Recap: It's early morning at the Walsh house and Brandon and his dad are outside playing basketball. Brenda comes outside to bitch at Brandon about not wanting to be late for school, and a then minute later she's bitching to Mama Walsh about having to depend on Brandon for a ride whenever she wants to go anywhere. She needs to have control over her own destiny, but - as Mama Walsh points out - she needs to get her driver's license first. A strange look shadows each of their faces because - as we later learn - Brenda doesn't have her license yet 'cause she's a really shitty driver.
West Beverly High. Brenda runs into Kelly and Donna, and the three of them carry on a strange conversation with one syllable words. Nearby, Brandon is walking down the corridor with Ahn-drea, who is looking unspeakable in a gender-bending shirt and tie. He tells her that he's decided to try out for the basketball team, and her response is that he is too short to play. Unsupportive comments like that (however on the nose they may be) are not going to help you win Brandon's heart, Ahn-drea. Not that he's ever going to love you, especially after you've raided his father's closet.
The Boys' Gymnasium. Steve and Brandon are trying out for the basketball team, watching very tall, skilled players play scrimmage. Brandon looks doubtful and insecure from the sidelines, but when he's finally rotated in, he's actually pretty good despite his stumpy proportions. After the practice game, the coach announces that the first cut will be posted in twenty minutes.
Brenda has her first meeting with a new driver training instructor and confesses that she's flunked driver's education three times previously. He looks aghast, as well he should. A little while later she's driving with him in the passenger seat, and he does a good job of carefully building her confidence. When we see that she's actually driving in a very large, very empty parking lot, it's a pretty funny visual.
When the basketball coach posts the first cut, Brandon learns that he made it...but Steve didn't. Steve then starts complaining to Brandon that the system is rigged, that the best players in school are minority kids who don't even live in the school district, and are placed in the school as part of an "applied learning opportunity thing". Bitch, whine, blah. Steve is indignant that the jocks never seem to show up for class and are getting what he calls "a free ride"...then stomps off, leaving Brandon staring contemplatively in the distance.
The Peach Pit. Brandon stops in to pick up his paycheck and runs into James, an African American student who's also trying out for the basketball team. Brandon wishes him luck, and then overhears someone in James' crowd laughingly joke that Brandon has no chance of making the team. Haha!
Brenda's bedroom. Kelly is over at the Walsh house, hanging out with Brenda and pretending to study. Her mission is to try to convince Brenda to sneak out on a school night to go on a double date with her to a Janet Jackson concert. Ever the good girl - at least in these early episodes - Brenda is reluctant to deceive her parents and won't commit to committing an act of such trickery.
Tech class. Brandon is discussing his completed assignment with the teacher when James (the basketball player) enters. He tells the teacher that he doesn't have the assignment finished, but that it'll be ready on Monday. The teacher thinks it over for a few seconds and agrees to let him slide. After shamelessly eavesdropping, Brandon remarks to James that he didn't realize he was in the class...and we can actually see the seeds of resentment, sown by Steve, begin to sprout.
Brandon is railing to Ahn-drea about James not showing up for class for the past four weeks. Her theory is that James not showing up for class is a case of him being an overachiever. That was weird - maybe Ahn-drea doesn't know what "overachiever" means. Brandon continues to rail about how Steve thinks that the jocks in the minority placement program get preferential treatment. Ahn-drea retorts that the program has a good reputation, and that Steve is rich, spoiled and not a credible news source. Not realizing that this conversation is going nowhere, Brandon bitches on about the jocks of the world who are enrolled in colleges who can't read and write, and that this problem starts at the high school level. Ahn-drea encourages him to be part of the solution and write about it for the school paper if he thinks it's a major news story...but Brandon throws it back at her and tells her that he was hoping she'd run with the story, because as a basketball team hopeful, he has a conflict of interest. To help persuade her, he asks her if she thinks it's fair to bring in a guy out-of-district just because he's a good basketball player to which Ahn-drea, who herself is an out-of-district student, icily replies, "No comment." My comment would be that out-of-district students who have giant poles stuck up their uppity asses, who attend West Beverly illegitimately because they don't think the schools in their own neighborhoods are up to snuff enough to help get them into Yale, should be thrown out of Beverly Hills on their dumpsters. So there.
Brenda is driving on an actual road with her scared shitless driving instructor. Everything is going swimmingly until a sighting of Henry Winkler walking down the street distracts her. For whatever reason, she gets overly excited about seeing the aging Fonz and smashes into another car. Or gets smashed into. It's a very ambiguous scene.
