United States of Al: Season 2 Episode 8 Review


While heavily medicated from having his wisdom teeth removed, Al mistakenly insults Art, which forces Riley to choose sides; Lizzie tries to help Art, Riley and Al make peace.

This is one of those episodes where the writing could have transcended sitcom norms. We've seen the "drugged post-dentist" gag, but when Al tells Art he's a bad father for letting his kids walk all over him, the next morning of regret escalates quickly into an argument about American versus Afghanistan culture.

Things get serious fast when Al snaps at Art that Afghanistan is tired of being the U.S., China and Pakistan's game board. It's a sharp political zinger - I imagined the show writers rubbing their hands in glee - that makes you wonder if the post-dental surgery truth serum has scratched the surface of what Afghanis really think about behind closed doors and polite conversation.

To escape Art's wrath, Riley and Al end up camping in the back of Riley's truth, reminiscing about their time together in Afghanistan during night patrols.  It's a nice moment but as if the writers ran out of gas or lost their nerve, they toss in a convenient MacGuffin that reunites the family.

What a disappointing ending. This episode had a lot of potential to explore Al and Art's truths and perception of each other and their countries.

Harrison Cheung is the author of the award-winning biography of Christian Bale (BenBella Books) and a contributor to Brave New Hollywood and The TV Ratings Guide.

@harrisonic (Twitter)

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