Recap: It's Christmas time in Beverly Hills, and this holiday episode serves as a silly homage to the classic film It's a Wonderful Life. It opens with Miriam, a guardian-angel-in-training, who makes an urgent call to Clarence, a more senior guardian angel. She warns him about an imminent code two (or three?) emergency, and says that the joy and happiness of future Christmases could be at stake. Egads! A tragedy is looming over a group of rich, spoiled California teenagers, and Miriam is also worried that this tragedy might prevent her from getting her wings. That sounds kind of self-serving for an angel. Clarence, a curmudgeon with a strong New York accent, is skeptical about the seriousness of the situation but agrees to hear Miriam out.
Miriam draws Clarence's attention to West Beverly High, where David is videotaping some random students singing Christmas carols. She also points out Donna, who's standing nearby and bashfully covering her face from the camera as though she's too shy to be filmed. Miriam gushes about how Donna is "an angel on earth if ever there was one", which was so completely fucking nauseating - but all part of the writers' nauseating campaign to consistently portray Aaron Spelling's talentless, giant-headed daughter as an exquisite cherub who possesses a flawless character. Blech! Blech!
Donna and David enter a classroom where Dylan, Brenda, and Kelly are busily wrapping children's presents. David films an impromptu interview with Brenda, who talks about how they're gearing up to transport all of the presents to the Alvarado Street Elementary School so that the impoverished ragamuffins who go there can have a halfway decent Christmas. Clarence doesn't get why Miriam is focused on this particular group of teenagers and remarks that they all seem way too good looking to have any real problems. Heh.
The Blaze newsroom. Ahn-drea and Brandon are reading aloud a West Beverly High parody of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to Gil Meyers and all of the Blaze writers - but Miriam puts a pin in that and swiftly moves on to Steve, who's languishing in detention. She tells Clarence that despite the fact that Steve is an idiot juvenile delinquent, he's not in any immediate danger so she's not really worried about him.
Following detention, Steve whines to the gang about how slowly each minute drags when he's sitting in that room. Brenda's like "Whatever" and swiftly changes the subject to the Alvarado school visit. She announces that the Christmas presents for the kids are all packed, but they still need a guy who's willing to dress up as Santa Claus and entertain the ragamuffins. Brandon quickly says he'll be too busy covering the event for The Blaze, David says he'll be occupied with videotaping the blessed event...and Steve whines that ever since getting almost expelled, he's barred from school activities until the end of time. So that just leaves Dylan. He declines the role of Santa, then turns to make a run for it. As he's doing that, the screen suddenly freezes and Clarence grumps to Miriam that these kids don't look like they need any help. Miriam patiently explains that all the stuff they've just been watching took place two days ago, but right now the teenagers are in desperate need of a miracle.
The gang is on a bus, heading to the Alvarado Street Elementary School. There's a group of cheerful carolers sitting in the front, though Miriam doesn't seem to give a shit about their imminent deaths, and the gang is sitting in the back and they all look fake pissed off at each other. Clarence still doesn't get the point of any of this and chalks up their collective bad mood to seasonal apathy...but Miriam begs him to hear the full story. Clarence agrees, but tells her to just give him the highlights. Yes please.
A couple of days ago..
Ahn-drea has just finished filming an interview with David about the highlights of The Blaze's Christmas issue when the phone in the newsroom rings. It's Grandma Rose, who's calling to tell her that a letter from Yale University just arrived. She asks Grandma Rose if the letter is thick or thin...then sounds disappointed when she hears that the envelop is thin. Oh, and apparently Ahn-drea also received a letter from her long-distance "boyfriend" Jay [spoiler: he dumps her ass], but we'll get into all of that later. Brandon and Gil argue about whether or not they think Ahn-drea got accepted to Yale. Brandon thinks she got in but Gil assumes she was rejected, so they decide to place a wager on it. But Gil says they shouldn't bet money, and leaves it up to Ahn-drea to set the stakes.
Brandon convinces Ahn-drea to go to the apartment so she can open the Yale envelop...and he agrees to accompany her. After some annoying back and forth about whether or not she should open the damn thing, she finally does and is thrilled when she discovers she got accepted. She hugs Brandon and says that since Gil lost the wager, she's going to make him shave off his gnarly facial hair. As an afterthought, she opens the letter from Jay...but that one's not good news. Brandon asks her what it says, but she folds up the letter and doesn't actually admit that he gave her the heave-ho. Haha!
