Recap: The West Beverly High seniors are trying on their caps and gowns in anticipation of the graduation episode/season finale. Steve asks Dylan and Kelly how he looks in his gown, and Kelly jokes about how great his high heels will go with the outfit. Brandon notices Ahn-drea browsing through the rack of gowns and walks over to say hello...and opens a giant can of worms when he asks her why she didn't return his phone call over the weekend. Ahn-drea is pouting like the big baby she is and refuses to turn around to look at Brandon. She tells him that she was very busy studying all weekend, and adds that she's going to have to kick ass on her finals if she wants to be anointed class valedictorian. Brandon retorts that she still could have returned his call. Ahn-drea finally turns around and tells him how insulted she is that he was the one who put the brakes on any kind of sexual contact while they were chillin' in the hotel room on prom night. Brandon reminds her that they've been “around this track too many times” - ya think?! - and says he didn't want them to do something that they (meaning he) would later regret. A sexually frustrated Ahn-drea blurts out that if she doesn't do “something she's going to regret” soon, she's going to scream...but the minute she gets that off her chest, she cracks a smile and giggles, and this helps ease the awkwardness of what easily could have turned into a much more embarrassing moment.
DJ booth. David is in the booth, studying for his upcoming finals. Donna enters the booth looking grim and remarks that she'd love to just hide out there all day. David informs her that he tried calling her all weekend, but Felice wouldn't let his calls through. Donna tells him she's mortified about getting so tanked on prom night...and then apologizes for the way Felice is blaming Mel for serving them champagne that night. David kind of shrugs and says that she has to blame somebody. Well, OK...but in this case a lot of this is kind of Mel's fault. Donna says she's very scared that the board will ban her from graduating with her class, but David tells her he doesn't think that will happen, mostly because the board members all know Felice. He breezily predicts that the whole thing will just blow over.
Brenda announces to the gang that it looks like Donna got off the hook for her drunkenness at prom...but she's only making this assumption because Donna showed up at school that day. Steve is doubtful that Donna will get suspended considering how connected Felice is, but Ahn-drea has her doubts and thinks they're going to fry her. Donna and David come outside to join the gang, and everyone hovers over Donna and asks her if she's OK. She tells them that her mom is freaking out...and then admits that she's not doing so well herself. She says that all she wants is to graduate with the rest of them, so Kelly hands her a graduation gown, along with a cap to try on. Brandon attempts to lift her spirits by telling that since she's never done anything wrong, he can't see why the school board would want to make her a scapegoat. Gil suddenly appears and interrupts the love-fest to inform Donna that Mrs. Teasley wants to see her in her office pronto. Duhn duhn duhn!
Donna is dismayed to see both of her parents in the waiting area of Mrs. Teasley's office, and tells David she thinks the meeting is going to go very badly. After David wishes her good luck and takes off, Donna steps inside the office area. She gives her dad a sheepish look and tells him she's sorry, and Felice glares at her and snaps, “It's a little late for that.” Fortunately, Papa Martin is far more sympathetic than his bitchy wife and tells Donna to save her apologies for whoever will be at the meeting. He then kisses her cheek just as Mrs. Teasley emerges from her office to announce that the inquisition into Donna's drunken debauchery can officially begin.
