Recap: Steve is on a mission to find his birth mama, and after a sixteen hour bus ride, he arrives in a hick New Mexico town somewhere near Albuquerque. He steps off the bus and chats with a cute girl, whose ear he had talked off about his quest to find his natural parents. She wishes him good luck, Merry Christmas, and hastily excuses herself to greet her mother who has arrived at the bus station to pick her up.
The streets and store windows in Beverly Hills look very festive and Christmasy. To my great surprise, Brenda is employed as a salesgirl in a swanky clothing boutique, and she's getting a brief orientation from her attractive but snooty supervisor, Deirdre. After a quick run-through of some basic procedures, they open up the boutique to let the waiting customers inside...and Kelly and Donna are among the shoppers who enter the store. Kelly remarks how much she likes shopping at this boutique, and tells Brenda she's the first of her friends to have a real job. As for Donna, she thinks that Brenda's being employed is "cute". Yes, I suppose it is cute to earn one's own money when one doesn't have rich parents to sponge off of. Brenda starts showing them jewelry so she won't get in trouble with Deirdre for slacking off on her first day on the job. Kelly tells them she's worried about Steve, who has been gone for four days during which no one has heard from him. Kelly now has second thoughts about letting him go, but as Brenda accurately points out there really wasn't anything any of them could have done to stop him. In an effort to cheer Kelly up, Brenda invites her and Donna over to the Walsh house for the evening to help the family trim their Christmas tree. Kelly is shocked that they haven't bought their tree yet, considering it's only two days before Christmas. Brenda explains that it's a Walsh family tradition to wait until the last possible second to pick out a tree. That way they're guaranteed to get the freshest tree...or, more likely, the mangy leftovers.
Christmas tree lot. Papa Walsh is explaining to the tree salesman that he always waits until two days before Christmas to pick out their tree. But as Papa Walsh and Brandon - who also came along on this hopeless errand - soon discover, waiting until December 23 to buy a Christmas tree is not the smartest thing to do in southern California. Frankly, I find it to be a very odd tradition just in general. The pickins at this lot are slim, as all the available trees are brown and pretty dead looking from sitting in the sun too long. Papa Walsh tells Brandon they'll go elsewhere and find a great tree, but Brandon looks doubtful that there will be a better selection anywhere else.
The Walsh house. Mama Walsh is on the phone with her mother, complaining about the ninety degree weather in Beverly Hills...and she gets very jealous when her mother tells her that Minneapolis is expected to have a white Christmas. When she hears Papa Walsh and Brandon pull into the driveway, she cuts her conversation short and excitedly rushes out to the driveway to get a first look at their Christmas tree - but her excitement turns to dismay when she sees Brandon unloading a very brown tree from the roof of the car. Brandon declares it dead, while Papa Walsh prefers to think of it as merely wilted. Either way, the sight of it dampens Mama Walsh's Christmas spirit. She wants to spend the holiday in wintry Minnesota, but Papa Walsh firmly tells her that Beverly Hills is their home now, and so they need to get used to spending Christmas in the California heat. He also isn't into the idea of traveling to Minnesota every year to celebrate Christmas, which is apparently what they did last year. I guess this explains why Season 1 didn't feature a Christmas episode. Anyway, none of this is really getting through to Mama Walsh, who's now whining about having to cook a big Christmas meal in ninety degree heat.
Shortly afterward, Brandon is doing his best to spruce up the tree by spray painting it green. Brenda, who has just returned home from work, asks him what the hell he's doing. Mama Walsh comes over to check on the progress and tells Brandon the tree looks better...but that next year they're definitely getting a fake one. I think that's an excellent idea. In fact, they should so that this year. When Mama Walsh goes back inside the house, Brenda and Brandon remark about how their mother is being crankier than usual as she adjusts to spending Christmas in a warm climate.
