Friday, October 12, 2018

REVIEW: 'Fresh Off the Boat' - Jessica Helps Honey and Marvin Care for the New Baby in 'The Hand that Sits the Cradle'

ABC's Fresh Off the Boat - Episode 5.02 "The Hand that Sits the Cradle"

When Jessica offers to help out exhausted new mother Honey with Zuo Yue Zi - which means "Sitting the Month" taking care of her - Honey begins to realize that 30 days of having to abide by Jessica's strict rules and dietary regimen could leave her more harried then she already is. After watching "Pumping Iron," Eddie and Emery attempt to put together a workout routine in order to buff themselves up. Louis tries to bond more with Evan, who is a die-hard "mommy guy."

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of ABC's Fresh Off the Boat.

"The Hand that Sits the Cradle" was written by Amelie Gillette and directed by Michael Spiller

Jessica's novel was such a significant story last season. It received so much buildup as something that was very important to her. The show centered many episodic stories around it. And so, it's just as important and meaningful that its initial failure defines things for Jessica as well. The premiere felt like it was dealing with that in order to offer some sense of conclusion. Instead, the show is using it to send Jessica into a weirder headspace. Right now, she still doesn't like talking about her failure. She still hasn't really talked to her children about it. They just believe that Tom Clancy has bought all of the printed copies and wants her to retire forever after such a strong debut so he doesn't have to deal with the competition. That's absolutely ridiculous too. The books are just all over the house and the boys don't think it's strange at all. But Honey and Marvin aren't in that environment. They are too busy dealing with their new baby to be completely up to date on everything happening in the lives of their best friends. That's why they appreciate it so much when Jessica comes over willing to care for them for an entire month. It's positioned as a kindness that will allow them to handle this transition while caring for themselves as well. It's an extra set of hands to handle all of these newfound responsibilities. Instead, it's so controlling and sinister watching as Jessica refuses to address what's actually going on in her life. She just wants to control Honey's life so she doesn't have to focus on her own failures. The show takes this to some extreme places with Honey understandably being upset with her best friend. And yet, it also allows for an unusual but really effective character pairing as well. Jenny and Honey aren't an established comedic pairing. They may have never even been paired together in a plot beat before. But it's so amusing seeing them interact here because Honey doesn't understand Jenny's advice until she tells it to her in English. She sees the proof of Jessica's failure. As such, she is able to step up and be her support system during this difficult time as well. Their story is really strong and once again highlights their friendship in a really empowering but still amusing way. However, the two subplots really leave a lot to be desired. The show has already told this story with Louis and Evan before. Louis feels that their relationship isn't as strong and he tries to bond more with his youngest son. Instead, it only further highlights how different they are. It's just really forced. Jessica has the right advice in saying that they just shouldn't make a big deal about it. Louis and Evan do have a strong relationship. It just may not be what Louis was hoping from this month when Jessica is busy taking care of Honey. And finally, Eddie and Emery trying to get into better shape is a story that goes absolutely no where. It's basically a one-joke premise with them wanting to workout but not having the conviction to actually do so. It only really works because it once again highlights just how great Jenny is as a character. Here, she is able to lift an air conditioner when her grandchildren cannot. That's very impressive.