How many times has a Seth Macfarlane show parodied Die Hard? That number goes up by one with American Dad‘s latest episode, ‘The Long Bomb,’ wherein Stan and Hayley have to stop a terrorist plot and learn how to communicate more effectively.
As far as this season goes, ‘The Long Bomb’ is a step up from past parody episodes (but can you really get much worse than ‘The Bitchin’ Race?’) That said, this is still a middle of the road episode added as some filler for the season. American Dad goes through the paces with this episode, landing some laughs but otherwise being forgettable.
Stan and Hayley are attending opening day of the Bazooka Sharks football season, which viewers may remember from the episode ‘Bazooka Steve’ earlier this season (another rather lackluster episode; American Dad should scrap the Bazooka Sharks/Johnny Concussion nonsense entirely.) Stan and Hayley avoid awkard small talk, neither one wanting to admit they’d rather not be communicating with each other. Stan goes to get a keychain in an effort to avoid talking, and while this is going down the arena gets taken under control by terrorists who are planting bombs. In the luxury box, they’ve already killed the owner of the team and taken the rest of the people hostage (including Roger as Tawny, the owner’s hooker.)
Stan’s attempts at avoiding Hayley draw him to following the team’s mascot, where Stan realizes the mascot is a terrorist planting bombs. He overtakes and kills the terrorist, climbing into the vents Die Hard style and setting off to save the day. Meanwhile, Hayley knows something is up when her dad doesn’t return for the start of the game, so she sets off to find him, putting herself right in the path of the terrorists who were trying to apprehend Stan. She finds herself kidnapped, in the luxury box with Roger and the others.
American Dad does manage to deal with a more serious topic this episode, having Stan and Hayley’s lack of communication be at the forefront. With Hayley right next to the terrorists, she’s able to see their plans, and she works with the arena staff to relay messages to Stan in the vents. Stan goes around to defuse the bombs, but other than that, there’s very little plot significance. For much of the episode’s runtime from here on out, it’s just Stan getting himself into ridiculous situations to defuse the bomb, being confronted by one of the terrorist goons, and narrowly winning. Then repeat with the next bomb location.
The last bomb is on the goal post, so Stan decides there’s no better way than to infiltrate the Bazooka Sharks team as their quarterback. Back at home, Steve and Francine somewhat pay attention to the game as their dad leads the team in disguise, not even realizing it’s him. (Although to be fair, they’re both dressed up in their finest spa-wear, with cucumbers over their eyes. Klaus is also present watching the game, but Francine kicks him by accident, and he falls out of his bowl…and hopefully to his death.)
With the last bomb defused, the terrorists contact Stan via a walkie-talkie he took off the man he killed and make it clear to him that they’re going to kill Hayley as punishment for him foiling their plot. Stan surrenders and arrives at the luxury box but has a trick up his sleeve: he’s wrapped the once disarmed bombs to his chest. The terrorists reveal that they’re actually not bombs but rather wrapped cream cheese. (What a middle finger to the audience, right? And it just furthers the point that for the majority of the episode, Stan went around doing absolutely nothing to push things forward.)
The terrorists then finally manage to crack the safe that’s kept them in the luxury box so long, and inside is Johnny Concussion’s jersey, something that everyone remarks is worth a lot of money since Mr. Concussion is dead. In a somewhat shocking twist, the terrorist puts on the jersey and reveals Johnny is not dead but standing right in front of them. I get that American Dad is trying to make fun of movies like Die Hard and their pretentious plot twists, but they just need to let Johnny Concussion die and move on to something that’s actually funny rather than repeating past episodes and doing another terrible parody.
A chase then ensues that seems to result in Johnny’s death once more (he falls off the arena, into a car.) On the football field, fans begin to have a moment of silence, not realizing Johnny isn’t dead. His ‘ashes’ are brought out onto the field, but Stan and Hayley realize that this is the real bomb. The bomb is hooked up to a decibel meter, and Stan and Hayley must talk to each other without stopping for the duration of the moment of silence, or the bomb will go off. Convenient, eh? The two quickly bond over personal things, like their ‘love of black actresses.’ and Hayley saying ‘elemeno’ rather than L-M-N-O when reciting the alphabet. American Dad went in for a sweet moment here, but it ultimately fizzled because rather than focusing on how Hayley’s mispronunciation brought up good memories, the dialogue is cluttered with all the actor’s names being recited, throwing things off and not really adding any humor either.
Stan and Hayley end up being able to save the arena from being blown up, but are quickly beaten up by fans for not observing the moment of silence. That sounds about right. The episode then ends with Johnny Concussion waking up. Please, American Dad, put Johnny and your viewers out of their misery and kill this awful character once and for all.
This season of American Dad is having its ups and downs, although the past few episodes seem to find the series hitting more of a slump than a peak (with last week’s ‘Family Plan‘ being the exception.) With only four episodes left this season, there’s slim hope that American Dad will end on a high note, but here’s hoping.