The Walsh house. As the Walshes trim their Christmas tree, Brandon rails about how Jay has no class because of the insensitive way he broke up with Ahn-drea. He then declares that he never liked Jay and thought he was wrong for Ahn-drea. His family jokes that he's just jealous, but fortunately the doorbell rings and this disturbing topic doesn't get pursued further. Dylan and Kelly have come over to study with Brenda, but when Kelly sees the tree and all of the Christmas decorations laid out, she tells her friends she'd rather trim the tree. Clarence is finally showing some interest the lives of these self-entitled teenagers, and asks Miriam if the blonde is getting it on with the guy with sideburns. Miriam explains that currently there's a dysfunctional love triangle going on between them and the bitchy brunette...but she puts a pin in this part of the story so she can jump back (or forward?) in time to show Clarence what transpired in The Blaze newsroom...
Gil has agreed to shave off his gross beard after losing the Ahn-drea/Yale wager with Brandon. It's definitely an improvement, but then I've never been a big lover of beards. David is filming The Shaving of the Beard, and after he finishes, he slumps over and looks very mopey. Donna notices his crappy mood and asks him what's wrong, so he starts whining about how all of his friends are going to start getting their college acceptance letters, and next year he'll be an abandoned loser at West Beverly High. Ahn-drea, meanwhile, still looks bummed about getting the dumperoo from Jay, so Brandon goes over to her and tells her how shitty he thinks her ex-boyfriend's timing was. She asks Brandon if he'd like to go to the movies with her, but he has to decline 'cause Nikki is due to return from San Francisco that evening...and they have a lot of heavy petting to catch up on.
Brandon's bedroom. Nikki is lying on top of Brandon, and the two are making out. Between smooches she keeps looking toward the door, nervous that someone might walk in on them. Brandon assures her that that won't happen, and then a few seconds later Mama Walsh walks in on them. When she realizes they're dry humping, she stops short, looks shocked, mumbles an awkward apology...but doesn't make any attempt to leave the room. A mortified Nikki climbs off of Brandon and runs into the adjoining bathroom. Brandon sarcastically thanks his mother for the intrusion and then goes to the bathroom to talk to Nikki. He apologizes for what just happened and tells her he really missed her while she was away...but she just stares back at him with a stricken look on her face. She tells him that things with her parents went really well over the Thanksgiving break, now that Diesel/Weasel is out of the picture. And since they were able to function like a family again, she's decided to move back to San Francisco...and is leaving tomorrow. Clarence is stunned by her news, but tells Miriam there's plenty of fish in the sea, and he feels confident that Brandon will have no problem finding another girlfriend. Miriam ominously replies, "Not if he gets on that bus."
Later, Brandon is sitting on his bed looking glum. Brenda breezes into his room and snarks about how conniving Dylan and Kelly are. Brandon snaps that he's not in the mood to listen to her problems because he's preoccupied with his own problems...and explains that he just got dumped by Nikki. But once he's able to get that off of his chest, he wearily asks his sister what Dylan and Kelly did to piss her off. Clarence is curious about that as well, so it's back to the Peach Pit we go...
Several nights earlier, Kelly and Brenda had asked Dylan to meet with them so they could discuss their love triangle. Kelly and Brenda tell him how sexy and appealing they find him, and that they both love him. Dylan perks up, hoping that all of this ego stroking is leading up to a sexy 'menage a trois', but Brenda and Kelly inform him that they all need to have a cooling off period in order to preserve their platonic relationships. Dylan says he loves them both and is willing to do whatever it takes to stay friends with both of them. The three toast to friendship.
Miriam then takes Clarence back to the fateful night that Kelly and Dylan came over to the Walsh house while they were trimming their tree. The three are in Brenda's room studying Shakespeare. Dylan goofs around and pretends to be a Shakespearean character, and this makes Brenda and Kelly giggle. Kelly leaves the room to go downstairs for a drink (or snack), and notices that the Walshes are in the living room watching It's a Wonderful Life...so she joins them. Upstairs, Dylan plops himself on the floor near the side of Brenda's bed, and she leans over and sneaks a kiss. Looking fake shocked, he asks her what that was, and she tells him it was just a friendly gesture...but then a few seconds later they start making out. Eventually they pull away and apologize for breaking their own rules about kissing. Brenda reminds him that they're just friends, but then stares at him longingly.
