Wrestling fever has hit FRESH OFF THE BOAT this week! No seriously, everyone is amped for the Battle of the Swamp Creatures wrestling event that’s in Orlando, as Jessica (Constance Wu) gets the flu. Place your bets as everyone tries to take advantage of the rare situation at hand. Or is it everyone who is being played? Cue up the Danny Brown theme song and get ready for one crazy episode.
Jessica is a machine. Her third eye is always at work and nothing illustrates this more than the pre-credits teaser. With her managing of Eddie (Hudson Yang), Emery (Forrest Wheeler) and Evan (Ian Chen) without even looking or even being in the same room. This teaser is perfect as in two minutes it sets up the show perfectly by showing “The Eye of Sauron” is always watching and with Eddie reading a wrestling magazine that features King Crawdad’s backstory and how he’s also a deacon. That joke had me dying. As well as Emery having an Afro pick comb.
Jessica thinking Emery is stuttering when he asks her to return Return of the King back to the library was great. Emery’s obsession with The Lord of the Rings was done well, as he gets everyone to refer to Jessica as “The Eye of Sauron” (The Huangs looked confused when Emery first does it, and it’s perfect), I thought for a moment; how did Emery manage to read those books? I’ve tried and those are tough reads (side note: the movie trilogy is classic with The Fellowship of the Ring being the definition of a near perfect film). Also, Jessica referring to the books being about hairy-footed children who can’t keep track of their jewelry is classic Jessica, as well as Jessica’s dig at Jesus to get Evan to put on shoes instead of the rock climbing sandals (seriously?) he was wearing. Constance Wu is doing rapid fire delivery and I gotta hand it to her for making it work. The writing is fast this week’s episode in its first five minutes so hats off to Eric Ziobrowski who even manages to continue Jessica’s disdain for teachers.
With Louis (Randall Park) asking Jessica which blazer he should wear, Louis is excited for Cattleman’s Ranch to get in its new order of ribs that will be added to the menu. As Eddie sneaks his wrestling magazine to school, much to his friends’ delight except for Brian Stone (Dash Williams) who’s been super pervy this season. Louis loves hearing Mitch (Paul Scheer) and Nancy (Jillian Armenante) argue about the wrestling match at Cattleman’s. Louis himself gets so caught up in it, he decides to do a lunch special with the ribs called “breaking ribs” to which Jessica calls the restaurant and tells Louis no specials on the spare ribs. Jessica, however, is getting sick and Grandma Jenny (Lucille Soong) is not too happy that she’s doing the laundry while coughing and sneezing over everything. When Honey Ellis (Chelsey Crisp) arrives, she has to put Jessica in her place and finally we the audience see how sick Jessica is, instead of how Jessica thinks she looks.
Louis comes home from Cattleman’s to tuck Jessica into bed. Louis gathers the boys and tells them in three different ways that Jessica is sick and has the flu because it never happens that Jessica is out of commission. Eddie taking advantage of the situation makes Evan get everyone soda. He convinces his dad and Emery that they have a once in a lifetime opportunity to use Pay-Per-View to order The Battle of the Creatures. Eddie is such a sweet talker (Hudson Yang sells this), he convinces them immediately. He ropes the two into helping him convince Evan that it’s a good idea as well. And that’s by convincing him he needs to see if a fish or a crawdad would win in a fight as the real scientific experiment would be too expensive. With Evan on board, Louis devises a whole plan to make sure they get away with ordering PPV. To everyone’s surprise, Eddie runs to his room to do his homework, something that no one (even the audience) has ever seen before.
The Huang men go shopping for snacks and drinks after tucking Jessica in and bringing her provisions for the night. With snacks and a cardboard cutout of Carmen Electra acquired and prepped, Marvin (Ray Wise) suddenly shows up as Evan invited him as he bet him fifty dollars that King Crawdad would win. With Honey at the event (Marvin carries a gun everywhere he goes and can’t get in due to metal detectors), he makes his way to the couch when Eddie’s friends show up as well with Trent (Trevor Larcom) doing the same loud ring announcer that Marvin did upon arrival. Marvin tells Trent to sit next to him. With everyone quietly gathered around the TV in excitement, Brian makes his way to the Carmen Electra standee. The signs posted above the TV are hilarious as everyone is taking extra precautions to not wake The Eye.
However, when spotting Honey on TV, the Huang men are surprised that Jessica is at the match with Honey. As they go to check on her and see that the bed is properly made with the humidifier still on, Louis is stunned that Jessica would waste electricity to trick them. When Jessica returns, everyone demands an explanation. Her twenty-four hours of sleeping made her feel better and was surprised to see everyone doing homework and cleaning the house instead of everything being in disarray. Jessica decided to take up Honey on her offer to go to The Battle of the Creatures. She wanted to have more time to herself before the house goes back to normal and she has to be responsible for everyone again. Evan confesses that they ordered PPV to watch the match to which Jessica is none too pleased about. The men explain that they can never do anything fun as she is always watching what they’re doing. Jessica understands as she lists all of the responsibilities she has to do as well. Everyone comes to an understanding and the next day everyone is left to their own devices bringing the pre-credits teaser back into play. In the stinger, Marvin comes to collect the fifty dollar bet. Evan using his baby charm on Marvin backfires as Marvin has Evan wash and wax his expensive Jaguar car telling Evan he wants the wheels to shine like Liberace’s bathtub.
I gotta admit that Fresh Off the Boat came back strong after a brief hiatus. I love episodes like this where they keep the jokes coming and use the entire extended cast efficiently. Marvin speaking Mandarin to Jenny was a surprise as well as Louis taking digs at white people like Jessica does all the time. Jessica’s third eye is so strong, she even knows that Honey makes martinis throughout the day (to which Honey pours out as she talks to Jessica on the phone). Dave Selby’s (Evan Hannemann) running joke about King Crawdad possibly being his father made for an awkward cringe-worthy joke in the vein of The Office. Seriously though, is that kid ever gonna find out about his dad? Also, having Brian leave the Huangs with the Carmen cutout was totally in character. And we got to visit Cattleman’s briefly. All in all, a strong return with sharp writing by Eric Ziobrowski. Welcome back Fresh Off the Boat. You’ve been missed.
Season 3, Episode 18 (S03E18)
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