The Grapes

brooke dyl

Season 1, Episode 7

We are the Grapes of Wrath, we never take a bath.  It is our style to seldom smile and never laugh! – VeggieTales

We open at The Avalon where nary a main cast member is to be seen, just the nameless Jock Squad loudly patting themselves on the back for pulling off a close 61-60 victory.  An unknown girl sitting at one of the booths joins in the fun until our favorite group of buzzkills enters, instantly obliterating the celebratory atmosphere.  One of the jocks says, “Good game!” to Matt, who responds with a sarcastic, “Yeah, right.”  Matt, Ashley and Jake trudge over to their usual booth.

Ashley:  i’ve actually gotta be getting home soon.  i mean, it’s 9:15—

Matt:  I DON’T BELIEVE IT!  I score 14 points in the first half and what happens?  I get benched!

Jake:  Yeah, that was kind of—

Matt:  BENCHED!!  For the entire second half!  I’m just sitting there getting splinters in my butt!

Jake:  Nobody else understood it either.

Matt:  I score 14 points and then my coach accuses me of being selfish!  He stands up in the dressing room at half time and tells me I’ve got to put the team first!

Ashley:  well, maybe he was—

Matt:  I put the team 7 points in the lead – that’s where I put the team!  And then I have to put up with that garbage??

Ashley:  you can always look on the bright side

Matt:  WHAT BRIGHT SIDE??

Ashley:  the team still won…even though you weren’t playing

Yeah, that’ll calm your dipsomaniacal boyfriend right the fuck down, Ashley.  Matt retreats to the pinball room leaving Jake to pointlessly opine that this probably isn’t a good time to talk to Matt aboot his drinking problem.

Hillside.  Les Chiennes enter the school as Brooke is loudly asking Kelly, “Ever see a jaw bounce right off the floor?”  She continues describing the scene at Dylan’s garage and how Courtney just stood there with her mouth hanging open, then took off.  All the while, Lurky-Loo is eavesdropping from a nearby table wearing an abominable Cosby sweater that is definitely not part of the Garanimals collection because there isn’t a color in the known spectrum that would match this nightmare of wool and vomit.  Brooke segues to the topic of the English paper she asked Kelly’s sister to write.  Kelly produces the paper but doesn’t hand it to Brooke until she coughs up the $10 fee.  This is a bridge too far for Dutch Boy who marches over to the table and admonishes Brooke for cheating.  Brooke calls her a little priss and makes tracks, leaving Theresa and Kelly to stare at each other in awkward silence.

I have just now watched the next scene no fewer than five times and I still can’t wrap my mind around it.  A close up shot of a girl working behind The Avalon counter near the cash register.  Suddenly, Jake enters the shot from the left and Matt from the right, seeming to imply that they just ran into each other, but Matt’s first words are those of a conversation in progress: “I’ve had enough of this, Jake!”  They lean on the counter as Matt resolves to have a showdown with Coach Williams and Jake attempts to warn him against it.  The girl behind the counter appears to be writing something while they talk.  The cake stand is empty, but still somehow disgusting.  The camera pans back and forth between Matt and Jake and the next time it focuses on the gal behind the register, we see that she’s placing to-go bags and a juice box on the counter.  Their conversation concluded, Matt grabs the juice box (Jake’s treat, I guess) as Jake stays behind to pay the tab with a handful of loose change.  In TV time, this is a pointlessly long scene.  Jake grabs the to-go bags, counts oot the change and places it on a tray next to the register withoot a word, then takes his leave withoot so much as a “thank you”.  The two main cast members gone, the camera for some reason lingers on the employee as she gathers up the change and counts it in silence.  Not one single word was spoken between Jake or Matt and the girl at the till even though she was right in the center of the action for the whole scene.  The entire Avalon staff reminds me of the Underworld shades of Greek mythology.

Olaf is sitting on a bench trying to teach Deadpool the finer points of chess.  I guess the writers realized that it had been a while since Olaf spoke as if English were anything other than his native tongue, so they decide to have him misstate the expression “oot of left field” as “oot of right field”.  Olaf notices that Billy looks distracted and asks him what’s wrong, so Green Lantern vents aboot living with his dad for a spell.  Olaf offers to be Billy’s sounding board whenever he may need one and Deadpool seems to realize that he wisely befriended the one kid at Hillside worthy of befriending.

Little Twat On The Prairie lumbers over to her locker which is located just two down from Brooke’s.  Brooke correctly guesses that maximum antagonism of this homely cretin can be achieved by a simple cheery greeting.  She lets Courtney express her pathetic self-righteous indignation for a few minutes, then assures her that her visit with Dylan was completely innocent and it doesn’t take long for Courtney to buy this explanation hook, line and sinker because she’s a…well, you know what she is.  I’m running oot of insults for this nauseating asshole.  Before walking off, Brooke assures Courtney that “Dylan’s all yours”.

Another shirt-tucking scene in the girls’ locker room, but this time, the fact that Courtney is simultaneously tucking her table cloth into her drapes while Ashley does the same with her more era-appropriate garments prevents me from engaging in more middle-aged-dude creepery.  Courtney rehashes the events of the past few hours, then expresses concern that Dylan doesn’t seem to be at school today and hopes he isn’t jeopardizing his concert opportunity with Mr. Zimmerman.  Her oversized gym bag stuffed and zipped, Ashley cuts Courtney off because she’s late for band practice and asks her to tell Matt that she’s looking for him if Courtney should see him.

Brooke comes down the stairs and approaches Dylan who is reading a book on the lounge sofa.  He explains that he stayed home this morning to finish a book report, even though the only person who was questioning his forenoon whereaboots is nowhere to be seen.  Brooke asks him how he always seems to get away with such truancy causing Dylan to launch into another soliloquy aboot how his parents don’t seem to care aboot him very much which causes me to wonder where the hell is Emilio Estevez when we need him to react to Dylan with a sarcastic, “Please…you’re breaking my heart”?  Brooke attempts to flirt, I assume, by telling Dylan that “Eddie Van Halen never had to write a book report,” which makes absolutely no sense unless Eddie Van Halen dropped oot of school right after kindergarten.  Brooke makes to leave, then stops and pretends to have just remembered something.  She fishes in her bag, pulls oot a small wrapped present and hands it to Dylan, saying it was something that she found at the mall yesterday.  Dylan opens it with suspicion and reveals a silver-plated music box.  Brooke leaves with a smile as Dylan examines and lovingly strokes his unexpected gift.

Matt and the jocks stroll into the lounge and I notice that a girl sitting nearby on the stairs is the same strangely mute cash register attendant from The Avalon a few scenes ago, still wearing the same ootfit.  Dylan is playing with his music box on the sofa so, of course, Matt must stir up some shit.  He asks Dylan if he “stole the music box or something”, proving that Matt really only has one go-to insult to utilize in the presence of leather jacket wearing rebels (his reaction to Dylan’s use of the word “raiment” in the first episode was to ask him if he “stole a dictionary or something”).  Dylan’s hand is balled into a fist as he counter-attacks by saying he heard it was a good game last night, “especially the second half”.  Dylan obviously has more of a knack for trash talk because Matt reacts by saying, “You want a piece of advice?  Watch your mooth!”  Dylan asks if Matt’s looking for trouble and Matt replies, “No.  I’m just looking at a wuss with a music box”.  Dylan launches himself at Matt and they tussle for a few seconds until the jocks break them apart as the Avalon employee scoots oot of the way to avoid the scuffle.  Backing away, Matt shouts, “One of these days, I’m gonna take your head off!” while the gal from The Avalon hides behind a pillar.  The scene closes with a few bars of scene-ending music that is far more menacing and dramatic than the actual pseudo-fight we just witnessed.

The Avalon.  Jake and Ashley are at a booth talking aboot the events of the previous paragraph, even though they weren’t there at the time.  Ashley picks idly at what looks like a blueberry scone while wondering what it could mean that Matt is going around starting fights.  Jake reveals that he has a feeling Matt “snuck oot at lunch hour to have a drink”, which means that these two are still circling the drain of Matt’s drinking problem but still haven’t figured oot a course of action beyond whining at each other aboot it.  Ashley once again tells Jake that they’ve got to talk to him, but this time she appends the word “now” to the end of the sentence.  I’ll believe it when I see it, Dope Whisperer.

