American Dad!: S13E04 “N.S.A. (No Snoops Allowed)”

Episode grade: B

The relationship between Steve and his father Stan has always been a bit of a wild card in this show’s run. Unlike with Hayley, there’s not really any underlying animosity between them. In fact, in the first season, Steve was depicted as being daddy’s boy, unblinkingly supporting and championing his big strong dad’s righteous
authoritarian philosophies. In subsequent seasons there were the inevitable conflicts one would find in a long-running television show, though they were still few and far between. Steve and Stan’s relationship has remained probably the least adverse one in the entire Smith family.

That’s not to say that their conflicts can’t get pretty nasty when they do occur, however. Stan went full-on Blade Runner on Steve’s cloned daughters in “Steve and Snot’s Test-Tubular Adventure”, and in “I Ain’t No Holodeck Boy” (among many others) the conflict reaches an absurd level of stubbornness (usually on Stan’s part) before being resolved in the last act.

Which makes this episode somewhat unusual in the American Dad! canon. The conflict between Stan and Steve begins in a fairly conventional way: Stan makes fun of Steve’s weak handshake in front of his coworkers, and concludes that he’s not “CIA material” and refuses to let Steve go with them to lunch at Applebee’s. Understandably hurt, Steve is lured over to the CIA’s rivals at the NSA in order to get revenge on his dad, but it turns out he’s just being used by the NSA and is thrown out as a “discarded asset” after providing them with the covert data they were after.

But then only about halfway through the episode, Steve confesses his sins to Stan. Stan kicks him out of the house, but then in a surprising twist, shows up at Steve’s treehouse in the woods in order to plan revenge on the NSA with Steve in a location where the NSA can’t listen in. Now allied, Steve and Stan infiltrate the NSA and, working together, manage to destroy their servers and save the day (for the CIA at least). Afterwards, Stan takes Steve to Applebee’s and teaches him how to give a firmer, more manly handshake. It’s a relatively touching ending, affirming once again that the Smiths really do love each other despite their conflicts.

In the B-plot, Hayley accidentally eats a little bit of veal (despite being a vegetarian for over a year) and in a bout of overwhelming guilt, purges the offending meal. However, Roger suggests that she might as well make it a “cheat day” since she already ate some meat. She eventually relents and goes with Roger to a burger joint. Ever the enabler, Roger encourages they go to Korea Town, where Hayley swallows whole an octopus begging for its life.

Their storyline culminates in Hayley confessing she wants to eat the brains of a gorilla, but specifically a gorilla capable of sign language. Unsurprisingly, Roger knows a guy, and hilarity ensues when Roger’s guy turns out to be scamming people into eating fake gorilla brains and paying him off not to turn them into the government. Not a terribly consequential B-plot, but the climax was worth a few good laughs, so it worked for me.

Random observations:

Guest voices by both Billy Bob Thornton and George Takei this time. They’re really doing a great job with incorporating celebrities without getting absorbed in them this season.

“And though we’ve had our failures…
• The Bay of Pigs
• The whole Vietnam thing.
• Radical misunderstandings about the intentions and capabilities of the Soviet Union.
• Destabilizing Iran.
• Interfering in Jamaican elections.
• Botched efforts to assassinate Fidel Castro.
• Failure to anticipate the Iranian Revolution.
• Iran/Contra.
• Failure to predict the fall of the Soviet Union.
• Failure to predict Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
• Aldrich Ames (geez, that guy).
• Failure to predict 9/11.
• The whole W.M.D. thing.
• Everything since 9/11.
• Illegal torture.
• Spying on the United States Senate.
… we’ve won our nation’s trust.” Hell of a dig on the CIA. Hope the episode’s writers are gonna check under their cars before starting them for a while.

“Do you ever listen to my conversations with Snot?” “We’re the NSA, we got better things to do than to listen to two confused kids flirt with each other.” Third gay insinuation re: Snot this season.

Ugh, Steve’s weird tiny eyes are back. (While the most common depiction, there have been several episodes depicting him with normal sized eyes under his glasses.)

Steve getting a boner climbing the rope marks probably the 93rd episode in a row where someone discusses his erections or masturbation habits (not that I’ve counted).

“You’re what we call a ‘discarded asshole’!”

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