After basketball practice, Ahn-drea meets up with Brandon to brief him on what she uncovered about James. She learned that there is no record of James having taken basic reading or math placement tests - a requirement at West Beverly High. There's also no record of his current grade point average. There is, however, plenty of evidence to suggest that Ahn-drea enjoys sticking her big fat nose into the private affairs of her fellow students for no valid reason, and appears to have no ethical concerns about violating the confidentiality of their academic records.
Later, James encounters Brandon and apologizes about the unkind treatment he has received from some of the other basketball players. Brandon's pretty dickish in return, telling James that he's a sports editor for The Blaze and then confronts him about not showing up to class for weeks...and not having a transcript, or the minimum requirements to be a student at West Beverly. James immediately gets pissy and stalks off.
The canceled Janet Jackson concert. Kelly is on a pay phone, imploring Brenda to rescue her from her date, who just puked in the limo. Charming. She wants Brenda to pick her up, and sweetens the deal by promising to bestow "best friend" status upon her. That's enough to spur this painfully insecure, people pleasing teenager into action, and so Brenda agrees to pick her up with Mondale (Brandon's car). Unfortunately, Brenda runs out of gas after driving only a few minutes. She decides to leave the car and walk to the nearest gas station so she can burden the poor gas attendant with her predicament. It gets even worse when she realizes she's forgotten her wallet and can't actually afford any gas. Jesus. The gas attendant, who's far more accommodating than she deserves, agrees to help her out. Unfortunately, when the two walk back to where Brenda left Mondale - the car is nowhere to be found.
The Peach Pit. Nat is extolling the virtues of mayonnaise to Brandon, boring the shit out of him...and me. Brandon tries to cut him off by insisting that he needs to leave right that minute in order to return some library books. I totally assumed that Brandon came up with that excuse to get out of work early, but when Nat allows him to leave, he really does go to the library to return books!
He sees James there, studying, and naturally cannot help himself from going over to his table to trigger yet another angry outburst over the legitimacy of his academic status at West Beverly...and the fur flies! James gets all in Brandon's face about how his father has worked for the city library for fifteen years, and that it earns him the right to attend West Beverly. Really? It does? Since I don't know much about the bylaws regarding school districts in California, I guess I can buy that. James also vents that his parents transferred him to West Beverly High four weeks after starting the semester in Inglewood, so he's in the process of catching up with his schoolwork. OK, well this explains pretty much all the "evidence" about his school record that Ahn-drea uncovered, grossly misinterpreted, and then passed along as complete misinformation to Brandon. Nice investigative reporting, Ahn-drea. If you're not getting deported back to the Valley anytime soon, you should at least be stripped of your position as editor-in-chief of The Blaze.
The Walsh house. Brandon arrives home to find the police there, investigating the "theft" of his car. The cops say they think it was a professional wiring job, and suggest that the thieves may have stolen it for parts. Papa Walsh couldn't care less, and only seems to care about Brandon's basketball tryouts, which is starting to grate on Brandon's nerves. Brandon is suspicious of Brenda and believes that she had something to do with Mondale's disappearance. When he confronts her about it, she immediately cracks under questioning and admits taking the car so she could pick up Kelly. And speaking of Kelly, did she ever find her way home from the canceled Janet Jackson concert? If she would have just called a cab in the first place, the Walshes could have been spared all of this missing car drama.
At driver's training, Brenda tells the instructor that she is probably incapable of ever being a good driver. He is in full agreement that there's little hope for her success behind the wheel and then recuses himself from instructing her anymore. Her driving has scared the bejeezus out of him so badly that he urges her to explore other forms of transportation...like walking. Haha!
The Walsh house. Papa Walsh arrives home from work, happy to find the family preparing for a barbecue dinner. Brandon has to break it to his dad that the basketball coach selected James for the team - not him...but Papa Walsh is just happy he tried out, and thank goodness that's that.
The Walshes get a big surprise when Mondale is returned! Turns out a truck towed it to an impound lot. That's pretty speedy tow truck service, considering that Brenda left it alone on the street for probably no more than an hour or so. And speaking of Brenda - apparently the idiot left her keys with her distinctive girly key chain in the ignition. Busted!
To review, this space cadet left the keys in the ignition of her brother's car before abandoning it to search for gas that she had no money on her to pay for. Not only should Brenda be barred from driving, she really shouldn't even be allowed out of the house.
Disclaimer: While reading these recaps, you may encounter spoilers of future episodes. If this matters to you in any way, shield yourself from reading this content.
If not, carry on..
Recapper: Isabel K. French
~ If you enjoy these recaps, thank me by buying me a "coffee"!