Up there is a picture of Brooke delivering a heartfelt fuck you to my virtual friend and consummate blogger Tom of TomBeingTom. Now why would she say such a thing to a cool and unassuming guy like Tom? Because he nominated me for one of those blog award things wherein my prize is that I get to answer questions he devised via a new post on my page that is supposed to be entirely devoted to the analysis of Fifteen. In an effort to avoid raising Brooke’s ire any further, let’s get this oot of the way quickly, eh?
Do you consider yourself a reasonable human being? Do you consider most other human beings to be reasonable?
What constitutes a reasonable human being is entirely subjective and the disparity of opinion as to who should be considered in possession of “sound judgment” renders the question itself unreasonable. That said, analyzing myself and others as objectively as possible, I must answer both questions with a resounding “no”. I see myself as unreasonable for some pretty significant reasons, most of which set me firmly to the ootside of my own species. Psychologists and biologists consider a sense of importance in all of the following things to be inherent to the animal known as Homo Sapiens, and yet, I seem to lack respect for every last one: 1) a belief in a personal god, afterlife, and human superiority/significance; 2) a desire to reproduce and pride in my ethnic heritage and family name; 3) patriotism; 4) competition; 5) money; 6) power; 7) fear of death and desire for eternal life; 8) social communication; 9) a sense of meaning and accomplishment; 10) deeming anything to be inherently joyous or tragic, right or wrong; 11) a belief in any sort of justice, whether it be legal or cosmic; 12) self-protection/survival at all costs. That’s right, folks, I have analyzed the meaning right oot of every last thing that others utilize to make themselves feel meaningful. In my view, we are nothing more than temporarily sentient galactic flotsam and jetsam, but don’t think for a second that this makes me sad or depressed. Frankly, it’s fucking awesome and enormously liberating to be free of the concerns and delusions of the “common man”. I do occasionally still experience bursts of narcissistic disgust at the stupidity and/or willful ignorance of others, the most recent occasion being this past Thursday, a day that most Americans apparently still call “Independence Day”. Independence from what or whom? There’s a fucking idiot dictator where the president used to be and there were literally tanks rolling through the streets of DC for his fucking Nuremburg Rally, yet people still think that this is just a temporary setback, as if American fascism wasn’t already a done deal. So be reasonable, for fuck’s sake, and at least cop to the obvious fact that your former democratic republic is no more, my fellow American idiots. Or am I just being unreasonable? Perhaps.
If space aliens exist, and find us, do you presume they would be mostly malicious or benign?
Again, a very subjective question. I don’t consider sharks or tigers to be inherently malicious, nor do I consider puppies and kittens to be inherently benign. What I presume I’d probably think upon their arrival is, “Holy shit, that fucker with the orange hair and the crazy Greek name was right!”
Who is your favorite comic book superhero?
Come on, man. Deadpool.
If you could go back in time to your early teens, and you developed a mutant power, what do you suppose it would be?
I think I actually did develop a mutant power and I already described it in my first answer: the ability to be unmoved and unimpressed by virtually anything.
As #4 above, except what would you HOPE it would be?
The ability to talk to animals.
If you’re driving down the ocean in your jet ski, and the wheel falls off, does it still take the same amount of pancakes to cover a doghouse?
Wubba lubba dub dub!
You’re on the Starship Enterprise . Are you wearing gold, blue, or red?
Orange. That’s what I get when Kirk throws me in the brig.
What would you do with an extra $1000 a month in free money?
I could almost live on that, so I assume I’d quit the half-assed, uninspired job search I’ve been conducting for the past few months.
Do you prefer beer that is crisp, cold, and good or hoppy, warm, and sucky?
Negra Modello, cold. That’s sort of both.
When was the last time you got drunk on the deck alone listening to Bruce Springsteen?
Well, the last time I got drunk was quite a few years ago, but since I have a balcony and that’s sorta like a deck and I love Springsteen…it was probably at the recent end of quite a few years ago.
Wasn’t there supposed to be 11 questions?
Dunno. “Supposed to” is another phrase that tends to aggravate me. “Supposed to” according to whom?
I want you to notice / when I’m not around / You’re so fucking special / I wish I was special / but I’m a creep / I’m a weirdo. – Radiohead
On June 6, 1962, an obscure quartet of Liverpudlian musicians sat in an antechamber of Abbey Road Studios anxiously awaiting the arrival of famed record producer George Martin. The rest, as they say, is history.
On an unknown date in 1991, an obscure trio of Vancouverite musicians sat at the counter of The Avalon anxiously awaiting the arrival of famed talent scout Jerry the Filth Pig. The rest, as they say, is asininity.
While Dylan tries to calm his nervous band mates, we learn that Jerry is The Avalon owner’s son, but there’s still no definitive confirmation that he was the hygiene-impaired “dumpy motherfucker” of a waiter we all came to know and love in Season 1. As if reading my thoughts, the Man of the Hour shows up wearing a meticulously clean and pressed white apron. Chris immediately starts to dictate the terms of the arrangement before Jerry reminds him that he hasn’t even heard the band yet and wants to know what kind of music they play. Deadpool volunteers, “we’re kind of into New Kids” causing Chris to roll his eyes in exasperation and declare that they’re not into New Kids, so Dylan clarifies, “Well, basically, we’re rockers…but we’ve got a pretty good range!” Chris asks Jerry to drop by the garage this afternoon, but Dylan advises him that today’s too soon and he’ll contact him later in the week to schedule the audition. First, they need to find a lead singer, the desperate pursuit of which will keep them idiotically occupied for the rest of the episode.
Headband sees Ashley at her locker and asks if she’d like to go to the mall after school. As usual, Whisperina overcomplicates the process of answering a simple yes or no question, so Courtney changes the subject:
Courtney: Listen, aboot Matt—
Ashley: let’s just…leave it, okay?
Courtney: When I said I’d go oot with him, I just – I really thought it was over between you two.
Ashley: that’s what i thought, too. i thought i’d let go…then when i heard he’d asked you oot, i started going through the roof. you figure it oot. maybe i just need more time than i thought…to get used to the idea of matt going oot with someone else.
Courtney: You still care aboot him, don’t you? You still care aboot him a lot…and if that’s the way you feel, you’ve gotta tell him.
A couple of takeaways from this conversation: 1) Courtney’s obviously been spending far too much time with Arseman; 2) Matt started drinking again just in the nick of fucking time.
Dylan and Deadpool are brainstorming at their lockers when Billy suddenly declares, “It’s gotta be someone good…I mean really good, like – like Janet Jackson!” I’m gonna let that one slide because I know with the benefit of hindsight that someday you’ll be a wisecracking, ass-kicking superhero, but I’m watching you, Billy. Headband interrupts their conversation to wish them luck in the upcoming concert.
Dylan: Even though I’m a jackass?
Courtney: Oh, you are not.
Dylan: Sometimes I’m a jackass.
Courtney: Let’s just say sometimes I think you’re sort of a jackass.
Hmm. That didn’t go as planned. I thought if I typed the word “jackass” three times, Corky Martin would materialize in my living room and I could beat him aboot the head with a Dust Buster. Oh well, fuck it. Let’s move on.
