Alice is getting so many big moments this season, and it is a sight to behold! That whole “standing up for herself” thing is catching on in all aspects of her life, and the next target seems to be her parents. After hearing them once again go on and on about how well Alice’s brother David is doing and that he’s going to host their annual Lunar New Year party in his swanky new condo, Alice demands that she throw the party at the Coterie and promises it will be perfect. No pressure or anything.
Thankfully, Alice has Sumi by her side to pull this whole thing off. They enlist everyone in the Coterie to clean up the place (they have to clean out the bad luck so that the good luck for the new year can come in), they prepare a whole fish together as a symbol of abundance (there is some very flirty fish prep going on here and even Lindsay, Sumi’s partner, notices), and Sumi talks Alice off the ledge as she spirals upon discovering that the tablecloths aren’t the traditional red she ordered but more of a pimento. Alice just needs all of this to go well; she is desperate to prove to her family that she isn’t just “the funny one who fails.”
Sumi is also invaluable once the Kwans arrive because wow wow wow do a lot of things go wrong. Alice wanted to be the one to hand out the red envelopes with money, but she ends up having to put I.O.U. slips in envelopes she had to color with a red marker. Her mom keeps making fun of her inability to pleat a dumpling. The oven breaks and Alice’s mom and Dennis have to run to Dennis’s food truck to cook the entire meal. And the Kwans can’t stop gushing over David, who, by the way, is running around the Coterie being a real horse’s ass making sure everyone knows he’s closing a multi-million dollar deal. But what really puts Alice over the edge is David stealing her thunder by hiring a professional lion dance troupe — Alice and Sumi were going to perform a lion dance for everyone and it was what Alice had been looking forward to most.
Alice’s parents find their daughter sulking alone by the pool, and Alice finally uses her newfound confidence to confront her parents about how they treat her. They promise to tone down all the jokes at her expense, but they also want her to know that they are unbelievably proud of her — they are constantly bragging about their daughter, the building manager. It’s all very sweet, and that includes Alice and David talking things out: He heard about how she stood up for herself and her friends at the comedy workshop and is so proud to be her brother, plus, he reminds her, being their parents “golden child” isn’t as fun as it looks. Alice has been nervous the entire time waiting to come out to David and when she finally does, he simply says “great” and that he wants them to hang out more because he misses her. What a nice way to start the new year!
The night ends with Mr. Kwan telling the legend of Nian and explaining why they celebrate the Lunar New Year, and Alice and Sumi get to perform their lion dance after all. Alice’s toast is a highlight: She talks about how hard it is to both keep Asian traditions alive while “trying to feel American,” and that’s especially been true in light of everything that’s gone down at the comedy workshop. “Tonight was healing for me,” she tells everyone, adding that she’s “never been prouder to be Chinese.” Alice has had so much well-earned character development throughout this season, and this speech was a nice button on it all.
How could the Lunar New Year get any better, really? Oh, I don’t know, maybe by Alice and Sumi making out under the red lanterns strung up in the Coterie hallway? Maybe that might make it better? Okay, so that is going to cause a lot of problems for them in the near future, but we’re rooting for them anyway.
Alice isn’t the only one with a messy love life at the moment: Davia’s in trouble. She still has both Dennis and Matt in the friend zone, but it’s only becoming more and more awkward. Especially when the two guys are in the same general area, which is, of course, what happens during the Lunar New Year party. Coterie parties are all about deep-seated feelings coming to light and drama. And raccoons sometimes, I guess? But mostly, it’s the feelings and drama thing. I mean, it’s exactly what’s going on with Davia’s little love triangle here.
When Dennis’s terrible food truck won’t start, and he can’t run to Monterey Park to pick up the soupy rice balls Davia was supposed to get, she ends up calling Matt, who saves the day. Or, at least, Davia and Alice’s friendship (as stressed as Alice was to make this party perfect, this was a serious threat). And so, both Matt and Dennis are occupying the same general space. Normally this would be an awkward low-level threat, but then Malika suggests that Davia could consider polyamory, and Davia imagines making out with both of her guys while they’re standing next to each other. Good Trouble, I am very much NOT INTERESTED in this scenario, okay? Davia doesn’t seem all that into side-by-side makeouts either, but what really spooks her is the thought of both Dennis and Matt dating someone else. She imagines Dennis having their flirty cookie-making fight with Isabella instead of her and Matt sharing that kitchen slow dance with Magda. Sharing her guys doesn’t seem like an option.
