So Then a Bat or a Monkey is the first episode of the first season of Santa Clarita Diet, and the first episode overall. Victor Fresco served as writer and Ruben Fleischer served as director. The episode was officially released on Netflix on Friday, February 3, 2017.
Joel and Sheila Hammond are realtors living an average suburban life with their daughter Abby. The episode opens with the couple lying in bed together one morning, when suddenly Joel leans over and snuggles up against Sheila, playfully implying that he would like morning sex. Sheila respectfully declines, stating that she isn't a "pound one out" kind of girl and comparing the situation to the time she saw a rescue dog humping a little girl at Rite Aid. Joel still tries to convince her, but just then, Sheila's alarm goes off, much to Joel's disappointment.
The couple get out of bed and go downstairs to continue their mundane morning. Joel is shown putting bread in the toaster oven, while Sheila reads a magazine article about Jennifer Lawrence's pixie cut. Sheila admires how bold Jennifer is and wishes that she could be that bold, but Joel interrupts her to complain about the new toaster oven and how there is way too much slack in the knobs to set an accurate temperature. Sheila agrees and asks if he sent the company an e-mail, to which Joel admits that he never sent it because it came across a bit too crazy. Abby then comes downstairs and announces that she needs a car, but Joel immediately declines the request. Abby then explains that Joel doesn't need to buy her a car, but rather buy Sheila a new car, and Sheila's old car could then be passed down to Abby. Sheila likes that idea and confesses that she loves Range Rovers, prompting Abby to sarcastically ask Joel why he doesn't love Sheila enough to buy her a Range Rover. Just then, Sheila starts doubling over in agony, complaining about a sharp pain in her stomach. Joel and Abby both seem worried, but Sheila assures them that she is totally fine and that she probably just ate something strange.
As the family is leaving the house, Sheila asks Abby if she wants to hang out at the Tea Garden after school, since they barely see each other anymore, and Abby obliges. Sheila then begins loading the trunk of her car as the neighbors come outside to talk to the family. Dan approaches Joel and explains that he found it unusual that their den light was on all night, but Sheila admits that she was awake, as she was having some trouble sleeping. Lisa, Dan's wife, then tells Dan to stop bothering them, and apologizes on behalf of his "cop brain". Dan clarifies that he isn't a cop, he's actually a sheriff, and points over at Joel's other neighbor Rick, who is a cop. He calls Rick a puss and makes fun of him for being in "pretend law enforcement", but Rick quickly rebuttals, stating that cops are meant to protect and serve, instead of framing and maiming like the Sheriff's Department. The neighbors then get in their respective vehicles and drive away, while Joel laments living between two cops and wishes they were rival pastry chefs instead. Sheila then gives Joel a kiss goodbye before he drives away, and Joel acknowledges that he will meet up with Sheila later at the showing of the Peterson house. As Sheila is about to drive Abby to school, Lisa comes outside once more to comment on how pretty Abby looks and to tell her that she is the queen of her son Eric's spank bank. An embarrassed Eric overhears her while waiting in the car and immediately yells at her to stop. Lisa then asks Sheila if she'd like to join her and some friends for a night out of drinking and dancing, but Sheila awkwardly makes an excuse before walking away and getting into her car.
Joel then arrives at the Peterson house and parks his car out front. While waiting for Sheila to get there, he pulls out a weed baggie from his pocket and smokes a bowl in his car. Meanwhile, Sheila is entering the real estate office, where she is met by her boss, Carl Coby, who introduces her to a new agent, Gary West. Sheila shakes his hand, while Carl scolds her for not yet closing the deal on the Peterson house. Sheila explains that this is the third time these buyers have looked at the house, but Carl demands she get an offer, as the Petersons are starting to get nervous. As Carl walks away to lead Gary to his new office, Gary apologizes to Sheila for getting yelled at and gives her a flirty laugh before following Carl.
