After breaking his leg, Louis faces a big fear: solo time with his children.
Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC

As presently constructed, Louis and Jessica’s relationship has a distinct power balance in terms of parenting and bread winning. Jessica is home more while awaiting the house flipping to be completed; thus, she’s watching over the kids more. Meanwhile, Louis is back in the restaurant to kick-start the surely lucrative vertical of take-out ordering. The only downside to this is that he’s only home for mere minutes before the son triumvirate has to tuck in for bedtime. It gives Louis the freedom to be the best dad ever for 120 seconds, doing wrestler impressions, pulling off the Kid ‘n Play leg jump-rope thing, and offering up free chocolate cake. He’s the best dad ever when consumed only in tiny morsels.

After a discussion about the viability of Louis’ staff — Jessica likens them to the milquetoast goldfish — Louis insists they’re totally capable of launching to-go orders the following day. He retries the KnP leg hop to liven her up, but it’s an unmitigated disaster compared to pulling it off in front of the kids: Louis breaks his right leg, putting him wheelchair, just like his mother. (Instantly, she begrudges his classy wheelchair choice, tossing jeers and a “Roosevelt” his way.)

Here we finally have a role-reversal moment: Jessica rides solo by overseeing Cattleman’s, while Louis will greet and care to Eddie, Emery, and Evan when they come home from school. Jessica is in her element by bossing around the crew, even if Louis hamstrung her by making her promise she had zero firing power; he inadvertently gives Mitch and Nancy the power to be smug, which might be a worse result.

The bigger revelation from this switch-a-roo is that Louis is frightened by the prospect of having one-on-one time with the kids. He flees for a diner and awaits Jessica to bring him and Evan’s babyccino home. When Louis finally sucks it up, he folds under pressure, going to extreme lengths to offer up a quick salve for the kids’ boredom, form permitting butts to be drawn on his cast to allowing them to remove it altogether and landing him in hospital waiting-room purgatory for hours.

Meanwhile, Jessica’s battle against the apathetic wait staff goes where pain will be felt most: the tips, man. The take-out stay-in offensive Jessica enacts allows customers to go full Mr. Pink and skip extra compensation. Shockingly, like so many of Jessica’s grand plans that go too far, this one causes a quick loss in morale and a stark loss in potential profits by after she hangs up the phone on a gigantic party.

Ultimately, Louis actually asks his kids about any possible concerns that he might be a fraudulent cool dad. Like he says in his pump-up speech to himself, Louis made these kids. They’re cool just hanging with their dad! Jessica similarly reenters Cattleman’s to the truth about the staff, which hustled to accommodate the huge party Jessica didn’t put orders in for: They’re far more useful and caring than both goldfish and catfish. That’s a solid consolation to sit with as Louis freaks out over his atrophied leg.

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Now it’s time for the weekly dose of nostalgia in these recaps, the ’90s moments, ranked:

7. Tommy Boy impressions: Louis’ attempt at the bumbling character made me miss Chris Farley more.

6. Call-in ordering: Remember a time when the only time to order food to-go was calling in? An apology to everyone manning phones who had to handle a situation like the old couple arguing over orders while keeping the host patiently waiting.

5. DuckTales: Ah, the adventures of Huey, Dewey, Louie, and their great-uncle Scrooge McDuck. These reruns were a mainstay of ’90s kids. Who didn’t want to dive right into the giant vault of gold coins that the miserly old fowl kept? A nice timing for the TV cameo, given the next generation gains a new Tales next year.

4. The Budweiser frogs: In a few years, Louis will be mimicking the “WASSUUUUUP?!?!” to an annoyed Evan.

3. Kid ‘n Play: The rap duo would be the perfect “in” for Louis to seem cool with the kiss. By early 1996, the duo had released three albums and made four feature films, three of the House Party franchise. Hopefully for next Halloween, Louis dons a wig to match Christopher Reid’s transcendent flattop and teaches Eddie how to do the step dance.

2. Poor Little League eating habits: The flock of preteens that come to Cattleman’s aren’t there for a postgame pounding of cheeseburgers: It’s a pregame ritual. Per the jerky coach, this team is dominant. I’m unsure how it’s possible for a shortstop to have any range with cheddar and beef sitting at the bottom of his stomach. Orange slices and Capri Sun are the way to go.

1. Pagers: To be fair, it was the quickest way to relay a message from a distance. How else could the boss tell his troops he was hurt without typing in “911 LOUIS DOWN?” The communication medium thwarts Jessica’s strategy to feign firing ability. Maybe the pager needs to return… Nah.

Episode Recaps

Fresh Off the Boat

Eddie Huang’s memoir adaptation tells the comical adjustments of a Taiwanese-American family settling into the wild ways of ’90s Orlando, Florida.

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