Sunday, January 22, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 3.06: "WWJD: What Would Jessica Do?"

“The only thing I know about Christianity is the sad story of Mary’s son leaving her.”

This particular episode of “Fresh off the Boat” delves into an interesting intersection between a parent letting their child grow up and make their own decisions a bit and anxiety over religion. Jessica is very upset when Evan tells her he wants to forego their weekly Costco trip to start going to church. Jessica wasn’t raised in a religious household (she considers herself non-practicing Buddhist with light Christmas), so she doesn’t understand what Evan could get out of going to church. She also really, really misses their Costco ritual. The other plots going on in this episode (Louis is unhappy with a free dental treatment Marvin gave him and Eddie and Emery try to use up a bunch of gross cereal so they can get Frosted Flakes) seem in consequential in comparison.

The episode opens with Honey and Marvin eating dinner at Cattleman’s. Louis offers to give them the “friends price,” and in exchange, Marvin agrees to give Louis a dental cleaning at the “friends price.” Louis has time on Sunday, because Jessica and Evan will be going on their weekly 5-8 hour Costco run. When we actually see them go on that Costco run, it’s something to behold. Jessica is more relaxed than we’ve ever seen her before (knowing all the bulk deals are waiting for makes her calm). She and Evan read books while sitting in camp chairs, great all the staff that they know by name, try some free dip, and sneak some broken eggs back into the refrigerator case. The best moment is a montage of Jessica and Evan trying on sunglasses and making stereotypical hip hop video faces at each other. I guess Eddie has influenced the rest of the family! Meanwhile, Louis goes for his cleaning, and everything looks great. The only problem is that Marvin snuck some tooth whitening into the fluoride treatment, and now Louis’ teeth look like they could light up a room all on their own.

The next week, Jessica is all ready for another epic Costco run. It’s toilet paper week, after all. Evan, however, doesn’t want to go. A friend and his mom have offered to take him to church. Jessica has never been religious, so she’s kind of concerned about this. And she’s upset that she won’t have Evan with her at Costco, but she decides to let him go anyway. Louis offers to go with Jessica instead, but she’s not interested, because she “knows people” at Costco, and Louis’ teeth are still janky. She sadly tries to go through the usual Costco routine on her own, but as she tells the lady who gives out the free samples, she is worried that she may have lost Evan. That fear seems to be justified when Evan returns home gushing about how much he enjoyed church. He enjoyed the free crackers and juice and the fellowship so much that he wants to go back next week, because there’s going to be a guitarist.

When Jessica sees Evan praying, she really wants to put a stop to the whole thing, but Louis reminds her that Evan needs to find his own way. After all, he (Louis) almost became a Mormon back in the day. He just realized he liked caffeine more than the prospect of being allowed to have a second wife. Jessica, however, tries to intervene, using a voice changing machine they bought at Costco to be the voice of God. The voice of God who tells Evan to spend Sunday with mommy at Costco, obviously. Louis gives Jessica a talking-to about this, and she does feel bad about it, but her next Costco run is very lonely again. She talks to the sample lady, and they have a bit of a confessional moment when the sample lady needs to restock. It was an interesting visual with the sample lady taking crackers from one side of a shelf and Jessica talking salsa from the other, creating a little window in the middle. The sample lady says she’s always trained to ask people what they like about the sample, so she makes Jessica think about what Evan likes about church. Jessica realizes that the things Evan likes about church (like community, values, and free snacks) are some of the same things Jessica likes about Costco. Church is his Costco, in other words.

Meanwhile, Eddie and Emery had asked for Frosted Flakes on the last Costco run, but they got a Kellogg’s variety pack that definitely didn’t include any sugary varieties of cereals. They do have some Rice Krispies, though, which gives Evan an idea. He gets his chef on and makes a “Bad Ass Cereal Treat” with all the cereals combined. Jessica can sniff out wasted food like nobody’s business, so if the boys didn’t figure out a way to use up the cereal she already bought, they’d never get their Frosted Flakes. Unfortunately, Eddie’s cereal treat doesn’t turn out as well as he hoped. It’s kind of difficult to eat, and even though he and Emery keep eating, it never seems to get any smaller. Also, Louis continues to struggle with his teeth. Marvin brings a whole group of his dentist friends to Cattleman’s to try and show off his work, but Louis doesn’t want to open his mouth. Marvin says he turned Louis from a 7 to an 8 or 8.5. This doesn’t sit well with Louis. Eddie ends up breaking a tooth on the cereal treat, and Louis has to take him to see Marvin. The two patch up their differences, and Louis pays full price for the cap on Eddie’s tooth. In exchange, Marvin says he will pay full price at Cattleman’s going forward. They both think it is best for their friendship.

Jessica is determined to be more supportive of Evan’s desire to go to church, and Evan actually ends up making it a bit easier for her than she expected. He wants to alternate weeks between church and Costco. To show her support, and because she still wants to spend Sundays with her son, Jessica decides to wait outside church every week while Evan attends the service. That way he can tell her all about it right away. Jessica still isn’t willing to actually go into church, but she is impressed when Evan tells her they have school on Sunday.

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