Pre-Credits Gag: This episode doesn’t have a pre-credits gag, presumably because it’s so crammed with somber emotions that there was no room for a throwaway gag at the opening. As such, I thought I’d use this space to preface this review because it’s easily the most anticipated one of the whole series. It’s also an episode I’d never seen before, for whatever reason. Even though it’s been hyped in the comments section for a few years, nothing could have prepared me for this, which is hands down the most emotionally manipulative 22 minutes I have ever witnessed in my life (including the several drug abuse interventions I have participated in). So, here it is, motherfuckers, the Papouli episode. May god have mercy on all our souls.
The family hastily prepare dolmas in preparation for the arrival of Jesse’s grandfather. They don’t call them dolmas, though, because that’s too ethnic sounding. Joey devours them as they’re prepared because he’s always seeking out new ways to be a blight on the family.
Michelle asks if her great-grandfather has a job back in Greece (presumably because the idea that Jesse would have descended from anyone who can hold a job would be astounding to her) and Danny tells her that he’s retired now but used to be a fisherman. Then Danny recalls his own father taking Joey and himself fishing when they were kids, which is weird because I don’t know if Danny’s father has ever been mentioned on the show before. I always just assumed that he cut out the minute he saw Danny’s stupid face push its way out of his wife’s vagina. Anyway, Joey and Danny nostalgically recall their childhood dream of owning a boat and sailing around the world together (which has to rank pretty high on the Full House homoerotic allusions list) and then they regretfully acknowledge that it never came to fruition, probably because Danny had to give up all his fun life plans when his stupid ugly kids were born.
DJ comes downstairs and tells everyone that she’s going to the mall to buy some shades that she really wants and then, as she’s describing them, Kimmie Gibbler walks into the house sporting said shades.
DJ gets all pissed and call Kimmie Gibbler out on always biting her stee-lo and then Kimmie Gibbler’s like, “suck my dick” and storms out of the house. DJ and Kimmie Gibbler used to have a much more rocky and temperamental relationship in the earlier Seasons and I have to say that I’ve missed it. Things have been pretty bland between them for a while and this shitty, unwarranted argument is like a pleasant reminder of the good ol’ days, when this show was just remarkably terrible instead of unbearably terrible.
Jesse comes home with his grandfather and everyone enthusiastically rushes to greet him, which is typical for a family to do when an incredibly old relative arrives for a visit. Michelle refers to him as Grandpa and he insists that they call him Papouli, which is some sort of a Greek thing, supposedly.
So I found myself wondering who the fuck this guy is but it actually turns out that he did appear in a previous episode at the beginning of the 4th Season, when Jesse’s extensive Greek family all showed up at the full house and forced non-consensual marriages onto everyone. Considering the long history of discarded grandparents on this show, as well as it’s frequent disregard for continuity, I was surprised and uneasy when I learned that he was actually a returning character, but then I remembered his wife that he showed up with last time, who is never seen or mentioned in this episode, and I felt a little better.
As Papouli greets everyone, he gets every one of their names wrong, and every time they correct him by telling them who they really are and he says, “of course you are!” which is a classic Alzheimers move.
Papouli prepares a moussaka in a dish that’s actually hot for once and then DJ comes home and starts bitching about how Kimmie Gibbler is walking around school sporting those shades she wanted. Papouli tells DJ a long, rambling story about two men in his quaint little village who had a similar disagreement but it doesn’t have much effect, probably because it’s meandering and nonsensical and because, for whatever reason, old black stereotypes seem much more effective for dispensing magical wisdom than old European stereotypes. That’s like the first rule of tv and movies.
Michelle points out the big mess that she and Stephanie have made as they’ve prepared bread or something for Papouli but then he just encourages them to throw flour all over the place while festive Greek music plays. Oh, Papouli, you’re so whimsical!
I wonder if this family’s grand tradition of imposing, inconsiderate behavior started with Papouli or if he’s supposed to be passing on a much older custom from the old country. Have the Tanner’s pushy ways been a derogatory representation of Greek culture all this time?
Ok, so, try to follow along here. Some more traditional Greek music plays over a shot of San Francisco and then sad music starts playing over a shot of the full house. All of a sudden the whole family is sitting around the dining room table in tears and Jesse says that it feels like he’s having a bad dream, which I could totally relate to.
Becky hugs him and says that at least Papouli died in his sleep and then… Wait, what? That was the most abrupt transition in this history of television. He didn’t even die during a commercial break. There was literally no set-up whatsoever. I guess that this might signify how suddenly he died or something but it really feels to me like a couple of scenes were cut.
