If you read my reviews of The Santa Clarita Diet season one, you’ll recall that I am kind of over the moon for this gory comedy. The Hammonds are utterly charming and the show is putting forth one of the most realistic portrayals of marriage on TV right now, all framed by Sheila’s pesky zombie problem, which allows for absurd humor and copious amounts of blood—just what every family comedy needs, right?
Season two picks up right where the season one finale left off: Joel is in a mental ward after trashing the principal’s house, Abby and Eric are working to synthesize a serum that will stop Sheila’s deterioration, and Sheila is chained up in the basement. Over the course of the episode, all of those problems are neatly solved (or not so neatly, in one case) and a new wrinkle is introduced that is super intriguing. But let’s back up.
In the hospital, Joel’s roommate is a man named Ron (played by the wonderful Jonathan Slavin of Better Off Ted and Speechless), who appears on the surface to be an unstable man who thinks he is being watched by interdimensional beings called “asparagous.” The interactions between Joel and Ron are so great I found myself almost transcribing them in my notes, but instead of posting a transcript, I’ll just say that Timothy Olyphant and Slavin have a fun chemistry together and I hope this is not the last we’ve seen of Ron, though I suspect it might be.
When Joel gets past the “asparagous” thing, he discovers that Ron’s current episode was most likely triggered by his wife dying. They share a really lovely moment at group therapy where Joel commiserates about how he lost his wife for 10 seconds and wished at that moment he had died with her. This demonstration of compassion is what gets Joel released, so he promptly scurries down to the morgue to procure some Serbian bile (because they need it for the serum, remember).
Meanwhile, Abby is using her can-do attitude to procure some bile on her own. She posts an ad on the internet looking for Serbian vomit and in the sea of penis pictures, she manages to get one legit response—though he’s still a super creep who follows her home after giving her the vomit because this is the internet and of course he is.
When vomit-seller Goran tries to act like he and Abby have some kind of magical connection and advances toward her, Sheila comes home (she and Eric had gone off to save Abby from internet vomit guy) and rage kills Goran in the kitchen. It is spectacularly bloody in a way that is so over the top that it hardly even registers as gory, more just hilarious (though I’m sure some people do not feel that way).
Joel comes home to the aftermath and freaks out a little, which is understandable, even in the face of Eric successfully creating the serum that will keep Sheila from getting any worse. Sheila is obviously still very dangerous, though I would argue that she didn’t rage-kill Goran for fun. She thought he was threatening her daughter (which he was) and she killed him. Not the best solution, but it’s understandable if you factor in her zombie urges. It’s not like Sheila is just going to snap and kill the mailman for no reason or something.
After spending part of the night alone, Joel realizes that Sheila can be kept under control and also that he needs her, so he goes down to sleep with Sheila in her de facto dungeon. He doesn’t want to lose her, so they’re going to make this work. And then Abby joins them and I’ll tell you what, I teared up a little at the shot of the three of them in bed together. It’s a lovely callback to early season one.
The best genre shows use supernatural or otherworldly problems as metaphors for the real-life boring problems and that’s one of the strongest things about this show. There’s a rift in Joel and Sheila’s marriage, but they love each other and want to work hard to keep their family intact. It’s something countless married couples encounter all the time. It’s just with the Hammonds, we get it with a side of kidney.
I wouldn’t have minded if the show had spent one more episode of Joel and Abby working through some things, like if they had taken a day or two to be apart from Sheila and then realized they need to try to be a family. Everything wrapped up fairly fast in this episode. But it’s also kind of fine because I’m excited to see what new problems arise in season two...
Namely, Ramona the Rite-Aid girl possibly has a crush on Eric—and she’s a zombie too! That’s great. Something has definitely been off about Ramona from the beginning of season one, but “zombie” wasn’t the first thing that came to mind, so that was a fun surprise. It’ll be interesting to see if her crush is real or if she’s just using Eric to get to Sheila, whom Ramona obviously knows a lot about.
- There are so many good quotes from this show. I laughed out loud several times during this episode. But I tried to edit down to just my favorites.
- Eric: “In six months, your mom may be just a rotting, indiscriminate killing machine ... but probably not! We don’t know! It’s all good!”
- Eric: “You have handcuffs?”
Sheila: “We recently discovered how intense sex is if your lover orgasms while you—how much of this do you want to hear?”
Eric: “Less than that.”
- Joel: “Our kitchen looks like the inside of a shark.”
- Sheila: “I was going to take Abby dress shopping on Thursday. She likes that store Debbie and Debbie’s, but you have to ask for tall Debbie because white Debbie is a c*nt.”
- Of course, Joel writes Yelp reviews.