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Fresh Off the Boat - A Man to Spend the Night With / We Need to Talk about Evan - Review





Louis: “Look, there is no shame in doing what’s best for our kids.”



It’s a double helping of Fresh Off the Boat and they showcase the best and the worse of the series. In “A Man to Spend the Night With,” Louis gets excited because Eddie is growing up and starting to shave. In order to spend more time with him, he extends Eddie’s bedtime so that they can watch Letterman together. However, Eddie uses that time to hang out with Dave, who is struggling with not having a father figure in his life. Meanwhile, Jessica is crushed when Michelle Kwan loses at the Olympics because it puts her whole philosophy of working hard equaling success in jeopardy. Trying to hide it from Emory and Evan, she creates a crazy theory that Michelle Kwan was replaced with a body double to explain why she lost. The boys find some discrepancies with Kwan’s Olympic schedule and take their concerns to former Olympian Nancy Kerrigan, who explains them away.


Then, in “We Need to Talk about Evan,” both Evan and Jessica freak out when they learn that Abraham Lincoln Middle School has a new Student of the Month honor and Evan wasn’t selected. In an attempt to get the February award, Ethan pursues several extra curricular activities. These lead to him having a panic attack and seeing a school counselor, to Jessica’s chagrin. Eventually Louis helps her see that there is nothing wrong with therapy and she agrees that her son’s welfare is far more important than her pride, even in her battle to one-up Matthew’s wife, Amy. At the same time, Louis is feeling underappreciated at the restaurant and demands that they put his name on the menu with his 5-alarm chili. He unsuccessfully pesters the clientele to the point of losing business, so Matthew steps in to make the chili a hit and prove himself to be a great friend.


Highlights:

The best part about both episodes were the strong parent-child relationship storylines. I love how Louis and Eddie are approaching his adolescence in a positive manner, especially since it highlights how mature Eddie is becoming. To be honest, I couldn’t stand Eddie in the earlier seasons and tended to dislike his storylines the most, but this year the writers have made him a more sympathetic character. I love how he doesn’t tell Louis that he’s been shaving for months because he doesn’t want to ruin his dad’s joy about it. That’s a marked change from the Eddie of old. This episode also did a great job in showing the conflict between a teen’s need for independence and a parent’s worry. Their talk at the end about why Louis was feeling dejected and Eddie reassuring him that he’ll always need his dad was the highlight of both episodes. As was Louis realizing that Dave needs him too. While I am still iffy about some of Evan Hannemann’s acting choices, I love the idea of Louis being a substitute father to Dave. I hope they don’t drop that in future episodes. While not as strong a storyline as Louis and Eddie bonding, Jessica realizing that Evan is having trouble adjusting to middle school was another highlight. In many ways, Jessica and Evan are the most alike in temperament so it made it even harder for her to admit that she was actually making things worse. The episode did a great job with the stigma of therapy and what is ultimately important. I also like how they showed that skipping a grade has its downside too. This feels more realistic than in Young Sheldon.


Bromance was another key feature of these episodes. Fresh Off the Boat often stresses Jessica and Honey's friendship, so it is nice that they spotlighted Louis’ relationships with his friends as well. While Marvin gives horrible advice more times than not, he always has Louis’ back. The writers have done a great job of developing their friendship slowly over the seasons and I like how even though they both have different philosophies about almost everything, they are both shown to be right here. Louis is right in wanting to have a relationship with Eddie that will transfer into his adult years, but Marvin was clearly right in the fact that some teens like Dave thrive with discipline and boundaries. In the second episode, it is Matthew to Louis’ rescue. I wasn’t sure about this character at first but he really shines here. By making Matthew supportive instead of a rival for Louis, it allows for more heart in the story. To be honest, I want to see that road trip, guys only.


Lowlights:

While the “A” storyline in both episodes worked well, the “B” storylines were all weak and generally unfunny. Louis’ five-alarm chili issues had a few laughable moments but driving away his customers makes no sense for a smart, small business owner. Then there was Jessica’s rivalry with Matthew’s wife, which felt like it was there simply to drive the main story, but in doing so, introduced us to a thoroughly unlikeable character. While humor is subjective, I did not laugh once while she was on screen. The whole Michelle Kwan body double scenario was way too bizarre, even for this show. I loved the Nancy Kerrigan cameo but other than that, this subplot took up too much time for zero payoff. Evan faking a note from Nancy was sweet but even the Honey and Jessica time didn’t make this subplot work for me. By far the worst though was the bra unhooking nonsense that was just bad filler. It did nothing for the plot and it wasn’t funny at all. They could have better used that time to give Mr. Tim more scenes with either Evan or Jessica.  We definitely need more Emery time in the show, but this subplot did no one any favors.



Grades: B / B-



Best Quotes -
1. Louis: “Look, there is no shame in doing what’s best for our kids.”
2. Louis: “Look, I just don’t want us to grow apart because that’s what happened with me and my dad.” Eddie: “Just because I want to do something on my own doesn’t mean I don’t still need you, dad. You and I are friends. I’m always gonna need that.” Louis: “Wait. You and Dave haven’t stolen anything else, have you?” Eddie: “No way. I know a good idea from a bad one. I’m lucky to have you around to teach me stuff like that. Not everyone’s that lucky.”
3. Nancy Kerrigan: “Sometimes life isn’t fair. Believe me, I know all about that AND crazy conspiracies. You can work really hard and do everything right but sometimes life just throws you a Lipinski. You just have to pick yourself back up and keep on skating.”



Episode Awards:
Best Reason to Watch - parent-child interactions
Best Scene - Eddie tells Louis that he’ll always need his dad
Best Character Interaction - Louis and Matthew
Best New Character - Mr. Tim
Most Supportive - Louis telling Jessica that Evan going to therapy doesn’t make her a bad mother
Most Topical Reference - all the former ice skating stars
Worst Reference - Right Said Fred / Team Dawson vs. Team Pacey (It’s Pacey all the way!)
The “Too Bizarre Even for The X-Files” Award - Michelle Kwan body double








Screencaps by SpoilerTV, Jam and Stuff, and Recap Guide.





 
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