Season 1, Episode 12
We open at The Avalon where Ashley, on the verge of tears, recounts for Jake Matt’s confusing accusation that she told everyone in the school aboot his alcoholism. As usual, neither of them has a clue how this information could have gotten oot (Kelly and Brooke?), with Jake going so far as to guess that someone must have seen them dragging Matt from the park, as there’s no other possible explanation (ahem – Kelly and Brooke?) since no one had any way of knowing what happened (except maybe KELLY AND BROOKE?!). Ashley is certain that she’ll fail an upcoming math test due to this upsetting and mysterious turn of events, but I think Pixie Dust has cried wolf aboot this exact same scenario so many times that even Jake must doubt its veracity. Regardless, Jake tries everything he can think of to calm Ashley down, but this just gets her more upset until she finally moans, “i can’t, jake. i can’t!”, rises from her seat and runs oot the door. Ashley’s already fragile psyche is beginning its rapid descent into madness.
Courtney approaches Deadpool who is sitting on the stairs reading a comic book. She asks if he’d like to accompany her to the mall after school but Billy tells her he has plans to hang oot with Olaf, prompting her to declare that “he sounds like an okay guy”. Correct, Queeftain Obvious. Now if you can just learn his name, you might be able to hold up your end of the conversation with your 12 year-old brother for a change.
Making the rounds, Olive Drab greets Ashley at her locker. Somehow, Ashley’s hair has become noticeably unkempt and greasy since we last saw her at The Avalon exactly three minutes ago. As this is the first time Courtney has emerged from her cocoon of all-encompassing Dylan infatuation in over two weeks, she’s trying to catch up on what she missed. She asks her friend if it’s true that she and Matt broke up, a question that seems to catch Ashley off guard because she still fails to grasp the epidemic level of gossip-inducing chemicals contaminating the Hillside water supply. Ashley reluctantly confirms the break-up, but refuses to address Courtney’s follow-up questions aboot Matt’s drinking, opting instead to feign a sudden mental breakdown and run away.
In the boys’ locker room, Jake is making another futile attempt to defend Ashley from Matt’s false accusation. Jake is wearing his maroon balloon and Matt is decked oot in an ensemble from the Fall catalog of L.L. Beanpole:
A highly hassled Matt hisses, “Look – there are only two people who could’ve spread stories aboot what happened on Friday night. One of them’s Ashley. The other one’s YOU.” They look like they’re on the verge of coming to blows as Matt tells Jake that he doesn’t need Ashley and he certainly doesn’t need friends who “hassle him every time he has a beer” before giving Jake an ultimatum to decide whether he’s his friend or not based upon the new criteria he just laid oot.
Ashley is at a table in the lounge scribbling notes – cheat notes, to be precise – when Brooke approaches and asks if she’s interrupting something. Ashley hastily closes her book and steels herself for another onslaught of insincere sympathy aboot her ongoing relationship troubles. Ashley quietly asks Brooke to please leave her alone, but Brooke keeps pressing until Pink Denim finally blows her top: “just leave me alone, okay? i’m busy and i don’t want to talk aboot it, so please just keep your nose oot of my life!!” Ashley flees the table as Brooke feigns shock at her reaction.
Brooke gets up and strolls over to the table where Olaf is doing homework. She needs to express her offense at Ashley’s harsh words to somebody and The Dislocated Swede just happens to be in the vicinity. Olaf’s surprise at hearing that Matt and Ashley broke up raises him another few notches in my esteem, but Brooke, of course, reacts by asking him what rock he’s been living under, and I must reluctantly admit that she has a point. Brooke patiently explains what’s been happening, prompting Olaf to muse, “I didn’t know Matt had a drinking problem”. She then grabs some paperwork oot from under Olaf’s nose and he tells her that he’s working on his geography project “for Mr. Henshaw”. He advises Brooke that she’s looking at two full weeks’ worth of research which he must now work into a paper. He jokes that every morning he wakes up hoping “the elves” will have written it for him, “but they never do”, to which Brooke replies, “maybe you’re not paying them enough”.
