This American Dad! review contains spoilers.
American Dad!: Season 12, Episode 10
“You must think I’m a monster just because I’m a cannibal now.”
It’s kind of surreal to think back on American Dad as Seth MacFarlane’s new show (R.I.P. Family Guy) that premiered after the Super Bowl to fill the void after the unjust cancellation of his irreverent three-season wonder of an animated program.
A lot has changed since then (You’ll outlive us all, Family Guy). With American Dad slowly refining and perfecting its distinct sense of humor in a way that would make it the strongest animated program on television for a while (seasons five and eight are truly flawless, guys). Not many television programs get to see the production of 200 episodes. The amount of those that have accomplished such a feat that are animated shows are an even more select group, at that. American Dad no doubt deserves to be added to this prestigious list, somehow clawing its way to twelve seasons, and even surviving a network change in the process.
American Dad is a show that absolutely enjoys producing big spectacle episodes, whether it’s a seamless Bond parody, becoming a piece of theater, or the weird mythos that’s been established through episodes like “Rapture’s Delight.” For their 100th episode, 100 characters were killed, no less. This is not a show that messes around, so clearly expectations for their 200thepisode would be just as lofty. Thankfully, right from the opening seconds of the episode when you see the ominous text crawl, IN THE NOT TOO IMPOSSIBLE FUTURE, you know that you’ve got something special on your hands here.
“The Two Hundred” posits our American Dad universe into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. After the events of “The Bang,” Stan wanders this destruction in hopes of finding his family. The atmosphere achieved here is completely on point, as it makes a meal of all of this hopelessness (not even the Pizza Overlord is safe from annihilation). Endless graffiti warning of “The 200” and touches like upside down American flags help set the scene as the eerie chords of “Oh Shenandoah” amplify the feeling of loneliness. There’s even a pretty slick move where the show’s usual theme song begins, only for it to almost immediately malfunction and short out. It’s all deeply melodramatic, but in the best possible way.
We learn that Stan was on a mission in South America when “The Blast” took place, with him now being adorned in a number of crazy tattoos that commemorate the mistakes that he’s made. As the episode finds a bit of a pattern, we’re treated to flashbacks pre-Blast showing Stan with each of his family during what would be their final moments together. Seeing how each of these tattoos relate to family members works well enough, and the trajectory of this separation making Stan want to be a better person in the process also tracks.
As Stan embarks on his journey to find his family he ends up being accompanied by a number of familiar faces in the process. Principal Lewis doesn’t seem to be faring well with these current conditions at all, having turned into a pretty gung-ho cannibal and marrow sucker. Later Stan finds himself paired with a legless Greg as they head to the sanctuary of the New Haven (not to be confused with New Haven, Connecticut, which is not safe). Greg’s increasing damage toll and his perseverance through it all is a solid gag, but it’s not until Stan reunites with Roger (or rather, Clifton, a man in rags) that things really come to life here.
It’s not that surprising to learn that Roger is actually The 200, who’s just doing a lot of smoke and mirrors in order to keep the population in a state of terror and acquire their goods (see: spoons) in the process. In spite of Roger not contributing much to helping Stan find his family, a reunion still ends up happening with the Smith family coming to their aid. Hailey’s “Never bring a gun to a bird fight,” juxtaposed with Steve’s, “Net!” are just perfect reintroductions to them. I also thought it was pretty clever that all of Stan’s negligence towards his family ends up toughing them up in ways that result in them being able to save his life in the end. It’s a satisfying full circle trip that’s taken.
It feels like “The Two Hundred” has managed to wrap much of itself up after filling in the details that a hadron collider explosion is responsible for the infamous “Blast.” There’s also a “Dry Bones collapsing” sound effect in play when a skeleton is vaporized and falls apart from the explosion, in what’s an odd, albeit appreciated touch. A brief, and out of place rap by Bullock about being the king of the cannibals also takes place, but I’m not going to chastise any opportunity to hear Stewart awkwardly singing.
I would have said that “The Two Hundred” wasn’t as good as “100 A.D.” until its final minutes rolled around. The ending here is really a triumph all around where it turns out that The 200 is real with Roger being responsible for everything. In what’s one of the most rewarding segments of the entire series, literally all of Roger’s personae are unleashed and listed gratuitously (with fan favorites like Ricky Spanish getting special highlights). If you’re a long time fan of the show, this sequence is honestly too much fun. I counted through all of the personae that are listed, and the total is 43, which definitely feels like all of his personalities that have had names at least. From this point on the episodes maintains this level of ridiculous incredulity with Jeff and a giant fire-breathing Klaus acting as a giant exclamation point to it all. Whether this new future shown is the new “future canon” moving forward or just a ridiculous endnote, it’s a great way to ride things out.
As American Dad now boldly heads into the next 200 episodes, with the quality present here, as well as through this twelfth season in general, I can definitively say, “Seeya, I would wanna be ya.”
Or something like that.