The "Go On" episode, "Any Given Birthday," was packed full of surprises for Ryan's (Matthew Perry) birthday. There was an odd scavenger hunt, a strange Steven (John Cho), and a gift from the grave. There was even a bizarre new relationship nobody saw coming. Each of these unexpected prizes was a gift, making for a highly entertaining episode.
Ryan goes on a scavenger hunt based on his favorite person: himself
The group, spurred on by Yolanda (Suzy Nakamura), decide to do a very expensive Ryan-centered scavenger hunt for Ryan's birthday. Ryan never enjoyed his birthdays, even though Janie spent months planning them, so he declines. The group convinces him to go through with it by chanting "chant." When Ryan tells them their chants need content, they chant "content." He decides to go through with it to get them to stop their incessantly weird chanting.
Ryan had a pre-existing condition: jerkedness
Ryan is a coward, setting up a phone call to get out of the scavenger hunt after they had already planned the whole thing. His mocking of the group and usual humorous bad behavior seems much more inconsiderate once he tries to back out of such a thoughtful party. Luckily, Lauren (Laura Benanti) is able to set him straight, even after learning that Ryan was a jerk before the death of his wife, as well.
Ryan's grudging agreement to go through with the whole thing leads to a few new surprises, including plenty of Mr. K (Brett Gelman) moments, which are always surprising and hilarious. Two of the best moments include Mr. K streaking, and Mr. K bonding with Anne (Julie White) over their passion for musicals. It was amusing to see the two of them dance together.
Sarah gets a new pet: Steven
Ryan has agreed to babysit Steven but has decided, instead, to go on the birthday scavenger hunt. Steven is recovering from surgery, so Ryan has to leave him with Sonia (Sarah Baker), the cat lady. Because Steven is high on drugs after the surgery, Ryan warns Sonia not to allow him to go shopping or make major life decisions. Sonia can't resist Steven's pretty face, however, and immediately makes him her new pet. While she's stroking his head like a cat, he convinces her to take him on a shopping spree.
Steven is always a bit of an odd duck. Somehow, we never get to learn much about him, despite the fact that we've learned a bit about his past. Even though Steven is entertaining, it would help if viewers could learn why he's so weird so we'd care about the character a bit more.
Janie sends a gift from the grave
The group is thrown for a loop when a limo that is not part of the scavenger hunt shows up and takes them all (including Steven and Sonia, who show up as they're leaving) to a hotel. The room has a romantic tone, which leads to the group having to admit that it was part of Janie's pre-planned surprise gift for Ryan. She had set everything up before her death.
The group's ironic anger at Janie for making it nearly impossible for them to tell Ryan the truth without upsetting him was a nice twist. They finally understand why Ryan didn't always appreciate having such a thoughtful wife.
It can be difficult to put on a happy face to save someone's feelings, even when you just don't feel like doing anything tremendously elaborate for your birthday. The group (and viewers) can now understand where Ryan is coming from, even if he's a self-centered jerk for not appreciating all the hard work that went into doing nice things for him.
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