American Dad! Season 13 Episode 21: “Next of Pin”

Episode grade: B-

Stan and his son Steve: one of the most core-level sources of conflict within the Smith family. Steve, the nerdy, wimpy son of the big, strong, CIA strongman, who never fails to disappoint. Well, that’s not exactly true: Steve has many hidden talents, though it’s fairly unusual when Stan can recognize, let alone appreciate, them. Ranging from his understanding of Tolkien elvish language to decipher an evil mastermind’s ransom notes, to his amazing singing (due entirely to voice actor Scott Grimes, who’s an accomplished singer himself), Steve’s abilities may go against the grain of the stereotypical golden boy, but he’s proved time and time again that he’s far more than what Stan usually thinks of him.

The setup here is pretty typical, to be honest: Stan is searching for something that Steve can do that might make him proud. Entirely by accident, Stan stumbles upon Steve’s natural ability to knock things down with a heavy spherical object, and decides to take him bowling. Steve’s talents are immediately picked up by a random onlooker (who also happens to be a talented bowling coach), and as the standard sitcom cliché goes, Stan is cast aside as Steve’s greatness is far too much for Stan to shepherd.

In the end, Stan does what Stan does best: screws things up in a somewhat psychotic, wholly Stan-like way, by committing a random act of assault on his own son to prevent him from going pro. Steve finally admits that he was going to throw the last frame, since spending time with his father was more important than being a world-class bowler. Really standard boiler-plate sitcom level stuff here, though with just enough amusing deviations to make it worth a good amount of giggles.

Meanwhile, in the B-plot, Klaus challenges Roger and Hayley to a contest of boredom endurance: viewing all of Ken Burns’ Bicycles, a drawn-out documentary that even Burns himself has disavowed. Nothing particularly novel here… standard B-plot filler, though with a few pretty good moments, especially at the end when Roger moults his skin in order to escape the ordeal.

So, here we are at the penultimate episode of what has turned out to be a surprisingly solid season. Next week’s “Standard Deviation” will wrap up Season 13, though we still have at least one more season beyond that to look forward to. See you then and thanks once again for reading!

Random observations:

Holy shit, that JFK “strike” animation was hilariously gruesome.

“Bald-ass alien piece of shit.” God, who doesn’t adore Francine?

The giant spider devouring the bowling technician is classic AD random absurdity.

“I assure you, Mr. Smith, had I been making an attempt at humor, I would have said ‘BOOM shaka-laka’!”

Watermelon Steve reminds me of Ham Rove.

“Oh, shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit…”

“They should call my boy ‘The Lumberjack’ the way he’s choppin’ down all that wood… or ‘Working Girl’, the way he works those balls, so nice and sweet! You know what, let’s stick with ‘Lumberjack’!”

“You don’t tell Steve about this, and I won’t tell Klaus you’re the one who broke his Dilbert mug.” “Okay, deal, DEAL!”

Transparent Roger… holy shit, that’s gruesome as when he was eviscerated by the alien hunter.

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