Fresh Off the Boat, Season 1, Episode 7: “Showdown at the Golden Saddle”
Original airdate March 3, 2015.
Microsynopsis: Eddie plots to share his Parental-Advisory-stickered CD with Nicole in an attempt to show her how grown-up he is. Louis puts up a new billboard for Cattleman’s Ranch, but despite its effectiveness, it leads to trouble for him and Jessica.
Good: Evan and Emery are really funny. There are some good gags centered on the billboards. There’s some good relationship development for Louis and Jessica. Nicole gets a chance to be more than a caricature, and she even smiles at Jessica. Eddie reminds us that he’s still really a tweener, even calling out to his mom for comfort. It’s kind of sweet. This episode is rather plotty, leaning heavily on our familiarity with the characters to propel the story without too much explanation, and it works. My favorite thing about this episode is the way Louis continues to hold the show together: Randall Park’s acting is strong enough to let Jessica and Eddie be all over the place from week to week. I would never have predicted that he’d be the part of the show I look most forward to, but that’s what he’s turning into.
Bad: I’m really not fond of potty humor in a family show (or really any show), and one of the plots kind of depends on it. This is normally enough to turn me completely off, but I’m trying to think of a more horrifying situation for Eddie to find himself in while Nicole is over, and I have to concede that this is probably it. I thought last week’s episode was sappy (and admitted that I bought it), but this one’s sappier. I would like to have seen just a little bit of edge in Jessica’s and Louis’s opening up to each other, although that can be really tough to pull off. In a family show, none of us really wants sincerity to tip over into irony.
FOB moment: Jessica says, “They’re calling us sneaky Asians!”
Soundtrack flashback: Kool Moe Dee’s “Wild Wild West,” Ice Cube’s “Check Yo Self (clean version),” and The Notorious B.I.G.’s “One More Chance / Stay With Me Remix.”
Final grade, this episode: I’m totally down with the relationship-building between Louis and Jessica; I think we all want to believe that Eddie’s family is built to last, and that he can count on them for all the good parent things we should expect in a TV family. Yet I still think a lot of the silliness is too easy. You know that moment at the end, when Nicole says “Hey” to Eddie, who’s so stunned it takes him a long second to return the greeting? That’s a note-perfect moment when lazy writers might have hurried things along unrealistically. Moments like this tell us that there’s potential here for cleverer silliness, so I’m not letting anyone off the hook. B.