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'Family Guy' recap: Peter Griffin steals a paraplegic's dream

Season 13 | Episode 2 | “The Book of Joe” | Aired Oct 5, 2014

Wheelchair-bound cop (and avid swimmer, apparently) Joe Swanson hosts a pool party at his house, where Peter Griffin stumbles upon Joe’s illustrations of a children’s book called The Hopeful Squirrel.

Joe reveals to Peter his secret dream to be a children’s author, but he’s never been confident enough to send his work to a publisher. Plus Joe doesn’t want to catch flack at the police station, after his last creative endeavor (as a talking mime) was a bust.

The Hopeful Squirrel follows a handicapped squirrel who overcomes his disability to adapt to the wild. Earnestly impressed, Peter urges Joe to publish it, after offering a bit of advice. “My one note on these would be to hide a bunch of dongs in the background, but otherwise it’s great,” Peter says.

Inspired, Joe sends the story to Piermont Publishing under the pen name, David Chicago. It’s an immediate hit. Suddenly Joe is invited to do readings at a local book store, but his terrible stage presence frightens the children.

“Mommy, I don’t like the wheel-man,” wails one child. Peter tries to help by taking over the reading. His warm, animated “children’s author” voice regains the kids’ attention, and the publisher decides to brand Peter as David Chicago, the face of The Hopeful Squirrel. Conveniently, none of the Quahog townspeople seems to know Joe or Peter under the pen name, though one child recognizes Peter “as the man who passed out in liquor store.”

The scene ends with the book store morphing into a Target.

“But don’t worry,” says the publisher. “Our industry’s fine.”

Family Guy/Fox

Family Guy/FOX

Meanwhile, Brian develops his latest crush on a runner named Chloe. At Stewie’s recommendation, Brian approaches Chloe, pretending to be a gym rat himself. She accepts his invitation to dinner. When Brian goes to pick her up, Chloe wants to go on a run with him first. He can barely keep up, but Chloe won’t let Brian wimp out before hitting his second wind.

As Brian and Chloe sprint up a hill, a delirious Brian experiences his first runner’s high, depicted as a powerful, colorful mushroom trip, featuring a black sun and a Korean moon. To top it off, Brian sleeps with Chloe on their first date.

“I never want to lose this feeling,” he says.

Brian is hooked on running. He breaks up with Chloe and becomes a holier-than-thou, grotesquely ripped, #paleo-tagging exercise junkie. He starts calling food “fuel” and signs up for the Quahog Marathon. (“What if that sexy boy has another bomb?” asks Lois. In Seth MacFarlane’s world, the Boston Marathon has officially crossed the finish line of “too soon.”)

Stewie, the usual voice of reason, worries that Brian has lost himself. “Your whole body looks like Paul McCartney’s neck,” Stewie says, as Brian tapes Band-Aids over his nipples. Shudder.

Family Guy/Fox

Family Guy/FOX

Peter Griffin gains small-town fame as David Chicago, and completely ignores the Joe’s intended message with the book. When news anchor Tom Tucker interview Peter (BETWEEN TWO FERNS) about the book’s beginnings, Peter’s response pushes Joe over the edge.

“I see these crippled kids walking down the sidewalk and I would just laugh and laugh, so I thought I’d write a book about them,” Peter responds, to wild applause. When Joe tries and fails to fire Peter, Joe quits writing entirely. But wait! The publisher wants a sequel to The Hopeful Squirrel, and it’s up to Peter to write it.

With Quagmire and Cleveland’s help, Peter writes The Hopeful Squirrel 2, featuring a gay bunny, a monkey’s buzz-saw hand, and a token frog friend with a “cray-cray in a good way” signature line. At its debut reading, Peter horrifies the kids and their parents, hammering the final nail in the coffin of Joe’s dreams.

Peter decides books are bad news, except for the ones sold at Urban Outfitters, like Dogs Who Look Like Presidents. “I like where the USA is headed,” Peter concludes.

Finally, a ripped-and-ready Brian stretches at the marathon while Stewie tries one last time to talk him out of it. “No offense, but I’m not taking advice from a guy who eats bread,” Brian tells him. He promptly breaks his ankle and falls, left to be viciously trampled to a bloody pulp by the other runners.

“Brian, why does everything you touch turn to garbage?” Stewie asks.

What a great storyline to literally resurrect later this season.

Cutaway of the Week: Peter admits, “Me trying to write a book is like CeeLo trying to wear pants,” before cutting away to CeeLo Green, asking for advice on what a cartoon apple would wear.

Family Guy airs Sundays at 9/8C on Fox.