This American Dad! review contains spoilers.
American Dad!: Season 12, Episode 7
“And I forgot about that vow for a very long time—because I had stuff going on—but now it’s back, with a vengeance.”
With the past handful of episodes of American Dad’s season establishing a very comfortable, confident groove, this episode wastes no time as some fairly over-the-top CIA-level theatrics see Stan being put in charge of the prestigious position of the yearly CIA calendar—only the number one fundraising means for the organization. With the stakes appropriately set, Stan even hires Tyrese Gibson as the latest CIA employee as a means of lighting a fire under Bullock and causing him to get even more ripped for the impending calendar. It’s all leading to some mediocre Bullock-as-Hulk jokes (and disturbing woodland animal massacre), but I’ll take them.
Stan in “calendar mode” has him flying through a wealth of assistants, with his newfound power going to his head more than anything. Witnessing this, Hailey views the opportunity as the perfect chance to finally get back at her father for being endlessly critical to her. There might be a bit of a hackneyed story that prompts this plotline, but the emotion behind it is genuine, and it’s not long before Hailey has snuck her way into Stan’s trust and the episode is able to gain its namesake.
Meanwhile Roger’s persona du jour is a college-bound student who ends up falling into the alluring temptation of a free Discovery Card. While some time is devoted to watching Roger run loose with power, thankfully the episode goes in a bit more interesting of a direction than Roger simply on a shopping spree. Learning that the world has more or less gotten over Discovery Cards is a harsh reality for Roger and Steve to accept, that is until they find the last place that their kind may find acceptance—a secret underground mall from the ‘80s (as well as a number of solid ‘80s fueled gags, California Raisins, included)
This is all pretty standard fare as far as Roger goes, but honestly, one of the bigger joys of this storyline was seeing how Roger and Francine have been holding Steve’s education hostage as they peddle him helplessly along through errands. It adds a nice, twisted dimension to all of this that moves it all a little further than a standard Roger and Steve plot. The idea that Steve is actually here under duress—or would prefer to be watching his mother sleep—is a welcome distinction for the episode to make.
Roger ends up achieving his pittance of a goal fairly quickly in the episode, being left with the fallout of his Discovery Card bill in the process. Interestingly, the episode then moves in the direction of Roger trying to successfully fake the death of his persona, Jeremy Nederhoff, in order to avoid his huge bill. It’s a great layer to add on topic of all of this, while also trying to have Roger be responsible for his cavalier actions, which is always entertaining. It’s always worthwhile when reality is trying to get the better of Roger, rather than it just serving his every whim.
Back at the CIA, Once Hailey is able to get inside the belly of the beast, she becomes aware that despite her desires to destroy something of Stan’s that he cares about, she sees that the CIA is hardly the well-oiled machine that Stan might have been billing it as in the first place. It arguably doesn’t even need an opinionated daughter to go all saboteur on it. Surprisingly though, Hailey’s plans go up in smoke when Stan actually ends up thinking she’s done a good job and daresay, is proud of her—a gesture so jarring to Hailey that it forces her to lapse into a musical fantasy segment (where there’s a great, subtle touch of the background dancers wearing “Stan chins”).
The final act sees Hailey and Jeff scrambling to recreate Stan’s ruined calendar proof book in crunch time, proving the many wonders of Photoshop in the process. It’s a pretty delightful montage that the two go through, and a strong example of how this episode smartly continually mixes up its pairings throughout its runtime, keeping the energy fresh and using the full cast to their strengths rather than having tunnel vision on a few characters.
There’s a surprisingly poignant conclusion to all of this, where Jeff, of all people, manages to get through to Stan and have him choose his daughter over himself, which is a pretty big deal for the egomaniac. The episode even nicely manages to wrap up on the same beach that was pivotal to Hailey and Stan’s childhood rift. These are still reasonably pat ways to resolve the episode in the end, but this can act as a reminder that you don’t always need some huge, flashy ending. Sometimes just tying up your beats in a warm bow can be enough.
And just in case anybody missed that, Klaus has killed three teenagers.