The Wife:

We missed out on SLOTAT while we were finding our dream home with a murder basement up in Seattle, and it appears we made the correct decision to not immediately watch the post “having sex will kill your dad in an airplane crash” episode until we had another one to pair it with. “What’s Done Is Done” had three basic plot lines:

1. Grace is mewed up to her heavens (Shakespeare!) and is, like, really fucking angry at everyone because she’s transferring her own self-hate onto others. This show is deep.

2. Every character in the SLOTAT universe has a discussion about whether or not they will/can/should attend Dr. Bowman’s funeral. Like I said, deep.

3. Amy is a tired new mom, coping with changes in her life, which she uses as an excuse to be a total fucking bitch to everyone else.

This is another way of saying that nothing actually happened that moved the story forward. Sometimes SLOTAT gets into these writing ruts where different sets of characters will have the same conversation numerous times, such as the discussion of funeral attendance. Adrian tries to convince Grace that she’s not responsible for her dad’s death (which she fails at doing, even though I think she said Grace’s name about 23 times during this scene, which is how she demonstrated how serious and caring she was being) and asks her to attend her father’s funeral, George helps ex-wife Mrs. Bowman execute Dr. Bowman’s funeral plan, Amy realizes she’s the only one not going to the funeral and acts like a total fucking bitch about it, Madison and Lauren appear for all of two minutes to participate in a totally pointless and frustratingly circular conversation about going to the funeral versus babysitting John versus doing Amy’s job for her so she can go to the funeral, Ben and Ricky fight over which one of them has to cover at the butcher shop so the other can go to the funeral . . . bah! This just kept happening and happening and happening and I don’t understand why! Did we run out of actual plotlines and character development? Is this all we’re left with? Redundant discussions about funeral attendance and debates over the correct terminology for the monstrous catered trays of cheeses and meats available at fine retailers such as Costco and Sam’s Club? I do not care if it’s a cheese tray or a party platter! I just want you to tell me a fucking story!

It takes a lot of makeup to make Megan Park look this un-pretty. (And even then, shes still really cute.)

It takes a lot of makeup to make Megan Park look this un-pretty. (And even then, she's still really cute.)

The following episode, which ended with Dr. Bowman’s delightfully quirky golf course funeral (because doctors LOVE GOLF!!!!) and a Kathy Kinney-led chorus singing “When the Saints Go Marching In” while actually riding on golf carts, was basically just a continuation of Grace’s continued struggle with her intense guilt (and some transference of that guilt onto Adrian, who clearly made sex look so tantalizing that she’s actually the one responsible for Dr. Bowman’s plane crash . . . yes . . . that’s it) and yet more whining and bitching from Amy about how she really wants to go to the funeral and is mad she can’t go because she has to work. Boo! Responsibility and childcare are hard! So hard, in fact, that Amy, very darkly, delivered my favorite line ever uttered on SLOTAT:

“I don’t have time to dream.”

Did she trade identities with Ashley? Christ. That’s almost as heavy as my favorite from Grace in “What’s Done Is Done”:

“He had a horrible death because I had incredible sex.”

SLOTAT suddenly became very, very dark.

“Par for the Course,” which is a golf pun in case you were wondering, concerned whether or not Grace would show her face at her father’s funeral. Some confusing arguments were made, the most perplexing of which came from Jack’s dad, who claimed that while he doesn’t necessarily frown upon premarital sex, he believes sex should occur only within the confines of marriage for the protection of the female partner, so they’re not violated or devalued. That makes no sense to me for two reasons: 1.) There are many places in the world where religious law requires women to be virgins when they are married, which sometimes lead to men marrying very young girls to ensure their virginity. 2.) There are also many marriages in which the female partners are sexually abused by the husbands such an argument claims will protect them. I also raise an eyebrow at that kind of rhetoric that continually frames women as things to be protected.

Taking a minute away from being a douchebag to comfort Kathleen.

Taking a minute away from being a douchebag to comfort Kathleen.