The Peach Pit. The following day, Kelly gloats to Brenda and Dylan about how the three of them are being very mature about the situation because of the importance of their friendships. Kelly then announces the irrelevant news that David's mom has just decided to move to Portland, Oregon...and then flounces over to the table where David and Donna are sitting. Now that they have a moment alone, Brenda brings up the kiss to Dylan and tells him that it was a one time deal...but then they start staring at each other longingly. Donna, Kelly, and David break the spell when they suddenly join them at their table. Dylan expresses his sympathy to David regarding his mom's move, and David tells Donna he's probably going to be too depressed to videotape their visit to the Alvarado school. That's pretty damn lame, David. Kelly and Brenda pester Dylan to agree to dress up as Santa for the Alvarado ragamuffins...but he just gives them a tepid maybe. Brenda and Donna have to leave to iron out some last minute details for the Alvarado visit, and Brenda tells Kelly to "work on him" - meaning Dylan - about the Santa thing. Kelly saucily replies, "Oh, I plan on it." Mmm hmm..
Dylan's house. Kelly asks Dylan why he's being so stubborn about dressing up as Santa Claus, so he explains that it's ridiculous for a slim lad such as himself to try to pass himself off as a fat bearded man. The two retire to the couch, and she slips into her irksome baby talk routine and tries to convince him that he'd look really hot wearing a big red suit. The two edge closer together, and she tells him she'll do whatever it takes to convince him to wear the costume...and then the two start going at it. Unfortunately, Brenda shows up at that very moment to bring over the Santa suit. She peers through the window of Dylan's front door and sees the two of them kissing. Dylan and Kelly must have sensed her bitter aura, because they stop kissing, turn around, and notice that she's staring daggers at them from the other side of the door. Oops.
Dylan rushes to open the door to let Brenda inside, and she angrily throws the Santa costume at him. He and Kelly urge her to come inside and talk about the canoodling she just witnessed, but she snaps that there's nothing to talk about. Dylan's only explanation is, "It just happened" and Brenda retorts with, "Like it just happened with me yesterday?" Naturally, this angers Kelly, and she's all, "Wha-at?" Dylan then tries to appease the two irate girls by trying on the Santa suit, but Brenda and Kelly are enraged that he's been playing them both. Brenda snaps that he looks ridiculous in the Santa suit and barks at him to take it off. Kelly snarks that it's ridiculous how they're all trying to convince themselves that they could all just be platonic friends...and then she and Brenda storm out of the house.
West Beverly High. The next day, Brenda informs Donna that she's no longer speaking to Dylan and Kelly, and this means that the two are banned from participating in the Alvarado school visit. Donna argues that they're needed at the school...particularly Dylan, as he's supposed to be their Santa Claus. Brenda bitchily declares that, in that case, she's not going and storms off. Following her tantrum, Donna encounters each of her friends, and one by one they give her really lame-ass reasons why they're bailing out on the school visit at the last minute. Since each interaction is pretty much the same contrived conversation over and over again, here's a condensed summary of how those scenes played out:
And the winner is...Brandon! He wins for giving Donna the lamest possible cancellation excuse while acting totally out of character doing it.
In the next scene, Mrs. Teasley is sternly lecturing the gang about what selfish, heartless douchebags they all are for bailing out on a charity visit to the Alvarado school without sufficient notice. Apparently, there was a long waiting list of students who had wanted to volunteer for the Alvarado visit, but as usual they were ignored in favor of the attractive, popular A-listers. Mrs. Teasley orders the sulky brats to get on that %$#@ bus immediately, and Donna looks on smugly as they obediently file out of the principal's office.
Clarence is confused why things are so sour between Brandon and Ahn-drea. Miriam admits that she left out that part of the story, and then needlessly starts telling it.
A few nights ago at the Peach Pit, Brandon is lamenting to Nat that he has bad relationship karma. Nat reminds him that girls are always throwing themselves at him and assures him that someone will come along soon. Not coincidentally, Ahn-drea suddenly enters the diner to pick up her dinner order. She asks Brandon about his plans with Nikki, and he tells her he's on his own tonight. He asks her if she's still up for a movie later, but she has to decline 'cause she took a babysitting gig...but then invites him to keep her company. He accepts, and hours later they're at the house together, eating popcorn and watching It's a Wonderful Life - just in case we didn't get the irony of the direct reference to this film when the Walshes were watching it earlier. The film makes Ahn-drea teary-eyed, and she goes off on a tangent about how shitty her life would have turned out if the Walshes hadn't moved to L.A. She theorizes that she probably would have been a social outcast had it not been for Brandon forcing the popular kids to talk to her and hang out with her. She then brings up how jealous Brandon got when she started dating Jay last summer, then gazes at him suggestively and says, "Timing is everything." The two stare intensely at each other, move closer, and start kissing. And it's not a mercifully quick peck either - it's a really gross, full-on, extended lip kiss that queased my stomach when I watched it. Suddenly, Ahn-drea pulls away and snaps, "I can't believe you" and accuses him of fantasizing about Nikki during the kiss. Brandon admits he was, which was stupid of him but also laugh-out-loud funny, and retorts that she shouldn't talk because she was fantasizing about Jay. I highly doubt that, given the way she's crushed on Brandon ever since the pilot episode, but nothing about this scene made any sense...so OK.
