Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 4.02: "First Day"

“One of the flautists went missing, but they found her in a bog.”
-Alison

This episode found almost all the Huangs trying to deal with big life changes. Cattleman’s has new ownership. Eddie and (surprise!) Evan have new schools. Eddie’s still feuding with this friends from the neighborhood, and his relationship with Alison becomes shaky as they adjust to life in their new school.

Eddie is rather excited for his first day of high school. He wants to wear a cap that says “Booty” on it, but Jessica forbids it. He ends up sneaking it to school and wearing it anyway. I’m surprised it wasn’t confiscated, actually. I was only a year behind the real Eddie in school, and people got dress code violations for much less in my high school. Grated we also got “I’m so disappointed in you” speeches from our principal on the maybe two occasions in three years when there was a food fight in the cafeteria, but that’s a whole other story. Anyway, Nicole drives Eddie to school, and on the way, they drive by his former friends, and they all jeer at each other. Eddie is glad that, even if his boys abandoned him, he still has Alison and Nicole. Nicole has to correct him on that one. She can’t be seen with a freshman at school, so she drops him off nine blocks away, and he has to walk the rest of the way.

Emery is excited that, as the lone middle schooler in the family (Eddie’s starting ninth grade and Evan should be starting fifth), he’ll finally be able to go his own way in school without one of his brothers around. He’s super excited to have a chance to spread his wings. He gets on the bus, and he’s rather confused when Evan sits down next to him. Apparently Evan is skipping fifth grade, so he’s now going to be in middle school with Emery. Emery asks Evan why he didn’t tell him about this, and Evan figures that since they never talk about anything in their family, when they were about twenty-five, they’d just look back at that time he skipped a grade and nobody said anything and laugh. Emery finds this plausible. At school, Evan is greeted with a big hug and a fancy pencil by the principal, because he’s the school’s first grade-skipper. Meanwhile, Emery picks up a chemistry book that a girl dropped, and he’s shocked when she is cold to him. Usually the girls all love him.

Eddie is not having the easiest time in his new school. When he arrives, he finds Alison surrounded by a gaggle of football players. They all want to hang out with her because she’s in the marching band, apparently. As somebody who was in color guard in high school, I can attest that this is not at all accurate. Not a lot of marching band/football cross pollination happening in my high school, even if we were at all the football games. When Alison tells Eddie that some of the football players want to sit with them at lunch, Eddie is rather incredulous. When he goes home that evening, he tells Jessica he wants to try out for the football team. Jessica absolutely forbids it. She’s convinced he’s going to end up with a concussion, which is actually pretty forward thinking of her. Eddie ends up forging her signature and trying out for the team anyway.

Meanwhile, Louis can’t get a hold of anybody at Kenny Rogers headquarters since they took over his restaurant. He finds the “Kenny Rogers’ Michael Bolton’s Cattleman’s Ranch” sign a bit ridiculous (don’t we all) and he wants it taken down. Eventually, somebody from Kenny Rogers corporate shows up at the restaurant, and it’s Louis’ worst nightmare. The sign’s not coming down, because Kenny wants to memorialize his victory. The corporate guy also wants to replace some of the steak dishes on the menu with chicken, get rid of the host position for a casual, seat-yourself vibe, and sort the salad bar in descending level of crunch. When Louis complains about all of this to Jessica, she says that instead of being upset with the changes at Cattleman’s, he should be taking his Cattleman’s success and starting more restaurants. Louis is about to take Jessica’s advice when the corporate guy says Louis needs to give up his favorite taxidermy bear, Mark. At that point, Louis decides it’s going to be war.

At home, Emery complains to Grandma about how nothing seems to be going right for him, and he blames Evan for following him to middle school too early. Grandma doesn’t think it’s Evan’s fault, and she says she’ll tell the boys what’s going on if they buy her a red Gatorade at the 7-11. After she chugs her Gatorade, Grandma explains. Emery is twelve, which means it’s the first time his Chinese zodiac animal has come up in the rotation since his birth. Apparently in Chinese beliefs, your zodiac year always brings bad luck. Evan thinks this is right – Emery has indeed been having bad luck since before the school year started. He got Evan kicked out of private school, and they missed seeing the big peanut roadside attraction, among other things. Later, on their way to school, Evan explains to Emery that maybe Emery’s bad is everyone else’s good. Emery has lived a pretty charmed life. As Evan puts it, normal people get ignored sometimes. Evan offers to let Emery borrow his school supplies to ease the pain, but that ends once Emery accidentally drops them all on the ground.