In the girls’ locker room, Courtney tells Janice (phew!) that she’s really good at volleyball prompting her to wax nostalgic aboot playing on the volleyball team at her old school. As Courtney starts to leave, Janice nervously asks her if she’d like to get together some time at lunch hour. Headband hesitates, but when she notices the distressed look on Janice’s face, she asks, “How aboot tomorrow?” Janice is ecstatic, apparently forgetting all aboot the fact that Courtney finds her irritating.
I introduced the character of John in my Season 2 infographic post, but neglected to mention that we don’t actually meet him until the ninth episode of the season. This is the diminutive dork with elephantitis of the ears that we see Deadpool holding by the ankles during the opening credits. Anyhow, John is pounding on the soda machine in frustration when Billy walks over and tells him that there’s a special spot that when struck with a certain finesse – voila! – produces the can of soda. John is audibly amazed at Deadpool’s super powers, so his new acquaintance informs him that “it’s all in the rhythm…just like drumming”. He goes on to tell him that he’s in a rock band and that they’ll be playing The Avalon before he’s distracted from his self-promoting diatribe by the appearance of Ashley in the lounge.
As Erin and Leah look on from a nearby bench, Deadpool tells Ashley that he “really let Chris and Dylan have it” for rejecting her as the band’s singer. She blows off his unnecessary concern, but he continues to insist that he thought she was great. Ashley affectionately touches Billy’s arm and again tells him that he’s sweet as she gets up to go to class.
Erin: Major crush! Major crush! Major crush!
Leah: Isn’t it hilarious how a crush can turn an intelligent boy into an idiot?
Erin: Only Billy wasn’t that intelligent to begin with.
Leah opines that she doesn’t even know any intelligent boys, so Dumbo Ears who was eavesdropping by the soda machine this whole time chimes in to inform her that he’s not surprised, since “intelligent boys don’t go anywhere near girls!”
Deadpool is leaning over the back of the booth in The Avalon pinball room asking Dylan incessant moronic questions while Leather Jacket tries to work on a book report. Billy takes a seat and tries to get Dylan to advise what he should do if he’s unsure whether a certain girl likes him or not, ignoring his mentor’s annoyed attempts to brush him off. Realizing that Deadpool won’t leave him in peace until he gets an answer, he tells him to “buy her something expensive”.
Courtney and Arseman stroll through the student lounge discussing Dylan’s quest for a lead singer. Courtney thinks that he must be desperate, because he even asked her if she’d like to audition, so Arseman hands her a ruler as a prop microphone and orders her to sing. To my horror, she obliges Sassy Afro and begins to drone “Michael rowed the boat ashore, allelu—” before mercifully cutting her song short and whining, “I can’t!” Those of you who’ve been reading Notes From The Avalon since its inception will understand the significance of what follows.
Arseman: Well, that’s kind of a lame song anyway. See, a rock singer’s gotta be really aggressive. Like, um, you know that old song “Mama Says Be Glad”?
Courtney: Sort of.
Arseman: God, how does it go? (singing into the ruler while gettin’ jiggy wit it in the middle of the student lounge) Well, I’m too young to fly and I’m too old to cry, but Mama says be glad I’m young and I don’t ask why, ‘cause I’m fifteen, not old enough to be free! Yeah, I’m fifteen years old, and that’s the trouble with me!
The curiously large crowd in the student lounge (which Courtney referred to as “the cafeteria” just a moment ago) responds with thunderous applause as Dylan approaches from the locker vestibule and excitedly asks Arseman if she’d like a job.
An exterior shot of the school signals a scene change, but in its wake, we’re right back in the lounge listening to Dylan insist that Arseman has to audition for the band. She vacillates for a bit before Dylan tells her to be at the garage at 4:00.
Next we see Leather Jacket ambushing Ashley at her locker with the news of Arseman’s heretofore hidden talent: “She’s really got a…a style! I think we finally found our lead singer!” Ashley jokingly tells him aboot Deadpool’s allegation that he lit into him and Chris for rejecting her and they have a laugh before Dylan thanks her for understanding and then pulls this shit…
…a bold public display that unwittingly causes this shit:
At the mall clothing store, Billy is inspecting the price tags attached to several garments he has laid oot on the counter, hoping to find something at least moderately affordable with which to impress Whisperina. When he expresses consternation that something as simple as a scarf can be so expensive, the same obnoxious employee that helped to convince Who Farted to buy an overpriced skirt with her dad’s credit card starts to play the same poverty-shaming game with Deadpool. Incidentally, just over Billy’s shoulder, the black skirt with white polka dots that enabled Who Farted to take Hillside by storm is hanging on the wall. I’d really like to buy it for Janice, but if the merchandise in this place is oot of Ryan Reynolds’ price range, I’m sure I can’t afford to make such a gesture.
Arseman and Courtney are having a stupid conversation by the soda machine when Janice comes around the corner and deliberately avoids eye contact as she walks by. Arseman calls oot to her, so she immediately begins to apologize for eavesdropping, then nervous wrecks her way through an over-the-top effluvium of encouragement aboot Arseman’s upcoming audition. All the while, Arseman and Courtney are condescendingly staring at her like she’s a retarded kitten caught up in a ball of yarn. Janice finally runs off and Courtney decides that “she’s actually kind of okay” and Arseman seems to agree, adding that “she just needs to calm down a little”.
Arseman walks off and Courtney approaches Janice at a table in the lounge. Shit Drapes proceeds to break their lunch date for tomorrow and Janice understandably interprets this as yet another blow-off before Courtney clarifies, “How aboot this afternoon?” Good save, Headband. For a second there, I thought I was going to have to make an impromptu trip to Vancouver and go all Deadpool on your sorry ass.
Chris shows up late to the garage for Arseman’s audition. Not wishing to waste any more time, Dylan asks everyone present, “You wanna do ‘Mama Says Be Glad’ again?”, which I assume is a rhetorical question because it’s the only fucking song we’ll hear them play from here on oot. Billy gets up to adjust his snare and excitedly asks his bandmates, “Oh, hey, did you guys see that New Kids special on TV last night? They had some really great dance moves! We should try something like that!” Okay, Deadpool, listen up. In a couple of decades, you’ll have more than enough cred to get away with publicly airing your abysmal musical tastes – hell, when the time comes, I’ll even forgive you for ear-raping me and millions of other viewers with Chicago’s god-awful eighties abomination “You’re The Inspiration” – but those days are pretty far off, so you might want to keep your appreciation of audio atrocities under wraps for now. Chris responds, “The New Kids are goofs – and so are people who like them” before they launch into a painfully uninspired rendition of MSBG. When the song ends, Billy and Dylan seem ready to offer Arseman the gig but Chris asks her to step ootside so they can discuss things. As soon as she exits, Chris explains that he thinks she’s alright, but he doesn’t want her to be “too sure of herself” and wants to ensure that “she knows her place”. After a few more seconds, they ask her back in and tell her that she’s hired, but the Sass Master turns the tables and wonders aloud whether she even wants to be hired. She tells them that since she auditioned for them, it’s their turn to audition for her. Taking a seat and crossing her legs, she confidently instructs the dumbstruck trio, “Whenever you’re ready, Guys. Rock on!”
