Season 2, Episode 3
On May 31, 2019, faithful and long-suffering reader Anony Mole left the following comment below my last post: “Are you done yet? (Pleezze gawd oh gawd, let the mudge be dun.)” I always try to respond to my readers’ inquiries, so before we launch into episode 3 of Fifteen’s sublime second season, please excuse me while I address Mr. Mole’s inquiry:
Not a fucking chance in Hell, my friend. My dad was in town for a visit for the past 3 weeks, hence the brief sabbatical. As soon as I turned the corner from season 1 to season 2, you should have realized that this will be, as promised, a 65-episode ride. All good? Right, then let’s waste no further time.
Matt is alone at The Avalon reading a magazine when Dave enters and approaches his booth. Dave is still wearing his Hillside letterman’s jacket, and I can hardly blame him considering that it’s the most prestigious garment this monotonous jock strap scrubber will ever own. Matt wallows in self-pity for a bit, lamenting that the perusal of Sports Illustrated is his only current connection to the world of athletics. Dave responds by droning the blues aboot his status as the team’s underwear boy in our first extended exposure to his abysmally awful acting, even by Canadian teen soap opera standards. He encourages his hero to talk to Coach Williams aboot possibly getting another shot to play on the team, but even Matt appears too bored to be paying any attention to this somnambulistic suck-up.
Brooke is doing homework when Amanda knocks on the door and informs her sister that it’s quarter after eight and if she doesn’t leave now, she’ll be late for school. The conversation that follows is ridiculous, but Amanda is armed with her impressive arsenal of sneering snark throughoot, and Janice notwithstanding, watching Amanda get under Brooke’s skin is the best thing this new season has thus far afforded us.
Matt is readying to leave The Avalon when Janice enters and asks him if he has a second. He tells her that he’s in a hurry, so Hillside’s newest social reject gets right to the point:
“Look, I know we don’t really know each other, but all the same – I couldn’t help hearing what Courtney said to you the other day aboot me being…irritating. It’s not a very nice thing to have to hear aboot yourself and I don’t think it was very fair, either. I mean, none of you even know me!”
“Right, exactly. And I’m sure Courtney didn’t really mean it.”
“Then why’d she say it?”
“Well, if it’s bugging you, I guess you should probably ask her.”
“OF COURSE IT’S BUGGING ME! HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT IF PEOPLE CALLED YOU IRRITATING?? I mean…do you think it’s true?”
“Look…I’ve really gotta run.”
When I was in grammar school, we used to refer to classmates such as Janice as “corroded” while pantomiming the activation of an aerosol can that I guess was supposed to symbolize an anti-corrosive spray. What do you want from me, we were fucking eight years old. But as the show’s name implies, these kids are supposed to be fifteen years old, yet their reactions to Janice aren’t any more clever or mature than those of my classmates at Harry S. Truman Elementary when they found themselves in the presence of the terminally awkward.
Courtney and Arseman enter the locker vestibule as Sassy Afro is marveling that the piece of paper in Courtney’s hand is the third letter she’s received from Jake in less than two weeks. Arseman tries to get Courtney to divulge its contents before scrunching her face in exaggerated anticipation and guessing (gushing) that “it’s pretty romantic, huh?” Courtney continues to downplay the amorous nature of Jake’s missive, causing Arseman to screech, “REALLY romantic??” in a voice so profoundly irritating that Courtney has no other choice but to confirm her nosy friend’s suspicions, adding, “It’s so strange. I mean, it must be something in the Beijing water. Why would Jake start getting all romantic aboot me?” Um, Courtney? I know you have a bit of a learning curve to surmount in most situations, but do you really have no recollection whatsoever of THIS:
Matt is walking through the hall with his sister while Erin whines that she still hasn’t made any friends (fuck you, Erin – Janice could’ve been your BFF by now if you weren’t so unjustifiably particular aboot the company you keep). Of course, Matt consoles his little sister and tells her she’s a great person and she’ll make plenty of friends, yada yada yada, but I’m too busy trying to figure oot why there’s a picture of Bob Dylan on a flyer just below his locker to pay any mind to this insipid dialogue:
They’re interrupted by Courtney who must have just realized that it’s been at least an hour since she shamelessly flirted with Matt while simultaneously leading Jake on from 8,508 kilometers away. (Fun fact: 8,508 km is the actual distance from Vancouver to Beijing.) Here’s a verbatim transcript of the conversation that ensues:
Courtney: So, how are you these days?
