Get Cool, Daddy-O

beatnik ashley

Season 3, Episode 6

Ashley is an asshole.  Forgive me if that sounds like a patronizing statement of the obvious, but her friends seem incapable of coming to terms with her staggering disloyalty, self-absorption, and manufactured moodiness, so I thought a quick overview of her deliberate instantaneous image overhaul might be a good way to start this episode summary.  In Season 1, Ashley was presented as a shy, conscientious people-pleaser who spoke in a timid whisper.  She subsequently got caught cheating on a test and as a result, was sent to private school by her overprotective parents for three fucking days.  Then she ditched school, moved back and hid oot in Dylan’s garage until her folks finally caved to her demands and let her go back to Hillside.  It might be hard to remember that this is the sum total of events leading up to her present state of acute PTSD.  At least Billy had some real broken family and social rejection issues to account for his transformation into a pubescent prick.  But a couple of mildly stressful days in scholastic limbo is all it took for Ashley’s trademark whisper to morph into a spiteful hiss-per, yet her idiotic friends refuse to acknowledge the astounding alacrity of her manipulative bullshit.  When a small enough space is inhabited exclusively by assholes and idiots, nothing good can come of it.  I think there may have been some subconscious sociopolitical cynicism concealed in that last sentence, but who the fuck can tell anymore?

Speaking of Beelzebub, here she is at The Avalon recounting for Courtney her public break-up with Chris, adding so much spice to this otherwise unremarkable tale that just listening to her is causing my intestines to contract.  Regardless, she more or less arrives at the reasonable conclusion that she made a bad choice and smiles warmly at Headband in lieu of an apology for having reacted in such a shitty way to her expressions of concern throughoot the whole self-made ordeal.  Of course, Courtney immediately ruins this otherwise poignant moment by ceaselessly gushing aboot how wonderful it is to be talking like friends again.  After they acknowledge the warm and fuzzy feelings of renewed friendship to the point of redundant equinocide, Ashley curiously changes the subject to something far more pressing.

Ashley:  well, listen, if we’re best buds again, there’s something i’ve wanted to ask you for ages.

Courtney:  Oh, well, ask away!

Ashley:  courtney…how come you dress like that?

Courtney:  Like what?

Ashley:  i’m not saying you look awful or anything, it’s just…well, you’re really pretty!

Courtney:  Come on!

Ashley:  no, really, but you dress like you don’t want anyone to know that.  so why don’t we change the image a little?

Courtney:  Look, I don’t know—

Ashley:  i’ll do your hair and help you pick oot some new clothes.

Courtney:  Well…

Ashley:  courtney

Courtney:  Tell you what – I’ll think aboot it.

Ashley:  no, you won’t.  if you think aboot it, you’ll wimp oot!  so we’ll do it tomorrow.

Courtney:  Tomorrow??

Ashley:  at lunch, we’ll go down to the mall.

Courtney:  Look—

Ashley:  forget it, courtney, no wimping oot.  the decision’s already been made.

ashley happy

Well, then!  I think the breakneck speed at which Ashley just went from morbidly depressed to conceitedly confident actually somehow managed to break the sound barrier.  Pretty impressive coming from a girl whose voice rarely exceeds five decibels.

Arseman sees Dave at his locker and asks if he’s ready for this afternoon’s talent show.  This afternoon!  Holy shit, I didn’t expect the utterly surreal phantasm that is the Hillside High Talent Show to creep up on us so quickly.  Arseman’s question caught me off guard and I can only hope that my compositional prowess is up to the task.  Dave tells her that he’s not planning to enter because he doesn’t have any talent (self-awareness is a wonderful thing), and it’s also established that the talent show will consist of two “rounds”.  What this means for us, unfortunately, is that this spectacular shit-show will span the better part of two episodes.  Dave changes the subject and tells Arseman that Matt called him from the treatment center last night.  I don’t know aboot you, but if I were locked down in a 28-day inpatient facility, I think I’d make better use of my allotted nightly phone call than pissing it away on this tedious jock-strap scrubber.

Who Farted is at the Avalon counter when Brooke blusters into the café and announces that she’s decided to join the cheerleading squad.  As she’s scolding Who Farted for her less than enthusiastic response to this news, Dylan walks past the counter.

Brooke:  And here he is again!

Dylan:  Hi.

Brooke:  Dylan, we’ve gotta stop meeting this way!

Dylan:  Yeah, exactly.

Dylan turns and exits the café.

Who Farted:  Brooke, can I ask you something?  Are you sure Dylan has a crush on you?

Brooke:  Of course, he does!  It’s common knowledge.

Who Farted:  Then how come he never even stops to talk?

Brooke:  Well…well, I’d prefer you didn’t tell people this but the fact is, Dylan and I once started going oot together.

Who Farted:  Yeah?

Brooke:  Yeah.  I actually agreed to go on a date with him.  He kept begging and begging, but then, at the last minute, I decided that we just weren’t right for each other.  He was crushed.  Heartbroken, actually.  You know, I just can’t stand breaking guys’ hearts, but it’s something that just seems to happen and that’s why he’s been avoiding me, obviously.  The memories are just too painful.

Alright, this goes on for far longer than I’m willing to continue transcribing, but the upshot is that Brooke informs Who Farted that maybe she should start dropping hints to Dylan that she’d be willing to try going oot with him again, “if it would make him feel better”.

Ashley is getting books oot of her locker when Chris approaches and starts stammering a pseudo-apology for their “little misunderstanding”.  As he nervously struggles to find his words, Ashley interrupts and asks if he’s trying to get back together.  He confirms that he’d like them to give it another chance to which Pinky Dinks replies, “chris, drop dead…but have a nice day.”

chris dumped

In the girls’ locker room, Courtney gives her new ootfit a once over and declares that she looks ridiculous.  Ashley counters that she looks great, even though she somehow managed to make her fashion-impaired friend look even worse than usual with this preposterously mismatched style makeover.  I shit you not, Courtney is wearing an extra thick Cosby sweater tucked into a denim skirt over black stretch pants, but at least she momentarily ditched the headband, so I guess that’s something.  She sits down on a bench so Ashley can brush her hair when Brooke bursts into the locker room dressed in a cheerleader uniform and asks, “Well, what do you think?” with a flourish of pom-poms.  She proceeds to treat them to some typically Brookian self-promotion until Ashley asks her what she thinks of Courtney’s new ootfit.  Brooke concedes that “it’s not as bad as some of her old ones” and exits their makeshift hair salon.

hair

Dylan comes down the stairs conspicuously carrying a folded piece of paper and runs into Deadpool in the hallway.  Seemingly oblivious to Billy’s palpable disdain, he asks him how it’s going while taping the note to a locker.

Billy:  Good.  Hey, is that a love letter or something?

Dylan:  This is Chris’ locker.

Billy:  I didn’t know you two felt that way aboot each other!

Dylan scoffs at the insult and walks off as Deadpool snatches the note off the locker.  As he’s reading it, Chris arrives at his locker and Billy informs him that he just missed Dylan and that the note in his hand states that Leather Jacket wants to meet him after school.

Chris:  Hey!  Just where do you get off reading something that’s addressed to me?!

Billy:  I guess I just like to keep tabs on what my pals are up to…and naturally, you and Dylan are two of my most favorite people in the whole wide world!

Chris:  I don’t believe this!  Are you still sulking aboot the band?

Billy:  Who’s sulking?

