Fresh off the Boat Review: It’s a Plastic Pumpkin, Louis Huang (Season 4 Episode 4)

On Fresh off the Boat Season 4 Episode 4 Louis tried to get Evan to greet the trick-or-treaters with him. Emery and Jessica follow Grandma Huang around to see if she’s possessed, and Eddie and his friends try to get into Sally Nelson’s Party. 

Fresh off the Boat Season 4 Episode 4, “It’s a Plastic Pumpkin, Louis Huang” was disappointing for me. The only story that was semi-interesting was Grandma Huang’s and we didn’t get nearly enough of her. For some odd reason, Louis only just now comes to terms with the fact that Evan is a 40 year-old in a 10 year-old’s body. Jessica and Evan speculate if Grandma Huang is possessed for their own self-centered reasons and Eddie and the boys sit on a stoop and must prove that they’re the “hardest,” so Sally invites them into her party. The episode by itself was okay. However, in relation to the previous three thematic, comedy packed episodes of Season 4, this episode border lines lazy. 

Who’s the Hardest?

The answer in this episode is neither Eddie nor his friends. Trent gets the award for best lie on the fly; however, none of them are “hard.” And that’s okay. They’re 14 year-old boys from the suburbs. No one expects them to be “hard.” Shout out to Brian for dressing up as the King of Funk: Prince. I love this tribute.

I also love the concept of the boys pretending to see who’s the hardest. However, I don’t love that their story revolves around sitting on a stoop and staring at a party to gauge this. There are so many things you can do to either prove you are tough or sneak into a party on Halloween that’s actually interesting. Yet, all we get are the boys sitting on the stoop and dropping out one by one for basic things.

The only parts of this story that I wouldn’t want to see go are Brian as Prince, getting to see more of Walter’s sweet personality (I think the most lines he’s ever had are in this episode), and the football players acting like gentleman and caring about Dave’s mental health.

Is Grandma Huang Possessed?

If you count being possessed by pettiness, then yes. I didn’t know that the Huang’s would treat my favorite lady dirty like that and speak fast in English so she couldn’t hear them. It was fun trying to figure out why she had that man’s voice in her room and why the people who came to the Huang’s door to pick her up spoke like zombies. However, Grandma Huang’s story also acts as a missing opportunity in this episode.

Her character is hilarious and she’s wild. She could be up to lord knows anything. Maybe she did have a guy holed up in her room? What if the people who came to the door were random strangers who she enlisted to give her an alibi? I want to enjoy speculating with Emery and Jessica, but there is just not enough time in the episode.

We only get to see Emery projecting his bad luck on someone else again (another missed opportunity to explore Emery’s personality more) and Jessica struggling to write because she just now figures out not everyone can pick up a pen and crank out a Stephen King novel. I wanted so much more from this story-line and so much more from Grandma Huang.

Is Evan Still a Grown Man in a Child’s Body?

The answer, unsurprisingly, is yes. You know whose personality I don’t need a reminder of? Evan’s. We spent the entirety of season 3 and half of season 2 primarily focusing on him and his personality. Why are we in season 4 re-establishing that he’d rather bartend and talk about liquidating assets than handing out candy?

This arc turned out to be a complete waste of time. It used up precious minutes that could have been utilized to explore different ways Eddie and the crew try to sneak into Sally’s house or more ominous things that Grandma Huang does on the way to meet her ESL group. But, no. We receive scenes of random people we don’t care about annoying Louis. And Evan, yet again, commands Louis to mind his business and let him handle this (like Jessica tends to do) and goes back to the adult party anyway.

I enjoy the sweet moment when Evan and Louis are walking back to Deidre’s party and they take on their Halloween personas. But still, the story in Fresh off the Boat Season 4 Episode 4 that receives most of the screen time is the story that does the least character/thematic work in the season so far. I’m a little annoyed we couldn’t get a story that does more than reaffirm what we already know about both of these characters. 

Last Thoughts

I still like this episode overall. Plenty of funny jokes fills in areas where the narrative misses the mark. It would have been nice if this episode filled in the same thematic niches and showed us more sides of our favorite characters as the previous episodes did, but not every episode hits the mark. Let us hope that the next episode picks up the same energy and does the same work as Fresh off the Boat Episode 1 and 2. I want more of that.

 

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