At football tryouts (where there is a rather nonsensical bit where it’s supposed to be funny that the football coach is a woman…what is this, the 1950s?), Eddie meets a kid named Max who has a similar build to him and is also trying out for the team. Later in the hallway, he tells Alison that he made the team, and he’s going to be number 22. Word eventually gets to Jessica that Eddie is on the team, and she goes to practice to try and stop them. Of course as she’s watching, number 22 takes a pretty nasty hit. She and Alison rush over to find that it’s not Eddie, but Max. Eddie has been hiding, watching from the sidelines. Can I say at this moment how much Alison seems to dress like I did in the mid-late 90s? At one point she’s wearing a horizontal striped shirt, and in another, a beaded choker necklace. Both were staples of my late middle school/early high school wardrobe. Alison is upset that Eddie thought she’d break up with him for a football player, so she…breaks up with him. A dejected Eddie prepares to eat lunch alone in the cafeteria, but his boys have his back and join him. They heard about what happened, and they’ve decided to let bygones be bygones.

At home, Jessica is fretting over Eddie’s football antics, and Louis is fretting over what is going on at Cattleman’s. Jessica doesn’t understand why Louis doesn’t just start some new restaurants until she has a realization. Cattleman’s is Louis’ Eddie. His first baby (restaurant) that he will continue to fight for even if it’s sometimes a bad idea. With that realization, Jessica fully supports Louis continuing the war. Louis goes to the restaurant and tells the corporate guy in no uncertain terms that he founded Cattleman’s and nothing is changing. The corporate guy is surprisingly cool with it. It turns out that concussed football player Max is actually his son, so he’s got bigger things to worry about. Louis is elated that he’s succeeded in “saving” Cattleman’s.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Lucifer 3.03: “Mr. and Mrs. Mazikeen Smith”

“Burn brighter, Mazikeen. Go out and hunt the most challenging human you can find.”
- Lucifer

Maze is finally back on the scene (or more accurately the actress portraying her is back from maternity leave). Maze is hanging at Lux with Linda (they’ve been drinking for the last 3 hours and Linda isn’t holding up so well) when Maze realizes she’s even getting bored hunting humans. Lucifer suggests she goes out and finds the biggest, trickiest bounty hunting case to get some thrill back into her job. So, she does just that and decides to find a cold-blooded killer who has recently popped up in Canada.

As Maze is packing her things to head out, Chloe warns her to be careful. Also, our dear detective (rightly) critiques Maze’s cold weathering packing skills. And then there’s the matter of Trixie trying to stow away to watch Maze’s back. Chloe and Maze convince Trixie to stick around as Maze heads off. At the precinct, after bidding farewell to Dan for a few weeks in Hawaii, Chloe is not only tracking the last known whereabout of Maze’s bounty but she’s also trying to keep tabs on Maze through reports of violence. We see part of one of the alterations when she gets to a ski lodge and his shivering and a kid bumps her and laughs. She steals his jacket and sticks him headfirst into a snow pile. Later, she humiliates a concierge at a different lodge to get the location of her man.

Maze is definitely hot on the guy’s trail as Chloe and Lucifer bring in her query’s lawyer. Lucifer even gets Chloe’s approval to use his power on the woman to learn that she’s in love with her murderous client and has been helping him out financially. She explains that no matter who you are, his charm will win you over. Which could be a problem for our resident demon when she puts on a blond wig and meets the guy at a bar (pretending to be his girlfriend). She has the sense to at least cuff him to a rail under the bar. They share a drink and he ends up cuffing her to the bar and taking off. Maze doesn’t seem too miffed by this situation as she likes the chase. She also isn’t pleased that Chloe is checking up on her.

At first, Lucifer isn’t happy with Chloe’s helicopter parenting of his favorite demon, either. But after Chloe finds the bounty’s address and Lucifer then sends it to Maze, things take a dangerous turn. Sure, Maze gets to handcuff herself to the guy and they tussle for a bit. But then another bounty hunter with a big ole machine gun pops in and he gets nicked by a bullet. Cue a Skype call to Linda (while in session with Lucifer) and even our devil is now worried. Maze is going to stick up the bullet wound but after she knocks the guy out so he doesn’t fight her trying to remove the bullet, she sticks a pillow under his head and fluffs said pillow. This convinces Lucifer that the man is a devious con man going after his Maze.

