The Huangs’ first Thanksgiving in Orlando last season was a logistical disaster that turned into sweet family time. That was more than enough for Jessica to want a one-year reprieve from all the planning and all the drama her family brings, so this time, she proposes a revolutionary idea: Ditch the squash and pilgrims and open up Cattleman’s to cash in. Emery and Evan are both stoked they don’t have to give up their bedrooms and sleep on rice bags in the closet, while Louis could do without his mother-in-law’s racist diatribes — so a Cattleman’s Thanksgiving it is!
Early planning starts well enough; Jessica’s mother praises the move in a celebration of her daughter’s work ethic. Jessica herself thinks of a fresh turkey raffle to take advantage of the customers’ instincts. “Thanksgiving was built on gamblers and hungry people,” she exclaims. “This excites both!”
Their plotting is interrupted by Principal Hunter knocking on the door. Eddie did not complete his family tree homework because he discovered — and worse, verbalized — the hidden secret that eighth grade does not ultimately matter for college admissions. He spread the word to his classmates and planted the seeds of a revolt. “If the truth gets out, it could bring the whole system down,” Hunter tells Jessica, who vows to set Eddie back on track. “The fate of lower-school academia is in your hands,” he replies.
Eddie might finally be getting too smart for his own good — in other words, he’s a full-fledged teenager. He’s content with hanging out, listening to music, needlessly picking apart movies, and coasting until ninth grade. This pains Jessica, who’s upset about raising a “bum” kid, unaware of how much hard work is needed to get to a place where he can have a bunch of clothes and four pairs of sneakers. “Who is he, Imelda Marcos?” she asks, referencing the former First Lady of the Philippines and noted shoe enthusiast. Jessica threatens Eddie that Evan and Emery could take over Cattleman’s instead of him, and she takes his bed to inspire him to work. Neither is enough to sway Eddie — but the younger kids do like the idea of becoming restaurateurs.
To Jessica’s credit, Cattleman’s is bumping on Turkey Day, and Grandma even found a friend at the bar to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with. Eddie tries to mask his speediness to prove his mom wrong, while Emery and Evan prove they already have a strong hold on managing the day-to-day operations of a steakhouse. Amid the establishment’s hubbub, Eddie’s uninspiring task of peddling raffle tickets to customers reveals that neither Marvin nor Honey thought much of eighth grade — and both turned out to be successful.
Jessica doesn’t waver and mentions in front of Louis she doesn’t want the kids to plan on taking over Cattleman’s, which hits Louis right in the ego. He scores a small point of revenge by foiling Jessica’s plan to rig the raffle — “Of course you bring corruption into these halls,” he painfully replies — as a sleeping Eddie cannot claim the winning ticket. As Jessica and Louis try to prepare the alive turkey for the winner, Jessica clarifies her stance about the restaurant’s future. She merely wants the kids to not feel pressured about inheriting the business and to pursue their dream job: “Doctor, president, lawyer — whatever non-teaching jobs they want,” she insists. Louis is at ease, and all is well. Jessica even freaks out Eddie into working hard again, treating the customers to their holiday meal. “You thought I just had a holiday change of heart?” she tells him. “No, your mom’s just a little crazy. Loco.”
And now it’s time for the weekly dose of nostalgia in these recaps: the ’90s moments, ranked.
4. Roller derby on TV: This can’t be a regular occurrence anymore, right? Fabulous Barbara sounded like the Michael Jordan of her sport.
3. Thanksgiving parade: Grandma has so many takes on the annual march through New York. All she wants to see is Garfield, of course (“With him, my life would be very exciting”); the Pillsbury Doughboy can stuff it (“No fat ghost sailor is going to tell me what kind of biscuits to eat!”); she disbelieves Rocky and Bullwinkle’s friendship (“I’ve never seen a squirrel with any animal that’s not a squirrel”).
2. The N.W.A family tree: One of my favorite all-time rap gags. Eddie twists his school assignment to detail how N.W.A affected 1990s hip-hop. He also says the truest thing about Nate Dogg: “He’s like everyone’s adopted brother, because they can’t sing a refrain without him.”
1. Hating on The Goonies: This coming-of-age adventure is fun and just fine. Some really love it; some hate it. Count Eddie as a skeptic. “You mean The Coincidences?” Eddie tells Louis. “We need money — oh, here’s a treasure map! We need a strong guy — oh, look in the ice cream cooler, there’s an ogre! Watch out, there’s a piano booby trap — oh wait, I play!” Louis looks at Eddie as if he doesn’t know who his son is anymore.