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.”

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.

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