Episode 7: Krampus
By: Carlos Uribe
Suburgatory is a show about a teenage girl who is stuck in her version of hell, the suburbs.
Krampus is an episode that is pretty good but it is stuffed with significant plot developments. It's Christmas in Chatswin and the denizens are obviously taking it very seriously. They're putting up the decorations in November and the spirit of giving is in the air. George decides that he's going to give Tessa the chance to spend Christmas with her mother. It's a nice gesture from him that continues his attempts to help Tessa establish a bond with her distant mom. It's significant where he sends Tessa. That is a hotel in the city. The city is where he had taken her out from in order to escape her growing up too fast. He had found condoms in her room and he whisked her away before she lost her virginity. He was trying to keep his little, responsible teenager a child for as long as possible. It was a ridicilous reaction but it's this overprotectionism over his daughter's level of maturity that led him to it. Tessa resisted at first because she loved the city. She had loved the tough people in it and getting to deal with reality. In many ways, the city represents adulthood in this show. There's a reason that Tessa is shown partying in the season premiere. Tessa does end up going to the city as a holiday but she realizes something as talks with her mom. Her mom was treating her like an adult but she didn't feel like one. She wanted to remain a child for just a little bit longer. So she went back to the suburbs to spend Christmas Day with her father. At the same time, this is also an episode that shows the complicated feelings she has towards mom. On one hand, she does want to connect with her. On the other hand, she's dealing with years of built-up resentment and bitterness that are finally starting to come forward. Building a lasting bond with her mom is going to take more than a simply holiday visit to build and there's going to be steps towards and steps backwards.
What does George do while Tessa is in the city? He spends Christmas with Dallas and Dalia. We don't learn what Dallas wants for Christmas but Dalia makes her wish perfectly clear. What Dalia wants is for Carmen. She makes a really hilariously terrible music video in an attempt to show just how much she misses her housekeeper. It's a great joke that is rooted in the humanity that exists within Dalia. When Dalia expresses her plan to use the video to win back Carmen, George expresses doubt but Dalia is able to reach him when she points out that people can change their minds. He had changed his mind about Tessa's mom having a relationship with her daughter. He gets the video sent to Carmen. It just happens to come at the right time. Jill has come back to the household and she's been fighting a war with Carmen. What is that war over? Jill wants Carmen's respect because she's a successful author but Carmen refuses to give it because Jill's a terrible mother. This war of respect drives Carmen to leave Noah and the baby to go back to Dalia and her family. This is largely a great plot that helped to put Dalia into a video music that simply made this episode an instant classic. The held a surprising amount of depth for an episode that was largely retreading a plot from the earlier season: which household should Carmen work for?
The Tessa plot had a lot of depth and the Dalia plot was the funniest. This leaves the Ryan plot. I'd say that had the most emotional impact. It is slightly disturbing just how far it went but it managed to ground itself by the end. Ryan finds out he's adopted in the beginning of the episode. This causes him to freak out and to question reality itself. Once he ascertains that the only thing that's his lie is his name, he goes into the wild. Whose there to pick him up? Malik and his family. They take care of him but they also tell the Shays where he is. Lisa realizes that the only person who can possibly get through is Tessa. Tessa might have escaped the city to be a child but she does the most mature thing when she decides that she'll try and get through to Ryan. She manages to relay her experience with an absent mother to assure Ryan that he is still a Shay. The two share a kiss as Tessa realizes that she's slowly falling for Ryan. This moment is a strong one for both characters. While it's seems to halted Ryan's crisis into his own identity it doesn't resolve the crisis on where his home is going to be.
Krampus is a funny, deep episode of Suburgatory. The only problem it had is that it simply had too much going on at the same time. It simply feels like this Christmas episode could have taken a step back and taken some time.