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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

American Dad: “The Full Cognitive Redaction Of Avery Bullock By The Coward Stan Smith”

Illustration for article titled American Dad: “The Full Cognitive Redaction Of Avery Bullock By The Coward Stan Smith”
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Stan Smith is a company man with cracks in his image. He’s dedicated to the cause, but not so emotionally bereft that he doesn’t occasionally let his emotions get the best of his decision-making ability. Hand-picked as Avery’s one true protégé, at first, Stan loves the assignment, which boils down to throwing things at the office punching bag and making dick jokes. But when confronted with the possibility of destroying his mentor so soon after earning the assignment, Stan bucks the trend of foolhardy excessive patriotism and fidelity to the CIA in favor of his friend and mentor.

An internal affairs agent comes to Stan with news that Avery is exhibiting signs of dementia, and must have his memory forcibly erased by the agency to neutralize the threat of a decliner leader. Stan reluctantly goes along with the plan, driving a whistling Avery out of town to a drop-off point, but can’t go through with the plan, and aided by some very helpful CIA agents directing Stan’s three point turn in typical black suits and dark sunglasses, he escapes without any interference.


They set off on an adventure to expose the conspiracy between government officials and Big Oil. Avery’s trail leads to exploring Kevin Costner’s compound—complete with Dances With Wolves, Field Of Dreams, and Waterworld sets, going undercover at a pet store in unconvincing dog disguises, and stealing a nuclear submarine. Gradually, Stan starts to lose faith in his mentor, believing the dementia diagnosis—Avery’s insistence that they go to Houston to take down the now-defunct Oilers franchise is a big red flag—and resolves to give Avery one final amazing day of pedicures, piggy back rides, and cigar smoking in suits on top of a submarine. But once Stan goes all Of Mice And Men on Avery, he doesn’t die. He just reverts to his normal self, actually affected by a brain-altering chip on the back of his head.

Rightly, Avery scolds Stan immediately. Sure, following protocol would’ve meant turning him over to the CIA, but he serves his country, not this one boss, a man Stan allowed to steal an armed nuclear submarine. Letting that confused loyalty get in the way proves he’s an unworthy protégé, more suited to “the biggest demotion in the history of jobs.”

Over in the B-plot, Steve deals with yet another bully at school, a new kid who’s already beaten up a teacher. He seeks advice from a reluctant Roger, but all of this is a preamble to get Stelio Kontos back for a small part, bringing in the Stelio Kontos theme song. But whereas Steve employed Stelio to get revenge on his father, this time, Roger orchestrates yet another complex revenge plot after taking offense at Steve’s correct assumption that initially Roger wanted to dress up and be the one to handle Steve’s bully problem. This happens over and over again with Roger, setting up elaborate schemes in retribution for the most insignificant bit of offense. That’s part of his appeal, the petty and fickle nature of the ways he chooses to occupy his time. He’ll take the extra time to remove his costume while painting a model plane, revert back to being Roger while talking to Steve and destroying the modeling table, then carefully put his costume back on before exclaiming in disbelief the destruction he just wrought.

Roger’s idea that the new school bully would leave Steve alone because nobody wants bully sloppy seconds is some hilarious ingenuity, but Steve then makes everything more difficult by trying to get the new bully Luiz to attack Stelio. That backfires almost immediately, leading to even more of the Stelio Kontos theme music, produced by Roger. There is no message about bullying to be found here, just reveling in ridiculous personal theme music and marveling at the extreme gulf between an insignificant slight and how far Roger will go for revenge.


Any episode featuring a plethora of Patrick Stewart is bound to be an adventurous good time, and this week doesn’t disappoint. From the dog costumes to the long walk-and-talk through the Costner property to Avery dancing after Stan turns off the music in the sub, the main plot has many creative an unexpected turns. The show wouldn’t kill of the character, which took some tension out of the ending, but any episode that focuses on Avery Bullock has the same effect as the sparing use of Adam West-centric episodes on Family Guy, using a character with multitudinous comedic possibilities in the best way.

Stray observations:

  • It continues to be strange that Kevin Costner’s brother Dan contributed to the cleanup effort after the BP oil spill with his filtration system.
  • No Hayley or Klaus this week, and basically a cameo appearance for Francine, but an episode of Patrick Stewart going zany is totally worth the tradeoff.
  • Next week: Roger goes to his home planet in order to retrieve Jeff, continuing the plot that has lingered in the background for this half of the season.

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