Matt: I’m fine.
Matt: Why shouldn’t I be?
Courtney: What’s that supposed to mean?
Matt: Well, just the way you asked.
Courtney: No, I didn’t mean it that way. I just meant, kinda, ‘how’s it goin’?’
Matt: Like I said, fine.
Courtney: Like I said, good.
Holy Mother of Satan on a goddamn saltine, Binkley. Are you motherfucking serious with this shit?
Matt finally breaks the centrifugal pull of this vapid conversation by asking Courtney if she’s heard from Ashley. She hasn’t. He then informs her that he’s contemplating having a chat with Coach Williams and Courtney feigns excitement while undressing him with her eyes.
Amanda is sitting with some girls at The Avalon. It seems that Brooke’s ire aboot the geography paper incident isn’t the only thing that somehow transferred from Theresa to Amanda during the season break, because Brooke’s new sister is asking her friends what they think of Dylan withoot even trying to hide her obvious infatuation for the perplexingly popular rebel. Enter Deadpool, who nervously drums his fingers on the table and tenders a breathless, “Hey,” to the object of his obvious infatuation. Had Amanda not already made her opinion known that she thinks Billy’s a doofus, her icy sneer at his greeting would have made that just as abundantly clear. Unfazed, Billy tries to impress her by telling her that he’s in a band, adding, “We’re getting pretty hot. I mean, we’re getting really hot,” before walking back to the pinball room, apparently satisfied with his latest attempt to win Amanda’s affections (something her permanently curled lip makes me doubt the existence of).
Courtney is doing homework in the lounge as Matt approaches and takes a seat next to her. They talk for a few seconds until Courtney abruptly rises from her seat and says she needs to go talk to Arseman, asking Matt to keep an eye on her books. As soon as she’s oot of sight, Matt lifts the top book from the pile to reveal Courtney’s letter to Jake, which he promptly begins to read. Brooke sneaks up from behind and does the same over his shoulder. She makes her presence known by bellowing, “Is this for real??” and grabbing the letter from Matt’s hand. Brooke proceeds to read aloud: “Dear Jake: I’ve been thinking aboot you, too. In fact, I guess I’ve been thinking aboot you a lot…” before Matt snatches it back and tells her it’s a private letter. Brooke retorts that he was reading it as Matt replaces it between Courtney’s books while Queen B ponders the infinite comedic potential of the fact that Courtney’s in love with Jake. Matt begs Brooke not to tell Courtney that she was reading the letter to which she replies, “Oh no, no, no, no. You were reading the letter. I was just passing by and couldn’t help noticing.” Before taking her leave, Brooke assures Matt that she won’t tell Courtney in a manner that makes it clear she has every intention of telling Courtney at the earliest opportunity. This might be a good time for a stiff belt from your flask, Walker, especially considering that Ashley’s temporarily oot of your hair.
At the Avalon counter, Chris and Dylan are expressing their animosity towards each other through the vehicle of an unofficial band meeting:
Chris: I know it may be a hard concept to grasp, but it is the 90’s.
Dylan: Wow. You’re kidding, Chris! Man, you could have fooled me.
Chris: Which is why it would be kind of nice if the band could move into the 90’s, too.
Dylan: What’s wrong with playing a couple of Hendrix songs?
Chris: He’s a fossil!
Dylan: Oh, come on!
Chris: They add a few violins and play him in elevators.
Dylan: He’s the greatest guitarist that ever lived and if you don’t know that –
Chris: All I’m saying –
Dylan: I know what you’re saying. You wanna turn this into a thrash metal band.
Chris: I do not! I’m just saying we need an edge…(incidentally, they could also use a Bono and an Adam Clayton and a Larry Mullen, Jr.)…otherwise, we may as well call ourselves Dylan and The Dreamers and look for gigs at old folks’ homes!
After a few more seconds of this, Chris makes it clear that he means business and reiterates that they need a new drummer. Dylan begins to loudly defend Billy as Amanda walks over and says hi. To her chagrin, Dylan takes this as his opportunity to extricate himself from the conversation, so she hops up on the stool next to the remaining short-fused dirt bag. Chris kids her aboot her obvious crush on Dylan, then adds that he thought she was Billy’s girlfriend. Amanda protests that it’s just Billy who’s always hanging around her trying to tell her what a great drummer he is, and Chris can’t resist taking the bait. He tells her that Billy’s lousy and “that’s why we had to let him go.”
