Welcome back to sunny Santa Clarita, CA! Though it’s been a long year for us, it’s only been a few hours for the residents of the cul de sac. Sheila is still chained in the basement, making do with a wooden post for a snack instead of the fresh body parts she craves. Abby and Eric are hard at work on their science project in the kitchen. Eric is putting the finishing touches on the cure formula using the method Dr Wolf taught him, while Abby searches for a live and cooperative Serbian to provide some vomit. And Joel is locked in a mental ward for a 72 hour observation period after the police arrested him at Principal Novak’s house. His hospital roommate lives with evil, sentient asparagus people who have it in for him. Given the state of my fridge, that might be the scariest concept this show’s ever come up with.
But this is the plucky, loving Hammond family, so we know it’ll all work out fine in the end!
Joel has been enjoying his stay on the locked ward for 17 hours. He and his roommate, Ron, are enjoying lively conversation about their interests, such as brain infiltrating asparagus people, peanut butter earplugs, undead wives, previous visits to the locked ward, and escape methods. Ron is surprisingly sympathetic to the details of life with an undead wife, but not very helpful with planning an escape.
Dr Kellogg arrives to collect them for their group therapy session. She’s played by Amy Hill, Josh Chan’s mom and the warden from H*ll, an actress I’m always excited to see. Ron and Joel compete for the Doctor’s attention and sympathy. Dr Kellogg explains that they can’t be released until they prove that they’re no longer a danger to themselves or others.
The search for Serbian bile, necessary to complete the cure, isn’t going well. Vomiting exchange students take longer to acquire than you’d think, and in 6 months Sheila might not be recognizable as Sheila any more. Abby posted a wanted ad on a local message board as a last resort, but so far she’s only gotten dick pics and other, more creative responses.
Abby and Eric hear a strange crunching sound coming from the basement. Abby goes downstairs to check on Sheila, who pretends to be reading a book. She’s going stir crazy and has started chewing on the house’s support post. Sheila tries to make a case for being released, since she’s really hardly killed anyone, but Abby isn’t buying it. She orders her mom to stop chewing the post that holds the house up and settle down so they can cure her.
They get a response to their Craigslist ad, so Abby and her pepper spray go to pick up the vomit while Eric finishes the serum and keeps an eye on Sheila. In her current condition, Sheila makes Eric nervous, and he’s refused to go see her so far.
In group, Joel vaguely explains how he ended up in the hospital, and promises that he realizes now that he was wrong and respects all people. Ron is there because his wife died last week. As Ron describes how she died while he was taking care of her at home, Joel is genuinely moved and reaches out to him. He even shares his precious juice box. He also slips in a few questions about the morgue.
Dr Kellogg is impressed by Joel’s compassion, and decides that he doesn’t need to finish his observation period. She says goodbye, but is a little sad, because she only talks to mentally healthy people long enough to send them home. Joel feels bad for her for a moment as he says a quick goodbye, then heads for the morgue to see if he can scare up a Serbian gall bladder. Total mental health, right there.
Sheila uses the Mom Voice of Authority to compel Eric downstairs, then uses her Mom voice and glare to get the info she wants out of him. He confesses that Abby has gone to a strange man’s house alone to get bodily fluids, with nothing but pepper spray for protection. A typical mom would not be okay with her teenage daughter doing this. Rage monster zombie mom is really, really not okay.
She convinces poor, sweet, innocent Eric that they need to go find Abby and keep her safe. It’ll be fine. Sheila will wear the handcuffs she just happens to keep in her bedroom. Sheila would happily explain in detail why she has the handcuffs, but thankfully Eric is too sweet and innocent to want the whole story.
Eric gets Sheila cuffed, with her hands in front instead of in back- rookie mistake- then unchains her from the post. She quickly dislocates both thumbs and slips out of the cuffs. Since the episode began, Eric has been mumbling about the undead always escaping their chains and bindings. We all saw that one coming. When Sheila holds up her floppy thumbs and asks for help popping them back in place, Eric faints.
Abby makes contact with Goran, the Serbian willing to vomit. He, not surprisingly, assumes that this is a weird sex thing and has waited to vomit so she can watch. Abby turns him down on the vomit voyeurism, but does wait in his living room while he uses the bathroom. When he comes out, he tries to convince her to stay for other bodily fluids, but she tells him that now he’s just making it weird, and gets out of there.
Joel returns to the morgue where he bought a foot for Sheila to have as a meal early in season 1. The attendant remembers him, and assumes he’s back for another body part for a weird sex thing. Joel turns down the mostly fresh lady parts on offer, and wonders just what kind of creeps frequent the morgue for disembodied sex partners. Mostly men, the attendant informs him. Joel inquires after a Serbian gall bladder, and the attendant is excited by the challenge, as well as the imagination involved in Joel’s presumed sexual practices. If he only knew.
When Abby gets home, Sheila and Eric are still out looking for her. She walks into the kitchen, turns around, and discovers that Goran has followed her home and into the house. He begins to make a heartfelt speech that was probably going to be quite lovely and all about his love at first sight and not creepy or stalkery at all. Instead, Sheila appears out of nowhere, ninja-style, jumps him, bites him, and somehow makes him explode like a blood bomb all over the kitchen. It’s like he was a True Blood Vampire who was staked.
Meanwhile, Joel has taken a cab home knowing all is finally right with his world. He’s found a Serbian gall bladder, the family will be reunited, he and Sheila love each other, and everything is okay. Sadly, that feeling does not last long.
He opens up the front door and discovers the bloody, dripping kitchen. He freaks out, just a little. Sheila tries to explain that Goran was a bad man who was attacking Abby. She’s interrupted by Eric, who announces that the serum works. Sheila’s deterioration will be halted where it is now.
