Louis has often been the optimistic, positive force of the Huang family; Emery is probably a more positive person, but his adolescent naïveté and age limits his efficacy. So when Louis preaches to his sons to look out for and to be nice to each other, it comes off as something within his character. It lasts until Jessica informs him that his estranged, brother is on the phone, and then an angry dad rears his nasty head. “Tell that bastard to go to hell!” he yells.
This is the first mention of Gene in the show’s history (I think). Which makes sense, given that the Huang brothers haven’t seen each other in a decade — whatever happened in the hot springs irreparably damaged their relationship. Louis really doesn’t want Gene to visit, but Grandma Huang’s giddiness and insistence to attempt reconciliation to set an example for his boys (who are currently fighting over rights to the TV), so he agrees. The family is accordingly assembled and taken to the Orlando Airport.
And… here’s Gene — and it’s Ken Jeong! Immediately he’s more of the jokester than Louis, reeling off quips and barbs. He unknowingly resists Jessica’s attempt to have her repay the $200 she lent him for Louis’ wedding ring years ago, only to further her overtures.
Gene came to Orlando to give the family some big news in person: He’s finally engaged to a nice lady — and not the Thai masseuse, as Louis assumes. His career in studying to become a pilot for Delta Airlines is respectable; he’s no longer in a band named “Gene Huang’s Ragtime Explosion” or developing stores named “Gene Huang Suck City”; everything is finally shaping up well for him.
But Gene can’t help but retain animosity for the hot springs incident, which is revealed after Jessica tells Louis she paid Gene back. Louis tells her he’s funded his brother’s failed ventures for years, amounting to thousands of dollars. So what happened in the springs? Gene and Louis’ father told them he saved enough money to send one of them to America. They volleyed niceties about whom should go, before Louis bucks the tradition of the Chinese Polite Fight and takes the offer, which means a dejected Gene is left behind. Gene’s life turned out okay, but, “Maybe we would have sat next to my mullet” at an Orlando’s restaurant instead of Mel Gibson’s Lethal Weapon 3 hair. Socrates had it right when dishing on the unexamined life.
In the middle of the night, Gene returns to Taiwan, leaving only a note to rescind the family’s wedding invitation, and Louis’ role as best man. Oh, and Grandma joined him. Season 3 is pegged for a wild start.
Before the whole family goes East, though, Eddie had to hustle to watch the episode’s namesake, Bring the Pain. The Chris Rock stand-up special was a seminal pop culture moment and meant a lot to Eddie and his friends; he and Alison planned to spend the 14 days before her band camp trip to talk exclusively about the show. His cable was canceled because Jessica signed up with a fake name, but it’s free preview weekend for HBO, so he should have no problem watching. (Sure.)
Emery and Evan have other ideas. They’re into their educational TV and don’t want to cede control — especially not after Jessica’s two cents on it. “I heard about this show at nightly news; it’s causing race riots,” she says. “I am not waking up to a race riot in my own house!” The younger sons police the TV extremely well to retain their Huang Boys moniker and the newly appointed role as deputy moms. When Eddie tries to flip the show on, it’s immediately turned off. When he tries to record it in the middle of the night, Emery and Evan borrow their pops’ camcorder to overwrite the video. The risk of Eddie continuing his feeling of FOMO led him to broker peace with bros. “Mom divided us, but let’s come together: like Voltron,” he says.
NEXT: The best ’90s moments of the finale