“Fresh Off the Boat” finished its second season on a high. Ken Jeong turns up as Louis’ estranged brother Gene and Eddie is obsessed with seeing the newest Chris Rock comedy offering “Bring the Pain.” Eddie’s girlfriend Alison (Isabella Alexander) is off to camp in 14 days time and he is desperate to see the Chris Rock concert on HBO and spend the rest of his summer with Alison.
At the start of the season finale Eddie tires to talk Evan and Emery into watching the comedy special on the free HBO preview. They refuse, preferring to watch a math detective program instead. The boys get into a fight and Louis tells them off. Jessica tells Louis that his brother in on the phone and he reacts angrily.
There are three battles going on in this episode. On top of the reveal of how Louis got to America, Eddie is fighting his brothers to watch Chris Rock, Jessica fights to pay Gene (Ken Jeong) back the $200 that he loaned her years ago and the two adult Huang brothers are fighting to sort out a years long estrangement.
In “Bring the Pain” we are introduced to Chinese “polite-fights” which, according to Eddie, can get “hella intense.” Eddie tries to outsmart his brothers, who have been made deputy moms, only to lose out to his math detective siblings. The eldest Huang brother tapes the Chris Rock show on VHS and the two boys tape a message over it and an episode of Mamma’s Family.
Evan: “Those hayseeds.”
The storyline reveal, which is held till the very end of the episode, is that Gene (Jeong) and Louis (Randall Park) were told by their father at the hot springs that only one of them could go to America. Both men begin a “Chinese polite-fight” when Louis caves in and agrees to go. Leaving Gene behind in Taiwan. Gene’s life has been a long unsuccessful fight to find a career.
Gene arrives and tries to rebuild burnt bridges only to have everything go pear shaped. After a huge argument with Louis, Gene packs his bags, dis-invites Louis and his family to the wedding and takes Grandma Huang with him.
Jessica (hopeful): “Forever?”
In the neighborhood, everyone has seen seen Chris Rock except Eddie. Going outside he sees his posse members silently sitting on lawn chairs . They all agree that the concert was life changing. Alison rushes up, she is dying to tell one of Chris’ jokes from the concert.
Alison:”You know what the good side of crack is?”
Eddie: “No! I haven’t seen it yet! Let Chris tell me!”
Alison: “Eddie, I thought you said you’d watch it.”
After a moment Trent butts into their conversation:
Trent: “Eddie… here’s the thing. We all want Alison to say the punchline to the crack joke. Alison wants to say the punchline to the crack joke. So you can either stay or scoot. In five, four, three, two, one.”
Gene turns out to be funny. He does impressions and honestly wants to “bury the hatchet” with his brother, who he asks to be his best man. Things go well until he breaks the piano and refuses to pay for it. Gene leaves with Grandma.
The Huang family are now headed to Taiwan to fix things.
Jessica continues to live in her own version of America and she reveals to us that, unlike Louis, she loves being an adult. Speaking of Jessica, the best line of the evening reveals loads about her and Louis as a couple. She reacts oddly, but not for her as it is about a ring, to Gene’s news of the wedding ring. Gene turns to Louis and says, “Is she okay?”
Louis: “I never know”
Ken Jeong blended in effortlessly with the “Fresh Off the Boat” cast and easily had the best gags on the show. “No it is not a Tumi,” his Arnold Schwarzenegger impression, goes right over Jessica’s head, but not ours.
Isabella Alexander was excellent in this episode, “We only have 13 days left!” The rest of the posse were also spot on this week with kudos going to Trevor Larcom as the Cleveland Browns loving Trent and Dash Williams as Brian “I wasn’t ready.”
In terms of drama, that fight (not a polite one) between Louis and Gene was impressive. Both men looked upset, but Ken Jeong dug deep and conveyed anger, betrayal, hurt and regret. Emmy anyone?
Ian Chen, Forrest Wheeler and Hudson Yang continue to act their little cotton socks off and help to make this show what it is.
Admittedly, “Fresh Off the Boat” was not an instantaneous favorite. Even having Ray Wise and Chelsey Crisp as next door neighbors did not push the show automatically into favorite status. It took a few episodes and a brilliant cast to make it a show not to be missed.
“Bring the Pain” was an excellent example of why the show works. 1990s topical relevance (HBO and Chris Rock and the Lethal Weapon mullet), a great guest star (Ken Jeong) and younger actors who get better with each episode. A great end to a great season. Hurry back “Fresh Off the Boat.”