Joel: So then, this is it? Sheila, rage killing a man, not for food, in our house, in front of our daughter. That’s how she’s going to be from now on?
Sheila: Again, not getting worse. Yay! 🙂
The doorbell rings incessantly, but the Hammonds ignore it. Rick and Alondra, the next door neighbors on the other side from Eric, know they’re home and won’t be ignored. Joel opens the front door a crack to talk. Rick and Alondra heard that Joel trashed a house and was taken to the hospital, so they brought cookies as an excuse to be busybodies. Joel makes stuff up, is nonsensical and rambling, then tells them to leave the cookies on the porch and shuts th door in their faces.
When he gets back to the kitchen, he fondly remembers his carefree time in the asylum. Sheila has begun the clean up, and sympathizes with him. Eric accepts the blame for unchaining Sheila. He goes to the drug store to buy more cleaning supplies. Abby suggests they get the porch cookies. Joel and Sheila discuss what should be done about Sheila now, and Joel not so gently prods her to go back to the basement.
Eric stares at the multitude of cleaners available in the store’s cleaning aisle. Zen Pharmacy Employee and Life Coach Ramona comes to his aid with her usual deadpan wisdom and advice. Eric and Ramona both feel overwhelmed. They’re doing their best, but aren’t sure if it’s enough. Ramona assures Eric that he’s doing enough, because she can tell he’d do anything for the family he’s worried about. She hands him a cleaner that’s good for removing blood, like the blood on his shoes. Ramona has an arch nemesis, Leslie the cashier, who’s become a problem.
Joel and Abby continue to clean the kitchen as they discuss how their lives will change now that Sheila’s participation in day-to-day life has to be curtailed even further. Abby’s frustrated with the sadness and uncertainty of the situation, so Joel tells her about Ron, his roommate at the hospital, whose wife died last week. At least they still have Sheila.
With perfect timing, the doorbell rings and it’s a guy delivering dinner and the next day’s lunch. Sheila may be a shut-in, but she can still order take out to help take care of her family. Joel and Abby agree that Sheila’s still the best, and hope that they never have to kill her.
In return for the dinner order, Joel brings Sheila Goran’s kidney for dinner, with a couple of roses to make it special. They discuss reorganizing their schedules and sprucing up her room in the basement to make it more functional and homey. She needs a desk, a TV, a longer chain, etc. They can make this new situation feel normal if they try hard enough.
Joel, Abby and Sheila all feel lonely and abandoned as they each settle in for the night alone. This isn’t what being a family is about for them. Finally, Joel gives up and goes downstairs to join Sheila in her bed. He helps her take her chains off.
Joel: I lost you once. That was enough. We’re not living apart.
Sheila: But we should keep the chains. For sex stuff.
Joel: Right on.
They start making out, likely on their way to trying out the chains in their new capacity. Abby interrupts the sexy times when she joins them in the basement, crawling between them in bed. Abby reminds Sheila not to eat her during the night. Sheila promises Abby that she won’t, even though Abby is so cute.
Back at home in his room, Eric gets a phone call. It’s Ramona, who got his name and number from his rewards card. They both share a love of science and moths and are both single. Well, Ramona’s newly single. She just went through a messy break up. The kind that requires a cleaner that takes blood stains out.
She and Eric chat while Ramona enjoys some finger food that’s made of fingers. They agree to hang out sometime soon.
One must be careful to pronounce to name of the evil invading vegetable people correctly. It’s Oz-para-gauze. Lazy pronunciation never helped anyone.
I have a hard time finding earplugs I’m not allergic to. Is it wrong that putting peanut butter in my ears actually sounds appealing? It would have a dual benefit.
Sheila luring Eric to the basement might as well have been a land shark with a candygram.
Whenever I watch this show, I’m so very, very glad that I’m a vegetarian. Most all of these conversations could be applied to cows, pigs or chickens, and they’d be food to most people.
Those chains just slipped over Sheila’s head. She could have removed them whenever she wanted, anytime during the episode.
Was/is Leslie the problem cashier the zombie who infected Ramona, or was Ramona’s boyfriend cheating on Ramona with her, making her a problem for Ramona? Or both? Ramona could have gotten infected when she confronted Leslie about the cheating.
This episode was mainly meant to resolve the cliffhanger left over from season 1 and set up the rest of season 2, which it accomplished. It was clever, fun and witty along the way, slipping in the reminders about what happened last season in creative ways rather than using a “previously” clip package. We checked in with some of the recurring characters, but Lisa, Anne, Principal Novak and the Baka were sorely missed.
There was important emotional work done in this episode. Everyone in the family came to terms with the changes in Sheila and what that meant for their lives. Everyone had to make sacrifices, both physical and emotional, to accommodate each other, but they all agreed that sticking together under the same roof was what was most important, even if it didn’t look like what it had before. Joel got past his crisis of faith and realized that a wife with messy, embarrassing issues was better than a dead wife. He also realized that her messy embarrassing issues weren’t as much of a turn off as he’d thought they were when he was stressed and overtired. We’ve covered this ground before, but it needs to be revisited every time Sheila’s situation changes or worsens.
Abby and Eric grew up a little more and became a little more responsible. Abby, in particular, is proud of how much she’s able to contribute to the family.
I thought Eric and Abby considered themselves at least sort of interested in dating each other, if not actually dating, so I’m going to have to figure out when that changed last season. Or are they keeping it secret and Eric lied to Ramona? That should go well, if it’s what’s happening. 🤦🏻♀️
Photo/Screencap credit: Netflix