Back at the Peterson house, Sheila and Joel are showing a couple around the property, raving about the brand new carpeting. The couple seem to be loving it, when suddenly, Sheila begins to projectile vomit all over the carpet. Everyone is left in total bewilderment, and Sheila apologizes, explaining that she will call a crew to immediately get the floor cleaned up. Joel suggests that they reschedule, but Sheila insists on continuing the showing and explains that she just needs to use the bathroom quickly. As Joel finishes showing the other bedrooms in Sheila's absence, Sheila continues to violently throw up, so much so that her retching can still be heard throughout the house. The sounds make the couple uncomfortable, and they decide to cut the tour short. After their departure, Joel returns to the bathroom to check on Sheila. He opens the door to find copious amounts of yellow liquid covering every inch of the bathroom. He notices Sheila passed out on the floor in a pool of vomit and immediately runs over to her. He checks her neck for a pulse but feels nothing. Assuming she's dead, he grasps her in his arms and starts to mourn, until suddenly, she wakes up, asking if they received an offer on the house. Joel gasps in relief, but Sheila claims that she feels fine, although pointing out that she spewed up a red ball that looks like it could be an organ.
Joel then takes Sheila to the emergency room, but Sheila insists that she feels better after getting everything out of her system. Joel still wants her to be checked out, but Sheila complains that they've been in the waiting room for over three hours. Joel goes up to the main counter to ask how much longer the wait will be, to which the nurse responds that cases are taken in order of priority, and life threatening conditions are more important than someone who simply threw up. Having no other options, a discouraged Joel just decides to bring Sheila home.
As they pull up to their house and get out of the car, Sheila catches a whiff of Joel and confesses that she's okay with him smoking weed and that he doesn't need to hide it anymore. Although slightly caught off guard, Joel is happy with her newfound acceptance. Just then, Gary pulls up and brings Sheila a bouquet of flowers after having heard about her getting sick. He also says he made sure the cleaning crew took care of everything and assures Sheila not to worry about it. Gary then asks to speak with Joel alone, while Sheila goes inside to clean herself up. Gary explains to Joel that due to the insane amount of vomit, the Petersons no longer want to work with the Hammonds, and have instead decided to hire Gary as their new realtor, much to Joel's dismay. Joel then goes inside and brings some soup and orange juice to Sheila as she lays in bed. He lies to her and says that everything is fine and that Gary just needed some advice. Sheila then remarks that she can't feel her heartbeat, and Joel immediately becomes concerned. He goes to press his ear against her chest, but Sheila begins pushing his head further down, demonstrating her oddly increased libido.
Later on, Joel goes to Rite Aid to buy a stethoscope, but is unsure of which specific kind to buy. As he is browsing, a worker named Ramona approaches and asks him if he needs help, as her manager noticed that he had been staring at the stethoscopes for a really long time. Joel then starts venting about how there is something strange happening to his wife, to which Ramona clearly isn't concerned and responds only with a blank stare. Joel then selects a random stethoscope and returns home with it. He checks Sheila's heartbeat and hears nothing, much to his confusion. After Abby gets home from school, she has a listen and confirms that she also doesn't hear anything. Sheila then confesses that she found another strange symptom and proceeds to cut open her palm with scissors, pushing out a thick dark substance, revealing that her blood is no longer liquid. Out of total shock, both Joel and Abby pass out, although Sheila assured them she was feeling fine.
After Abby and Joel awaken, Sheila brings them to the kitchen and gives them some orange juice. At the same time, Sheila begins stuffing her face with raw hamburger meat, and although Joel offers to cook it for her, she immediately rejects. A worried Joel suggests they go back to the emergency room, but once again Sheila insists that she feels great and that she doesn't want any doctors poking around at her. Joel persists that they get an expert's opinion, and Abby interjects, explaining that she knows someone who could help that specializes in disturbing subjects.
The three of them go to the neighbors' house to visit Eric Bemis, and after performing some tests, he comes to the conclusion that Sheila is both dead and undead. However, Sheila admits that she feels totally alive, and Joel adds that she has been very exuberant as of lately. Eric then explains that the undead are driven completely by their id, the part of the brain that demands instant gratification for our desires, explaining why Sheila has an increased libido. Joel questions how something like this could even happen, and Eric clarifies that these kinds of viruses usually come from animals, and that Sheila may have contracted it from a bat or a monkey. He also advises the family to always keep Sheila fed, as things can go very wrong if she gets hungry, and he goes on to explain that if she starts getting aggressive, someone will have to bash her brains in.