George Ephardt, the ultra uptight douchebag of a superintendent, starts grilling Donna about her drunkenness on prom night. He asks her if she had heard the announcement regarding alcohol/inebriation that had been disseminated shortly before the prom, and then asks her to explain what she understood it to mean. Donna meekly tells him that she understood it to mean that anyone who was drunk at prom wouldn't be able to graduate. He then asks her if she was drunk that night, and she looks down and whispers, “I don't know.” Ephardt snippily retorts that Mrs. Teasley had reported that she had, in fact, been so inebriated that she could barely walk, and collapsed onto the floor. Donna claims she doesn't remember that part (no doubt because she was so drunk) but says she does remember drinking two glasses of champagne...or was it three? She tells Ephardt that she drank the champagne at a pre-prom party at a friend's house, and explains that the friend's father had poured her a glass of champagne. She hadn't eaten all day, which would explain why the alcohol hit her so hard. I noticed she left out the part about how she scarfed back at least two full glasses of champagne in the limo on the way to the Bel Age Hotel. Ephardt sternly asks her if she knows what the legal drinking age is, and Papa Martin interjects and makes the point that all Donna did was drink some wine at a private home. Donna sounds panicked when she asks what's going to happen to her, so Ephardt informs her that she is hereby suspended from school pending a hearing that evening by a disciplinary panel of the board of education. Felice looks shocked, and both she and Papa Martin exclaim that the tight timeline isn't adequate to plan any sort of defense. Ephardt doesn't look like he gives a rat's ass, and dismissively tells the Martins that Donna is entitled to counsel.
The Blaze newsroom. Toby, one of the junior writers, demands to know why Brandon and Ahn-drea have no plans to write a story about how Donna “practically threw up on the principal's shoes” (haha!) and got thrown out of school. Gil tells Toby that her point is well taken, but says that the final edition of the paper is "locked". Howard, another junior, agrees with Toby and wants them to stop the presses and write an exclusive on the drunken spectacle that Donna made of herself on prom night, and all of the juicy aftermath. That would definitely be an awesome story for The Blaze...and totally worthy of front page coverage! Toby accuses Ahn-drea and Brandon of only being interested in publishing their usual boring drivel, and derisively declares that what's happening to Donna is "an appropriate epitaph for the dead spirit of the class of '93". She then storms out of the newsroom.
Taylor house. Jackie is yelling at Mel over the phone for serving the underage gang champagne at his pre-prom party. She snipes that he should be arrested, and orders him to march over to the Martin house and apologize to Donna's parents. Kelly and David arrive home from school, so Jackie cuts the call short. David tries to explain to Jackie that his dad didn't mean for any of this to happen, and Jackie bitterly retorts that Mel never means for anything to happen...like when he cheated on her with his young dental hygienist, for example. Kelly also defends Mel, and tells Jackie that he only had enough champagne for each of the party guests to drink to a toast. (I really think she, along with everyone else, is either unaware of or has conveniently forgotten about the full bottle of champagne that Steve sneaked out of Mel's condo and brought into the limo after the pre-party.) Jackie gets annoyed at Kelly for defending her philandering ex-husband, but then changes the subject to “something infinitely more important”. They're moving! It turns out the Brower family (last seen in the Perfectly Perfect episode) finally upped their offer, which means that the Taylor/Silver clan has ten days to pack up and move. Kelly and David are shocked by the news...and David grumbles that Jackie has really lousy timing, to which she grimly replies that that's pretty much been the story of her life.
Donna's house. Papa Martin wants to have their lawyer present at the hearing, but Felice thinks that's a bad idea because she's afraid of alienating the school board members. She laments how humiliating this whole ordeal has been for her...so Donna, who is hovering nearby, apologizes for her drunkenness for the hundredth time. But she points out that she's the one who might not be able to graduate, and Felice snippily retorts that she should have thought about that before she got drunk. Donna blurts out that everyone was drinking, but Felice reminds her that she was the only one who nearly passed out right in front of Mrs. Teasley. Good point. Papa Martin interrupts his wife's bitchery to gently tell Donna to go get changed for the hearing. On her way out, Felice snaps at her to find something dignified to wear. Papa Martin just stares off in the distance, looking strained...and no doubt kicking himself for not following through with the divorce after his cunty wife cuckolded him in Season 2.
