"Surfer God" is the eighth episode of Season 2 and the eighteenth episode of China, IL.
During a lecture, Frank struggles to keep the attention of his students. Strolling down the nearby corridor alongside Leonard, Baby Cakes notes that he wants to help his father with an upcoming project. Stopping by Frank's classroom, Baby Cakes claims he found a test subject, and Leonard gets the idea to involve Frank with his project, the plan being to help Frank communicate better with his students. Leonard unveils his device—the Haardvark—which is intended to translate Frank's lecture speak to words a typical college student can fathom as Frank lectures. Frank gives his consent, leading Baby Cakes to think he too has involvement with the project. A worrisome Leonard then tells his son that he must take this seriously and ensure his actions are for its benefit.
At Town Bar, Steve shares a drink with Pony and her mother, the latter telling the former how to live her life by enforcing a religious lifestyle despite the former being 22. Back at UCI, meanwhile, Frank tests the Cakeses' project, but the device gives him a shock to his humiliation. Afterward, students and staff aplenty gather at the stadium to watch a game of football, which is interrupted when God—whose appearance and actions mimic those of a stereotypical surfer—descends from the sky and establishes a shrine on the field in the process. Explaining his intention, he announces he wants to see if the people of the world are ready to "take it to the next level" and does so by planning a test run in China, which requires participation from all of the residents. As part of the trial run, he erases all of the old Ten Commandments and replaces them. As part of Commandment 1, which is simply to "chill," he plays a song by the Beach Boys, prompting Steve, who dislikes the Beach Boys, to escape from the stadium. By now, the campus and Town Bar are teeming with surf- and Beach Boy-related decorations to commemorate God's arrival.
During another lecture, Frank is reluctant to another trial run involving the Haardvark, whose flaws Leonard fixed during God's arrival. Baby Cakes pressures Frank to submit, worried that if he does not relax, no one goes to "the next level." The second test proves that the device is successful; its output based on Frank's input draws the students into the lecture. Leonard is confident that hard work pays off, but his son claims that the only reason it worked is because Frank complied with Commandment 1. The following day, as the staff and students return to the stadium, Leonard expresses his skepticism regarding God's existence, and Baby Cakes assures his father that following God's will will benefit their project. As God reveals Commandments 2 and 3—"Don't give up on your dreams," and "Experience the magic," respectively—Leonard becomes skeptical of God.
Meeting with her daughter at Town Bar, Pony's mother encourages her to date God, but Pony is hesitant. "All's you gotta do is believe," is unveiled as Commandment 4, and the continued reverence of the Beach Boys continues to irk Steve. Worried that Steve's refusal to chill will interfere with the attainment of "the next level," those at the bar escort him out. At UCI meanwhile, Baby Cakes and Frank decide to take the project into their hands, seeing that Leonard disapproves of God and that this will hinder their coveted attainment God has in store. They ask Leonard to pass the rights of the Haardvark unto them, but he refuses, being skeptical of Frank and Baby Cakes' idea that obeying God is what helped. As Frank scurries off with the Haardvark, Baby Cakes continues to side with Frank, thinking their adhering to God's will is for the better of the product.
At Pony's apartment that night, Pony continues to hear from her mother that she should begin dating God. Pony eventually relents, though only to keep her mother pleased. Meanwhile near a stream, Steve decides to construct shelter there, willing to stay away from the Beach Boys' music. He sees his students nearby, and when one plays the Beach Boys, Steve begins attacking them, still refusing to adhere to Commandment 1. The students fear that this stubbornness will stop everyone from reaching "the next level," so they take him to God. At God's shrine, God discovers that the reason for Steve's hostility toward him and the Beach Boys is a traumatic childhood memory—when he was at a Beach Boys concert, said band were proven to be murders, which caused Steve to think that all surfers are murderers. Steve renounces his hatred of surfers and announces he is cured.
