Recap: It's SAT week again at West Beverly High. Brenda, Donna, Kelly, David, and Steve are attending a review course on the SAT, listening with rapt attention as the instructor offers helpful tips and strategies on how to take the test and work through the questions. He recommends a four step process: scan, discard, select, move on. After the course ends, the teens are approached by a reporter named Beth Nielson. She tells them she's from KTMB TV, and asks if any of them would like to talk on camera about the pressures of preparing for the college entrance exam. They all stare at her mutely until Brenda finally volunteers.
Steve and Kelly observe Brenda as she's interviewed by Beth. Suddenly, Steve notices a Back Story badge and becomes enraged. He marches toward Brenda and yanks away the microphone she's talking into. Beth snaps at him to give her the mic back, but he ignores her and lambastes Back Story for being a “sleazy, junk-a-thon news magazine” that goes out of its way to ruin people's lives on national TV. He berates Beth for the hatchet job that Back Story recently did on Samantha Sanders, so Beth tries to explain that she's new to the show and had nothing to do with slandering the washed-up actress. Kelly, Donna, and David rush over to calm Steve down and urge him to leave. He tosses the mic back to Beth and threatens to break it next time, along with her camera. After he storms out, a mortified Brenda hangs back and explains to Beth that Samantha Sanders is his mother. Beth graciously thanks her for doing the interview, and wishes her good luck on the SAT.
West Beverly High. Brandon finds Steve at his locker and looks amused as he tells him he heard about the way he wailed on an unsuspecting newswoman. The two are then distracted by the spectacle of Nikki Witt, who's salivating over Brandon from across the hall. She gives him a flirty little wave, but Brandon just looks annoyed. He tells Steve he's not interested in Nikki because: a) she's only a sophomore, and b) last summer she shamelessly threw herself at Young David Silver, as Brandon likes to call him. Out of nowhere, a pretty brunette sidles up to Steve and asks him if they're still on for later. He says yes and promises to be at the Peach Pit at 8:00pm. She smiles in response, then casually saunters off. Brandon's impressed by what appears to be a very hot girl interested in Steve, but Steve grimly explains that she's the girlfriend of B.J. Harrison, a former West Beverly Hills graduate who's now in college. He gloomily predicts that B.J. will probably be sitting between the two of them during their mysterious get-together.
In another hallway, Brenda tells Kelly that she's craving a cigarette. Kelly gets all judgey about her nicotine addiction, but Brenda denies being a full fledged addict and says she just needs a smoke to help her deal with the stress of the upcoming SAT. Kelly admonishes her for her stinky, unhealthy habit, and points out that smoking actually increases stress levels. She also warns Brenda that if Mama and Papa Walsh discover her filthy habit, they'd flip out. Brenda wryly adds that Dylan too would flip out, since apparently he's expressed a strong aversion to kissing girls whose mouths taste like ashtrays. Dylan suddenly strides over, so Kelly scuttles off...but when she's further down the hall she sneaks a peek at them over her shoulder. She stares wistfully as the two engage in their usual nauseating face sucking.
In a different hallway, Nikki asks Donna why everyone at school seems so rattled lately. Donna explains that people are stressed out because of the SAT, which is scheduled for the next Saturday. Nikki then asks her what Brandon's “story” is, since he seems so serious all the time. Donna chuckles and tells her he's only like that at school. When he's at the Peach Pit, for instance, he's far more light-hearted.
When school lets out, Beth Nielson is loitering near the campus with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. When she spots Brenda, she runs over to her and asks her if she'd like to go somewhere to talk. Brenda's up for it, so the two go to a nearby cafe. As Beth puffs on her cigarette, she tells Brenda that she wants to do a Back Story segment on the [spoiled rotten, self-entitled] teenagers who live in the most glamorous city in America. Brenda looks wary about getting involved with a reputed junk-a-thon news magazine, but Beth assures her that the segment would un-salaciously focus on ordinary kids living in an extraordinary community. She cunningly adds that Brenda's A-list friends totally remind her of the crew she used to hang with in high school. Brenda asks Beth if she can have one of her cigarettes...and after a few seconds she happily agrees to help out with the segment. Excitedly, she asks Beth if she gets to be on camera again. Why yes, Miss Narcissist. You do!
