Fresh Off the Boat, Season 3, Episode 1: “Coming from America”
Original airdate October 11, 2016.
Microsynopsis: Continuing the story begun in the season 2 finale, Louis follows his brother Gene back to Taiwan, hoping to bury the hatchet (again) before Gene’s wedding in order to set a good example for his sons. He meets Gene’s beautiful fiancé (a television commercial actress) and witnesses Gene’s affluent lifestyle, and wonders if he should move back to the homeland. Eddie spends much of his trip stressed-out about finding a fax machine so he can send notes to Alison in Orlando (before the guy at Kinko’s picks up on her sadness and makes his move). Jessica brings the boys to her favorite spots, but discovers that something’s different now–she doesn’t seem to fit in quite the way she used to.
Good: There’s a pretty funny callback to the polite-arguments in the last episode of season 2, with a little twist, and Ken Jeong as Gene Park is once again quite enjoyable. The episode takes advantage of the scenery, framing the characters against some fascinating backdrops, including temples, busy marketplaces, and an enormous hotel. And there are lots of funny jabs at both cultures. My favorite: arriving in customs, Jessica explains why she’s visiting, and the customs official has a checkbox for “wronged by brother-in-law” on the form in front of him.
Bad: The episode makes an embarrassing number of references to Ghost, the 1990 film with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, a film I hate.
FOB moment: The location change in this episode means that the only F.O.B.s are Eddie, Emery, and Evan, so I’m going with the short scene near the end, when Evan sits in on his cousin’s class. His cousin volunteers an answer, and even though it’s correct, he’s slapped in the face by his teacher without being given a reason. Evan’s cousin supposes it’s because he didn’t give his answer loudly enough. Evan stands at his desk and says, “I am an American citizen! Please take me to my embassy!”
Soundtrack flashback: “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers (1965), a song I can’t stand. “Bow Down” by Westside Connection (1996), a song I had to look up because I was completely unfamiliar with it!
Final grade, this episode: It’s just great to see these characters again. The actors slide right into their roles with a comfortable vibrance that bodes well, and I love the mixture of absurdity, realness, silliness, and seriousness: it’s the right mix for a family show. B+.