Luke Brookshier caught my attention with Scavenger Pants,
He earned some respect with Chatterbox Gary.
He lost some respect with Doodle Dimension.
He has fully gained my respect with Bottle Burglars.
This. THIS is how you write a SpongeBob episode. This is 9B-level quality we're talking, that's how amazing this episode is. I can't even begin to describe how phenomenal this 11 minute comedy is. No cheap visual gags, no fladerization of characters for the sake of laughs, no amped up/wacky dialogue delivery to compensate for a lack of clever lines, to simply put it, Luke just developed a solid story, and built on from there.
Bottle Burglars is a phenomenal episode, I think I already got that point across. But what exactly is it that makes Bottle Burglars as fantastic as it is. First off, let's cover the setup. Essentially, the setup to this episode is akin to that of The Sewers of Bikini Bottom. The only difference being the setup to this episode is less out of sheer randomness for comedy (Flushing things down the toilet. Funny, but not a logical way to set up the conflict, and essentially comes out of nowhere), and is properly structured. We're instantly hit with a funny visual gag the moment the episode begins. Bam! And a slew of clever gags follow throughout the rest of the episode. But how is the plot itself? Well, SpongeBob and Squidward lose the formula, accidentally throwing it away. And Luke structures this setup perfectly! He doesn't come up with some sort of elaborate, complex way for the formula to be out of SpongeBob and Squidward's hands, he simply has it thrown away in a "circular filing cabinet", eventually covered with trash. A perfectly reasonable and funny explanation on SpongeBob's behalf as to why the bottle was placed in it to begin with.
Also, I absolutely adore the sequence in which Plankton succeeds in taking the formula. The pacing is so perfect, his skepticism provides a great sense of unclarity, avoiding any possible predictable route for the episode take direction. His interaction with Karen is great, I really love the chemistry developed between the two the moment Plankton reveals he successfully stole the formula. Squidward and SpongeBob end up realizing their fatal mistake, and devise a plan to steal the formula back from Plankton, officially setting up our main sequence in which the duo search for the formula in the Chum Bucket. You'd think this would be a rather generic experience, given how simplistic the plot, sounding like the type of episode that'd be produced in Seasons 7/8. Well, I beg to differ. The Clock lock on the cork is a super clever and absolutely hilarious element incorporated into the episode, giving Squidward and SpongeBob the appropriate time limit to retrieve the formula before it's too late!
And the break-in itself is filled with tons of hilarious gags, heck this episode is filled with tons of great gags. Luke seems to have added an extra layer onto a good majority of these jokes, effectively making them more than just "silly visuals", most usually underlain with a cleverness present. Yes, there are some cheaper gags, like Squidward getting squashed and beaten in Plankton's trap hallway, but I honestly found the gags to be visually funny enough to work well. The break-in is an exciting and really well paced sequence. But the highlight by far has to be...Spot!!! He's back! And actually plays an essential role in the episode! It warmed my heart to see that little amoeba back. Goodness, I'd say he had a better role in this episode than he did in Spot Returns, huge props to Luke, a fantastic incorporation of Spot. Also, I find it hilarious how instantly SpongeBob & Squidward are sent back to the Krusty Krab, giving all that buildup just to be simply sent back to where this whole mess started. But I think the peak of this episode is the moment Krabs gets his formula back. The ironic comedy presented through Krabs' quick and easy method to snatch back the formula was perfectly timed and is by far the funniest gag in this episode, and a perfect resolution. All around, this is episode presented a great storyline that threw in plenty of twists and surprises to keep us on our toes, and had tons of clever gags, aided mostly by perfect timing.
But I think which really sells this episode are the characters. I can say, this is the best Squidward has been since Season 9, he is perfectly in character (I keep throwing that word around, don't I?). He has zero freak outs, he is entirely in character, Luke perfectly mastered his role in this episode, it is so great to see Squidward written as though this was a 9B episode. And it feels so much like one!!! This feels like it was stripped straight out of that temporary, yet golden era, this episode hits so many points right, the story, the comedy, the characters, the pacing, the climax, the ending, *Whoo!* I've never been so excited reviewing an episode, I just love this episode so much! SpongeBob is perfectly in character, Krabs is too, Plankton is, Karen is given a little more rounded out of a personality, all of the characters are perfectly written!
I feel like Supmandude when he first saw Whirly-Brains, this is an incredible episode. If I had bigger words emphasizing "amazing", I'd use them, this is an Amazing Episode. After being exposed to so many horrid episodes (Like Pat the Horse, Old Man Patrick, Fun-Sized Friends, etc.), I am so thankful both Luke and the staff that worked on this episode managed to produce something on-par with 9B. This episode is obviously a 10/10, it's the best episode of Season 11, and easily one of the Top 10 (Maybe even Top 5) of the Post-Prequel era.