Everyone sits around crying and saying how great Papouli was and there aren’t even any lame jokes or anything. Just hilarious tears. Maybe I’m a horrible person, but I have to admit that this shit actually made me laugh really hard. This is honestly the first time I’ve ever gotten hardy belly laughter out of Full House. Don’t get me wrong, an old man dying is totally not funny in 99 out of 100 cases, but Full House trying to force me to feel sad about the abrupt death of some character that was onscreen for literally 8 minutes is a very clear exception. Maybe if they’d brought Papouli in earlier and had him hang around for a few episodes it might seem justifiable that they want me to give a shit about him, but they really did bring him into the full house just so they could kill him off to try to make us feel sad. Fuck that shit, and fuck Papouli in his decrepit, deceased anus. The only strong emotion I feel is schadenfreude at the stupid crying faces of the shittiest people in the history of America as they mourn their obscure Greek great-grandfather. I wish that Papouli would come back to life just so he could die all over again. My only regret is that more of them haven’t died. It should have been you, Joey. It should have been you.
Jesse says that he feels helpless and that he wishes he could have been there so he could do something to help Papouli. Again, this is just fucking nonsense. It’s not like Papouli got hit by a bus or got AIDS or something after they let him run loose in the Castro. We should all hope to be so lucky as to die peacefully in our sleep when we’re a million years old. Also, what the fuck would Jesse have done to help anyway? Play him some shitty Beach Boys covers? Feed him fried chicken on his death bed? Jesse is worthless in any given situation, much less one that cannot be helped.
Jesse cries some more and describes Papouli as “such a beautiful man,” which, again, made me laugh hysterically. I don’t think I’ve actually enjoyed watching this show since the Urkel episode. Someone should die in every episode. Anyway, Jesse rushes upstairs to deal with the arrangements, like what to do with Papouli’s festering corpse, but not before refusing any help from the rest of the family. Becky explains to them that Jesse’s having a manic episode as an attempt to deal with Papouli’s death and she kindly refrains from pointing out that he denied their help because they’re all a bunch of gigantic fuck-ups and he doesn’t want to deal with any wacky mishaps right now because he’s too busy crying like a lost girl scout who’s been separated from her troop in the woods.
By the way, I’m just going to put it out there that I’m pretty sure that Danny smothered Papouli with a pillow while he slept because he threw flour all over the kitchen. Don’t even try to tell me that this never occurred to you.
Michelle comes home and totally ignores everyone’s crying faces because what the fuck does she care about anybody else? She asks where Papouli is because she wants to give him some piece of shit popsicle stick sculpture that she made and then, because nobody will answer her question, she finally notices that everyone’s upset. Danny explains to her that Papouli was old as shit and they found his moldering corpse when they went to wake him up and that made me wonder whose bed he died in. I’d really like to know. I’m also curious about the current whereabouts of Papouli’s cadaver. Did the coroner already come, or is he still upstairs, rapidly withering away in one of the girl’s beds (or possibly Joey’s)? There’s been a long tradition on this show of scenes where someone was doing a really shitty job of keeping someone from seeing something (you know, like, “oh shit, there’s a horse in the kitchen. Better keep Danny out of there. Hey, Danny, we’re having a competition to see who can stand in the living room the longest…”) and I think this episode would have really benefited from a little levity by having the family scrambling to stop Michelle from walking in on Papouli’s dead body, especially if it was in her bed. Still, her contrived, bratty reaction when she refuses to believe that Papouli has died was sufficiently hilarious, so it’s not too much of a missed opportunity.
Danny goes upstairs to comfort Michelle (effectively telling the rest of his crying daughters to go fuck themselves) and she tells him that she feels really mad about her obscure relative that she spent a few hours with dying peacefully of old age after a long and full life. I like how quickly she’s moving through the stages. She was in denial for about 30 seconds, and now comes anger. Acceptance can only be minutes away. Danny shares a somber moment with her where he tells her that she can talk about how she’s feeling and can ask him any questions she might have and then he tells her he loves her and they hug before he exits the room. It’s really weird to watch a long, serious exchange like that. Not just because it’s a sitcom, but also because the show is of such poor quality and the characters are so impossible to relate to that it just seems like you’re in bizarro world when you have to watch them behave in a way that’s supposed to be realistic or sympathetic.
