Season 3, Episode 3
Three episodes into the current season, Binkley & Co. have yet to address the massive pachyderm in the room:
What the fuck keeps happening to Brooke’s little sisters??
I know that in the premier episode of Season 2, Brooke explained to Matt that Theresa was “off at that school for the arts” but I’m skeptical of that premise, considering that we were never given any reason to believe that Dutch Boy was artistically inclined. But now Amanda has also disappeared withoot a trace (though I’ve no doubt her permanent sneer will live on in our fondest memories). I mean, if Claire Langlois simply opted not to return to the cast after her Season 2 run, this could have been so easily explained had the writers attempted to thread even a scintilla of consistency into their scripts. The last plot in which she was involved was the theft of Courtney’s stupid necklace. So why not open Season 3 with Brooke gleefully telling Who Farted that her little shit of a sister got shipped off to juvie? Because that would make too much fucking sense, I guess. But enough of these rhetorical questions. Matt’s got a serious reckoning to face, so let’s waste no further time.
Dave yawns into The Avalon and greets Matt at the pinball machine. Somehow failing to notice his friend’s extreme agitation, he kisses Matt’s ass by commiserating with him aboot how harshly Coach Williams came down on him at practice. The way they’re talking (along with Matt’s familiar ootfit) leads me to believe that this is still the same day where we left off and thus, Matt decided that the most reasonable course of action after punching his best friend in the face was to play a little pinball. Dave starts to leave through the rear door, then pauses and asks Matt if Jake ever found him.
Matt: What aboot it??
Dave: Well, he was looking for you, so I was just wondering—
Matt: Well, you know what I’d like? I’d like people to stop wondering and just leave me alone!!
Stock footage of the Avalon exterior appears, indicating that although the upcoming scene also takes place at the café, it’s now later…or earlier…or in a completely different space-time continuum. Chris and Roxanne are at the counter discussing the difficulties of being in a band with Dylan. Roxanne opines that he is a good guitar player, but Chris protests that his affinity for music that’s “thirty years old” will doom the scant remnants of the once mighty Teenagers In Love to wallow in obscurity. After a few more tired decrees that Dylan needs to be dragged into the 90s, Chris changes the subject to something slightly bolder.
Chris: Listen, um…there’s a pretty good band playing downtown Friday night. It might be worth checking it oot.
Roxanne: Are you asking me to go with you?
Chris: Why not?
Roxanne: Well, what aboot Ashley? She might be able to think of a few reasons ‘why not’.
Wait for it…one Mississippi, two—hey, look, here comes Ashley now!
Chris: (molto voce) Well, I go oot with her – she doesn’t own me.
Roxanne: I’ll give it some thought…if I don’t have anything better to do.
On her way oot, Roxanne greets Ashley with a friendly hello and tells Chris that she’ll see him after school as Whisperina’s face ties itself into a Gordian knot of pained confusion. She sits down on the stool next to Chris and stammers her surprise at finding him here when he’d promised to stop by her place on the way to school, carefully refraining from broaching the topic of the date she just overheard him make with Roxanne. Chris responds with a half-assed apology and declines Ashley’s invitation to join her for a bite to eat because he has to go meet up with Dylan. He gives her a peck on the cheek before exiting the cafe, leaving Ashley alone at the counter to indulge in her favorite pastime of silent suffering.
Brooke sees Dylan at his locker and greets him with her typical over-the-top enthusiasm. She weathers his snidely sarcastic reaction to her manufactured good cheer with atypical patience before getting to the point and telling him that she heard aboot Arseman’s “tragic” departure from the band. Her transparent attempt to convince Dylan to let her audition for the open slot proves less than successful, of course, as Leather Jacket walks away and Who Farted approaches from the locker vestibule. Brooke treats Who Farted to a presumptively detailed account of Arseman’s angry reaction to Chris and Dylan’s decision to boot Deadpool from the band, adding further spice to this alternate reality by claiming that Dylan asked for her advice aboot choosing a new lead singer. Who Farted reacts with skepticism while Brooke arrives at the inevitable implicit conclusion that she’d be perfect for the job.