Back on the bus...
As the grumpy teens ride the bus headed to the Alvarado Street Elementary School, Miriam warns Clarence that everyone aboard is in grave danger. She pleads with him to do something - anything! - to divert the truck that's on a direct collision course with the bus. Clarence tries to calm her angst by assuring her that he diverted the route of Craig Clemmens' truck. Miriam wails that it's Greg Clemmens not Craig Clemmens she's worried about. And then we see that Greg Clemmens is currently at the wheel of a large garbage truck...and he's chugging from a bottle of hard liquor.
Steve drives over to the Alvarado school in his Corvette. He's greeted by Gil, who's already there, and tells him he hopes Mrs. Teasley won't mind that he came. Gil furrows his brows concernedly and remarks that the West Beverly bus should have arrived by now. Miriam, meanwhile, begs Clarence to reroute Greg Clemmens' truck, but Clarence tells her he's not a miracle worker and can't do that...even though he was somehow able to alter the route of Craig Clemmens' truck. Clarence insists that he can't ask the "man upstairs" to intervene...and at this point all they can do is let destiny run its course and witness the gruesome carnage.
On the bus, everyone continues to act totally out of character as they snipe and bitch at each other. Donna gets up and goes to the back of the bus to see if her friends have mellowed out yet, and sees that they haven't. Brandon gripes that they're not cut out to be ambassadors of good will, and Kelly petulantly tells her that they'll pass out the presents, but they're not going to enjoy it. A fed up Donna lectures them about how Christmas should be the one time of the year they don't act like rude, petty children...and that they should appreciate all of the positive things in their lives. Her words of wisdom give them pause, and they all look contemplative. Greg Clemmens' garbage truck, meanwhile, is still barreling in their direction. Dylan remarks that Donna is a wise and profound sage, and Brandon gets up and sits near Ahn-drea and admits that he was jealous of Jay. Ahn-drea, in turn, admits being jealous of Nikki, Brooke, and Emily...and every other girl he rubbed up against during Seasons 1 and 2. Elsewhere on the bus, a humbled Brenda suggests to Kelly and Dylan that they put aside their differences for one day, and David tells Donna he's willing to videotape the Alvarado visit after all.
At the Alvarado Street Elementary School, Steve is passing the time playing Simon Says with the ragamuffins. Gil spots the school bus at the same time that Steve notices Greg Clemmens' truck going down the wrong way of a one way street. Alarmed, he shouts to the driver, but he's too drunk to notice Steve. At the intersection where the tragic collision is set to occur, Clemmens' garbage truck magically passes through the school bus without any carnage. It just sparks some weird looking blue lightning bolts. The spoiled brats have been spared! Everyone on the bus looks inexplicably dazed, and Miriam asks Clarence how he was able to pull off this Christmas miracle. Clarence tells her it was a higher power, and Miriam reverently replies, "Wow."
When the bus arrives at the school, the ragamuffins run over to check out all the loot they're getting. Mrs. Teasley notices Steve and glares at him but says nothing as she hands him the Santa suit. The rest of the gang starts handing out presents to the ragamuffins and playing with them. David saunters over to Donna and informs her that if he loads up on all the required courses, he could finish high school a year early and graduate with her class. Of course, this also means he's not going to have any free time to spend with her. Steve, meanwhile, is doing his best at playing Santa, but his moustache keeps falling off. Mrs. Teasley finally gives him a warm smile.
Elsewhere on the school grounds, Brenda and Kelly are each decorating a cookie. Brenda's has a B on it, and Kelly's has a K on it. When Dylan slouches over to them, they inform him that the three of them can't go on pretending to be platonic friends, and he's going to have to decide which one of them he wants to be with on New Year's Eve. That said, they both hand him their cookies and rush off to visit Santa Steve. Dylan is left staring at the lettered cookies, weighing both options. Whatever you do, Slouchy, don't pick the B.
Donna hears a bell tinkling and tells David that every time a bell rings, it means an angel is getting her wings. David says that's a cute anecdote and gives her a hug. Up in the heavens, Miriam is awestruck as she receives her wings. She thanks Clarence and he gruffly tells her to thank "you know who".
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Recapper: Isabel K. French
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