Recap: Mama and Papa Walsh are grilling Brenda about the abrupt way Brandon left home to go on an alleged camping trip. Brenda doesn't have a whole lot of information to share, since she didn't want to intrude on Brandon's privacy by asking him where he was going. Mama Walsh is worried about his safety and wants to call the police, but Brenda reminds her that her son is eighteen years old, has just finished his midterms, and simply wanted to get out of town for a few days. Papa Walsh tries to comfort his wife by telling her that Brandon will probably call home later, and adds that Brandon surely won't want to miss out on her usual scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner, which is only a couple of days away. Mama Walsh still looks concerned and says it's not like Brandon to pack up and leave with barely a word to anyone. True - that's much more the type of stunt Brenda would pull.
Brandon's on the open road in his Mustang, looking cool with his shades and carefully sculpted 'do. When he notices that the fuel gauge is on empty, he exits the highway and pulls into the nearest gas station. While filling his tank, he sees a girl wearing a beret who looks a lot like Emily Valentine...and this sighting prompts a wave of Season 2 flashbacks. When the Emily lookalike gets into her car and pulls out of the gas station, Brandon chases after her and yells at her to stop. She hits the brakes, but when Brandon gets a better look at her, it's clear that she's not Emily. She gives Brandon a shy smile and tells him she thought she was about to get lucky, which is kind of a weird thing to say to a complete stranger. Brandon just grins at her and heads back to his Mustang.
California University. The KEGers and the Alphas are having a joint meeting in the Student Union to discuss the planning for their annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Downey House. Leslie Sumner is running the meeting with Mike, the new KEG president. I wonder what happened to Charlie..? Kelly, Donna, and Steve are at the meeting...as is John Sears, who keeps staring over at Kelly, and it looks like she's trying very hard to ignore him. As Mike gives the group a general update about the troubled teenage girls who are temporarily residing at the Downey House, John asks him if there are any “cute ones” this year. Mike does not look amused and reminds John that these girls are mostly runaways and pregnant teenagers who have no one else to turn to. After the meeting, Keith reminisces about how John spent last year's Downey House Thanksgiving hitting on a blonde...and John proudly adds that he spent the other half of the night with the blonde in his van. When the issue of her age comes up, he jokes that she was “old enough”. That seems highly unlikely. An icked out Steve comments on John's creepy predilection for preying on underage girls, and John bitchily reminds him that fraternity pledges are not to speak unless spoken to.
Kelly tells Donna she now thinks that John is a horribly obnoxious creature, and that it's really awkward to have to work on the same projects together. That settled, they discuss their Thanksgiving plans just as Dylan slouches into the Student Union. Donna reminds Kelly that she'll be flying to Houston to spend the holiday with her parents, and tells her she should invite Dylan to spend the day with her, Jackie, and Erin. Kelly isn't sure that Dylan would even be interested in spending so much time with her, so Donna reminds her that he smashed a pie in John's face for her during the previous episode...which was so awesome. Kelly ponders that for a few seconds and eventually works up the nerve to go over to where Dylan's playing an arcade game. She asks him what he's doing for Thanksgiving...but before he can really answer, she tells him he should do it with her. He tells her he's planning to spend the day surfing in Baja, and a disappointed Kelly says she wishes he'd stay in town and have dinner with her and her family. He declines the offer and tells her how much he hates doing “the turkey thing” because tryptophan always makes him sleepy...but he adds that if he were to eat a bird, she'd definitely be the person he'd want to eat it with.
Ahn-drea and Dan are playing a game of chess, and she's taking forever to decide her next move. Big surprise. As she stares at the board, Dan asks her if she's coming to his family's Thanksgiving shindig and says that his mother needs a head count. Ahn-drea tells him she hasn't decided yet, so Dan says he really really wants her to come, since he knows that his parents will like her a lot. She finally makes her chess move, but it's clearly a very dumb one, because Dan wins with his next move.
Campground. Brandon pulls into the last available campsite and meets the man in the campsite next to his while he's barbecuing hamburgers. The man is very friendly, introduces himself as Curtis, and invites Brandon to join him and his family for dinner. The two engage in some idle chit-chat, and Brandon needlessly tells him that he's on his way to Marin County to look up a former girlfriend. Curtis is intrigued by Brandon's romantic travel plans...and seems far more interested in a possible reunion between Brandon and Emily than any grown man who's a complete stranger to both of them should be.