That evening, Kelly, Donna, and Dylan come over to help the Walshes trim their spray painted, dead tree. In the kitchen, Papa Walsh tries to comfort his wife about coping with Christmas in sunny California, and suggests that they start a new tradition of inviting their kids' friends over for Christmas Eve dinner. I guess this is in lieu of them having their own friends to invite over. In the living room, Kelly is delighting in the Walsh's ornaments and each of their stockings, and her holiday cheerfulness boosts Mama Walsh's spirits so she extends an invitation to all of them and their families to spend Christmas Eve at Casa Walsh. Apparently this is the sort of thing they used to do in Minnesota. Donna, who for some reason showed up in woolen short overalls that come dangerously close to revealing both butt cheeks, has to decline because she and her parents are going skiing over the holidays. Kelly must also decline because she and Jackie are having Mel and David over on Christmas Eve...and Jackie plans on cooking, which won't be a tasty prospect for anyone. Dylan will be at the prison visiting his criminal father, and Steve is still in New Mexico, aimlessly searching for his birth mama. Papa Walsh is surprised to hear that Steve was adopted, and remarks to the gang that he might find it hard to locate someone who may not want to be located.
New Mexico. Steve visits the hospital where he thinks he might have been born. It's run by nuns, and he approaches the receptionist nun to ask how he might find a women named Karen Brown, who gave birth to him seventeen years ago. The receptionist nun asks for his ID and disappears into the back office. After a couple of minutes, she emerges with a file...but when she learns that Steve is still under eighteen, she informs him that he can't have access to the hospital file without written authorization from his adoptive parents. Steve argues that he's come a very long way to find his birth mother, and when that doesn't have any effect he pulls out his wallet and offers a bribe to the nun. She glares at him, so he sheepishly puts his wallet away and mills around in the hallway, trying his very hardest to look extremely upset. The receptionist nun breaks down and tells Steve he can look at the file, but it has to remain in the hospital. A grateful Steve opens the folder, quickly jots down a few things and then gives the nun a quick thank you hug before rushing off to find his birth mama.
The Peach Pit. Brandon is working his shift while wearing a floppy Santa hat. A disheveled homeless man enters, then sits at the counter and asks Brandon if he can get a free cup of coffee. Brandon obliges him, and when the guy tells him he's also hungry and could use a bite to eat, Brandon asks Nat if he can serve the man some free food. Nat sadly remarks that "it's started early", and by it's he means the sad parade of homeless and hungry people that trudge into his diner for the annual, complimentary Christmas Day meal he offers. Brandon likes the sound of this charitable gesture and tells him he'd like to come to the diner on Christmas Day to help out. Nat then gives Brandon permission to feed the disheveled homeless man, and brings out his Santa suit that's on a hanger. He tells Brandon it's what he always wears on Christmas Day when he's serving up the less fortunate. The disheveled homeless man sees the suit from his seat at the counter and visibly perks up.
New Mexico. Steve takes a taxi to the address that was listed for Karen Brown in the hospital's paperwork, but there's no house there anymore. Disheartened, he asks the driver to take him back to his hotel.
The Peach Pit. Ahn-drea enters the diner and takes a seat at the counter. Brandon greets her with a "Merry Christmas", and then leans toward her and gives her a full on lip kiss. Gaa! Blech! How about some boundaries already, Brandon?! Ahn-drea orders a piece of peach pie, which leads Brandon to jump to the conclusion that she's depressed. Apparently she only ever orders pie at the Peach Pit when she's depressed. He asks her if she misses school already - hee! - but learns that the source of her depression is the holiday season. Her parents don't celebrate Christmas or Hanukah because they think it's somehow easier to ignore both than it would be to pick one and celebrate it. What a pair of grinchy humbugs. No wonder Ahn-drea has such a messed up, unappealing personality. Brandon takes pity on her and invites her to his house on Christmas Eve, but she declines because she promised to take Grandma Rose to the movies and doesn't think the nattering old bat will want to help celebrate a non-Jewish holiday with the Walshes. Nat suddenly interrupts their conversation to ask Brandon if he's seen his Santa suit. It's missing!