Shit Drapes traipses into The Avalon where Dylan is sitting alone at a table. He springs from his chair and nervously tells her that he has something to say, but asks if they can go somewhere more private, which is impressive because no one else seems capable of understanding that The Avalon is the worst possible spot for engaging in confidential conversation. She responds that if he has something to say, he can say it right here. Dylan begins by telling her that he’s not too proud of the way he handled things, but he leaves oot the part aboot having been fucking browbeaten into this undeserved apology by a psycho hippie chick. Courtney interrupts his slow-as-molasses display of contrition by telling him not to bother because, “I have a right to choose my friends, and let me tell you something – you’re not one of them!” before running oot the door.
Poor Olaf. Just when he thought he could get back to work, here comes Kelly with the next round of cryptic questions to interrupt his geography project. After he explains what he’s working on, Kelly says, “Oh, that’s right, you’re in Brooke’s class,” which she obviously already knew, considering she’s here talking to Olaf in the first place. They find some momentary common ground in the acknowledgment that knowing Brooke is “a real treat” as Olaf gathers his paperwork while Kelly watches closely and makes a mental note of what folder it’s in and exactly where he placed it in his bag.
Rounding oot the triumvirate of uninvited guests to Olaf’s ill-conceived homework session is Deadpool dressed in a tie-dye. Billy is still upset aboot what happened with Dylan, so Olaf tenders some typically sage advice that seems to set his friend’s mind at ease a bit. This little interlude seems to have been inserted into the episode as mere filler, or maybe just to remind us that Olaf has more good qualities than living ootside of the gossip loop and being thorough in the completion of his geography assignments.
Some time later, Courtney is moping in the lounge as Jake approaches. When he asks what’s wrong, she tells him aboot Dylan’s attempted apology and that she “let him have it – both barrels, right between the eyes” but her obvious ambivalence aboot the confrontation seems to escape Jake’s notice. He sits down while Miss Beasley drifts into another fucking Dylanesque soliloquy that he endures with growing impatience for its typically self-deprecating conclusion that he’s hoping once again to utilize as an opportunity to win her affection. She doesn’t disappoint, even wondering aloud if her innate unlikability caused her parents’ divorce before standing up from the table.
Up to this point, I’ve found the exposition of this episode to be an atypically boring task, as this has been a very slow chapter in the ongoing drama of Hillside High. I even went back and inserted a couple of superfluous swear words in the hopes that they might keep my two or three readers from falling asleep before reaching its conclusion. But if you’ve stuck around this long in the hopes of a payoff, here it comes.
Jake stands up, touches Courtney’s arm and tells her that everything’s going to be okay. Standing dangerously close to her sexually frustrated pal, she reiterates her feelings of worthlessness as Jake moves even closer and puts his arm around her shoulder. He reminds her that “lots of people think you’re great, Courtney…like me,” as Courtney seems to realize what’s aboot to happen here and starts giving Jake some classic side-eye, like Princess Leia in the clammy embrace of Jabba The Hut. Her face distorts in disgust as the luckless lothario leans in and plants one on her lips. She violently withdraws from his embrace with a look of utter revulsion and shouts, “Why did you have to do that?! I thought we were friends! WHY DID YOU DO THAT?!” before fleeing the scene, leaving Jake speechless with unadulterated humiliation.
Olaf enters The Avalon and walks over to the booth where Jake is sitting by himself. Olaf notes that Jake appears to be deep in thought and invites himself to sit down. He makes a remark aboot Jake looking like “someone who just lost his best friend”, which is oddly prescient considering that Olaf wasn’t around to witness Jake’s impetuousness destroy his friendship with either Matt or Courtney, and it’s already been established that he’s impervious to the rumor mill. They commiserate aboot the fact that no one ever really seems to care how they feel or ask them aboot their problems despite their willingness to be reliable sounding boards for everyone else, but Olaf isn’t one to indulge in self-pity so he “hypothetically” tells Jake “Well, if this keeps happening to somebody, maybe he’s been trying too hard to pretend he doesn’t have any problems”. Jake asks rhetorically what could be wrong with him before referring to himself as “the world’s biggest doofus,” prompting the world’s biggest doofus sitting across the table to question the meaning of the word “doofus”. Jake continues to vent at Olaf for another minute or two, then gets up and leaves with a bit more spring in his step than he had at the commencement of this scene. Olaf the Therapist is on fucking fire today.
