Season 3, Episode 1
This ain’t no party! This ain’t no disco! This ain’t no foolin’ around! – Talking Heads
Welcome back to Hillside! I’m going to make a special effort to ensure that your Season 3 experience is as enjoyable and engrossing as possible. There are two main reasons for this planned attention to quality as I embark upon another season of Canada’s greatest TV show: 1) because you deserve it just for sticking around this long and humoring me in this pointless and juvenile endeavor; 2) Season 4 sucks so bad (and it’s double the length of the previous 3 seasons) that I don’t even know if I’m capable of giving it the same episode by episode treatment I’ve thus far been providing. At the very least, when the time comes, I will summarize the Season 4 plots that revolve around the few remaining “classic” characters, but I really don’t think I can stomach watching all 26 episodes again, let alone try to extract humor from the stories involving the dozen or so terribly unsuited (and sometimes – gasp! – American) additions to the cast. That said, this third 13-episode installment of Fifteen is chock full of jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching, stomach-churning surprises, so strap in and enjoy the ride!
Our ride begins in a ’79 Ford Pinto that’s been parked ootside of Dylan’s garage for the past decade, as the season’s premiere episode opens on Courtney and Arseman flapping their jaws in the student lounge.
Courtney: Of course I’m looking forward to seeing him. I can’t wait to see him! The only thing is…I mean, what am I supposed to say to him?
Arseman: You can start with something really original, like, say, “Hi, Jake!” Then, “good to see you” and “how’s it going?”
Courtney, wearing a top-shelf headband for this long-awaited reunion, protests that it’s not as simple as all that, and you can be rest assured that she’ll complicate it beyond comprehension when she comes face to face with Jake at tonight’s party. Brooke strolls over to their table at the mention of the word “party” and essentially invites herself to Jake’s homecoming bash. If her behavior at the last shindig thrown at the Simpson homestead is any indication, at least she’ll probably serve to keep things interesting at this transcontinental snooze-fest. Giving us a sneak preview, she tells Courtney that she “must be scared stiff!” at the prospect of seeing Jake after their six-week pen-pal pseudo-romance.
Brooke corners Who Farted at her locker and lays a guilt trip on her for being incommunicado in recent days. Who Farted’s uncharacteristic reaction of mild annoyance seems to indicate that she may have finally had her fill of Hillside’s Gossip Queen, though it might have more to do with a budding infatuation for Brooke’s bold new detractor Roxanne. After all, withoot someone to shamelessly emulate, Who Farted might very well vanish into thin air. Who Farted tries to extricate herself from the conversation before Brooke lays it on the line, “Stacy, just oot of interest…is it just my imagination or are you trying to avoid me these days?” but her former admirer just brushes off the question and hurries off to class.
At The Avalon, Dylan is having simulated sex with the unplugged pinball machine while Chris continues to make his case for firing Billy from the band. I wonder what the fuck Leather Jacket said to Deadpool last season after his ominous opening statement, “Listen, there’s something I gotta tell you,” because he obviously wussed oot of shit-canning him from the band. The rest of this scene just illustrates that nothing’s changed in the relationship between these two, which makes sense since the stated timeline of events puts this moment just two days later than where we left off. That being said, the fact that Chris’ hair has grown several inches longer since we last saw him poses quite the conundrum. Dylan finally caves and tells Chris that if he sees Billy, “tell him to meet me at the garage after school”. Chris gives Dylan a patronizing pat on the shoulder as he takes his leave, causing Elvis to fantasize aboot stuffing his ootspoken little antagonist into a garbage can.
Dave enters The Avalon wearing a multi-colored polo shirt that looks like something straight from Matt’s abominable wardrobe as he greets his gym class hero at a booth. He asks Matt if everything’s okay because he didn’t make it to practice yesterday. Matt responds that he “just had some 24 hour flu or something” which is the exact same euphemism for an excruciating hangover that I used to employ when confronted aboot unexcused absences. Dave goes on to inform him that “Coach Williams was kind of peeved,” but Matt brushes this off and tells his boring little friend that he’ll see him at the party. Dave responds “probably not” before explaining that he wasn’t invited, setting Matt off on a self-righteous display of anger at this inexcusable slight, punctuated by a decisive, “I’ll deal with it!” as he rises from the booth and storms oot of the café.