Chris:  You are!  Look, it didn’t work oot ‘cause you’re just not good enough.  I mean, nothing personal, man, I mean, I’m sure you’ve got a million talents.  It’s just that, well, to be honest, you were the lousiest drummer I’ve ever heard.  So why don’t you just grow up and deal with it?

Chris starts to walk away when Deadpool grabs him forcibly by the arm.

Billy:  Let’s get something straight!  I couldn’t care less aboot your band.  I’ve got better things to do.

Chris:  I’m glad to hear it.

Billy:  But I’ve gotta admit – sometimes you really tick me off.

Chris:  I beg your pardon?

Billy:  You heard me.

Chris:  So, you planning on doing something aboot it?

Billy:  Maybe I should.  Yeah…maybe I’m getting sick and tired of the way you treat people, acting like you’re Mr. Hot Shot or something.  So maybe I should do something aboot it.

Chris rapidly raises his hand and Deadpool jumps back in alarm.

Chris:  Let me give you a piece of advice, Bill.  Do yourself a favor – stop trying to pretend you’re so tough…’cause you’re not.

billy grabs chris

In the student lounge, Ashley presents the glorious results of her Extreme Courtney Makeover to Arseman and Jake who react with predictable over-enthusiasm to the fashion atrocity standing before them.

Jake:  This is gonna take some getting used to!  I mean, I’m not sure if I can handle going oot with someone who looks this good.

Courtney:  Come on, let’s not go overboard.

Jake:  You look wonderful.

Arseman:  These two are so happy together, it actually makes you sick!

Exiting the boys’ locker room, Big Ears is telling Dave that his five-minute act for the talent show will consist of some opening jokes, a little orange juggling, a few impressions and some songs.  Sort of like a condensed episode of The Merv Griffin Show, I guess.  He starts to walk away when Billy swaggers over and sneers, “Hey, Twerp!  Been in any good lockers lately?”  Dave looks on with concern as Deadpool menacingly fixes his gaze and asks, “What’s the problem?  Don’t you have any friends?”

Dave:  What do you mean?

Billy:  You know, you can always tell when a guy’s really unpopular.  He starts hanging around six-year-olds!

John:  I’m thirteen!

Billy:  Same difference!

Dylan is at his locker when Brooke and Who Farted descend the stairs.  Brooke tells him the “big news” that she’s joining the cheerleading squad, so Leather Jacket sarcastically responds that maybe she can bag herself a jock boyfriend who’s “strong like ox, smart like tractor”.  I’m not going to say anything else aboot this scene, because you’ve seen similar attempts by Brooke to impress Who Farted with her alleged desirability a million times and I want you to really roll Dylan’s “witty” remark around in your head for a while because I’m a fucking asshole and I refuse to suffer alone.

arseman mc

Stock footage of a far more diversified cross-section of students than we’ve ever seen at Hillside clamoring to enter the school signals that the Talent Show is aboot to begin.  A makeshift stage has been set up in the student lounge, complete with a set of stairs for the tuxedo-clad Master of Ceremonies (friggin’ Arseman) to theatrically descend until she’s standing on a red carpet at audience-level.  She introduces herself as Arseman Harrell, which I believe is the first time her last name has been divulged, and announces, “Our first act is gonna be The Great Chris MacDonald and his lovely assistant Roxanne Lee doing mysterious and wondrous things!”

satanic majesties
Their Satanic Majesties Request

“Wasn’t that fantastic!  Wow!  Our next act is gonna be David O’Brien doing wonderful juggling.  He’s gonna be using fruits and balls – David!”

dave juggles
Ball Fondler

“Thank you, David!  God, that was awesome!  Okay, our next act is gonna be something that’s totally, totally mysterious.  Jake Deosdade and Billy Simpson doing hypnosis.”

billy jake
Deadpool once peed himself with stage fright before playing the part of a turnip

“I told you we had talent here!  Okay, our next act is gonna be something really interesting.  Something you don’t see often.  Courtney Simpson and Ashley Fraser are doing a poem — with bongos.”

beatniks
burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars

Okay, so I abdicated the responsibility of describing round one of the talent show to Arseman and some visual aids, but that’s only because round two is so incredibly bizarre that it will take much more than that if I’m to impart even the faintest idea of its sheer lunacy.  That’s something for which I’ll need to be far more prepared than I was today when Arseman frankly blindsided me with the show’s imminence.

Dylan is noodling on his guitar when Chris storms into the garage and gives him a world of shit for leaving notes on his locker.  Leather Jacket informs him that Roxanne isn’t good enough to be in the band.

Chris:  Oh, get real!

Dylan:  Look, it’s my band.  It’s my decision.

Chris:  What, you want me to go tell her she’s fired?

Dylan:  Yeah, exactly.

Chris:  Well, forget it!

Dylan:  Look, she isn’t good enough!  And I don’t care if you like it or not.  End of story!

Chris:  One of these days, Dylan, you’re gonna push it too far and then, look oot.

Dylan:  Is that a threat?

Chris:  No, that’s a promise!  Trust me!

dylan finale

Boy, boy, crazy boy – get cool, Boy!  Got a rocket in your pocket, keep coolly-cool, Boy!  Go man go, but not like a yo-yo schoolboy!  Just play it cool, Boy.  Reeeeal cool.

Sister Margaret’s Home For Wayward Girls

scary deadpool

Season 3, Episode 5

Deadpool’s been awfully quiet lately, hasn’t he?  I fear that’s starting to make me look bad.  For all my foreshadowed teasing of Billy the Bully that began somewhere towards the end of Season 2, we’re already at the fifth episode of the third season and aside from calling Dave a geek, we’ve seen precious little of his alleged metamorphosis into a teenage terrorist.

Deadpool enters The Avalon and greets his sister who is at a table studying with a glass of orange juice (or maybe eggnog).  Courtney makes it clear that she’s too busy for small talk, so Billy tries oot some of his new attitude on her, sarcastically apologizing for being such a bother.  Courtney confirms the efficacy of his manufactured contempt by calling him back to the table and asking if everything’s okay.  Deadpool tells her that Dad is getting remarried to his girlfriend Colleen as soon as the divorce is final, but the ambivalent tone with which he delivers the news makes it impossible to discern whether he considers this turn of events to be good, bad or neutral.  Regardless, he chides Courtney for not asking how he feels aboot the prospect of living with a new stepmom and when she does, he breathlessly responds, “Hey – I feel LOUSY!  I feel totally, absolutely, 100% lousy!!  THANKS SO MUCH FOR ASKING!!!

billy mad

Dylan comes down the stairs and sees Ashley at her locker.  After fighting their way through some horribly maladroit dialogue representing Ian Weir’s best guess as to how 90s teens speak to each other, Dylan apologizes for getting all up in her business regarding her stupid relationship with Chris.  She accepts his apology but reminds him that she’s a big girl who can take care of herself…except, of course, when she’s so afraid to face both her parents and her peers that she needs to seek sanctuary in his garage for several days.

Courtney is still sitting at her table in The Avalon when Jake enters and starts apologizing so profusely for being fifteen minutes late that – wait, sorry.  I promised that I wouldn’t subject you to any more of the insipid romantic banter between these two shamelessly saccharine boob pubes until they learned how to speak like human beings, and I intend to honor that vow.  Like the trooper I am, I waited oot the interminable stomach-churning dialogue on your behalf only to realize that the sole point of this scene is for Courtney to reiterate what we already know: Dad’s getting remarried, Deadpool’s not happy aboot it, and she’s starting to worry aboot him.

