This image was taken from the official trailer for “Inside Job Part Two,” distributed by Netflix.

JFK was assassinated by the deep state because he was pregnant with aliens. The moon landing was faked and filmed by Stanley Kubrick because the real astronauts started a moon sex colony. Flat Earthers are idiots because the Earth is actually hollow and filled with psychic mushroom aliens. No, I haven’t been huffing paint — those are all episode plotlines from Part One of the 2021 series “Inside Job.”

“Inside Job” is a workplace sitcom about the shadow government corporation Cognito Inc. and its rival secret societies, where nearly every conspiracy theory is true in the funniest way possible. When the show was first announced as an adult-oriented animation created by Shion Takeuchi — part of the creative force behind classic cartoons like “Regular Show” and “Gravity Falls” — I became increasingly hyped for a show that could fill the hole those classics left behind, especially seeing “Gravity Falls” creator Alex Hirsch listed as executive producer. The first season exceeded all my expectations with its exceptional animation quality (seriously, every explosion and expressive character animation makes me rewind) as well as its perfectly-paced comedy, character development and worldbuilding. Part Two takes all of these elements straight to the top. 

First off — while it takes a second for the show to find its footing, it is so fucking funny. I genuinely haven’t laughed as hard and as loudly at a show like this in months. It doesn’t always hit the target perfectly; there are a lot of millennial references mixed with Gen Z humor and it frequently parodies “hip” writing, which comes off as more cringy than self-cognizant (like when they make the Pope dab), but it makes up for this with spades of other forms of self-awareness and comedic social commentary. My favorite jokes are offhand comments about Internet hoaxes that are cover-ups in the “Inside Job” universe (like Mr. Rogers being a Vietnam sniper). This season maintains the first season’s premise of executing conspiracy theories in the wackiest way possible (all A-list celebrities are immortal vampires which is why they always date super-young women for their blood) while poking fun at society and civilization (the female protagonists sneak into a red carpet premiere by making sure they look above 30 and therefore invisible to Hollywood). For all its comedy, however, “Inside Job” is surprisingly character-driven. 

Our protagonist is the overworked, underappreciated and ultimate gaslighting (proficient mind-wiper) and gatekeeping (she has secret labs INSIDE her secret labs) girlboss, (former child prodigy, current adult genius) Reagan Ridley (Lizzy Caplan, “Fleishman is in Trouble”). She’s the Cognito task force leader, head roboticist and aspiring CEO. Part Two picks up almost immediately after the first season’s final twist. At the close of season one, Reagan’s narcissistic, manipulative and admittedly genius deadbeat dad, Rand (Christian Slater, “Archer”), regains his position as CEO after living on his daughter’s couch due to being ousted for trying to cure all skin cancer by destroying the sun. This is a bit inconvenient, as Reagan just renounced her father and told him to move out after finding out exactly how neglectful and manipulative he really was, thinking she was about to be CEO. Part Two tackles Rand’s power tripping and Reagan trying to cope with her current reality among the development of all the other characters.

Reagan’s best friend and co-Cognito team leader is Brett Hand (Clark Duke, “The Croods: A New Age”). His initial introduction as a super-unqualified generic cis white dude to temper Reagan’s intensity is amazingly subverted by the fact that he is somehow the most wholesome and emotionally knowledgeable member of the team despite his own shaky familial history — a perfect foil to Reagan. The rest of the cast is equally perfect as Part Two reveals more about its characters. The show somehow makes you feel sorry for the team’s asshole psychic alien mushroom Myc Celium (Brett Gelman, “Stranger Things”) by detailing his Hollow Earth high school experience. It also makes hyper-patriotic half-dolphin super soldier Glenn Dolphman (John DiMaggio, “Futurama”) somewhat tolerable after some shroom-induced empathy courtesy of constantly-high biochem head Dr. Andre Lee (Bobby Lee, “Reservation Dogs”). Season two even sees the formerly genocidal robot Alpha-Beta (Chris Diamantopoulos, “The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse”) learn to feel after Rand’s ex-wife Tamiko (Suzy Nakamura, “Dead to Me”) almost uses him as a rebound after dumping Keanu Reeves (Roger Craig Smith, “Interrupting Chicken”).

Side characters like JFK assassin Grassy Noel (Alex Hirsch, “The Owl House”), cloning scientist Dupli-Kate (Cheri Oteri, “Big City Greens”) and the head of HR, Mothman (Ron Funches, “The Great North”) also get brought back this season for some love. Power-savvy PR and Media Manipulation head Gigi Thompson also gets more highlights (because frankly, she wasn’t well-utilized last season) as she becomes Reagan’s sole girl-talk confidante — because our favorite genius is finally learning to love.

Introducing: Reagan’s new love interest Ron Staedtler (Adam Scott, “Severance”), a mind-wiper for Cognito’s rival company — the Illuminati. I’m gonna be real. I didn’t like the romance being set up for Reagan at first, especially because of Part One’s subversion of an enemies-to-lovers arc for Reagan and Brett to an enemies-to-besties arc instead. Their friendship — one of my favorite parts of the show — takes a backseat this season to focus more on Reagan’s romance rather than platonic relationships. However, the couple grew on me by being so goddamn adorable in every scene by matching each other’s quirks and neuroses. Additionally, Ron’s growing discontentment with the deep state sets up a deeply interesting conundrum for Reagan: choosing her happiness or her job. 

It was a common theme for character arcs to grow on me throughout Part Two despite my initial negative response to their presence. J.R. Scheimpough (Andy Daly, “Close Enough”), past CEO and a perfectly evil capitalist caricature who was whisked to an inescapable prison last season, finds his way back to the company in Part Two and is unceremoniously and somewhat hilariously reinstated as an intern. However, he serves as a vital character later in the season as the story of his friendship and rivalry with Rand is revealed.

Rand’s increased presence in this season also didn’t feel right. It was a pivotal and powerful moment when Reagan cut her father off last season, so seeing that reduced to a workplace rivalry felt like the showrunners thought JR and Rand were too funny of characters to kill off or vilify completely. However, the show reveals that despite all Rand’s machinations, his toxicity has doomed him to be ultimately unhappy as he alienates his loved ones — a cautionary tale for Reagan rather than a villain to dismiss entirely. 

The insightful nature of “Inside Job” is its biggest and most welcome twist. It’s as heartfelt as it is hilarious, while still presenting the audience and characters with the ethics of being the team at the very top. Upon finding the president’s robotic replacement prototype, Part One has Brett ask: “Question. Is this place evil?” to which Reagan responds, “Is Facebook evil? Is Starbucks evil? At least here I could develop war that could prevent tech with Atlantis.” All the characters are ethically compromised (at least to our standards) by default, but they still try to be good to each other. Reagan is especially interesting because, during her rise to the top of the shadow world, she constantly flips between believing her control is the only way to save humanity from itself and that it’s too close to her father’s egotistical ambitions.

I binged all eight episodes of this season the night I came home for break, laughing my ass off the entire time and sobbing at the emotional arcs toward the end. With one last twist ending Part Two, I now find myself donning my own tinfoil hat, trying to connect every dot I can in a fervent effort to find out where the story heads next and when the next season will drop.

Daily Arts Writer Saarthak Johri can be reached at sjohri@umich.edu.