In the next scene we see a suspicious looking, disheveled Santa on the street, ringing a bell and wishing passersby a Merry Christmas.
Disheveled Santa comes into the boutique while Brenda is working. Her boss Deirdre sees him and tells Brenda she's going to kick out the nut. She then goes up to the guy, calls him a nutcase to his face, and barks at him to leave. He gives her a sad, "Merry Christmas", and Brenda watches him sympathetically as he walks out.
New Mexico. Steve is at a pay phone with a big pile of change. He's looking through the local phone book and calling everyone who has the last name "Brown", asking them if they know a Karen Brown. Good luck with that, Steve.
Dylan drops by to see Brenda at the boutique before heading to the prison to visit his father. They kiss, and he hands her a candy cane he just got from Disheveled Santa. Dylan is feeling sour about Christmas because of all the people he's witnessed shoving each other in stores. He then presents Brenda with a small jewelry box, and she opens it to find a necklace...at least I think that's what it is. Half of a dangly part is missing on it, but Dylan has it so he can wear it. Brenda dutifully tells him she loves it and gives him a hug. Dylan is off to spend Christmas Eve at the prison, and Brenda is saddened that they won't be able to spend the evening together. She offers to accompany him to go see his father, but he won't allow that. Suddenly, a cranky customer interrupts to bitchily interrogate Brenda about whether or not the store's merchandise will be going on sale immediately after Christmas. D'yuh, lady. What do you think?
New Mexico. Steve is still in the phone booth making calls, and he's about to run out of change. During one of the calls, a man abruptly hangs up on him after hearing the name "Karen Brown", and Steve gets the feeling he might know something.
Kelly's house. Kelly and Jackie are in the kitchen cooking. Sort of. Jackie's not exactly Julia Child...but she's just excited to be preparing a meal for Mel, and gushes to Kelly that the way things are going with her new man, she may be cooking for him a lot more often. She refers to it as the healthiest relationship she's ever been in and says they still have a lot of passion. I was about to cringe and say "Ew", but then Jackie clarified that they still have a lot of passion about life. The doorbell rings, and it's Mel. He has come, flowers in hand, to tell Jackie that he and David can't come to her Christmas Eve dinner after all because his soon-to-be ex-wife, Sheila, is very depressed and doesn't want David (or Mel for that matter) eating at Jackie's house. Jackie immediately gets pissed off and starts rambling about how she let down walls and even discussed their relationship with Kelly. Mel tells her she's overreacting - which she totally is - and Jackie responds to this criticism by overreacting as she throws his flowers back at him and snarkily wishes him a Merry Christmas. Kelly, meanwhile, has witnessed this ugly scene...and after Mel leaves, she gives her mom a comforting hug.
New Mexico. Steve's gut instinct about the hang-up call leads him to Brown's Cafe. He sees an old man behind the counter and asks if this is his place. When he says yes, Steve tells him he was the person who had called earlier. The old man immediately shuts down, so Steve tells him he's looking for Karen Brown because he's her biological son. The old man is then a lot nicer to Steve. He tells him his name is Al, and that he's Karen Brown's father. He invites Steve to join him at one of the tables.
Kelly drops by the boutique to commiserate with Brenda about her botched Christmas Eve plans. She tells her how Mel cancelled on dinner so he could spend the holiday with his depressed, soon-to-be ex. Kelly contemplates buying Jackie another present to cheer her up because she doesn't want her to get depressed and start drinking or devolve into a raving cokehead again. Brenda invites her and Jackie to come over for a Walsh Christmas Eve, and Kelly happily accepts. As Kelly makes her way out of the boutique, Disheveled Santa makes another appearance. Deirdre wastes no time telling the old man to get lost, and then calls him a creep. This bitchy salesgirl is definitely getting coal in her stocking this year.