At The Avalon, Courtney is giving Janice tips on how to play pinball. After tapping lightly at the buttons for aboot a nanosecond, Janice throws in the towel and declares, “See? I totally blew it!” which doesn’t illustrate her lack of self-confidence as much as it does the fact that THE FUCKING PINBALL MACHINE ISN’T EVEN PLUGGED IN!! Courtney points oot that her initials, along with Matt’s and Jake’s, are displayed on the high scores list, prompting Janice to gush, “Wow! You guys are famous!” She expresses her envy towards pretty much everybody who isn’t her, gaining exponential psychotic steam with every word that wind sprints oot of her mouth as she treats Courtney to the most exquisite mental breakdown ever captured on celluloid:
Janice: I want to do something. Like at my old school. I was on the soccer team…everybody liked me. I was smart…and I come here and it’s not just that I’m not popular anymore, it’s also…I’ve turned into this idiot! I open my mouth and the stupidest things come oot! (a kid enters through the rear door and hurries away from her presence) There, see? I hear what I’m saying and I see people look at me like I’m crazy and I think, ‘Janice, SHUT UP’, but I can’t!! I’ve forgotten how to talk and I’ve forgotten how to shut up! SEE?! I CAN’T EVEN SHUT UP NOW!!”
More so than any of the performances we’ve seen from Laura Harris, Rekha Shah’s delivery of this glorious public meltdown defies my ability to describe it. Blindsided by this unexpected display of lunacy, Courtney tells her that it’s okay as Janice collapses into her arms and hugs Headband with all of her might.
Back at the garage, Arseman’s stone-faced reaction to the band’s performance seems to be the last straw for Chris who shouts in frustration, “Hey, take the job or don’t take it!” Sassy Ass goes off on some shit her father taught her aboot never signing a contract until you’ve thought aboot it for at least 24 hours before sashaying her self-satisfied derriere oot the door.
Matt trudges into The Avalon and Ashley says hi from her table by the door. He reluctantly returns her greeting before walking back to the pinball room. Whisperina heaves a sigh and grumbles to herself, “how come the girl always follows the guy?” before getting up to follow him. She stands, arms crossed, next to the inoperable pinball machine:
Ashley: so, how’s it going?
Matt: Hey, fine. Good, thanks.
Ashley: you know, i’ve been talking to courtney. we’re getting to be friends again.
Matt: That’s good, too.
Ashley: yeah. even when people care aboot each other a lot, they still have misunderstandings. but then they find ways to clear them up, right? and they can start over?
Matt: Why? You having misunderstandings with DYLAN?
Matt: ‘Cause you sure don’t seem to misunderstand each other! You seem to “understand” each other just fine!!
Ashley: what are you getting at? there’s nothing going on with dylan. we’re friends.
Matt: Yeah, real good friends from what I’ve seen! So where do I fit in? You having fun keeping me on a string while you’re playing with Dylan?!
Ashley: what are you talking aboot?
Matt: Or do you just keep me around so he doesn’t take you for granted?
Ashley: this is crazy!
Matt: Either way, it’s nice to feel useful.
Ashley: you creep! how come I never noticed what a creep you are?! were you always like this?
Matt: Were YOU?!
Ashley: you know something? i’m just really glad we broke up because now i don’t have to put up with any of this!
Matt: Hey, I’ll drink to that!
Ashley: you probably will! and it’ll be all my fault, won’t it? like everything was always my fault!!
Well, I wouldn’t go that far, Ashley. I’m pretty sure you weren’t responsible for the Crusades or the rise and fall of the Third Reich, but when it comes to Matt’s obvious alcoholic relapse – yeah, that one’s on you. Hell, you nearly drive me back to the bottle every time I have to transcribe one of your ridiculous whispered tirades. So nostrovia, Matt! How aboot we go for some beer and baguettes, eh?
Before I jump into today’s episode, I thought it might be fun to give you a little backstory aboot my relationship with Fifteen. In 1992, I was a drunken 22-year-old college dropoot living with a roommate in a shithole apartment in New Brunswick, NJ. I spent much of my time splayed oot on the sofa with a six pack, staring idly at the television. These were the early days of Roseanne, and I remember taking in many episodes of that sitcom in its indisputable heyday. But there was one show that was prominent above all the rest in my viewing rotation and that, of course, was Fifteen. Initially, I just stumbled upon an episode in progress and immediately understood its infinite potential for parody, which in those days consisted of me yelling stupefied vulgarities at the TV screen. But that alone wasn’t enough to make me obsess over a poorly produced Nickelodeon children’s soap opera. It would take something more than that to jumpstart my lifelong fandom, something that reached into the very depths of my soul and made me question everything I believed. That something was Laura “Liz” Harris, the actress who played the part of the soft-spoken, inappropriately libido stirring, infuriating, bipolar waif named Ashley Fraser. In other words, it was L-O-V-E that made me a lifelong devotee of the students of Hillside.
And that’s why it’s all the more confounding as I revisit Fifteen a quarter of a century later to realize that Ashley is a fucking self-absorbed moron whose affections I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. Alcohol can really mess with a lonely young guy’s sense of discrimination. Just ask Matt.
Matt, Dave and four members of the Jock Squad are crammed into a booth at The Avalon after the game. Apparently, Matt scored two points during his brief time on the court and now he’s feigning humble embarrassment while Dave and his teammates shower him with effusive praise as if he’d just bested Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time scoring record. Following an impromptu chant of “MATT-MATT-MATT-MATT!”, the four jocks get up to leave, and a briefly audible moment of their simultaneous banter while they gather their things reminds me that “turkey” was still considered a viable insult in 1992. On the one hand, it’s a relief to be rid of this boisterous crowd of cliché-spouting stereotypes, but on the other, their departure just leaves us with Dave sitting across from Matt and I fear that taking in much more of his deadpanned verbal chloroform may trigger a spontaneous acute encephalopathic coma from which I’ll never awaken. Such are the risks of great endeavors performed for the betterment of humanity.
I’ve meandered too far from the action at hand, and for that, I apologize. Dave gives his hero a boring little pep talk, telling him that in no time, he’ll be back to scoring 18 to 20 points per game and “it’ll be just like old times.” Matt responds, “Not exactly. If it was like the old days, I’d be sitting here with Ashley.”
In the student lounge, Brooke is giving Who Farted’s old lady thrift store ootfit a thorough once over. She concludes that her new little minion could look really good, “if you just put yourself together a bit better.” Who Farted moans that her “clothing allowance” doesn’t allow for her to make high fashion choices, and Brooke is absolutely dumbstruck at the idea of being so financially limited. Brooke offers to accompany her to the mall at lunchtime to help her pick oot a more suitable ootfit, but Who Farted expresses hesitation at using her dad’s credit card for such a frivolous purpose.
Dylan enters The Avalon and approaches Chris at the counter.
Dylan: Mind if I sit down?
Chris: It’s a free country.
Dylan: Yeah. Listen, the band’s going nowhere unless we get it together. Together, like all of us. You, me and Billy.
Chris: You, me…and Billy the Kid? Terrific.
Dylan: He’s okay.
Chris: Yeah, sure.
Dylan: Aboot the other day…
Chris: Yeah, what aboot it?
Dylan: Could we just forget it?
Chris: Forget it?! You tried to show me up…in front of Ashley!
Dylan: You were being a jerk.
Chris: Don’t push it, Dylan! Ashley’s a big girl now. Besides, she can take care of herself.
Dylan: She’s a friend of mine. Okay, look, could we just get on with it? I’ll stay off your toes, you stay off mine, deal?
Chris: Yeah, okay. Deal.
Dylan: Have you got that?!
Chris: I said deal, didn’t I?
Dylan: Okay. Now aboot the band…we need a good lead singer and I think I’ve got an idea.
