FRESH OFF THE BOAT Review: “Pie vs. Cake”

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Comics and debates take the lead this week on FRESH OFF THE BOAT. Eddie (Hudson Yang) and Emery (Forrest Wheeler) try to make a comic while Evan (Ian Chen) and Jessica (Constance Wu) prep for Evan’s chance to join the debate team. It’s a relatively quick episode this week with things moving at such a quick pace that a lot of the jokes fall by the wayside. But, we do get a major cameo that led to something really cool.

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Comics are at their height of popularity in pop culture right now. I remember how uncool it was to be caught with a comic in your hand. Comics and hip-hop go hand in hand. Ghostface Killah calls himself Tony Starks from time to time, and Method Man when calls himself Johnny Blaze. Even now with every new number one issue released, Marvel gives it a hip-hop cover based on a classic album (some aren’t classics) based around a certain character(s) recreating that cover. To be honest, I’m surprised it took Fresh Off the Boat this long to explore a comic storyline.

So, it’s a no brainier when Emery is interested in creating a comic to be published. Eddie sees this and scoffs at the idea of working for free until Grandma Jenny (Lucille Soong) tells Eddie how big of a deal it is to get published. And it’s true getting anything published in any form on a mass scale that will be read by millions is a big deal. Seeing how this can lead to millions of dollars, Eddie convinces Emery to let him join in on his comic endeavor. Eddie being Eddie, however, does none of the work (just as he did two episodes ago) leaving Emery frustrated on doing all the heavy lifting. Not to mention they are literally not on the same page about what the book should be about. It takes Grandma Jenny to bring the two back together and for Eddie to really get in the game. Eddie and Emery didn’t even realize that they had inspiration for their heroes in front of them the whole time.

I’d be lying to say I wasn’t disappointed with how this storyline played out. I was hoping for one of Eddie’s hip-hop fantasies to manifest itself in the success he imagined from the comic or the ideas he had for it. To be honest, we haven’t seen Eddie’s hip-hop fantasies that much this season, which is another can of worm to open at a later time, but man I thought they’d do something in combining the two together. However, the payoff for this storyline is incredible and we’ll get to that later as that stinger may be an all-timer for this show. Even though the payoff for it was incredible, this storyline seems recycled as the show just did this two episodes ago with Eddie working for Evan. It makes me wish that the writers can find new storylines to write for Eddie as this season has shown him growing in certain areas of his life. We need him to go out on a solo adventure away from his family as it’s been awhile since that’s happened.

Ian Chen took the spotlight this episode, as Evan came to prove that he’s better at debating than his mother. In the titular scene, Jessica always feels like she has the upper-hand and knows best, so it was cool seeing her and Evan debate which is better: pie or cake (it’s cake). The scene was so well staged by having it take place at Cattleman’s Ranch and having the Huang family sit in the middle of the restaurant. Evan got so full of himself that Jessica had to take him to her favorite department store to return a used phone. Evan even triumphs here. It takes him not making the school team for Jessica to prove that she is the queen, by going to Evan’s school and debating the debate team teacher as Evan is too young. Jessica even learns some humility as she gives Evan his own debate binder back.

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Upon seeing their mother is a hero, Eddie and Emery decide to base their comic around her as Persuader and Evan as Blazer Boy. Stan Lee (I know right!!!) reads it, and in an elaborate motion comic, we see what the boys did that reminded me of this. That elaborate motion comic was one for the ages. That was very awesome. Still, despite that, the only time I laughed is upon Ian delivering a perfect line about the lights being on. This was a minor episode of Fresh Off the Boat. That’s not a bad thing but when they been on a roll for so long, it sticks out. But I guess that’s to be expected as we now only have two episodes left this season.

Needle drops for this episode:

Louis (Randall Park) singing Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time” (classic track)

TB-TV-Grade-B-

Season 3, Episode 21 (S03E21)
Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays at 9PM on ABC

Read all of our reviews of Fresh Off the Boat here. 
Read our reviews of more of your favorite shows here.


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).
Follow Brandon on Twitter: @bwood0824
Keep up with all of Brandon’s reviews here.

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