Courtney is at Dylan’s locker attempting to console him for Matt’s “unforgiveable” behavior, even though the biggest reaction she can get oot of him aboot the incident is a dismissive shoulder shrug.  Dylan tells her to forget aboot it, which of course does nothing to stem the tide of her clingy, repetitive and unsolicited concern.  Remember, Dylan, you have no one to blame for the endless and inept flirtation of this walking kudzu vine but yourself.  Dylan walks away and Courtney stares after him in an infatuated trance, leading to our next incredible dream sequence:

Dylan emerges onto a neon-lit stage, guitar slung low over his leather-clad shoulder.  The crowd – composed entirely of the Fifteen cast and a few of the more familiar extras – goes wild.  Dylan high-fives the front row and mouths, “I love you!  I love you!” to his adoring fans.  A keyboard riff that sounds like it was composed by Asia or Saga fills the arena as Dylan extends his hand to Courtney and pulls her up onto the stage, a la Springsteen and Courtney Cox.  Dylan revs up his electric guitar as Courtney dances by his side.  I don’t have words to adequately describe this.  This is Courtney’s own fucking fantasy, yet she dances more ridiculously than Elaine Benes, bopping around woodenly and throwing elbows like she’s having an epileptic seizure.

court dream

Kelly and Brooke are sitting on a bench randomly trashing Olaf for being “pretty weird”.  Honestly, this is the only scene that causes me to dislike Kelly for a little while, because come on…why pick on poor Olaf when you could be ranking on Courtney instead?  They mock his wardrobe, his (nonexistent) accent, and his fondness for chess as Billy comes down the stairs and overhears them.  He asks them what’s wrong with chess and they inform him that it’s “a game for weenies”.  Deadpool presses further and asks if they think there’s something wrong with Olaf in general.  They opine that he’s “not one of us” but concede that Billy should feel free to be friends with whoever he likes.

Courtney shows up and pulls Billy aside to talk.  Before she can say whatever it is she wants to say, Billy asks her what she thinks of Olaf.  Completely oblivious to the fact that her little brother is having a social-moral crisis, she tells him to “forget aboot Olaf” and then CHANGES THE FUCKING SUBJECT TO GODDAMN DYLAN AGAIN, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!!  Holy shit, do I hate this wench.  She’s wondering if Dylan “ever talks aboot her” as Deadpool finally gets a clue aboot her all-encompassing obsession with his mentor in delinquency.  Billy thinks this is hilarious, and I find it hilarious to watch him react with hilarity to his sister’s pathetic infatuation.  You see, THIS is why Ryan Reynolds is a Hollywood A-lister and Sarah Douglass is probably bagging groceries at a Loblaws in Vancouver.  Finally, Deadpool agrees to fish for information aboot Dylan’s feelings for Courtney on the condition that she rent him 2 videos this coming weekend, an arrangement to which she of course concedes.  Incidentally, I think this scene was Deadpool’s finest moment for his entire 4 season involvement with the show.

Brooke is in her room voguing in the mirror next to a poster of Madonna’s “Vogue”.  Enter Cosby Sweater who proceeds to give her sister some unsolicited shit for making a move on Dylan.  Dutch Boy’s got more fire in her loins than usual today, and she threatens not only to tell Dylan aboot Brooke’s ulterior motives, but also to tell her English teacher aboot the illicitly obtained papers she’s been turning in.  Finally, Brooke stands up and tells her not to dare even think aboot doing such a thing, instigating a stare-down test of the wills which Brooke wins handily, of course.  Defeated, Dutch Boy says that no, she would never tell on her sister, but it would serve her right if someone did.

Billy enters The Avalon and walks back to the booth in the pinball room where his sister is waiting for his report aboot what Dylan thinks of her.  He tells her that he didn’t get a chance to bring it up because Dylan was busy with “someone” who was over at his garage.  Withoot speaking Brooke’s name, Deadpool generously and with a flair for empathy that clearly isn’t genetic tells her to forget aboot renting him the videos.  Courtney is crushed and I realize that this episode is making me smile far more than usual.

Cut to Dylan’s garage where Brooke is asking him if he likes the music box.  He tells her that he does.  Since Dylan is conveniently holding his guitar for no apparent reason, she requests that he play something and he asks if she wants to hear anything in particular.  Yes, in fact, she’d like to know if he knows any songs by The Grapes of Wrath (according to Wikipedia, “The Grapes of Wrath are a Canadian rock band formed in 1983”. Knowledge is power!).  Dylan says that he knows a few songs and that they’re “a pretty good band”, so Brooke informs him that they’ll be giving a concert nearby next Saturday in the hopes that he’ll ask her to go.  He does, but she declines, saying that she’ll be going to the concert with some guy named Terry, an obviously fictitious 12th grader with whom Brooke alleges to be going oot.  She then suddenly exclaims that she needs to go meet Terry at the mall right now and scurries oot the door leaving Dylan to stare at the camera in bewilderment.

Brooke and Kelly are back at The Avalon counter as Brooke explains how she led Dylan on, but then made up a story aboot dating some guy in the twelfth grade in response to Dylan’s invite to the Grapes show.  (I just call ‘em “The Grapes” now.  Even though I’m completely unfamiliar with them, I think I’ve earned the right to call them whatever I want just for mentioning them so many times on my blog page.)  Kelly asks if she’s going to “reel him in” now and Brooke says that she thinks she’ll just “let him dangle for a while”.

There’s precious little time left in this episode, but just enough, it seems, for one more round of deliciously frustrating conversation between Matt and Ashley in the pinball room.  Ashley says she wants to talk and Matt says sure while preparing to slip a couple of quarters into the dysfunctional pinball machine.  She tells him to stop – she wants his undivided attention, apparently – and he reluctantly obeys, stepping away from the machine.  Matt guesses aloud that she wants to lecture him aboot starting the fight with Dylan earlier, but no, this time Ashley is equipped with an unusually firm resolve and she tells him that she wants to talk aboot his drinking.  Before he can effectively shout the topic away, she comes right oot and says that she thinks he’s an alcoholic (“there.  I said it.”)  On a roll, Ashley tells him that she found his flask which is the same thing as admitting that she was snooping through his knapsack behind his back.

Matt:  I.  DON’T.  HAVE. A. DRINKING. PROBLEM.  What I’ve got is a girlfriend who won’t mind her own business!

Ashley:  but it is my business because I love you.

Matt:  We’re gonna drop this subject, okay?  RIGHT NOW!

Ashley:  no, we’re not gonna drop it.  you’ve got a drinking problem and you need to face it.

Matt:  I DO NOT HAVE—

Ashley:  Yes, you do!  i’m worried sick and I can’t stand it anymore!

Matt:  Then maybe you need a new boyfriend.

Ashley:  matt—

Matt:  If that’s the way you feel, then it sounds to me like it’s time you found someone else!

And with that, another episode ends with a close-up shot of Ashley doing her damnedest to look even more distraught than she did the last five times an episode ended on an extended shot of her distraught little face.

sad

Life is unbearable.

Hinterlands

billy hates court

Season 1, Episode 6

The Mayo Clinic worked up this list of common symptoms indicative of Social Anxiety Disorder:

Emotional and behavioral symptoms

Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder can include persistent:

  • Fear of situations in which you may be judged
  • Worrying aboot embarrassing or humiliating yourself
  • Intense fear of interacting or talking with strangers
  • Fear that others will notice that you look anxious
  • Fear of physical symptoms that may cause you embarrassment, such as blushing, sweating, trembling or having a shaky voice
  • Avoiding doing things or speaking to people oot of fear of embarrassment
  • Avoiding situations where you might be the center of attention
  • Having anxiety in anticipation of a feared activity or event
  • Enduring a social situation with intense fear or anxiety
  • Spending time after a social situation analyzing your performance and identifying flaws in your interactions
  • Expecting the worst possible consequences from a negative experience during a social situation

If you find it depressing to imagine someone who suffers from such a preponderance of debilitating emotional roadblocks, imagine attending a high school where the entire student body suffers from each one of these symptoms every waking moment of their lives.  Well, don’t stretch your imagination too hard – what that would be like, of course, has been the very crux of my web page since the 8th of April.  So strap in for the next installment of existential malaise courtesy of the students of Hillside!

Pink Denim and Noose Collar are discussing Matt’s drinking as they walk into the student lounge.  The scene opens on the conversation already in progress, implying that they’d been talking aboot this for some time before the start of the episode, but it isn’t until they sit down at a table that Ashley informs Jake aboot the flask in Matt’s knapsack.  Since the flask discovery obviously wasn’t the impetus for this conversation, we’re shown once again that these kids are incapable of discussing anything other than the one or two most recent events involving their closest peers.  Jake reacts like the ignoramus that he is and asks her what was in the flask, causing Ashley to reply, “buttermilk.  what do you think? look, i’m sorry, i’ve got no right to take this oot on you,” with absolutely no pause between the end of the sarcasm and the start of the apology, rendering her simple response unnecessarily confusing.  Finally, Ashley attempts to look on the bright side by guessing that someone can’t become an alcoholic at fifteen.  Jake, sounding like he’s been waiting for this exact conversational opening for the last several weeks reacts with almost joyous enthusiasm, “OH YES, YOU CAN!