The Peach Pit. The gang is sitting around a table, wondering how Donna's hearing is going. Ahn-drea explains that it's a closed door session, so no superfluous spectators are permitted. After a few minutes the phone rings, and Nat picks it up. He holds up the receiver and yells over to the gang that Donna is on the line...and Brenda volunteers to take the call. Donna tearfully tells her that she lost, meaning that the board won't allow her to graduate with the rest of the class. She's being suspended for five days, and after that she can return to school but not participate in graduation or any other senior activities. She'll also have to go to summer school until August before she can receive her diploma. On top of that, she has to enroll in a substance abuse program, which I found kind of funny, since it's obvious that the biggest substance abuse problem Donna has is that she couldn't hold her liquor on one occasion because of how infrequently she drinks. Donna tells Brenda that her parents are refusing to file an appeal, so it looks like the punishment will stand. She then breaks down and yammers once again about how she just wants to graduate with her friends. Brenda offers her sympathies, urges her to hold herself together, and assures her that her friends are with her in spirit.
After Brenda hangs up, she returns to the table to relay the bad news to the rest of the gang, and they're shocked that Donna won't be permitted to graduate. David suggests that they all come forward and confess to drinking on prom night, but Steve's like, "No way in hell!" and snarls that Donna better not name names. Brenda tells David that if they confess to drinking, there's a good chance that they'll all get thrown out of school. Dylan, who doesn't bother hiding the fact that he couldn't care less about Donna's plight, cuts the conversation short to announce that he has to go home and study for his finals. As everyone starts to disperse, Brandon pulls Ahn-drea aside and asks her if they're all just wimping out...the way Toby accused them. Ahn-drea says she thinks that the board is intent on making an example out of Donna...but since her parents are not exercising their right to an appeal, there's not a whole lot they can do about it.
Dylan's house. Kelly is so distracted by Donna's situation that she's finding it hard to focus on her studies. She tells Dylan she can't believe that Felice won't appeal the school board's decision, and remarks that her mother would definitely stick up for her. She says that Jackie is, in fact, so cool that she gave her permission to spend the night at Dylan's house. Dylan likes the sound of that, and the two suck face for a little while. After that, the subject of Berkeley comes up. She asks him if he really wants to go, and he tells her he isn't totally sure. She tells him she'd miss him, and he assures her they'd still carry on with their relationship, albeit it would become a long distance relationship. They start making out again, and it doesn't look like a whole lot of studying for finals is getting done.
The Walsh house. Mel is over at the Walsh house, apologizing to Mama and Papa Walsh about how he served the kids champagne at his pre-prom party. He explains that in his family, it was a normal thing to celebrate special occasions with a bit of alcohol...and, of course, he had no idea it would affect Donna that way. Papa Walsh doesn't seem to know how to respond, so he just stares blankly at Mel and mumbles, “It's all right.” Mel declares that the next stop on his Apology Tour will be the Martin's house so he can express his deep remorse to Donna's parents. David says he's going to urge the Martins to appeal the board's decision...and Brandon wishes them good luck with that endeavor, and remarks on Felice's stubbornness. Brenda pontificates about how they all drank champagne that night, but no one else got sick...and Brandon looks like he thinks he may have just stumbled onto something big when he points out that no one has bothered to even prove that Donna was drunk. Personally, I think that's a non-starter, considering that when Donna collapsed onto the floor, she freely admitted to Mrs. Teasley that she had had too much to drink. Of course, all of this is meaningless since, as Papa Walsh points out, an appeal is necessary to pursue answers to any of these questions.
