Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 3.13: "Neighbors With Attitude"

“You got a child kidnapped? That is the sweetest thing you’ve ever done for me.”

“Neighbors With Attitude” felt like a kind of inconsequential episode of “Fresh off the Boat,” but it was entertaining enough. Jessica has to deal with the fact that the more forceful aspects of her personality make people not always want to work with her. Now I’m usually all about pushing back on the “bossy” label and pointing out that assertive men are usually praised, but I don’t enjoy working with people who are always convinced they are right and aren’t open to other ideas, regardless of their gender. Jessica does make baby steps towards trying to become more of a team player throughout the course of the episode, but given the episode’s resolution, I’m not convinced it will stick. Jessica’s going to Jessica, after all. Loosely tied together in a Valentine’s Day theme, we also see Eddie struggle with nerves before his first kiss with Alison. It was an amusing enough plot, even if it didn’t truly fit with the episode’s main plot.

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and Jessica and Louis are looking forward to another romantic evening of doing their taxes. The open the mailbox hoping to find the last stray 1099 forms that they’re going to need, but instead, they find a full, uneaten pastrami sandwich. This is indeed weird (if not potentially delicious, although if the sandwich had been sitting there for a while, maybe not so much) situation, so they go to the police. The police officer they talk to doesn’t seem especially interested. He thinks rogue pastrami sandwiches are more of a neighborhood watch issue. Jessica loves the idea of a neighborhood watch (because it gives her nosy neighbor tendencies official worth), so she proposes it at the next HOA meeting. Deidre says it’s a great idea and they’ll start really planning at the next HOA meeting. Jessica is all excited, researching ideas for the Neighborhood Watch, when she discovers there are a bunch of Neighborhood Watch signs already out in the neighborhood. She tries to prove to Deidre her usefulness by speed solving Where’s Waldo, but Deidre says it’s not Jessica’s skills that are in doubt. She’s just not a team player.

Meanwhile, Eddie and his pals are also anticipating Valentine’s Day. It’s the first year that they’ll be old enough to go to a dance that a local scout troop hosts every year. They’re excited, because there will be plenty of dark corners of the JCC in which to make out with girls. Eddie insists that while he hasn’t kissed Alison, he did kiss a bunch of girls back in DC, so it will be no big deal. Later, though, Eddie goes to visit Trent and expresses his nervousness at kissing Alison. He ends up admitting that he never did actually kiss any girls in DC. Trent has his own secret. He is actually a Sparrow Scout, even though he constantly rails about how stupid the Scouts are with their flat management structure. The two boys talk through Eddie’s problem a bit. Eddie has built up in his mind how he wants his first kiss to be, and that’s why he’s been so hesitant. He wants it to be perfect like the kiss between Tupac and Janet Jackson in “Poetic Justice.” Trent promises to be Eddie’s wingman.

Louis is determined to help Jessica reach her goal of becoming involved with the Neighborhood Watch. He and Evan put her in stressful situations where she has to act like a team player. They simulate situations like somebody taking credit for one of Jessica’s ideas or somebody suggesting an idea Jessica doesn’t like. When they think she’s ready, Jessica takes her case to the HOA. She has a three point plan for increased neighborhood security (cameras, patrols, and a tip line) that she really wants to present. Deidre shuts her down completely, though. She insists that the signs posted throughout the neighborhood are enough, because there haven’t been any more sandwich incidents, and she calls the Neighborhood Watch meeting to a close immediately. On the way home, Louis and Evan talk about how unfair the situation is (and Evan steams about another HOA member not reimbursing him $12 for something even though she bought new sandals). Louis ponders what would happen if things started going wrong in the neighborhood a little more often. He soon (sort of) gets his wish. Police are all around their new neighbor’s house, who happens to be a single mom with a son. Their frog lawn statue is gone, and so is the son (the statue was a hide-a-key).

It’s the night of the big dance, and Eddie, Trent, and Alison roll up to the JCC. All does not, however, go as planned. The Robin Scouts at the ticket table, who remember very well one of Trent’s rants about their flat management structure, ban the group from the dance. Trent tries to save the evening by suggesting they go to a diner, where Eddie and Alison can share a milkshake. At first this seems like a great idea. Alison is enjoying herself, and Eddie is about to deploy the candy “Kiss Me” heart that he intends to be the precursor to the actual kiss. Eddie makes the rather strange choice to eat the heart, though, and he starts choking on it. Trent wants to use his Scout abilities to save Eddie, so he rushes in. Instead of the Heimlich, he tries giving CPR, and somehow that works. Later, Eddie apologizes to Alison for ruining the night, and she points out that the night isn’t over. They end up sharing their first kiss, and Eddie is satisfied.

Louis tells Jessica about the missing child situation, and Jessica immediately wants to go to the tape. It turns out that even though she was turned down by Neighborhood Watch, she decided to install some security cameras anyway. She retrieves the tapes, and before she can see what happened, Louis admits to stealing the hide-a-key. Jessica is touched that Louis would do such a thing to help her follow her dreams, so she’s going to help him get out of this mess. They discover by watching the video that Marvin was on the scene around the time of the disappearance. He tells Louis and Jessica that the kid couldn’t find the key, so he was going to go to the mall to get a new one. Louis and Jessica head to the mall and find the missing kid in the food court. As a reward, Deidre offers Jessica the Neighborhood Watch committee. Jessica accepts and quickly slams the door in the face of Deidre and her chief toady.

There was also a small plot running through this episode about Grandma Huang’s money. As part of the overall family discussion on neighborhood safety, Grandma mentions that she hides all of her money in the house, and she’s hidden it so well that it’s absolutely safe. This is naturally a sort of “Challenge Accepted” moment for Emery, who makes it his mission to try and find Grandma’s money. Eventually Emery finds some money in Evan’s underwear drawer, and Grandma lets him think he has succeeded. In the resolution of the whole incident with Deidre’s toady who wouldn’t pay Evan his $12, however, we learn that Emery actually found Evan’s secret stash of money. Oops! Grandma is still the Huang family woman of mystery. As it should be.

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