You know what?  I fucking love Brooke, and I love Robyn Ross even more for bringing this relentlessly antagonistic character to life.  The following encounter between Brooke and Ashley at Whisperina’s locker perfectly illustrates why I feel this way.

Brooke:  Ashley!  So here you are.

Ashley:  brooke…hi.

Brooke:  So, how are you?

Ashley:  not bad…so what do you want?

Brooke:  Nothing, I just thought I’d ask how you’re doing.

Ashley:  fine.

Brooke:  Good.  I’m glad.  So how’s Chris?

Ashley:  what’s that supposed to mean?

Brooke:  I’m just asking.

Ashley:  as far as i know, he’s fine.

Brooke:  Good…and things are alright between the two of you?  I mean, I know it’s not exactly any of my business…

Ashley:  right.

Brooke:  It’s just that I’ve been hearing all these terrible rumors!

Ashley:  what sort of rumors?

Brooke:  Well, aboot Chris spending so much time with Roxanne.  I mean, I know these rumors are totally false.  Chris would never do anything like that to you and you musn’t get upset just because people are whispering behind your back!  I just want you to know that I’m rooting for you and Chris – I really am – and it would be just awful if all of this ended up in broken hearts and tears!

brooke smug

The world’s lamest couple is eating lunch in the student lounge while Jake mock-complains aboot the soggy egg salad sandwich he packed himself for lunch.  Mercifully, Dylan walks over and interrupts before Jake’s retarded improv routine can go much further.  It seems that Leather Jacket has nowhere else to turn aboot his mounting concern over Ashley’s troubling relationship with Chris.  I guess that’s understandable since Pinky continues to meet his friendly concern with stubborn offense, but personally, I’d prefer suffering in silence to seeking the witless advice of Black Eye and Headband.  He fills them in on Chris’ philandering and ill-treatment of their fragile little friend, departing with a gentle admonishment that they should talk to her aboot it.

Jake:  Have we been missing something?

Courtney:  Looks like it.

Jake:  I guess I haven’t spent a lot of time with Ashley.

Courtney:  Neither have I…and when we do get together, I guess we don’t really talk aboot stuff.  Well, not like we used to, anyway.  Ashley’s been kind of distant, I guess…like she doesn’t really feel comfortable around us anymore.

Jake:  Well, a lot of things have changed.

Courtney:  You know, to tell you the truth, I kind of wonder if that’s why she went oot with Chris in the first place…you know, to prove some sort of point.

Jake:  No more responsible straight-A student?

Courtney:  Exactly.  And if what Dylan says is true – we know what she was like with Matt.  When things started going wrong, she figured it was all her own fault.  She got herself tied up in knots just trying to fix everything!

Jake:  Yeah, I know.

Courtney:  And if she starts doing that with someone like Chris—

Jake:  –Ashley’s gonna get herself stomped on.

Courtney:  Right.

Jake:  In a really major way.

Courtney:  Oh, boy.

courtney oh boy

As Brooke struts past with her nose in the air, Who Farted sheepishly calls oot to her while getting books from her locker.  Brooke returns her greeting in an icy monotone before informing Who Farted that she thinks she’s prepared to forgive her for her part in yesterday’s “childish, stupid, mean-spirited little prank”.  Astoundingly, Who Farted sticks to her guns and replies that she thought it was pretty funny and is surprised Brooke doesn’t feel the same “since you have such a great sense of humor”.  Though having her own words thrown back at her would normally be a bridge too far for Brooke, she sucks it up with minimal protest because she wants to know if Who Farted has any more dirt on Ashley and Chris.  To Brooke’s disappointment, Who Farted indicates that she doesn’t think it’s any of their business, so Brooke wonders aloud why Ashley would go after Chris instead of Dylan.  When Who Farted asks whether Brooke finds Dylan attractive, she replies that she doesn’t but that lots of other girls seem to, and that it’s actually Dylan who has an “embarrassing” crush on her.  Enter Dylan from the stairwell whose sarcastic monosyllabic responses to Brooke’s over-the-top display of friendliness cause the performance she’s putting on for Who Farted’s benefit to backfire spectacularly.

Chris runs into Dylan at The Avalon and preemptively tells him not to bother with any of his Ashley-related rebukes.  He tells Leather Jacket that he found a new singer for the band as Roxanne walks into the shot.  Dylan asks, “Who, Roxanne?” as Chris puts his arm around her in a silent confirmation of her new status as lead singer and main squeeze.

chris rox

Hiding behind a row of lockers, Big Ears winds up a joy buzzer that’s situated in the palm of his hand.  He greets some nameless Kid ‘N Play wannabe with his hand extended, but despite this extra’s ridiculous haircut, he’s too smart to take the bait.  Next, Roxanne approaches and similarly avoids the consummation of his archaic prank, adding that it’s “the oldest trick in the book”.  I guess that’s as good a way as any to eat up 27 seconds of an episode.

Who Farted comes down the stairs in her cheerleader uniform and pumps some change into the soda machine.  Brooke approaches and starts to mock her ootfit (and cheerleading in general) when two jocks walk up and tell Who Farted that she’s “looking good!” in a manner that’s very reminiscent of the reaction she received to her new polka-dot dress last season.  It’s almost as if Who Farted paid a few of these guys to linger around various spots in the school so that they can jump oot and pay her undeserved compliments whenever Brooke needs to be put in her place.  They tell her that they’ll see her after school and walk away.

who farted jocks

WF:  I guess not everybody thinks cheerleading’s dumb.

Brooke:  Of course not!  It isn’t dumb at all.  As a matter of fact, I’ve been thinking of joining the squad myself.

WF:  You’re kidding!

Brooke:  Why should I be kidding?  Are you saying you don’t think I’d make a good cheerleader?

WF:  No, I’m not saying that at all!  As a matter of fact, we could use another member.

Brooke:  Well!  Then maybe this is something that I should seriously look into.

At a booth in The Avalon, Chris is trying to convince Dylan of Roxanne’s vocal capabilities, but Leather Jacket is more concerned aboot Chris going over his head and offering the spot to Roxanne withoot consulting him first.  The animosity between Guitar and Bass is reaching critical mass.

At Courtney’s locker, Deadpool is trying to arrange a time for them to get together and hang oot, but Headband’s schedule is too full of Jake to allow for something as comparatively pedestrian as spending time with her increasingly psychotic little brother.

Some time later, Billy is at the soda machine when Jake approaches and tells him he heard aboot his father’s plans to remarry.  Deadpool responds to Jake’s ensuing interrogation with non-committal replies that graduate into sneering mockery as Dylan enters the school and lingers in the locker vestibule.  Just as Billy nearly executes an escape from this pointless exchange, Jake changes the subject and asks if he’s planning to enter the talent contest.  He starts to tell Deadpool that he has an idea for his performance, but he’ll need a partner, when Dylan cuts in between them and asks Billy how it’s going, providing him with the merciful excuse to beat a hasty retreat for which he’d been searching ever since making the ill-fated decision to buy a soda.  Hey, Kim Mitchell, I thought nobody ever got hurt going for a soda.  So how do you explain this?

Uh oh, Courtney and Ashley decided to go for a soda at The Avalon and I highly doubt that this carbonated beverage will be any too painless, either.  Courtney gushes aboot how great it is to just be hanging oot and talking like they did in olden times before segueing to the elephant in the room.

Courtney:  So how’s it going…I mean, between you and Chris?

Ashley:  it’s going fine.

Courtney:  Yeah?

Ashley:  look, if you’ve got something to say, why don’t you just say it?