The following day at the cafeteria, Pony asks God out, but to her surprise, he makes her pregnant via a hand gesture, claiming doing so is how he dates women. Later at his shrine, he recaps Commandment 5—"I'm lovin' it."—and announces that Commandment 6 is "Trust me, dude." Afterward, a now-relaxed Steve compliments Baby Cakes' sales pitch of the Haardvark, then tends to a pregnant Pony, telling Pony that once she has God's child, her mother will give her more freedom and respect. As Pony considers this, Steve proceeds to obey Commandment 1 while Baby Cakes meets with Leonard, informing him that his sales pitch elicited 1,000 orders of the Haardvark. After stating the prototype was not yet licensed, the irked professor agrees to help his son out as long as he complies with orders. Baby Cakes agrees, but still wants to conform to God's will, the Cakeses unaware of Frank's eavesdropping and worrying about losing popularity should mass production of the Haardvark commence.
Steve visits God's shrine, and God's book of commandment ideas catches the professor's eye. Scanning it, Steve worries about Commandment 7, skepticism toward God resuming. Elsewhere, Pony and her mother go shopping for baby clothes. When Pony's mother makes a suggestion that irks Pony, the former retracts her words, trusting the instinct of the latter, who is now "the mom" because of her relationship with God. That night, Frank remains wary of the Cakeses while God reveals Commandment 7—"Kill your parents." By God's magic, swords are given to everyone but the parents, most of whom killed by their sons and daughters. Wanting to conform to God's will, Pony's mother attempts suicide by impaling herself on Pony's sword. Baby Cakes becomes nervous about what to do—spare Leonard and in turn spare the Haardvark, or obey God and help everyone attain the coveted next level. While Pony tends to her mother, who survived the suicide attempt, Frank restrains Leonard and pressures Baby Cakes into obeying God, whom Steve approaches and subsequently kills.
Seconds later, however, God returns to life and announces that he had test that everyone just failed as he unveils Commandments 8, 9, and 10—"Go to the next level: become gods," "Resurrect parents (just testing ya before)," and "Don't rape," respectively. As a result, Steve's skepticism of God hinders the entire world from becoming gods, and God then claims his time on Earth is now over. Suddenly, Pony's baby proves to be a stillborn; Pony sees other females suffer stillbirths as well, Pony's mother hypocritically criticizing Pony for apparently not knowing how to pick men. Capturing the Haardvark, God addresses the crowd via the innovation before returning to heaven, leaving an angry mob to approach Steve.
- Early in the episode, God claims he was not thinking things through when initially writing the Ten Commandments, noting that rape is occurring because he never explicitly forbade rape.
- In an attempt to help with Leonard's project, Baby Cakes claims he will "spread a sheet and point powerfully," which are references to spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.
- "Shit" once again goes uncensored in this episode. This happens in "Total Validation", and frequently in the following season.
- God calling Steve "the new Eve" is a reference to the Biblical story of Eve doubting God.
- The way God impregnates Pony and others is a reference to the Biblical story of the immaculate conception, which is pictured during Steve's lecture at the beginning of the episode.
- Commandment 5 is a reference to McDonald's slogan.
- Despite God claiming that he will reveal a new commandment each day, he frequently goes against this; for example, he reveals Commandments 2 and 3 within moments of each other.
- Pony states she is twenty-two, and her mother is thirty.
- In Baby Cakes' sales pitch, the phrase "talking dead" is a reference to The Walking Dead.
- Although God establishes that everyone's participation is required for "the next level" to be attained, Leonard's skepticism apparently never has an impact on this contrary to Baby Cakes' worries.
- A possible reason for this is Leonard's absence when God is giving his briefing—when God said "each and every one of you," anyone not there might be exempt from this stipulation.
- While the original Ten Commandments were numbered using Roman numerals, the revised Ten Commandments are numbered using Arabic numerals.
- At around five minutes and nine seconds into the episode, the Dean has his arm around a woman.
- Monks from the following episode can be seen making cameos.
- Maternity Ward, the store at which Pony and her mother shop, is a reference to the store Montgomery Ward.
- Mid-way into the episode, Molly takes on a new, more revealing appearance. By the end of the episode, she reverts to the way she looked at the start of the episode. In the Season 2 theme song, she appears in her more revealing outfit. When she makes a cameo in "A Gentleman's Bet", she is seen in her original wardrobe.