Donna's house. Mel arrives with David to apologize to the Martins. Felice opens the front door and greets the two of them coldly, and doesn't allow either of them inside. Mel admits to serving champagne to their children to celebrate their upcoming graduation, and makes it clear that it was his decision, and insists that Donna didn't do anything wrong. David then chimes in and tells Felice that the board's decision is unfair, and advises them to appeal. Felice icily tells Mel that she appreciates his honesty, but says that Donna broke the rules and will therefore have to suck up the board's decision. David asks her if he can speak with Donna, but Felice says no, and literally closes the door in their faces. Donna pops out from wherever she was eavesdropping, and asks her mom why they're not appealing this. She says she really really wants to graduate with her friends and pleads with Felice to appeal. Felice explains that she tried to use all of her influence with the board, but clearly this influence doesn't add up to much, because nothing has worked. Plus, she doesn't want her family to endure any further humiliation. Donna then throws it in Felice's face that she too made a horrible mistake when she had her sleazy affair behind Papa Martin's back in the Bel Age Hotel the day that Color Me Badd came to town. Ha! That was such an awesome episode. Felice flushes with embarrassment and says that this situation has nothing to do with her sleazy affair - but Donna disagrees and insists that both incidents have to do with forgiveness. She reminds her mom that she and Papa Martin forgave her for taking a lover...so now she's asking Felice to forgive her for toppling over in a drunken heap at her senior prom. Seems like a fair trade to me. Donna then storms out of the room...and Felice looks contemplative.
West Beverly High. Dylan, Steve, Ahn-drea, and Brandon have all been summoned to Mrs. Teasley's office. Steve is acting all pissy because he assumes that Donna squealed on all of them for drinking along with her on prom night. A minute later, Brenda, David, and Kelly also appear, and Steve advises everyone to say and admit to nothing. A few minutes later, Mrs. Teasley comes out of her office and informs the gang that the Martins have requested an appeal after all, and that the hearing is scheduled for the following morning at 10:00am. She explains that the reason she summoned all of them to her office was because she thought it might be helpful to Donna's case if her closest friends wrote some letters of support on her behalf. Mrs. Teasley adds that since the hearing will take place at the same time as finals, they won't be able to attend...but she promises to ensure that their letters are entered into the record. The gang looks stunned...and then sheepish for assuming that Donna had ratted them out. Dylan, however, expresses skepticism that these letters will do any good.
The Blaze newsroom. Ahn-drea is typing a letter on Donna's behalf, but she too is skeptical about how much good these letters are actually going to do. After talking it over with Brandon, the two come to the undeniable conclusion that the whole thing is a useless effort. Gil overhears them and asks Brandon if they can speak privately. Out in the hall, Gil tells Brandon that he believes Donna is being railroaded, and suggests that someone - meaning Brandon - needs to do something about it. Brandon asks him if he's suggesting some kind of protest, but Gil immediately backs off and says he's already said enough to get himself fired. Brandon lets out a caustic laugh and explains to Gil that West Beverly High is probably the most apathetic school in America...and that the class of '93 is the most apathetic class in the most apathetic school in America. He really doesn't think any of the students would be willing to march anywhere. Gil insists they would if they had a leader - then tells Brandon he could be that leader.
Papa Walsh's office. Brandon stops by to give Papa Walsh a heads up on what he's thinking of doing. They talk about how Papa Walsh attended protests against the Vietnam War back in the '60s, blah blah. Brandon then warns his dad that he's about to do something that could land him in trouble, but insists that someone has to stand up for Donna. Papa Walsh's only advice is that he should do his best to avoid getting arrested.
Public Library. Brandon tells Ahn-drea about his plan to stage a massive demonstration on Donna's behalf tomorrow morning. She, in turn, reminds him that everyone is scheduled to take their finals tomorrow morning...and he tells her that finals are the key to the entire thing. He wants the entire senior class to walk out during their morning final and march over to wherever the school board hearing is taking place. Essentially, this means that if no one takes finals, no one will graduate. Ahn-drea unenthusiastically asks, “Free Donna or fail us all?” She looks nervous about taking such a strong stand, and tells Brandon that she has a lot at stake...like being the class valedictorian, for example. Brandon looks slightly exasperated with her self absorbed concerns and reminds her that the class of '93 needs to be remembered for something big.
