American Dad! Season 13 Episode 18: “Mine Struggle”

Episode grade: B+

First off, I apologize for missing last week’s episode, but since it wasn’t that great, I don’t really feel guilty. Plus, I was with friends and family, which is extraordinarily unusual in my pathetic life, so cut me some slack.

The beginning of this episode wasn’t all that promising, at least that was my first impression. American Dad! already did the “treasure hidden under the Smiths’ property” way back in season four’s “Stanny Slickers 2: The Legend of Ollie’s Gold”. Discovering a huge deposit of salt directly under the backyard seemed like a fairly conventional wacky animated sitcom setup, and at the highest level it played out like one. The real beauty, as is so often the case with this show, is in the details.

Stan signing over their property’s mineral rights to Steve when he was only eight in order to con him out of some valuable baseball cards is textbook father-son relationship with these two. And Steve meticulously maintaining a database of all his legal contracts is about as hardcore Steve as you can get. The Morton’s Salt people try to exploit Steve’s obvious weaknesses (i.e., being a horny virgin) by offering him THE Morton’s Salt girl (or the male executive, his choice!) but Steve’s attachments to his happy family memories cannot be purchased.

There are some great Smith family moments here. Steve wanting to preserve his precious family memories is only the tip of the iceberg. Stan continues to idealize his father, despite all the years of neglect, so much so that he literally recycles the same treasure hunt clues for Steve that his father did for him. Hayley values the family memories, but values the idea of being able to protest an environmental disaster from her own bedroom even more (apparently Hayley is lazy even when she’s not stoned out of her gourd). Francine is in full-on “crazy badass” mode here, willing to get Steve drunk (or poisoned) so he’ll sign over the mineral rights. And despite the fight over whether the family should sell out, nearly tearing them apart, in the end all it takes is the realization that their memories together are the real treasure, and a family barbecue neatly mends those emotional wounds.

And of course, Roger turns out to be the MVP in the end: turns out the salt deposit was a long-con setup. Roger knew Stan would eventually have to clean the patio and wouldn’t be able to resist using Roger’s massively overpowered pressure washer, thereby uncovering the 40 pounds of salt he’d hidden there 3½ years previously, and that the Morton’s Salt folks wouldn’t be able to resist trying to purchase the salt mining rights. All because Morton’s messed with one of Roger’s personae many years ago. Because no one holds a crazy grudge like Roger… and for all that effort, with all the expenses factored in, his long-con netted him a profit of $40. Enough for a bag of charcoal briquettes for a family barbecue!

Overall, another fun chapter in the lives of the Smith family. Familiar enough so that nothing’s too unexpected, but with enough fresh twists, random absurdities, and shitting on Klaus. Yet another entry in a remarkably enjoyable season.

Random observations:

“I’m a little busy getting 20 years of crap off the patio.” “Is Brett Ratner’s career on the patio?”

Klaus’s cheek peeling off… harsh.

“The YAAARD!” I really wonder if Scott Grimes’ voice can handle these glorious Steve screams for much longer.

“Hear that? I’m gonna have a big, veiny shaft!” “Are they salt executives or genies?” (Didn’t Roger just compliment Stan’s wang?)

“They’re so shiny!” “So’s Hayley’s forehead, but you wouldn’t call that a treasure.” The origin of Hayley’s headband finally revealed!

“And if anyone knows what’s official, it’s A FISH, Y’ALL!” [Klaus gets passed off-camera]

Steve seems to either have a gay implication every episode, or an oedipal implication. Tonight was the latter.

Nice to see Suckboy Tony referenced again. I sense great things for that guy.

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