Recap: Valerie has just picked up Dylan from the airport, and the two arrive at his house. Apparently he just spent a week in Hawaii to see if Erica and Iris would mesh well enough to live together - and fortunately the two hit it off immediately and we never have to see them again...well, until Erica enters teenagehood as a recast and gets tangled up in a blechy prostitution ring in Season 8. Valerie remarks that everything has neatly fallen into place, and then asks, "Don't you think it's payback time?" She reminds Dylan that he summoned her to Mexico to help him and Jonesy recover a lot of money...but Dylan looks fake confused, so she breaks it down like he's a six year old and explains that three people worked that job, but only two people got paid. Dylan thinks this over and acknowledges that she did risk her life, and agrees to cut her in...then mutters that he probably should have thought of that before. Well d'yuh. Valerie leans in for a kiss, and the two start going at it.
The Peach Pit. Brandon meets with Ahn-drea so she can look over the pro-Finley editorial he wrote for The Condor. Ahn-drea gives him a puzzled look and reminds him that the last time he and Finley were in the same room together, they had a "showdown". Brandon says he still thinks the guy is a creepy egomaniac; however, he does have a lot of very devoted students who, for some weird reason, seem intent on hanging on his every word. Ahn-drea says it makes good sense and good politics to back the popular professor, but Brandon admits that he mostly wrote the editorial to get back into Kelly's good graces. He hasn't had a chance to show it to her yet, though, 'cause lately they haven't been hanging out.
Beach house. Kelly and the other Finley devotees are using every available phone to inform people about Friday's rally. Donna enters the living room and tells Kelly she just got rear-ended by a pizza delivery guy...and therefore needs to call Ray at the Peach Pit to let him know she's running late. Kelly says that all the phone lines are busy, and Donna looks around, scrunches her face, and goes, "Who are all these people?" Kelly explains that they're Professor Finley's loyal, mindless sheep, then asks Donna if she's coming to Friday's rally. Donna gives her a funny look and blurts out that she has to call the Peach Pit, like right now. One of the sheep finishes a call, but when Donna tries to take the phone, the girl refuses to hand it over and says she hasn't finished her call list yet. Donna tells Kelly she urgently needs a phone, but Kelly just stares back at her blankly like she just drank the Koolaid and says she'll probably be done in a minute. Donna points out that it's herphone, so Kelly offers her the use of her car phone, but Donna snarks back that maybe Finley's sheep people should be told to use the car phone since they don't live here. Fair point. Kelly suddenly finds an available phone and is about to hand it to Donna...but it suddenly rings, so she answers with, "Save Finley." LOL. Turns out it's Professor Finley calling Save Finley to get an update on how Save Finley is going. Kelly tells him that the phone tree is going great and that she feel energized by the cause and believes they (meaning he) can win. Is it at all normal for university students to get this invested in a conflict over a professor's tenure? Shouldn't Finley be working this out himself with the faculty council? Finley tells Kelly he has a research project he'd like to discuss with her tomorrow and creepily asks her if she can meet him for coffee. Kelly eagerly rejoins, "How about lunch?" Donna, meanwhile, snatches the phone from one of the Finley sheep and makes off with it down the hall. Haha!
Dylan's house. After a mid-day romp, Valerie squeezes herself back into her skinny jeans while Dylan remains stretched out on his bed. She brings up the money issue again and asks him if she can get a check before she leaves. Dylan says OK, then pulls out his checkbook and scribbles a check. When he hands it to Valerie, she stares down at it with her brows furrowed. She asks him if this is, uh, the first installment, and he retorts that $10,000 is a lot of money...so then she counter-retorts that it's a pittance compared to the millions he came away with. She demands equal pay for equal work, and he tells her she's out of her mind and that if she wanted a piece of the action, "That's a deal you make before it goes down, not after." That's pretty fucking dickish of him, considering the abrupt way he summoned her to Mexico with zero advance notice...not to mention that she faced a very real risk of getting shot while recovering his money and rescuing his sister...not to mention that this rescue wasn't even part of the original mission. Valerie snarks that he incorrectly assumed her services were voluntary, and he said her services have been paid for and that she can take it or leave it. She snorts, "Thanks for nothing" and storms out.