The Peach Pit. Steve is wary of walking out on his final, and reminds the gang that he's still on probation for breaking into the school's computer system. He's worried about getting expelled, but Brenda points out that he won't be expelled if everyone else walks out too. Brandon then tries to shame Steve by pointing out that Donna would be the first person to do this for any of them...but Steve still can't bring himself to agree to a walkout. Brandon urgently declares to his friends that it's time to lay it on the line, because what the school board is doing is wrong. Dylan remains skeptical and doesn't think that anyone is going to go along with ditching finals. Plus, he really doesn't think it's the end of the world if Donna has to go to summer school for a few weeks before she gets her diploma. Slouchy actually makes a good point; a massive protest during finals does seem like a lot of trouble to go through just for Donna...particularly when she's guaranteed of graduating after a few weeks of summer school. Brandon, however, is determined to make a statement and be heard. Dylan warily asks David if he's willing to risk graduating a year early, and David declares that he is. Kelly pipes up and says that she too is willing to risk graduation. Steve finally agrees to go along with Brandon's plan, and everyone heads home so they can hit the phones and convince the entire senior class to walk out on their final in support of Donna. The only person left sitting in the diner is Dylan, who still can't bring himself to risk his final grades.
In the next scene, the gang makes calls to their senior classmates, instructing them to walk out during the morning exam. Afterward, Brenda remarks to Brandon how well her calls went, and how amazing it is that so many people care about Donna. I find that pretty amazing too, considering how little Donna has interacted with 99% of the student body over the past three years.
West Beverly High. It's the morning before the walkout, and the gang has gathered in the parking lot to go over the last minute details of the plan, which is that they all walk out at 10:00am sharp. David tells them that he informed Donna about the protest, and she was deeply touched and sends everyone her love. Toby and Howard walk over and express their solidarity with the impending march, and make a proposition: if the seniors add “dumping the wardrobe guidelines" to their list of demands, the entire junior class will walk out on their finals as well. I'd be a bit worried that this add-on might muddle the Donna Martin graduates! issue, but Brandon thinks it over for a few seconds, consults with the others, and they're all like, “Sure - what the hell!”
Board of Education hearing. Mama and Papa Walsh arrive at the hearing (not sure why), along with Jackie and Mel. Mel tells Felice he'd like to testify on Donna's behalf, and then Jackie gives Felice her two cents on the issue, which is that after wrestling with her own drug/alcohol issues, she thinks it's bullshit to try to scare people into sobriety. Felice just haughtily says that right now all she wants is to see her daughter graduate.
West Beverly High. It's a few minutes before 10:00am, and finals are about to start in all of the classrooms. The instant the clock strikes 10:00am, everyone immediately gets up and walks out. Gil looks fake confused, so Brandon tells him they're walking out. Dylan is the only one left sitting in the classroom, and he remarks to Gil that if by some miracle he does get admitted to Berkeley, he's probably going to have to get used to this sort of thing. With Gil's blessing, Dylan gets up and slouches out of the room to join the march. One of the teachers in the hallway asks the kids what's going on, so Steve and Kelly fill him in that they're marching on behalf of Donna Martin...and they declare that either she graduates or none of them does. Outside the school, a large crowd has formed, and Brandon is leading the way, flanked by Dylan and Ahn-drea. Some of the students are carrying signs, some of which are in support of Donna, while others demand a ban of the dress code. It makes for a somewhat confusing protest, but the atmosphere is so charged that no one seems to really notice.
Board of Education hearing. Ephardt calls the meeting to order and announces that they'll be hearing from character witnesses on Donna's behalf...and then orders Donna to approach the mic. Donna whispers to her parents that she's scared, then summons all of her courage to stand up and testify. Ephardt asks her why the board should overturn their original decision, so she meekly tells him that she's sorry for getting so hammered on prom night, and that it wasn't something she planned. She explains that she was just celebrating with her friends, and that at the pre-prom party Mel had made a toast with champagne and it was really nice. She then tells the board that she loved being in high school, and would love more than anything to graduate with her class. As she's speaking, the protesting students can be heard in the background chanting, “Donna Martin graduates!” Mama Walsh hears it and blurts out, “Whaaat's thaaat?” while Papa Walsh smirks knowingly and remarks, “Sounds like a revolution!”
