This American Dad! review contains spoilers.
American Dad!: Season 12, Episode 12
“I’m like an onion. When you peel away the layers there’s nothing left…except tears!”
Last week’s American Dad might have been a worthy example of how Roger works in a microcosmic sense when we’re given him in small doses. “The Dentist’s Wife” dives head first into the wild card of a character and how his introduction to Meredith Fields, the most interesting and fabulous woman in Langley Falls, shakes him to his core. You see, at the time Roger is masquerading as the Samantha Kingsbury, and Roger naturally takes offense to fancy Meredith, her fancy book club, and her fancy charity (for awareness), as it means less cream at the top for Samantha Kingsbury. It’s not long until Roger learns that Meredith’s married to a dentist and it’s the final straw. He must overtake her.
American Dad manages to be quite economical with its cold open here, framing Roger’s trajectory right from the start. And speaking of that cold open, that prolonged Roger aghast gag is all sorts of wonderful. It might cramp on the style of an over decade old Simpsons joke where Homer comes across some shocking infidelity, but American Dad takes the ridiculous concept even further. Its final beat lands hard.
This Roger story goes in a pretty interesting direction. Rather than trying to have Samantha Kingsbury compete with Meredith, Roger instead scours the annals of his persona wardrobe for a formidable character that is capable of taking her down. When this proves uneventful he turns to cobbling together some Frankenstein’s Monster of a costume that will suit his needs. This season has spent a little more time than usual getting into the mechanics of Roger’s costumes and this is another strong example of him needing to problem solve with his personae rather than just strutting one out. The fact that we actually see how Roger makes his sausage here with his elaborate factory is the icing on the cake—or the epaulets on the cape, in this particular situation.
Outside of Roger and his narcissus, the rest of the Smith family take up CrossFit this week, with it pretty quickly backfiring on the family the following day. As their muscles recuperate from their workout and they find themselves in entropy, Klaus holds them hostage so to speak, in some more good use of the character this season. As he calls the shots, his demands are not the sort of dictator-like requests that you might expect. Mainly, throwing a long overdue birthday party for himself with a bunch of Craigslist derelicts. And these guys like to move it move it. There might not be much to this story, but it’s still a lot of fun to see the abject horror on the immobile Smith family. And a vindictive Klaus is always a good Klaus.
As Roger continues on with Meredith and his swank new persona, Cecelia Takaru (born on a sleigh ride outside of St. Petersburg) fails, he hits the realization that all of his personae are lies that are hiding the fact that he’s empty inside. “The Dentist’s Wife” broaches the question of how Roger can build an identity when he’s become so accustomed to pretending to be other people. While none of us expect Roger to ditch his costuming ways by the end of the episode, it’s a nice development to address for the character and a story worthy of the time that it’s given here. After this long into the series having a frank discussion about the usefulness—or even the handicap—of Roger’s shifting security blanket makes a lot of sense.
Roger doesn’t waste this opportunity for independence to go to some reasonably dark places as he Single White Females Meredith and takes over her life. Surprisingly the conclusion of all of this pushes one of the stronger pro-Roger messages to come along in the show. “The Dentist’s Wife” is a powerful reminder of everything that Roger is, and like Francine says, why he is pretty amazing. Last week’s episode was so satisfying because of how much it took on. This week’s excels because of what it chooses to say and the reminder that there is a person under those many layers of clothes, wigs, and prosthetics. The episode is just busy enough with a humble B-Story that makes you smile rather than trying to give every character their own mission. It’s a stronger episode for it because like we all know, sometimes if you just add one ingredient too many into something you can get a Raider Dave situation on your hands, and nobody wants that.