Courtney:  Hey, I was just asking—

Ashley:  no…you weren’t.

Courtney:  Well, it’s just…I’ve kind of been hearing things.

Ashley:  what kind of things?

Courtney:  Well, actually, it’s aboot Chris spending a lot of time with Roxanne.

Ashley: (heaves a sigh) so you wanna know if the rumors are true.  if you want to listen to rumors, be my guest.  i don’t know if they’re true or not.  if they are true, i’ll deal with it, alright?  i’ll just deal with it.

Ashley gets up from the table and storms oot of the café just as Jake enters.  He takes the seat Ashley vacated and Headband informs him that the only thing they can do considering Ashley’s reluctance to talk is “just sit back and watch a really good friend get really badly hurt”.  Finally, Shit Drapes says something that makes sense!  I didn’t think she had it in her.

Third time’s a charm, Big Ears.  Seeing Deadpool at his locker, John walks over and thanks Billy for being a friend while extending his joy buzzer-rigged hand.  Billy grasps it and predictably gets shocked, setting off Big Ears’ uncontrollable laughter.  You done fucked up, Son.  Deadpool grabs John by the shoulders and slams him up against the row of lockers while pulling open Big Ears’ locker door, shoving him inside, slamming it shut and hastily spinning the combination lock.  He sneers “You little twerp!” before strolling away, leaving John to scream in desperation from inside his locker.

big ears locker

At the garage, Roxanne’s audition is in full swing.  Dylan strums his guitar while Chris’ bad-ass biotch shimmies and shakes in rhythm to what’s either the act of singing or performing tone deaf moose calls.  The only lyrics that can be discerned are “come on back, ooh, baby, come oooon back!” making me guess that this is the song “Come On Back” that Roxanne referenced in her Season 2 critique of the Teenagers In Love concert at The Avalon.  When the song finishes, Chris tells her that she was great, but Dylan says that they need to talk.  Roxanne sneers, “Are you saying there’s some sort of a problem?” as Chris puts his arm around her and leads her oot of the garage.

roxanne sings

Jake enters the locker vestibule and hears John screaming for help from his locker.  He pulls it open and frees Big Ears from his undeserved incarceration, setting off a torrent of vocalized disbelief that “he” would do such a thing on a Friday afternoon knowing full well that he could have been stuck in there all weekend, all withoot mentioning Billy’s name.  He punctuates his curiously anonymous anti-Deadpool harangue by screaming, “I hate him!” before running off, leaving Jake to wonder to whom he was referring.

Chris and Roxanne are discussing the audition in The Avalon when Ashley marches over to their booth.

Roxanne:  Oh, hey!  Why don’t you join us?

Ashley:  no, thanks, i wouldn’t want to interrupt anything!

Chris:  You, uh…you upset aboot something?

Ashley:  don’t even bother asking, chris!  i don’t have anything to say to you! (turning to Roxanne) but i do have something to say to you.

Roxanne:  Yeah?

Ashley:  this guy’s a total jerk.  if you want him, hey – take him, because i don’t ever want to see his face again!

ashley mad

Less than a minute left, but just enough time for one more good Avalon confrontation.  Billy enters the café where John is waiting at a table.

John:  That was really lousy!  I could have been stuck in that locker all weekend!

Billy:  Poor ba-by!

Deadpool snags the milkshake from John’s table and starts drinking it.

John:  Give me that!  You have no right to do that and I’m gonna tell the Principal!

Billy:  John, do me a favor, would you?  SHUT YOUR MOUTH OR I’LL SHUT IT FOR YOU!!

big ears finale

How Deadpool resisted the temptation to grab him by both ears and lift him off the floor, I’ll never know.  But I guess that’s what makes him a superhero.

 

Ashley & Chris: A Reader Poll

ash chris

It’s time to let your voice be heard!  The unlikely romance between Ashley and Chris is already tumultuous, to say the least, so I thought it would be appropriate to have you, the loyal readers of Notes From The Avalon, weigh in on how you feel aboot this unlikely and controversial coupling.  In the comments section, choose one of the entries from the following multiple choice list and, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, elaborate on the factors behind your decision.  Do you think Ashley and Chris are a good fit?

A.  Yes! Ashley and Chris were meant for each other.  Ashley Fraser is a fucking drama queen and the only thing that could potentially inspire her to raise her voice above a whisper is trying to maintain a relationship with a volatile dirt bag like Chris MacDonald.

B.  Yes! Ashley and Chris were meant for each other.  Ashley Fraser is a fucking drama queen and the only thing that could potentially inspire her to raise her voice above a whisper is trying to maintain a relationship with a volatile dirt bag like Chris MacDonald.

C.  Yes! Ashley and Chris were meant for each other.  Ashley Fraser is a fucking drama queen and the only thing that could potentially inspire her to raise her voice above a whisper is trying to maintain a relationship with a volatile dirt bag like Chris MacDonald.

D.  All of the above.

Some Hospital Place

matt suitcase

Season 3, Episode 4

In lieu of an opening riff for this episode summary, here’s a 2014 photo of Canadian actor Christopher “Corky” Martin:

dylan 2014

Jake is doing homework in the student lounge when he’s approached by Canadian actor Christopher “Corky” Martin.

dylan jake

Aside from a Season 1 scene in which Jake and Dylan nearly came to blows when Jake confronted him aboot playing with Courtney’s feelings, I don’t ever recall these two interacting in any way.  Regardless, they shoot the breeze aboot the trials and tribulations of doing homework like two old friends until Dylan sighs that sometimes he thinks it would just be easier to drop oot of school, prompting Jake to respond, “You’re not serious?” as if he had any reason to be concerned aboot Leather Jacket’s scholastic future.  Dylan replies, “When was I ever serious aboot anything?” (spoiler alert: he is) before changing the subject to Jake’s black eye.  He tells Jake that he heard aboot what happened, as well as Matt’s imminent departure for a rehab facility.  After acknowledging his less than civil history with Drinky Crow, he adds, “Listen…if you see him before he leaves, just…just tell him I said hi and…and hang in there, okay?  Hey, I mean, you don’t kick a guy when he’s down, right?”

Arseman enters The Avalon and sees Erin sitting alone at a table with a glass of milk.  She reacts to Arseman’s cheerful greeting with tearful silence, so Sassy Afro takes a seat next to her and tries to comfort her aboot her brother’s impending rehab stint.  As if taking part in a completely different conversation, Erin replies, “Dad just told me…Matt has to go away to some hospital place.”  Alright, let’s stop right there.  According to several exterior shots we’ve seen of the school, the institution both of these girls attend is called Hillside High School, not Hillside Elementary.  Although some of the students look like pre-teens, none of them can be much younger than 14 unless they’re child prodigies capable of skipping grades and Erin’s last choice of words certainly makes me doubt that she’s among the precociously gifted.  Another clue aboot the general age of these kids was when Matt indicated that Billy was 12 years old, only to be corrected by Ashley that he’s actually 14.  So even though Matt and his immediate peers have self-identified as 15-year-olds for three fucking seasons now, the youngest Erin can possibly be is thirteen.  If I had a 13-year-old daughter who referred to a substance abuse treatment center as “some hospital place”, I would enroll her in a school for the learning disabled in the hopes of increasing the slim chance that she may grow into a semi-functioning adult.  Anyhow, it’s established that Matt will be leaving for the rehab center this afternoon before Arseman asks Erin if she’d like to help her with “a project I’m working on at school”.