As Ann finds herself in the position Amy was in at the start of the show (although actually pregnant Molly Ringwald is obviously way too pregnant to match her character’s level of pregnant and the production folks at SLOTAT are not nearly as good at masking her as other shows might be), she and George discuss the terms for finalizing their divorce, and she and David maybe, possibly proceed towards marriage, providing George goes through with that whole divorce thing. George actually had a couple of soft moments in this pair of episodes, comforting his ex-wife as she mourned the loss of her husband and telling Ann that, when they divorced, he wouldn’t try to take her house from her as, after 14 years of marriage and two children, “I figured I owed you the house.” That sentiment was probably the nicest thing I’ve ever heard come out of George’s mouth, but even that didn’t last long as about 30 seconds later the two were bickering again.

Almost as much as superbitchmom Amy, who really, really, really does not want to have sex with Ben anytime in the near future, even though he kind of really wants to now. The writers achieved some semblance of character development with this plot, as Ben’s father goes to work with him so Ricky and Kathy Kinney can attend the funeral. Ben perceives this as yet another person who doesn’t think he can do anything (coming on the heels of Amy’s complete belligerence toward his desire to babysit and subsequent perceived failure when he leaves the baby with his father and soon-to-be-stepmom Betty the Escort for five whole minutes), and tells his father as much, storming out of the butcher shop in a fit of anger, echoing the fight Grace and her father had only episodes before. Luckily for Ben, Betty the Escort picked him up and drove him to the funeral, along the way dishing out some unsolicited advice about how he shouldn’t be upset with his father because if he loses his family, he’ll probably end up becoming a male prostitute somewhere along the line. I don’t really know what happened in that scene, but, at the very least, I learned some more about Betty, so that’s a plus.

I truly believe these two episodes would have been stronger as one entity, although on the other hand, I appreciate the realism of drawing out the aftermath of Dr. Bowman’s death a little longer. SLOTAT just doesn’t have the actual dramatic content to bridge that gap anymore. What’s up with this season and why don’t I care?

Quotes that amused me:

  • “We’re not married. I don’t have to tell you what my plans are.” – Ricky, with a sneer.
  • “Does this look like a baby store? Are we selling babies here?” – Kathy Kinney, to which Ben correctly retorts that they do sell veal.
  • “Don’t glamorize teen pregnancy, okay?” – Mama Ringwald, in the show’s most self-aware moment.
  • “Don’t try distracting me with a whole bunch of questions no one can answer!” – Bitchface Amy, about a bunch of questions that someone actually could answer. I mean, it’s not like Ben asked her about the meaning of life; he just wanted to know if her mom was going to marry her boyfriend!
  • “Even if you killed him, he’s with Jesus now. Mom isn’t.” – Tom, softening the blow a little bit. I think.
  • “Obviously you’re okay with you son having sex because you’re still alive!” – Grace, to Jack’s dad.

The Husband:

While the quote “I don’t have time to dream” is definitely the darkest line the show has ever possessed – it’s something I should say to homeless people begging for money in order to creep them out – the funniest line in SLOTAT’s history was the aforementioned (and re-mentioned here) piece of genius, due to its mixture of sheer inanity and illogical rage:

“Don’t try distracting me with a whole bunch of questions no one can answer!”

And while I agree that this two-episode intense focus on the drama surrounding Grace’s father’s death (didn’t this motherfucker die hard enough on Smallville several seasons back?) went on far too long, I’ve been greatly enjoying something my wife passed over – Adrian’s extremely frank sex talks with her father, which walk the line between earth-shatteringly inappropriate and kind of sweet in a Kevin Smith sort of way.

And I hate to be this guy, but the developmentally delayed actor who plays Tom, Luke Zimmerman, usually portrays a very sweet guy who just has trouble getting words out but is really struggling with some of the more serious dialogue thrown his way, and I try my hardest to stifle a giggle whenever he tries to scream at Grace. I like the kid, but Chris Burke he is not. (Shit, did you know that Corky from Life Goes On is 42 now?)


The Wife:

It’s been a little less than a year since we last laid eyes on Reaper, and while I didn’t forget about the tone of the show, how much my husband is like Sock (because I basically decided that he should try to emulate Sock’s slackeriffic style since they’re so similar in build; what works on Tyler Labine will work on my husband) or, say, that whole plot point about the demon revolution with Ken Marino and Michael Ian Black, I did forget the entire thing that happened with Sam’s dad faking his own death.

