Family Guy/Seahorse Seashell Party
Back to the Pilot is the second episode of the tenth season of Family Guy, and the one hundred seventy-third episode overall.
The episode -- framed around a hurricane striking Quahog -- sees Meg, the Griffins' oldest child and frequent target of emotional abuse, call out her family for their treatment of her. Also, to relieve his boredom as the family is kept in their home, Brian experiments with using psilocybin mushrooms.
"Seahorse Seashell Party" was part of a triple crossover episode with its sister programs, The Cleveland Show and American Dad!, all framed around a hurricane striking the northeastern United States (where all three programs are set). Heavily promoted by FOX as "Night of the Hurricane," the triple feature was slated to air May 1, 2011. In the week before the three programs were scheduled to air, a tornado outbreak struck the southern United States, spawning more than 300 tornadoes and killing approximately 325 people, injuring thousands and causing $11 billion in damage. It was decided to postpone the airing of the "Night of the Hurricane" feature until October 2.
The hurricane that had earlier struck Stoolbend, Virginia (where Cleveland Brown and his family live), moves up the Atlantic coast to Quahog, Rhode Island, where the Griffins and other residents are either preparing or evacuating the city. The Griffins elect to stay in their home, and find it challenging to stay entertained.
First, Brian finds some "magic" mushrooms and, with nothing else to do, decides to ingest them. The drug quickly takes effect, causing him to become paranoid and hallucinate. As the effects become worse, he begins seeing images of a hellish world full of monsters – caricatures of Quahog and the other Griffins – tormenting him. Eventually, a concerned Stewie gives Brian a drink of water, and that neutralizes the mushrooms' effect.
When the electricity is knocked out, the other Griffins decide to play charades. Unable to keep entertained, the family plays "finger shoot," and eventually turn their frustrations onto Meg. Peter, Lois and Chris each take turns peppering her with vicious, horrifying verbal assaults, but they don't count on Meg eventually turning the tables on each of them.
With newfound courage, Meg gives biting indictments of each one of the older family members. First, she calls Chris out for "being a terrible brother" to her. When Lois tries to reprimand Meg, she tells her that her mother's past – drug use, posing nude and frequent adultery – makes her a bad parent and that, in essence, she has no right to judge her. In fact, Meg says that when she turns 18, she plans to break off all contact, and this breaks Lois' heart.
Meg then calls out Peter for his constant abuse and belittlement. At first, Peter dismisses Meg's criticism as nothing more than humorous, annoying blather ... until Meg calls Peter a "waste of a man." This causes Peter to snap, and then turn his frustrations onto Lois and Chris ... and before long, each one of them begins heaping abusive criticism on each other. Peter eventually runs to his bedroom, crying.
A now-sober Brian witnesses Meg's stand, takes her aside and compliments her for her courage to finally call the others out. But then, he also helps her realize that, despite their faults, the others need Meg ... she is the "lightning rod" that absorbs its disfunction and that by enduring her family's antagonistic abuse toward her, they are able to stay together as one. Meg then claims that her mother was correct, in that her earlier comments were her way of taking out her own problems out on everyone. Everyone's egos are restored, and by this time, the hurricane has passed.
Behind the Scenes
Allusions and Refernces
- Hurricane Saturday -- The "Night of the Hurricane" triple feature -- The Cleveland Show, Family Guy and American Dad! -- is reminiscent of a similar experiment by Witt/Thomas Productions, producer of The Golden Girls, Empty Nest and Nurses'. Dubbed "Hurricane Saturday," the three programs aired the evening of November 9, 1991 on NBC. Like the Seth McFarlane-produced shows that comprised "Night of the Hurricane," the Witt/Thomas programs each saw a particular program's characters deal with a situation as a powerful hurricane was striking their region, with the hurricane at different stages when their particular show aired.