Chris sees Billy at his locker and tells him that Dylan wants to see him at the garage after school. He entertains Deadpool’s naïve enthusiasm aboot the band for a few moments before spotting Ashley walking through the lounge. They flirt for a spell until Chris informs her that he’ll pick her up at 7:30 for the party to which she replies, “i’ll be waiting!” Say what you will aboot Chris and this whole ill-advised romance with Pinky Dinks, but at the moment, he’s already proving himself to be superior boyfriend material just by this simple confirmation that he won’t be too busy getting sauced to accompany her to Courtney’s stupid party.
Brooke and Who Farted enter the student lounge just in time to witness Chris and Ashley’s affectionate interlude.
Brooke: Did you just see what I just saw?
WF: Well, obviously. I mean, I was standing right here.
Brooke: Chris and Ashley?! Mister Rebel and Little Miss Perfect – they can’t be going oot together!
WF: Well, they seem to like each other.
Brooke: But that’s impossible! How could they like each other?
WF: What’s so weird aboot that?
Brooke: Because there’s nothing to like aboot either one of them.
WF: Oh, come on…
Brooke: Face facts, Stace! Chris is insufferable and Ashley – she’s even worse! Our little schoolgirl, batting her eyes and pretending to be so totally sweet and so wonderfully clever.
WF: Brooke, you wanna know the truth? I have been avoiding you lately and it’s because you keep acting like this.
Brooke: I beg your pardon?
WF: You can be so – you’re so sarcastic and snobby that I just can’t stand it anymore!
WF: I used to look up to you – I actually did! But if this is what you’re really like, well, I don’t need to hang around with people like that!
Before you start warming up to Who Farted for delivering this bold and justified admonishment to her former mentor, don’t. Trust me, just don’t. Brooke is a bitch, no argument there, but Who Farted is a maggot-infested mutant that only grows more intolerably grotesque with the passage of time.
Matt confronts Arseman at her locker with an intimidating accusation that she intentionally neglected to invite Dave to Courtney’s party. This quickly turns into a case of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object since the only thing that can rival Matt’s hangover-fueled hostility is Arseman’s infinite sass.
The next scene opens on Courtney and Ashley at the Simpson residence preparing for the upcoming festivities. As Headband nervously places bowls of chips and cheese doodles on various end tables, it dawns on me that with the exception of Ashley’s presence and a banner that reads “Welcome Home Jake” hanging on the far wall, this is the exact same pre-party scene we already witnessed back in Season 1. Ashley tells her to calm down and Courtney replies that she just wants to ensure everything goes off withoot a hitch since Mom is trusting her to throw a party in her absence. They then proceed to have the exact same conversation aboot Jake and his letters from China and her nervousness aboot how they’ll react in each other’s presence that we’ve heard ad nauseum since the start of last season.
Just as I’m preparing to throw my laptop oot the window and abandon this masochistic writing project forever, Jake walks through the door unannounced, narrowly ensuring that Notes From The Avalon will live to see another day. Ashley greets him with a hug while a speechless Courtney prepares herself for maximum discomfort. Whisperina makes tracks, leaving Jake and Courtney to hem and haw for what feels like an eternity before clutching each other in the most awkward embrace ever televised.
Brooke enters The Avalon and marches over to the booth where Who Farted is doing homework. Apparently having realized that she’s literally one person shy of being completely friendless, she concedes that perhaps she sometimes expresses herself too bluntly, quickly adding that “it’s only because I care so much aboot my friends”. Remember what I said earlier aboot Who Farted? Well, ugliness isn’t just an external phenomenon, because this fucking shit-for-brains boob pube immediately buys Brooke’s ridiculous explanation for her gleefully cruel behavior towards pretty much everyone and apologizes for “overreacting”. Sensing that Who Farted is back under her spell, Brooke turns the tables and chews her oot for daring to speak her mind while Who Farted sits there and takes it like the chameleonic retard she is.
Now we’re back at Dylan’s garage for his second attempt at kicking Deadpool oot of the band.
Billy: So…what are you trying to say?
Dylan: I’m just saying that – look, we all want this to be a really good band.
Billy: Well, of course.
Dylan: But it’s just not working.
Billy: Then we’ll practice more. We’ll get better—
Dylan: That’s not the point. The point is – look, Billy, you’re my friend, but sometimes friendship isn’t the…I wish you were a better drummer, I really do. And I wish I had more time to work with you, but the way things are going, I—
Billy: Do you mean you’re kicking me oot of the band?
Dylan: No! No, I’m just asking you to understand the band is really important to me and…I think we need a new drummer.
