"It's here," Louis declares in the cold open to "Louisween," the third episode of Fresh Off the Boat's third season. Louis' favorite holiday is approaching, and all he wants is to share it with his partner in crime: Jessica.
Ever the naysayer when it comes to Halloween, Jessica rejects Louis' holiday spirit at every turn. Instead, she's utilizing the rest of the Huangs' distraction with Halloween to focus on her own spooky activity. She's working on her debut horror novel, A Case of a Knife to the Brain, under the pen name A. L. Tyson — you know, to keep "the crazies" from tracking her down when it becomes a massive success.
Louis is stumped by how someone who loves Stephen King so much could possibly hate Halloween, but to Jessica, the traditional Halloween thrills and chills aren't actually scary — it's all "amateur hour."
Louis, dressed as "Pete Vampras" — Pete Sampras' undead doubles partner from Transylvania — takes Jessica's critique as a challenge and sets out to scare the spirit of his favorite holiday into her.
But Jessica is unflinching. Efforts like the old "severed head in the oven" gag get no response. And when Louis ups the ante, frantically telling Jessica about how he just ran over someone with his car, Jessica doesn't miss a beat. "Are there any pieces stuck in the grill?" she asks, before laying out a complicated schematic for how they'll cover up Louis' fabricated murder.
At his wit's end, Louis levels with Jessica in hopes of getting her to understand how important Halloween is to him, reminding her that when Christmas — her favorite holiday — rolls around, she gets upset if Louis doesn't invest his time or energy into the festivities. Jessica fires back that Christmas is different because it's important to her, and she wants the people she loves to share in the enjoyment with her. With that said aloud, it all clicks into place, and Jessica realizes she's been impeding Louis' enjoyment of the festivities.
Game, set, match: Vampras.
Meanwhile, two other partners in crime find themselves at odds: Emery and Evan. The brothers are trying to plan out coordinating outfits, but they're worried they peaked with last year's Silence of the Lambs costume (the episode cuts to a clip from last season's Halloween episode — "Miracle on Dead Street" — featuring Emery dressed as a lamb and Evan in the iconic straight-jacketed Hannibal Lecter garb).
Emery was under the impression he'd be going as Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill's character from Jurassic Park) with Evan as Barney the dinosaur, whom Emery would cart around in a wheelbarrow decked out as a dinosaur cage. But Evan "didn't think they'd settled on a costume yet" (which seems like non-confrontational Evan code for "absolutely not").
They go back to the drawing board, and Emery proposes he go as Indiana Jones and Evan go as Short Round; Evan instead comes out as Indiana Jones in his archaeology professor garb, because he doesn't want to be Short Round. (After all, who wants to be Short Round — especially when their partner gets to be Indy?)
Evan's tired of playing the sidekick — he wants to take point for this costume. Emery's fine with that, until he sees what Evan comes up with: two personalities from the O.J. Simpson trial. Evan wants to go as Superior Court Judge Lance Ito, and he's prepared a "famous house guest" Kato Kaelin costume for Emery.
The two never come to agree on a motif, but they do agree that they should both get to wear a costume they'll enjoy. They settle on the mismatched pair of Indiana Jones and Lance Ito — and it's a good thing they did, because Evan's recreation of Ito's frustrated nose-pinch is a high point of the episode (up there with Grandma Jenny first wheeling on-screen in her Grimace costume).
Eddie's story this week is fairly short and sweet: He convinces his friends to cancel their trick-or-treating plans and head to a party that Nicole is throwing, as this will be their only chance to attend a high school Halloween party as middle schoolers.
Eddie and crew roll up dressed as a motley crew of so-very-'90s characters, including Eddie as Sidney Deane (Wesley Snipes' character from White Men Can't Jump), Dave as teen wolf Scott McCall and Trent as Indiana Hoosiers coach Bobby Knight (complete with throwable chair).
But the party's a bust: It's just Nicole and her friends (dressed as the Spice Girls, with Nicole as Sporty Spice) and Eddie and his friends — much to the chagrin of the high schoolers. Both Nicole's and Eddie's friends bail for another party, leaving Nicole fretting that word will spread about how lame her party was.
Eddie, remembering all the times Nicole stuck her neck out for him and his friends when she was still in middle school with them, sticks by her side. "It only takes two to party," he notes, so they crank up the stereo, blast some Snoop Dogg and get down — until the cops show up.
Their arrest serves up an unintended bonus, however; it gets the rumor mill turning at Nicole's high school. Word quickly spread about Nicole's epic Halloween party, which was apparently so wild that the cops arrested everyone there. Naturally, those who bailed find themselves quite jealous.
The next morning, Jessica makes amends with Louis, glumly donning the cat ears he bought her. "I am a cat now," she deadpans, as the whole family gears up for some Nov. 1 trick-or-treating so that Jessica can give Louis a bit of the authentic, traditional Halloween he so desired.
The three pair-ups in this episode — Louis with Jessica, Emery with Evan and Eddie with Nicole — all struggled with what level of sacrifice is feasible for the well-being of a partnership.
Eddie sacrificed free candy and perhaps a better party for Nicole, knowing she's made plenty of sacrifices for him in the past.
When choosing a theme that wouldn't leave their partner feeling slighted proved untenable, Emery and Evan sacrificed a tradition they'd been looking forward to.
And when Jessica realized the impact her rejection of all things Halloween was having on Louis' enjoyment of his favorite holiday, she proved unable to sacrifice his feelings for her own exemption from the festivities.