Which of course Sam doesn’t know about, the faking part, so in response he, Sock and Ben disappear for a month on a road trip in Sam’s sweet green Prius (which I also forgot he drove, prompting me to go: “Hey! I own one of those!”). Naturally, they don’t tell anyone, which means they return to Washington homeless, jobless and, in Sam’s case, Andi-less. See, he was supposed to send her a letter he wrote about how he needed to figure some shit out and recover from his dad’s alleged death, but he gave it to Sock to mail. And Sock never mailed it. Go figure.

Reapin souls and lookin good doin it.

Reapin' souls and lookin' good doin' it.

But that’s not the end of Sam’s problems. The Devil is also not very pleased with him. To make up for the number of souls Sam has neglected to capture by taking a month off, The Devil gives him a cattle prod and sends him to catch 20 really, really hulked-up souls in some kind of pugilist soul fight club. Question: The Devil can find Sam anywhere in Washington, why doesn’t that power extend to oh, say, other parts of the world? Like, why wouldn’t The Devil have simply popped up to party with Sam while he and his friends were getting busy getting so wasted that Sock forgot his own name in Lake Tahoe (that happened to me too, once, one fateful weekend)? I generally have to assume that The Devil can find you whenever he wants to, so I fail to understand why he wouldn’t have found Sam sooner and made his deadbeat son (since the show really wants us to believe Sam is The Devil’s son, and the characters are willing to believe it, too, although, personally, I don’t think its true given how little evidence we have been provided) get back to work.

Regardless, the guys set about trying to squat in Sock’s house, but there’s some strange hot Asian girl there who won’t let them come in, so, instead, they break into The Work Bench to sleep and get caught by Ted, who’s totally ready to call the cops on them until Sock threatens to expose Ted’s various money making schemes in which he buys Work Bench products at cost and sell them to private customers for a profit. Blackmail gets them their jobs back. With that secured, Sock tries to get them back in his house, and this time, the cute Asian girl lets them in, revealing that she’s Sock’s mom’s new husband’s daughter, thus, Sock’s step-sister. She’s housesitting while their parents are on their honeymoon, so she invites the boys to stay with her. Sock very much wants to do her, but grows fiercely protective when anyone else suggests her hotness, as any good big brother should:

Sock: She’s hot, am I right?
Ben: Smokin’.
Sock: Shut your mouth. That’s my sister. I got dibs.

So, with two out of three issues solved, Ben and Sock try to patch things up between Sam and Andi by presenting her with a “recovered” version of Sam’s letter, including such choice lines as, “I have some stuff to say about feelings.” This makes her laugh, but does not quell her fury. Meanwhile, Sam tries to conjure up The Devil to see if he can pull the “I’m Your Son” card and have some of his 20-soul workload lifted. The Devil refuses to do so, insisting that while he appreciates Sam’s attempts at nepotism, he’s sired many children, and all of them really suck at doing evil. Instead, he doubles Sam’s workload in order to get the boy to prove his mettle.

With double the souls, the boys decided to pull an all-nighter to devise a plan to capture the souls.

“We may not have gone to college, boys, but we can certainly cram like people who did. Bottoms up!” – Sock

I assume this is exactly what they did during the 4 weeks they went missing.

I assume this is exactly what they did during the 4 weeks they went missing.

After a night of drinking and pizza, the boys come up empty handed, until Ben’s mighty ‘fro (“My hair hurts.”) comes up with this: why not get all the souls wasted and capture them when they’re passed out? To implement this, they attempt to steal a beer truck, but that scheme gets foiled, so, instead, they buy a bunch of beer on the Work Bench corporate card and hijack a Work Bench delivery truck, painted over with a Beer Baby logo that was meant to be a leprechaun, except that Ben can only draw babies. This plan goes well, until the souls start firebombing the truck. Eventually, however, they all pass out in a pile, allowing Sock and Ben to lower Sam down from the roof Mission Impossible-style to zap sleeping souls back to hell as the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” plays across the scene. Perfect, hilarious music choice. Ben’s skills at knot-tying, however, are not as stellar as he claims and Sam eventually falls into the pit of souls, waking each of them. They are definitely not happy to be awake. Sam tries to escape by climbing up to the catwalk of the warehouse and swinging out the window on a firehose, only to swing back in through the bottom floor window. Thinking fast, he lets loose a spray of water on the souls, stunning them momentarily . . . until the water runs out. Faced with an army of angry souls, Sam turns the cattle prod to the puddle of water on the ground and turns it on, zapping all the souls in one amazing electric mess.

