Atypical season 2, episode 4 recap: ‘Pants on Fire’


Liar, liar, pants on fire is the theme of this Atypical episode as Zahid guides Sam through the strategies of being a good liar.

Atypical is really settling into the second season with the fourth episode. It has built up the characters in a different manner than the first season and Sam is starting to standing out more than ever before.

The episode opens up to the guidance counselor reading Sam’s college essay about his biggest accomplishment–seeing a girl’s boobs.

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The counselor believes that Sam should talk about his autism and the success he has had in his life that many others in his position have not.

I really admire what Sam says here about autism not being an accomplishment, but rather something he was born with. And like he says it’s as if the counselor would be writing about having ten fingers and ten toes, it just doesn’t make sense.

It’s a great conversation because from both angles (the counselor and Sam) the point may be misconstrued and it’s great that the show took a moment to address it.

Casey agrees that Sam’s essay isn’t exactly what the colleges want to read and says he needs to learn to lie. And who better to learn from than from the mother who spent a chunk of her time lying to the family?

Credit: Netflix

I’m not entirely sure that advising someone to lie to this extent on their college application is the optimal path to success so I’m in disagreement with the way the episode broached the topic of lying.

There is a way to put a spin on things without flat out lying and there should have been a better way to explain that in Sam’s situation.

Since going to his mother was a bust, he goes to the only other person he knows can help–Zahid.

Through a strategy Zahid likes to call POF (Pants on Fire), he teaches Sam that he must praise the individual, respond with the word obviously to anything they say, and then flee from the scene. He ends up using this method on Paige who is extremely flustered by Sam’s behavior.

After being confronted by Sam, Elsa makes the conscious decision to take a more honest approach to life which actually makes things a bit simpler and happier for her. This irks Doug because she didn’t choose to be honest with him when she had the affair.

Speaking of Doug, there is something definitely going on with his health and this is confirmed in the final moments of the episode when he falls and faints in the middle of the street. A heart attack perhaps? No, Atypical, no!

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Julia and Elsa have a run-in at the clinic where Julia tells Elsa that she is pregnant and perhaps her raging hormones is what led to her irrational behavior towards Sam. After processing her emotions, Julia finally calls her parents to tell her she’s pregnant!