The Downey House. John offers to help Kelly carry in the bags of groceries, but she rebuffs him and flounces off. Donna snarks at John to get lost, and then advises Kelly to do her best to ignore the sleazy douchebag. Leslie enters the room and introduces Donna and Kelly to some of the Downey House girls, one of whom is a girl with long ratty hair named Denise. We later learn that she's supposed to be around fifteen years old, which was startling...and makes her one of the hardest looking fifteen year old girls I've ever seen on network television. John decides to set his sleazy sights on the troubled teen and slithers over to introduce himself while Steve looks on suspiciously. John then steers Denise into the next room so they can talk privately and he can turn on the fake charm. She tells him she's been living at the Downey House for about a month and likes it much better than living on the streets. John tries very hard to appear empathetic and tells her that she seems way more together than the other wayward skanks, and remarks that she's very pretty. The KEGers start walking through the room, carrying in chairs and tables for the big dinner...and as Steve walks by, he glares over at John. John glares back and snarks, “Can I do something for you, Sanders?” but Steve just ignores him and walks away.
Campsite. Curtis asks Brandon more about the ex-girlfriend he's hoping to reconnect with, and deduces that she must be “mighty special”. Mmm...if by mighty special, he means a clingy, gasoline toting nutjob, then yeah, I guess one could say that Emily is mighty special. Brandon tells Curtis about how he thought he saw Emily at a gas station while on the road, and that this false sighting suddenly got him interested in finding her. He gives him a brief synopsis of their doomed relationship, including how she got high on the fake drug, U4EA, schizzed out after getting dumped by him, and then ended up in a mental ward. He only visited her once - during the Walsh Family Christmas episode - and that was the last time he saw her. He tells Curtis that he's headed to Emily's parents' house in Marin County, and Curtis wishes him Godspeed.
The Walsh house. Dylan drops by to pick up his monthly allowance check from Papa Walsh, so Brenda invites him to stay and have a helping of her mom's lasagne. He accepts, and she tells him she just got cast in a campus play and that rehearsals start the following week. I think it's the one where she was supposed to get naked on stage, but then doesn't. Dylan gushes over the scrumptiousness of the lasagne, so Brenda says he's more than welcome to come over on Thanksgiving and reminds him that American cuisine is Mama Walsh's specialty. Dylan tells her he had been planning to spend the holiday in Baja, but Brenda says he always tells people he's going to do that, but always ends up eating turkey at Casa Walsh. He chuckles and concedes that he's a sucker for Mama Walsh's cooking, and accepts her invitation. Mama Walsh enters the kitchen and is thrilled to hear that Dylan will joining them for Thanksgiving and tells the two that there's still room for a few more people, since Brandon will be on his alleged camping trip.
Brandon is driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, and arrives at Emily's parents' house soon after. He knocks on the front door, and is dismayed to learn that the Valentines moved to Greece about five months ago. He asks the new owner if they left a forwarding address, or if their daughter went with them, but she tells him she has no idea. As if she would, Brandon.
Beach house. Ahn-drea is helping Kelly and Donna do some baking for the Downey House Thanksgiving dinner. Incidentally, Ahn-drea is dressed in a pair of frumpy overalls and a big green shirt, no doubt to cover up her real life pregnancy. The three talk about the scuzzball that is John Sears, and how he was hitting on one of the teenage girls currently living in the Downey House. David arrives home, and Kelly informs him that Mel called and left a message telling him not to be late for their big dinner because his hot girlfriend, Nina, will be attempting her first Thanksgiving turkey. David looks less than thrilled by those holiday plans, so Kelly points out that Nina's turkey is sure to taste a lot better than anything Jackie cooks...but he just grumps that he'd just as soon go to McDonald's for Thanksgiving. Ahn-drea also isn't looking forward to her Thanksgiving plans, and says she's just not into spending the day with the Rubins. She remarks that she has no desire left to get doinked by Dan anymore...and Kelly nods sympathetically, while Donna, the show's annoyingly sanctimonious virgin, stares over at Ahn-drea with wide eyes and exclaims, “You slept with Dan Rubin?!” Welcome to adulthood, Donna.
The phone rings, and it's Brenda calling Kelly to tell her that Mama Walsh has just invited Jackie and her little brood over for Thanksgiving dinner. Kelly's relieved to hear that and asks if David can also come...and of course Brenda tells her he's totally welcome. After Kelly hangs up, Ahn-drea says she's more bummed than ever that she'll be stuck at the Rubins while everyone else is having fun at Casa Walsh.
