Recap: It's Christmas Eve 1993 in Beverly Hills. The episode opens with a Walsh family montage: Papa Walsh packing a suitcase, Mama Walsh pulling a giant ham (I think that's what that was) out of the oven, Brenda examining herself in a hideous one-piece purple bathing suit, Brandon flapping around in snorkeling gear, and then an impromptu photo shoot with the entire family wearing sunglasses. This is all to demonstrate that the Walshes are spending Christmas in Hawaii this year! After the montage, they set the table and sit down to enjoy their Christmas meal together. Mama Walsh tells everyone how blessed she is to spend the holiday with the people she most loves in the world, so Brandon reminds her how much she hated their first Christmas in California...and this leads to a flashback of the Christmas episode from Season 2 when Brandon and Papa Walsh brought home a wilted tree that did not go over so well with Mama Walsh. The family then reminisces about the sad, disheveled looking Santa Claus Brenda dragged home, who ended up depressing their guests with the sad tale of his lonely life. The doorbell rings, and it's Dylan wearing a Santa hat and carrying a big bag o' presents. He excitedly tells the Walshes he's going to Baja for Christmas, then starts handing out gifts. Hmm...I notice that he kisses Brenda on the lips as he hands her hers...I wonder whassup with that. Mama Walsh invites him to join them for dinner, but he declines and says he has many more deliveries on his Santa tour to make.
Beach house. Donna is decorating the Christmas tree, boring Kelly with the personal history behind each ornament. As Donna continues to natter, Dylan enters the apartment with his Santa hat and stash of presents. He unwittingly stands under the mistletoe, so Donna rushes over to give him a flirty kiss. He then hands her her Christmas present, along with a birthday present (her birthday is December 25), and then for some reason the two pretend to make out in front of Kelly. Dylan tells Kelly he's off to Baja, but that he'll be back on New Year's Eve so she shouldn't make plans. David emerges from his bedroom looking dressier than usual in a beige vest and blazer and tells everyone that his dad is having some friends over at his condo. Donna tells him he looks really nice and he replies with a curt, "Thanks." He says he'll be back in a couple of hours, and Donna chirps, "We'll be here!" and David makes a face and mutters, "Great." Ouch. After David leaves, Dylan asks Donna why he's being so moody, and clueless Donna says she thinks he's depressed 'cause of the custody fight between Mel and Jackie. She then begs Kelly to come with her and David to Mel's Christmas party, but Kelly is worried that that might demonstrate disloyalty to Jackie, so she declines. Dylan heads off on his merry way, and Donna remarks on how upbeat and Christmasy he is, which is a welcome change from his usual morose dreariness. Kelly furrows her brows concernedly and says that her psychology professor once told her class that some people use the holidays to hide how lonely they really are, but Donna brushes off Kelly's psycho-analysis and tells her she's taking her psychology classes a little too seriously.
Dylan's house. As Dylan packs for Baja, a framed photo of Jack happens to catch his eye. He walks over and picks it up...and as he stares at it, he has back-to-back flashbacks of when he visited Jack during his prison stint in Season 2, and then his [staged] fiery death at the end of the Dead End episode. The doorbell rings, and he opens his front door to find a woman holding two suitcases and little girl with long frizzy hair. The woman tells Dylan she's an old friend of Jack's, and that he once told her if she was ever in L.A. she should look Dylan up. Dylan blurts out that Jack's dead, and she remarks that it's obvious they've caught him at a bad time. She asks him if he knows of any decent motels near the bus station, and Dylan notices the look of dismay on the the little frizzhead's face and says he doesn't know that seedy part of town very well. He invites them in to use his phone, and the woman introduces herself as Suzanne Steele and her daughter Erica. When Dylan goes off to the kitchen to get them some drinks, Erica tells her mom she doesn't feel right about being there, but Suzanne says they've come this far [in what will turn out to be a long con designed to separate Dylan from his millions] and can't back out now.
The Walsh house. The Walshes are packed and ready to leave for the airport. When the doorbell rings, they assume it's the airport shuttle...but it turns out to be Ahn-drea. Blech. She tells Brandon she needs to ask him something and then starts prattling about how Jesse invited her to attend Midnight Mass with his family, and that she's unnecessarily anxiety ridden because she's never been in a church, let alone a Catholic church on Christmas Eve. She asks Brandon to describe for her what the experience will be like, and he tells her he has no clue since he's a barely practicing Presbyterian. He tells her the Mass will probably be interesting, and jokes that maybe she should call the Vatican hotline. Eventually she gets a clue and leaves so that the Walshes can board the airport shuttle, which has arrived in the meantime.