Deadpool sits down next to Ashley in the student lounge. As they engage in small talk, Billy’s mannerisms betray more than mild infatuation with his sister’s former bestie, though she doesn’t seem to be picking up on that vibe. She asks him how the band is doing and he replies, “Hey, we’re getting real good! We’re doing some New Kids stuff…and some metal.” Ashley feigns interest before asking Billy if he’s seen Courtney. She asks him to tell his sister that she’s looking for her, and he invites her to stop by the garage some time to hear them play. In case you weren’t paying attention, what she’ll be hearing if she decides to take him up on his offer is some New Kids stuff…and some metal.
Pivoting from one pubescent crush to another, he walks over to Amanda’s table.
Billy: It’s great to see her back, huh?
Amanda: Yeah. You two seem to get along real well.
Billy: I guess not everyone finds me hopelessly immature.
Amanda: No? Then why don’t you ask her oot?
This is a tangled fucking web in which you’ve ensnared yourself, Wade Winston Wilson. And since you mentioned it, who’s balls did you have to fondle to get your very own movie?
Dylan spots Ashley at her locker and asks her if it’s rough being back, leading me to wonder what the hell they’ve been talking aboot since she set up camp in his garage almost a week ago. They’re interrupted by Matt greeting Dylan with a sarcastic, “Hey, it’s the Big Rocker!”, to which Dylan replies, “Hey, it’s the Hero of the Hoops!” Somebody needs to school these two idiots on the nuances of trash talk stat. As Dylan stands awkwardly between them, Matt and Ashley exchange some words aboot Friday’s basketball game and the fact that Matt had been hoping to see her there. Reluctantly realizing he’s a third wheel, Matt finally takes his leave. Ashley tells Dylan, “i wish you guys would get along,” to which James Dean replies, “Hey, we get along. We have a great relationship. I can’t stand him and he can’t stand me, either. It’s perfect!” He changes the subject and tells Ashley that he didn’t just come here to watch her throw around books and lunch bags as she struggles to locate her math book. This leads to Dylan’s previously quoted declaration that “there’s more to life than a math book,” and when Whisperella retorts, “like what?”, he enthusiastically responds, “Rock and roll! R & B, metal…heavy metal!” This is, of course, Dylan’s lead-in to asking Ashley to audition for the band’s lead singer spot, a proposition she deems ludicrous because she can’t sing. She insists that it’s a crazy idea, but he just tells her to be at the garage to audition after school.
Oh man, I didn’t realize it would happen so early on, but we’re aboot to get our first glimpse of the fabled mall to which these little douchebags are always referring. The scene opens on this generic shot of shoppers strolling past various stores and kiosks:
However, the only establishments we will ever see these kids patronize for the remainder of the series are the clothing store in which we now find Brooke and Who Farted that boasts approximately four racks of shirts and skirts and the tiny café adjoining it. Don’t any of these adolescent shit stains ever get a hankering for Orange Julius?
Brooke is holding up a black skirt with white polka dots to Who Farted’s shapeless frame, declaring that she looks “really good!” Who Farted is still hesitant to use her father’s credit card for the purchase of new clothes, but when the girl behind the register presumptively asks, “Will that be cash?”, Brooke’s subsequent antagonism causes her to cave and buy the skirt.
Ashley sheepishly approaches the table in the lounge where Courtney is doing homework and apologizes for how she acted yesterday. Headband turns the tables and apologizes for almost dating Matt and it seems all is right with the world again before Ashley dramatically whispers, “things have changed, haven’t they? a lot of things are different. i gotta go.” Maybe it would be best if you just kept your apologies to yourself, Asshole.
At The Avalon, Matt is either pretending to play or dry-humping the dysfunctional pinball machine when Dave tells him that he was talking to Coach Williams earlier and the coach “wanted to know if you had your…problem under control.”
Matt: My problem?
Dave: Yeah…you know.
Matt: No, I don’t know.
Dave: You know, your drinking and all.
Matt: Hey – I don’t have a drinking problem!
Dave: Yeah, I know, but—
Matt: So what is this?! The coach got you spying for him?
Dave: No! Hey, look, he was just worried.
Matt: He’s worried? So you told him I have it all under control, right?
Dave: Yeah, I told him—
Matt: That’s just great! Thanks a lot! Man, I used to have a couple beers on Friday night and all of a sudden – wham! – everyone thinks that I’m some kind of alcoholic or something! Well, I’m not, so do me a favor, will ya? Run along and tell Coach Williams that I haven’t had a beer in weeks! Nothing! Not one drop!! ZIP!!! That oughta satisfy him. And while you’re at it, do me another favor – STAY OOT OF MY FACE!!
That was fucking awesome, but it would have been even better had it been Jake instead of Dave on the receiving end.
Back at Hillside, Ashley’s still searching for her math book in the student lounge when Deadpool walks over and asks if she’s looking for something. When she explains her predicament, he reaches down to the chair right next to him and holds up the missing textbook that this moron somehow failed to locate even though she’s been ostensibly hunting it down since the beginning of the fucking episode. She tells Billy that he’s sweet and that she’ll see him after school when she comes to Dylan’s garage to audition, sending him into a daydream involving him and his newest crush in formal wear at a candlelit table. In his fantasy, Ashley showers him with adoring praise and declares that he “really made it” while Deadpool casually brushes off his myriad accomplishments with false humility. She tells dream-Billy that he’s got “a boyish charm with a macho edge” and that he’s “dangerously irresistible”. What’s ironic, of course, is that in aboot 20 years’ time, young Billy’s fantasy will pale in comparison to Ryan Reynolds’ reality.
Who Farted is wearing her new ootfit when she enters the locker vestibule with Brooke. Chris, leaning over the stairway bannister, leers at her as she approaches and asks her if she got a new haircut or something. While she’s drinking in his flattery, the Jock Squad gallops down the stairs and each of them immediately starts fawning all over her as if she actually acquired a new face rather than a fairly standard-issue polka dot dress from the only clothing store at the only mall in town. She walks off with the jocks, bumping into Amanda who enthuses, “Nice ootfit!” Finding herself alone with her little sister, Brooke complains aboot the shallowness of people who overreact to something like a new dress, when “it’s what’s on the inside that really matters.” Amanda sneers, “Right. You know, you’re looking a little bleak. You should get Stacy to go to the mall with you…maybe she can give you a few tips.” All of that would probably have been quite amusing if I didn’t fucking hate Who Farted with every fiber of my being.
It’s audition time! Even though we’re only afforded two verses of Ashley’s cringe-worthy performance of some hastily penned fake pop song, I feel compelled to say so much more aboot it than I’m probably capable. You know, I used to devote my blog to things like quantum mechanics, Zen Buddhism, and a host of other ontological and epistemological topics, but never have I found myself so bereft of adequate words as when I need to verbally illustrate the indescribable phenomenon that is Laura Harris’ portrayal of this pink lunatic. Billy gushes that she was great while Chris makes it abundantly clear that he thought she sucked, so Dylan asks Ashley to come back later so that the band can discuss things. The ensuing band meeting goes exactly as you’d expect, with Chris advising Dylan that it’s his responsibility to tell her that she’s too shitty to sing for their shitty band: “She’s rotten, and you’ve got to tell her. Your problem, Rocker.”