Their conversation is cut short by the appearance of Matt.  Jake leaves to give them privacy and Matt starts grilling Ashley aboot what she and Jake were discussing because they “looked pretty intense”.  Casper the Clinically Depressed Ghost whispers, “oh, this and that…i guess,” as she tries to work up the nerve to tell him that she found his flask while rummaging through his belongings behind his back.  Before she accomplishes this, she’s interrupted by the Jock Squad descending on their table like a flock of hungry buzzards eager to peck at the rotting remains of Ashley’s soul by waxing vociferously moronic aboot basketball.

Deadpool is filling Olaf in on the Simpson family drama as they walk through the locker vestibule.  Dad has moved oot and wants Billy to come live with him in his new apartment.  It is again established that Olaf is the only kid in this school that doesn’t deserve to be drawn and quartered, like a heaven-bound soul who finds himself in the pits of hell due to a clerical error.  Olaf passes Courtney on the stairs and says hello.  Before he’s even oot of earshot, Deadpool’s vacuous sister asks, “What’s his name? Omar?”, which is an understandable mistake.  I mean, who among us doesn’t occasionally confuse Scandinavians for Arabs?  They look so much alike!  Just when you think her stupidity couldn’t possibly reach loftier heights, she reacts to Billy’s corrections by telling him that Finland and Sweden are “the same thing” because “they’re both foreign”.  But wait, it gets worse.

Courtney, to her credit, spends at least 20 seconds feigning concern for her little brother before the centrifugal force of her Dylan-obsession finally overcomes her faculties.  For those who haven’t been paying attention, that’s 20 seconds longer than she’s managed to pull off since becoming moist in the panties for Master Blackwell two full episodes ago.  She asks Billy if he’s planning on going over to Dylan’s after school just to inform him that he’s not welcome because she and Dylan “are composing some songs together and we need privacy for that”.  Before taking his leave, Deadpool makes it clear that his sister is a fucking asshat while she pretends to be wounded by his harsh words but is obviously just forcing a look of sad concern while she continues to indulge in wet fantasies aboot Dylan.

Ashley is waiting alone at The Avalon when Courtney farts her way into the establishment and wastes another three minutes of airtime apologizing for being late.  This jackass actually sent Ashley a note asking her to please meet her at The Avalon just so she could fucking gloat aboot the fact that Dylan kissed her.  All hyperbole aside, I honestly don’t know who is more skilled at causing me to feel uncharacteristically violent at their very appearance, Courtney Simpson or Sarah fucking Sanders.  After sitting through some additional dialogue that’s more painful than having one’s fingernails extracted with a pliers, Courtney suddenly decides that she’s in love with Dylan, prompting Ashley to whisper, “wow.  that’s just great…i guess.”

Some time later, Ashley and Jake resume their insufferable conversation in the lounge aboot thus far being unable to find a good time to broach the topic of drinking with Matt.  Ashley then tells Jake that she was just at The Avalon with Courtney talking aboot “private girl’s stuff” and Jake somehow manages to acknowledge that whatever they were discussing is none of his business even though he can’t find the words “boy” or “guy” and instead refers to himself as an “un-girl” (as good a description of Jake as any).  Ashley, of-fucking-course, proceeds to tell Jake every last detail of the “private girl’s stuff”, including the fact that Courtney thinks she’s in love with Dylan.  I suppose that since Courtney is mercifully uninvolved in this scene, someone had to step up and ensure that Jake is as tortured by all of this allegedly privileged information as humanly possible.  Whisperina reacts to Jake’s look of shock by asking, “are you gonna say something or are you just gonna sit there with your mooth hanging open?” as if he hadn’t already given her copious clues aboot his incomprehensible feelings for Courtney.

Now Theresa, who is wearing a button down shirt over a turtleneck, is at Kelly’s locker whining aboot the fact that Brooke caused her to miss her (probably imaginary) friend’s birthday party.  She clearly wants Kelly to say something that will make Brooke’s behavior more understandable, but she’s tapping the wrong source for that.  Kelly’s awesomeness and Dutch Boy’s dorkiness cancel each other oot rendering this scene somewhat watchable, and an unlikely alliance starts to take shape.

Courtney is wandering the halls with her hands thrust into the pockets of what looks like a dirty shower curtain when she runs into Jake carrying a sketch pad.  For a brief moment, it actually seems like Courtney is a human being capable of sparing a thought for someone other than herself (or Dylan) as she tells Jake that she likes his drawing.  However, I can’t state “brief” emphatically enough in relation to this nearly tolerable moment of Courtney’s life because she immediately hands the sketch pad back and begins scanning the halls for Dylan, no longer hearing a word that her friend is saying.  Clearly sensing all of this, Jake changes the subject to the one topic he knows will retain her interest (“What’s this I hear aboot a big romance?”), indirectly implicating Ashley in the process.  Courtney starts to complain aboot Ashley betraying her confidence before seeming to realize mid-sentence that Ashley did her an enormous favor by giving her yet another opportunity to bloviate aboot Dylan’s impromptu kiss.  Jake throws caution to the wind and warns Courtney that Dylan is “a walk on the wild side” with a reputation for breaking girls’ hearts.  Things get heated.  Jake might even be jeopardizing his tenuous position in the Friend Zone here, but his concern ootweighs his unfathomable Courtney crush as he tells her that Dylan was “hauled down to the principal’s office” earlier today.  Enter Brooke who immediately sets Jake straight by telling them the real reason Dylan was called to the principal’s: someone (I wonder who) told the principal that Dylan is a great musician, so the principal offered him the chance to play a concert in front of the entire school, because of course, this is a thing that happens all the time in high schools throughoot British Columbia.  Courtney thinks this is just the bee’s knees while Jake makes a mental note to up his Paxil dosage.

Matt and Jake are in the boy’s locker room.  Jake spends a full two minutes whining aboot Courtney and Dylan while Matt spends the same two minutes putting his sneakers on.  Finally, Jake “hypothetically” asks Matt what a guy should do if he finds himself in unrequited love.  In perhaps the most sensible moment of his life, Matt tells his friend that such a guy should just give up, forget aboot it and move on.  Jake’s day just keeps getting worse.

Brooke and Kelly are at their lockers.  Brooke is trying to persuade Kelly to ask her older sister to write a book report for her (for a small amount of cash), a black market transaction that their conversation makes clear has gone down many times before.  When Kelly tells Brooke that her sister is starting to feel guilty aboot writing her papers, Brooke expresses amazement that Kelly’s sister has any morals at all.  Kelly responds, “Thank you, Brooke, that’s very sweet of you.”  Again ignoring the clear and ominous signs that Kelly is itching to give her a beatdown for the ages, Brooke changes the subject by saying “let’s talk aboot something else, like, say…Dylan!” as Dylan comes into view behind them.  Brooke expresses her interest in making Dylan interested in her, “which might be interesting”, and I heartily concur because if there’s anything worse than a petty, scheming heartbreaker like Brooke, it’s a fashion-impaired, self-centered monstrosity like Courtney.

Deadpool approaches Dylan and congratulates him on the upcoming concert while simultaneously hoping that Dylan will ask him to accompany him on the drums.  Before Dylan can respond, Billy’s abominable shit stain of a sister materializes from nowhere and interrupts her brother mid-sentence no less than 5 fucking times in her unstoppable resolve to gush aboot Dylan’s concert like a five year old girl in the presence of Justin Bieber.  Recognizing the utter futility of trying to speak over this fucking crone, Deadpool rolls his eyes and cedes the floor to Courtney.  Dylan is comparatively underwhelmed aboot the prospect of his upcoming gymnasium gig, guessing that “Old Zimmerman” will pull the plug if he doesn’t keep his grades up, something he obviously has no intention of doing.  Courtney offers to help him with his schoolwork and as Dylan expresses his disinterest in such an arrangement, Brooke arrives and inserts herself into the conversation.  Dylan leaves and Courtney lets slip with the fact that she and Dylan are “going oot together” (wrong), something Brooke already suspected but perhaps just wanted to confirm before setting her next superb evil plan into action.

Matt, Ashley and the nameless Jock Squad are at The Avalon.  As usual, the jocks are in the process of applying second-hand lip balm to Matt’s ass but when Dylan enters through the door by the payphone, the jocks immediately abandon their enthusiastic daily adoration of Matt to swarm Dylan with curious excitement aboot his upcoming concert.  Matt raises his voice and tries to complete his sentence, but his fickle groupies are already gone.  Ashley politely invites Matt to finish what he was saying, but he makes it clear that all the people he was trying to impress have left, so why the fuck would he finish his voluminous self-promotion for the benefit of his crappy girlfriend?  He’d much rather bitch aboot the fact that people suddenly find Dylan interesting.

Brooke is in her room searching for the perfect ootfit in which to seduce Dylan.  Theresa enters and starts speaking, which abruptly kills my motivation to finish describing the scene.