Dylan's house. Erica is stretched out on the futon couch, enjoying herself watching television. Suzanne tells Dylan she and her daughter will get out of his hair so he can leave for Mexico, but he doesn't seem that eager to leave anymore and mumbles that Mexico will be there tomorrow. She tells him she knew Jack a long time ago and that he used to take her on his business trips, so Dylan comes right out and asks her why she waited so long after his death to pay her condolences. She says she didn't know what to say to him...and then got distracted when it started raining. Dylan makes a snide joke about the rain, so Suzanne snarkily explains that her home got flooded and caused them to lose everything they owned...then adds that she was on her way to take Erica to Disneyland so she could forget she's been living in a Red Cross shelter for the last six months. She springs up from her chair to gather up her daughter, but they both stop short when when see that Erica has fallen fast asleep. Dylan stops Suzanne and tells her to let the little frizzhead sleep.
The Walshes are in first class on their plane, ready to take off for Hawaii. Brenda is twitching nervously, and Brandon teases her about needing Xanax to calm her nerves. Mama and Papa Walsh stroll back to their seats with drinks and Mama Walsh says she likes this - "this" meaning the luxuriousness of flying first class. Her husband teases her about finally learning to enjoy the good life, and so Brenda invokes a flashback about the time Mama Walsh once came into the boutique where she (Brenda) once worked, decked out like Zsa Zsa Gabor to teach her her bitchy boss a lesson in humility. While they're chuckling about it, Brandon points out to Brenda that she was so preoccupied with her superfluous flashback that she didn't even realize the plane took off. Is it really possible to not notice that the plane you're sitting on has taken off?
Beach house. David is browsing a magazine when Donna enters the kitchen wearing a full length skintight red dress. I guess this is what she's wearing to Mel's Christmas party. She goes over to David and holds a mistletoe above his head, but he's not into it and just gives her an obligatory little peck. As they walk toward the door, Kelly appears in the hallway, eating from the box of chocolates that Dylan gave her the night before. Donna once again urges Kelly to come with them to the party...and when Kelly declines, David barks at Donna to give it a rest already. Kelly looks taken aback by his shitty behavior, and a still-in-denial Donna discreetly tells her she thinks David is just generally depressed about life.
Dylan's house. Suzanne apologizes to Dylan for sabotaging his Christmas Baja plans, but he insists it's no problemo and invites them to stay with him. He tells her he's going to get them all some dinner, and she says that that's very generous of him. He then looks over at Erica, who's still sleeping on the couch, and asks about her father, and Suzanne tells him he died last year. Dylan says that when she showed up on his doorstep, he'd been just about to slam the door in her face - but when he looked over at Erica, something strangely magical happened. Suzanne then drops the bomb that Jack is Erica's father...and Dylan looks stunned to learn he has a half-sister.
Plane. Brenda is reading about all of the luxurious amenities of the spa that's located inside their hotel, while Brandon studies for his upcoming exams. He tells Brenda he wants to earn straight As, and she chides him for being so compulsive. She then remarks that he's changed a lot this year, and they both agree that everyone in the gang has changed...except for their idiot friend Steve. Cut to the Peach Pit..
Steve laments to Nat about how there always seems to be some major self-inflicted drama going on in his life at Christmas time. Two years ago he went to New Mexico to find his birth mother, only to discover that she was dead...and then last year he almost got expelled for trying to break into the school's computer system. Nat asks him if he's in the same kind of hot water this season, so Steve tells him he got caught breaking into a professor's office...but hastily explains it was a harmless frat prank. He tells Nat that the university isn't pressing charges, but he strongly believes that one of his frat brothers set him up. Nat's like, "Duh, find a new fraternity" but Steve says he can't since his father was once KEG president, and if he disowns KEG his father will disown him. Well that's just stupid.
Mel's condo. Donna is chatting it up with some random woman (Nina maybe?) while David mopes on a couch by himself, having flashbacks of the many times during Seasons 2 and 3 that Donna has rebuffed his sexual advances. Mel interrupts his thoughts and offers him eggnog, and when he notices his foul mood, he asks him what's wrong. He assumes the custody mess is what's bothering him, but David tells Mel that his marital problems are the last thing on his mind. Donna flounces over carrying a big plate of pizza rolls and tells him they're "delish", but David moodily declines. Mel's phone rings, and it's a dental emergency call from Kelly, who cracked a tooth while eating hard candy. While Mel is on the phone dealing with that crisis, he notices David being rude to Donna...and Donna catches Mel's eye and looks back at him with a I'm a sad little doe expression.
The Peach Pit. When Dylan slouches into the diner for some food, Nat tries to recruit him to help him cook the Christmas dinner he's preparing for the homeless. Dylan declines and tells him about the sudden appearance of Suzanne and Erica, and that he has a strong feeling the woman's hustling him. Nat tells him that Christmas Eve is the one night of the year he should blindly give a stranger the benefit of the doubt, and of course this ends up being pretty stupid advice.