At The Avalon, Brooke is trying to get Who Farted to rethink her perplexingly popular new look, declaring that she may have made a “terrible mistake” for talking her into something that “basically just doesn’t suit you.” Sensing that her newly stylish underling isn’t persuaded by her insincere words, she steps it up a notch and tells her that she looks fat, just as Deadpool walks past and enthusiastically tells her that she looks great. You decided to play Dr. Frankenstein, Brooke, and this is your monster.
Ashley returns to the garage where Dylan proceeds to nervously inform her that she didn’t make the cut. He seems enormously relieved when it becomes apparent that she doesn’t give a flying fuck, even though she made it pretty clear when he first approached her aboot this that she didn’t give a flying fuck.
In the boys’ locker room, Dave is making to leave when Matt calls oot to him. He starts to apologize for blowing up at him earlier but ends up getting all riled up again in the process of explaining how much it bugs him when people think he has a drinking problem. I seem to recall several such “apologies” from Matt over the course of the first season. Regardless, Dave indicates that everything’s cool between them and Matt thanks him with an affectionate pat on the shoulder.
In the garage, Dylan is noodling on some pedestrian blues riff when Chris enters to make sure that Ashley was informed of her inadequacy for their crappy band. After Dylan confirms that she was, Chris advises that they’ll need to find a decent singer fast because “Jerry down at The Avalon just offered us a gig.” It seems that The Avalon is starting to host bands on the weekend and Jerry (Filth Pig?) has been tapped to scout oot talent for this new venue. However, Chris slightly overstated the situation because first Jerry needs to check them oot and, “if he likes what he hears, we’re in.” He again tells Dylan to find a good lead singer ASAP before they ecstatically high-five each other in reaction to their big break.
Have you noticed that Janice has been AWOL for two whole episodes now? Where could she be? I’m starting to get a little concerned that something tragic may have befallen her — and so are you. So stay tuned, Motherfuckers!
Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. Courtney is doing homework at a booth in The Avalon when Arseman enters. Nothing oot of the ordinary there. However, before sitting down, Sassy Afro greets the mute Avalon waiter with a cheery, “Good morning!” and he acknowledges it with a friendly wave like an actual interactive human being with volitional capabilities and social skills. I don’t know what to make of this. When zombies develop self-awareness, the implications could be frighteningly grim.
Courtney: You know something? It’s the pits!
Arseman: What is?
Courtney: What isn’t?
Uh oh. First the self-aware waiter and now a dose of early morning existential nihilism from Sweaty Headband and we’re only one minute into the episode. There’s a sense of formless impending doom brewing in my gut. Courtney proceeds to castigate herself for breaking her date with Matt, a regret that gained exponential steam after she called Ashley last night and felt like she was “talking to a stranger”. Arseman tries to assure her that “best friends talk…maybe not right away, but sooner or later”, but I’m not so sure aboot that since Ashley is clearly determined to convince everyone she knows that she is suffering from the most acute mental breakdown in the annals of abnormal psychology.
Who Farted walks through the locker vestibule and asks a couple of girls if they’ve seen Brooke around.
Unnamed Girl With Weird Haircut: Stacy, can I ask you something? Do you actually like Brooke?
WF: Well, of course. She’s my friend. What’s wrong with that?
Unnamed Goth-y Girl: Nothing, if you like people who are stuck up, snobby—
Unnamed Floral Blouse Girl: — mean!
WF: Come on, Brooke isn’t like that! I mean, she isn’t always like that. Nobody’s perfect, but even so…
Unnamed Floral Blouse Girl: Face it, Brooke’s a witch! And one of these days, somebody should tell her that.
This, of course, serves as the cue for Brooke’s wordless entrance to the scene followed by her immediate offended departure at having once again overheard too much unvarnished criticism from a couple of kids who don’t even rate a name or a mention in the credits. Running after Brooke, Who Farted briefly turns to face the trio and shouts, “Now it’s all going to be my fault! Thanks a lot!”, an impotent scolding which they clearly find highly amusing.
Deadpool is leaning over the pinball machine as Dylan plays and distractedly reacts to his little friend’s annoyed account of his dad’s increasing flakiness. In the course of his breathless monologue, Billy derisively refers to his father’s new girlfriend as “What’s Her Name”, implicating her as the probable cause of Dad’s dereliction of fatherly duties. Switching gears, Deadpool asks Dylan for advice on how to convince a girl that he’s mature. After a few attempted witticisms that fail to land, Leather Jacket advises Billy to do what every other guy does: “Fake it.”
In the student lounge, Brooke is stress-shredding a piece of scrap paper with her hands when Who Farted walks up to the table and says hi. She sits down and tries to comfort Brooke by telling her that people only talk aboot her that way because they’re jealous before gushing, “Anyway, you know what I think of you!” As Brooke is all aboot guilt by association, Who Farted’s compliments fail to defuse the tense vibe, especially since she recently dared to question Brooke’s capacity for basic compassion. Regardless, Brooke eventually concedes that since so many people seem incapable of handling her honesty, maybe she should try to act nicer, with great emphasis placed upon the word “act”. Despite the obvious spuriousness of Brooke’s reluctant declaration, Who Farted looks thrilled to hear of her horrible friend’s new resolve because she’s a fucking dingbat.
In the girls’ locker room, Courtney is attempting to get Ashley to reply to her incessant inquiries with something more enthusiastic than the disinterested monosyllabic blow-offs she’s thus far been receiving. Good luck with that, Moron. Finally, Courtney confronts her enigmatic friend with an admonishment for having been back for three days withoot even attempting to contact her, adding that the way she’s been acting towards her is “really bothering me”. The newly bitchy assertive Ashley responds with an icy glare, “okay. it’s bothering you. does that mean we have to deal with everything right now?” Courtney shakes her head in astonishment and replies, “You know something? I really think you’ve changed.”
Chris meets Dylan at his locker and gives him a world of shit for not finding the time to hold band practice this week. Dylan decides to blame an inordinate amount of homework for this lack of rehearsal time, rather than explain that he’s been harboring a fugitive mental patient in his garage. Chris responds by snarling formless derision at his bandmate before reminding him that they need to find a singer, so Dylan agrees that they should discuss the matter “in 15 minutes. Meet me at the garage.” As Dylan walks off, Chris sarcastically mutters, “Atta boy” under his breath, seeming to imply that he views Dylan as nothing more than his leather-clad lapdog.
Ashley is buying a cup of coffee at The Avalon counter when she’s approached by Brooke and Who Farted. With painfully forced graciousness, Brooke tells Whisperina that “it’s really good to have you back” before pretending to empathize with her manufactured post-private school crisis. At one point in her awkward attempt at affectionate affectation, she turns to look at Who Farted for confirmation that she sounds convincingly concerned. Brooke concludes by telling Ashley that they should get together some time and is shocked to receive nothing but a sarcastic snort by way of a reply.
Courtney spots Matt at the soda machine and asks him how it’s going. He replies that it depends upon to what particular “it” she’s referring. Feigning ignorance of her starring role in Matt’s current morose mood, Headband asks, “Well, how’s basketball, then?” He responds with a dismissive “okay” before turning to seek oot a Courtney-free spot in the lounge where he can mope in peace. She starts to explain why she broke off their date, but Matt doesn’t appear too interested in what she has to say.
