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‘Jon & Kate Plus 8’ head for great outdoors

The kids got in touch with nature as Kate pulled off a backyard movie night and Jon taught them how to fish on Monday night's episode.
/ Source: Entertainment Weekly

''The new normal is I'm here a lot of the time, Jon's here some of the time,'' Kate said Monday night, pouring vinegary disdain into the word ''some.'' ''All I feel now is constantly, completely overwhelmed.'' Much was made of Kate's attempt to utilize that most masculine of household cooking devices: the barbecue. (Didn't this happen on The Sopranos?) ''Is this why men drink beer while they're cooking, because it's really boring?'' she asked, foreshadowing the latter half of the episode, when Jon taught the kids fishing, a famously boring excuse to drink before noon.

Mark your scorecards, fans, because one child has officially chosen sides! ''Mommy, we do fun stuff only when you're here,'' said Collin. Message to JG: You need to up your game if you want any of these kids in your corner come adolescence.

The clan sat down for dinner. ''Praise the Lord, no salmonella here,'' Kate said. ''I love salmon,'' said Alexis. Kate had a good laugh about that. Later, one of the girls pointed at her food and said, ''There's chicken blood in mine!'' More raucous laughter. Blood for everyone! Hip hip hooray!

After dinner, the kids played with Alex the Sound Man. This was charming, and yet deeply disturbing. ''I'm setting up the audio for the projector tonight, because I'm a sound man,'' said Alex. But the kids weren't treating him like a sound man, were they? They were pulling his ponytail, asking him how the equipment worked, and staring at him with awkward, pleading smiles. Aaden even climbed on his back. Are these kids missing a daddy figure or what?

I could poke fun at Kate's popcorn hat (with pink boa trim), but all kidding aside, these kids get to do pretty cool things. Watching a movie on the lawn while laying in a sleeping bag? That. Is. Awesome. Yet another thing my parents would have let me do if they loved me even a little bit. And you have to feel empathy for Kate. This lady is sad. ''I will always hate leaving my kids,'' she said. ''I don't know if [Jon] feels the same way.''

Cue the Jon portion of the episode. (Does the new half-and-half structure remind anyone else of Law & Order?) Jon had a fun activity planned: Backyard Death March to the Neighbor's Fishing Pond! There was crying and general exhaustion. Jon defended his choice of activity: ''I expected all this. I didn't care. I'm taking my kids fishing. They have to get over that fear and comfort of their own house.'' Cries of ''Daddy, can I go to the bathroom?'' and ''Daddy there's no fish here!'' went unanswered. Leah: ''I want to sit down and watch TV.'' Jon: ''TV? That's boring.'' Viewers, how right he was!

Day 2 of fishing was more successful. Alexis: ''I catched a fish!'' In fact, it looked like all the kids caught fish, though there was some post-game debate between the boys about exactly who caught what: ''I catched 7,'' ''I catched 4,'' ''Mine was this big,'' ''Mine was this big.'' Spoken like true fishermen.

The offscreen production staff indicated that Joel was hit in the head with a fish, but I rewatched the incident on slow-motion DVR literally dozens of times, and couldn't see any contact. To my eyes, Joel just started screaming because Aaden was waving a fish in front of him. Joel claimed the fish bit him. But we all know the truth. Joel is a crybaby processing difficult emotions during this time of family strife.

The episode ended on a positive note, if your name is Jonathan Keith Gosselin. ''It's nice to go to the city and do the things I do,'' Jon said. (That's sexist, women aren't things! Badum psh!) (Sorry, readers.) So, basically, here's the score. Kate wants the kids to live in an elaborately constructed picture-perfect dollhouse, and Jon wants the kids to live in the mud and fish for their supper. It's like growing up in Brave New World and The Land That Time Forgot, simultaneously! Pray for these kids.