Tommy says he'll talk about it when he's ready, and Sam says that's fine as long as that moment takes place today, and then Melinda shows up with a big batch of corn fritters and telling Sam to call her "mama." He points out that that's totally weird, and she admits they have "a lot of road to cover." Sam refuses to leave them alone until Tommy says it's okay -- there's a truly suspenseful moment of beautifully edited three-way intensity that makes this storyline all by itself -- but the second he's gone she's slapping Tommy all upside the head for being disrespectful. In moments we have discovered that: Melinda is a dogfighting dog, literally, who gets rid of her kids because they keep her off "the circuit." She would have aborted Tommy -- don't you ever tell your kid this, it's awful -- except Joe Lee was hoping he'd get the gene, and then they'd have two prizefighters in the family and she could rest her old-ass bones.
"My back's done shot from all the years I spent in the ring, I ain't able to work now," she admits. At which point a sane person would just reach out and tip her over and go have some corn fritters -- "Abort this, asshole" -- but of course she immediately starts into the scenarios where she will rot in an alley somewhere, because she needs him, and also now it's Tommy's turn to be a dogfighting dog, which is not how parents work but whatever, and Tommy points out that this is fucked on several levels, and she responds that the world itself is also fucked on several levels.
She's not wrong, but also: Gladiators? Really? I wonder if they fight against regular dogs or other shifters. Think about it: That is two very different stories. At first I thought it was the former, because a person-dog is probably a smarter fighter than a dog-dog, but on the other hand -- speaking of hands, one set of scars on Tommy's little body looks like burning fingers; maybe he fought a Stackhouse once -- there are lots of stories you can tell if it's supes doing the fighting. Which we know for a fact, because every single TV show in the history of TV shows, not to mention every comic book -- hell, Chris Claremont has done it at least once a year since the '80s, with his crazy ass -- eventually does the Freak Fight Club storyline. They even did it on The O.C., a show in which the only supernatural powers are like, One-Liners and Hair Shininess.