FRESH OFF THE BOAT Reviews: “Clean Slate”

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“Clean Slate” is an aptly titled episode as we find everyone preparing for Chinese New Year in their own ways. Pairing the characters off with each in a way we the audience haven’t seen before works strongly for this week’s bonus episode of FRESH OFF THE BOAT. Oh and what’s more? Freestyle raps are at the forefront of one of the storylines this week! It’s almost like Fresh Off the Boat knows me well. Huangs if you’re this, let’s hang.
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Grandma Jenny Huang (Lucille Soong) has managed to build a fragile peace with her cousin Susan, who she’s had a beef with for thirty years. And with that comes Simon (Jonathan Chang), Susan’s great-nephew who is doing an exchange program with a family in Daytona Beach to learn more about American culture. Grandma promised Susan that Simon could stay with them during the Chinese New Year. Jessica (Constance Wu) accepts and places Eddie (Hudson Yang) in charge of looking after him. Eddie naturally wants to hang with his friends in which he now freestyle raps in front of them. Jessica tells Eddie to get him to learn about America personally and not through Mad magazine. Eddie then has Simon play Super Mario Brothers on Super Nintendo with him (he tricks Simon into thinking the Koopas are controllable). Grandma however tells Eddie she’s not risking another 30-year feud with Susan because Eddie refuses to show Simon around. Eddie takes Simon to Build-A-Bear Workshop and ditches him there while he raps again with his friends. Simon comes back with a bear for himself and a bear for Eddie. Eddie, being who is, is not appreciative of the gesture (his friends make fun of it as well) and does a freestyle diss about Simon. However, Simon has one for Eddie and crushes him as he proves to be the better rapper and winning the respect of his friends. Simon goes to find Eddie in a record store called The Pop Weasel’s (I’m guessing based off FYE) rap section and apologizes. Eddie tells him not to be sorry as he should be the one apologizing for thinking he was lame and not getting to know him better. Simon admits he loves hip-hop to which Eddie asks why Simon never mentioned that. Simon tells Eddie he never asked. Eddie tells Simon he can become the first Asian rapper as he has a gift, and Simon tells Eddie he’ll think about it.

Louis (Randall Park) in the meantime takes Evan (Ian Chang) to Reuben, his favorite barber, for a cut just in time for Chinese New Year. Evan wants to look like Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Home Improvement but ends with a mullet like Zachery Ty Bryan from the same show. Evan is none too pleased and wrote a letter that accidentally got mailed to Reuben as Evan had it stamped and addressed on his desk. Louis loses his mind as he’s afraid Reuben won’t cut his hair anymore and will tell the other barbers not to cut his hair as well. Louis tries to stress to Evan that finding a good barber is hard and this will bring them bad luck in the new year. The two set off to look for the letter. Louis and Evan wait till Reuben goes on break to check out if the mail has been delivered. They get caught by Reuben as they discover the mail hasn’t been delivered. Louis then makes up that Even needs another haircut and he now comes out with the Grace Jones flattop. The two then wait outside the barbershop for the mailman. When Louis tries to slap the mail out of his hand while distracting him (twice), a police officer who knows Louis rides by and asks him why is he assaulting a federal employee. Louis makes the same lame excuse he used on the mailman and the officer lets him go with a warning as he’s late for a Bat Mitzvah and tells Louis to be cool. During that the mailman leaves. Evan feeling dejected about his haircut and not getting the letter back says that his year of bad luck has begun. Louis then tells Evan that he didn’t get the haircut he wanted (The Clooney) but kept coming back as he got used to it and Reuben was so nice. Evan then reminds him that he deserves The Clooney as he reminds him how important a good barber is

FRESH OFF THE BOAT - "Clean Slate" - On the eve of Chinese New Year, Jessica pushes the entire family to settle all debts, disputes and grudges to ensure good fortune for the coming year. Unsure if she can contain her temper for the remainder of the day, Jessica enlists Emery to makes sure she keeps her cool. Meanwhile, Louis and Evan go on a wild goose chase to hunt down some hate mail, and Eddie is forced to entertain his super lame cousin, on a special Chinese New Year-themed episode of ABC's "Fresh Off the Boat," airing on WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18 (8:00-8:30 p.m. EST). (ABC/Michael Ansell) LUCILLE SOONG, IAN CHEN, FORREST WHEELER, HUDSON YANG, CONSTANCE WU

As it is very important to have a clean slate for Chinese New Year with all debts, disputes and grudges are to be resolved for the incoming year, Jessica is making sure everyone has everything resolved for the holiday. Jessica going through the list is very excited that everyone has a clean slate for the new year as this can mean good fortune of future business dealings and scratch offs. Emery (Forrest Wheeler) reminds his mother that she’s a loose cannon and may not make it to the new year without causing trouble. Jessica tells everyone she’s not leaving the house. However, as she’s watching Courage Under Fire and eating an ice cream sandwich, she remembers that she left her lucky red dress at the cleaners and needs it for the new year as she wears it every new year. Jessica enlists Emery as she’s afraid she won’t make it to the new year without messing up her clean slate. Emery excited at the opportunity goes with her. As soon as Jessica steps out the front door she’s already hating on Marvin (Ray Wise) and Honey’s (Chelsey Crisp) new wind chimes. Seeing a Greenpeace volunteer outside the cleaners, Emery puts on soothing music and heads inside where he gets into a fight with the shop owner due to an extra five-dollar charge. Jessica gets out and is ambushed by the volunteer with no choice but give money. Emery makes it on the no service wall as he loses his temper. Emery gets mad at her for upholding tradition rather than standing up for her son. She goes back to cleaners alone and finds that the man is charging everyone an extra five dollars due to his wife collecting expensive ceramic eggs. She asks for her son’s photo back as she finally unleashes on the man. Jessica hands Emery the photo and doesn’t want Emery becoming like her. She wants Emery to be Emery.

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With the entire family gathered around the table along with Honey and Marvin, they celebrate the Year of the Ox. Louis finally gets the haircut he wants and hates it while Evan says the letter he sent wasn’t hate mail, it was truth mail. Everyone plays games while Simon freestyles the lessons learned with Eddie as hypeman.

I loved seeing the characters in new pairings and I hope the show does this more often. It was not surprising to find out that Jonathan Chang is a rapper in real life as his flow was excellent. The places Emery and Jessica switched in this episode was well done and came from a place of sincerity and not only that but this time out both Evan and Emery teach Louis and Jessica to stick by their principals. Eddie learning not to judge a book by it’s cover was well done also. The jokes were great particularly Eddie’s comments about Simon’s shorts and Evan pouring tea out on a rug for not being able to finish his joke. For those of you interested (and you all should be), you can learn how you can celebrate Chinese New Year (01/27/2017 Year of the Rooster) at celebratecny.com.

Needle drops for this episode:

“Hit Me with Your Best Shot” (as repurposed by Louis Huang) by Pat Benetar
“Jack and Diane” (as wind chimes) by John Mellencamp

TB-TV-Grade-A-

Season 3, Episode 11 (S03E11)
Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays at 9PM on ABC

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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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