Dave enters The Avalon and sees Jake sitting at the counter. He says hi and starts to make small talk, but when Jake swivels to face him, he notices the black and blue shiner on his eye.
Dave: Wow! I was gonna ask you how it’s going, but—
Jake: Hey, nothing to worry aboot…just a black eye.
Dave: What happened?
Jake: Oh, I…slipped and fell. Dumb move, but I’ll survive.
Dave: So, uh, did you ever catch up with Matt yesterday?
Jake: Matt? No…I didn’t, actually.
Dave: I saw him last night.
Jake: What did he say?
Dave: Nothing, really. In fact, he really didn’t seem to feel like talking.
Jake gets up to leave, running into Roxanne on her way into the café. She reacts with similar astonishment to his injured eye, proclaiming that he’s sporting the biggest shiner she’s ever seen. When she asks if he got into a fight, he gives her the same explanation to which he treated Dave, adding some embellishment aboot hitting his head on the banister while he was running downstairs to answer the phone. Jake leaves and Roxanne notices Dave sitting at the counter.
Roxanne: You’re good in math, so tell me, does this add up?
Dave: How do you mean?
Roxanne: I’ve heard a lot of unconvincing stories, but that one?
Courtney and Arseman enter the locker vestibule in mid-conversation aboot some play Headband’s writing for English class. For now, we’re spared the impending horror of this upcoming theatrical abomination as Courtney uses the topic to pivot to the subject of Jake, who gave her some “really great suggestions” for the play over the phone last night. Trust me, suffering through the ensuing romantic gushing aboot Jake’s infinite wonderfulness is a relative joy compared to experiencing the finished product of Courtney’s ham-fisted literary skills. As Courtney serenades Arseman with a starry-eyed decree of how wonderful it is to be in a relationship with someone so open and devoid of secrets, Roxanne comes down the stairs just in time to overhear.
Roxanne: No secrets? Then I guess you know all aboot Jake’s fight to the death with the banister.
Courtney: What are you talking aboot?
Roxanne: Haven’t you seen him this morning? He’s got a black eye like you wouldn’t believe. He claims he just slipped and fell. If you guys are so open with each other, I’m surprised he didn’t tell you.
Let me step in here and clarify something because the typewritten word is inadequate to convey the implications of a character’s vocal inflections. When I read back my verbatim dialogue transcriptions, Roxanne often comes off sounding an awful lot like Brooke, but the difference between these two Hillside attendees is as vast as the shore to shore span of Lake Koocanusa. Withoot a doot, Roxanne’s a busybody, but she seems to get involved in other people’s business oot of genuine concern, even if her tone is inherently sarcastic.
Courtney storms into The Avalon like she’s on a mission from God.
She takes a seat next to Jake and asks what happened, to which he replies, “What do you mean?” as Headband takes in his impressive shiner. Her open and decidedly un-secretive boyfriend then gives her the same inaccurate account of slipping on the stairs and eye-fucking the banister to which he’s treated everyone since the after-hours encounter with his punch drunk best friend (see what I did there? How the hell did I not think to title the last post “Punch Drunk”?). Courtney’s expression is more than a little skeptical, so he finally dispenses of the bullshit and tells her the shocking true story of what happened with Matt.
Let’s get back to the student lounge so we can eavesdrop on some trouble a-brewin’ in Paradise.
Ashley: chris, there’s something i have to ask you. is there something going on…between you and roxanne?
Ashley: this morning, i couldn’t help wondering.
Chris: That’s crazy!
Ashley: is it?
Chris: Look, there’s nothing going on between me and Roxanne. Nothing! Nada! Zip!
Ashley: i’m not accusing you…
Ashley: …but i don’t think you can blame me for wondering, either. i mean, you met roxanne this morning instead of coming over to my house.