The next scene opens in the student lounge with Arseman channeling Cindy, Hillside’s former resident hippie, by enlisting the help of a fellow student in the Herculean task of hanging a fucking sign on the wall.

vivisectioni

While Cindy’s stupid “If You Love This Planet…Think!” signs were frequently the object of Brooke and Kelly’s sneering derision, Arseman and Erin now have to deal with Brooke and Who Farted’s similar reaction to her curiously bold stance against vivisection.

Who Farted:  Vivisection?

Brooke:  Yeah, I think it’s the name of a thrash metal band.

Arseman:  It means cutting up animals for medical research.

Brooke:  Of course, I know what vivisection means…I just wanted to make sure that you did.

A couple of things: 1) Who Farted is even more severely retarded than Erin; 2) Brooke is correct, Vivisection is actually the name of FOUR separate thrash metal bands (https://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Vivisection); 3) I vow not to waste anymore time describing yet another pointless plot revolving around these pathetic attempts at student activism.  Anyway, Who Farted finds the cajones to imply that Brooke is in the wrong for being so critical of Arseman’s “political awareness”, illustrating that the gulf is continuing to widen between the former thick-as-thieves duo.  Moving on.

Finally, something worth digging our teeth into!  Ashley and Chris are eating lunch at The Avalon.

chris bandana

Ashley:  jake says he’s leaving this afternoon…for some treatment center.

Chris:  So?

Ashley:  it’s not exactly the most cheerful thing to think aboot.

Chris:  Well, if Matt needs treatment, a treatment center’s exactly where he belongs!

Ashley:  yeah…but i still feel bad.

Chris:  What, you’re saying you’re gonna miss him or something?  Like you can’t live withoot him?

Ashley:  don’t be ridiculous!  i’m just worried aboot him…and i feel…i feel like i let him down, too.

Chris:  What are you talking aboot?

Ashley:  he’s been going through all this and i haven’t even talked to him.

Chris:  Look, are you gonna spend all my lunch hour trying to tell me how much you miss your ex-boyfriend?!

Ashley:  i’m just trying to tell you how i feel.

Chris:  Oh yeah, and it’s coming across loud and clear!  You wanna get back together with him or something, don’t you?!

Ashley:  that’s not what i’m saying at all!

Chris:  Hey, don’t let me stop you!  Maybe you should stow away in his suitcase and go to the treatment center with him!

Ashley:  chris…

Chris:  Do whatever you want!  I’m just getting sick and tired of hearing aboot it!!

Meanwhile, Shit Drapes and Black Eye are eating lunch in the student lounge, rehashing the grisly details of their involvement in the traumatic confrontation of their drunken friend like two combat veterans discussing their experience in ‘Nam at a PTSD support group.  As Jake gets up to go to class, Courtney stops him and starts to explain that there’s something she needs to tell him before chickening oot and saying they can talk aboot it later.  He bends down to kiss her on the cheek as Arseman saunters up to the table.

Arseman:  You guys!  Hanging around with you two is like being trapped in a rerun of The Love Boat!

Jake:  Yeah, well, try changing channels or something.  See you later.

Arseman takes Jake’s seat next to Courtney and asks if something’s bothering her.  Headband starts to explain that there’s something she needs to tell Jake, but she’s not sure how he’ll take it, just as Big Ears reminds us of his pointless existence by running up to the table and asking Arseman if she’s been to her locker lately.  He informs her that he saw “something kind of gross”, so Arseman gets up and follows him to her locker where she finds this:

chicken2

Okay, there are now two simultaneous quasi-plots for which I’m going to cut to the fucking chase instead of following Ian Weir’s ludicrously drawn-oot treatment of these largely irrelevant matters.  First plot: Brooke got pissed off that Who Farted seemed to side with Arseman aboot the importance of animal rights, so she hung a chicken from Sassy Afro’s locker.  When Arseman arrives, her locker is surrounded by a gaggle of curious unnamed kids until Brooke breaks through them wearing a fox fur stole and spouting sarcastic remarks aboot the chicken’s rights having been violated.  Brooke blows Arseman a kiss and splits, so the Sass Master turns to Who Farted and says, “Stacy, tell me something.  You’re intelligent and you’re not a person with an IQ of a breath mint, so why on Earth do you hang around with Brooke?”  All good on that one?  Good.  Here’s the second stupid plot that I’m going to condense for the sake of brevity: Courtney feels obligated to tell Jake that she almost went oot with Matt while he was in China.  Eventually, after torturing herself aboot it for the better part of the episode, she breaks the news to her new beau and he turns oot to be completely cool with it.  There.  Now I need not speak of these matters again.

Ashley and Dylan are drinking sodas at The Avalon.

Ashley:  i just don’t understand him sometimes.

Dylan:  Who, Chris?

Ashley:  this morning, i mention matt’s name and all of a sudden, we’re in the middle of this huge fight.

Dylan:  What, did Chris get jealous or something?

Ashley:  how could he be jealous?  there’s nothing to be jealous aboot.  i mean, i don’t want to get back together with matt.  all of a sudden, chris starts making all these accusations.

thumb suck

Dylan:  What a jerk.

Ashley takes offense and furrows her brow.

Dylan:  Well, hey, if that’s the way Chris acted, then he was being a jerk!

Ashley:  you don’t need to call him names.

Dylan:  I’m just saying—

Ashley:  chris isn’t a jerk, he’s my boyfriend, okay?  i don’t know, maybe it was my fault.

Dylan:  Ashley—

Ashley:  no, really, i mean matt used to be my boyfriend.

Dylan:  And that means you can’t even mention his name?

Ashley:  that’s not the point, it’s just…maybe i’ve gotta try a little harder.  i’ve gotta make chris realize that he’s the one i care aboot.

Dylan:  Woah, I mean, it sounds like Chris is the one who should be trying harder.

Ashley:  stop criticizing him!

Holy fucking smegma-filled dildos, listening to these two converse is like getting a Medieval colonoscopy.  I obviously wasn’t in a properly lighthearted frame of mind to tackle this episode today, because while I sit here trying to figure oot which of these idiots is more deserving of a good throttling by the neck, I find it increasingly difficult to stomach another word of their preposterously moronic dialogue.  Sigh.  But such is the burden of those who suffer for their craft.  Pressing on:

Dylan:  Ashley, Chris is the one who started the argument, right?  So how come it’s turned into your fault all of a sudden?  Stop blaming yourself!

Ashley:  all i’m saying—

Dylan:  If Chris has a problem, Chris has a problem!  You can’t let him dump it on you!  I mean, if you start reacting that way—

Ashley:  look, i can react any way i like, okay?  so just stay oot of it!

In the student lounge, Big Ears is attempting to juggle two oranges with all the finesse of a Parkinson’s-stricken musk ox when Who Farted approaches and asks what he’s doing.  He advises her that he’s practicing for the upcoming school talent contest.  As she turns to walk away, John calls her back and asks for her help in the execution of “something really hilarious” that he’s planning to pull on Brooke. Who Farted displays her enthusiastic assent with a devious smile.

Courtney and Jake descend the stairs to their lockers and eat up the next minute and a half of the episode resolving the stupid plot that I already took it upon myself to dispense of over five paragraphs ago.  The scene ends with mutual verbalized wonderment aboot what each of them could possibly have done to deserve the affections of someone as intrinsically wonderful as the other.

