Black-ish has hit their first holiday episode of the season! It’s Halloween and Dre is all about the fun and gore by decking the exterior of his house in all kinds of Halloween decorations John Woo style (i.e. flying through the air with nail guns in each hand firing).
But it’s not just about the costumes or candy but the glorious Johnson tradition of ruthlessly pranking each one another in a bid to outdo each other. Some family members have the gift (Dre traumatizing his children by presenting a (fake) baby only to drop kick it in their horrified faces; Zoey prank calling Andre as his dream girl Sophie to get him to olive oil slide banana peel style on his bum) while others like Bow resort to the lameness of plastic spiders.
Scoffing at his wife’s attempts and gives more away than ‘Oprah’s favorite things episode’ poker face, Rainbow vows to unseat her husband as the Prank King.
Later that night Dre is spooked by weird house noises and when Rainbow refuses to heed his request to go check things out, turns to his trusty tablet that has a security feed for every room in the house- even inside the refrigerator. Lamenting that there are no grapes available, Dre and Rainbow ponder what to do when they’re interrupted by the twins, in need of a comforting bed after a scary dream.
Or so they lied. Moments later Dre and Rainbow are soaked in Jack and Diane’s duel pee prank. Realizing that his children do not know what a prank is, Dre calls a middle of the night family meeting to set everyone straight. Instead Zoey sets Dre straight that her evil genius pranking days are over and she is not to mentor the twins on how to properly prank. Dre is confounded: she’s the only one who inherited his pranking gene! Getting only a shrug from his oldest daughter, Dre turns away from the remaining kid, weeping in Rainbow’s arms at this shocking turn.
The next morning at work, Dre laments to his assistant, Kris, how it’s not just about the pranking but that it’s about family, how it bonds them. Case in point when Josh pops out of the garbage can in a mask to prank Kris, Dre appreciates the effort and gives Josh respect in spite of his continued annoying tendency to ask Dre is he knows every other black person that pops into his head.
High off of Josh’s prank, Dre realizes that the way to win back Zoey to the magic of pranking is by giving her a gift she can appreciate: pranking Andre. Setting up his younger son by employing both Jack and Diane in his scheme, Dre lures Andre into his trap using some great geek bait: an improperly built Lego Mos Eisley Cantina. As Lil Andre gnashes his teeth and pulls at his hair at the inhumanity of such a construction, he falls into a chair only to realize it’s alive! Andre struggles to free himself from the suddenly enclosing arms, realizing that it’s only his father dressed as a chair. Dre is beside himself with glee at his success and preens to his daughter trying to get her to join in on Andre’s humiliation. Instead, Zoey sniffs ‘That was kind of mean’ at Dre with a final ‘Grow up’ before flouncing from the room. Before Dre knows it, Andre’s bowed out too, so scarred by the incident that he saw his life flash before his eyes. Now down 2 kids, Dre laments his shrinking prank kingdom.
The pranks may not be a’flowing like usual, but there’s still the Johnson family costume to look forward to. Dre doffs his best pastel three piece suit with platform heels and righteous afro to become Tito of the Jackson 5. Bopping into the kitchen, Dre shows his best paint splitting moves to Zoey and Andre who are unimpressed and bow out of the family costume as well! Bow tries to quell Dre’s panic that this is a sign that the kids are getting too old for them and that the Johnson family is well on its way to being busted.
Chomping on candy, Dre goes in search of something to cheer him up and sends Charlie to Josh (lying in wait in the garbage can) with the hopes of a good prank. He gets a two for one with Josh pranking Charlie to the point of screaming and then Charlie (totally not scared by Josh but just playing along so he could get a free hit in) punching Josh in the face. Unfortunately, this brings an end to office pranking due to Josh getting a broken nose and HR having to be brought in to settle the matter. Now Dre has no pranking at home or work.
Rainbow attempts to salvage the family costume by entreating the twins to dress up as The Beatles with her and their father, but when the kids wrinkle their nose at the notion and can’t even be lured into action with all the candy they can eat (they learned about diabetes at school; Candy kills!) Dre declares Halloween over and trashes his front yard display. Nail gun in hand he delivers several death shots to the air monster display only for it to not die and rise back up in its maddening dance to mock Dre and his broken dreams.
Done with Halloween, Dre settles in for a night at home with the family only to learn via hastily written note that they went to the movies- without him. Diving into a hidden candy stash, Dre tries to eat away his blues when he hears more weird noises from somewhere deep in the house.
Then the lights go off. Mimicking the sound of a shot-gun Dre announces to anyone in the house that he is armed- which gets him more weird noises. Freaked out, Dre checks his trusty security feed and finds himself alone but still no grapes in the refrigerator.
Cut to: Bow and the kids all watching Dre on their own monitor of the house’s security feed, triumphant in their pranking the prank king. You see all of that stuff – Zoey and Andre quitting, no family costume, and the noises in the house- were the kids giving their mom an assist in getting one over on Dre so she could finally outprank the king. (Which yeah, you pretty much knew from the get go when Bow vowed to get one over on the prank king).
Bow and the kids seem to have Dre on the ropes as he makes a mad dash for the front door and so they reveal to him that he’d been pranked. Only for Dre to turn the tables on them by enjoying their hysteria at the security feed showing two masked men trying to break in. Bow goes into survival mode and takes one of them out – poor Josh now suffering body bruises in addition to the broken nose Charlie bestowed on him. Charlie – the other ‘burglar’- meanwhile cruises around the corner with a glass of scotch in hand to join the fun of the reveal.
After explaining to the family how he busted them on their scheme (Rainbow caught gloating to the kids by the refrigerator cam), Dre tells his family how much he appreciates their attempt and that Bow did do a good job of tapping into his fears: that the kids were growing up too fast. In a nice schmaltzy moment, Dre asks the kids to give him another 20 or 30 years of them being his kids because he enjoys it so much. Charlie interrupts this family moment by announcing between mouthfuls of mac and cheese that he helped himself to that he totally messed up their microwave but all is ultimately well in the end as the Johnson family assume the family costume of the Jackson 5 (Diane as little Janet), and Dre continues his reign as the prank king.
As a tag we get a delightful scene of Charlie and Dre realizing between the two of them, they do know a lot of black people- practically everyone. And in some cases, as Charlie reveals his connection with Dionne Warwick, quite intimately.