Season 2, Episode 7
Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. Courtney is doing homework at a booth in The Avalon when Arseman enters. Nothing oot of the ordinary there. However, before sitting down, Sassy Afro greets the mute Avalon waiter with a cheery, “Good morning!” and he acknowledges it with a friendly wave like an actual interactive human being with volitional capabilities and social skills. I don’t know what to make of this. When zombies develop self-awareness, the implications could be frighteningly grim.
Courtney: You know something? It’s the pits!
Arseman: What is?
Courtney: What isn’t?
Uh oh. First the self-aware waiter and now a dose of early morning existential nihilism from Sweaty Headband and we’re only one minute into the episode. There’s a sense of formless impending doom brewing in my gut. Courtney proceeds to castigate herself for breaking her date with Matt, a regret that gained exponential steam after she called Ashley last night and felt like she was “talking to a stranger”. Arseman tries to assure her that “best friends talk…maybe not right away, but sooner or later”, but I’m not so sure aboot that since Ashley is clearly determined to convince everyone she knows that she is suffering from the most acute mental breakdown in the annals of abnormal psychology.
Who Farted walks through the locker vestibule and asks a couple of girls if they’ve seen Brooke around.
Unnamed Girl With Weird Haircut: Stacy, can I ask you something? Do you actually like Brooke?
WF: Well, of course. She’s my friend. What’s wrong with that?
Unnamed Goth-y Girl: Nothing, if you like people who are stuck up, snobby—
Unnamed Floral Blouse Girl: — mean!
WF: Come on, Brooke isn’t like that! I mean, she isn’t always like that. Nobody’s perfect, but even so…
Unnamed Floral Blouse Girl: Face it, Brooke’s a witch! And one of these days, somebody should tell her that.
This, of course, serves as the cue for Brooke’s wordless entrance to the scene followed by her immediate offended departure at having once again overheard too much unvarnished criticism from a couple of kids who don’t even rate a name or a mention in the credits. Running after Brooke, Who Farted briefly turns to face the trio and shouts, “Now it’s all going to be my fault! Thanks a lot!”, an impotent scolding which they clearly find highly amusing.
Deadpool is leaning over the pinball machine as Dylan plays and distractedly reacts to his little friend’s annoyed account of his dad’s increasing flakiness. In the course of his breathless monologue, Billy derisively refers to his father’s new girlfriend as “What’s Her Name”, implicating her as the probable cause of Dad’s dereliction of fatherly duties. Switching gears, Deadpool asks Dylan for advice on how to convince a girl that he’s mature. After a few attempted witticisms that fail to land, Leather Jacket advises Billy to do what every other guy does: “Fake it.”
In the student lounge, Brooke is stress-shredding a piece of scrap paper with her hands when Who Farted walks up to the table and says hi. She sits down and tries to comfort Brooke by telling her that people only talk aboot her that way because they’re jealous before gushing, “Anyway, you know what I think of you!” As Brooke is all aboot guilt by association, Who Farted’s compliments fail to defuse the tense vibe, especially since she recently dared to question Brooke’s capacity for basic compassion. Regardless, Brooke eventually concedes that since so many people seem incapable of handling her honesty, maybe she should try to act nicer, with great emphasis placed upon the word “act”. Despite the obvious spuriousness of Brooke’s reluctant declaration, Who Farted looks thrilled to hear of her horrible friend’s new resolve because she’s a fucking dingbat.
In the girls’ locker room, Courtney is attempting to get Ashley to reply to her incessant inquiries with something more enthusiastic than the disinterested monosyllabic blow-offs she’s thus far been receiving. Good luck with that, Moron. Finally, Courtney confronts her enigmatic friend with an admonishment for having been back for three days withoot even attempting to contact her, adding that the way she’s been acting towards her is “really bothering me”. The newly bitchy assertive Ashley responds with an icy glare, “okay. it’s bothering you. does that mean we have to deal with everything right now?” Courtney shakes her head in astonishment and replies, “You know something? I really think you’ve changed.”
Chris meets Dylan at his locker and gives him a world of shit for not finding the time to hold band practice this week. Dylan decides to blame an inordinate amount of homework for this lack of rehearsal time, rather than explain that he’s been harboring a fugitive mental patient in his garage. Chris responds by snarling formless derision at his bandmate before reminding him that they need to find a singer, so Dylan agrees that they should discuss the matter “in 15 minutes. Meet me at the garage.” As Dylan walks off, Chris sarcastically mutters, “Atta boy” under his breath, seeming to imply that he views Dylan as nothing more than his leather-clad lapdog.
