conceive and ask him to impregnate Donna the old-fashioned way. Vic agrees, seeing it as a chance to finally lose his virginity, and goes to the infirmary. Yaron is also there, ready for “the ceremony.” (Is this an overt Handmaid’s Tale reference?) It’s quite the visual: the couple in bedazzled robes, Yaron playing a triangle, and all three swapping super creepy realistic masks of themselves.
Gene’s long-lost daughter (Episode 6: “Rain”)
Original cast member Molly Shannon returns as Gail when her ex Gene (Christopher Meloni), who has been living in isolation in his Winnebago, stops by her house to recruit her for Mitch’s mission to save the camp. Turns out, Gail now has a daughter, Jenny (Ava Acres), who is a mini-Gene — bandanna, tank top, gruff demeanor, the whole thing. Gene is not getting that this is his daughter. “She likes to cook, just like her father,” hints Gail. “I’m talking about you, Gene.”
“Tell Eugene’s daughter I said goodbye,” Gene says before leaving.
(Recap continues on page 2)