Alone, Olaf unclasps his tote bag, pulls oot the folder in which he’d placed his geography project and finds it empty. He continues digging through the bag until he realizes that somehow, all of his research work has disappeared.
Brooke is in the girls’ locker room when Kelly bursts in, obviously in possession of some particularly juicy gossip. Kelly is wearing a white top with the words “Almost Heaven” printed in a continuous unbroken top-to-bottom line like this: ALMOSTHEAVENALMOSTHEAVENALMOSTHEAVENALMOSTHEAVEN. She informs Brooke that Ashley just got caught cheating on her math test and Brooke finds it impossible to contain her delight.
Entering the locker vestibule, an inconsolable Ashley is telling Jake what happened. The teacher found her cheat sheet and held it up for the whole class to see before sending her to the principal’s office. Jake tries to get her to look on the bright side, but this is Ashley at her most disconsolate, a force of nature that can’t be constrained with mere words, even if they were spoken by someone more eloquent than Jake. Brooke and Kelly sidle up and inform Ashley that they’ve heard the news, adding for good measure, “everybody has”. The Dynamic Duo continue to harass and express their mock disappointment until Ashley reaches the end of her rope and runs away. Jake chases after her, but not before turning to Brooke and shouting, “You wanna know something? If you were a guy, I’d be tempted to bust you in the head!”
Dylan’s chilling in the garage playing his original Alex Lifeson guitar riff again when Deadpool comes a-knockin’. Billy apologizes once more for the homework mishap and this time, Dylan accepts the apology, patting his little friend on the shoulder and inviting him to take a seat behind the drum kit.
Jake enters The Avalon, marches to the booth where Matt is sitting by himself and just stands there for so long that Matt finally barks, “You gonna join me?!” Jake doesn’t answer and continues to stand there like he’s itching for a fight, finally asking Matt if he heard what happened to Ashley. He has, of course, and he seems to relish the opportunity this gives him to continually refer to his ex-girlfriend as “dumb”, but Jake’s not in the mood to indulge his man-crush’s shit at the moment.
Jake: Do you have any idea how torn up she is??
Matt: And how do you think I feel? The whole school thinks I’m some kind of alcoholic just ‘cause I had a few drinks on Friday night! I’ve got 300 kids whispering behind my back! How’d you like to put up with that?!
Jake: Oh, I see – I’m supposed to feel sorry for you, am I?
Matt: You can feel however you like!!
Jake: I’m just supposed to sit back and sigh while you tell me your troubles, huh?? Well, forget it! ‘Cause I’m sick of it! You…jerk!
Jake: Ashley tied herself in knots trying to help you and you turn around and dump her?! Now that she’s having a nervous breakdown, you want sympathy for your troubles? What sort of total jerk are you?!
Matt jumps up and approaches Jake with his hands balled into fists. Jake invites him to go ahead and hit him, “…what a great way to prove you’re a man!” and Matt warns him not to push it. Matt backs off as Jake questions whether he cares aboot anybody but himself before stomping oot the door. The camera pans to Kelly on the payphone telling someone (Dutch Boy?) aboot the epic shouting match she just witnessed before changing the subject to Brooke, ending the episode with the literally phoned-in declaration, “I’ve done it. It’s all set up. Just another couple of days and Brooke is finally going to get what she deserves!”
There’s only one more episode in this season, my faithful and long-suffering friends, so don’t bail oot now! Karmic justice is nigh.