Friday, November 16, 2018

REVIEW: 'Fresh Off the Boat' - Jessica Has Concerns About Eddie's New English Teacher in 'Sub Standard'

ABC's Fresh Off the Boat - Episode 5.06 "Sub Standard"

Jessica becomes concerned when she discovers that Eddie's extended substitute English teacher has thrown out the class syllabus and is instructing the students in a radically progressive way. Louis and Honey try in vain to find a workout group that can help them both lose some weight. Emery doubts Evan's ability to extract a painful splinter from his finger.

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.

"Sub Standard" was written by Eric Ziobrowski and directed by Angela Tortu

This episode struggles a little bit for not being as focused as some of the standouts of this season so far. It has three major stories. Some are more important than others. Jessica is struggling to find new purpose with her life after the failure of her book. By the end of the episode, she seems to have a new path she is interested in pursuing. That's much more important than the silliness of Emery having a splinter and not really trusting anyone enough to pull it out for him. Sure, it's absolutely hilarious when Evan uses the operation game as a lie detector test to show that his brother is lying to him about being brave in this matter. Emery only has the splinter in his finger because of what's going on with Jessica as well. The same is also true with Louis believing that he needs to lose weight. Jessica latches onto the idea that she needs to focus on someone in her family in order to fill the void that comes from her failure. It's not healthy advice. Nor is it what the guidance counselor tells her to do in the first place. It's just the typical way that Jessica views the world. She struggles because there is nothing immediately wrong with anyone in her family. Some are even aware that she is trying to find a problem that needs solving. Evan and Emery are more than comfortable hiding out in Grandma's new apartment. Meanwhile, Grandma is perfectly fine pretending to fall asleep whenever Jessica starts to tell her something. Even the complaint that she has about Louis is superficial. It's all building to that reveal that Honey is pregnant again. That's such a huge surprise. She only gave birth a little bit ago. It was never actually seen onscreen. So, the show could be interested in a potential do over with this story. But it also adds new pressure to Honey and Marvin's family. They were ready for this transition as new parents. And now, they discover that they have a new surprise that is about to change their lives again. As such, they have to immediately be fine with the new lives and opportunities that are bound to come their way. That makes it very fortunate that they have Jessica and Louis to guide them through everything. But none of this concerns Jessica at the moment. Instead, she gets distracted by Eddie's new substitute teacher who is making significant changes to the syllabus. Jessica doesn't understand anything that he is trying to do. He just presents as the latest teacher who isn't up to her extremely high standards. That doesn't make him a bad teacher though. The show has rarely told stories about Eddie actually being excited about school. Whenever he is seen in that environment, it's mostly about him hanging out with his friends. But now, he actually is inspired to apply himself with his school work. Mr. Grant is actually able to get through to Eddie. Sure, he delivers the message that college isn't right for everyone. That's absolutely true but not something that Jessica can budge on at all. But Mr. Grant is also opening Eddie's eyes to a number of possibilities. The future is bright for him. Jessica has to accept that as well even though she has always had higher aspirations for Evan and Emery. It's then meaningful when she decides to apply the same lesson to herself. She doesn't want to be a teacher but she does show an interest in becoming a principal to ensure that everyone in the education system is living up to their promises of helping the students in their classes. That's a new direction for the character and one that should be very fascinating to see play out this season.