After Dark. Ariel Hunter makes an appearance at the club to meet Ray to discuss his music. After an awkward encounter with David, Clare shows her to the back room where Ray is decompressing after his show. Incidentally, it looks like the Season 5 DVD set has edited out Ray's After Dark musical performances for some reason - not that I'm, in any way, complaining. Ariel introduces herself as the A&R rep from Firestorm Records and says she really liked his show and that he has a lot of classic rock in him. She invites him to come to Firestorm Records and meet with her boss, Terry Dixon, and Ray says he's definitely interested. Ariel goes, "Great!" and gives him a suggestive once-over. Why she'd be remotely interested in Pumpkin Head, I can't even begin to imagine.
Ahn-drea's/Jesse's apartment. Jesse's packing for a trip to do some interviews for federal clerkships...and Ahn-drea is wringing her hands about Hannah's imaginary breathing problems. Jesse suggests putting her in a steamy bathroom, then says he wishes he didn't have to leave. Ahn-drea snipes, "Then don't", but then he argues that he can't just cancel his interviews, blah blah. She tells him she wants him to accept a clerkship in San Francisco, but he reminds her that his interview is with a judge in Boise. Jesse picks up Hannah from her crib and suggests taking her to the ER, but Ahn-drea whines that it'll be hours until they're seen by a doctor. He then suggests she call the dorkish med student she knows and who treated Hannah in the Sentenced to Life episode. Ahn-drea looks contemplative as Jesse's airport shuttle arrives and the driver honks from the driveway. He rushes off, and Ahn-drea picks up the phone to call Peter.
California University. Kelly walks alongside Finley through the Student Union, chatting about the upcoming Save Finley rally. Several of his students happen to pass by and wish him good luck, and one of them yells out, "Defy externs!" LOL. Whatever, weirdo. The two run into Brandon and Mama Walsh, and Mama Walsh remarks to Kelly that they haven't seen her at the house lately. Brandon snarks that she hasn't been returning his phone calls, and Kelly coldly retorts that she hasn't had a chance to check her voicemail. She introduces Finley to Mama Walsh, and Brandon mumbles something about wanting to steal ten minutes of Kelly's time, but Kelly says they've been really busy with the tenure fight. After Brandon and Mama Walsh quietly amble off, Finley gleefully tells Kelly she was "a little frosty with Mr. Walsh", so she admits that they've been having problems, mostly because Brandon hasn't been on their side of the tenure fight. Finley says that's definitely a problem 'cause she needs all the support she can get right now, and she agrees and is miffed that Brandon hasn't been more understanding about her odd fixation on a creepy middle aged man she met barely two episodes ago. Finley nods as though he's a wise and all knowing sage and says, "When the pressure's on, people show their stripes."
Elsewhere in the Student Union, Donna meets up with David in the cafeteria. He informs her that Ariel Hunter is the A&R rep who met with Ray the other night, and Donna immediately has a flashback of when she caught David and Ariel doinking in the back of a limo (LOL) and gets livid. She goes, "Oh my God!" and says she suddenly has a sickening case of deja vu. She thanks David for giving her the heads up about Ariel, then flounces off.
Firestorm Records. Ray has just finished a meeting with Terry Dixon and Ariel...and once Ray is out of earshot, Terry asks Ariel if he's "hungry", and she smiles and says, "Starved." He orders Ariel to make the deal happen, so she follows Ray to the reception area and tells him she smells a deal brewing. Ray looks excited and says he's never allowed himself to believe that a record deal could really happen for him. Makes sense, considering the awful, breathy texture of his voice. Ariel offers to take him shopping for a new pair of boots, compliments of Firestorm. Ray is reluctant to take her up on the weird offer, but gives in when she keeps insisting.
Papa Walsh's office. Dylan drops by for a scheduled appointment. Papa Walsh congratulates him on getting his millions back, and Dylan admits he should have listened to him before stupidly signing over access to his cash to Kevin last season. He tells Papa Walsh he wants him to be his business manager...then quickly acknowledges behaving like a horse's ass toward him before, but assures him he's totes different now. Papa Walsh promises to think it over, then asks him exactly what went down with him and Valerie in Mexico. Dylan doesn't offer any details except that Valerie is now $10,000 richer.