Arseman’s bionic ears were attuned to this conversation occurring behind her back, so she gets up from her table to have a talk with Matt. For once, Arseman is rendered speechless by Matt’s emotionless response to her pointless concern: “Life goes on.” I gotta admit, I’m really starting to dig Matt’s newfound embrace of defeated stoicism. It’s the closest I’ve come to almost relating to one of these melodramatic little assholes over the course of 20 fucking episodes.
Meanwhile, at a nearby table in the lounge, Erin and Leah are waxing moronic aboot corned beef until Erin advises her friend that she doesn’t eat meat. Clearly dissatisfied with the results of her last attempt at verbal hostage taking, Arseman approaches their table and expresses excitement to learn that Erin is a fellow vegetarian. Deadpool overhears this exchange and opines that vegetarianism may be okay for girls, “but a guy’s not gonna last long on lettuce and alfalfa sprouts”. Billy ignores the resulting sass that spews from Arseman’s self-righteous piehole and explains that it wouldn’t make much sense for a hunter such as himself to be a vegetarian. As Deadpool saunters off, Arseman reaches Sass Level Defcon 1 to the delight of her giggling pre-teen audience.
In Dylan’s garage, Chris is sitting on the floor tapping on his bass guitar when Ashley enters. The conversation that ensues is too classic for my superfluous commentary, so I’ll just step back and let you enjoy it in all of its unadorned glory:
Ashley: oh, sorry…i thought – i’ll come back later.
Chris: Hey, come on in.
Ashley: i was just looking for dylan.
Chris: (leering) That sly dog! He tried to say he was doing homework. Nice homework!
Ashley: just tell dylan i was here?
Chris: You’re Ashley, right? I’m Chris.
Ashley: i know. would you stop staring at me?!
Chris: Hey, don’t mind me. I’m a pretty charming guy…once you get to know me..
Ashley: i’m starting to wonder if i want to know you.
Chris: (reaching oot to touch her) Now don’t be like that—
Ashley: (jumping back) knock it off!
In the nick of time, Dylan walks through the door and asks Chris if he’s interrupting something. Staring down his chauvinistic little bandmate, he menacingly advises him not to hassle his friends while the background music warns of an impending tempest brewing between these highly competitive dirt bags.
Arseman sees Courtney at her locker and showers her with unjustified optimism at the fact she saw her talking to Matt earlier. Headband responds that she doesn’t know if she’d call it talking, exactly, “just sort of exchanging sentences,” which is an interesting distinction. Arseman asks her if she’s told Ashley that she was considering going oot with Matt, so Courtney reiterates that Ashley hasn’t been very open to conversation lately. For some fucking reason, Arseman still thinks it’s Courtney’s obligation to do so, an opinion she makes abundantly and repetitively clear.
Pinky Tuscadero is studying at The Avalon when she’s startled by the sudden appearance of Matt. They manage to spend the next two minutes of airtime talking withoot saying anything at all before Matt finally invites himself to sit down. He opens by telling Ashley that it’s good to see her and wondering if perhaps they can “see a little more of each other,” oblivious to her absurdly defensive body language. When he assures her that what he’s proposing is purely platonic, she seems to relax a bit, sort of like a vampire who just saw a crucifix and then realized it was only a couple of French fries randomly laying in cruciform on her plate. For no apparent reason, he proceeds to tell his emotionally fraught ex-girlfriend that he asked Courtney oot on a date while she was away at private school. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let you gauge her priceless reaction for yourself:
She weathers this emotional blow as best she can, insincerely telling Matt that she thinks it’s a great idea for him to go oot with Courtney before desperately fleeing The Avalon.
Deadpool is standing over Erin and Leah’s table delivering what sounds like a paraphrased version of Robert Deniro’s “one shot” aesthetic from The Deer Hunter. Apparently, Billy’s reasoning faculties abandon him in the presence of the opposite sex, because he continues to try impressing them with his carnivorous braggadocio right up until the moment of Arseman’s inevitable intrusion into the conversation and its attendant unsolicited sass. Deadpool seems relatively unfazed by her sarcastic barbs until she calls him a “little macho weenie…with a Rambo complex”.
Dylan is playing pinball at The Avalon until he’s startled by Brooke and Who Farted entering from the rear door. Apparently, this is Brooke’s second attempt at image-related damage control because she proceeds to vaguely but enthusiastically offer Dylan “help” if there’s “ever anything you need a hand with”. Pretending to take the bait, Dylan asks, “You mean, like, laundry?” before poking his head into the main dining area and asking everyone present if they need their laundry done, because “Brooke’s offering!” Mortified, Brooke turns to leave and nearly runs smack into Chris who’s approaching the pinball room from the opposite direction.
The pinball room cleared of extraneous ears, Chris confronts Dylan for how he acted in front of Ashley at the garage:
Chris: You showed me up, Man! Don’t ever try that again!
Dylan: I think you want to be careful, Chris.
Chris: Just don’t do it again! Ever! Take my point?!
The animosity is reaching critical mass between these two.
Who Farted follows Brooke into her bedroom as she vents her frustration at the skepticism she received from her classmates in response to her awkward attempts at basic humanity. “Dylan laughed in my face and Ashley treated me like I was some kind of disease!” Who Farted tenders a feeble pep talk to her aggravated mentor but Brooke has already resolved to drop this pointless act and go back to being the awesome-ass bitch she was always meant to be. Her first order of business is to point oot the atrociousness of Who Farted’s dumpy ootfit: “It looks like someone threw it on you with a pitchfork”.
It’s almost as if the writers of this particular episode share my impatience with any of the ongoing plots other than that of the newly demented Ashley, because before the previous scene even has a chance to find a point, we’re back at The Avalon where an alarmingly pissed off Whisperina is confronting Courtney aboot the fact that she considered dating Matt in her absence.
Ashley: nice speech you made this morning—
Ashley: the one aboot best friends?
Courtney: I meant it!
Ashley: i’ll bet! especially the part aboot not talking. and you complained aboot me!
Courtney: Well, because you hadn’t phoned to let me know you were back in town!
Ashley: and when we did get together, what was it you didn’t tell me…aboot you and matt??
Courtney: I meant to! Really! But I didn’t go oot with him anyway. I mean, as soon as I knew you were back in town—
Ashley: great! we now have a new definition of “best friend” – someone who only does sneaky things when she thinks you won’t find oot aboot it!
Courtney: Ashley, that’s not fair!
Ashley: oh, you can think whatever you like, courtney! just do me a favor – find yourself a new best friend!
We haven’t even reached the apex of Janice’s Season 2 story arc that will culminate in the most over-the-top meltdown ever televised, but I’m guessing that this character has already managed to pull at the heartstrings of the handful of stalwart readers of Notes From The Avalon oot there. Assuming this to be so, the reason that Hillside’s hopeless ootcast elicits our empathy is simple: to varying degrees, all of us have felt her desperate sense of isolation from our peers (or even our species) at one time or another.
A real-life incarnation of a similarly unpopular teen would therefore evoke natural feelings of empathy, but this doesn’t mean that she would deserve an ounce of our sympathy. Feeling sympathetic to someone’s plight, regardless of its degree or nature, implies an acceptance of that individual as a victim of circumstance, of causes and conditions beyond her control. This viewpoint is indicative of humanity’s ultimate folly: the failure to recognize the holistic nature of all phenomena, including (especially) ourselves.