The Peach Pit. Brandon is working a very busy dinner shift. He sees B.J. Harrison and his girlfriend and lets them know that Steve is running a bit late for their meeting, but that he's on his way. Brenda enters the diner and tells Brandon she needs to talk to him. He gives her a funny look and leans toward her and sniffs, then makes a face and asks her why she's wearing so much perfume. No doubt she's trying to cover up her stenchy smoking habit. Brandon is too busy to talk at the moment, but tells her he'll make time for her later. Steve arrives and goes right over to B.J.'s table for the mystery meeting. After that, Nikki ambles into the diner and strategically seats herself at the counter where Brandon is currently stationed. She gives him a friendly hello, but he's so busy he barely acknowledges her and just shoves a menu in her general direction.
Steve asks B.J. if he has any term papers lying around, and then whines about how hard senior year is and how much work the teachers are piling on. B.J. doesn't really give a shit and gets down to the business at hand. He pulls a key out of his pocket and informs Steve that it's the master key to West Beverly High. It unlocks every office, filing cabinet, and grade bank in the entire school. He refers to it as a “legacy key” and tells Steve that every year it gets passed along to a new person so the shady tradition can continue indefinitely. Steve asks B.J. why he's the chosen one, and B.J.'s flimsy explanation is that he wants Steve to one day join his fraternity. Seriously? He wants to hang with that bonehead? Steve is intrigued by the prospect of having a legacy key, but is also worried about the consequences if he gets caught. B.J. derisively tells him if he doesn't want the key, he can easily find someone else to take it off his hands. He tells Steve he'll give him the weekend to think it over...and on his way out warns Steve not be a jerk for once in his life. Charming guy.
Brandon has finished his shift and is in the back room talking to Brenda. He's complaining about how annoying Nikki was when she couldn't decide on the ice cream flavor she wanted to order. Brenda just rolls her eyes and encourages him to ask the girl out, but Brandon is averse to the idea because Nikki makes him nervous, her being so young and innocent and all. Brenda wryly tells him that appearances can be deceiving. Heh. A few minutes later, they're heading home in Brandon's Mustang. Brenda tells him about how she's planning to help Beth Nielson with a segment on what it's like to grow up in Beverly Hills. Brandon is skeptical about the motives of the Back Story reporter, and strongly advises her to get Mrs. Teasley's permission first. Brenda says she's eager to help out her new friend because things haven't been the same with her regular friends ever since she returned from Paris. Donna's always off doing something with her pubescent boyfriend, and Kelly's been excessively moody lately. She remarks that if it weren't for Dylan, she wouldn't have anyone. Hmm...ironic.
The Walsh house. Brenda and Brandon arrive home just as their parents are on their way out to dinner...but then stupid Brenda drops her pack of cigarettes on the floor, so the Walshes immediately put their dinner plans on hold so they can lecture Brenda about the health risks of smoking. Brenda downplays her addiction and insists she's only smoked a couple of times, and tells them they're overreacting. Mama Walsh solemnly reminds her about the breast lump scare episode in Season 1 and invokes the history of cancer in their family. Oh right - poor Aunt Sheila died of breast cancer at the age of 35. Brenda assures them she can quit smoking anytime she wants to, so Papa Walsh orders her to quit, like right now. She unconvincingly tells him it'll be no problem.
West Beverly High. Donna and David are in the DJ booth, studying for the SAT. Donna glances out the window and notices Brenda and Kelly arguing...yet again. The two are rehashing Brenda's filthy smoking habit and Kelly says she's glad Mama and Papa Walsh busted her. Brenda is annoyed that Kelly isn't being more sympathetic toward her. Dylan slouches over and wants to know what they're talking about, so Brenda confesses that her parents found her with a pack of cigarettes...and then claims she's not actually a smoker. Dylan argues that non-smokers don't generally carry around packs of cigarettes, and then Kelly rebukes her for lying about her addiction. Brenda declares that she's already quit, and swiftly changes the subject to the upcoming SAT. Dylan tells her he's not planning to take the test because he'll be visiting his father in prison. Brenda reminds him that if he doesn't take the SAT on Saturday, he'll miss the college deadline. Dylan shrugs, as he clearly doesn't give a rat's ass. Brenda snaps that he's so frustrating, and Kelly chimes in and says there's no law that states everyone has to go straight to college right after high school. Brenda bitchily thanks her and stalks off. She heads straight over to the DJ booth and asks David if she can borrow the video scrapbook he cobbled together. Donna clucks sympathetically and tells Brenda she hates seeing her and Kelly fighting all the time. Brenda snorts and tells her she should express that sentiment to Kelly.