When he wakes up, he fills Maze in that he used to be a bounty hunter for the same Lieutenant that Maze is working for. But the kids he’s accused of killing weren’t his fault. He refused to kill them and then he got framed. We still don’t know if he’s telling the truth when Dan shows up (from one of his many layovers) because Chloe called and asked him to check in. He starts to report the bounty as a fugitive to Canadian police but Maze takes off, intent on finding her bounty and the woman who tried to kill them both. Back in LA, Chloe gets a weird feeling about the Lieutenant and brings in the security guard who testified that the bounty was the shooter. In short order, Chloe and Lucifer manage to get him to admit he was lying. But things don’t stop there. Maze still has to attempt a daring rescue (with a little help from Dan). I’m glad Maze is back and that she got to kick so much butt this episode. I also liked that we got to see her evolving as a character and while she may never have a soul, she’s at least gaining emotions and learning that there are people in her life that matter to her.

In the end, Chloe and Lucifer get to arrest the Lieutenant and all seems well. Maze tells her former bounty that with the cop’s arrest, he’s a free man and she doesn’t have to bring him in. I was almost expecting her to still ask him for the money for the bounty so she wouldn’t have a wasted trip but she didn’t (which is probably progress in and of itself). But he insists that the cop wasn’t the only piece of the puzzle. He worked with other people who know all about him and won’t stop hunting him. He tells Maze that they know more about her than she thinks too and now that she had contact with the Lieutenant, she’s in their cross-hairs, too. She’s not too worried. I mean, she is a crazy powerful demon. But that might be what they know. And now I’m wondering if this is all connected to the Sinner Man and Lucifer’s abduction. Maze shares a kiss with her former bounty (who offers to let her run away with him) before heading back to LA to be with her roots. As the episode ends we see someone putting photos of Maze and the bounty into a folder and then into a cabinet. That really doesn’t bode well. But, I did enjoy the episode and thought it was a lot of fun seeing Maze kind of in her element with the rest of the cast having to support her.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

This Is Us 2.04: “Still There”

“I just wanted to say … I’ve had two nervous breakdowns in my life. One right before Tess was born and one just earlier this year. And they happen when I let myself get stressed out and it just builds up inside and then boom. But, one of the things that helps me feel less stressed out is running. I run every day. It just helps me clear my mind. So, if you ever feel like you want to I would love to go running with you.”
- Randall

A few more weeks have passed for our favorite family and in the 1990s, a crazy snowstorm is on the horizon. The family is at Blockbuster picking out movies for the inevitable snow-in when Kevin kind of loses it. He’s got a fever and it turns out both he and Kate have chicken pox. Oh, I remember that. It’s not fun. Randall isn’t sick but the doctor says it’s easier if all the kids get them at the same time. So, Randall goes around trying various methods to get sick. He walks around in his underwear when it’s really cold out and is then chasing Kate around the kitchen for her germs. This would all be kind of adorable if Rebecca’s horrible mother didn’t show up unannounced and try to take over everything. We know that she disapproves of Jack and she clearly doesn’t think Rebecca can do anything right either. First, she gives the kids presents and while Kevin’s is fine (a football helmet), Kate gets a too-small dress and Randall gets his third basketball. We know he’s not really into sports very much. And then, she insists on making soup because Rebecca isn’t doing it right and she banishes Jack off to the upstairs when he, too, comes down with a fever. I do like that we are getting to see more of Kevin and Jack’s relationship. Kevin is suffering pretty bad and Jack gets him to scream his “battle cry” to focus on something other than the itch. It’s a sweet scene until Grandma ruins it. Later that night, Rebecca has it out with her mother. She points out that she could kind of explain away her mother’s disapproval with Rebecca’s cooking and cleaning skills and the family income but she won’t it around while her mother treats Randall like a second-class citizen. She outright calls her mother a racist which is totally true but neither of them realize that Randall has heard the whole thing. Jack and Rebecca try to explain that racism can come in many forms to Randall but he just wants to go to bed. The next morning, the whole family is avoiding going downstairs so they don’t have to face Grandma. But Jack mans up and he and Kevin go dig her car out of the snow. Grandma admits she’s trying to deal with the whole thing but I suspect the relationship won’t be mended any time soon. Even if she does tell Randall he’s special when he shows her his finished science fair project. I’m glad Rebecca had the strength enough to finally confront her mother about her feelings. I just hope it allow the whole family to move forward in a positive manner.