Asylum. Brandon arrives at some sort of mental health rehabilitation hospital to pay a visit to Emily Valentine and deliver a Christmas present. Emily happens to be ambling down the hallway just as Brandon is inquiring about her at the receptionist's desk, and she walks over to greet him. He tells her he's tried calling her, but apparently her doctor advised her to stay out of touch for awhile. She starts to apologize for all the kooky, psycho-nut shit she did during the My Desperate Valentine episode, but he stops her and tells her he didn't come for that. The two sit down and spend a few minutes getting caught up on their lives. She tells him that this place is really good for her, and that she may get to go home tomorrow to have Christmas dinner with her family. But as for returning to West Beverly High, she doesn't know if or when she'll ever be ready...or if there will even be a storyline that would warrant her return. Brandon urges her to open the gift. It's his baseball shirt, which she wore without his permission in the aforementioned episode. He encourages her to read the card, which is actually pretty touching because it was signed by the entire gang. She looks moved by the kind gesture, and thanks him with a warm hug.
Kelly's house. David comes over to drop off a Christmas present for Kelly. She gets all attitudey with him, but he points out that the cancellation of their Christmas Eve plans wasn't his fault, and that he's caught in the middle of two quarreling parents. He goes on to tell Kelly that he hates how bitchtastic his mother is being about him and Mel spending Christmas Eve with her and Jackie...and that he didn't want to see either of them get hurt. Kelly finally softens, accepts his gift, and tells him to wait 'cause she has a gift for him too. He makes a joke that she should open his present to her in private because it's a vibrator, but then laughs and tells her he's kidding. I sure as hell hope so, David.
New Mexico. Al does his best to answer Steve's questions about Karen. He tells Steve that she was very young when she got pregnant and didn't have a husband at the time. Eventually, though, she went off to college in Albuquerque, met a guy named Mulligan, got married...and then - oh yeah - recently died in a horrible car crash. I really think he could have mentioned that detail a lot sooner in his interactions with Steve. Needless to say, Steve looks shocked and bereft to hear about the untimely death of his birth mama.
The Walsh house. Papa Walsh is in the living room, playing Christmas songs on his little portable organ. The doorbell rings and Mama Walsh opens it to find Samantha Sanders. Not only is Mama Walsh thrilled to have company on Christmas Eve, she's also a little star-struck while standing in front of this B-list celebrity. The reason Samantha stopped by was to ask if any of them have heard from Steve...but none of the Walshes has. Samantha shares with Mama Walsh that she filed a missing persons report with the police, which was unnecessarily hasty, in my opinion. She regrets allowing Steve to travel alone to New Mexico, but also didn't want to stand in his way in his search for his birth mama. Mama Walsh is optimistic that he'll call, especially since it's Christmas. She then insists that Samantha stay for a traditional Walsh family dinner and refuses to take no for an answer.
New Mexico. Al takes Steve to visit Karen Brown's grave. Steve lays flowers by her headstone, and Al tells him about what a tough decision it was for her to give up her baby. Steve then shares that he's never had a grandfather and asks if Al would be his grandfather. Aww, that's sweet, yet kind of impractical...and totally meaningless, since we never see Al on any future episodes. Nevertheless, Al says he would like that, so Steve says he'd like to keep in touch, and maybe even invite him to visit him in L.A. sometime. That settled, Steve is suddenly in a desperate rush to return home in time for Christmas and asks Al to drive him to the airport.
It's closing time at the boutique, and Deirdre tells Brenda she did a great job that day. Brenda then starts to head home and comes upon two police officers harassing Disheveled Santa. She intervenes and tells the cops that she knows this man: his name is Santa Claus! The officers inform her that they've received complaints about a fake Santa hassling shoppers in the area. Brenda denies this is true, and the cops for some reason are completely satisfied with her uncorroborated statement, and leave. Disheveled Santa thanks her for the support, and Brenda asks him if he has anywhere to go. It's clear he's on his own, so she invites him to come home with her for Christmas Eve dinner. She can't bear the thought of anyone dressed up as Santa Claus being alone on Christmas Eve.