Back at The Avalon, Ashley whispers her confusion aboot Matt’s visceral reaction to Dylan’s newfound popularity.  She even tells Matt that it sounds like he’s jealous, which initiates an endless back and forth regarding which of the two keeps bringing it up: “I don’t keep talking aboot it, you’re the one who keeps bringing it up!”  Finally, Matt pacifies himself by guessing (at Ashley’s prompting) that maybe “Old Zimmerman” is just giving Dylan this opportunity oot of pity.  An uncharacteristically bold Ashley then attempts to raise the topic of the flask when Matt looks at his watch, tells her he’s late and splits, leaving her alone at the booth to wallow in melancholic frustration.

Olaf is in the lounge playing chess by himself again.  Billy mopes his way over and Olaf invites him to play.  Deadpool doesn’t seem too interested in the offer because it only takes Olaf 45 seconds to beat him.  Always the stand-up guy, Olaf responds, “Exactly!  I’ll beat you in 45 seconds and then you can swear at me for a minute and a half and you’ll feel much better!”  Here’s hoping you find your way oot of this hellacious alternate universe, Olaf.

Brooke is at Dylan’s garage dressed to kill, explaining that she “wasn’t exactly looking for him”, but just happened to be passing by.  She asks Dylan to play something for her and cozies up real close as he picks up his guitar.  If anyone reading this can’t guess who knocks on the garage door right at this moment, I’m utterly appalled at the intellectual capacity of my extremely limited following.  But despite the lack of surprise to be had at Courtney’s appearance and rapid distressed retreat, it is, as usual, completely worth it just for the extended look of pained confusion on Hillside’s human coffin liner:

shock

Brooke, you are my hero.

 

No Exit

court kiss

Season 1, Episode 5

“So this is hell. I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the ‘burning marl.’ Old wives’ tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is—other people!” – Jean Paul Sartre

The episode opens at Hillside with Billy trying to convince his loathsome sister that the latest scheduled Simpson Family Announcement might constitute a glimmer of hope for the fate of their parents’ marriage.  Not a chance, Detective Pikachu.  Courtney is wearing a top that’s slightly less frightful than normal and in lieu of her usual drawing room drapes, she’s rocking a black mini-skirt.  The monomaniacal pursuit of Dylan has officially begun.

Jake and Matt are at The Avalon counter as Matt basically informs his friend that he’s been entertaining murder fantasies aboot Coach Williams.  Jake responds with some lame attempt at humor as Matt goes over the entire thing again even though just 3 minutes ago, we were shown scenes from last week’s episode: “It’s getting ridiculous!  Last week, Williams hauls me into his office to say I’ve got to start working harder in practice and yesterday, he does it in front of the entire team!  He stops practice and spends five minutes telling me I’m a hot shot!”  Now I feel obligated to do something I’ve yet to do in this series of posts, and that’s to defend the writer of this particular segment of dialogue.  While it may seem ridiculous for Matt to rehash every last detail of his problem with the coach every single time it comes up, this actually rings true and perfectly illustrates how most people sound to me when they’re flapping their jaws.  Most people already have a predetermined agenda before assaulting others with their unsolicited garrulous accounts of irrelevant events, so even if you find a moment to point oot that they told you all this yesterday, it will do nothing to stop their momentum.  You WILL hear yesterday’s story again and if you continue to spend time with your overly loquacious friend, I’m sure you’ll hear it again tomorrow, too.  (You owe me for that one, Ian Weir).

Brooke is in her room using one of her superfluous computers to prop up a notebook in which she’s hastily completing a social studies assignment.  Theresa enters wearing a polka-dot patterned turtle neck.  Words are spoken.  There’s really nothing else to say aboot this pointless interlude.

Cut to Matt and Jake’s stand-alone lockers where Courtney the Seductress is for some fucking reason trying to convince her friends that Dylan’s the greatest thing to happen to rock and roll since Bryan Adams. If you look closely at the inside of Jake’s locker, you’ll notice he’s got a Charlie Chaplin sticker and an old promo for The Who’s “The Kids Are Alright”.  Matt asks where she heard Dylan play and Courtney tells him that she stopped by his garage yesterday.  This doesn’t sit well with Jake who seems to have resigned himself to playing second fiddle to Ashley, but now Dylan?  It’s like God is mocking him.  Better go to church and beg forgiveness for almost saying the b-word yesterday, Jake, or it’s just gonna get worse.  God’s a fucker like that.  Courtney fishes for compliments aboot her new skirt but instead just gets an emotionless, “It’s different,” from Matt, so she runs off to go find somebody who will shower her with the proper effusive flattery she obviously thinks she deserves for finally dressing like someone from her own century.

Dutch Boy catches up with Kelly in the hallway and eats up almost 5 minutes of the episode trying to get up the courage to ask her what really went down on Friday.  Kelly tells her to ask her sister and Theresa retorts that Brooke told her it was all Kelly’s idea and asks her again if this is true.  Kelly’s eyes go red as she replies, “Well, if Brooke says it’s the truth, then it must be the truth, right?  I mean, after all, your sister Brooke would never tell a lie.”  Believe it or not, a common bond of Brooke hatred will prove a strong enough impetus for an alliance to form between the coolest girl at Hillside and its reigning Queen of the Dorks.

Brooke is standing at the head of a table occupied by three unknown girls, loudly complaining that her social studies teacher noticed that she probably dashed off her assignment in a matter of minutes while using an otherwise useless computer as a desk and being assaulted by irrelevant and repetitive questions from her annoying little sister.  The odd thing aboot these nameless girls is that none of them become main cast members in later seasons.  A peculiar ongoing phenomenon in Fifteen is that if an extra is occasionally seen mutely milling aboot in the background this season, chances are that person will become a major character with a name and a functioning larynx next season.  In fact, if you go back a couple of posts to the season 1 intro video, you’ll notice that in the final shot, you can see Janice (season 2) walking through The Avalon, and sitting at the booth with Matt and the gang is Arseman, another character we don’t meet until season 2.  This is the weirdest fucking audition process ever.

Courtney enters the lounge and Brooke abruptly abandons her captive audience to go remind Deadpool’s sister that she’s a frumpy eyesore whether she’s wearing a miniskirt or an AIDS quilt.  Brooke antagonizes her aboot having “secret meetings” with Dylan and for reasons beyond my comprehension, Courtney reacts with stunned offense (“No, it’s nothing like that!”) even though she just spent the entire morning sashaying around the school telling everyone in earshot aboot her secret meeting with Dylan.  Brooke resumes sarcastically praising her new ootfit when she spots Dylan at the soda machine and makes a big show aboot taking her leave so Courtney and Dylan can talk in private.

Grandma Clampett quickly recovers from this upsetting exchange and sidles up to Dylan at the vending machine.  Dylan’s replies to her opening pleasantries are short and more than a little annoyed.  She asks him if everything’s okay and then this conversation ensues:

Dylan:  Everything’s fine, I guess.  More or less.  I just haven’t had such a hot morning.

Courtney:  Oh, what happened?

Dylan:  I spent all morning being bugged by people who wanna know if I’m some kind of rock star or something.

Courtney:  Really?

Dylan:  Yeah.  I don’t suppose you had something to do with that?

Courtney:  Me?  No, of course not.  Well, maybe I told a few people that I think you’re a pretty great musician because you are…but I didn’t think you’d mind.

Dylan:  Well, then, think twice!

Courtney:  I’m sorry!  I just – I didn’t –

Dylan:  Look, my music is my own business, okay?  It’s not a topic open for general conversation, so let’s just keep it that way!

This coming from the guy who brings his guitar and his amp to school so that he can play in the student lounge.  Regardless, this confuses and upsets Courtney greatly, so who gives a shit if it makes any sense.

The Avalon.  Ashley is alone at a booth doing homework as Jake approaches and asks her if she minds if he joins her.  She makes it pretty clear that she’s really busy but he sits down anyway.  He’s fishing for information aboot Courtney’s possible feelings for Dylan, a prospect that he continually refers to as “bizarre”, but when Ashley replies that she’s been wondering the same thing herself, Jake clearly regrets instigating this conversation, or maybe he’s just not getting enough oxygen to his brain because never have we seen him withoot his shirt buttoned all the way up to the neck.