Chris: I told you already, I just forgot.
Ashley: you’re meeting her again after school?
Chris: Look, what I do is my own business. If you want a guy who comes complete with an owner’s manual, then you’d better find somebody else!
He finally softens his tone and assures her that he’s only meeting Roxanne after school because she told him that she might be able to find the band a new lead singer. She quietly nods before the sneer returns to his voice for the delivery of one last l’ avertissement : “But you’ve got to understand something – if you want this to work, then you’ve got to learn to give me a little space!”
The next scene opens on the exterior of an unfamiliar suburban home. Inside, Matt is watching TV in the basement when Erin comes downstairs in search of her social studies book. She asks her brother what he’s doing home in the middle of a school day and he replies that he skipped school because of a scheduled doctor’s appointment. When she asks a follow-up question aboot the nature of his appointment, Matt stands up, shuts off the TV and hisses, “What, you don’t believe me?” She tells him that she does, then nervously asks why he and Dad were yelling at each other last night. After confirming that she didn’t hear the actual content of their shouting match, he downplays it as a simple disagreement with his father aboot “things in general”. As Erin ascends the stairs, Matt asks her to tell Jake that he wants to see him.
At a booth in The Avalon, the hastily assembled Committee To Save Matt Walker From Himself is convening over a half-eaten spread of waffle fries and egg salad sandwiches. Jake tries to place some of the blame for his confrontation with Matt on himself, declaring that such a direct approach isn’t the right way to handle these things, but Arseman begs to differ. I mean, of course, Arseman begs to differ. Staging an intervention sounds like just the sort of thing to maximally stroke her self-righteous ego and satisfy her preternaturally nosy disposition all in one shot. In an effort to convince Jake and Courtney of her authoritative qualifications in the matter, she tells them that she has an aunt who is an alcoholic and the only way they were able to convince her to face it was to have the entire family confront her. Courtney raises the possibility that perhaps Matt isn’t an alcoholic. Just as Jake begins to detail all of Matt’s behaviors that fit the description of alcoholism, Erin approaches the booth. She delivers her brother’s message to Jake and walks off, prompting Arseman to insist that “all of us” should accompany Jake on his visit to the Walker residence.
Dylan is at the soda machine when Brooke and Who Farted descend the stairs. Fully intending for Dylan to overhear, she tells Who Farted, “Oh yes, I’ve always been a singer!” before taking a seat on a bench in the student lounge. What follows is something I’ve already displayed on this page back when we were still in the midst of Season 1 (Mama Says Be Glad), but since that was such a premature and impetuous thing to do, I’ll post the brief clip of Brooke’s description-defying impromptu vocal performance again so it can take its proper place in the Hillside timeline:
Leather Jacket emerges from his crouched eavesdropping position and tries to stifle his laughter while Brooke explains that her whole family is musically inclined. When Dylan asks if her whole family sings like she does, Brooke replies in the affirmative, setting him up for an easy slam dunk: “I feel sorry for your neighbors!” Despite the fact that anyone with a second-grade education could’ve seen that joke coming, Who Farted still seems to find it enormously amusing.
Ashley meets Chris in the locker vestibule and wishes him luck in his meeting with Roxanne. Although you can sense that she’s trying to try oot a new approach to dealing with her perplexingly mercurial boyfriend, her repeated insistence that she’s not “checking up on him or anything” proves that she possesses insufficient cunning to master the art of subtle manipulation necessary to counteract Chris’ default reliance on intimidation tactics. Regardless, she’s rewarded for her comparative restraint with a parting peck on the cheek. Chris exits stage left as Courtney approaches Ashley by the stairwell and asks if she’s got a minute to talk. They sit down at a table in the lounge and Courtney fills her in on Matt’s relapse and the planned after-school intervention. Headband desperately tries to convince Ashley to enlist in their kamikaze mission, but Pinky declines just as Brooke waltzes into the scene and begins to eavesdrop from behind a nearby column. Getting up to go to class, Ashley continues to insist that Courtney just leave her oot of it. Brooke pounces on this opening and volunteers to join in the intervention, a notion that leaves Courtney visibly horrified. Brooke continues to bloviate as she advances towards Courtney, decreasing Headband’s slim circumference of personal space with each step. Just when it seems that Courtney’s oversized head is set to burst, Arseman appears and comes to her rescue.