- With the lifting of the original Ten Commandments, Molly becomes more promiscuous. She even ends up as one of the women affected by a stillbirth at the end of the episode.
- This episode marks the last of two times during which Sturd speaks, the first being in "The Perfect Lecture".
- During the football game, the announcer states there are two minutes left, but the scoreboard displays 00:00:00 immediately afterward.
- During the scene when Steve "kills" God, two members of the crowd change appearances.
- Steve: The Beach Boys are gross, and so is their music.
- Pemsy: [In response to Steve claiming the Virgin Mary as "the hottest woman ever"] Um, she was technically the least sexual person ever, right?
- Matt: Pemsy, you—your voice makes me mad instantly.
- Baby Cakes: I'm gonna spread a sheet and point powerfully——
- Leonard: It's the Haardvark, see? Because kids all talk hard.
- Pony: I can't follow God's crazy-hard commandments—or whatever.
- Frank: [After a failed trial run of the Haardvark] You just made me look dumb for the first time ever.
- God: I can read minds. Pretty cool.
- Frank: [Reluctant to wear the Haardvark] Get that lip cooker out of here!
- Frank: [Actual spoken words] You may find that [the lecture] resonates with your own experiences, [Output from the Haardvark] but check it, grip tight, and y'all be feeling me. Word.
- Flip Flop: Is someone talking to me?
- Frank: [Via Haardvark as Baby Cakes explains God's visit to Leonard] That is non-phony, Tenderoni.
- Girl: I know. This God rules, just like you!
- Matt: [Having previously criticized Pemsy] You're all right.
- Baby Cakes: Stop feeling like The Talking Dead, and start talking like "The Newly Alive."
- Baby Cakes: The Haardvark: experience the magic.
- Steve: [Commenting on Baby Cakes' sales pitch for the Haardvark] It sure is crazy, but I'm lovin' it.
- Baby Cakes: Yes, God told me to "I'm lovin' it."
- God: I made brains wonky; I left out key parts. You can't put the banana in the banana nut bread once it's just nut bread.
- Pony: What the fuck happened to you, dude? You're, like, brainwashed.
- [As Pony and her mother shop, one shopper comments on the latter.]
- Shopper: It's God's bitch, the bitch of God.
- Pony's Mother: [Upon hearing Commandment 7] Ay Dios mío!
- Steve: God is dead!
- [Pony's baby is a stillborn.]
- Pony's Mother: You don't know how to pick men, Pony. Such a screw-up.
- God: Steve is the new Eve; make him feel shitty for it! Now gimme that! [Snatches the Haardvark and speaks through it] Schnoopies done plugged that, bee-yotch! LOL!
- [God returns to heaven. A mob of angry people approaches Steve.]
- Steve: All right, everybody, let's just chill.
Characters Appearing Edit
- Anne Hong
- Baby Cakes
- Chinese Precious
- Eve (mentioned)
- Flip Flop
- Gang Sang
- Pony's Mother
- Richard Nixon
- Stacy Megan
- Sweater Beard
- The Beach Boys
- The Dean
- The Dean's Assistant
- Trouble Bubble
|"Total Validation"||"Prank Week"|
|Pilots||"China, IL: The Funeral" • Unaired Pilot|
|Season 1||"Rewind, Pause, Pay!" • "Dean vs. Mayor" • "Baby Boom" • "Coming Out of the Casket" • "Secret Society" • "Prom Face/Off" • "Frankensteve" • "Chinese New Year" • "Dream Reamer" • "Dean's List"|
|Season 2||"The Perfect Lecture" • "Is College Worth It?" • "Do You Know Who You Look Like?" • "The Diamond Castle" • "Kenny Winker Rules" • "China-Man Begins" • "Total Validation" • "Surfer God" • "Prank Week" • "Wild Hogs"|
|Season 3||"A Gentleman's Bet" • "Best Face Forward" • "Charlize" • "Crow College" • "Bi-Topping-Ality" • "Parent's Day" • "Displays of Manhood" • "Life Coaches" • "Gummie World" • "Magical Pet"|