Ashley is buying a cup of coffee at The Avalon counter when she’s approached by Brooke and Who Farted. With painfully forced graciousness, Brooke tells Whisperina that “it’s really good to have you back” before pretending to empathize with her manufactured post-private school crisis. At one point in her awkward attempt at affectionate affectation, she turns to look at Who Farted for confirmation that she sounds convincingly concerned. Brooke concludes by telling Ashley that they should get together some time and is shocked to receive nothing but a sarcastic snort by way of a reply.
Courtney spots Matt at the soda machine and asks him how it’s going. He replies that it depends upon to what particular “it” she’s referring. Feigning ignorance of her starring role in Matt’s current morose mood, Headband asks, “Well, how’s basketball, then?” He responds with a dismissive “okay” before turning to seek oot a Courtney-free spot in the lounge where he can mope in peace. She starts to explain why she broke off their date, but Matt doesn’t appear too interested in what she has to say.
Arseman’s bionic ears were attuned to this conversation occurring behind her back, so she gets up from her table to have a talk with Matt. For once, Arseman is rendered speechless by Matt’s emotionless response to her pointless concern: “Life goes on.” I gotta admit, I’m really starting to dig Matt’s newfound embrace of defeated stoicism. It’s the closest I’ve come to almost relating to one of these melodramatic little assholes over the course of 20 fucking episodes.
Meanwhile, at a nearby table in the lounge, Erin and Leah are waxing moronic aboot corned beef until Erin advises her friend that she doesn’t eat meat. Clearly dissatisfied with the results of her last attempt at verbal hostage taking, Arseman approaches their table and expresses excitement to learn that Erin is a fellow vegetarian. Deadpool overhears this exchange and opines that vegetarianism may be okay for girls, “but a guy’s not gonna last long on lettuce and alfalfa sprouts”. Billy ignores the resulting sass that spews from Arseman’s self-righteous piehole and explains that it wouldn’t make much sense for a hunter such as himself to be a vegetarian. As Deadpool saunters off, Arseman reaches Sass Level Defcon 1 to the delight of her giggling pre-teen audience.
In Dylan’s garage, Chris is sitting on the floor tapping on his bass guitar when Ashley enters. The conversation that ensues is too classic for my superfluous commentary, so I’ll just step back and let you enjoy it in all of its unadorned glory:
Ashley: oh, sorry…i thought – i’ll come back later.
Chris: Hey, come on in.
Ashley: i was just looking for dylan.
Chris: (leering) That sly dog! He tried to say he was doing homework. Nice homework!
Ashley: just tell dylan i was here?
Chris: You’re Ashley, right? I’m Chris.
Ashley: i know. would you stop staring at me?!
Chris: Hey, don’t mind me. I’m a pretty charming guy…once you get to know me..
Ashley: i’m starting to wonder if i want to know you.
Chris: (reaching oot to touch her) Now don’t be like that—
Ashley: (jumping back) knock it off!
In the nick of time, Dylan walks through the door and asks Chris if he’s interrupting something. Staring down his chauvinistic little bandmate, he menacingly advises him not to hassle his friends while the background music warns of an impending tempest brewing between these highly competitive dirt bags.
Arseman sees Courtney at her locker and showers her with unjustified optimism at the fact she saw her talking to Matt earlier. Headband responds that she doesn’t know if she’d call it talking, exactly, “just sort of exchanging sentences,” which is an interesting distinction. Arseman asks her if she’s told Ashley that she was considering going oot with Matt, so Courtney reiterates that Ashley hasn’t been very open to conversation lately. For some fucking reason, Arseman still thinks it’s Courtney’s obligation to do so, an opinion she makes abundantly and repetitively clear.
Pinky Tuscadero is studying at The Avalon when she’s startled by the sudden appearance of Matt. They manage to spend the next two minutes of airtime talking withoot saying anything at all before Matt finally invites himself to sit down. He opens by telling Ashley that it’s good to see her and wondering if perhaps they can “see a little more of each other,” oblivious to her absurdly defensive body language. When he assures her that what he’s proposing is purely platonic, she seems to relax a bit, sort of like a vampire who just saw a crucifix and then realized it was only a couple of French fries randomly laying in cruciform on her plate. For no apparent reason, he proceeds to tell his emotionally fraught ex-girlfriend that he asked Courtney oot on a date while she was away at private school. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let you gauge her priceless reaction for yourself:
She weathers this emotional blow as best she can, insincerely telling Matt that she thinks it’s a great idea for him to go oot with Courtney before desperately fleeing The Avalon.