In the present, Kevin has been hobbling around on his bad knee for a few weeks and the producer on his movie sends him to the doctor. He’s got a tear in his knee which they can fix in a pretty quick surgery. While he’s laid up, Kate and Toby plan to take care of him. Which is all well and good except Kate got her first big paying gig and she’s obsessing over losing enough weight to fit into a particular dress. She abandons Kevin with Toby to go to yoga and Kevin promptly declines the pain medication and starts unwrapping his knee. He’s convinced he can be good enough in a week to finish filming. Kevin is pretty but god is he dumb sometimes. One of the guys from set brings over a fruit basket and updated script pages for Kevin while Kate is out trying to find a quick way to fit into her dress. It turns out that she wasn’t buying a quick fix to fit in her dress. Kate and Toby are expecting! I have to say, I didn’t see that coming at all. Sadly, I did see Kevin wallowing in his pain and succumbing to the use of prescription pain meds. That’s going to lead down a bad road I can just tell.

The more interesting present-day arc is Randall and Beth and the girls. Deja still isn’t really feeling comfortable at the house. Namely because she hasn’t showered in like two weeks. It’s pretty gross. Beth and Randall agree they need to talk to her about it but Randall wants to take the lead and try to make her feel welcomed before discussing the issue. His solution is taking the girls bowling. But Deja isn’t wearing socks and she isn’t about the idea of giving up her shoes. When another girl in the alley calls her out for her hair, Randall immediately jumps in to defend her but she just walks away. Beth agrees to take her own approach the next morning and I have a feeling while Randall’s heart is clearly in the right place, Beth is going to have a better shot. And in fact, she does. Deja lets Beth do her hair and we learn that Deja has alopecia and it gets worse in times of stress. The condition is also apparently somewhat common with African Americans. I did not know that. Unfortunately, the little bit of trust Beth built with Deja goes out the window when Randall shares his nervous breakdowns and his running. She takes a pair of scissors to her braids. I really feel for Randall. He is trying so hard to find a way into this girl’s comfort zone and he just keeps getting rejected at every turn. He was right, though. This is really as hard as people say.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Mayor 1.02: “The Filibuster”

“I would be nowhere if it wasn’t for the lessons I picked up right here. Music kept me out of trouble.”
- Courtney

Now that Courtney has been in office for a few days, he thinks he’s got the hang of things. But Valentina has different ideas. I have to admit Lea Michele is the least awesome part of this show and really needs to tone things down. She always comes off as overbearing in all of the roles I’ve seen her in. Anyway, Valentina wants to prep for a budget meeting later that day but Courtney and his boys have set up a visit to the local elementary school where Courtney got his start and love for music. It starts out as a pretty awesome gig. He’s chatting with some kids and shares how music kept him out of trouble and ultimately led him to becoming mayor. And then as he surveys the crappiness of the instruments the kids have to work with, he promises to provide them with a whole new music center and brand-new instruments. Valentina reminds him that he shouldn’t be making promises he can’t keep (although that’s textbook politician) but he insists he’s going to make it work.

At the pre-budget meeting with a really snooze-fest worthy guy, Courtney realizes that the town budget completely cuts music programs. This is an unfortunately very real issue in a lot of places where the first things to be cut are arts and sciences. How people expect kids to grow up and be functioning adults without these avenues to express themselves is beyond me but then again, maybe I’m biased as I grew up with the arts. Anyway, Courtney gets all fired up about the lack of music and he thinks he has the power to change the budget and just veto the whole thing. His buddy starts livestreaming which only sends Courtney into more hot water when his veto gets overruled by the budget committee. I suspect he won’t make that same mistake twice. While all of this is going on, TK (the Constituent Services liaison) his bumming around with Dina because he thinks the position is a pity job (especially since the post hasn’t been filled since 1976). What she eventually shows him (it is kind of sad how long it took and it was pretty obvious what she was doing from the start) that there are issues he is aware of (including a set of traffic lights with a whole mess of sneakers thrown on them and only one semi-functioning light and a giant puddle) that he can fix in his position and he’s going to work on doing it. I like that we are starting to get to see some of the supporting characters and how they fit in and what their backstory is.