Arseman is getting books from her locker when Brooke storms over and accuses Sassy Pants of stealing her fox stole.  They erupt into a shouting match until Who Farted marches in between them and tells Brooke that she needs to come with her right now, leading her away by the arm.  At the soda machine, Who Farted tells Brooke that her fox stole was pilfered by a militant animal rights group.  As Brooke expresses her incredulity at this ridiculous premise, Who Farted pulls a string behind her back that’s attached to the fox stole on top of the soda machine, causing it to drop and wrap around Brooke’s neck.

fox

As Brooke screams and flails, a group of students gathers and laughs uproariously at the spectacle, including John (who masterminded the prank), and Russ, a character I’m pretty sure we won’t officially meet until the final season, but that I’ve conveniently identified in the picture below with an artistically rendered arrow:

russ

Needless to say, Brooke FREAKS. THE. FUCK. OOT.  Better watch your back, Who Farted.  A betrayed Brooke Morgan is nothing to be trifled with.

Chris swaggers into The Avalon and approaches the counter when Ashley calls oot to him from a table by the payphone.

Ashley:  chris!

Chris:  Oh, hi.

Ashley:  i was really hoping you’d be here.

Chris:  I was just heading over to Dylan’s.  I stopped by to get some gum.

Ashley:  just listen.  i just wanted to say…i want to apologize for what happened this morning.

The mixture of surprise and sly satisfaction on Chris’ face seems to indicate that he’s just as amazed at Ashley’s utter lack of self-esteem as I am.

Ashley:  i shouldn’t have started talking aboot matt.  that wasn’t really fair and i know how you must have felt.

Chris:  Yeah, well… (he turns back to the counter)

Ashley:  chris, wait.

Chris:  I told you, I’m in a hurry.

Ashley:  chris, i’m starting to get really worried…aboot us.  i really want this to work, but i think we need to talk.

Chris:  Aboot what?

Ashley:  aboot the way things are going.  i’m starting to feel like i’m walking on eggs…all the time.  chris, you’ve gotta understand—

Chris:  Ashley, I told you, I have to get over to Dylan’s.

Ashley:  what aboot after rehearsal, then?

Chris:  Yeah, sure…around 5:00?

Ashley:  i’ll meet you here?

Chris:  Fine.

dumbass

In Matt’s basement, Jake watches as Drinky Crow packs his clothes for the treatment center.  Matt soliloquizes aboot how weird it will probably feel to spend a month in the company of a bunch of kids with drug and alcohol problems as Jake cuts in with the occasional lame joke in an impotent attempt to ease their mutual discomfort.  After Matt calls himself a loser, Jake responds with the most uninspiring and monotonous pep talk he could possibly deliver.  Regardless, it seems to do the trick and they shake hands, bidding each other a fond adieu.

shake

Erin is playing pinball in The Avalon when Jake walks in and tells her that Matt’s leaving soon, so she should get home to say goodbye.  She dutifully obeys and scurries off to wish her brother luck at the hospital place.

In Dylan’s garage, Leather Jacket stops noodling on his guitar long enough to tell Chris that the band isn’t going anywhere withoot a singer and a drummer, as if this needed to be clarified.  Chris counters that they also won’t go anywhere unless Dylan drags himself into the 90s and they proceed to bicker in their inimitable, repetitive way.  Eventually, even Chris can stomach no more of this, so he turns to leave, but Dylan holds him back and tells him he wants to talk aboot Ashley.

Chris:  What aboot her?

Dylan:  She’s a friend of mine.

Chris:  So?

Dylan:  So maybe you better start treating her a little better.

Chris:  What’s this aboot?  Ashley’s been running to her pals complaining aboot mean old Chris?!

Dylan:  No, she isn’t like that, but I can see what’s going on…and I don’t like it.

Chris:  So why don’t you try minding your own business?

Dylan:  What’s the deal?  You found oot you can have lots of fun jerking Ashley around?

Chris:  Did you hear what I said?  IT’S MY BUSINESS.  STAY OOT OF IT!

In the Walker basement, Matt’s nervously wringing his hands over his packed suitcase when Erin comes down the stairs and asks what will happen to him in the rehab center.  He jokingly gives her a horrifying account of being locked in a cement room and beaten with sticks until he swears off beer, then quickly changes course when he realizes that his fucking moronic little sister is too dense to recognize obvious sarcasm and tells her that he’ll just be talking with other alcoholics and drug addicts aboot their common problems.  Erin tells Matt that she’ll miss him and they embrace each other tightly.

hug

With one minute and four seconds left in the episode (including the closing credits), Ian Weir finds it necessary to shoehorn one more scene into this interminable chapter of the Hillside saga.  Ashley is reading a book at The Avalon when Arseman comes in and sits down across from her.  Sassy Ass asks if she wants some company and Ashley responds that she was supposed to already have company, but Chris is twenty minutes late.  Who Farted just happens to be walking past their booth to the pinball room when she overhears Ashley’s words.

WF:  You’re waiting for Chris?

Ashley:  yeah.

WF:  He’s not here.

Arseman:  Hey, brilliant deduction.

WF:  No, I mean I just saw him a couple of minutes ago…down at the mall with Roxanne.

Ashley gets up from her seat and flees the café, leaving Arseman and Who Farted awkwardly staring at each other.

WF:  Did I say something wrong?

arse fart

No, Who Farted.  In fact, this is one of those rare moments wherein you actually managed to say something right.  But I still wish you wouldn’t make a habit of speaking, just the same.

30 down, y’all.  35 to go.

 

Hair of the Dog

stairs

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!!

angry matt

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!

ashley enters2

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.

ashley sad

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.

jake 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.

courtney enters

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?

Chris:  What?!

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…

Chris:  Good!

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!”

lunch2

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.

matt dumps

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?!

brooke mad

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.

intervention crew

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.

brooke broods

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.

Rage Against The Machine

jake punched

Season 3, Episode 2

In a recent off-topic post, I compared the overarching views and attitudes of Americans v. Canadians as I perceive them.  Since we’ve lately taken an extended break from the Hillside saga while I foolishly tried my hand at more “serious” writing (pfft!), I’m guessing that I can slip one more comparative non-sequitur past the goalie before revving up the Fifteen Zamboni again.  I’ve been living in Albuquerque, NM since 2007 and prior to that, I spent aboot a decade sweltering in the geriatric swamplands of South Florida.  In most ways, these geographical areas are two entirely different worlds, but as I was scanning the local news on my phone this morning, one odd similarity between my two most recent habitats came to mind.  Men who run afoul of the law both here and in Florida are invariably shirtless at the time of their arrests.  So now you know.  (Knowledge is power!)  Everything besides the Albuquerque man’s shirtless arrest that made the headlines today was as typically depressing as I’d anticipated.  It’s so discouraging that I just want to hide oot at The Avalon with a milkshake or a root beer float for the rest of my goddamn life.