Billy: Like I said, YOU’RE KICKING ME OOT!!
And now it’s time to PAR-TAY! Once again, one or two wandering extras cutting in between the handful of main cast members make Courtney’s sparsely populated living room appear to be hosting a blowoot in full swing. The camera zeroes in on Jake and Courtney’s conversation in progress wherein Jake is explaining that his mom’s overprotective tendencies ensured that he spent the entire six weeks holed up in a Beijing hotel room. Unable to craft a response to something even this simple and innocuous, Courtney excuses herself to “go mingle”. She finds Arseman and declares, “This is awful! We can’t even talk to each other. We just stand there with these stupid grins on our faces!” Arseman tells her to just relax but Headband deems that an impossible proposition since she “doesn’t even know who I’m talking to. Is this Jake my old pal or Jake my new boyfriend?” She storms oot of the room declaring that she wishes she never even had this party.
Dave arrives and sits down on the sofa next to Jake. For a few seconds, Jake starts to whine aboot how weird it feels to be back before abruptly changing the subject and wondering aloud where Matt is. Dave replies that “he was supposed to be here right at 7:00”, causing Matt’s rivaling ass-kissers to commence an eerily familiar round of “Where’s Walker”? Just as Jake seems poised to say something worrisome aboot Matt’s history with parties and alcohol, Beanpole walks through the door causing Jake to jump up and exclaim, “Hey, Big Matt!” They engage in some insufferable small talk before Matt finally asks Jake to tell him all aboot his trip to China. Literally half a sentence into Jake’s reply, Matt gets distracted, starts looking around the room and abruptly declares, “Listen, I’m just gonna get a bite to eat,” leaving his long absent best friend to stare after him in confusion.
While Jake is still standing alone in the middle of the room, Brooke makes her elaborate entrance and pulls him to the sofa where she demands that he tell her all aboot his trip before immediately talking over him and declaring that she’s always wanted to go to China, “…or Japan!” She launches into a narcissistic diatribe aboot how she’d be a very popular model in Asia since “fair-haired girls” are so popular there, so Jake decides to take a cue from his drunken man-crush as he gets up and walks away while Brooke’s in mid-sentence.
Next to arrive are Chris and Ashley, hand in hand, while Matt glares at them from across the room. Immediately upon entering, Chris shouts, “See? This is boring! This isn’t a party! Come on, let’s liven things up a little. You go crank the music up to 400 decibels and I’ll go steal the VCR!” Matt approaches and asks, “How’s it going?” In lieu of a reply, Chris smirks as he puts his arm around Ashley and leads her away. At that moment, Courtney comes back into the living room carrying another bowl of chips, but if you look real closely, you’ll notice Matt discretely backing oot the door.
Courtney goes to adjust the stereo when Jake suddenly appears, effectively cornering her.
Jake: Me again!
Courtney: (wringing her hands) Ah, yeah.
Jake: Courtney, listen. I’m, uh, not too sure how to put this. Is it just my imagination or are we both feeling like totally weird?
Courtney: Weird…yeah, that’s a good word.
Jake: And what I’m wondering…well, where are we?
Courtney: In the living room?
Jake: Yeah, besides that.
Courtney: Well, where do you think we are?
Jake: That’s what I’m not too sure aboot, but I know where I’d like us to be.
Courtney: Where’s that?
Jake: I’d like us to be together as more than just friends. From what you said in your letters, I thought you wanted that, too, but look, have I got this all wrong?
Courtney: Nope. No, you’ve got it exactly right!
Great Fucking Luke Perry’s Ghost, that was excruciating! They lean in and hug each other only slightly less awkwardly than they managed to pull off when Jake first arrived, cementing the official commencement of their new train wreck of a relationship.
Arseman spots Dave wandering around the room and apologizes for neglecting to invite him to the party, but he’s too concerned aboot Matt’s sudden disappearance to pay attention to what she’s saying. Jake approaches and Dave informs him that he can’t find Matt anywhere, apparently reigniting a deep concern aboot which Jake hadn’t given a thought for the last six weeks.
Jake: Dave, what’s going on with Matt? I mean, is he okay? This is the sort of thing that happened before, when Matt was drinking. Look, you’ve been around, I haven’t, so you’ve got to tell me, do you think Matt’s drinking again?
Dave: I’m not sure.
In the immortal words of Ray Davies, “Now we’re back where we started — here we go ‘round again!” Welcome the fuck home, Jake.