Courtney is clearly upset that he got overwritten and he’s even more annoyed when Valentina points out that she could have told him that but he wasn’t interested in the process. She eventually explains that they need to use the system that is in place and find ways to break it and get around it. The next morning, Dina gives her son some important advice (as it seems she has to do at least once an episode) and explains that she cut money here and there when he was a kid to get him the things he wanted. This gives him the idea to go through the budget and find places to take money from other departments and put it toward the music program. But he’s going to need a distraction to keep the committee from voting. So, as the episode title suggests, he does a filibuster. It’s pretty amusing (far more so than the intercuts to Valentina and the budget guy trying to find places to cut). Ultimately, Courtney must yield the floor when Valentina informs hi they couldn’t find the money.

Valentina suggests that while they may have lost this fight, they should focus on the next thing to fight for. In a rather touching speech that really speaks to many issues, including the treatment of children based on race in education, where he tells Valentina that the first time he was told “good job” in school or any teacher showed any support for him was after the fifth-grade winter concert where he played solo trumpet. Sure, it sucked even though he practiced really hard but it was someone validating the work he had put into it. He’d always been told he was a screw up and now he’d been given a chance to do something more with him. He wonders how they could take away that chance from the kids, leading Valentina to maybe check her white privilege for a hot minute because she races off. While she’s gone, Courtney goes back to the committee hearing and starts talking as just a concerned citizen about taking all of this away. And then the kids bust in and Courtney’s other friend starts living streaming the performance. Courtney even gets to rap a little bit before the lead committee member pulls him aside and remarks that it won’t change his vote. The kids themselves may not make the change but all of the other constituent’s calling their reps to make sure the music program isn’t going anywhere certainly does. I thought it was a somewhat obvious decision but also kind of ingenious and it worked. I don’t know that I necessarily want to see Courtney win every battle he faces because that’s not realistic. But I do like that he is learning that he needs to sometimes work within the confines of the system to make the change he wants. And hey, with TK getting the sneakers off the street lights, they’ve got some new kicks (even if they’re filled with bugs and other creepy crawling things). Overall, I thought this was a pretty solid second outing for “The Mayor” and I will continue to watch and enjoy Courtney’s journey and the wisdom his mom and those around him provide him.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Mayor 1.01: "Pilot"

“Courtney Rose is a no-nothing egomaniac whose entire campaign is a stunt. Voters won’t fall for that. Not in America.”
-Valentina

I’ll admit, as your garden-variety “Hamilton” fan, the involvement of Daveed Diggs was what first put “The Mayor” on my radar. He’s an executive producer of the show, and he even had a bit of a cameo in the pilot episode. Given the current political climate, especially as someone who has dedicated all of her education and career to government service, I was a little wary of the “guy runs for office as a publicity stunt and accidentally wins” premise. Unlike our current President, however, rapper Courtney Rose actually does seem to care about other people, and deep down, he does want what is best for his city. I think it’s just going to take him a little time to get good at it and stop getting distracted. There’s a memorable cast of characters, from Courtney himself, to his mom, to his best friends, to his chief of staff Valentina (Lea Michele). I think I’m going to enjoy spending time in this world and with these characters for as long as the show lasts. It’s nice to see popular culture depicting somebody actually trying to do good through government, because for many of us who work in government in real life, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re there because we really do want to make things better, and that’s partly why the past year has been so painful.

Courtney Rose is an aspiring rapper who lives in the Northern California town of Fort Grey. I get the sense that it’s supposed to kind of be like pre-gentrified Oakland. Courtney lives with his postal worker mom, Dina, and he has only had minimal success with his rap career so far. He desperately wants a gig at the 8:30 club. Early in the episode, Courtney excitedly shows his mom a news story about his candidacy. The best part of the news story is when the story shifts to his two friends TL and Jermaine, who are helping him with his campaign. The actors who play TK and Jermaine have excellent comedic timing as they riff on how they’ve been financing the campaign on credit cards and TK is using his personal phone for the campaign. Dina doesn’t quite know what to make of all this. I get the sense that she doesn’t think her son needs to engage in this kind of publicity stunt in order to eventually become a successful rapper.

Even though he doesn’t actually want to be mayor, Courtney still has to participate in a debate against his rival, a stuffy city councilman played by David Spade. Working for the councilman is Valentina, who happened to be Courtney’s tenth grade lab partner. Valentina is a go-getter to an extreme degree, and the sideshow nature of Courtney’s campaign disgusts her. Courtney struggles at first with the debate when he is asked for his stance on a school choice bill. When the councilman tries to say he’s been leading the effort to restore the Fort Grey Commons (a small park that is basically now a dump), Courtney has had it. He tells it like it is, saying there is no way the Commons has been restored – it’s still a trash heap. When the councilman vows to have it trash-free by 2020, Courtney points out that there will be a lot of trash added in 2018 and 2019. He doesn’t understand why the place can’t be cleaned up right now, and the audience applauds.

