Sheila and Joel get a new pet this episode, after Sheila and Rite Aid Rita finally meet. Gary proves to be a valuable friend. Eric becomes a pawn in a game of tug of war between the undead women of Santa Clarita, which is not as much fun as you’d think. Joel and Abby continue to work through their feelings about their new lifestyle, trying to find an elusive new normal amidst Sheila’s undead adventures.
As the episode opens, Joel is preparing to build his cherry wood bookshelves. We can all breathe a sigh of relief, because he finally made it to the lumber yard and got the wood. I, for one, would have been devastated if he’d had to settle for pine with a cherry stain. He’s geared up and has broken ground on their bedroom wall when Sheila comes in, saying that the new housing development has also broken ground, so it’s a good thing they moved Gary.
Joel shows Sheila his reference photo for the bookshelves, which happens to be Boone the Nazi’s shelves. Sheila can’t believe he wants Nazi shelves. Joel says that the shelves weren’t Nazi, they were just Nazi occupied. I’m with Sheila. Boone built the shelves, so they’re like his children. They’re Nazi shelves. Would stealing the design be appropriation of Nazi culture and thus unethical, or would it free innocent design features to live happier, free range lives in an environment where they won’t learn to hate other types of wood and furniture? Discuss.
Joel and Sheila decide to table the Nazi bookshelf discussion and kill Gary instead. The discussion was really about Sheila’s desire to kill Nazi people and appropriate their bodies into her stomach, anyway.
They show Gary photos from their visit with Kayla and Baby Hailey, and tell him how it all turned out. He loves seeing the photos and hearing the story. Then Sheila and Joel move on to a description of kill methods ranging from beautiful and poetic to quick and profane. Gary isn’t interested in any of them. He wants to live so he can follow Kayla and Hailey’s lives from afar. He can watch the baby grow up on Instagram and Facebook.
Joel and Sheila complain that they had a deal and he’s breaking it, and besides, he’s just a head in a vase. Gary responds that he’s still better looking than Joel, but Joel goes for the obvious come back- not in a bathing suit. Gary concedes that he can’t stop them if they decide to kill him anyway, but he’s not ready to die.
Joel and Sheila move up to the kitchen and keep talking. The discussion turns heated, even though they agree that they shouldn’t kill Gary since he’s not agreeing to it. But how will they keep an undead severed head a secret?
Abby pops into the kitchen to tell them about the new developments with Ramona. They realize that Ramona must have become undead in the same way Sheila did, since Sheila didn’t bite her. If they can figure out what activity they both shared before coughing up the red ball, they’ll be much closer to finding the cause. They can also figure out if there are other undead in the area.
Sheila and Joel decide to visit Ramona to ask about her undead experience. Abby wants to tag along, but her parents want her to go to school and live a normal life. Except for the chocolate milk in her school lunch and the undead talking head in the basement. Otherwise, she’ll be just like all the other girls.
Joel and Sheila head straight over to Ramona’s apartment. Sheila apologizes to Joel for keeping him from his bookshelves. He figures that the apocalypse is coming and he won’t need shelves anyway. Sheila thinks she’ll still want to read, post-apocalypse. When Ramona comes up the stairs, they all introduce themselves, then Joel offers to carry the large shopping bag Ramona’s carrying. He’s shocked when he discovers severed limbs inside. Ramona explains that it’s her lunch. Joel hurries them into the apartment.
Ramona became undead about 3 weeks ago, the same time as Sheila, but they can’t find any experiences that the two have in common. She does mention having been an auctioneer, which shocks the Hammonds. Ramona in so low key. She explains that she used to be fast paced, all of the time, and longed to go slowly and enjoy life. Now she does. Sheila figures out that after they died, every undead person they’ve met has become the person they truly wanted to be.
Ramona offers Sheila some of her Rocky Peak Park jogger. Sheila and Joel take advantage of the opportunity to advise her to make sure she cleans up after her kills from now on. Even though it’s harder for her to carry out all of the pieces of the jogger without Joel to help her, she can’t threaten her own safety and the safety of the community by being sloppy. Ramona takes their advice to heart.
Then Ramona asks what Sheila did with the red ball she threw up when she became undead. Sheila’s is in the freezer, but Ramona’s is in a glass aquarium, where it won’t get lonely, because it’s grown legs and come to life. Ramona’s ball is now a large undead spider known as Mr Ball Legs. Joel is ready to go home, before his head explodes.
At school, Abby becomes involved in all of the drama between her friends. She rescues one friend from the horror of not having gym shorts. Another is being publicly harassed by her ex-boyfriend. Abby hits him in the face with a lunch tray when there aren’t any teachers looking, then sits with the ostracized girl.
Ramona goes to Eric’s house to win him back. Lisa is thrilled that her son finally has a girlfriend and encourages them to have as much private time as possible.
Sheila and Loki’s frozen balls look as inanimate as ever. Joel flips through the Serbian book and discovers a picture of a knight with Mr Ball Legs on his shield. There’s also a ball spider above the text on the facing page. Now they just need to find a translator, again. They wonder, is the knight fighting for, or against, Mr Ball Legs and its undead minions?
Abby comes home and reminds them that tonight’s the night that Lisa’s coming for dinner. They are, as usual, unprepared. Sheila grabs a frozen lasagna to put in the microwave, and sends Joel to the basement for some soup. Abby is unimpressed with her parents ability to manage their lives.
