Mandatory Spoiler Warning
Son of Zorn joins the Turkey Day sitcom tradition, as Edie’s mom Roberta (Jenny O’Hara) stops by for dinner. The crux of this episode is no surprise: Roberta has never approved of Zorn, making his presence at dinner less than welcome. Simmering conflicts with in-laws are nothing new on TV (or real life) Thanksgivings, but in this case, it is hard not to admit that Roberta’s disapproval is not all that unreasonable (though her arrogance is not a good look). Her discomfort at Zorn’s history of willy-nilly killing on the battlefield is the typical cultural difference between in-laws writ large.
Zorn is actually willing at first to accept the disinvitation, so he hangs out at the office, where he gets to spend some quality time with Linda, who is hiding out because she just hates Thanksgiving. When she points out to Zorn that he has marginally improved since moving to Orange County, he suddenly convinces himself that he should crash dinner to prove to Edie and Roberta how much better he is than when he and Edie were together. But Roberta is the type of person who brings out the worst in others, so she constantly antagonizes her ex-son-in-law throughout dinner. Lucky for Zorn, though, the thoughtful Craig is there to suggest combating the insults with compliments. It is a nice idea in theory, but in practice, it just results in frustration akin to Zorn trying to stuff himself into Craig’s pants.
The day gets even more out of control when Zorn gives Roberta a slice of smorcleberry pie, a Zephyrian delicacy that is lethal when not served properly. And improperly serve it Zorn does, though entirely out of carelessness and not at all out of malice. He gets right on to bringing her back to life by concocting an elixir with the help of Craig, Alan, and Dr. Klorpins (it would be nice if Nick Offerman has a more substantial appearance in a future episode). It works just fine, and Roberta is no worse for the wear, but it is hard for Edie not to take her mom’s side, so Zorn heads home.
Throughout the whole episode, Alan has been subtly (but actually really obviously) been dropping hints to get his grandmother to pay for a music program he wants to attend. She is totally down for that, but only under one condition: Alan must never speak to his father again. It is at this moment that Edie sees her mom for who she really is. While Zorn is far from perfect, he clearly has been making an effort to change – the same cannot be said for Roberta. So the episode ends as happy Thanksgiving episodes are wont to do, with a reunion of the core cast at Zorn’s apartment.
Son of Zorn looks to be settling into a groove in which its average episodes are perfectly worthwhile. “The Battle of Thanksgiving” does not establish any new paradigm, but its instincts are all right. Individually, the main characters are still being fleshed out. Zorn and Craig may be able to carry an entire episode on their own, Edie is getting to that point, while Alan still has a lot of work to do. But when they are all together, the show really hits its stride. Add Linda to that mix, and we’re really cooking. Her few minutes in this episode are just what we want out of her, but we could go for even more. Maybe next year if we’re good, we’ll get a treat and she will be invited to Edie’s for dinner.
Memorable Lines and Other Stones of Insight:
-“Oh, on all the scrotums. Okay, all right. Thanks, Doc.”
-“You know, Edie this might not be the right time to say it, but you got a book in you.”
-“When I first met you, you were violent and incompetent, and now you’re … less those things.”
-We continue to learn more about Zephyrian culture in bits and pieces. Now we know that “learning” is a sex crime.