On Election Night, Courntey, his pals, and his mom are watching television, and they are shocked (Courtney perhaps most of all) when Courtney actually wins the thing. Courtney’s first instinct is that he really, really doesn’t want to be Mayor. He wants to go to City Hall and withdraw (although TK says he should be Mayor for at least a day so he can get the cool, ceremonial ribbon cutting scissors). At that, Dina screams “fire,” which means that she wants to have a serious conversation with Courtney on the fire escape. It still kind of freaks out TK and Jermaine, though. In a speech with the type of optimism about government that I have only ever seen on “The West Wing,” she reminds Courtney that in this country, putting your name on a ballot means something. It means you’re offering to help make lives better for people. And in Courtney’s case, the people said, “okay!” She also points out that Courtney is a rapper because he’s a commentator and observer of the status quo, but this might actually be a real opportunity to do something to change the status quo. Courtney’s ready to give this whole Mayor thing a shot.

Courtney wakes up the next morning to Valentina hovering over hims (he’s understandably disturbed by this). She wants to be his chief of staff – she wants to outmaneuver Kellyanne Conway one day, after all. Courtney eventually agrees. They go to City Hall where Valentina introduces Courtney to the staff she’s sired, and Courtney reveals that TK and Jermaine are going to be on staff too. Valentina wants to write out note cards to plan Courtney’s first 100 days as mayor, but Courtney has other ideas. He wants to start off by cleaning up the Commons, and he thinks he can do it for free by organizing a “Turn Up and Clean Up” party. Valentina agrees, but she warns him to get the right permits.

The clean-up party is a big success. Lots of people show up to help clean, and the after-cleaning party is rocking. Courtney even shows Valentina that he filed for the right permit. As the party is in full swing, Courtney gets a call from the 8:30 club. Their opening act dropped out at the last minute, and they want him to open for Mac Etcetera, his favorite rapper (who also happens to be none other than Daveed Diggs). Jermaine tries to convince Courtney to stick with his current responsibilities, but this is a chance he can’t pass up, so he runs off. While Courtney is having a blast rapping with Mac Etcetera, his party gets shut down by the cops because he’s the one with the permit and he isn’t there. Dina manages to get herself arrested in the process too, and the guys and Valentina have to bail him out.

Courtney is the last to show up at the police station, and everyone is pretty pissed off at him. He and his mom end up having a heart-to-heart conversation in her mail truck. She reminds Courtney how many people are counting on him as Mayor. This thing is bigger than him now. The next morning, the gang can once again not find Courtney. Valentina suggests the Commons, and Courtney is indeed there, trying to finish the clean-up. He tries to play it off like he’s been doing it all himself, but one of the neighbor kids has been helping him. Valentina says that maybe Courtney isn’t completely hopeless after all, and the next four years won’t be a complete waste. Courtney, up until that point, did not realize that being Mayor was for four years.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lucifer 3.02: “The One With the Baby Carrot”

“I thought this would be a bit more … reverential, less angel wing dumpster fire.”
- Linda

Things for Lucifer aren’t going too well this week. I mean sure, he’s got a hot lady he’s about to hook up with but she ruins the mood after his wings accidentally unfurl and she makes some quip about cosplaying as a devil. This prompts Lucifer to hack off his wings anew, which has Linda concerned because it’s technically self-mutilation. I’d be honestly worried if she wasn’t worried about him. I just wish Lucifer could see beyond his laser focus to actually understand what she’s talking about. But he’s more concerned with the Sinner man and how he’s coopting Lucifer’s “schtick” of giving out favors with the expectation of repayment at the to be determined time. Then again, as Linda points out, he hasn’t been giving out favors very much of late.