The Walsh house. Brenda arrives home with Disheveled Santa. Papa Walsh is surprised to see their unexpected dinner guest, and is understandably wary of having this strange man dressed in a ratty Santa suit inside their home. Brenda brushes off his concern and tells him the man is harmless. The doorbell rings and it's Kelly and Jackie. Mama Walsh is surprised to see them because stupid Brenda forgot to tell her about their change of plans and that they'd be spending Christmas Eve at their place. But naturally they're welcome to stay...and Mama and Papa Walsh grudgingly allow Disheveled Santa to stay for dinner as well.
New Mexico. Every flight to L.A. is booked solid, so Steve approaches the pilot of a charter plane to ask if he can fly him home. The pilot, himself a pseudo Santa with his white beard and red jumpsuit, tells Steve he won't be able to take him...but then has a swift change of heart after Steve offers him a huge wad of cash. He cheerfully flies Steve to L.A. while singing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.
The Walsh house. Mama Walsh unveils the Christmas turkey, and everyone is thrilled about all the sumptuous food. The doorbell rings yet again and it's Ahn-drea. Blech. Brandon looks thrilled to see her, and puts his arm around her as he ushers her toward the food. I disapprove of these constant mixed messages, Brandon.
Prison. Dylan is in a waiting room, sitting alone at a table. Eventually his father is escorted there...and it's Josh Taylor! Finally an attractive, appealing man gets cast as Jack McKay. He's surprised and pleased that Dylan has come to visit him. Dylan brought with him some food, along with books and girlie magazines to keep his father entertained while behind bars. Josh Taylor tells him he didn't expect to ever see his son again, and just assumed he hated him. Dylan assures him he doesn't hate him, but after all the shitty Christmases he's had, he wanted his dad to realize what it felt like to be lonely. Josh Taylor asks Dylan if he's still with his girlfriend, and when he says he is, he is encouraged to go and spend Christmas with her. Dylan insists that he came to the prison be with him, but Josh Taylor assures him that it's OK because even after this brief visit, he no longer feels alone. He hugs Dylan and wishes him a Merry Christmas.
The Walsh house. Dinner, of course, was scrumptious...and Disheveled Santa starts handing out Christmas presents. Mama Walsh gets a lovely silk scarf, and Brenda gets earrings from Tiffany's. As the rest of the gang gets presents, Mama Walsh discreetly tells her husband that she suspects Disheveled Santa of giving away stolen loot. The doorbell rings once again and it's Mel and David. Mama Walsh graciously invites them in, and Mel asks to speak privately with Jackie. She's still feeling very hostile and bitchy toward him, but she agrees to hear him out, so the two disappear in the kitchen. Mel starts off by apologizing for blowing it, but he genuinely thought Sheila was in trouble, and felt that he owed it to her to spend the holidays together. However, he now knows that that was a boneheaded idea, and he's determined to break it off with Sheila for good. As for Jackie, he wants to be with her...because he's falling in love with her. This revelation makes Jackie swoon, and the two of them kiss and make up. Kelly comes upon David, who has been eavesdropping on the entire conversation from the doorway. She asks him what's going on, so he gives her a long, drawn out play-by-play of the conversation detailed above. Mel and Jackie then emerge from the kitchen, and glow with happiness as they wish their kids a Merry Christmas.
The doorbell rings yet again, and Kelly answers it for Donna. Apparently there wasn't enough snow to go skiing, so she's staying in town for the holidays. David, of course, is happy to see Donna, and the two unwittingly stand in the living room doorway directly beneath some mistletoe...and when Brandon points this out, David boldly kisses her. Samantha Sanders, meanwhile, has enjoyed her evening of feasting and homespun Christmas cheer, but it's now time for her to head home. Papa Walsh asks her if there's anything more he can do, but she says no and remarks what wonderful friends Steve has. Suddenly Mama Walsh yells for her husband to get his ass upstairs. Disheveled Santa has stolen her engagement ring! She starts ranting and raving about how stupid Brenda was to bring a complete stranger into the house who turned out to be a thief. She rushes over to the phone to call the police, and is confused when Papa Walsh swiftly grabs the receiver from her and hands her a small jewelry box. He was going to wait until Christmas morning to give it to her, but given that she's acting like a suspicious lunatic, he's giving it to her now. Mama Walsh opens the box and finds her "missing" engagement ring, which has been reset with diamonds! When Papa Walsh originally proposed marriage, he didn't have a lot of money...but he always vowed to add diamonds to it when he could afford it. Well done, Jimbo. Mama Walsh is thrilled with the upgrade, but now feels like a shit-heel for suspecting Disheveled Santa of thievery.