The next scene opens with Brooke asking Kelly, “Are you gonna say something or are you just gonna sit there pretending I’m invisible?” as her frenemy sits on a bench idly flipping through a magazine.  Withoot looking up, Kelly responds, “You know me, Brooke.  I’d never pretend something like that,” as she goes on reading and pretending something like that.  Brooke tries to turn the tables and accuses Kelly of having an attitude problem.  Finally, Kelly snaps, “You’re right.  Let’s just forget aboot it,” and Brooke fails to note the sarcasm.  She sits down on the bench, puts her hand on Kelly’s knee and Kelly abruptly removes it like it’s covered in scabies.  Finally, Brooke succeeds in breaking the ice by bringing up Courtney’s ootfit.   As Brooke is listing the myriad reasons that her new look is a fashion disaster, Courtney of course wanders into view and hears the entire exchange.  Courtney runs off on the verge of tears as Brooke turns to Kelly and says, “Oh well.  She might as well know the truth,” proving once again that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

The student lounge, some time later.  Courtney’s sitting on the lounge sofa wearing her trademark shit-colored drapes.  Dylan wanders towards her making some weird nervous gesture with his hand that looks like he has carpal tunnel syndrome and apologizes for being snotty earlier.  Before taking his leave, he asks her why she changed her clothes because he thought she looked, “you know…hot,” in the miniskirt get-up.  Dylan splits and Courtney orgasms in her potato sack.

Next up is a pointless exchange between Theresa and Dylan who are each at their respective lockers.  Dylan calls her “kid”, just like he does to Deadpool and I guess anyone else that’s at least one year younger than him.  Dutch Boy has a painting of unicorns in a meadow hanging inside her locker.  She leers at Dylan as she drifts into a lovestruck reverie and we’re treated to our first, albeit least entertaining, dream sequence of the series featuring Dutch Boy in a ball gown waltzing to Blue Danube with Dylan who is wearing a tuxedo that looks like it once belonged to David Byrne.  So Theresa has a crush on Dylan.  Whoopie.

Jake brings two sodas, each with two straws, to the booth he’s sharing with Courtney at The Avalon.  The first full minute of their conversation is so stupid that I can’t even pay attention until finally – in-fucking-evitably – Courtney asks Jake what he thinks of Dylan, because she’s a self-absorbed, obsessive, insulting, horrible, ugly sea cow with the social skills of an autistic reptile.  Of course, she fails to notice the misery all over Jake’s face as she serenades him with an endless and nearly orgasmic paean to Dylan’s wonderfulness.

Brooke’s room.  Dutch Boy’s pointed inquisition makes it clear that she has a crush on Dylan causing Brooke to laugh in her face.  Enough said.  Theresa bores me.

Courtney enters Dylan’s garage carrying a folded piece of note paper.  She’s again swapped oot the Shroud of Turin for her new miniskirt, marking at least the fourth time in a single day that she’s changed her ootfit.  Dylan’s sitting there holding his guitar, but not playing it.  Courtney starts in on her writing again and Dylan appears to be mildly interested.  It turns oot that the piece of paper contains lyrics she took it upon herself to write for “that new song” Dylan’s been working on, as if Neil Peart hadn’t already beat her to the punch.  She hands the paper to Dylan, he glances at it for a fraction of a nanosecond and deems it good.  He suggests that maybe they should write a couple of songs together.  Thrilled at the suggestion, Courtney nervously starts to explain that she has to be home for dinner (not supper) as Dylan puts his guitar down, stands up and kisses her on the lips.  Courtney is dumbstruck.  Dylan dismisses her with a casual, “Guess I’ll see you around.”  Yes, you will, Dylan, because this beastly parasite has all the qualities of a fungus and you just provided all the moisture it needs to germinate.

Deadpool is at The Avalon, crying and cradling what looks suspiciously like a beer.  Courtney enters and asks him what’s wrong.  In my earlier zeal to point oot what awful parents these two have, I already explained what happened here.  This time, Mom pulled Billy aside before the “family announcement” and gave him the sneak preview that it will be aboot their imminent divorce.  To recap: Mom announced to all that a family announcement would be made at supper.  Then she pulled her younger child aside to tell him that she and his dad are getting divorced, but don’t tell your sister because that would ruin the family announcement, knowing full well that the siblings would talk but still fully intending to go through the charade of the “official” family announcement regardless.  Got that?

And now we come to one of the best final scenes of the season.  Ashley is in the lounge waiting for Matt to be done with basketball practice.  Matt shows up and complains aboot Coach Williams for a few seconds, hands his backpack to Ashley and goes to get a soda at the vending machine.  Ashley tries to sling the backpack over her shoulder but finds it unusually heavy.  She places it on the table and hears an odd metallic sound.  While Matt is in the background counting change in front of the soda machine, Ashley decides to unzip the bag and investigate.  She finds a flask, opens it, puts it to her nose and jumps back in shock.  As Matt continues to struggle with the process of purchasing a soda, dramatic episode-closing music plays over the most priceless shot of Ashley’s tortured face to which we’ve yet been treated:

flask

The horror…the horror.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

autographs

A Fifteen autograph signing event!  This must have occurred during season 2, since Deadpool still looks like a little kid and Arseman, who we don’t meet until the second season, is present.  Visible from L to R: Ryan Reynolds (hilariously identified as ‘Billy’ on his ID placard), Corky Martin, Todd Talbot, Sarah Douglass, Arseman Yohannes, and probably Laura Harris and Robyn Ross obscured at the far end of the table.  Note the woman looking utterly starstruck by Corky Martin while completely ignoring the future Sexiest Man Alive.

Purgatorio

kelly find out

Season 1, Episode 4

It’s two days later and Matt is on the Avalon payphone pleading with Ashley to let him explain what really happened with Brooke, because apparently Matt’s family doesn’t own a telephone so he has no choice but to conduct this embarrassing conversation on the one phone in all of Vancouver that affords the least privacy to its users.  Ashley hangs up on him leaving Matt to wallow in public humiliation.

At Hillside, Courtney and Deadpool walk through the corridor and continue to flog the dead horse of their parents’ marital problems because if it weren’t for this convenient ongoing family drama, these two would have absolutely nothing to talk aboot.  Billy is wearing an incredible T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of some local zoo and Courtney looks like she’s aboot to audition for the role of scullery maid on Downton Abbey.   They debate whether it’s wiser to adopt an optimistic or pessimistic ootlook regarding the fate of their parents’ marriage but since these siblings are repellent magnetic poles, the question is rendered moot.  Their conversation comes to a halt when Ashley mopes down the stairs with some oversized rucksack slung over her shoulder looking more like someone whose entire family was just murdered than someone who caught her boyfriend staring at another girl’s ring.  She tells Courtney that she’s ok, albeit sleep deprived.  Courtney asks her if she’s spoken to Matt and Ashley responds, “matt who?”, indicating that she’s suffering from early onset dementia or just being a little twat.  I’ll leave that for you to decide.  Courtney suggests that perhaps Ashley should allow Matt to explain himself, but this is aboot as successful as her suggestion to Deadpool that he should adopt more of a glass-half-empty view aboot their parents.

The boys’ locker room.  Jake is rocking some form-fitting jeans as Matt fills him in on Ashley’s refusal to talk to him, leading to this exchange:

Matt:  I don’t believe this!  I spend two minutes talking to Brooke and Ashley has a cow!

Jake:  Sounds like she had the whole herd.

Matt takes offense at Jake’s attempted witticism, so Jake tries another approach: “Don’t be so macho.  You can talk to me.”  Jake, Jake, Jake…no 15 year old boy’s go-to word should be “macho”.  Haven’t you ever wondered why even Courtney treats you like a fucking eunuch?  Matt admits that he really cares aboot Ashley and then these two geniuses, each of whom received a forged note from the other right before it all went down, finally figure oot that Brooke must have intentionally set the whole thing up, which is a bit like watching the monkeys in the opening sequence of 2001 gradually learning to wield clubs.  Jake offers to have a talk with Ashley and Matt thanks him as he gets up to leave while Jake conspicuously leers at his ass on its way oot the door.

Billy sees his sister sitting in the lounge staring at her unopened bag lunch and asks her if she’s seen Dylan.  Her surprise at the inquiry prompts Billy to gush aboot Dylan’s awesomeness and tell her that they’ve been hanging oot and Dylan even lets him play the drums.  Courtney wonders whether it’s good for her little brother to be hanging oot with “someone like Dylan” – and that’s when he goes all Deadpool on her ass.  Billy grasps Courtney’s neck and twists it 180 degrees until you can hear her spinal cord sever from her brain stem.  Her body collapses to the floor as Billy straddles the motionless carcass and says, “Never underestimate the stupidity of idiots!”  Just kiddin’.  He just sorta whines for a bit while his cunt of a sister suddenly decides that Dylan may be a bad influence on her brother, but he sure is one fine piece of ass.

Jake is desperately chasing after Ashley so that he can put in a good word for Matt.  She resists in the most animatedly bitchy way that Ashley can muster until he mentions the forged notes and tells her that Matt is waiting for her at The Avalon so they can talk.  As Ashley ponders what to do, we see Courtney flat-oot spying on this little scene from behind a column.  Ashley continues to hesitate until Jake positively begs her to go talk to him – “Please!  Just for 5 minutes!”  Damn, Jake.

