Photo: Netflix

It’s not a surprise that Santa Clarita Diet ended Season 1 on a cliffhanger—that’s what shows do. But it was unexpected that it would leave the Hammonds (and Eric) so completely up in the air heading into (the hopefully coming) season two.

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Basically, Dr. Wolf (Portia de Rossi) comes to the Hammonds’ house to make a cure for Sheila, though it’s a bit more complicated than that. First of all, it’s not a “cure.” It’s simply a concoction that will halt Sheila’s deterioration, but leave her in the same undead state she’s been in since she turned. Not exactly the answer Joel was looking for from Dr. Wolf. Secondly, it’s a very complicated formula, requiring bile from a pure Serbian, so cue the wacky hijinks trying to get Principal Novak’s grandma to throw up into a bucket.

In the end, they can’t get what they need, so Dr. Wolf says adios and leaves the priceless Serbian book in the hands of Eric and Abby—if they do manage to get the Serbian bile, they’re on their own. That was the only part of the finale that really didn’t work for me. Dr. Wolf being a cold, no-nonsense scientist was fine; De Rossi’s delivery was quite funny at times.

But it rings a little false that she would just abandon the Hammonds like that, with Joel arrested and Sheila chained up in the basement, the (again) priceless Serbian book left in the hands of two teenagers. Sorry, nope. Not buyin’ it. That felt like a cheap way to have everyone in greater peril than if Dr. Wolf was there with the teens trying to figure out what to do and the show didn’t need to do that. Having Joel and Sheila indisposed was peril enough.

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I will say, however, that even that bit of the episode not ringing true wasn’t enough to dip my grade of this episode because the Sheila and Joel stuff was so off-the-charts fantastic. The finale was yet another excellent study in marriage, which is definitely why I have felt a personal connection to the show, which has only grown with each passing episode. The zombie thing is just a metaphor for whatever insane thing happens to a couple in their middle-age years, when they’ve settled into a comfortable, boring routine and then something comes along—an affair, job loss, cancer, death, etc—that puts even the best marriages to the test.

The Hammonds might be the new best marriage on TV, but “best marriage” doesn’t mean everything is sunshine and rainbows, and that was on brilliant display here. Basically, if the treatment doesn’t work, Joel is going to have to kill Sheila, and he doesn’t want to, but part of him knows that that would make everyone’s lives infinitely easier, no matter how hard it would be at first. He doesn’t want to keep killing other people to feed his wife and who can blame him? That’s a big ask and also supremely dangerous. If Sheila were dead, that all goes away and he and Abby could try to be normal.

Sheila, meanwhile, knows how much Joel is starting to resent her and what her problem has done to their family and getting past resentment is a huge challenge for a marriage. All of their interactions this episode were outstanding and a little heartbreaking, especially when Joel finally admitted, “I don’t know if I can keep doing this.” All they can do is try their best, but this is putting a huge strain on their marriage and it has been explored beautifully on the show.

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Plus, how are they going to get out of the mess they’re in, especially Joel? He was arrested at Principal Novak’s grandma’s house and hauled off to the psych ward because, let’s face it, he sounds like a crazy person. And what are Abby and Eric going to do? They’re resourceful, sure, but this is a fairly large predicament they’re in right now.

But the only real question that remains is when will Netflix renew this gem? Because we all definitely need to stay on this ride with the Hammonds.

Stray observations

  • The baseball bat conversation is too good not to include most of it here.
  • “I made you a smoothie from the last of that Porsche guy.”
    “I thought I finished him.”
    “Nope. I found a bag of his face behind the ice cream.”
  • “Oh my god, are you serious? You’d kill me with a bat?! … and bash my brains in, that is so angry. Where is that coming from?”
  • “That’s Dr. Wolf, did you put out the fancy soaps?”
    “If I didn’t, are you going to bash my brains in?”
    “Oh good, that’s not gonna be a thing.”
  • I love Sheila’s hair as a physical example of how much being a zombie has helped her come alive. Do you remember how drab it was when the season started? But with every passing episode, it just gets more and more fabulous all tousled and beachy and sexy. I have some serious Sheila Hammond hair envy.

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