Deadpool is standing over Erin and Leah’s table delivering what sounds like a paraphrased version of Robert Deniro’s “one shot” aesthetic from The Deer Hunter. Apparently, Billy’s reasoning faculties abandon him in the presence of the opposite sex, because he continues to try impressing them with his carnivorous braggadocio right up until the moment of Arseman’s inevitable intrusion into the conversation and its attendant unsolicited sass. Deadpool seems relatively unfazed by her sarcastic barbs until she calls him a “little macho weenie…with a Rambo complex”.
Dylan is playing pinball at The Avalon until he’s startled by Brooke and Who Farted entering from the rear door. Apparently, this is Brooke’s second attempt at image-related damage control because she proceeds to vaguely but enthusiastically offer Dylan “help” if there’s “ever anything you need a hand with”. Pretending to take the bait, Dylan asks, “You mean, like, laundry?” before poking his head into the main dining area and asking everyone present if they need their laundry done, because “Brooke’s offering!” Mortified, Brooke turns to leave and nearly runs smack into Chris who’s approaching the pinball room from the opposite direction.
The pinball room cleared of extraneous ears, Chris confronts Dylan for how he acted in front of Ashley at the garage:
Chris: You showed me up, Man! Don’t ever try that again!
Dylan: I think you want to be careful, Chris.
Chris: Just don’t do it again! Ever! Take my point?!
The animosity is reaching critical mass between these two.
Who Farted follows Brooke into her bedroom as she vents her frustration at the skepticism she received from her classmates in response to her awkward attempts at basic humanity. “Dylan laughed in my face and Ashley treated me like I was some kind of disease!” Who Farted tenders a feeble pep talk to her aggravated mentor but Brooke has already resolved to drop this pointless act and go back to being the awesome-ass bitch she was always meant to be. Her first order of business is to point oot the atrociousness of Who Farted’s dumpy ootfit: “It looks like someone threw it on you with a pitchfork”.
It’s almost as if the writers of this particular episode share my impatience with any of the ongoing plots other than that of the newly demented Ashley, because before the previous scene even has a chance to find a point, we’re back at The Avalon where an alarmingly pissed off Whisperina is confronting Courtney aboot the fact that she considered dating Matt in her absence.
Ashley: nice speech you made this morning—
Ashley: the one aboot best friends?
Courtney: I meant it!
Ashley: i’ll bet! especially the part aboot not talking. and you complained aboot me!
Courtney: Well, because you hadn’t phoned to let me know you were back in town!
Ashley: and when we did get together, what was it you didn’t tell me…aboot you and matt??
Courtney: I meant to! Really! But I didn’t go oot with him anyway. I mean, as soon as I knew you were back in town—
Ashley: great! we now have a new definition of “best friend” – someone who only does sneaky things when she thinks you won’t find oot aboot it!
Courtney: Ashley, that’s not fair!
Ashley: oh, you can think whatever you like, courtney! just do me a favor – find yourself a new best friend!
Holy fucking shit, I loved this episode!
5 thoughts on “Boiling Point”
> sort of like a vampire who just saw a crucifix and then realized it was only a couple of French fries randomly laying in cruciform on her plate
> carnivorous braggadocio
Fun stuff. And leave it to you to tip the average word-length scales into the eights and nines.
I did finally realize something here: these analyses are the exact opposite of the “proper” way to write fiction. This is not a criticism, only a discovery. By explaining all of the behavioral aspects of the characters you’re effectively “telling” not “showing.” This, of course, is by design. You’re providing Freudian/Dangerfield commentary on the blatantly transparent emotional portrayals of the characters. But this is exactly NOT what to do when telling a story.
So, whenever I find myself explaining a character’s behavior, I’ll think back on your ruthless reviews here and switch my knuckles ’till red and swollen.
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Thanks! This is indeed a sort of anti-fiction, but I highly doubt you’ll ever need to hold it up as a negative example to inspire your own work. In my estimation, you have the art of compelling fiction down to a science.
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Aw shucks, ‘Mudge, you say the nicest things. (Remind me to never get on your wrong side, being verbally eviscerated by the likes of your vocabulary would send me to the emergency room.)
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Ha! You might be overestimating my artfulness in talking smack, considering that after 8 long season 2 posts, I still find it amusing every time I refer to Stacy as “Who Farted”. This project may very well be causing me to regress in maturity, but I’m cool with that as long as I continue to have fun doing it.
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