This American Dad review contains spoilers.
American Dad: Season 14 Episode 10
“Your car is now your former fish, bro!”
I wonder if some writer on the American Dad staff just won a bet for how many times they can fit the word “zagnut” into 20 minutes. It’s a word that stands out as unusual the first time it comes up, but by the time you’re buried in the avalanche of zagnut references by the end of the episode, it’s hard to not be amused. That mentality is relatively applicable for this installment as a whole too, in an episode that mostly centers around Stan and Klaus’ relationship.
“A Nice Night for a Drive” gets to shift the spotlight onto Klaus, with his health taking an unfortunate turn for the worse as he’s developed a nasty—and deadly—case of fish cough. Fish cough can be cured, it’s just a costly surgery at $10,000. Without it Klaus is left with a 1% chance of survival. Consummate Klaus shrugger-offer, Stan, isn’t too keen on fronting this bill, so Klaus brings up the bright idea of swapping him into another body to avoid the decaying fate of his fish shell.
Meanwhile, Stan is over the moon with his new NaviJoe car navigation system, something that Stan evidently does think is worth $10,000 ($11,000, to be accurate…) So of course, a bizarre car accident—that’s not really explained in too great of detail—sees Klaus getting put into NaviJoe and becoming the new nav system in Stan’s car.
As Stan struggles with the idea of Klaus driving him around everywhere, the two of them attempt to broker a solution. Klaus has high hopes of getting some new fancy robot body whereas Stan sees something like a water heater or emergency flashlight being more in the former fish’s wheelhouse. That being said, once Klaus proves that he makes for a pretty bad ass vigilante vehicle (a lot more Knight Rider than My Mother the Car) suddenly Stan is willing to let the swap stand. Maybe there are unforeseen benefits here after all.
Stan and Klaus might be riding high for most of this episode, but eventually this joy riding is put to an end when Stan’s car (along with the Klaus-fueled NaviJoe) gets jacked. This late addition of suspense drives the final act of the episode home. It appears that Klaus has been stolen by Zenoc, a criminal who likes to steal cars and zagnut bars. Klaus isn’t stuck in his clutches for too long.
I’ve spoken a lot about this season and last about how sometimes the most sublime Roger plotline is one that’s fueled by simplicity and his manic ego. The most mundane of situations, like getting his food order complimented at a restaurant or having cute flight attendant banter have been scenarios that have resulted in heavy bloodshed. One of the templates for this sort of episode is “Virtual In-Stanity” where Roger very famously kills five people for 20 dollars. Roger’s quest for vengeance in that episode is what I was reminded of the most during Roger’s attempts to best Steve and friends here, which is very, very good news. Unfortunately, it never hits the same heights as these previous efforts.
Steve and his friends’ prank is incredibly lame as far as pranks go—if you can even call it a prank! They simply order ice water from a Del Taco, rather than ordering anything that actually costs money. Roger lets them know how weak their prank ranks, but that’s until they happen to accidentally prank Frank Trueblue (who’s “essentially a cop”), another of Roger’s alter egos who’s itching for an ax to grind.
Steve and company’s only savior is Frank’s stalwart wife, Stacey. She’s able to cool Frank off by the goodness of people. This material really isn’t given enough time to develop much, but the constant look of fear on Frank and Stacey’s children is a beautiful touch. It’s nice to also see this story pivot from Steve and friends to Frank and his family who are being held hostage by his short fuse. Watching them operate on eggshells hoping that nothing goes wrong on their evening is a lot more fun than it should be. All of this caps itself off with a truly ridiculous ending that’s not only predictable but had me laughing out loud just for all of the specific choices it decided to make.
“A Nice Night for a Drive’s” ending feels a little premature on both plotting accounts, but it still ends up working. Not to mention, it also feels like a lot of ground is getting covered this week. A Stan and Klaus pairing isn’t the most common for the series and while this episode isn’t the proof that such a team need to constantly be getting episodes, this certainly proves that it can work. In a season that has gotten great mileage by using Klaus effectively in the background, letting him run the show doesn’t become a wasted opportunity.