Joel and Gary have a bit of a heart to heart while Joel gathers supplies in the basement. Joel worries that his days of normalcy are over, due to Sheila’s new situation. Gary understands completely. He’s been through some similar changes lately himself. He thinks Sheila and Joel have a great relationship, and wants something like it for himself, someday.
Maybe they should introduce him to Ramona.
Gary tells Joel that he has to accept that things have changed forever, and just deal with it, instead of longing for a past that’s gone for good:
Gary: Sure, Sheila’s got a lot going on. Her life’s always going to be bigger than yours. It’s like being married to the queen of England.
Joel: It’s not exactly like that.
Gary: You’ve got two ways of looking at it. Either it’s “my needs are always going to come second” or “Jesus Christ I’m f*cking the Queen of England!” Appreciate what you have, buddy. Stop trying to turn it into something it’s never going to be.
Ramona and Eric arrive for dinner. The Hammonds are surprised to see them together. Eric explains that Ramona decided that they should be together forever so that he can be her Joel. She’s never letting him leave her side. Ever. Sheila and Joel realize that they inadvertently caused this by telling Ramona about how much Joel helps Sheila. Ramona decided she could have the same thing by acquiring a slave boyfriend. Eric is an ideal choice, because he’s small enough to catch and maim if he tries to escape.
The Hammonds retreat to the kitchen to formulate a rescue plan and cook dinner. Joel accepts that he’s f*cking the queen of England, and reassembles his hammer-knife. Abby is allowed in on the plan, since Eric is her best friend. Sheila aggressively puts a lasagna in the microwave, and then they’re ready to fight the evil undead.
Ramona tells Eric about her plans for them to move to Seattle together. Eric realizes they have almost nothing in common. The Hammonds come back and tell Ramona she can’t have Eric, but she refuses to give him up. If he’s against the killing, she’ll bite him so that he’ll want to hunt with her. Joel brings Eric over behind him and Sheila, and then tells Ramona again that she can’t have him.
They prepare to fight. Just then, Lisa walks in with her 9 layer dip and a speech delivered practically without taking a breath about how she makes the dip and why it should be eaten while high. She realizes she forgot the chips and leaves again.
Ramona and the Hammonds attack each other. Ramona is a formidable fighter, but Abby’s rage wins out in the end as she subdues Ramona by choking her with a belt. Sheila and Joel watch Abby in shock. Abby says, “You wanted me to have a normal life? This is it. This is who I am now. I’m the f*cking queen of England.”
That’s how you own your circumstances.
Sheila and Joel tell Abby they’ll be talking more about this tomorrow, then tell Ramona to stop fighting. Ramona says she doesn’t want to let Eric go. She wants what they have, not just someone to hunt with. Sheila explains that they’ve built their relationship over the last 20 years through caring for each other and engaging in give and take. You can’t get it instantly through kidnapping.
This is a revelation for Ramona, but she finally gets what they’re saying.
Lisa returns with the dip to find that the living room has been trashed in the three minutes she’s been gone. Eric tells her that Ramona broke up with him and he’s so upset that he lost control. Joel jumps in and says they’d better reschedule. Sheila adds that it’s not the same as cancelling again.
Ramona moves to Seattle anyway, because it’s better not to have two of the undead hunting in the same city. She leaves Mr Ball Legs for Sheila and Joel to take care of, since it can’t go on a plane. While Sheila and Joel are at Ramona’s apartment, and wondering again how both became infected, Joel discovers an old take out receipt from Japopo’s. It’s from the same night that Sheila had the same entrée, two nights before she got sick all over the bathroom. Ramona and Sheila both had the Friday Clam Special. There’s the smoking gun.
There were some small reveals and no major events in this episode, but it was one of the funniest of the season so far and a classic sitcom episode. Everything about the episode worked, and the actors got to show off their comic timing and physical comedy chops.
So, maybe not a bat or a monkey. Maybe a Mr Ball Legs. Is Mr Ball Legs like a witch’s familiar? Is the undead person’s life essence connected to it in some way? Will something happen to Ramona if she gets too far away from it? What does it mean for Sheila that she’s kept her ball frozen and it hasn’t grown legs? This is an intriguing development.
Ramona’s sage advice about life and Rite Aid products will be sorely missed. I hope she finds her Joel in Seattle, and all the white supremacists, rapists, and pedophiles she can eat.
Gary has become a lovable character that I want to keep around forever. They could get him a blow up doll body or mannequin body to sit on top of, then put a bandage over the hole in his face. Once he’s cleaned up he could hang out in the living room or TV room. He’s seems pretty maintenance free, physically. Get him voice controlled devices and he’ll be living the good life again, just like any other severely physically disabled person who’s a shut in.
Because that’s what that argument was really about- quality of life and if it’s worth it to be alive if the body goes while the mind is still intact. Stephen Hawking’s history would argue that the answer is yes. Gary was a great salesman. Put him on internet sales using his voice controlled computer, and he’ll be earning his keep before long.
Joel: We know, Abby. We’re bad at everything, because we’re your parents.
Abby: No, it’s because prior to this you lead a mindlessly happy suburban existence which left you fundamentally unprepared for the life and death decisions that now plague your every waking moment.
Joel’s head actually does explode, as he understands that suburbia has left him unfit for the apocalypse. He’s doing a great job of playing catch up lately, though.
Images courtesy of Netflix.