It was a fine episode. The lobster tank gave a few laughs, but there was a lot of bickering on the 18th, and second to last episode of season 4 came and went as usual, delivered a smattering of laughs and a good “ooooooh son” at the end when Jessica ices out her psychic, but something was missing – the audience.
After a tumultuous start to 2018, with unpredictable gaps between episodes and an unclear schedule and near zero communications to fans, our beloved Huangs have flown under the radar, and potentially, off of our tvs altogether.
This episode struggled to sell our characters in the roles we know and love them for or in the growth that’s made us stay with them. Instead of snappy dialogue the episode felt heavy with explanations [Evan lecturing about reincarnation, Grandma over explaining yin and yang, Louis over explaining his decision to buy back Kenny Rogers half of the business, etc.]. Of course, the episode isn’t what made the numbers dropped, and it isn’t the season as a whole, which has been strong and very enjoyable, but it seems like ABC almost intentionally mismanaging a sitcom with a growing syndication package. If they don’t end up cancelling the show befofe season 5 it is our prediction they’ll not increase the actor’s salaries and the guest stars will become fewer.
The writers and producers have gotten to do a lot this season, abandoning the family formula for experimental storylines (we lived for Nicole’s self discovery and coming out story) to groundbreaking demonstrations of the family’s unique background (this Lunar New Year episode being 50% in Mandarin, Grandma Huang’s ESL class). The choices to make Emery less of a goody-goody and more aggresive and clashing with Evan have been odd, but with Evan letting Eddie embrace independence it feels like a lot of closure this season, and while it may be similar to The Middle if it ends before the point any of us want or need, we hope the writers have put it all on the table with the finale to show what happens with Jessica’s book, Louis restaurant, and Honey’s baby too! Though all these wrapped storylines next week don’t set a strong stage for the next season to start with, so only time will tell.