Brenda heads over to the Back Story Winnebago, which is parked near the school grounds. Beth looks happy to see her little friend, and even happier that Brenda brought along the school's latest yearbook and the video scrapbook. Beth tells her she thinks the segment will be dynamite, an accurate descriptor since it eventually blows up in Brenda's face. Badoom bah! Brenda informs her that Back Story will need to acquire permission from the school's vice principal before the segment airs. Beth seems agreeable to that, and says, “Whatever's standard.” Uh huh. Brenda then tells her she has to get back to class, but Beth gets all disappointed and tells Brenda she hoped she could stay and go over the video footage with her. Brenda hesitates for a second, but easily gives in. She follows Beth inside the Winnebago, and is impressed by all the recording equipment. Beth boasts that they can edit video footage right there in the camper. Ah, the magic of early '90s technology.
Brandon and Ahn-drea are walking down the hallway, discussing The Blaze. Ahn-drea tells him that Nikki has suddenly volunteered to work on the paper, and Brandon rolls his eyes and looks dismayed.
Back Story Winnebago. Brenda and Beth are perusing the video scrapbook together. After they watch a clip of Donna, Beth remarks that the girl strikes her as kind of an airhead. Haha! Good call. Brenda downplays Donna's airheadedness, and reveals that she has a learning disability...and that she and Donna were enrolled in a French immersion program in Paris last summer. They then check out footage of Kelly, aka "The Other Blonde". Brenda says when she first met Kelly she thought she was a typical Beverly Hills snob with a BMW and a nose job. She lets it slip that Kelly used to be “pretty loose”, but that she's far less slutty now and has turned her life around. It's awesome that she's telling this to a tabloid reporter she barely knows. Brenda then gets a sudden craving for nicotine and asks Beth if she can have another one of her cigarettes.
West Beverly High. Mrs. Teasley reprimands Steve for repeatedly parking his Corvette in the faculty parking lot, and threatens to have it towed next time. B.J. Harrison makes a sudden, surprise appearance at the school and Mrs. Teasley immediately starts gushing over the alumnus. She reminds anyone within earshot that B.J. made the Dean's List, as well as the Boy's Honor Society three terms in a row. No doubt the legacy key helped make those achievements possible. Steve is clearly thinking this too, and looks contemplative.
Brenda is sitting in an armchair, describing to a chain-smoking Beth what it's like to be a teenager in Beverly Hills. After the interview, Brenda looks at her watch and is startled by the late hour. She inadvertently blew off her entire afternoon. She jokingly asks Beth if she has a toothbrush to get rid of the cigarette stench from her teeth, and Beth just grimaces and shakes her head.
Dylan's house. When Brenda arrives, Dylan greets her with a kiss, but then makes an ew face when he tastes the cigarettes on her lips. He reminds her that he has no desire to have a relationship with a smoker, so Brenda agrees to quit smoking if he considers taking the SAT on Saturday. He agrees to consider it and kisses her again...but nearly retches from her stinky cigarette breath.
The Blaze newsroom. Nikki hovers over Brandon as he proofreads an article she wrote for the paper. When her presence becomes too annoying for him, he tells her he can't focus on her article right now, and that Ahn-drea is really the person who can give her written word the attention it deserves. Nikki seems amenable to that, but also kind of clueless to his obvious disinterest in her and leaves. Ahn-drea tells Brandon he can't keep pawning Nikki off on her, and then advises him to “nip it in the bud”, because it's no fun pining over someone who's not interested. Heh. It probably feels like a slap in the face to Ahn-drea when Brandon and Nikki actually hook up at the end of the episode.
Back Story Winnebago. Brenda stops by to see Beth, but this time Beth acts all cagey and tells her that she and her co-worker are busy piecing the segment together. Brenda tells her she can't stay anyway, but needs to get back the video scrapbook so she can return it to David. Beth goes inside the Winnebago to retrieve the video and tells her sleazy looking co-worker that Brenda Walsh is outside. Sleazy grumps about how boring the segment about the West Beverly Hills teens is, and that it needs a better hook. There's no heat! There's no ooh! Beth tells him she promised Brenda she wouldn't exploit her and her friends, so Sleazy jests that he hopes Brenda got that in writing. He then tells Beth that if she refuses to do an exploitative hatchet job on these kids for the purpose of ratings, then he will. An unsettled Beth goes back outside to give Brenda the video scrapbook. Brenda thanks her and excitedly tells her she can't wait to see the segment. What a gullible dumbass.