As they leave Eric's house, Joel demands that the family keep this a secret from everyone. He suggests going home and coming up with a concrete plan, but Sheila wants to go buy a Range Rover instead. Sheila then spots a snail on one of the plants outside Eric's house and begins to eat it, commenting on how crunchy it is. Just then, Dan pulls up in his Mustang and asks the group why they are on his property. They explain that they were visiting Eric, and when Dan asks why, they lie, claiming that they found a football in their backyard and were wondering if it belonged to Eric.
After returning home, Joel is concerned that Dan might be suspicious of them and wonders what will happen if Eric tells him about Sheila's condition. However, Abby assures him that Eric hates Dan and would never spill the beans. When Sheila impulsively suggests that the family adopt Eric, Joel scolds her and tells her she needs to control herself. She complains that she's hungry and can't help it, so Joel agrees to go to the store to buy her more raw meat. Before he leaves, he tells the girls to stay put and not leave the house, but going against their word, Sheila takes Abby to the car dealership to test drive and purchase a Range Rover.
When Joel gets back home from the grocery store, he is greeted only by Abby, as Sheila has gone out to party with Lisa and her friends. We then see the group sitting at a table at the bar, while everyone praises Sheila for spontaneously buying herself a Range Rover. Gary then shows up at the bar and begins staring at Sheila while she dances provocatively with her friends. Joel also enters the bar and spots Sheila, scolding her for buying a new car and grinding on the neighbors, even though she was supposed to stay at home until they figured out a plan. Gary then interrupts and asserts himself as the alpha male, telling Joel to back off and let Sheila have fun. Joel recognizes that Gary would most likely beat him in a fight, and not wanting to put his family, career, or life at risk, he simply goes home, leaving Sheila at the bar to dance with Gary.
The following morning, Joel wakes up to find that Sheila isn't laying next to him. He goes downstairs to make toast, only to end up breaking off the knob on the toaster oven. Angry and frustrated, he takes the toaster oven outside and violently smashes it on the ground. He makes a trip to Rite Aid to buy a new one, but before he goes inside, he packs a bowl to smoke in his car. As he tries to figure out which oven to purchase, he is once again approached by Ramona, who asks if he needs assistance. He begins going off on a tangent, ranting about his life to Ramona, who is clearly still uninterested. With his life spiraling out of control, Joel then storms out without even purchasing another toaster oven.
Meanwhile, Sheila is in the backyard doing some gardening, when suddenly Gary shows up. He questions if Sheila is alright, as she left in the middle of their dancing session last night. Sheila explains that she just had a lot on her mind, so she ended up wandering around and digging through a Chili's dumpster. Gary then forcefully grabs Sheila and pulls her closer towards him, thrusting his pelvis into hers in a desperate attempt to convince her to have sex with him. She continues to decline, so he gives her an ultimatum: she can have sex with him, and he won't say a word to Joel about it, or she can refuse his offer, and he will tell Joel that they screwed four times last night in his Beamer. Sheila then has a change of heart, and admits that Gary's inability to take no for an answer is actually making her feel desirable. She begins sensually licking his fingers, when suddenly, she completely bites down, entirely ripping off two of his fingers. She starts eating the fingers as Gary screams in agony, holding his hand as blood is spurting rapidly from it. She then goes in for another hefty bite, as Gary collapses to the ground in pain and shock. Once he is on the ground, she rips his shirt open and begins to devour both his flesh and innards. Joel then comes home, finding Gary's bloody corpse being consumed by Sheila in the backyard. Sheila tells Joel she wants to make this work, as Joel looks on in pure astonishment and horror.
