Evan and Jessica have always had the closest sibling-parent relationship on Fresh Off the Boat. The baby of the family and the Huangs’ most precocious child, Evan was the subject of Jessica’s highest hopes. Their bond goes as far as having weekly Costco trips to restock the family’s supplies at a steal of a price. That’s all at risk when Evan’s friend Zack invites him for a different Sunday activity: church.
It all sneaks up on Jessica, even after she notices that Zack’s parents’ car has a “WWJD?” sticker on it. They go through their entire Costco ritual without a hitch: crafting the shopping list at dinner, grabbing a snack from helpful employee Marie (The Simpsons‘ Yeardley Smith), finding the best deals on everything, exchanging a carton of broken eggs for an unmarred one. Jessica just assumes Evan’s comment that Zack wants to hang next week likely means tagging along to Costco. When next week rolls around, Jessica is caught off guard. “Evan, hurry up! I want to get there early for the gas-station fistfights! You know I love that,” she bellows. Evan’s dressed to the nines and ready to hit church, not the battle for fuel.
What ensues is a very sad trip. Instead of the joyous “Playaz Club” by Rappin’ 4-Tay scoring the scene, it’s John Waite’s “Missing You.” Jessica plops into a beanbag chair and can’t escape its comfortable sinking. Evan ends up loving church, to Jessica’s chagrin, and wants to go back next week.
With most things that trouble Jessica when it comes to her kids, she fights back in her own way — even if it’s ineffective. She uses the voice manipulator she and Evan bought to emulate the voice of God. When he finds out, Evan’s desire to attend church only deepens, and even sets him up to employ a lesson he learned: to forgive her and her indiscretion. Jessica’s chat with Marie leads her to understand the importance of religion to her youngest son: “Church is Evan’s Costco.” From then on, Jessica promises to come to “outside church with [Evan],” but not inside.
Louis and the other boys were removed from the Costco/church controversy, but the patriarch had issues of his own. He treated Marvin and Honey to dinner at Cattleman’s, leading the former to invite Louis by the office for a free dental cleaning. He gets a VIP treatment with one unexpected result: pristine chompers so white, they blind onlookers. “Your teeth haven’t been this clean since you were born,” Marvin proclaimed. “They’re birth white.”
Reactions to the pearliest of whites followed the same pattern from his family, as Louis received crack after crack at his expense; Jessica called him Phil Donahue, while Grandma goes for a Muppets-related burn (Dr. Teeth). He’s ashamed to show them off in front of Marvin and his dentist pals when they show up to the steakhouse, prompting a painful exchange of words. “I gave you 250 bucks of free work, and I made you easier on the eyes!” Marvin seethes. “I took you from a 7 to an 8 — an 8 1/2!” An upset Louis rebuffs him: “I was never a 7!”
It takes a dental emergency for their friendship to get back on track. Eddie crafts, in his words, a Badass Cereal Treat (BACT) to dispatch the bad cornflakes in the variety pack, so Jessica will buy more Frosted Flakes. The loaf becomes hard and unreasonable for anyone to eat. Yet they still try, which results in Eddie cracking a tooth. Marvin easily handles the crisis, and the neighbors remain pals.
It’s time for the weekly dose of nostalgia in these recaps, the ’90s moments, ranked:
5. Unbelievable Costco deals: Just kidding — these are still a thing. Jessica cannot resist the $4.99 case of mushroom soup. That gives easy meals for weeks and a steady can drive supply. Jessica had no use for the voice-changer toy until Evan told her it was 80 percent off.
4. Frustration over the Tupac mystery: This is almost still a thing. Emery asks Eddie if there have been developments in the murder case. Bad idea. “They have no leads,” he exasperates. “Cops are chasing their own tails!”
3. “Playaz Club” by Rappin’ 4-Tay: The Bay Area rapper peaked with this 1994 single, but it’s still a great banger — an all-timer as far as ’90s West Coast Rap goes. There’d only be a few more songs one would want to cruise through the warehouse aisles of Costco to.
2. Dentist recommendations: It seemed commercials where “four out of five dentists prefer [insert product here]” happened all the time once upon a time. Marvin’s friends in the molar business are literally that crew, with Ted being the regular wet blanket. Oh, Ted.
1. Best-sellers: A part of Jessica and Evan’s usual, lengthy Costco outings involve checking out the latest literature. In the first trip, Jessica reads Bridget Jones’s Diary while Evan picks up Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood — both 1996 releases. Jessica picks up the dramatic memoir Angela’s Ashes on her solo trip.
Episode grade: A-