Caution: This review contains spoilers.
Leave it to Miss Piggy to use something seemingly straightforward as charity work as a vehicle for revenge on The Muppets. In “Walk the Swine,” Piggy is determined to outdo Reese Witherspoon. She lost out to the Oscar-winning actress for the memorable role on Walk the Line. As Kermit points out, Piggy’s grudges are not pretty, perhaps with the exception of the fake grudge towards Natalie Portman.
Piggy and Witherspoon get competitive at Habitat for Humanity the next day, complete with the classic Piggy karate. They knock a wall down during an ensuing scuffle, a spat that is caught on camera by the media. “How could something like revenge on a person take such a dark turn?” Piggy laments to Kermit as the fallout emerges. Even if Piggy is so self-centered, one can’t help but feel sorry for her. It’s wonderfully played, but never forget that she is always plotting something.
What’s interesting here is that Piggy’s jealousy helps tie together a thread that is much less forced than previous episodes. Her self-centered tendencies are clear in many moments, such as “Hello, Humanity!” and mistaking a surveyor for a cameraman. Everything is wrapped up when Witherspoon returns to Piggy’s show, a segment that puts a positive light on revenge. The new contest is to present a better apology (forget intentions), marking Piggy’s triumph in a Broadway number. Sorry, Reese, but Piggy’s rap at the end was quite brilliant.
“Muppets” is a program that succeeds when celebrity guests have clear and simple roles rather than elaborately contrived ones. Viewers should not be scratching their heads and asking, “Why is he/she here again?” It’s why Reese Witherspoon’s guest appearance this week and Ed Helms’s cameo last week are so welcome. Focusing on Piggy’s celebrity status is not new as we move along this season, but the jokes with Witherspoon are of better quality. It’s easier to love moments like, “Look, sweet home Alabama” and “Did you see my movie Wild? I did all my walking!” Kermit is excellently pulled in as the hopeless mediator; he’s better suited to contending with nail-biting moments (literally) rather than his earlier portrayals as a mere whiner.
That being said, the side stories were not as wholly successful this week. The stronger arc is Fozzie’s new stand-up routine, adding jokes about his girlfriend, Becky (Riki Lindhome). The Muppets at the studio get yet another opportunity to break into song, making the bear weepy with Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” Scooter’s car accident and his discussions with Rizzo the Rat offered very little comic relief beyond the coffee food truck. Nonetheless, “The Muppets” continues to improve.