After Danny exits, Stephanie walks in and it almost seems like we’re gonna have to sit here and watch Michelle be counseled by every member of the full house or something. It’s really hard to tell where this is going because there’s never been such a dramatic, humorless episode before. I mean, they’re all humorless, but never on purpose. Even that episode where Stephanie’s classmate’s dad was beating him had some zingers in it, but this is just one big wet hanky. Anyway, Stephanie tells Michelle that she can’t cry in front of Uncle Jesse because he’s really upset and has been crying like a punk bitch so they have to be brave in front of him to help him cope. I found this to be really interesting. Ever since Stephanie turned around 8 and stopped being cute they’ve had a really hard time figuring out what to do with her character, and this is really the only time I can think of where she behaves like a typical middle child. It seems like Stephanie is dealing with her own grief by tampering with her younger sisters emotions, which is the only way she can feel any sort of control in this situation. It’s pretty sinister and manipulative if you think about it. She tells Michelle that she has to repress her emotions for Jesse’s sake and instructs her to think of something funny if she feels like she’s going to cry.
Jesse walks into the room and checks on Michelle, totally ignoring Stephanie (which explains her fucked up coping mechanism pretty well) and the audience laughs at Michelle’s distant, fixed expression as she tries to repress her sadness, which is the only “joke” in the last 5 minutes or so.
Danny copes with his grief by buying a boat. Hey, why not? He says that having a boat is something he always dreamed about and there’s this really weird seagull sound effect when he says it. Joey says that Danny buying the boat makes sense because the death of Papouli is a reminder that life is short (even though Papouli was at least 500 years old when he died) and you have to realize your dreams, which, for Danny, is traveling around in a boat and having anal sex with Joey. Joey’s dream is just to mooch off of Danny so it probably doesn’t matter much to him where he does it.
Danny names his gay love boat Papouli, which touches Jesse so much that he hugs Danny and cries some more. Then Jesse rushes off to another manic funeral planning session, which makes the family worry about him again.
Kimmie Gibbler rolls up on the backyard in her rad shades and callously makes fun of Danny and Joey and their stupid boat. DJ and Kimmie Gibbler are left alone together and DJ remembers Papouli’s convoluted, pointless story about some stupid losers from his crappy village. Although the purpose of that story still remains unclear, Papouli is dead now and life is precious so DJ and Kimmie Gibbler patch things up.
Jesse gets a phone call from someone whose identity is never revealed about Michelle not being at school and then he finds her hiding out in Danny’s gay sex boat. Jesse asks Michelle why she isn’t at school and she says that she can’t tell him. He keeps pressing her and then she admits that she didn’t go to school because Papouli was supposed to come to her class that day and teach her class his cheesy dance for Greek stereotypes. She says that him not being there would probably have made her cry and she’s not allowed to because she’s supposed to be brave, which doesn’t really make sense because she’s only not supposed to cry in front of Jesse, who would not have been there. I mean, it doesn’t make sense for a lot of reasons, but that’s the main one. Anyway, Jesse asks Michelle why she’s being so emotionally repressed and she admits that Stephanie forced it upon her. Jesse says that Stephanie was wrong to tell her that and that he’ll “talk to her about that” later, which is a conversation that we unfortunately never get to see. Sad music plays as Jesse tells Michelle that she should always share her feelings and then they both bitch and moan about how much they loved Papouli. Jesse blames himself for Papouli’s death and Michelle tells him that it wasn’t his fault and then they both cry like a couple of stupid little girls.
I guess that this was supposed to be some sort of grand dramatic performance for whichever Olsen twin that is, who makes an even uglier face than usual as she sort of almost convincingly forces herself to cry. This whole episode has seemed pretty baffling but then during this scene you can almost see “for your consideration” scrolling across the bottom of the screen (*SPOILER ALERT* This episode won zero awards).
Jesse takes Michelle to school and her teacher asks her if she has anything to share for show and tell. She says that her great-grandfather was going to come and teach them a Greek dance but then he died and you can tell that everyone thinks that it’s just a lame excuse because she didn’t prepare anything. She tries to do the dance herself after warning everyone that she probably can’t remember it and then she craps out about 10 seconds into it. Jesse joins in to help her finish it, which would almost be touching if I hadn’t lost my last granule of sympathy after having to look at a bunch of sad crying faces for 15 minutes straight, not to mention the fact that I deeply hate all of these people.
That was the most unscrupulous grab for emotionally effective storytelling I’ve ever seen. Maybe if they’d brought back Jesse’s dad, who was a regular for a while, as the grandparent to kill off it would have almost been justifiable. The time spent showing people being sad about Papouli’s death was actually twice the amount we ever saw of Papouli himself. I am also once again totally blown away at this shows vindictive disregard for grandparents. If they’re not disappearing without explanation then they’re dropping like flies. Well, thanks a lot, Full House. I will never be sad ever again when an old person dies after seeing this.