Ahn-drea is stunned by the huge turnout of the protest, and tells Brandon she's concerned that the school board might call the police.
Some flunky interrupts the hearing to tell Ephardt that there's an angry mob of students outside. Ephardt demands to know what's going on, and then snappishly asks Mrs. Teasley if the students outside aren't supposed to be taking their finals right now. She tells him that, indeed, they are. A few minutes later, Ahn-drea enters the room to make an official statement. She tells Ephardt that “certain actions have prompted strong reactions”, and that all seniors and juniors are refusing to take their finals until Donna Martin is allowed to graduate. She ends her little speech with, “Suspend Donna, suspend us all.” Ephardt snaps, “That's nonsense!” and gives Ahn-drea an evil death glare with his beady little eyes, and tells her that her threats do nothing to enhance his perception of her or Donna. He then calls for a thirty minute recess and demands that the situation outside be brought under control.
Felice goes outside and yells at the crowd. She tells the kids that this protest is not helping anyone, and that the board members will not be responsive to any kind of threats. But no one really listens to her, and after about a minute they resume their chanting.
Inside the hearing, Ephardt wants to call the police, while Ms Silverman, a far more sensible board member, recommends that they give Donna a slap on the wrist for her drunkenness and call it a day. Mrs. Teasley vouches for Donna and tells Ephardt what a good kid she is, and how she overcame a learning disability. Ephardt insists that the no drinking rule was passed by the board, so he refuses to cave in to the students' demands. He then snarls that if they don't cease their protest, any recommendations that have been made to colleges will be revoked, and parents will be called.
Mrs. Teasley passes Ephardt's grim message along to Brandon and insists that the douchebag is indeed serious. Brandon informs the angry mob that Ephardt is ordering them to drop the whole thing otherwise they're all going to flunk their classes. Dylan then mumbles something about how summer school registration is going to break the record this year, and the students cheer and continue chanting, “Donna Martin graduates!” After that, they storm the building and head upstairs to the meeting room where the hearing is taking place. Donna looks touched by the support.
With the permission of Ms Silverman, Brandon addresses the school board, and urges them to take what he has to say more seriously. He says that the students have taken to the streets because they believe in something. As for Donna's drunkenness on prom night, he says that they caught someone who doesn’t deserve to be treated like this...and that Donna would go out of her way for anyone, which is why everyone is going out of their way for her. This makes everyone applaud, and Ephardt sarcastically thanks him for his statement. Brandon then explains to Ephardt that the junior class joined in the protest because they want the dress code issue to be dropped. Ms Silverman, who appears to have taken control of the meeting, proposes that: a) they take a vote to determine whether or not Donna will be allowed to graduate, and b) they revisit the dress code issue in order to avoid another protest like this in September. Ephardt reluctantly agrees, and the board members take the vote. It's a real nail-biter (not really) and the board ends up voting in favor of Donna being allowed to graduate. Everyone cheers happily, and Donna looks relieved and happy.
The celebrating continues outside the building, and Steve suddenly blurts out, “I've got a great idea - let’s all get drunk!” Hahaha! You go, Steve! Mrs. Teasley pretends to disapprove and says she's going to act like she didn't hear that. She then orders the students to return to school, where finals will proceed after lunch. Donna happily tells her that for once she's thrilled to be able to take her finals.
The Peach Pit. That evening, Nat congratulates Donna in his usual annoyingly cheesy, folksy manner on winning the appeal. Brandon enters the diner carrying a large box and hands it to Donna. She opens it and finds a graduation gown and cap inside. She lets out a happy little, “Aww!” and thanks everyone for their support through her post-prom-drunkenness crisis. She then places the cap on her head, and the gang cheers.