When Sigmund Freud posited the Ego and the Id as the polar drivers of our individual personalities, Western culture, as usual, couldn’t follow his necessarily abstract psychological theories withoot solidifying them into something concrete. Taken together, popular Western interpretations of Freud’s described tension between man’s levels of consciousness wind up sounding an awful lot like the Christian notion of the soul, an “eternal essence” unique to the individual struggling against the temptations of nature in all its amorality. Usually, when I point oot the arrogance inherent in such a self-absorbed viewpoint, I am met with a mere shrug of the shoulders, the verbal translation of which would be along the lines of “who cares, Asshole?” In other words, we’re cool with our conceit insofar as it mirrors that of our most arrogant creation of all: God The Father (in whose image we’re made, according to scripture). Our popular ideas of god are the natural extension of our ignorant ideas aboot ourselves that grew oot of our necessarily limited perception and refusal to investigate anything more subtle that may be underlying our surface perceptions.
Janice willfully embraces her role as a victim in the hopes that it will conversely draw people to her compassionate defense. In the last episode, Arseman tried to boost Janice’s self-esteem with some kind and pragmatic words, but this backfired because Janice was too deeply submerged in delusional feelings of helplessness to recognize a simple act of humanity. Whenever we throw up our hands in defeat and declare, “I’m hopeless!”, we are similarly ignoring that quiet wisdom which knows that we are something special precisely and only because in isolation, we are nothing at all.
All human suffering is the result of this gross misapprehension of ourselves and our universe. In fact, the entire problem was laid oot in a fragment of the previous sentence: “ourselves and our universe”. This unfortunately inescapable twist of language has taken on a life of its own well beyond mere linguistics. In order to make ourselves understandable, we must refer to apparently separate things as “this and that”, “him and her”, “us and them”, “god and nature”, “god and man”, etc. Precious few of us have done anything to cultivate a meditative mindset, therefore, we take our words as true representations of the phenomena being described, and this is where all the trouble begins. The tension between man and nature has no basis apart from our own misinterpretation of ourselves as something apart from nature, even in conflict with it.
Quite literally, you cannot be apart from nature because you are a microcosm of nature itself. By extension, you cannot be apart from any segment of humanity no matter how odious or confusing you may find them by your moral and cultural standards. We hate some people and love others because we fail to recognize every single consciousness as a manifestation of the same potential emptiness from which all phenomena spring. When we delineate our tribe at the exclusion of even a single life form, we are attempting to extricate ourselves from those aspects of reality that frighten or disgust us, never understanding that we can only be afraid or disgusted by things which we have directly experienced and we are thus judging ourselves by casting others oot of our sphere of influence and empathy.
Regardless, if you go to your grave grasping at this illusorily competitive and judgmental view of reality, nothing tragic will have occurred. Billions have already expired in the midst of such wholesale delusion and most people will continue to do so, honestly expecting an indefinite extension of individual experience in some heavenly paradise. So it goes. But if you, like Janice, suffer immensely from the incompatibility of such a philosophy with the reality of mundane experience, you’d do well to take a penetrating look into yourself. Go deep, right down to the cellular level, and what you’ll find is the Universe in all of its impartial glory, swirling, changing, expanding and contracting in the perpetual dance of creation and destruction, birth and death. One cannot exist withoot the other. Those who love life would do well to embrace death, lest they fall victim to the inevitable disappointments of their own arrogant eternalism.
So keep your chin up, Janice. Not only are you just as worthy of respect as Brooke, Dylan and the rest of the Hillside A-listers, you are, quite literally, each and every one of them. Except for Deadpool, of course. There’s only one fucking Deadpool.
I wish I had more Canadian followers. To my knowledge, Suzanne, the mind behind the hilarious My Dang Blog! is my only north-of-the-border reader and as such, she is able to notice little subtleties that may not be apparent to others. Case in point: while everyone recognizes Ryan Reynolds, Suzanne recognized Matt as Todd Talbot, currently one of the hosts of Love It Or List It Vancouver. Go check oot Suzanne’s blog — it’s a whole lot funnier than this interminable crapfest. When you return, check oot these short videos illustrating Mr. Talbot’s career arc from alcoholic teenager to baguette-battling real estate agent:
In case you were curious, I don’t have a clue why Brooke was decked oot like a Nazi Schutzstaffel officer throughoot the last episode. If it’s really bothering you, skip the middle man and submit your question directly to the source: https://johntbinkley.com/
Ashley walks in on Dylan who seems to have finally perfected Alex Lifeson’s guitar riff (and here I thought it would take him until at least 2112 to do so) and tells him that he sounds good. She advises him that she’s doing lousy because she “finally had it oot with them last night”. Dylan’s new leather jacket crinkles audibly as he performs his signature nervous move of reaching over his shoulder to touch the back of his head, asking, “Your parents?”, as if there were anyone else to whom she could possibly be referring. She whispers a melodramatic account of the confrontation, the upshot of which is that she gets to stay at Hillside although her parents aren’t too happy aboot it. She tells Dylan that she doesn’t think she can handle going to school today, so he offers to let her hang oot at his garage. She thanks him and he tells her that he’ll stop by at lunch to see how she’s doing, which warms my heart because that’s exactly what I do for my dog and I love to see people treat their pets with kindness.
Arseman and Courtney enter the locker vestibule with their inane conversation already in progress. Shit Drapes is still belaboring her self-made dating dilemma so Sassy Afro tells her that the best course of action may be to “join a nunnery”. Courtney continues to feign concern aboot the fact that Matt used to be Ashley’s boyfriend, prompting Arseman to remind her that Ashley doesn’t even live here anymore and they broke up before she left. To her mild credit, Courtney also brings up the little matter of Jake and the letters they’ve been writing to each other, but Arseman brushes off this concern by mock-quoting overly romantic phrases as if those two dullards would ever deign to indulge in such sentimental prose. Finally, she tells Courtney that she just needs to ask herself whether or not she wants to go oot with Matt just as Drinky Crow himself appears from the stairs, prompting Arseman to make tracks so they can talk in private. Matt and Courtney capitalize on this opportunity by spending the next five minutes asking each other how it’s going before finally addressing the elephant in the room:
Courtney: Matt? Listen…aboot what you were saying, you know, aboot getting together some time? Well, I’ve been thinking – I mean, I’ve really been thinking, and what it comes down to, I mean, basically…
Matt: It’s okay. I mean, I know it’s kind of complicated, so—
Courtney: I’d love to go oot with you!
For someone who finally made her decision in favor of Matt, she sure as fuck sounds just like Jake in the comically clumsy expression thereof.
At The Avalon, Janice is sucking the fumes from the bottom of her empty glass with a straw as Brooke calls oot to her. With Who Farted tagging along at her side, she tries to get Janice to spill the deets aboot her private rendezvous with Dylan, but Janice just turns and walks away causing Brooke to surmise aloud that something must have gone “disastrously wrong”.
Tenacious as ever, Brooke and Who Farted are back at Hillside trying to shake the same info oot of Dylan, who tells them that “maybe I just wanted to talk to her aboot homework or something”, but Brooke seems unwilling to buy such a pedestrian explanation.
Tenacious as ever, Deadpool sees Amanda reading in the student lounge, takes a seat next to her and asks why she hasn’t stopped by the garage to hear the band yet, oblivious to the sneering contempt he receives by way of a reply. Oot of nowhere, he mentions that he won’t be around this weekend because he’s going on a hunting trip with his dad but he will be around on Friday night before Amanda interrupts and virtually vomits the question, “Are you asking me to go oot with you?”. Billy confirms that he is, so Amanda shakes her head in disgust and tells him that she’d rather go oot with people “a little more mature than you”.