The Blaze newsroom. Mrs. Teasley is angrily complaining to Brandon and Ahn-drea about a Back Story camera man who had to be escorted off of school property. She then gripes about the sleazy show's Winnebago, which is parked nearby. Brandon asks her if anyone from the show asked for approval to air a segment featuring the students of West Beverly High, and Mrs. Teasley tells him that no one did. She disdainfully adds that the school would never grant approval to such a sleazy tabloid anyway. She asks Brandon and Ahn-drea to publish an announcement in the next issue of The Blaze that warns students not to cooperate with these people. Well, better late than never, I guess. Not that this announcement will help Brenda. Brandon looks distressed and tells Ahn-drea he needs to find his sister.
Brandon rushes around the campus searching for Brenda, but has no luck. He runs into Dylan, who's also looking for her. In a weird non sequitur, he informs Brandon that Nikki Witt has been asking about him, specifically what his interests and hobbies are. That said, he then asks Brandon to let Brenda know that he's going out of town to visit his jailbird father and thus won't be taking the SAT with the rest of the gang. He philosophizes about how college isn't really where his head's at right now. Brandon thinks Dylan's being shortsighted and advises him to keep his options open.
Brandon uses a school pay phone to call home and ask about Brenda's whereabouts. Mama Walsh tells him that Brenda went to the public library after school to study for the SAT. When he hangs up the phone and turns around, he nearly bumps into Nikki. She asks him if everything is all right, and so Brandon bitchily assures her that everything is all right, and then accuses her of following him everywhere he goes (which she kind of has). Nikki looks at him with a hurt expression as he starts to ramble nonsensically about why a relationship between them would never work out. After his scattered rant, Nikki gives him a doe-eyed stare, pretends as though she hasn't been stalking him for the past several days, and claims that all she did just now was ask him if everything was all right. She walks away slowly, looking exaggeratedly perplexed.
Public Library. Brandon finds Brenda seated at a table, studying. He rushes over to her and tells her about how Mrs. Teasley told him and Ahn-drea to warn students not to talk to any Back Story reporter...and then suggests that she should start freaking out about all the personal stuff she, no doubt, revealed to Beth Nielson. But Brenda doesn't look worried, and tells him that Beth assured her that Back Story would get official permission from the school before they air the segment. She then waves him away so she can get back to her SAT preparation.
The Peach Pit. Brandon's in the back room with Steve, telling him how he searched everywhere for Brenda so he could warn her about Back Story...but when he found her, she didn't seem the least bit concerned. Steve mutters that Brenda can take care of herself then swiftly changes the subject. He swears Brandon to secrecy and asks him what he'd do if someone offered to make his academic life easier. He then reveals that he was offered a master key to West Beverly High, which unlocks offices, cabinets...and every grade bank. What exactly is a grade bank? A computer? And if so, how would a key provide access to a computer that probably requires a password? Brandon is intrigued by the idea of a legacy key, but worries that it might backfire on his boneheaded friend. That's pretty much a guarantee. He tells Steve he doesn't need a scam, and that he shouldn't accept the key if he wants to live an honest life and be able to sleep at night. Brandon's naivete and old fashioned values are so adorable.
The Walsh house. Brenda arrives home and finds Mama and Papa Walsh in the living room watching TV. They tell her about the promo they just saw for the Back Story segment on the Beverly Hills brats. Brenda is surprised that it's airing so soon. She sits down to watch it, but her excitement turns to horror when she realizes that the segment is a total hatchet job. The narrator, who looks and acts a lot like Robin Leach from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous fame, shows video clips of Kelly, Donna, and Steve and denounces the “breakdown of family values”. An image of Steve is freeze-framed on the screen, and the fake Robin Leach criticizes his parents for being consumed by their failing careers. A photo of Donna is then highlighted while it's revealed to the world that she's a shallow dummy with a learning disability, which her parents dealt with by sending her to Paris for a shopping spree. After that, Kelly is castigated for her slutty reputation. The segment then features a snippet of the interview Brenda did with Beth, but the way it's edited it looks like she's talking to the fake Robin Leach and mocking her snooty rich friends. Brenda is devastated by what she's just seen and tells her parents, “I'm ruined.” I would have opted for a one syllable expletive to describe her current predicament, but ruined gets the idea across too.
Nat, Brandon, and Steve are watching the Back Story segment from the Peach Pit, looking startled by the mean-spirited inaccuracies. Meanwhile, at Casa Taylor/Silver, Kelly and David are staring incredulously at the television until Kelly angrily shuts it off. Yikes.
Brenda is in desperation mode as she repeatedly tries to call Kelly...but the line is continuously busy. She asks Papa Walsh if they can sue the show, considering they distorted everything she said, but he just shrugs uselessly and doesn't offer much hope on that front. Brenda tells her parents she's going out for a walk.