Finally, Ashley begrudgingly agrees to go meet Matt for 5 minutes as Jake’s yenta of a girl-crush comes oot from behind the pillar and asks, “So, what do you think?”.  Rather than telling this horrible douche canoe to mind her own fucking business, Jake crosses his fingers to superstitiously enhance the likelihood that Matt will realize Jake is the love of his life did him a solid.

Matt is at The Avalon, nervously tapping his fingers and brooding over a sandwich and a glass of milk with two straws.  Ashley enters and approaches the table in her signature vulnerable stance, which is to place both of her hands behind her ass (usually, she employs this move when running oot of a room in tears, but here she puts a subtle spin on it to make it more appropriate for nervously entering a room).  Matt tries to explain what happened but Ashley’s responses sound like she’s having a completely different conversation with some invisible entity at the table (a very common dialogue oddity on this show).  Finally, Matt asks her why she was hanging oot with Kelly on Friday, but even this fails to cause any light bulbs to activate above her moronic blonde coconut.  Jeez, this girl is dense.  All possible attempts at reason exhausted, Matt pulls oot all the stops and tells her that he thinks he loves her.  Incidentally, he doesn’t appear to be drunk.

Courtney sees Dylan sitting in the lounge, shoves her hands into the pockets of her grotesque floor-length frock and saunters over to him in a way that I assume is meant to be seductive despite the fact that she looks like an anthropomorphic yeast infection.  She stands in front of him like an idiot for what seems an eternity until he finally looks up from his Auto-Finder magazine and asks, “Did you wanna talk to me or something?”  Courtney says no, then she says yes, then she says “not really”, before at last settling on thanking him for being a friend to Billy.  Then, a mere 10 minutes after warning Deadpool that Dylan is a bad influence, she proceeds to invite herself to come hear him play sometime.  Dylan responds with a mumbled, “Yeah, right.  Sometime, maybe.  Who knows?” while Courtney’s face contorts in disappointment over the fact that her completely unplanned plan to seduce Dylan was a dud.  We haven’t even scratched the surface of this swamp donkey’s awfulness.

At their lockers, Kelly informs Brooke that she saw Ashley this morning and she looked, “Gray.  Just gray.”  They congratulate themselves on the stunning success of their plan just as Matt and Ashley come down the stairs, hand in hand.  Our favorite bitches’ mouths drop open as they stare at each other in stunned disbelief.

Olaf is sitting on a bench in the lounge wearing a green cardigan with an iron-on patch of what looks like a cartoon Viking on the sleeve.  He’s playing chess by himself.  Deadpool is getting a soda from the nearby vending machine.  He says hi to Olaf, they briefly discuss chess and Finland and just like that, a new friendship is born.  I realize that this whole paragraph was uncharacteristically light on the jokes, but that’s because Olaf is the only character on this show who doesn’t make me feel like going on a cross-country killing spree.

In the girls’ locker room, Ashley is regaling Courtney with her incredulity that Brooke could possibly do something as mean as she did.  This whole time, Ashley is tucking her purple turtleneck into her jeans and I realize with mild alarm that I can’t tear my lecherous eyes away from her slim little waistline to pay attention to what she’s saying.  Obviously, Courtney’s not paying attention either, because as soon as Ashley takes a brief pause, Courtney immediately changes the subject to ask her what she thinks of Dylan.  Know what, Courtney?  Because you’re such a narcissistic asshole, I’m not even going to listen to what you say for the rest of this scene.  Ashley, I think your shirt’s still untucked, you better fix that.

Kelly and Brooke are walking through the hall when Jake spots them and marches over like he means business.  Jake starts to give them what-for and Kelly splits, leaving Brooke alone to absorb his wrath.  Brooke capitalizes on her hasty exit by telling Jake that the fake notes were all Kelly’s idea and Jake believes her because he’s a fucking numbskull.

Cut to The Avalon and a close-up of Matt shouting at Jake in bewilderment, “…and you believed her?!”  The camera pans oot and we see that Courtney and Ashley are sitting at the booth, too.  Jake appears to be cradling a copy of the Vancouver Yellow Pages that’s on the table in front of him.  Courtney floats the possibility that maybe Brooke was telling the truth “even though she’s a…” – Matt interjects, “What’s the word she’s looking for?” setting Jake up for the boldest line of the entire series, “Five letters, I think…rhymes with ‘witch’”.  Jake is in the presence of both objects of his libidinal desire at one booth here, so he’s bringing his A-game.  Courtney continues to defend Brooke which sets Matt off on a rant that somehow takes a U-turn and lands squarely on Ashley, the girl to whom he just moments ago declared his love.   With the benefit of hindsight, I can tell that the viewers are supposed to suspect that Matt had been drinking before arriving at The Avalon, but I prefer to pretend that he came to his senses and remembered what an infuriating little dipshit he’s dating.  Enter Brooke, who approaches the table and starts apologizing on behalf of Kelly, saying that since Kelly’s her friend, she “feels kinda responsible” and hopes that she can still be friends with all present.  The buck successfully passed, Brooke retreats to a counter stool while the brain trust at the booth continue to wonder whether she’s being sincere.  Matt finally says, “Let’s get oot of here,” and they all get up to leave except for Courtney who just can’t resist staying behind to make an ass of herself in front of Brooke.  Courtney tells Brooke that she believes her, then compliments her top and says she’s been thinking of buying a similar one that she saw at the mall, which is obviously a lie because Brooke’s top isn’t made of age-yellowed flax.  Brooke correctly guesses that Courtney’s trying to impress a guy and rather than just say, “yeah”, she reacts with horror to the inquiry and swears that “it’s nothing like that!”, which is the second most commonly spoken phrase on this show even though Courtney’s the only one who says it.

The Blackwell junkyard.  We hear some bluesy guitar notes coming from Dylan’s garage as the camera lingers on the exterior shot long enough for us to make oot a winch (?), a gray pick-up truck with a busted windshield, and what looks like a late-70s Crown Victoria with both the trunk and the hood open.  Inside, Dylan’s doing what Dylan does as Deadpool enters, still wearing his amazing zoo t-shirt.  Billy tries some of his parent-related optimism oot on Dylan but is once again advised not to get his hopes up.  Sensing Billy’s disappointment, Dylan explains how he doesn’t get along with his “old man”, sounding like John Bender in an edited-for-television broadcast of The Breakfast Club.  His angsty speech is interrupted by a knock on the door and – guess who! – it’s fucking Courtney slithering her uninvited way into her little brother’s only port in the storm.  From ootside of the shot, Billy asks, “What are you doing here?” and a horrifying close-up of Courtney aw-shucksing herself into Dylan’s world abruptly closes oot the scene.

At The Avalon, Kelly enters and approaches Brooke’s table.  She. Is. Pissed.  Brooke pretends not to understand what the problem is as her tight-lipped and motherfucking livid friend sits down and glares at her in intimidating silence.

Ugh! – Dylan’s fucking garage again, and just when things were getting interesting at The Avalon.  Deadpool’s banging away, Dylan’s playing guitar and Courtney is staring at him while perhaps trying to discretely hide the growing damp spot on her horrible dress.  The song ends and both Billy and Dylan make it clear to Courtney that her pathetically transparent plan to get into Dylan’s pants is pathetically transparent (but thankfully, her dress isn’t).  Oblivious, she invites herself to stay and asks Dylan to play something he wrote himself.  He says sure and then treats her to the same riff from 2112 that we’ve already heard him play even though this is only the second time we hear him play.  Courtney gets all googly-eyed with infatuation while Deadpool glares at her from behind the drums.

YES! – back to The Avalon.  Kelly is tearing Brooke a new one for telling everyone that Friday night’s escapade was her idea.  Brooke attempts to defend herself, but Kelly isn’t having any of her shit.  Kelly menacingly looks Brooke in the eye and says, “I won’t forget this, Brooke.  Never.” Clearly rattled, Brooke desperately changes the subject to concocting a new and better plan, rises from her seat and tells Kelly not to worry because although it may take some time, sooner or later, they will get revenge.  A now solitary Kelly closes oot the episode with this line which drips from her tongue with more venom than a colony of box jellyfish: “Oh, yes.  It may take some time, but there’ll be revenge, Brooke.  And you can take my word on that.”

Damn straight.

Jag är en jävla nörd

olaf billy sad

Season 1, Episode 3

“Why, ‘Mudge?  Just why?” 

A fair question, posed by a dedicated reader who may be rethinking that dedication right aboot now.

