Recap: It's Jim and Cindy's seventeenth wedding anniversary, but the mood at Casa Walsh is sour. And unfortunately, it doesn't improve a whole lot until the very end of the episode, so you'll just have to bear it with this recap.
The couple has just returned from a dinner out, and Cindy's in a pissy mood all around. The restaurant they went to sucked, it's their first wedding anniversary away from Minnesota, and Jim is doing accounting work - in their bedroom, no less - on this blessed occasion. After Cindy complains about him working, he puts away his papers and crawls into bed with her. He moves in for a kiss, but she pushes him away because she wants to achieve intimacy by chit-chatting first. Jim isn't really into any kind of foreplay, and gets up to do some more accounting work for another hour. Has this man learned nothing after seventeen years of marriage? And so Cindy lies in bed alone, looking disappointed and dejected. Trouble isn't just brewing for the Walshes - it's taken up residence between the sheets.
The next morning as Brenda and Brandon leave the house for school, Brenda remarks on the tension between their parents. But Brandon just brushes it off, tells her she's imagining things, and says that all married people eventually become crabby with each other.
West Beverly High. The current school DJ is quitting, so there's now an opening for anyone who wants to annoy the entire student body with the sound of his or her voice blaring out of every speaker across campus. David Silver tells his friend Scott that he'd love to get that gig, but unfortunately he's a little tiny freshman who gets intimidated when he learns that he'll be competing with Steve Sanders.
The teacher who acts as the faculty adviser for The Blaze asks Brenda and Brandon if they would like to participate in a university study about twins. The person doing the study is a friend of hers. Brenda likes the idea, but Brandon turns it down - that is, until he finds out that they'll get paid to take part, and also get time away from school.
Cindy and her maidservant, Anna, are at a nursery, shopping for plants and shrubs. Through the foliage, a man is snapping photographs of Cindy. It's not a crazy stalker, which may have helped liven up this snoozy episode, but rather an old boyfriend of Cindy's from twenty years ago. He just happened to show up in town exactly when the Walsh marriage is showing signs of strain. His name is Glen, and he's an unmarried Pulitzer Prize winning photographer for National Geographic. He and Cindy quickly catch up on their lives, and she invites him over for dinner that evening.
The Walsh house. After dinner, Glen regales the family about his world travels and tells Brenda and Brandon that he'd really like to photograph them. Cindy is gazing at Glen as though he just hung the moon, Jim has no discernible expression either way, and the twins are startled to learn that Glen and Cindy used to date before Cindy was introduced to Jim - by Glen. Could this decades old baggage degenerate into the least compelling love triangle of all time? Thankfully, no. And even though this episode focuses almost exclusively on the marital issues of Jim and Cindy, it's strictly a one time thing. Once this episode's over and we get back to reality, Jim and Cindy will exist primarily to react to the behavior, choices, and antics of their kids, their kids' friends, and their kids' friends' parents. Also Nat.
In the meantime, however, Glen is getting so cozy with Cindy that Brenda remarks to Brandon that it looks like he has the hots for their mom. Brandon thinks that's silly, but then he's pretty quick to brush off anything that could be a potential concern.
Jim might slowly be getting a clue that trouble is afoot when he wakes up to an empty bed in the middle of the night. He skulks down the stairs in his blue pajamas to check on the whereabouts of his wife. He quietly observes Cindy and Glen, practically snuggling on the couch together, obviously having a lovely time talking. Jim looks worried, perhaps realizing too late that he should have made time for some pre-coitus chit-chat the other night.
The university. Brenda and Brandon arrive on campus to begin their participation in the twin study. They meet a set of socially inept dork boy twins who dress identically, have identical hair, and share the same brain. The woman running the study is Mrs. Teasley in future episodes. She gives the sets of twins card exercises to see if there's any telepathic powers between them. Brenda and Brandon are not nearly as telepathic as the dork boys, but that's just as well since they'll likely be living together their entire adult lives.
Glen and Cindy are driving around L.A. in his sporty convertible, exploring the hip, artsy parts of the city. Cindy looks renewed, refreshed and invigorated. Later they go to his place, and he photographs her while they talk about her life and marriage. It's all very Bridges of Madison County, but without the charm and sexual chemistry of Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. Glen invites Cindy to the opening of his exhibition the next day, and she accepts.
The Walsh house. Jim is lying in bed looking spaced out while Cindy gushes on and on about her day date with Glen. When she tells him about their driving adventures around L.A., he grumps that it would be nice to drive around all day, but he can't because he's busy working to support his family. Poor Jim...he really doesn't know how to help his own cause. Cindy dismissively remarks that he sounds just like her father. Ouch. She climbs into bed and Jim tries to improve his score by moving in for a cuddle, but gets swiftly rebuffed and so he and his retracted penis retreat back to his side. Poor cuckolded Jim in his grey t-shirt.
West Beverly High. White, scrawny, pre-pubescent David Silver is trying out for the position of school DJ by doing a rap in his girlish little voice. And that's all I'm going to say 'bout that right now.
The Walsh house. Cindy is trying to pick out something to wear for her second date with Glen. Brenda and Brandon enter the room and update her on how the twin study is going. Cindy shows a mild level of interest in that, but when Jim calls to tell her that he's working late and can't attend Glen's opening, she just murmurs, "Oh well." Oh well? Stupid Jim hangs up and carries on with his auditing work, but I think maybe his reaction should have been more like, "Oh shit. My wife, who up until now has had no life outside the home but recently started seeing an old flame who clearly has the hots for her, suddenly doesn't care anymore that I'm not showing up to events." He's hopeless.
