Overview (Spoilers Below)
Klaus has had it with the Smith family. They pull a mean-spirited prank on him and almost throw him down the garbage disposal which is dark even for them. So, with no other outlet, Klaus vacates the Smith household, vowing never to return—and the jerks don’t even stop him.
Fifteen years later, the Smiths, who have gone their separate ways, are all informed that Klaus has died. The scene plays out just like the beginning of The Big Chill and is underscored by “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” I’m not sure if that was the actual song from the film; however, that’s not a complaint against American Dad’s spoofing prowess but rather a nod to the awesomeness of The Big Chill soundtrack.
Anyway, Stan is living a sad and lonely life after an ugly divorce. Francine continues to live in the family house with her new husband, Toshi (gross, right?). Jeff and Haley are still together and have six children. Steve is a tech millionaire in the field of robotics. And Roger is up to his usual silliness, driving around in that old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles underground vehicle the bad guys used, and whatnot.
The family reconnects at the old house, brought together by a nun named Sister Madeline. She claims to have met him while handing out food and blankets to the homeless, but really she’s just some woman Klaus murdered to take over her body. That’s right, Klaus is alive and has waited fifteen years to get his revenge by farting at a fake funeral… or something…
Okay, so the plot is a little thin, but once Klaus makes his obvious reveal, he traps the family—not Toshi, Jeff, or any of Haley’s kids because they’re not important—inside his old fish body. Oh yeah, and he also traps himself because he’s not a very smart fish.
Anyway, after accidentally setting fire to the house, the broken family must patch up old wounds to navigate Klaus’ clumsy body outside before the flames engulf them. Challenges along the way include Haley’s sociopath son, Noah, and Steve’s jerk-off robot, Douglas, who’re both taken care of by something hard that begins with the letter “P.”
Afterward, the family is reunited in their human bodies, finally aware of Klaus’ importance to their familial happiness. When they all gang up on the fish, they get along, but without a common punching bag they suffer. So, hooray for Klaus, I guess…
It was a little strange to have an American Dad future episode that wasn’t also a Christmas special. Typically the program sticks to its own feasible yet insane universe and has yet to delve into time jumps—until now. I’m not sure how I feel about this. It was a rather good episode, but the ramifications might be astronomical. If this was a one-off, so be it. But if this is opening the door for a slew of off-canon episodes I consider myself disinterested.
Having future Francine married to Toshi was an odd choice. I can’t say for certain, but it feels like Curtis Armstrong—Snot’s voice actor—was unavailable and the writers simply pivoted. Why else would Steve call him his “best friend” unless something seriously untoward is destined to happen to Snot in the next few years?
My new favorite character has to be future Stan. He’s so delightfully pathetic. But it’s the little things that really make this former CIA agent come to life. The fact he won’t kill himself until he can afford a bullet for his beloved cat proves that remnants of a kinder, gentler Stan still exist. Also—as evidenced by the giant flag hanging in his shotgun shack—his patriotism remains unyielding regardless of the darkness that has befallen him. That’s such a refreshing characteristic for the unhinged, borderline-insane patriarch.
As far as Klaus episodes go, this is about as good as we could’ve hoped for. Klaus is super annoying, so why not play up that angle? They really showed how the family could bond and stay together over a universal hatred for a fish; a glorious revelation after all these years. With that being said, Dee Bradley Baker—the voice of Klaus—did an amazing job transitioning back and forth from the sweet nun and a vengeful Klaus.
Also, let’s take a moment to appreciate how the family wanted nothing to do with whatever lesson Klaus was trying to teach. (Was it how it’s impolite to fart at a funeral? We’ll probably never know.) I mean, Haley would’ve been fine abandoning her family and living inside Klaus’ head indefinitely so long as she got to watch TV. If the house hadn’t caught on fire, the family probably would’ve lived out their days inside that damn fish, resenting one another until they died.
In a way, the true hero of this episode was Roger for irresponsibly leaving a candle burning beside his bed. Three cheers for Roger! And screw you, Klaus.