‘Camp’ Pilot Episode Recap: After Divorce, Mack Takes Out Second Mortgage
Camp, NBC’s newest summer dramedy, premiered Wednesday night, using most of the hour to set up the character dynamics that will play out over the summer. It all begins with Mackenzie, or ‘Mack,’ (Rachel Griffiths), the recently divorced owner of Little Otter Family Camp. Mack greets families on the lakeshore as they arrive for their vacations and gossips with the returning staff members and guests — they all express their dismay at the news of her divorce. Her ex, Steve, left her for a twenty-something Russian aesthetician, and used to run the camp with her. This year, however, it’s just Mack and her teenage son, Buzz (Charles Grounds).
Buzz, geeky and utterly clueless, has made it his mission to get laid this summer at camp, and is particularly whiny about having to stay in a family cabin with his mother instead of the Boy’s Camp like his fellow counselors. In an effort to ditch his mom, Buzz immediately attaches himself to Kip (Tom Green), an artsy outsider who is being forced to work at Little Otter Family Camp by his dad, who worries he’s too into Holocaust documentaries. Buzz drags Kip along while he tries — unsuccessfuly — to hit on bikini-clad mean girls, but Kip doesn’t seem to mind too much. The pair is befriended by the beautiful Marina (Lily Sullivan), also a new counselor, who is shunned by the other teenage girls at camp. In a flashback, we learn that topless pictures of her went viral at her high school. Clearly, Little Otter Family Camp is her escape from her past humiliations.
The three form the group of underdogs. By the end of the episode Kip has stood up to the bullies across the lake, Buzz has escaped from his mother’s cabin, and Marina leans her head on Kip’s shoulder. Kip and Marina’s budding romance, however, shouldn't cause trouble between the friends, as Buzz has his sights set on Grace (Charlotte Nicdao). Kip’s secret battle with leukemia is sure to cause some drama later down the road, though.
Other counselors include hot lawyer-in-the-making Robbie Matthews (Tim Pocock) who, for the past ten summers, has been dating camper/counselor Sarah Brennen (Dana Kaplan). The two lovebirds reunite early on in the episode, but Sarah is holding back. They haven’t spoken since last summer, and Robbie doesn’t know that Sarah was forced to stop swimming at Stanford after crashing her car into a flagpole while high. She tells him she stopped because she didn’t love it anymore, but leaves out the fact that she lost her scholarship, even when he tells her he plans to attend Stanford for law school. Robbie is ready to commit to their summer romance, but Sarah is hesitant. To make matters more complicated, Sarah meets Miguel Santos (Juan Pablo Di Pace), a writer she admires (and Robbie dislikes). Miguel is staying on the other side of the lake, where self-important Roger Shepard (Rodger Corser) runs his own upscale camp (with lake-side mansions, jet skis, and polo-wearing evil counselors). Sarah intrigues Miguel when she blurts out her the truth behind her swimming career (the drugs, Stanford, etc). Though she ended the episode cuddling up to Robbie, Sarah is no doubt attracted to Miguel.
Not to be left out, Mack has her own romantic triangle brewing. After her cheating ex appears and tells her she needs to buy out his half of the camp ($200,000) because his new girlfriend wants to have kids, Mack ends up drunk in the backseat of Roger’s car – thus begins a love/hate ‘it’s only physical’ secret relationship. The morning after, Mack decides that she needs to tell Roger – who has been badgering her to sell him the camp property – that it can never happen again, only to end up hooking up with him in his office.
Mack may find Roger irresistible, but she’ll soon have another vying for her attention. Longtime camp employee (and younger man) Cole (Nikolai Nikolaeff) has a crush on his boss, evidenced by his unwavering loyalty and dedication to saving the camp Talent Show which, as he points out, is Mack’s favorite event.
The episode ended with Mack taking out a second mortgage on her home to help cover the cost of running the camp.
Camp airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.
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