At The Avalon, Jake brings a milkshake and a root beer float to the booth he’s sharing with Ashley.  Pinky is wearing an oversized blue sweatshirt while Jake sports a typical striped shirt buttoned all the way up to the neck.  Ashley starts to grill Jake aboot his new relationship with Courtney, somehow managing to seem completely disinterested in the content of her own interrogation until she brings up the topic of the “torrid love letters” they were exchanging while he was in China.  Jake protests, “They weren’t that torrid,” as if these two automatons were capable of expressing themselves even mildly so.  Anyhow, Jake indicates that things are just peachy in Courtney-Land and they have a laugh aboot his initial awkwardness upon seeing Headband for the first time after their six-week period as blandly torrid pen pals.  Jake finally changes the subject to Ashley’s new relationship with Chris, but the most he can get oot of his oddly defensive pal aboot this perplexing hookup is that she thinks Chris is “kinda neat”.  Inevitably, Ashley checks her watch (which is upside-down on her wrist, 90’s style) and indicates that she’d better get going.  Even more inevitably, Jake chooses this moment to ask her aboot Matt and whether she can shed some light on his strange behavior at the party.  In an inordinately bitchy tone, Ashley tells him that she really doesn’t talk to Matt anymore and that if Jake wants to know what’s going on with him, he should bring it up with Matt.

ashley milkshake

At her locker, Brooke is asking Who Farted for her opinion aboot Jake and Courtney as a couple.  Knowing full well that anything short of utter contempt for the newly smitten losers will probably meet with Brooke’s mocking disapproval, Who Farted wisely opts to remain non-committal.  To her surprise, Brooke opines that she thinks they’re perfect for each other, since “neither one of them is very attractive, and it can be awfully lonely going through life like that, so I think it’s really nice that they found each other!”  As Brooke stops to take a drink from the water fountain, Who Farted boldly responds, “Right.  I guess you must feel a little lonely sometimes, huh?  I mean, Courtney does have a boyfriend and you haven’t gone oot with anyone for ages.”  Brooke doesn’t deny this allegation, but explains that it’s because Hillside is deficient in guys she finds worthy of dating, just as Jake appears and asks them to tell Matt that he’s looking for him if they see him around.

Arseman sees Courtney muttering to herself at a booth in The Avalon and asks her if something went wrong with Jake.  Miraculously, the javelin thrust betwixt Headband’s ass cheeks has nothing to do with her seat-of-the-pants love life this time.  She tells Arseman that she can’t believe “those jerks” kicked her brother oot of the band.  This is news to Sassy Afro who apparently wasn’t consulted aboot such a personnel decision being made by the juvenile delinquent contingent of Teenagers In Love.  Arseman reacts with shock before concluding that, “today’s a good day to have a little chat with them.”

arseman piss face

Back in the student lounge, Brooke is distracting Who Farted from her homework by pondering why Jake seemed so worried when he asked aboot Matt earlier.

Brooke:  All of which raises the question, what aboot Matt?

WF:  Brooke, I really have to get this finished before class.

Brooke:  He was acting pretty strangely at the party – just disappearing in the middle of everything.  Now Jake’s all worried.

WF:  How do we know that?  All Jake said was—

Brooke:  It isn’t what people say, Stace, it’s how they say it.  Jake was worried…which raises the question – good heavens, you don’t suppose Matt started drinking again?!

WF:  Drinking?

Brooke:  Maybe he left the party to get drunk!

WF:  I didn’t know Matt drank.

Brooke:  Stace, don’t be so dense!  Everybody knows aboot Matt, he’s a hopeless alcoholic!

WF:  You’re kidding!

Brooke:  That’s why Ash broke up with him.  It cost him most of his friends.  He was on the wagon for a while, but…if he started drinking again, then—

WF:  That would be awful!

Brooke:  Oh, of course it would.  It would be just terrible.  Poor Matt!

brooke shocked

Dave greets Matt at his locker and asks him how it’s going (apparently, the only greeting Dave has in his repertoire).  Drinky Crow indicates that he’s not doing so great, but instead of an explanation for his behavior at the party for which his little friend is obviously fishing, he goes off on the fact that Coach Williams just chewed him oot for “a full 10 minutes” due to his absence from practice last week.  As Matt starts to walk away, Dave summons his courage and tells Matt, “Actually, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you aboot.  Friday night…I was wondering why you left the party so early?”  Better watch it, Dave, you’re getting dangerously close to hassling.  Matt erupts, “Maybe I was bored, okay?!” before getting a grip on himself and alleging that he left because he was still feeling sick.

Having successfully dodged that frying pan for the moment, the raging fire consisting of Brooke and Who Farted sweeps down upon him on this accursed Monday of Infinite Hassles.  Brooke opens by asking Matt if Jake found him yet, adding that “he seemed awfully worried aboot something”.  She gives Matt a second to shrug this off before launching directly into a pointed inquiry aboot his disappearance from the party, guessing that “it must have been awfully hard watching Chris and Ashley snuggling up together!  Pretty excruciating, actually!”  Matt bellows that what Ashley does is her business, prompting this rather interesting exchange:

Brooke:  Matt…are you alright?

Matt:  Of course, I am.

Brooke:  No, I mean really alright?

Matt:  What is this with everyone?  Of course, I’m alright, I’m fine!  I’m perfectly fine, so JUST GET OFF MY BACK!

Deadpool is reading a comic book at a booth in The Avalon pinball room when Arseman approaches and tells him that she just heard he was kicked oot of the band.  Billy finds it hard to believe that she was ignorant of Chris and Dylan’s plans since she’s the lead singer, but eventually accepts her version of events and tells her that “it’s no big deal”.  He continues to shrug off her words of consolation until she tells him that she intends to have a few words with Chris and Dylan.  Well acquainted with Arseman’s super sass skills, he perks up a bit and asks, “Like what?”, to which she responds, “Oh, you’ll hear it.  So will everyone else within six blocks.”

Fuck me lengthwise, here comes another goddamn conversation that’s guaranteed to prove far too insipid to be described other than through a verbatim transcription.  Jake and Courtney are eating lunch on a bench in the student lounge.

Jake:  So I’ll drop by your place after supper?

Courtney:  Sure.

Jake:  Is that okay?

Courtney:  I just said ‘sure’.

Jake:  Well, I wanted to make sure you were sure.  I mean, I don’t wanna seem pushy or anything.

Courtney:  Jake, could you just quit being so considerate all the time?  Couldn’t you find a corner of yourself that’s mean, selfish and obnoxious or something?

Jake:  Hey, I’ll work on it.

You know what?  Fuck these two assholes.  Until they learn how to speak like sentient beings instead of complimentary Tickle Me Elmo dolls, I hereby refuse to transcribe the drivel that stillbirths its way oot of their mouths.  The rest of their conversation is just another rehashing of concerns aboot Deadpool and Beanpole, respectively.  Nothing to see here.

Dylan and Chris are in the garage arguing like a couple who’ve suffered through a half century of arranged marriage when Arseman sweeps through the door.  Correctly surmising that she’s here to chew them oot for dumping Billy from the band, they start to defend their decision before she cuts them short: “Fine.  So you’re looking for a new drummer…and while you’re at it, find yourself a new lead singer, too!  You guys wanna be rock and roll superstars?  Then I’m not the singer you need.  Go oot and hire Madonna…I’ve had it with you guys up to here!  I’m sick of the bickering, I’m sick of the egos, and firing Billy was the last straw – I quit!  Want me to spell that oot for you?  Q-U-I-T, quit!!”

arseman quits

Wow.  That was something, eh?  I wonder how I can calm down enough to get through the rest of this episode after taking in that dramatic harangue.  I don’t keep anything like Valium or Xanax around the house anymore, but maybe if I step away from the laptop for a bit and take a brisk walk ootside – oh wait!  Here comes a Jake and Dave scene; that oughta do the trick.

Jake spots Dave at his locker and asks him if he’s seen Matt, adding that he’s starting to get the feeling that his troubled friend is trying to avoid him.  Dave has nothing constructive to say, of course, but tells Jake that he’ll let Matt know he’s looking for him.  That’s it.

For fuck’s sake, Binkley, I said I wanted to be calm, not comatose.

