You got to hand it to Louis: There’s really no better way to spend a 12th wedding anniversary (the silken linen one, per Emery) than where the magical day concluded — even if it is a car dealership. As hard as it is to believe something with jamming doors that take Herculean strength to close and faux wood paneling is outdated, the Huangs need a new set of wheels. It’s a piece of junk, but it’s also the first landmark moment of their marriage. Louis, con mullet, strolled into the dealership with his lawfully wedded Jessica to turn the screws on an unsuspecting salesperson on their wedding day. Why not strive to recreate that, especially with a champagne pearl Honda Accord in your sights?
The impressive feat Fresh Off the Boat continually achieves is borrowing tired sitcom tropes and stories, but rooting them in strong emotional spaces. Take the surprise visit to Shaquille O’Neal Motors. It induces more regret and guilt than thirst and excitement for Jessica, despite her adoration of negotiating. The revelation? She missed free floor mats last time around and felt she let Louis down. She’s detested anniversary gifts since. The failure wasn’t primarily rooted in frugality, but rather self-deprecation and disappointing her partner. To her, it’s the worst mistake of her life.
Jessica indicates as much upon a much welcome return to the Denim Turtle, where Deb the bartender throws in needed gems to enhance Jessica’s obliviousness that she loves frequenting a lesbian bar. (Contrary to she of the 12-year marriage, Deb proudly proclaims she’s been “wiener free since ‘83,” the year of the Huang nuptials.) Louis doesn’t care, since it was the first time they signed their names together. In a string of nearly saccharine moments, this straddled the line between cheesiness and earnestness the most — but it fell on the proper side and was truly a moving thought. When Jessica polishes off her wine and ends up home, she apologizes to Louis, buys him real flowers, and permits him to buy a modest yet fancy car.
It would have been a mild end to the story…if Louis had not diabolically planned to buy the car at the sticker price. HELL. NO. That lit a fire under Jessica, who had vowed to never walk through the automatic glass doors ever again. Now it’s really, really on. If there’s something to banish a crippling fear, it’s confronting it head on. The veteran married couple has the glint and fire of their first day. They’re back for you, floor man Clark. And the vehicle they just returned is totally used. Bring on the real manager.
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What transpires is a truly remarkable display of haggling that approaches harassment. They run through not one, not two, not three, not four, but five supposed managers (and a mustachioed Clark) all with different strategies: A threatening drive to the Tampa docks, the silent treatment with ice cream sandwiches, fake angry yelling in Chinese: It’s a run comparable to the championship ones of the dealership’s namesake.
And speaking of him: Hey look, there’s Shaq! The damaged doorway in the corner leads to what’s presented as the final boss level. “Congratulations,” he says. “No one has ever made it this far.” And there is the car dealership mogul, the Diesel Engine Peddler himself. He appears only briefly, but he has plenty to work with — even throwing shade at legit game Shaq Fu and his current TNT co-host, Charles Barkley. Louis and Jessica win: They quash the Big Capitulator and nab a prime deal.
NEXT: “No one has ever made it this far”