So how will Davia choose? It’ll be tough for sure, especially because Davia admits — out loud, to both Malika and Alice, by the way — that she’s definitely in love with both of them. That’s actually huge news for all of Team Matt out there since it’s clear Davia’s feelings for the World’s Nicest Teacher are much stronger than anyone originally thought. But then Dennis walks in having cut all of his hair off and he looks VERY GOOD, so all bets are off, really.
You can’t really talk about complicated romances without mentioning Callie and Gael these days, right? Callie can be as understanding about Gael and Isabella co-parenting as she wants, it won’t make the setup any less weird. But you know what can easily make it weirder? Alcohol. Especially when Callie’s the one drinking. We know this precious little bird cannot hold her liquor. We should never be surprised by her drunken shenanigans.
Anyone in Callie’s position would need a drink or five, so it’s hard to blame her. She’s sitting there watching Gael be obsessed with Isabella’s hydration levels, and whether she is or is not standing on a ladder, plus any time the pregnancy comes up in conversation around Callie, Gael quickly changes the subject. She feels like he’s completely closing himself off to her. So she drinks. And then she gets some terrible advice from Kelly and informs Gael, Isabella, and Mariana that she has solved their problems. Isabella will move in with Mariana, and Callie and Gael will move into the rooftop loft together. Isn’t that so fun and special and not at all a terrifying leap in Callie and Gael’s relationship that neither of them has talked about before?
Things seem clearer in the morning, especially after Callie’s appointment at the porcelain spa. She has an honest sit down with Gael and Isabella. Of course, she’s not ready to move in with Gael, but she wouldn’t mind some more time with him. And she understands he’s trying to protect her feelings by not always talking about the pregnancy, but then she starts to feel shut out, which hurts, too. Meanwhile, Isabella’s feeling smothered by Gael always breathing over her shoulder and checking up on her. Gael’s heart is in the right place in both instances, but he needs to do a little less. And you know what? Everyone walks away from that conversation feeling much better. It’s so nice to see! Unfortunately, the next problem in Gael and Callie’s relationship is already obvious: He needs to tell his parents about Isabella and the baby, and that means introducing her to his parents — something he hasn’t done with Callie yet and doing it all at once might send his parents off the deep end. Callie swears she’s fine with it but come on, like a Meryl Streep-Alec Baldwin-Steve Martin love triangle, it’s complicated.
• Malika’s new poly relationship seems to have taken a positive turn: She invites both Dyonte and Tanya to the party and has a nice heart-to-heart with Tanya after a lot of whiskey. Malika realizes she was using Tanya as a “buffer” because she was afraid to get close to Dyonte after getting so hurt by Isaac. But she gets over that, and she and Dyonte get into bed and everyone in that relationship seems pretty happy at the moment.
• Aw, Dyonte. Who among us hasn’t made the mistake of fasting before a feast only to get way too drunk and end up face down on a bed well before dinner? It’s a part of the circle of life. Most people learn that a food base before drinking is necessary the hard way.
• The scene in which Matt fixes Dennis’s food truck (still can’t believe that’s a thing that’s happening) is fun, especially if you’re into scenes in which two characters are attempting to skirt around an awkward subject in the most obvious way imaginable.
• It looks like Alice’s love life isn’t the only thing about to get complicated for her: Derek overhears Lindsay and Ruby talking about how Ruby and Alice were seeing each other before the workshop started and how she wants to start things up again now. That bit of info doesn’t seem to sit right with Derek. Could Alice just make it out of this fucking comedy workshop alive??
• Callie’s drunk face while bopping along to the first lion dance performance is the thing that will truly bring us all good luck this year.