Dylan sees Billy at the soda machine and apologizes for how things went down.  He tells his former drummer that he hopes they can remain friends, but Deadpool makes it abundantly clear that it’s far too late for that shit.  Halfway through this Mengele experiment of a series, Ryan Reynolds isn’t quite Deadpool yet, but he’s pretty close to being Van Wilder.  That’s all I’ve got.  I’ve never seen Van Wilder, so I don’t have a joke with which to follow that up.

Let’s check in on Chris and Ashley at The Avalon:

Ashley:  so…arseman told you guys to drop dead?

Chris:  Well, she didn’t exactly put it that way.

Ashley:  i’m surprised.  she’s usually pretty blunt.

Chris:  Well, she let us know she wasn’t too happy, so now I’ve gotta find a replacement.  It’s too bad you can’t sing.

Ashley:  i don’t know.  i even sound awful in the shower.

Chris:  Yeah, but, uh…I bet you look pretty good.

Ashley:  chris!

Chris:  So, hey, what aboot tonight?

Ashley:  what aboot it?

Chris:  Why don’t we get together?  Catch a movie or something?

Ashley:  well…

Chris:  You got something better to do?

Ashley:  no, it’s not that, it’s just…well, it’s a school night.

Chris:  Oh, come on!  You’re not turning into a schoolgirl again, are you?

He finally browbeats his whispering little girlfriend into submission and she agrees to go to the movies.  Satisfied with her sniveling acquiescence, Chris tells Ashley that he’s supposed to be meeting someone soon and when she asks who, he replies, “Just someone I know.”  Chris gets up to leave just as Dylan enters the café.  After they trade a few barbs, Leather Jacket takes a seat across from Ashley.  They engage in small talk for a few seconds until Dylan just comes right oot and asks, “Are you really sure you want to go oot with a guy like Chris?”  This, of course, goes over aboot as well as his earlier attempt to smooth things over with Billy.  Although Fonzie clearly isn’t having the best of days, nothing brings more sunshine to my own quite like listening to Ashley’s laughable attempts at indignant vociferation.

I’m pretty sure this next scene was inserted into the episode just to serve as a warning to viewers that cute, fresh-faced little Deadpool has turned a critical corner.  As Billy studies on a sofa in the student lounge, Dave approaches from the stairwell.

Dave:  You still here?

Billy:  No…what’s it look like?

Dave:  Looks like everyone else is gone.

Billy:  Is there some sort of law saying that I’ve gotta leave when everyone else does?

Dave:  Of course not, do whatever you want.  Listen, I’m uh…I’m really sorry to hear aboot what happened with the band.

Billy:  No big deal.  Doesn’t bother me.  In fact, I made the decision myself…decided the band wasn’t taking the right, you know, artistic direction.  So I figured it was probably time to leave…maybe start my own band.

Dave:  Well, it’s good to hear you’re feeling okay.  The fact is, well, to tell you the truth, I know how it feels to be left oot of things.

Billy:  Hey, I’m not surprised you get left oot of things…’cause you’re a geek!

crybilly

Some time later, Courtney sees her brother playing pinball at The Avalon and asks if he’s okay, dredging up the whole dreaded topic of his unceremonious departure from the band yet again.  Headband asks if he wants to talk aboot it, causing Deadpool to erupt, “What’s to talk aboot?!  They decided I’m no good, so I’m OOT!” as he smacks the pinball machine in frustration.

Courtney:  Come on, Billy!  Who says you’re no good?

Billy:  They do, Courtney!!  I knew I wasn’t the greatest drummer in the world but I was really trying to get better…I figured it might be the one thing in my whole stupid life I might be good at!

Courtney:  Come on, Billy, you are good at lots of things.

Billy:  Name one!  I’m lousy at school, I’m no good at sports, and I don’t even have any friends!  I thought Dylan was my friend…I really thought we’d stick by each other…and then he just turns around…

Courtney puts her hand on Billy’s shoulder but he pushes her away and runs oot of The Avalon the long way, past the counter and the payphone, even though we’ve seen on many occasions that there’s a fucking exit door directly behind him.

And now comes the Mother of All Fifteen Scenes, so brace yourselves.  Everything you’ve read up to now, all 27 ½ rambling episode summaries were all leading up to this.  Excited?  You should be.

jake faces matt

Jake comes down the stairs and sees Matt at his locker.

Jake:  So here you are!

Matt:  Jake, how’s it going?

Jake:  I’ve been looking for you all day!

Matt:  I’ve been around.

Jake:  You weren’t in any of the places I was looking.

Matt:  Guess you were looking in the wrong places.

Let me interject here and note that this is the first and only time that Matt actually almost appears to be drunk, which is to say that his hair’s a bit messy and his cheeks are slightly red.

Jake:  I was just down in the library…I guess you were at basketball practice?

Matt:  Yeah.

Jake:  How’d it go?

Matt:  Imagine your worst nightmare, then square it.

Matt proceeds to gripe aboot Coach Williams for a while, then declares that if the coach yells at him like that again, he’s going to quit the team.

Jake:  You don’t mean that.

Matt:  Don’t tell me what I mean.  Well, I guess I better get going.

Jake:  Hang on…I mean, we’ve hardly had a chance to talk to each other since I got back.

Matt:  We’ll have lots of chances.

Jake:  Yeah?  I’ve got to admit, I’ve actually started to wonder if you’re, like, trying to avoid me or something.

Matt:  Why would I want to avoid you?

Jake:  I’m not sure.  Maybe ‘cause I’ve known you for so long – ‘cause I know you better than anyone else does.  Matt, aboot the party Friday night…

Matt:  What aboot it?  I wasn’t feeling so well, so I left early.

Jake:  Withoot even telling anyone?

Matt:  What, I’m supposed to ask people’s permission?

Jake:  That’s not what I mean.

Matt:  Then what do you mean?!

Jake:  Matt, are you drinking again?

Matt:  What?  Of course, I’m not drinking again!  What kind of accusation is that?!

Jake:  Are you drinking a lot?

Matt:  I just told you I’m not drinking at all!!  Great…I thought you were supposed to be my best friend!

Jake:  That’s why I’m asking.

Matt:  You fly off to China, then you come back and make these stupid accusations?!  Man, I don’t need to hear this from you!

Jake:  Matt, you’ve got a real problem and you’ve got to face it!

Matt:  No…no, you’re the one who’s got a problem!!  Making these crazy accusations…how do you know if I’ve been drinking or not?!

Jake:  BECAUSE THERE’S LIQUOR ON YOUR BREATH RIGHT NOW!

Matt:  Don’t be stupid…I was at basketball practice.

Jake:  Are you telling me I don’t know what booze smells like?

Matt:  JUST GET OOT OF MY FACE!!

Jake:  Matt, you’ve got a problem!

Matt:  I said get oot of my face!!!

mad matt

Matt turns to leave but Jake grabs his sleeve and continues to harass him.  His patience exhausted, Matt tears himself from Jake’s grasp and cold cocks him in the face, sending Jake tumbling to the floor.

Matt stammers, “Oh man…I didn’t mean—” before running oot of the school, leaving Jake to stare after him while clamping a hand over his injured eye.

jake punched 2

Yeah, all that just happened.  And it only took us four months to get here.

Danse Macabre

dyl chris pinball

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.

who farted forgot

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.

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!

Brooke:  What?

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.

jake court hug

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!!

like i said

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!

court 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.

jake ending

In the immortal words of Ray Davies, “Now we’re back where we started — here we go ‘round again!”  Welcome the fuck home, Jake.