Fresh Off the Boat, Season 4, Episode 14: “A Man to Share the Night With”
Original airdate January 30, 2018.
Synopsis: Louis sees Eddie shaving for what he believes is the first time. Overjoyed that his eldest son is now a man, he extends Eddie’s bedtime, long enough so he can watch the first part of The Late Show with David Letterman on school nights. Eddie, puffed up by his new manhood, takes Louis’s declaration to mean he can decide for himself what he can do with that extra time, opting instead to spend it roaming around the neighborhood at night with his friend Barefoot Dave, who of course has no bedtime since his single-parent mom works graveyard shifts. Jessica, heartbroken that Michelle Kwan has taken silver (and not gold) at the ’98 Winter Olympics, lies to Emery and Evan, telling them that Kwan has won. The boys, upon learning the truth, develop a conspiracy theory involving a Kwan imposter, which Jessica tries to convince Nancy Kerrigan to confirm.
BDP: Ooh, a reemergence of Bad Guy Eddie was overdue, and he brings it. What I like about the resolution is that Nice Guy Eddie executes his own turnaround not through the intervention of his parents, but on his own, when confronted with a possible very bad choice. He later credits his decision to his father. There’s some good stuff here for families.
Eddie’s self-correction combines with Evan and Emery’s sneaky resilience, not revealed until the last scene, to give us a structure we haven’t seen in this series. Jessica thinks she’s contructing a lie in order to protect her children, but we find that rather than be taken in by it, they use the lie to create their own lie so they may protect Jessica. Sweet! Did Richie and Joanie Cunningham ever turn the tables and dispense good parenting messages to Marion and Howard? I don’t think so!
I really like angry dad Louis in this scene. We don’t get enough of that in this show, and I understand because there needs to be room for Jessica, but like Eddie, I was happy he could be counted on when we needed him.
Some lines I liked:
“Take a lid.” (Louis to Eddie)
“Can I have our razor back?” (Grandma to Eddie)
“Told you. You come for Lipinski, you best be ready.” (Honey)
“Louis, you can stay up and watch that old man and his piano gremlin, but I’m going to bed.” (Jessica, about David Letterman)
ICP: Honey can do whatever she wants with her hair, but that Lipinski cut did not do it for me! Also, Marvin continues to be too weird even for this show. I was into the Olympics story, as nit-witty as it was, right up until the Nancy Kerrigan cameo, which just doesn’t work. Or maybe, like the Huangs, I was rooting for Michelle.
FOB moment: Like you, I was there in ’98. I remember what it was like, that weird American pride combined with Asian American pride, and the amazing deflated feeling when Kwan lost, when we were all so sure she had it sewn up. People where I worked put up signs in their workspaces, saying “We still love you Michelle!” as if she might somehow see or feel the sentiment halfway across the Pacific.
Soundtrack flashback: I didn’t hear anything! Did you?
Final grade, this episode: The Eddie story is pretty good, but the Jessica story, while expressing some feelings I think many of us had, felt out of place. Even the weird hugging Emery and Evan do when they learn that Kwan has won gold seems like it belongs in another show. B-minus.