Rodeo Drive. Valerie is in a swanky boutique, admiring herself in an all leather outfit. She smiles at her reflection and tells the sales clerk she wants to wear it home, then pulls out a big wad of cash to pay for it. Ray and Ariel are elsewhere in the boutique, shopping for his new boots. He tries on a ghastly pair of white snakeskin boots, and Ariel tells him they look nice while somehow managing to keep a straight face. Valerie ambles over in her new S&M outfit to say hello to Ray, and remarks that this store is the last place she'd expect to see him. He introduces her to Ariel, who needlessly announces that Ray's going to have a big career at Firestorm Records...and Valerie gives her a cold stare and says she's never heard of that label. Ouch. Ariel stalks off to browse the clothing racks, and Valerie jokingly asks Ray if he's enjoying two-timing Donna. Ray chuckles and says that Ariel is just a business associate, and Valerie retorts that she seems pretty chummy for a business associate and that it's clear she has an eye for him. Valerie then gives Ray a flirty once-over and saucily remarks, "But don't we all?" Uh, no. We don't. And yuck.
Beach house. Ray is polishing his ugly new boots and tells a sulking Donna they cost more than one of his paychecks, then adds that Ariel didn't even blink at the price. He says he really wants to get signed by Firestorm, and Donna tells him there are other labels - but he says he likes this one, and that Ariel has taken a real interest in him. Donna informs him that Ariel was the cause of her breakup with David because of the way she came onto him - just like she's doing with him (Ray) now. Ray insists that she's only interested in his music, and Donna says that David thought that too...but then suddenly there they were: doinking in the back of a limo. Ray assures her that that won't happen with him, but Donna says she doesn't want to take any chances and orders him to return the boots and never see Ariel again. Ray says she can't ask him to do that, since this could be the start of something big for him. He irritably tells her that the record deal isn't about her, it's about him...and right now he's his top priority.
California University. Kelly drops by Brandon's office clutching a copy of The Condor. She waves it in the air and asks him why he didn't tell her he was writing the editorial. He wryly says he figured she'd read it in the paper like everyone else...so she reminds him she's not "everyone else", she's his girlfriend - and he sarcastically asks her to repeat that. She apologizes and says it's been an intense time for her, but the fact that he wrote a pro-Finley article means a lot to her. She kisses him, and he impulsively suggests they ditch the rest of the day and go to the Santa Monica mountains for a picnic and watch the sunset. She tells him she can't 'cause she has research to do for Finley, and he urges her to blow it off, but she gets that I drank the Koolaid look on her face again and says, "He needs me." Brandon points out that he also needs her, and she kind of backs away and asks him if his neediness was his motivation for writing the editorial. He's like, "Well, d'yuh" and says he simply wants to spend some alone time with her. She looks at him thoughtfully, gives him a quick kiss, then says, "Have a little courage." Have a little courage?? I'm guessing that's Finleyspeak for...well, I have absolutely no idea.
After Dark. David greets Ray and says he heard about his meeting with Firestorm Records...and Ray looks pleased and tells him that Ariel is promising good things. David warns him that Ariel might have a few tricks up her sleeve and that she might be more into him than his music, but Ray says he can handle it and snarks that he didn't ask for his advice. David tells him, "You can go back to pushing pumpkins for all I care" - bwahahahaha!! - then adds that he's only looking out for Donna. Ray bitchily points out that Ariel didn't "burn" Donna all by herself last summer, then stalks off to rehearse his raspy sounding music.
The Peach Pit. Donna complains to Clare that she's too distracted to study because of the whole Ariel situation. She tried to vent to Kelly about it, but all she got was some unhelpful Finley psycho-babble. Clare remarks that Kelly has definitely been speaking a different language lately...then says if it's any consolation, her father told her on the down low that Finley's days at CU are numbered. Hurray! Apparently he doesn't have much collegial support for an appeal. There's a real shocker...I'm sure he's a total douche to his colleagues. Clare ambles off just before David arrives to tell Donna that he tried to warn Ray about Ariel, but doesn't think the message penetrated through his thick pumpkin skull. Donna thanks him for trying.
