According to your cable guide, tonight’s episode, called “Charlie in Charge,” is described like so: “Dre relies on pharmaceutical assistance to help him conquer his fear of flying.”
So you should fire your cable guide, because it’s not being honest with you. The episode is really about searching. Searching for college, for belonging, for acceptance, for love, for yourself — and for a woman named Dominique.
But, yes, first things first: The episode does begin with a highly self-medicated (and sweaty) Dre on a plane. Where is Mr. Johnson going, you ask? To none other than his worst nightmare, that most un-Dre of places: Providence, R.I. It’s all for Zoey’s college tour, he explains, though this is largely Bow’s doing: She’s in “nerd overdrive” because they’re visiting her own esteemed alma mater, Brown University.
But since we’re joining the story ~in media res~ (as a snooty Brownie might put it), let’s go back a week to see how we got into coach class in the first place. As usual, the trouble begins at Dre’s work. He confides to his coworkers that he’s not fully on-board with Bow’s plan to give Zoey get a taste of the Ivy League life. What if she turns into a snob?
Mr. Stevens and Jay only confirm his fears by immodestly noting that they went to Yale and Harvard, respectively, and as people who went to Yale and Harvard, they turned out okay, and also they went to Yale and Harvard. In summation: Yale and Harvard.
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Meanwhile, Charlie’s got less academic problems on his hands. He learns (and, as is his nature, shares with everyone) that the love of his life — “the one that got away” (and who got away at the behest of his wife) — is coming to town. Her name is Dominique. We’ll hear more from her later, but just remember: Dominique is coming.
Back at home, Junior tries to curry outrage that the parents are getting a babysitter to watch over the remaining, non-Brown-bound kids. At 14(?!), he believes the job should be his.
Diane wholeheartedly disagrees. How low does she think her older brother ranks on the babysitter power list? “Let’s just get Justin Bieber,” she suggests. “Or his parents!”
Over in the Zoey’s room, Dre tells Bow about his worries about his daughter turning into an Ivy League snob. As a Howard University grad, Dre doesn’t think Zoey needs to go to some expensive New England liberal arts school. In fact, she doesn’t need to go to ANY school that requires air travel! How about she just matriculates into a college in-state in the venerable UC System, easily accessible by train, bus, automobile, or Razor scooter? They get there in Zoey’s new Tesla! That’s right, he’ll buy her a brand new MuskMobile if she agrees to stay in California — that’s the Pat Sajak-esque length Dre is willing to go to avoid entering “a metal bus in the sky.”
Cut to Dre on a plane (and a pharmacy’s worth of drugs). He’s pretty loopy, to say the least, and it turns out he forgot to call the babysitter. So he calls the next worst thing — Charlie — to fix the situation.
And so Charlie takes it upon himself to watch the Johnson kids. But there’s a problem: He suspects Diane is a witch. Also, there’s another problem: Dominique! She has arrived.
As Charlie reveals to the small children he’s taking care of, he’s anxious about the prospect of reuniting with Dominique. She craves an upwardly mobile adult man with a successful life and other things that are the opposite of Charlie. Presented with this predicament, Junior gins up the best idea Nancy Meyers has had all day: How about Dominique comes here and everyone tricks her into thinking that this is actually Charlie’s house and children? That would surely provide foundation of strong, lasting relationship.
NEXT: Enter Amber Rose