Chloe is not interested in his theories about this new villain and shuts him down when Lt. Pierce comes by with a new case. Chloe begs Lucifer to drop things unless he can give her some actual proof. Knowing our devil, he’s not going to give up. So, they head to the crime scene of a struggling comic who was murdered. He posted a video online about how a famous comedian stole his jokes. Ella is a huge fan of the famous guy and her reactions to everything were really ridiculous. He’s totally an asshole when they go see him on his set but all Ella sees is him calling the make-up artist “honey” and telling them to stay for the taping. As they watch the start of the show, both Lucifer and Chloe are somewhat baffled by what’s going on. The guy is talking to puppets and Ella explains they are his imaginary friends. In typical fashion, Lucifer ends up interrupting the taping and trying to get the man to confess. He pulls out a puppet from the bag—I’ll give Tom Ellis credit for doing a pretty good puppet voice—and ends up discovering there’s a gun in the puppet and he inadvertently shoots the guy. The guy ultimately admits that he stole the jokes from the victim but he was going to let it run its course so he could get fired and keep all his money. Oh, and he was being threatened by anonymous email.

While all of the case stuff is going on, we get to see Amenediel and Linda spend some time together. She invites him for a drink at Lux to thank him for his part in saving her life. She even says it must be great having his powers back. He confides that it was a one-time thing until he completes the test his father is putting him through. That test, you ask, is getting rid of Lucifer’s severed wings…which he’s hiding in a closet! They pack up the wings in garbage bags and take them a dumpster where Amenediel lights them on fire and with Linda’s insight, realizes that Lucifer is his test. Everything his brother does has a way of hurting Amenediel. We need some family therapy again!

While Chloe has the cyber division looking into the emails—we also learn that whoever the victim stole the jokes from had a micro-penis—Lucifer tries to get a still-absent Maze to hunt down the Simmer man. When he gets home, he finds Lt. Pierce has broken in. The new guy shares that he had a run-9in with the Big Bad in Chicago and lost someone very close to him in the process. And later on, when Lucifer still won’t back down, Pierce agrees to work together but they have to keep Chloe out of it. As a favor, Pierce has brought in the killer of the man who kidnapped Lucifer but all Lucifer’s devilish interrogation tactics yield is a jealous guy who didn’t want his girl sleeping around anymore.

Back on the case, the gang discovers that the sender of the emails always sent them from a comedy club during an open mic night. Dan gets roped into doing stand up to try and draw the guy out but he’s terrible. In his defense, he does improv which is a different comedic skillset. Lucifer ends up tossing out some good jokes in an attempt to heckle Dan and draw out the killer that way. It works but the guy didn’t kill our victim. Sure, he was mad at the rich guy stealing his material but he kind of had sympathy for the victim, being a struggling comedian and all. He also reveals that there is a subset of women who sleep with comedians—like groupies—and he once shared stories with one who likely passed it along. He also clues Chloe and Lucifer in on the fact that our victim had been dealing with the warm up comedian for Ella’s idol (well she’s less thrilled with him now knowing he’s a thief). Our duo heads to the setup of the rich guy’s show and it’s all very creepy and dark with all the puppets. Chloe finds the rich guy who has a nasty wound on his head from the butt of the warm up lady’s gun whom Lucifer then corners on the catwalk. She gets to have her little Evil Speech of Evil and say that it isn’t about the content of the joke but what you do it with that mattered. Lucifer gets to punch her out and save the day, though so he’s pleased. And he takes her words to heart and decides he’s not going to keep cutting off his wings (as they’ve come back for the third time now). He’s just going to pretend they don’t exist and then decides he’s getting back into the favor business. Basically, he’s doing his very best to revert to the man we met in the pilot. That’s not a good road for him to go down and I hope he realizes that error sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 4.01: "B as in Best Friends"

“You're my family. And where I come from, it’s an unspoken understanding that you don’t say ‘thank you’ to your family, because you don’t need to. You know they’ll always have your back no matter how hard things get. And you will always have theirs.”
-Jessica

If there’s one theme that ties together most of the fourth season premiere of “Fresh off the Boat,” it’s the meaning of friendship and when we can count on people. The Huangs are trying to move back into their old house and resume a slightly nicer version of their old life, and this tries a lot of the friendships the family has made. The Huangs are in a tough spot having sold their old house while their old house was rented to a new tenant, and it’s time to see who will be there for them, and who won’t. How far will Honey and Marvin’s hospitality go? Can Louis count on Michael Bolton to keep the restaurant in good order while he takes a few days off? Will Eddie’s friends forgive him for calling them losers, and will Eddie make any new friends in the meantime? All of this is addressed along with the show’s typical humor and awesome 90s references (this episode had one of my favorites, even if it was rather low-key).