The Walsh house. Brandon arrives home and finds Dylan at the kitchen table, yukking it up with Mama and Papa Walsh. Brandon sticks out his arm in greeting and goes, "How was Mexico, bro?" and Mama Walsh tells him that Dylan was just filling them in on his adventure...and that he's lucky to be telling the tale. Brandon says he wants details, so Mama Walsh tells him that Valerie walked off with a cool $10,000, which makes Brandon mutter that he wishes stuff like that could happen to him. Mama Walsh asks Dylan about Valerie...specifically if there's any reason to be concerned about her. Dylan looks thoughtful for a second and tells the Walshes she's definitely a bigger handful than Brenda ever was. Well...I dunno 'bout that. Valerie may be devious and brash, but she's nowhere near being the bitchy, hateful monster that Brenda deteriorated into by the end of Season 4.
Bel Age Hotel. Valerie pays a visit to Jonesy in her sexy new all leather outfit. She says she'd like to get to know him better under more relaxing conditions, and so he tells her he really enjoyed playing "charades" with her in Mexico and would like to play again right now. He mimes the phrase "sleep with me", which she quickly guesses, then informs him flat out that she's not going to go to bed with him. He scrunches his face in confusion and asks, "Why'd you come here then?" She reminds him that he had had a girl lined up in Mexico forOperation Recoup Dylan's Millions...and when she flaked, Valerie stepped in and should therefore be entitled to whatever money the girl would have earned. She sourly remarks that Dylan doesn't see it that way, but flatters Jonesy by appealing to his "sense of honor". Jonesy thinks it over and tells her she was a real pro in Mexico - and Valerie interjects and says she wants to be paid like a real pro. Jonesy's agreeable about the request and says he has a little cash on hand, then opens a briefcase filled with money. He picks up a cash stack and says he'll give it to her under one condition...and no it's not sex. He wants Valerie to agree to work with him again some time. She happily agrees, and he hands over the cash.
Firestorm Records. After Ray abruptly exits Terry Dixon's office, Ariel chases after him and tells him he's crazy, and that Mr. Dixon wants to make him a star. Ray tells her he needs to think about the deal he was just offered, and Ariel looks incredulous as she reminds him that Dixon just offered him a signing bonus and a two album deal. Ray says he doesn't want to give up all of his publishing rights, and Ariel explains that that's just for the first album - but Ray insists that he wants to keep half of his publishing rights. Ariel tells him a lot of artists get this deal, but then he points out that he's special 'cause he writes and performs his own material. I really don't think Pumpkin Head is in any kind of position to be turning down any kind of record deal. Has he heard himself sing? A frustrated Ariel snarks that no one has ever quibbled about publishing rights before, so then Ray accuses her of trying to buy him off and proudly says he doesn't come cheap. Ariel tells him she's desperate to make this deal happen "whatever it takes" (ew) and Ray shoots her the stink-eye and says, "Yeah, I've heard that about you."
Coffee house. Ahn-drea asks Peter why they're doing this (this being drinking coffee together), and Peter says they're there together 'cause she got a babysitter and their spouses are out of town. She calls it "a little dangerous", and he points out that they're in a public place in the middle of the afternoon - so how dangerous could it get? Ahn-drea tells him her heart is beating very fast, so he pretends to check her heart rate. After that, the two stare at each other meaningfully and start kissing. It's really too bad the DVD version didn't also edit out this pointless subplot, or anything else Ahn-drea related until she says her goodbyes and leaves town.
California University. Finley addresses a large gathering of his sheep and tells them the tide is running against them (meaning him). He babbles about how the faculty members are fearful of him and don't understand the things he's trying to teach them...and that it's making them crazy. He tells his sheep not to lose heart, and that he'll walk into the meeting with his head held high, and then exit the meeting with his head held high. The sheep bob their heads robotically...and a weirded out Brandon steps away from the crowd, which attracts Finley's attention. He wheels himself over and thanks him for the complimentary editorial, and Brandon's like, "Whatever. You're the students' choice" and Finley bitterly says to tell that to the faculty council. Brandon asks him if Kelly's around, and Finley says she's in his office - so he heads over, and Kelly actually looks happy to see him. He wishes her (meaning Finley) good luck tonight and apologizes for being selfish (not exactly sure how he's been selfish?) but that it's only 'cause he loves her. She hugs him, and the two start smooching.