Except for one guy.

This guy, though, he’s different. He’s not tatted up and grunting like all the other souls. In fact, he looks just about Sam’s age. He tells Sam he’s different, and he escaped from hell by piggybacking on those dudes. Sam tries to zap him, anyway, figuring any escaped soul needs to go back to hell, whether he’s assigned to nab it or not, but the cattle prod doesn’t work on this dude. Sam demands to know how this dude got out of hell for good, and he promises to tell if Sam gives him the vessel . . . which he promptly knocks Sam out with.

This knowledge that one man beat his deal with the devil is enough to lift Sam’s spirits. He goes to Andi with evidence, and apparently the idea of a way out is enough for her to forgive Sam after yelling at him about shirking responsibilities and constantly having to worry that he might be dead. They kiss. All is well. Frankly, that’s a little sudden for me, but largely, this is a comedy, so I suppose we have to follow the Aristotelian Poetics and return to the status quo.

The Devil is very impressed with Sam’s ability to capture so many souls, telling his possible-son that he’s pleased Sam hasn’t turned out to be a dud after all. But Sam’s excellent mood from getting back together with Andi and meeting Hell’s own One That Got Away makes The Devil wary, and he calls off their celebratory evening out.

This episode was weird for me. Maybe it was the time off between seasons or if it was simply that this episode wasn’t that good. There are a lot of holes here. For instance, what the fuck happened to that cattle prod full of souls. Did The One That Got Away take it? If so, how could The Devil count the job as completed? Why didn’t they have to make this job as complete as any other by delivering the vessel to Gladys the DMV Demon? (And I do vaguely remember her betrayal last season, but I thought Sam begged for her to be spared and The Devil acquiesced? Gladys or no Gladys, there’s a procedure here. That vessel should have been given to someone at the DMV.) And still the unanswered question from last season: what exactly is the deal with Sam’s Earthly parents?

The Devil, however, was in rare form in this episode, however uneven it was. Here’s a couple of good lines from Old Scratch:

  • “I just wanted to tell you that your pentagram is a Star of David. Mazel Tov!”
  • “Where did you get this book? The Devil is attracted to radishes? What does that mean? Like, sexually?”

The Husband:

Man, I don’t know what nearly every critic out there (plus my wife) is smoking, because I loved this episode. As far as non-mytharc, standalone, soul-hunting episodes go, I thought it was one of the best, and that’s coming from someone who got almost annoyingly bored after the first couple weeks in s1 until the show came back, post-strike, and introduced some sweet ass gay demons from MTV’s The State and their plan to trick The Devil.

Yes, I’m a bit confused and frustrated by some of the stuff that happened in the four-week time span between s1’s finale and this episode that was not told to us, nor do I think it will ever be addressed. Why would Andi get so mad about Sam dealing with his father’s “death”? What exactly was the funeral like if there was no body? Was there a funeral? Can you really get evicted for simply missing one rent payment? Do we actually have enough proof that Sam is the son of The Devil? (I don’t remember ever seeing the actual full contract, nor was it read to us in any form other than the one with all the pages ripped out.)

But the soul-hunting was fucking great. It was funny, it was clever, and, surprisingly for this show, it was well-staged. (Having Kevin Smith, a self-admitted shitty visual director, helm the pilot, did wonders for the show’s comedic flow, but started a very long trend of poorly executed action sequences that didn’t let up until some time near the butt end of the Demon Revolution.)

I hear two episodes from now, though, that we’re in for a mega-treat, so I’m especially glad that I liked this critically-drubbed opening episode.

And oh man, they created one of the best lines of dialogue I’ve heard in quite some time:

Sam: Sometimes in order to do something good, you have to do something bad first.

Sock: I want you to keep that in mind when I eventually make love to your mother.