Arseman: Forget it, Brooke! You wanna help? Then go home. Go wash your hair or something.
Brooke: Matt Walker and I happen to be dear old friends! If he needs my help, then I’ll be there for him!
Arseman: Brooke, just keep your big nose oot of this!!!
Arseman leads Courtney away by the arm as Brooke shouts after them: “Just where do you get off, Arseman?! Pushing people around and insulting their noses?! Just who do you think you are, anyway?!
Another shot of the Walker house signals that the intervention is nigh. Jake comes down the basement stairs and finds Matt on the sofa watching TV. Beanpole springs from his seat and turns off the television. He apologizes for what happened but gets right back on the defensive as soon as Jake reiterates that he needs to face his problem. Matt tells Jake that he’s starting to sound just like his Dad, who apparently raised the prospect of sending his son to a rehab center after he smelled alcohol on his breath last night. This serves as the cue for the rest of the Intervention Squad to come down the stairs and make their presence known.
Matt: What is this? Is this supposed to be some kind of set-up?!
Dave: We wanted to talk to you.
Matt: Well, forget it! You’re not welcome!
Arseman: We’re here because we care aboot you, Matt.
Matt: Didn’t you hear what I just said?
Arseman: You’re an alcoholic, Matt, you’ve got to face that before your whole life goes down the tubes!
Matt: This is crazy! If you guys think that—
Courtney: We’re here for you, Matt. You’ve got to admit—
Matt: I don’t have to admit anything because I’m not an alcoholic!
Arseman: Matt, yes you are!
Matt: And what makes you the expert?
Arseman: I’m not an expert…I’m just your friend.
Matt: If I was an alcoholic, I’d be the first to know!
Dave: No, you wouldn’t! You’d be the last to know…the last to admit it, anyway.
Matt: I’M NOT AN ALCOHOLIC!! I like to have a few drinks – so do millions of people! Are they all alcoholics?
Arseman: Some of them.
Courtney: Matt, you’re fifteen years old.
Matt: What does that have to do with it? I know what I’m doing!
Arseman: Drinking every day and punching oot your best friend?!
Matt: I don’t drink every day! And even if I did, so what? That doesn’t always make you an alcoholic. Besides, you can’t be an alcoholic at fifteen…it takes way longer than that, right? Even if I was an alcoholic, I could deal with it myself. I could stop drinking any time I wanted…any time at all.
Courtney: But you don’t have to do it alone. You’ve got friends.
Matt: I don’t want to be an alcoholic.
Sensing that Matt’s façade is beginning to crumble, Arseman chimes in and tells him that it’s a disease (no, it isn’t) and as such, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Jake dismisses the intervention crew and takes a seat next to Matt, telling him that “everything’s going to be okay now”.
In The Avalon, Brooke is shouting her indignation aboot being excluded from the intervention at Who Farted. Erin walks through the door just in time to hear this:
Brooke: Who does she think she is, anyway? Matt and I happen to be old friends and now it turns oot he’s an alcoholic. Do people actually think that I don’t care that my old friend Matt is a hopeless, pathetic, falling down drunk?! I mean—
Erin: It’s not true! What you just said aboot my brother – it’s just not true!!!
Erin flees The Avalon as the episode closes with an extended shot of an uncharacteristically dumbstruck Brooke.
Brace yourself, Matt, because unlike Arseman, I know of which I speak. No matter what anyone may tell you, spouting trite recovery slogans through coffee breath in an unventilated church basement is no substitute for a rocking good bender.