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.”

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!”

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