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Photo: Saeed Adyani (Netflix)
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Happily, Santa Clarita Diet bounces back from a weaker episode with one of the strongest ones of this season in “A Change of Heart.” Not only do Chris and Christa pop back up in all their d-bag glory, but Sheila and Joel spend some much-needed time with Abby.

When Eric spills the beans to the Hammonds about Abby hitting Christian in the face with a lunch tray, they finally get a wake-up call about how much she is struggling with what’s going on in their family and that they have really been dropping the ball in that regard. They decide the first step is making Abby apologize to Christian, so they head over to his absurdly large house—and he’s just as awful as we all knew he would be.


But what we (and the Hammonds) didn’t know is that Christian is Chris and Christa’s son. I definitely should have made that connection before, but it’s fun to be surprised, especially when it means a couple of seemingly one-off characters have some more screentime. Predictably, Chris and Christa point out that Abby’s apology is a confession and now they can get her expelled, something they would never have done before because they didn’t even know about the tray incident.

Sheila and Joel are beside themselves and inadvertently tell Abby that they’re overwhelmed and struggling to keep the family together. That revelation sobers her up quickly and she makes a sincere apology to Principal Novak for what she did, saying she takes full responsibility for her actions, but she just wanted to help Janie because no one else would. He appreciates the apology but is still going to expel her... until Sheila notices the top half of her finger is gone (Eric had helped her bandage it up). So they pretend like Novak severed her finger in his front door and they won’t sue if he agrees not to expel Abby. They consider a three-day suspension a win and do a celebratory dance in the street.

Also, Sheila and Joel are super proud of their daughter for standing up for someone that no one else was helping, which is exactly the right way to handle that. We are already trying to teach our kids to help out kids who maybe aren’t confident enough to help themselves and that we are never going to be mad if they stand up to a bully, even if it gets physical (though violence should not be the first response). But Abby also has to deal with the consequences of her actions, a lesson Joel and Sheila are probably due to learn as well. They have largely gotten away with everything so far and that can’t continue forever.


The Hammond family is what makes this show work so well. It would still be funny without all the heart, but the show would feel so empty without their love and support for each other. The three actors have terrific chemistry as a family and watching them tackle this huge bombshell in their lives has been such a display of how families should overcome or deal with a hardship. They’ve certainly made mistakes, but they are so healthy in the way they handle things. It’s definitely family goals (hashtag).

Photo: Saeed Adyani (Netflix)

While all this is happening in Hammondland, Eric has decided to help his surrogate family by going to Japopo’s himself, posing as a seafood distributor in order to find out who their “clam guy” is. He gets caught and freaks out, calling Joel for help because he’s a coward (his words, I think Eric is amazing). Joel “rescues” Eric, who reveals he found out that on the night Sheila got sick, the restaurant used clams from Ruby’s Clams, a vendor they had never used before. Dun dun dun!

And finally, the Carl chickens have come home to roost. Sheila goes to her big presentation for the investor and Carl shows up, causing her to panic a bit. Cut to 4 a.m. and Sheila is all bloody and clutching a heart in her hand. She doesn’t appear to remember what happened. Are black-out rage killings about to become a thing? Because that could be a huge problem.


Stray Observations

  • The show does a great job of making Eric nerdy because you’d have to be blind not to see how cute he is (and how good-looking he is going to be as an adult).
  • I got a little misty when Sheila and Joel found Abby’s pacifier under the fridge and stopped to think about how time flies. Yes, yes it does.
  • Christian: “If my relationships with women are so messed up, then why did I have sex at age 13? Boom.”
    Joel: “Whoa, buddy. There’s a lot to unpack there.”
  • Christa: “Oh, this is delicious. You two came over here and told us something we never would have known and now we are going to strap it on and f*ck you with it.”
  • Sheila: “Maybe we’re not raising a monster, maybe we’re raising a superhero.”

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher's television heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."

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