If you recall, at the end of last season, the Huangs had moved into a fancy mansion so that Evan would be accepted into private school. The lifestyle wasn’t for them, so when Evan got kicked out of school (for reasons not entirely his fault), they decided to just move back into their old house. Only when they arrived, a new tenant was already living there. This new tenant understandably isn’t really interested in moving out if he doesn’t have to, so the Huangs end up living with Honey and Marvin temporarily while Jessica tries to convince their former landlord to sell the house. The Huangs quickly take over and start to wear out their welcome. They eat the last of the cereal, and Jessica has filled a closet where Honey was keeping her wedding dress with board games, among other things. Honey, especially, is to polite to say anything, though. Jessica keeps assuring Honey that she’s making progress in trying to buy the old house, but the process keeps hitting snags. Jessica is her usual aggressive negotiation self because she thinks she can stay at Honey and Marvin’s for as long as she needs to.

Eddie tries to reinstate his friendships with his old crew, but they aren’t having it. When he tries to pull up a lawn chair at one of their gatherings, they tell him to leave. Eddie’s girlfriend, Alison, is still out-of-town for the summer, and he’s feeling especially alone. Nicole, Marvin’s daughter, asks Eddie if he wants to get dinner with her at a local Mexican place that has the best free chips and salsa. Eddie interprets this as a date, and he goes to ask one of the guys for advice. At first, Eddie’s friend reminds him that they aren’t really friends anymore, but then he admits that he just really doesn’t have any advice about Eddie’s situation. Eddie is happy with Alison, but he’s had a crush on Nicole since he moved to Orlando, so this might be too good an opportunity to pass up.

Their time at the Mexican restaurant is fine until Eddie tells Nicole that he’s not interested in dating her and wants to stay with Alison. Nicole chooses that moment to come out to Eddie. Eddie had everything all wrong. Nicole didn’t want to go to dinner as a date. She wanted to talk to someone about how she’s been feeling lately that she might like girls, and she thought Eddie would be easy to talk to. There’s a very long awkward silence after that, including during the car ride home. Just as Eddie is about to get out of the car, though, he has a change of heart. He becomes supportive, and he starts asking Nicole all sorts of questions about what it’s like to be a Lesbian. Nicole is a little bemused by some of the questions, but I think overall, she’s happy to have someone who isn’t judging her and is supportive. This was an interesting twist in the Eddie and Nicole saga of the past 3-plus seasons, and I liked it.

Jessica is deep into her negotiation to buy the old house, but she decides to backburner on that when she gets a letter inviting her to be on Wheel of Fortune when the show comes to Orlando. It’s going to be Best Friends Week, so she’s told to bring her best friend with her for the competition. Jessica, of course, invites Honey to join her, and Honey agrees. Their practice doesn’t go especially well, especially because Jessica is doing her typical Jessica thing (taking complete control) while her family continues to overrun Honey’s house. Wheel is proving a distraction from the greater goal of moving out, and Honey is getting frustrated. When it comes time to play the game for real, they actually do really well, but then Jessica lets Honey know that the move-out has hit another snag. Their old landlord has refused to repaint the house, so Jessica is walking away from the sale again. Honey has an outburst on television, and that’s when the two women come to an understanding. Honey hadn’t said hosting the Huangs was a burden because of Southern hospitality. Jessica hadn’t said “thank you” to Honey because she considers Honey family. You don’t say thanks to family because they’ve always got your back and you’ve always got theirs. When Jessica realizes how Honey actually feels, she goes back to the landlord and says she’ll take the house without repainting.

In our final plot of this episode, Emery decides he wants to build a birdhouse for Honey and Marvin. Louis mentions how he used to want to have his own construction company, which he’d call Huang Construction, of course. Louis gets called away to work before he can start helping Emery with his bird house, though. At the restaurant, Michael Bolton is in an especially good mood. He sent a gloating letter to Kenny Rodgers about how successful Cattleman’s has been, and Kenny is jealous. He tells Louis, however, that he should take a few days off to spend time with the family, and he’ll keep the place running. He even sings a few bars of “Lean on Me” to make the point. While helping Emery build the bird house (which turns out creepy and haunted), his pager goes off a few times, but he ignores it. Then, at the end of the episode, the Cattleman’s chef comes to talk to Louis in person. There’s an emergency, and Louis heads to the restaurant right away. It’ snow Kenny Rodger’s Michael Bolton’s Cattleman’s Ranch. Kenny was jealous and Michael sold out. So much for “Lean on Me!”