Erin is sitting in the student lounge when a couple of girls, one of whom indicates that her name is Leah, approach and start talking to her. There. Friends who aren’t Janice. Now quit yer fucking whining, Erin.
Brooke is once again laboring over a pile of math homework in the lounge (remember, she’s on academic probation for the geography project fiasco) when Arseman saunters over to her table to engage in some asinine small talk. Brooke sighs and indicates that the problem upon which she’s working is impossible, so Arseman offers to help because apparently, the memories of Brooke’s countless previous displays of infinite awfulness fade very fast beneath that glorious afro. Brooke of course takes this as an offer to complete the assignment in its entirety, so Arseman hits her with some trademark sass, though I doubt she’ll be capable of remembering this interaction by the time she has her next chance encounter with Brooke.
New friends Erin and Leah are walking through the hall. They run into Matt at his locker. She introduces Leah as “my new friend” and Matt smiles. That’s it.
Seriously, that’s it. Move on to the next paragraph.
Brooke and Courtney are getting changed in the girls’ locker room. Withoot a moment’s hesitation, Brooke asks aboot her budding romance with Jake and all those “torrid love letters” that “Matt told me you were writing”. She reacts to Courtney’s look of shock by feigning surprise that Matt read the letter withoot her permission before Shit Drapes storms oot of the locker room. Looks like you’re finally getting your mojo back, Brooke.
Dave the Dullard is at the soda machine as Matt comes down the stairs. Underwear Boy asks how the meeting with Coach Williams went and Matt details the encounter in a slow, frustrated tone that implies it didn’t go as planned. But Matt is cleverer than you may realize, dear readers, because the upshot of his long-winded, morosely delivered account is that he’s back on the team. Oh, Matt, you irrepressible scamp you!
But the fun doesn’t last for long, because here comes Courtney down the stairs in the hissiest of hissy huffs to give Matt some well-deserved what for. She calls Matt a jerk, setting Dave up for his first opportunity to deliver everyone’s favorite catch phrase: “Am I missing something here?”
Holy shit, another superfluous goddamn Erin scene. She’s at her locker when two of her friends and some other girl are discussing a sleepover party at Leah’s, to which Erin apparently hasn’t been invited.
I honestly don’t recall what happens in this next scene, but I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be great. How do I know this, you ask? Just look:
That’s right. Headband/Shoulder Sweater Courtney is doing homework at The Avalon while Janice approaches from one side and Matt from the other. All things considered, it’s unlikely that what’s to follow will be anything short of priceless, so let’s waste no further time.
Matt makes a wide berth around Courtney’s booth, eventually leaning over the back of the seat across from her while Janice hesitates for a moment before skulking back to the pinball room. Matt begins to explain, “The letter was just laying there…I couldn’t resist,” but it’s going to take more than this to cut through Ma Kettle’s icy façade. She tells Matt to “stop weaseling”, which I didn’t realize was a verb, and he continues to explain that Brooke was secretly reading the letter over his shoulder. Immediately upon learning that Matt didn’t tell Brooke aboot the letter, the moisture begins to return to her granny panties because even an untrustworthy Matt is far more appealing to this woolly mammoth-in-heat than Jake. I apologize for getting your hopes up that this scene would be anything more than the pointless crapfest it ultimately turned oot to be.
At the Blackwell garage, Chris and Dylan are finishing up a practice session sans Deadpool. They discuss the band’s need for new equipment and Chris suggests stealing some new amps. Dylan the poser informs his scofflaw of a bass player that if he keeps up that attitude, he’s gonna find himself in “truly major trouble”.
Back to The Avalon for one more dose of Billy’s awkward flirtation. Amanda asks him why he’s so cheerful, and Deadpool asks her why wouldn’t he be before inviting her to Dylan’s garage to watch them rehearse. Prefacing her bombshell with an exasperated, “they haven’t even told you yet?” she informs Billy that the band is getting a new drummer. “Chris told me at lunch. He and Dylan had decided…that you’re history.”
Don’t fret, Deadpool. You’re far from history, unlike the rest of your castmates in this sublimely abominable production. Someday, Amanda’s only claim to fame will be the fact that she once starred in a show with Ryan Reynolds while you’ll be fucking the likes of Blake Lively and Scarlett Johansson. Sometimes, justice prevails.