In the course of Eddie and Alison’s teenage romance over season 2/the seventh grade, Eddie has been the one who’s erred 98 percent of the time. The conflicts presented in their relationship have been almost his entirely his doing, out of naivety and trying to do the best thing to keep the status quo. For once, the tables have turned when they face the tall task of impressing Jessica.
School is finally about to end for the year, ending an eventful first full year in Orlando. Emery is graduating elementary school as valedictorian and set for middle school. As a reward, the kids receive a familiar sight from Chinese New Year: red envelopes. But there’s no cash fitted in there. It’s an invite to a graduation gala at Cattleman’s. Despite the name Rib-Eye On The Future, it’s all chicken — “the steak of the future,” Louis insists. The big key to the gala is Eddie, Emery, and Evan’s rights to a plus-one.
Eddie’s natural pick is his “boo,” Alison, but the existence of his girlfriend shocks Jessica. After he tells Alison about the buffet and that she’s not invited, Eddie reveals Jessica has lobbied for him to date a Chinese girl since he was tiny, attempting to brainwash him in between goo-goo ga-ga baby talk. Alison understandably does not want her first meeting with her boy’s mom to be at such a big celebration. So they’ll have a casual meeting before.
Even as Louis tries to dampen Jessica’s expectations for Alison, Mrs. Huang’s wildest dreams come true when a Chinese girl shows up and introduces herself…as Alison. She’s actually Audrey, a member of Alison’s orchestra cohort and the titular Manchurian Dinner Date. She’s everything Jessica thinks she wants out of her son’s girlfriend: smart, respectful, kind, and Chinese. “I almost lost my balance from joy,” a near-swooning Jessica says.
Eddie tells Alison this situation is untenable — a word learned from Audrey’s post-dinner flash-card session. That night, they’ll come clean and try to defuse the situation with a bonding viewing of Malcolm X. To both Eddie’s and Alison’s shock, Jessica had invited Audrey for mahjong. Eddie, caught in the moment, lies and dismisses Alison as a Girl Scout Cookie peddler; this didn’t go over well later that night when Eddie sneaked out of the bathroom window to head to her house and personally apologize. They agree to pretend neither exists during Emery’s graduation.
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Something ideal happens, though: neither Jessica nor Eddie can keep up their respective lies. He tells the truth about Audrey while Jessica cops to not being able to stand her. Audrey is without a personality to match Eddie’s. “She’s like tofu,” Jessica explains, “she absorbs flavor, got none of her own.” It makes it that much easier for Eddie to point to Alison, playing 2Pac as first-chair piccolo. Of course, Jessica immediately takes to Alison at the gala after learning she took up the instrument to nab an unclaimed scholarship (sounds familiar).
NEXT: Louis, speech-writing expert