Since I have another whole episode to tackle in this post, for now I’ll just offer this quick list of some of the factors that led to my decision to dedicate this blog in its entirety to the analysis of Fifteen:

  • People talk too much — WAY too much — an opinion I ‘d already made crystal clear on this page before starting in this new direction.  Rarely do we convey useful information with our speech, but we always seem to believe that the personal triviality du jour aboot which we’re blabbing is the most important thing in the world.  It isn’t.  Whatever it is, I promise you, nobody cares but you.  In fact, they’re probably not even listening to you because they are too busy doing the same thing simultaneously.  THUS, if I have to listen to everyone’s incessant chatter aboot the excruciating minutiae of their mind-numbing daily lives (which I do, because I’m a person), then YOU have to put up with the fact that I fully intend to continue blabbing on and on and on and on aboot Fifteen for at least the next year of my life.  My point?  Mock-praising a show like Fifteen may be stupid, cheap, frivolous and childish – but no more so than the excrement that spews from the mouths of 99% of the human race every single moment of every single day.
  • If anyone really believes that I can go for 65 posts withoot delving into philosophy, politics, and quantum physics, then that person hasn’t been reading my blog for very long. Despite my initial assertion to the contrary, I will of course continue to interject opinions aboot those topics – but only when I can manage to do so through the vehicle of Fifteen.
  • In the past, I have written aboot religion and spirituality an awful lot – sometimes with reverence and sometimes disparagingly, but always with a sense of importance. On Saturday, some guy in Phoenix killed his spouse, two of his children, and a man he believed was having an affair with his wife, while his 3 year old hid under the bed.  During the interrogation, he told police that “God told him to handle things this way and God was okay with it” due to his wife’s alleged infidelity.  Yay, God!  I have washed my hands of religion – Buddhism included – because the alleged significance of mankind implicit in almost every belief system just nauseates me.
  • I LOVE Canada. Any mockery towards my lucky northern friends in these posts comes from a place of love, I assure you.  Why, you ask?  To name just a few of the wonderful things aboot the Great White North: Rush; SCTV; Skinny Puppy; ice hockey; FIFTEEN; Leonard Cohen; MyDangBlog!; socialized medicine; legal weed; Voivod; Neil Young; You Can’t Do That On Television; back bacon; Molson.
  • On the off chance that Ryan Reynolds should ever decide to Google himself on a lazy Sunday afternoon and stumble upon this page, my entire silly, aimless life up to this point will have been entirely worthwhile.
  • Fifteen kicks ass. It kicked ass when I was a 21 year old angry drunk and it kicks even more ass now that a quarter century has passed.

All good now?  Ready to stop worrying aboot my mental state and move on to more important topics like, say, The Dislocated Swede?   Great!  Then let’s get to it.

The episode opens at Brooke’s palatial mansion.  Dutch Boy is still badgering Brooke in her bedroom aboot her promise to be home for Mom’s stupid phone call on Friday night.  Suddenly, Brooke opens the bedroom door and shouts down the stairs, “I’LL BE ANOTHER TEN MINUTES, KEL, WHY DON’T YOU COME ON UP INSTEAD OF SITTING ON THE STAIRS LIKE A LOSER!”  These quotes are verbatim, by the way.  Kelly enters, Dutch Boy splits, and the devious duo catch each other up on the progress of their evil plot.  They are the only people in Brooke’s room, but once again they lean in real close and whisper in each other’s ears, so we aren’t yet privy to what they have up their Benetton-clad sleeves.

At his locker, a hungover-looking Matt apologizes to Ashley for screaming at her yesterday at The Avalon.  Like every single apology in this show, it starts oot contrite enough, but then goes off the rails and somehow metamorphoses into the diametric opposite of an apology.  Here, see for yourself:

Matt:  Look, aboot yesterday afternoon, I’m really sorry.

Ashley:  it’s ok

Matt:  No, it’s not okay.  I was acting like a total jerk.

Ashley:  you were just upset aboot getting hassled by the coach.

Matt:  But that didn’t give me any right to blow up at you and Jake.  I mean…okay, it gets on my nerves a little when you guys have a cow every time I talk aboot having a beer –

Ashley:  no one was having a cow, matt.

Matt:  Let’s just drop it!

They continue talking and Ashley hesitantly voices her concern aboot rumors she’s been hearing that Matt and Brooke are having a secret side-fling.  Matt reassures her that he has no interest in Brooke, Ashley apologizes, Matt reminds her that he was the one who was supposed to be apologizing and they continue to sit on a bench apologizing to each other for the next fifty years.  It’s always problematic when the director falls asleep on the job and neglects to yell “Cut!”

Now Brooke and Kelly are examining some forged notes they concocted, one from Matt asking Jake to meet him at the mall at 7:30 and one from Jake asking Matt to meet him at The Avalon at 7:30 to discuss something important.  They deem the plan brilliant and fail-safe while delighting in its potential falloot.

Grandma Walton and Whisper Wuss enter through the Vestibule To Nowhere talking aboot some shitty Courtney-penned poem over which Ashley is gushing.  It’s going to take a while, but trust me, this Courtney-the-Bard-of-Avalon shit is going to culminate in an episode that’s guaranteed to make you contemplate slashing your wrists, but we don’t get to hear the fruits of her literary labors just yet.  They approach their lockers and suddenly Ashley halts her obsequious fawning to have a mini-stroke aboot the fact that she forgot her gym clothes again (“…and Miss Leddingham said that if I forget them again, i’m dead!”)  She works herself into a sobbing, mouth-foaming frenzy and flees the school, leaving her self-absorbed Amish wannabe fuckhead of a friend to sarcastically soliloquize, “Well, thanks for reading my poem, anyway.” (“She crashes on your couch when she loses her job; you feed her soup when she breaks her jaw; you help her pee when she’s got that thing, ‘cause she’s your BEST FRIEND!!”)

Brooke approaches Matt in the lounge and asks him if this is “nerd-oot time or something” because he happens to be reading a textbook in school.  She sits down and asks him what his Friday night plans are.  Not yet having received the fake note from Jake, he says that he’ll be taking in a movie with Ashley (“the new one, with Mel Gibson”).  As Brooke responds with pleasantries or mockery or who the fuck can ever tell the difference from these little shitheads, a tall doofus with some kind of European tote bag slung over his shoulder wanders into the scene looking lost and staring at a piece of paper.  Brooke spots him oot of the corner of her eye and alerts Matt to the “major geek at three o’clock”.  Matt acknowledges the geek and explains to Brooke that he’s “from Finland or something” and that his name is Olaf.  As loudly as possible, they continue to brutally trash him, yet he seems not to hear any of their mockery even though he is now aboot a foot and a half away from where they’re sitting.  Olaf cheerfully greets them and tells them that he “seems to have dislocated himself”, causing his new horrible acquaintances to laugh in his face and imitate his imperfect command of the English language.  Politely, he guesses, “This was not the right word?”, setting off even more uncontrollable laughter.  Nonplussed and seemingly incapable of offense, Olaf continues to explain that he’s having trouble finding a classroom, so Matt starts to give him an intentionally over-complicated path to his destination.  Midway through his fake directions, some hippie chick saunters over (our first introduction to Cindy) and helpfully tells him that his destination is “the portable classroom at the north end of the building”.  So there are portable classrooms, too.  At the north end of The Hillside physics-defying labyrinth.  Christ on a freaking cracker.

The Avalon.  A waitress delivers some milkshakes to the booth where Courtney, Matt and Jake are sitting, then pivots and takes an empty soda glass from the table where Brooke is sitting, just feet away.  In case you hadn’t already noticed, where ever the hell these kids are supposed to live, there is literally NO FUCKING QUARTER in which you can ever get away from the eyes and ears of every other little petty busybody infesting this godforsaken town.  Kelly enters and sits down next to Brooke, obviously bursting with some tidbit of gossip.  She asks Brooke if she’s seen Ashley, Brooke says no, and Kelly informs her that she’s at this very moment running “aboot 800 laps” because Miss Leddingham busted her for skipping school due to her earlier gym clothes freak oot.  The camera swings back to the other table where Matt, et al are discussing the exact same thing with only slightly less glee.  Courtney explains to her as-yet-undisclosed object of infatuation and her pet hamster that Ashley forgot her gym clothes, ditched school and hid at the library, where she was caught by the principal.  Jake opines, “Only Ashley would skip class and go to the library.  If she had come to The Avalon instead, she’d have been fine.”  You must be new here, Jake.  Nobody ever leaves The Avalon with their soul unscathed.