The Walsh house. Mama Walsh is relieved when she finally gets a call from Brandon. He apologizes for making her worry, then tells her that he's in San Francisco, has met some cool people on the road, and is having fun. He also assures her that he'll be home tomorrow in time for Thanksgiving, and Mama Walsh is very happy to hear that.
Brandon is aimlessly roaming the streets of San Francisco, and when he sees a cable car approach, he impulsively decides to hop on. It just so happens that Emily Valentine is also on the car. She's wearing a silly black beret and now has shoulder length brown hair, which is a vast improvement on the unsightly skunk "style" she was sporting in Season 2. They don't see each other on the cable car at first, but when Brandon gets up to get off at the next stop, Emily also gets up, and the two run right into each other. She's surprised - though doesn't seem overly surprised by the implausible coinkidink - but looks really happy to see him.
The two get off the cable car and head over to a nearby park. As they stroll along, Brandon tells Emily that she's the reason he embarked on this road trip. She's skeptical about that, so he tells her about the girl he saw at the gas station who looked exactly like her, and how this prompted him to drive to her parents' house in Marin County. Emily is stunned to hear all of this, and the two share a happy hug.
It's the night of the Thanksgiving dinner at the Downey House. John is sitting next to Denise, while Steve is walking around with a big plate of turkey, serving it to everyone. Denise tells John she isn't very hungry, so John says he isn't either and asks her if she'd like to go outside with him for some fresh air. She agrees, and the two aren't very subtle about leaving together - and their departure is easily noticed by Kelly and Donna. They immediately motion Steve over and ask him what John is doing with Denise, and remind him that the girl's only fifteen years old. Steve furrows his brow and walks over to Mike and whispers something to him that we don't get to hear. Meanwhile, John is filling Denise's head with a big load of bullcaca about how she's intuitive and sensitive...and she blushes and tells him he's the nicest guy ever. Steve suddenly interrupts this nauseating conversation to tell John that Mike needs him to go to the KEG house to fetch an award plaque that's being presented to one of the girls after dinner. John is annoyed by the edict and orders Steve to go get it, but Steve points out that he's on kitchen duty and that Mike doesn't want some lowly pledge in his room, where he allegedly left the plaque. John reluctantly leaves on this fool's errand, and Steve quickly steers Denise back inside the house. Kelly and Donna smile at Steve approvingly, and when he joins them at their table, Kelly throws her arm around him and rewards him with a little kiss.
San Francisco. Emily brings Brandon to her Victorian style apartment and tells him how much she enjoys having her own place. Brandon wryly retorts that he wouldn't know anything 'bout that, since he's still living at Casa Walsh with his parents and sister...and this amuses Emily. She offers to make him a cup of tea, and while she puts the kettle on, the two chat about their lives. He tells her about California University, and she tells him that she's taking a little time off to figure out what she wants to do with her life. She then joins him on the couch, and the two reminisce about their high school days. She grimly recalls how badly she must have freaked him out after trashing the gang's parade float and then came dangerously close to setting the fugly thing on fire. Brandon tells her that he came across a photo of her in his underwear drawer, which is what initially sparked his interest in reconnecting with her. The two start kissing, and as the tea kettle whistles, Emily's neighbor (Rosie) bursts in unannounced. She's slightly startled by Brandon's presence, and when Emily introduces him, she exclaims, “The Brandon Walsh?” A red-faced Emily tells Rosie to shut up, so Rosie heads over to the kitchen to pour herself some tea and asks Brandon if he's staying for turkey. He tells her he hasn't been invited, so Rosie assures him that he's definitely invited. Brandon likes that idea and accepts the invitation. Emily then tells him he's welcome to take a shower and/or change his clothes, so he leaves the apartment to go out to his car to get his overnight bag. Rosie tells Emily how impressed she is with Brandon, but reminds her that she's leaving town in a week and hasn't started packing anything. Emily implores Rosie not to mention anything to Brandon about her leaving, since she wants to be the one to tell him. Now that they've reconnected, she's bummed to be leaving, and tells Rosie that she's still in love with him.
The Downey House. Leslie awards the plaque to some girl named Sonya, because she apparently worked the hardest to fulfill the mandate of the Downey House charter. John returns from his fruitless errand just as everyone is clapping for Sonya, and he looks very pissed off when he asks Mike about the wild goose chase he just got sent on. Mike feigns innocence and tells him it was the darnedest thing...the missing plaque just happened to turn up on the floor of his car! John doesn't buy the obvious lie and angrily stalks off.