The Peach Pit. Ariel enters the diner looking for Ray. Nat points her in the direction of where Ray is chowing down on a tuna melt and looking cozy with Donna. Ariel walks over to the table and tells Ray they need to talk, and Donna bitchily tells her to get lost 'cause she's trying to eat lunch with her boyfriend. Ariel tells her that her boyfriend made a very foolish and arrogant move today, and insists that Firestorm Records offered him a fair deal. Ray isn't into discussing this again and leaves the diner to go get his guitar (or whatever), so Ariel sits down and tells Donna she has to prevent Ray from making a stupid mistake. Donna's all, "I'm not helping you after you stabbed me in the back last summer" and Ariel apologizes for doinking David in the limo and claims she's a totally different person now. Ariel tells Donna she's not going to lose Ray to her...but she may lose him to his ego. Well, either that or his abusive-to-women tendencies. Donna lets out a derisive snort, then gets up and stalks off.
Inside the After Dark, Donna thanks Ray for not taking the deal with Firestorm. He tells her she was right about Ariel, but that he turned her and Terry Dixon down because it was a bad deal. Donna's like, "I'm just glad you did it" and the two kiss.
Dylan exits the Peach Pit just as Valerie pulls up in a flashy new car. He asks her if she leased it with some of his $10,000 - and she chuckles, calls his check "peanuts", and tells him she owns this car. She says she found someone a little more honorable than him, so Dylan asks her what she said to Jonesy to get him to fork over the cash. Valerie says not much; all she did was smile and his wallet flew open. Dylan gets all judgmental and compares her to a hooker, and she irritably retorts that she's not a hooker...but if she were, he couldn't afford her.
California University. Finley's sheep are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the faculty council meeting. Eventually, the council members emerge from the meeting room, and some of the sheep shout, "What's the verdict?" and "Is Finley in or out?" but they all quietly scurry out of the building without answering. Kelly looks concerned and remarks to Brandon that this doesn't look good. Suddenly, Finley wheels himself into the hallway, sees his loyal flock and spreads his arms out as if he's Jesus and says, "Look at you all. Out here for me still. My constant soldiers." Brandon looks icked out by the creepy spectacle and glances around to see if anyone else looks equally icked out - but sadly no one does. Finley tells his "soldiers" that the tenure fight is a battle they (meaning he) did not win, and everyone groans in disappointment. He reminds them that they fought the good fight, then says this isn't over. After all, he's a teacher - and if they all still want to be his students, then that's what matters to him...and this prompts everyone to applaud. Finley says that while he may not be welcome at CU, he can give his lectures anywhere: under a tree, from a park bench, or from his own living room...and everyone applauds again. No one points out the obvious wrinkle: that attending Finley's lectures under a tree wouldn't actually count toward a course credit and just end up being a colossal waste of time. Finley finishes off with, "Be assured, the New Evolution will go on" and this inspires more applause, and a bunch of the students go over to hug him and pat him on the shoulder. Kelly twitches anxiously and tells Brandon, "I have to go to him" and he shrugs, stretches his arm in Finley's direction and says, "Go ahead." A zombified Kelly approaches her creepy new mentor, and he looks relieved to see her and asks her to get him the hell out of there. She dutifully wheels him away from his groupies, and an irked looking Brandon ambles off alone.
Kelly asks Finley how this happened, and he says it's 'cause he's so popular with his students and the faculty just doesn't like him. Kelly scrunches her face in confusion and says it just doesn't make sense, and Finley explains that they're threatened and it's "the nature of the beast". Kelly snorts and snaps, "The un-evolved beast" just as the two reach his office and go inside. Finley tells her not to look back, that they won't implode because a group of "externs" pulled a power trip on them. Kelly gazes at him adoringly and tells him he's inspiring - and he tells her she's inspiring too. Kelly asks him what the sheep should do now, so he says, "The important thing is that we stay together. Close our circle to outsiders." Kelly bobs her head up and down as though this is a totally reasonable thing for a university professor to articulate to a student, and asks him how she can help. He tells her she's about to face a difficult test to see how committed she is to this fight - and she assures him she's on board one hundred percent. Finley coyly brings up Brandon and how he doesn't share her passion, and that he's been projecting negative energy about his New Evolution bullcack right from the start. He says that that's no good for her or any of his brainwashed sheep, then tells her he needs her to do something "to keep our family as tight-knit as it needs to be". Kelly assures him she'll do anything, so he orders her to break it off with Brandon...then gives her a creepier, more intense stare than usual and says, "Would you do that for me?" Kelly stares back at him mutely, and the TV screen slowly fades to black.
I'll take that as a yes.