This American Dad! review contains spoilers.
American Dad!: Season 12, Episode 11
“And the popular kids won’t be invited. It’ll be a part for kids like us, the dorks. And the kids that are both stupid and unattractive!”
After the pomp, circumstance, and 200 Rogers-ness of the last episode of the series, it’s nice for the show to follow-up “The Two Hundred” with a humble Steve and Snot escapade. And by humble, I of course mean a reality bending episode involving time travel.
Following a merciless egging at a party at Mertz’s (always read the back of your invitations, kids), Steve and friends are tired of constantly being the brunt of the cool kids’ jokes and missing out on all of the great teenage fun and parties that high school should be full of. They decide to turn the tables accordingly (the idea coming courtesy of a creepy custodian, America’s wisest) by throwing their own party. I mean, they can’t not invite themselves to their own event! Steve tries to become virtuous with the idea, deciding to turn it into an event that celebrates those that have been neglected from parties, and intentionally shunning those that are used to the spotlight. A party for the “unincludeds!”
This sort of celebration of the meek is really sweet, and also contains the line, “One mustn’t always watch CSI: Cyber the night that it airs,” which might be the first truly great modern Steve line. It makes me think back to his astute observation that we got years back about Saturday Night Live and Keenan’s “What Up With That?” Contemporary Steve is good Steve as far as I’m concerned. PS: That “Please Rebel” cash box of his is just perfect characterization right there.
Meanwhile, Stan and Francine’s pointed vacation that’s actually a take down on the damages of the Olympics is not only a wonderfully bizarre distraction for the two of them, but also an exceptional Stan and Francine bonding activity. It’s not hard to imagine them having a great time on this Schadenfreude-fueled getaway. We really don’t get much of this mini-story, but it’s a plausible reason to get them out of the house.
Roger and Hailey also get to share a storyline that is just as superfluous as Stan and Francine’s vacation’s is spiteful. With Roger, I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. He and Hailey are dining at a “nouveau Fre-talian” cuisine restaurant, with Roger being convinced that he’s going to wow the waitress (the always reliable Aya Cash) with his amazing order: the tuna tartar with quail egg, the duck with pear mostarda, and a prosecco. The waitress’ dismissal of Roger of course drives him over the edge, prompting some vintage Roger narcissus as he’s determined to impress her.
I actually love Roger’s plan here, where he goes back to the restaurant with Hailey in disguise, with the two of them reversing their orders from before. There’s an uncanny logic to it, that of course when it doesn’t work, the plot begins to feel like one of the best “World Against George” stories on Seinfeld. Only Roger’s willing to cut a bitch. Or scalp, in this case.
Back at the Smith household, it doesn’t take long for Steve and company to pull off their party to great success and manage to humiliate Mertz on top of that, too! The episode takes a rather unexpected turn at this point though when a swankified version of Steve and Snot from 2040 travel through time to tell them about the dangers of the party they’re throwing. What’s a little rift in the space-time continuum on this show, right?
Like most of the best time travel fare, “The Unincludeds” has some complicated plotting, but it pays off. In fact, the reveal that the janitor who inspired the party in the first place is actually a grown up Mertz, trying to seal their fate, is straight up genius. Basically the party that Steve is throwing is a death sentence for his future, causing him to choose between being happy now or later. It’s a no brainer for him, but not so much for Snot. As silly as all of this seems (and the constant future jokes keep it light), it’s nice to see this rather heavy question get dealt with as these kids try to negotiate through a somewhat serious situation.
Steve is having an easy enough time making a no-impact mark on the party in his search for Snot, until home-schooled bombshell Lolo Fuentes shows up. Steve can’t help himself and the episode takes on an even more twisted direction where we see that his and Snot’s actions at the party continue to warp the future versions of themselves that have traveled through time. It then becomes a game of messing with their actions as their try to reset things in the right manner to get their future selves back to the right levels of cool.
There’s honestly too much to get into about why this episode is great. There are some immensely satisfying set pieces here like Future Homeless Snot complaining about the fixed nature of rat races while peeing in the corner, as Steve let’s out a simple cry for his rain boots, that aren’t even in the top half of the enjoyable things of the episode. Later on we see the cause and effect relationship of Steve doing amazing magic and his future self becoming some deranged turtle monster.
The only real complaint here is that the final moments of the episode feel rushed, if anything. The C-story with Stan and Francine ultimately isn’t really necessary, although I’m glad the episode spends a minute on it. The sequence that ends Steve and Snot’s story is a lot of fun and the upping of its stakes made me laugh. It really embraces some nonsense here. Punctuating that with the gut-punch that Roger’s storyline goes out on makes for a bit of a stark ending in a full episode, but one that reminds you of the good that’s gone down.