The art exhibition. Kelly and Donna attend the opening with Brenda, Brandon, and Cindy. Glen is approached by a hot blonde, but quickly excuses himself to go talk to Cindy...and all the kids notice. He asks Cindy to join him outside to get some air and be alone together. Glen admits the loneliness that is his life, and will always think of Cindy as the one who got away. He wants to have adventures with her, but most of all he wants to kiss her. And so he pulls her close and plants a big juicy one on her. Cindy totally gets into into it too until their lips break off and the reality of their scandalous prelude to adultery begins to sink in.
The Walsh house. Brenda is commiserating to Kelly about her mom and Glen slipping away from the opening together. The two were alone for twenty minutes! Kelly unhelpfully points out that of all the gorgeous women at the party, Glen chose to spend his time with Cindy. Brenda is worried that her parents are headed for a divorce and asks Kelly to advise her about the tell-tale signs to look out for. Sex is the first thing to go, Kelly warns. And this is really bad news, because I'm afraid it might prompt Brenda to start monitoring the frequency of her parents' coupling sessions. Ew.
Jim arrives home from yet another late night at work. He and Cindy exchange bitter words about how he's never home, and how she's always giving him a hard time about how he's never home. And now Cindy's mad because he didn't even ask about the opening, or how her evening out went...and then Jim retorts that he's tired and just wants to go to bed. Blah blah blah blah. Their squabbling is like white noise to me because I'm just not that interested in any friction that exists in their relationship. On a show like Beverly Hills, 90210, the middle-aged parents of two attractive teenagers - around whom the show was built - need only to blend into the scenery.
The university. During another twin study session, Brenda is freaking out to Brandon that their mom didn't buy a grapefruit for their dad's breakfast, and so their dad tossed out the gardening section of the newspaper before she could have a chance to read it. My God...the problems inside Walsh Bubble World are really starting to take an ugly turn. Added to that, Brenda can't remember the last time their parents' bedroom door was locked. Ew - she really is starting to keep track of their marital romps.
In an effort to rekindle their parents' romantic spark, Brenda and Brandon prepare a home-cooked, private dinner for them. Unfortunately though, Jim and Cindy rehash their most recent fight, and the dinner is a giant failure. Jim whines about his job again, Cindy whines about him being an absentee husband again, and then both of them whine that they only vaguely remember sex. But instead of going upstairs and locking that bedroom door behind them for an hour or so, Jim angrily leaves the table before dinner is even served. Cindy is left sitting there by herself, looking sad and defeated.
In her troubled frame of mind, Cindy drives over to Glen's place wearing a really chic looking shawl. He's happy she came by, and he gives her some of the photographs of her that he took. He confesses that he's falling in love with her, and asks her if she's ever wondered what it would be like if they made love. After all the recent sexless nights she's been enduring with pajama clad Jim, I'd say her answer should have been a resounding, " Hell yeah!" But instead it pushes Cindy over the edge, and she starts wailing about how she can't handle this, then runs out of his house and back to her car. It's unfortunate timing, since Brenda and Brandon have just arrived at Glen's house for their photo shoot. And it looks dangerously like their mother is rushing away from her new lover's house after a forbidden rendezvous.
The Walsh house. The next morning, Jim is sitting at the kitchen table looking over the stuff he used to write during his university years. Cindy enters, and the two have an awkward and stilted conversation. All this contrived tension is getting wearisome, but at least they didn't have another fight about him working too much. The mood in the kitchen gets really frosty when Brenda and Brandon pass through on their way to school. Brenda acts way more bitchy than usual and refuses to let her mom fix her anything for breakfast. Yikes, Brenda. Not even some toast? Jim is about to leave for work, but before he heads out, he tells his wife that he really really loves her. Could it be that Jim actually has a clue?! Maybe there's hope for him in this marriage after all.
On his way to the office, Jim goes over to Glen's house to give him a good old fashioned ass-kicking. At least that's what I was hoping for...but it only turns out to be a stern what-for. After Jim offers a needless explanation about how he's living a life without risks and that he had children so early in his marriage with Cindy, he raises his voice a notch and demands that Glen stay away from his wife and get his own family. Yay for Caspar Milquetoast! You go, girl!
West Beverly High. Donna auditions to be the school's new DJ and does some sort of horrible Madonna impersonation that everyone laughs at. And then it's Steve's turn, but he gets mic fright and just freezes, so David Silver rushes into the booth and assumes he's doing something to help the situation by breaking into another rap. If someone doesn't quickly step in and tell this kid he can't rap worth a shit, he's going to carry on with his "music" for years and one day attempt to cut a record deal.
The Walsh house. Glen stops by to see Cindy one last time. She admits that they had a mental affair, and that he made her feel special...but she can't run off with him. She loves her husband and her family too much. Glen says goodbye, and that he's off to Canada, eh. As he walks back to his car, Brenda and Brandon arrive home from school. Brenda is all a-freak about seeing her mother's alleged lover at their house, but Glen swiftly diffuses Brenda's fury by telling the twins they have a great family And then off he goes...gentle into that good night. Er, afternoon.
The family is gathered in the kitchen when Jim comes home from work at a decent hour for a change. He declares that he's just woken up from his emotional slumber, and that he and Cindy are going on a special overnight getaway. Brenda couldn't be more thrilled and gushes to Brandon that it's the most romantic thing ever.
Let's just hope Cindy thinks so too, but then keeps the details to herself.