Dorm. Jesse arrives to pick up Ahn-drea for Midnight Mass and finds her decked out in an unsightly ultra-conservative outfit with a matching hat and white gloves. She asks Jesse if the gloves are too much - gee, ya think?? - and he jokes that she'll definitely have to take them off during communion...after the priest takes her confession and she becomes a nun. As he chuckles at her obnoxious inability to cope with life situations like a well-adjusted person would, Ahn-drea whines that she has no idea what to expect at a Midnight Mass. Jesse calmly advises her to focus on the possibility of peace on earth and goodwill to man, and she looks deeply moved by this and the two exchange I love yousand kiss. She laments the way she got so wigged out about going to Midnight Mass, and he graciously explains that she was probably just feeling pressured 'cause she knows his entire family is going to be there. There's still time to run, Jesse.
Dental office. Mel is finishing up putting a temporary crown on Kelly's cracked tooth. She thanks him for leaving his own party on Christmas Eve to tend to her dental needs, and he wryly says that while he may be a lousy husband, he's an excellent dentist...as well as a pretty good father. Kelly sheepishly tells him she tried to talk Jackie out of filing the custody lawsuit, but he assures her he's no longer angry about it...just sad that Jackie will never forgive him for doinking his hygienist(s). He then jokes that Jackie hates him so much she even got herself a new dentist. Kelly chuckles and tells him she misses him, and the two share an affectionate hug.
Plane. The Walshes are just settling into the flight when the pilot announces that the computer that controls their landing gear has suddenly gone on the fritz...and in order to ensure their safety, they'll be returning to L.A. As he apologizes for the inconvenience, ominous music tinkles in the background, and Brenda and Brandon look over at each other with grave concern.
Beach house. Donna arrives home from Mel's party and asks Kelly how her tooth is. She says that David chose to stay at the condo and assumes it's 'cause he needs some one-on-one time with his dad. Kelly stares back at her, debating whether or not she should give her a heads up that it's painfully obvious David's about to give her the heave-ho.
Plane. The pilot freaks the Walshes out even further when he announces that he's releasing fuel over the ocean, and that the crew will go over evacuation procedures should the need arise.
Dylan's house. Erica wakes up, sees her mom sitting nearby, and asks her if she told Dylan that they're brother and sister. Suzanne admits she did, so Erica picks up a brown envelop and dashes over to where Dylan is working on his motorcycle. She shyly hands him the envelop, and he opens it to find a Christmas drawing she made for him. It reads "from your sister" and Dylan looks very touched.
Midnight Mass. Ahn-drea and Jesse are about to enter the church and listen to the choir sing Angels We Have Heard on High. It looks like Ahn-drea had the good sense to leave her hat and stupid white gloves at home.
Plane. The Walshes look very freaked out at the possibility of crash landing, and Brandon tells Brenda he's not ready to "check out of here". Mama Walsh assures them they'll get through this, and Papa Walsh urges Brenda to think good thoughts. As the plane hurtles toward the runway, Brenda and Brandon have a few more superfluous flashbacks from the last three and a half seasons of Beverly Hills, 90210. Everyone braces themselves for disaster, but the plane lands without incident, and the relieved passengers clap at the predictable outcome.
The Peach Pit. The gang (sans Brenda and Brandon) is at the Peach Pit, helping Nat serve his annual Christmas dinner to the homeless extras. Steve is dressed up as Santa, while David continues to mope and look annoyed that Donna refuses to put out. She waves at him from across the diner, and Kelly happens to notice and chides David for ignoring her all morning. He grumps that he's been busy serving meals, so Kelly snaps back, "Be nice!" Ahn-drea, meanwhile, is nattering to Donna about how much she looooved Midnight Mass, particularly the Latin part of the service...and Donna pretends to listen, but just looks sad and distracted. The Walshes enter the diner and tell everyone that their plane had some mechanical difficulties, so they've decided to spend Christmas on the mainland after all. Nat excitedly pulls out a keyboard and announces that they're just in time to start torturing the homeless with some carols! Brandon wryly jokes that he should have tried to canoe to Hawaii, which I thought was pretty funny.
Dylan's house. Suzanne tells Erica they need to hit the road if they're going to make it to Disneyland...and since Dylan hasn't been home for awhile, they just assume he went off to Mexico. Erica is bummed that he'd leave without saying goodbye...but just as they're about to head out, Dylan bursts through the door with a Christmas tree. He tells them he went out and bought decorations, gifts, and got three tickets to Disneyland. Erica looks excited and gives him a happy hug, and he tells her how happy he is to suddenly have a little sister.
The Peach Pit. David's in the back room, throwing stuff away in a big garbage bin. Donna enters and tells him he's missing everything, and he moodily tells her he just wants to finish up. She offers to help out, but he snaps at her to go back with the others. She finally asks him what's wrong, and at first he resists the urge to dump her on Christmas Day/her birthday...but when she presses him to open up about what's bothering him, he blurts out that he can't go on like this, and that their sexless relationship isn't working for him anymore. Donna immediately bursts into tears and wails at him to get away from her.
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Recapper: Isabel K. French
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