Tenacious as ever, I am now at the halfway point of the episode that marks the halfway point of Fifteen’s second season. Slow and steady wins the race.
Back at The Avalon, Brooke continues to ponder the puzzling perplexity of why Dylan would ask Janice to come to his garage, causing Who Farted to wonder aloud if it’s even any of their business. Brooke begs her pardon before declaring that it is their business, based solely upon the fact that people are refusing to answer her questions. Finally, Brooke has a sudden epiphany that Dylan was, in fact, telling the truth aboot inviting Janice over to discuss homework, and that Janice seemed so upset earlier because she had “jumped to the wild conclusion that Dylan was actually interested in her!” That’s some first rate sleuthin’, Matlock.
Amanda passes by Janice’s locker and antagonistically asks, “So how’s Dylan?” as Brooke and Who Farted appear from around the corner. As Amanda listens in, Brooke tells Janice not to be so hard on Dylan because he has trouble in school and frequently needs people to help him with his homework. Janice runs off mortified, but Amanda is nothing short of ecstatic to hear of Dylan’s continued availability. Never one to leave well enough alone, Brooke tells her sister not to get her hopes up because Dylan doesn’t like her, either. As they start to walk off, Amanda faces Who Farted and sneers, “She’s my sister. I have to put up with her. What’s your excuse?”
Dylan arrives for his promised lunchtime check-up to find Ashley sitting in a lawn chair staring into space. She asks him the time and he answers, “quarter to one”, which leads me to conclude that she’s been hanging around his garage sitting and staring in absolute silence for nearly five hours. Dylan suggests that she should come to school, but Ashley protests, doubting that anyone will understand why she’s been home for three days withoot contacting them. He tells her that they’ll understand “because they’re your friends”, to which she replies, “i don’t know” before embarking on a sad soliloquy aboot how so much has changed in the past few weeks. Dylan tries to assuage her anxiety by reminding her that “they’re still the same people…and so are you,” but even this simple statement is met by an unnecessarily cryptic reply from the Sexy Sovereign of Susurration: “am i?” After a pointedly pointless silence, she finally acquiesces to return to school with Dylan.
Matt and Dave are getting changed in the boys’ locker room after a game of one on one. Matt tells his boring little friend that the coach is going to let him play in the next game and that he has a date with Courtney on Friday night, adding “Everything’s going too well all of a sudden. Things have to even oot somehow, so now I’m waiting to get hit by a bus!” Although his unsubstantiated even-Steven philosophy is patently ridiculous, it seems he’s on to something just the same. Just substitute the word “Ashley” for “bus” and presto – we have some impressive prognostication.
In the lounge, Courtney is mock-castigating Arseman for encouraging her to go on a date with Matt when Brooke’s bellowing voice rings oot from behind their table: “Ashley! What are you doing here?” They jump up and surround their wayward friend while Dylan protectively barks away Brooke’s attempts to antagonize her. Ashley is bombarded by questions from her confused classmates, but she’s saved by the bell spared the trouble of answering by the sound of the school bell signaling the start of class. As she hurries off, she runs into Matt who shouts her name in surprise. He turns to follow her, but Dylan grabs his arm and growls, “Just give her some space!” before Arseman steps between them to stave off a fist fight. Brooke yells, “Dylan, what is going on?!” but he just shakes his head and replies, “Can’t you figure it oot?”
In the girls’ locker room, Janice is packing clothes into a duffle bag when Arseman walks behind her and says hi. She notices that Janice is nearly in tears, so she takes a seat on the bench next to her and asks if she’s okay.
Janice: I thought I was. At least I used to think so.
Arseman: What’s the problem?
Janice: You tell me. What is it that I’m doing, anyway? I mean, what am I doing wrong?
Arseman: Who says you’re doing anything wrong?
Janice: Then how come everybody hates me?
Arseman: Come on.
Janice: It’s true! Nobody even wants to talk to me!
Arseman: I’m talking to you right now.
Janice: You know exactly what I mean! People treat me like I’m some sort of virus! That never happened at my old school. I had lots of friends. So what’s going on?
Arseman guesses that maybe she’s just coming on a little too strong and that people would like her more if she gave them some space, but Janice counters that they’ve all ensured themselves plenty of space from her, “acres of it”. She gets up and walks oot of the locker room, telling Arseman “I don’t even care anymore”.
For some stupid fucking reason, the next scene opens on Erin and Leah discussing Ashley’s mysterious return to Hillside. For a much more obvious reason, I am choosing to close this paragraph after only two sentences.
Courtney and Arseman skip down the stairs and ask Dylan if he’s seen Ashley. He tells them that she probably left, so they start to grill him aboot what’s going on. Dylan replies, “Well, she’s here and she’s not going back to private school,” eliciting this face from the ever-emotive Arseman:
Realizing that his inquisitors won’t let him off that easily, he tells them that she had it oot with her parents last night, but stuck to her guns aboot not going back to private school. Courtney asks when she got back and Dylan’s reply of “two or three days ago” doesn’t sit too well with Ashley’s (former) bestie. Arseman asks her if she’s still planning to go oot with Matt now that Ashley’s back and Courtney responds by heaving a sigh and walking away.
At the Morgan mansion, Brooke is treating Who Farted to an overjoyed synopsis of the deliciously stunning day through which they just lived: “What a day! I mean, what an amazing day!! First Janice, and then Ashley! Slinking back home after getting kicked oot of private school!” Who Farted points oot the arbitrary nature of Brooke’s declaration and deems it unlikely that Ashley got kicked oot of school. Brooke reacts by trashing Ashley incessantly until Who Farted musters some uncharacteristic courage:
WF: Brooke, can I say something? Sometimes…I mean, every once in a while, couldn’t you sort of be a little bit nicer?
Brooke: I beg your pardon?
WF: I mean, Ashley’s probably having a really hard time right now, so—
Brooke: Are you saying I’m not nice?
WF: Well, you sometimes say things—
Brooke: I speak my mind! Absolutely! I’m a very honest person. Is there something wrong with that?
WF: That’s not what I meant.
Brooke: THEN WHAT DID YOU MEAN?!
Brooke: Stacy, sometimes I think you have an attitude problem!
Matt enters The Avalon, approaches the booth where Courtney’s sitting by herself and tells her he’s been looking for her. He asks her if she knew that Ashley was back and reacts to her negative reply with shock that her ostensible best friend didn’t even call her. In response to Courtney countering with the same question, Matt pulls a familiar phrase from his obvious assfull of precisely worded familiar phrases: “I’m probably just aboot the last person she’d call.” He then changes the subject with a smile and tells Headband that it’s really good to see her. To absolutely no one’s surprise but Matt’s, Shit Drapes uses this as her opening to break their Friday night date and any potential future dates because, “I just can’t. It’s too complicated.” She gets up and flees the café revealing Dave lurking from the pinball room.
Dave: So, uh…how’s it going?
Matt: Fine. Perfect, even. It’s all turning oot just the way things are supposed to turn oot. I mean, remember that bus I was telling you aboot? Well, it’s arrived…right on schedule. Typical, huh? Just typical. Just when everything seems to be coming together, it all falls apart!
That’s called entropy, Matt. I used to have a blog that was all aboot it.