The Walsh house. Brandon phones home to tell Mama Walsh that he won't be coming home for Thanksgiving after all. He tells her about how he ran into Emily Valentine in San Francisco, and so Mama Walsh graciously asks him how she's doing. He tells her that Emily's hair is all one color now - hee! - and Mama Walsh tells him they'll miss him, and wishes him a happy Thanksgiving. When he hangs up, Emily remarks that his parents probably still think she's a total lunatic. Well, d'yuh. Brandon doesn't bother denying this, and the two chuckle over her lunacy.
Brenda is surprised to learn that her brother is hanging out with Emily in San Francisco, and Papa Walsh sarcastically retorts that he hopes Brandon brought along his fire extinguisher. Meow, Jim. Brenda tattles to her parents that Brandon keeps a photo of Emily in his underwear drawer, something Mama Walsh was already aware of. The hell? Is there no privacy at Casa Walsh?
It's Thanksgiving Day, and Kelly and David arrive at the Walsh house with a lovely bouquet of flowers for Mama Walsh. Jackie has already arrived, and is there with cute little Erin. Jackie politely asks David how he's doing, and he's polite back when he tells her he's doing fine. The doorbell rings again, and this time it's Dylan, who has brought a nearly identical bouquet of flowers for Mama Walsh. Kelly is surprised to see him...then gets annoyed that he canceled his Baja trip in order to spend the day with the Walshes.
KEG house. Steve is shooting pool with Keith when John walks in. He grabs the pool cue away from Steve, tells him to get lost, and orders him call him "sir". As Steve heads out, John asks him if he had anything to do with the wild goose chase at the Downey House the other night. Steve admits that he did, and reminds him that the girl he was trying to seduce was only fifteen years old. John glares at him stonily and calls him a bastard, but Steve just laughs and retorts that he's damn proud to be a bastard.
The Rubin house. Ahn-drea is making polite chit-chat with Dan and his parents about her pre-med program at CU. As they talk, her gaze wanders past them, and she notices that the bartender is the same guy who tended bar at the Walsh's anniversary party. She excuses herself from the Rubins and heads over to him. After she greets him, she reminds him that they've already met...and he says he hasn't forgotten meeting her and tells her his full name: Jesse Vasquez. Blushing girlishly, she says something to him in Spanish, and he looks impressed. She tells him she's at the party because she's dating the Rubins' son, and he ignores that tidbit and boldly tells her that she has two of the most beautiful eyes he's ever seen, and would like to see them again. Seriously? They look pretty dull and nondescript to me. Ahn-drea brazenly throws all caution to the wind and gives Jesse the name of the hall and room number of the dorm where she lives. Don't do it, Jesse! Run!
The Walsh house. Everyone's seated around the dining table for the big turkey dinner, and Jackie is raving about the deliciousness of Mama Walsh's cooking. Kelly, meanwhile, is still sulking about Dylan showing up at the Walsh house after turning down her Thanksgiving invitation. When she starts to get bitchy with him, he excuses the two of them so they can snipe at each other in private. Jackie looks bewildered by their bickering and glances over at Brenda as she asks what's going on between those two...but Brenda just lets out a snort and says, “Don't look at me.” Don't worry, we have no desire to look at you. Not with those monstrous, over-plucked eyebrows. Yeesh.
Kelly bitches at Dylan for not going to Baja, and he explains that he simply changed his mind. She then accuses him of preferring to spend Thanksgiving with Brenda, and he assures her that the writers are soo done with the Dylan-Kelly-Brenda love triangle storyline. Dylan reminds her that she was the one who broke up with him in order to parade around with John Sears - a valid point - but quickly drops the subject and says he just wants to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner. He tells her the only reason he's spending the holiday at the Walsh house is because he prefers Mama Walsh's cooking to Jackie's, and points out that Kelly obviously feels the same way because she's also having dinner there. Kelly concedes, but grumps that he could have at least told her of his change of plans. He admits that he could have...but right now he just really wants to go back to the table and finish his turkey.
San Francisco. Emily somehow burned the turkey beyond recognition, and she, Rosie, and Brandon are sitting around the table staring at the charred remains. Brandon suggests going out for pizza, and eagerly bounds over to the door to get his jacket. Rosie discreetly tells Emily that Brandon is the cutest, nicest little button of a guy she's ever seen, and Emily wistfully agrees. She then joins Brandon, who's patiently waiting for them so they can go out for pizza...and the two engage in some nauseating PDA.