- Ricardo Chavira as Dan Palmer
- Mary Elizabeth Ellis as Lisa Palmer
- Richard T. Jones as Rick
- Joy Osmanski as Alondra
- Nathan Fillion as Gary West
- Andy Richter as Carl Coby
- Patricia Belcher as Roberta
- Nia Renee Hill as Leslie
- Scott Beehner as Bill
- Terry Walters as Mia
- Bernadette Balagtas as Casey
- Christina Ferraro as Kelly
- Ramona Young as Ramona
- Thomas Crawford as Salesman
The first episode of Santa Clarita Diet received mostly positive reviews from critics. The episode has an average rating of 7.4/10 on IMDb, based on the votes of 656 users. Daniel McDonald from Addicted to Horror Movies stated, "This new, hysterically funny, ridiculously gory, stylish, brilliantly written, directed and especially acted, top of the line oddball has a pedigree any horror film fan could love", referring to the show as "horror-comedy heaven" and rating it a "5(+)/5". Jay of Pop Matters rated the episode 8/10 stars and gave a more mixed review, explaining that "the episode strikes unexpected gold. Using zombie-ism as a tacit metaphor for a woman throwing off the shackles of societal expectation is endlessly fascinating," but going on to say "Santa Clarita Diet‘s opening gambit isn’t quite as sure-footed as it could have been; it’s mashing genres together that don’t always make for the best bedfellows. Despite these reservations, it’s a whip-smart subversion of some familiar themes with two solid central performances that manages to be funny, moving, and shocking."
- The episode gets its name from the scene where Eric is diagnosing Sheila, explaining that she could've contracted the virus from a bat or a monkey. After Eric goes on a tangent about how humans are the real zombies, consuming everything they want without any regard for consequences, Joel makes a long pause before responding with, "So then a bat or a monkey?"
- Pea soup was among the liquids used for Sheila's excessive vomiting scene. The soup began to smell under the lights, but Drew, who had to lay in the concoction for half a day, did not complain.
- The hamburger meat that Sheila consumes is actually beet paste put through a hamburger grinder.
- During the scene where Sheila eats a snail, the snail was actually a real working snail, but when she pops it in her mouth, they cut to a chocolate snail, which is what Drew ends up eating.
- Sheila's license plate "2GAT123" is also used by Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiam.
- Eric says he doesn't like the word "zombie" because it is inherently negative. This is a jab at the common trend of avoiding the word "zombie" in dramatic zombie films and shows.
- Rite Aid: Sheila mentions this drugstore chain when comparing having sex with Joel to "humping like that rescue dog did to that little girl at the Rite Aid."
- Jennifer Lawrence: Sheila mentions this actress after reading a magazine article about how she cut her hair again, despite the fact that everyone hates her with short hair, and Sheila wishes she could be that bold.
- Range Rover: This vehicle is mentioned several times throughout the episode, with Sheila stating that she likes Range Rovers and would like to own one. Towards the end of the episode, she actually ends up purchasing one on impulse.
- Volkswagen Beetle: This car, owned by Lisa, can be seen sitting in the Palmers' driveway.
- LA Sheriff's Department: Dan mentions this sheriff's department after Lisa refers to him as a cop. Correcting her, he clarifies that he actually works for the LASD.
- Santa Monica Police Department: Dan makes fun of Rick for working for this police department in Santa Monica, California.
- Ford Mustang: Dan is shown driving around in a silver version of this sports car.
- Nissan Altima: Sheila drives a silver model of this mid-size sedan.
- Honda CR-V: Joel drives a navy blue version of this compact crossover.
- Christian Louboutin: Lisa tells her friends that she would like to buy a pair of this famous designer's brand-name shoes, regardless of how expensive they are.
- Subway, Hallmark, & USPS: Signs and buildings for all three of these businesses can be seen in the background as Joel smokes weed in a parking lot.
- Chili's: Sheila mentions this dining restaurant chain to Gary, explaining that she left him at the bar to go dig for raw meat in a Chili's dumpster.
- BMW: Gary refers to this luxury car company when trying to blackmail Sheila into having sex with him, telling her that if she refuses, he will tell Joel that they screwed four times in his Beamer, which is the slang term for BMW.
So Then a Bat or a Monkey • We Can't Kill People! • We Can Kill People • The Farting Sex Tourist • Man Eat Man • Attention to Detail • Strange or Just Inconsiderate? • How Much Vomit? • The Book! • Baka, Bile, and Baseball Bats