Finally, an honest to God funny episode. “A Man to Share the Night With” feels like I found a unicorn. Not only is the episode funny, it serves a purpose. The themes of male bonding, as well as entertaining adulthood, are handled smartly. I am floored by the tenderness and depth that went into this episode.
Grandma Jenny Huang (Lucille Soong) is on fire tonight with her jokes. Before we get into the episode, I just want to say how good Lucille’s comedic timing is. Just in the first five minutes, she slays it with the jokes. Same goes for Hudson Yang who had a maturity to his performance as Eddie this week. Episode writer David Smithyman has written Eddie with some depth. That has been something that has been sorely missing this season as he’s mostly been written as a goof or clown which didn’t sit right with me.
Smartly, the A and B-plot both kick off with the Huang family watching Michelle Kwan compete in the 1998 Women’s Figure Skating. Let’s stick with the A-plot that has Louis (Randall Park) celebrating Eddie’s manhood now that he’s shaving. First, the thing that Eddie has been shaving for months and Louis is just now finding out is funny. But it’s endearing that Louis would go against Jessica (Constance Wu) so he can stay up late to watch The Late Show with David Letterman. Something to note is both Eddie and Louis gush when Dave’s guest is Cindy Crawford. This is so accurate as I remember being a very young and EVERY male I knew was infatuated with her. Even today she’s still radiant and fetching.
With Eddie given newfound freedom, he tells his friends who are all very impressed. The running joke of Dave Selby’s (Evan Hannemann) missing father (he walked out on him and his father) finally pays off. As his mother works overnight at The Cheesecake Factory, Dave is left to his own devices. Eddie is impressed with Dave eating leftover and stale donuts that are thrown out from the local donut shop. It’s disgusting, but it entices him.
Louis is upset that Eddie went out on a school night, instead of watching Letterman with him. I understand where Louis is coming from, to be honest. He wants to have something with his oldest son and by giving Eddie a tiny bit of rope he takes advantage. Eddie feels like he’s a man and should be treated like one. Louis should know better by now than to take advice from Marvin (Ray Wise), but Marvin wisely, at least this time, tells him to stand his ground.
Dave is becoming a tad unhinged and hellbent on stealing a mannequin from a beauty shop. Dave being pushy and a tad crazy, Eddie agrees to the breaking and entering to steal the dummy. Louis hearing Dave playing GWAR at ignorant levels (which does upset Eddie), Louis barges in Eddie’s room and stands his ground. Dave giving Eddie the evil eye tells his dad to screw himself. Louis loses it and grounds Eddie which makes Dave uncomfortable and he leaves. Eddie hugs his dad which leaves Louis confused. Eddie explains everything telling his dad how intense Dave is. Eddie then tells his dad he loves him and not everyone is that lucky to teach them right from wrong.
With that Louis takes Eddie to the beauty shop to stop Dave from committing a crime. Using Marvin’s advice of standing your ground and emitting dominance, Louis makes Dave drop the brick and Eddie to get it as they need a doorstop in the house. Later, the three watch Letterman with the cast of Baywatch with Louis still asserting himself.
With Jessica, Emery (Forrest Wheeler), and Evan (Ian Chen) all rooting for Michelle Kwan to win, Jessica is devastated to watch Nancy Kerrigan win while the boys are at school. Feeling that her message of hard work will always win will be lost on the boys, she destroys the tape and lies to the younger Huang boys that the VCR ate the tape and Kwan won. Honey (Chelsey Crisp), who is now showing in her pregnancy, comes over and is elated that Nancy Kerrigan won. Jessica on the spot makes up a lie on how it was an imposter. The two impressionable boys believe it and launch an investigation. This leads them to the real Nancy Kerrigan (yes, it’s the actual Nancy, who just happens to be in town. I know coincidence *eye roll*). Nancy explains every question regarding their theory. Blowing the conspiracy wide open, Jessica must admit that sometimes you just come in second place.
Until Nancy leaves a message in the book she signed for them that the conspiracy is true. With renewed faith, Jessica leaves. Emery tells Evan that their ploy worked despite the different shade of Sharpie. The boys may have accepted that life throws you curveballs, but sometimes hiding the truth is better for some people.
This was an excellent episode. Louis is a great guy and it shows how Eddie is turning out. As Eddie mature so is the show. Slowly. And even Evan and Emery come to realize that they’re maturing over their mother who they’ll do anything for. The fact that wised up and didn’t believe the conspiracy but let Jessica have it is maturity on their part as well. Gotta admit that Eddie going to bed once they find out that Paula Cole was the musical guest for the night had me dying. She’s known for “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” and “I Don’t Want to Wait” aka the theme to Dawson’s Creek.
Needle drops for this episode:
“Penguin” by GWAR off the album Carnival of Chaos
Season 4, Episode 14 (S04E14)
Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays at 9PM on ABC
A lifelong film enthusiast since he can remember, Brandon is an indie filmmaker/screenwriter and freelance critic who resides in Trenton, NJ. Feel free to hit him up on Twitter to talk movies, shows, and music (especially hip-hop).
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Brandon Norwood | Contributor