Here’s where my linguistic skills are bound to fall short.  If there were a way for me to extricate this scene from the larger episode and post it here, believe me, I would.  Ashley enters wearing a sweat jacket that’s aboot 10 sizes too large, sheepishly approaches her table of friends and says, “hi, guys.  still feel like talking to me?”  Ever the gentleman, Jake cedes his seat next to Matt (and his milkshake, apparently) to Ashley.  She begins by complaining in an exhausted whisper that her whole body, even her hair, hurts because she “just ran 5 laps”.  Kelly was engaging in a touch of hyperbole a few moments ago, you see.  A hitherto unexposed side – or, to be more precise, several dozen hitherto unexposed sides – of Ashley begin to manifest themselves in the multi-faceted psychotic episode to follow.  She gets progressively animated while mocking Miss Leddingham’s authoritative voice, then segues into an impression of a lecture she received from the principal, Mr. Zimmerman, before momentarily falling into mournful silence again.  Matt interjects that it’s not a big deal, causing Ashley to argue that it IS a big deal – she’s never skipped a class in her life.  She then launches into a sad reverie aboot how she’s “always tried to do exactly what she’s supposed to do, but now…”, and this is when her brain suffers a fatal malfunction, along with her entire nervous system, which is doing all the acting in this scene on behalf of its host, Laura Harris.  She stifles a laugh as she ecstatically marvels at the fact that she now has a “brand new reputation” and she’s gone instantly from being a good little student to a “problem girl”.  Then a giggling fit ensues that literally defies description.  Her toddler giggles don’t appear to come from her mouth but seem to assault her entire face like an unseen and violent exterior force.  She proclaims with great satisfaction, “i think it’s wonderful! *snicker* *giggle* *chortle*”.  She pauses.  “*giggle*, *snicker*, *giggle giggle*”, pause.  “giggle*giggle*giggle*giggle*giggle*giggle”, pause.  As Matt jokingly tells his friends that “she can be a little weird sometimes”, his fucking mental patient of a girlfriend continues to have oddly-timed seizures of softly maniacal laughter, always falling momentarily silent between each seemingly involuntary fit of lunacy.  As I look on in terrified confusion, it takes every ounce of my restraint to refrain from punching myself in the temples.  I’ve more than once found myself in the company of people who were tripping out on Ecstasy and none of them approached the level of horrifying emotional maelstrom that Ashley achieves in this baffling sequence.

Just as I suspected, my best attempt did not do this scene justice.  Do me a favor, dear readers, and consult YouTube for this one (season 1, episode 3, at the 11:30 mark).  I know when to admit defeat, and Laura Harris’ performance absolutely trumped my capabilities as a writer.  Touché, Ashley.

ashley laughs

To close out the scene, Brooke and Kelly remark from their nearly adjacent table that by 8:00 tonight, “Little Miss Perfect won’t be laughing at all.”

Back at Hillside, Jake approaches Courtney at her locker and apologizes for being 3 minutes late so profusely that it sounds like he has apology-Tourette’s.  They’re meeting to work on a geography project but Jake, bless his stupid heart, starts whining about how wrong it is to do homework on a Friday afternoon in an obvious attempt to turn this little meetup into something more akin to a date.  Always the trailblazer, Jake suggests milkshakes at The Avalon and off they go but not before running into Deadpool who wants to tag along but instead is treated to the “go away, kid, ya bother me” routine from his loving sister.  Incidentally, the dreadful top Courtney’s been wearing for the last several scenes seems to have an oversized lace bib sewn into the fabric and yet this does nothing to dampen Jake’s unquenchable desire for this fugly sperm curdler.

Olaf is sitting on a bench reading Lord of the Flies when Cindy comes by, peers over his shoulder and correctly guesses that ostracize is the word with which he’s struggling.  This, of course, serves as the perfect opening for Cindy to start prying into whether Olaf may be feeling a bit ostracized by his new, oddly Finn-phobic peers.  Olaf concurs, but not before politely pointing out to Cindy that she’s very…”what’s the word I’m looking for?”  “Blunt?”  Thank you, Cindy, but I’m pretty sure Aubrey Nealon Olaf already knew that and was just posing his question rhetorically.  With that, an airtight bond of shared peculiarity is formed.

Ashley is sitting alone at a booth in The Avalon when Dylan, who up to this point has never been shown to have any connection to Ashley whatsoever, approaches and asks her aboot yesterday’s incident with the gym coach.  Ashley tells him the story, but bumps the number of laps she ran up to 10, so all we really know for sure is that she ran anywhere between 5 and 800 laps.  Dylan responds by welcoming her into the fold of juvenile delinquency as Matt (of course) enters, strikes a cock-blocking pose and interrogates Dylan as to why he’s daring to speak a few words to his girlfriend.  Dylan opts to cut his losses and split, but not before turning to Ashley and in what I can only guess is meant to be an homage to Humphrey Bogart says, “Schee you later, Schweetheart!”  We will come to realize that this ridiculous Bogart thing is Dylan’s signature move with the ladies but astoundingly, not one of them reacts by laughing in his strategically-scarred pretty-boy face.  Matt sits down and informs Ashley that he won’t be able to keep their movie date tonight because of the note he received from Jake (it’s just as well, Ashley…you probably don’t know this yet, but Mel Gibson is a drunken anti-Semite).

Brooke’s room.  Theresa storms in and gives her sister a stern dressing down for failing to show up on time to answer Mom’s stupid phone call.  She is livid that she missed her friend’s birthday party due to Brooke’s selfishness.  The significance of this scene is that it marks the precise moment that Theresa begins to genuinely despise Brooke, though it’s unlikely Brooke is even mildly intimidated by this goofy tantrum thrown by Blossom of the North.

Kelly is on The Avalon payphone talking to – Ashley!  Speaking as if they’re lifelong friends as opposed to antagonistic acquaintances, Kelly feigns surprise at the fact that Ashley and Matt won’t be seeing each other tonight, then suggests that they get together instead.  She convinces Ashley to meet her in front of The Avalon at 7:45.

Dylan is in his garage playing what I’m sure they want us to believe is an original riff, but is actually an amateurish note-for-note cover of a segment from Rush’s 2112.  Suddenly, the camera cuts to an extended moody exterior shot of the garage-laden junkyard at dusk.  This is convenient, because it gives us a long moment to size up the Blackwell homestead.  There isn’t a residence anywhere to be found, just three garages and/or sheds rising from the junk.  Do his parents live in one of the smaller garages?  There’s no bed, mattress, futon, cot, La-Z-Boy, hammock or sleeping bag visible in the garage Dylan inhabits, so where the fuck does he sleep?  THESE AREN’T RHETORICAL QUESTIONS, BINKLEY – I DEMAND ANSWERS!

A tie-dye-clad Deadpool knocks on the door and Dylan greets him with confused annoyance or annoyed confusion, because it’s just bad protocol to drop in unannounced on someone as publicly private as Dylan.  Finally, Dylan eases up and invites Billy to “make himself at home” even though there isn’t a single chair upon which to park one’s ass.  Dylan must have cleared oot such superfluous items to make room for the drum set that he doesn’t play.  Deadpool clearly admires Dylan’s near-homelessness as his mentor tells him that he likes it because it’s quiet, “just me and the guitar”.  Mm hmm.  I’m convinced you do more than pluck oot old Rush ditties on that thing, Dylan, and I’m starting to understand your aversion to unexpected visitors.

Eventually, Dylan invites Billy to try his hand at the drum kit.  Deadpool grabs the sticks, dons a shit-eating grin and proceeds to hammer away like Keith Moon with late stage Parkinson’s.

Matt is at the pinball machine, waiting for Jake to arrive (which, of course, he won’t because he’s at the mall waiting for Matt to arrive – this is a complex and multi-layered plot unfolding here).  Brooke arrives on schedule and feigns surprise that Matt is here by himself instead of at the movies with Ashley.  Matt tells her he’s waiting for Jake.  Brooke peers around The Avalon, notes that Jake doesn’t seem to be around and offers to keep Matt company in the meantime.  She takes a step towards Matt and he backs away like she’s covered in leprosy sores.  After some more flirtation, Brooke holds her hand oot to Matt and asks if he likes her new ring.  She wiggles her hand in his face until he grasps it to get a closer look.  Take note: Matt grasps her hand at the 22:33 mark in the episode.  As Matt nervously compliments Brooke’s ring, Kelly and Ashley enter on cue through the door next to the payphone.  They stand in the middle of The Avalon talking aboot how nice it is to be hanging oot together for the first time until Kelly glances towards the pinball room and pretends to be shocked at what she sees, quickly telling Ashley in a panicked voice that maybe they should go somewhere else.  Kelly continues to fix her gaze on the pinball room until her dim-witted companion finally gets a clue and turns around to see Matt and Brooke holding hands.  Matt notices his girlfriend glaring daggers at him and abruptly releases Brooke’s hand.  This happens at the 23:25 mark.  For the math-impaired, this means that Matt was holding Brooke’s fucking hand for 52 SECONDS, a veritable eternity no matter whether we’re talking about reality or a shitty Nickelodeon soap opera.  Ashley tells Matt to never speak to her again, “ever!” and flees The Avalon while Brooke and Kelly exchange some priceless looks of schadenfreudic satisfaction to take us to the closing credits.

Things are about to get real, y’all.  Until the next time.