American Dad: Holy Sh** Jeff’s Back review

American Dad returns from a lengthy hiatus with a winning episode and a long-awaited returning face

“Hey mister, how was space?”


It’s been so long since the last American Dad episode that I found myself getting quite excited to finally be seeing something new tonight. That excitement managed to multiply considerably when the title indicated we’d at last be witnessing Jeff’s triumphant return to Earth (hopefully with a ghost Sinbad in tow). If American Dad has any sort of recurring story arc at this point, then it’s certainly been Jeff’s exodus to outer space. Jeff has been an agent of change and continuity for the show, and ever since his marriage to Hailey, he’s slowly been needling progress through the series.

I’m sure many of us never thought we’d return to Jeff’s storyline, but the same people probably thought Roger kicking him into a tractor beam would have been the last we saw of him…and then we were given one of the series’ finest episodes ever in the form of “Lost in Space.” While I certainly didn’t expect, “Holy Sh**, Jeff’s Back!” to match the insane levels that were reached there, I was expecting something special. And thankfully, after the month of repeats, and nearly years of wondering, this episode delivers.

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I could have gone without the beat of Stan wanting to murder Jeff because of his knowledge of Roger. After his marriage to Hailey and acceptance into the family this feels more than a little ridiculous, but it isn’t something that takes up a lot of time.

However Jeff accordingly starts acting like the model son-in-law and trades in his bong and Phish albums for a “Fro Yo Bros” t-shirt, much to Hailey’s chagrin. As soon as this plot begins to feel cliché, the carpet is thankfully tugged out from underneath us. This isn’t Jeff at all but rather Zebleer, an alien of a very Rick and Morty-ish variety. This is a pretty satisfying development (and really, we should have known this wasn’t the real Steve when ghost Sinbad wasn’t by his side) that becomes even more so when Roger (and by proxy Hailey) figures out what’s going on by the midpoint of the episode.

Things continue to get complicated in unexpected ways, and much to this episode’s credit, it never stops moving. Maybe the smartest thing Hailey’s ever done is dragging Roger with her into the Collectors’ ship. If we’ve learned anything from this show it’s that people tend to get stranded in places and bringing Roger with you is a surefire way to stay alive. He’s a cockroach. This episode keeps you guessing and playing with the idea as to whether it is or isn’t actualy going to give you back Jeff, and it’s an accomplishment on its part. I got more excited when I saw Hailey facing the ghost of Sinbad than I have all season, and I knew everything was going to be okay. The fact that it seems Jeff got himself involved in some Guardians of the Galaxy situation where he’s been catalogued is just sprinkles on the froyo.

Things wrap up surprisingly succinctly and it doesn’t even feel that much like a cheat (Men in Black references notwithstanding). I’m actually interested to see if the show will start incorporating Jeff stories back into the rotation, or if he’ll just be relegated to the background after all of this work.

And speaking of the background, oh yeah, there’s a delightful B-story where Steve is taking care of Snot’s hamster while he’s away at Jewish camp. What’s so wonderful here is that Snot’s hamster is killed almost instantly by Jeff/Zebleer and it’s moved past so quickly that it’s almost an afterthought. Rather than watching Steve try to take care of a hamster in a dangerous environment, we see see Steve trying to find an already-dead hamster which is a much better route to go down, especially with Steve.

All of this makes for an especially strong return to American Dad, and if the final two episodes have the same momentum behind them, TBS’ first season will go out on a great note.

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Anyways. Space stuff, y’know.


4 out of 5