Steve's house. Samantha arrives home, and when she hears noises coming from the second floor, she races up the stairs. She finds Steve in his bedroom, rushes toward him, and gives him a tearful hug. He apologizes for leaving home during the holidays, but he felt like it was something he had to do. Samantha asks him if this mother was everything he expected, and Steve tells her that yes, she was that...and more. He then describes his mother as a beautiful, caring person who created him out of her love...seventeen years of it, to be precise. Samantha tears up, and Steve promises never to leave her on Christmas again. Hugs hugs!
The Walsh house. Donna is sitting on Disheveled Santa's lap, which totally creeps me out, and she's whining about how Christmas bums her out because her birthday is also on December 25. She apparently never gets presents that are specifically for her birthday, because they always get mixed in with her Christmas presents. Disheveled Santa starts everyone off with a chorus of "Happy Birthday" in an effort to appease the whiny brat. The doorbell rings for the hundredth time, and Brenda answers it for Dylan. He brought her a rose, and she hugs him and asks how his father is doing. Dylan tells her he's fine, and then greets Mama and Papa Walsh with warm hugs.
Back in the living room, Ahn-drea is now sitting on Disheveled Santa's lap, which continues to be extremely creepy, and she's yammering away about all the stuff she wants for Christmas...and also complaining that her grinchy parents don't celebrate the holidays. When she finally shuts her pie-hole, everyone asks Disheveled Santa who the hell he is. He talks about his life in an abstract way, describing his wife as Mrs. Claus, and their children as elves. Apparently when their elves all grew up and moved away, Mrs. Claus continued to make the most splendid Christmas dinner and send gifts to their elves...up until last year. That's when Mrs. Claus died, and it is why Disheveled Santa is all alone now. This year he wanted to pretend the holiday didn't exist anymore...but credits Brenda for taking in a lonely old man and ensuring that he had somewhere to spend Christmas Eve. This act of kindness - which, incidentally, I find so contrary to Brenda's personality the other 364 days of the year - made him believe in the spirit of Christmas again. The doorbell rings AGAIN, and Brandon wryly jokes that he has no idea who it could be since everyone they know is already at the house. Hee! He opens the door and finds Nat and a group of carolers. Everyone at the house is delighted by the carolers, and after a quick song, Mama Walsh invites them in for a drink, so Nat takes her up on the offer. He glances at Disheveled Santa and informs Brandon that he found his missing Santa suit after all. Turns out the busboy had moved it without telling him. So I guess this means that Disheveled Santa either had his own suit, or he's a totally different person from the disheveled homeless man who was in the Peach Pit a few days ago. So...it would appear that nothing resembling a Christmas miracle has actually occurred here.
Papa Walsh sits at his little organ thing and entertains everyone with I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas. Everyone sings along, and Donna and David get cozy with each other, as do Brenda and Dylan. Mama Walsh looks over at the window and exclaims that she sees snow! It's fake, of course, and it's coming from a snow making machine that's being powered by Brandon from the driveway. While he's outside doing this, Steve and his mother arrive. He hugs Brandon heartily then tells him he's very hungry. Brandon invites him inside to chow down, and everyone, particularly Kelly, is very happy to see Steve safely back in Beverly Hills. All the guests finish their Christmas song, and I'm suddenly in the mood for an egg nog with a double dose of rum.