Brandon is driving home when he spots Brenda roaming the streets aimlessly. He pulls up in front of her, and she tells him how awful the Back Story segment turned out to be. He offers to keep her company, but she tells him she just wants to walk alone in misery for awhile. She pulls out a pack of cigarettes and tells him how badly she needs a smoke, but Brandon urges her to try to get through this crisis without puffing on a cigarette. If she can manage that, she'll be able to kick the habit for good. Brenda opts to heed his advice and tosses the pack of cigarettes into a nearby garbage bin.
The Walsh house. As Brenda tries to call Kelly again, Brandon prepares ice cream desserts for the two of them. When the phone call finally gets through, David answers. He brusquely tells her that Kelly doesn't want to talk to her...and, frankly, neither does he. He hangs up on a distressed Brenda.
Prison. Jack is happy but surprised to see Dylan. He's somehow aware that the SAT is scheduled for the following day. Dylan tells his father he's not sure he even wants to attend college, so Jack strongly advises him to reconsider that dumb decision and not make the same mistakes he's made. He tells Dylan that being rich doesn't mean he can just buy respect, and that if he works his butt off for four years and earns a degree, no one will ever be able to take that away from him. Dylan looks annoyed by the lecture but also contemplative as he leaves the prison.
It's SAT day at West Beverly High. Donna is twitching nervously, so David does his best to offer her some final words of encouragement. Tony Miller attempts to mock Kelly for being labeled a slut in the Back Story segment, but Steve orders him to get lost. Brenda arrives on campus looking stressed and sheepish. She tries to talk to Donna, but Donna just gives her a cold stare and stonily recites the advice of the SAT review course instructor: “Scan, discard, select, move on.” Ouch. Kelly is equally as standoffish and gives Brenda the stink-eye as she bitchily announces that she has a test to take. Steve just glares at Brenda and says nothing.
West Lompoc High School. Dylan slouches into the unfamiliar school and registers himself so he can take the SAT there.
The Walsh house. The doorbell rings, and Brandon finds Beth Nielson on his doorstep. She asks to speak with Brenda, so Brandon informs her that she's at school taking her SATs. When he twigs onto the fact that she's the reporter from Back Story, he calls her a backstabber and sarcastically asks her if she came by to finish his sister off. He tells her she owes it to Brenda to apologize to her in person. A contrite Beth agrees and informs Brandon that she quit her job at Back Story. After the offending segment aired, she realized that she can't handle working for such a sleazy show. She then asks Brandon how she can get in touch with Kelly Taylor.
West Beverly High. The SAT is over, and Kelly tells Steve she thinks she did really well, while Steve claims he nailed the test. Yeah right. Kelly wants to hurry up and leave campus before Brenda comes out, but David insists on waiting around for Donna, who gets more time for the SAT on account of her being learning disabled. While they're wondering how best to avoid Brenda, Brenda suddenly exits the school building and heads toward them. She purposefully strides past them and approaches Beth, who's standing there with Brandon. She tells her what a crap job she thinks she did on the SAT, and Beth apologizes. She then makes it clear to Kelly, Steve, and David that Brenda didn't talk trash about them, and that she had only the best of intentions for the television segment that ended up going awry. Beth tells the gang that she and Brenda wanted to do the story differently, and focus on how great everyone is, but unfortunately, her bosses didn't think a boring piece like that would get decent enough ratings. No duh. She tells them she quit the sleazy show immediately after the segment aired. Kelly softens when she hears about all the nice things Brenda told Beth about her, and the two friends hug. Beth pulls out a cigarette, and Brenda disdainfully tells her it's bad for her health. Ex-smokers are always the judgiest.
The Peach Pit. Donna is regaling everyone with the boring story of how she got more time to complete the SAT because of her learning disability. Steve must also be learning disabled, because apparently he now realizes how badly he screwed up a major portion of the test. Nikki enters the diner, and Donna calls her over and invites her to join them. But when Nikki notices Brandon sitting with the group, she backs away and tells Donna she doesn't want to intrude. Brandon, who clearly feels like a shit-heel for the way he snapped at her the other day, asks to speak with her alone. They go to the back room, and he apologizes for blowing up at her the other day...and assures her that it was very unlike him. He tells her she's a nice person, that he likes her, and then moves in for a smooch. Nikki looks happy and kisses him back. The two return to the restaurant part of the diner, and he chivalrously offers to treat her to a milkshake...if she can decide on the flavor, that is.