Recap: Dylan's at his house, pecking away on a typewriter as he writes a snarkish letter to the FBI. He accuses the Bureau of dropping the ball after Jack's death, then writes that he's taken it upon himself to investigate Tony Marchette. As he's typing, Toni Marchette drops by unannounced. Dylan answers the door, glares at her suspiciously, and asks her how she found out where he lives. She chirps, "I have my ways", and when this seems to freak him out further, she rolls her eyes and explains that she looked up his address in the phone book. She tells him she ditched school for the day to take him to the beach, then cocks her head in an effort to look super adorable, and bats her freakishly large Bambi eyes at him.
California University. A group of women (which includes Kelly and Donna) are watching a video on the annual Rose Parade. Leslie Sumner, the former Alpha Omega president (last seen in Season 4) is the featured speaker as the Assistant Director of Public Relations for the Tournament of Roses. She tells the gals she's there to encourage CU women to try out for the Royal Court...and Donna leans toward Kelly and tells her that that sounds fun, and then Kelly teases her for being a sucker for tiaras. Leslie announces that the Royal Court candidates will all receive tickets to attend the Royal Ball, which is supposedly an awesome party. Brandon quietly enters the room and walks over to Susan Keats, who's been wryly observing Leslie's presentation. Brandon asks her if she thinks the Rose Parade is a harmless tradition or sexist institution, and Susan makes a face and says she intends to write an editorial for The Condor about how stupid and sexist it is for women this day and age to compete for a spot on a faux royal court.
Jolt Records. Ray and Donna arrive at Jolt Records and encounter the Corman's brat, Jessica, who's seated at the reception desk. Jessica explains that she's taking a sick day from school, and is hanging out at her dad's workplace - apparently to needlessly spread her germs to his clients. Jerry Corman emerges from his office looking harassed and annoyed and tells Ray he doesn't have time to see him today. Ray offers to leave him an audio tape of his grisly music, and Jerry barks back that he can leave it with Jessica and that he'll get around to listening to it...probably never.
The Walsh house. Steve is on the computer, searching for love on the World Wide Web. Brandon catches him writing about how sensitive, gentle, and caring he (aka "Tenderheart") is, and derisively asks him if he shouldn't be working on his math homework. Steve squeals with delight when he gets a reply from a woman who's interested in meeting "Tenderheart", and remarks to Brandon how much better online dating is than being set up on a blind date.
David's over at his mom's apartment, playing cards. When he tells her he needs to get home and study, she has a minor meltdown and begs him to stay for one more hand. He reluctantly agrees.
The Peach Pit. Clare arrives to look over Steve's math homework, and is annoyed when she sees that he only did two out of thirty of the problems she assigned. She snarks that next time he doesn't get his practice problems done, she's charging him double. She then slaps him on the shoulder and heads over to the table where Donna, Kelly, and Valerie are sitting. The three are contemplating trying out for the Royal Court, and Kelly says that Colin will not likely make it to the Royal Ball since he's such an artiste workaholic. Valerie tells her she's totes willing to give him the night off from painting his mural and promises to be clever about it so that he won't think that Kelly put her up to it.
After Dark. Colin is busily taping the wall before he can begin painting. Valerie enters the club and asks him if he needs any help, and he's like, "Sure!" and hands her some tape. As she clumsily "helps", she tells him she doesn't have any plans this weekend, so if he needs any help with his mural, she'd be more than happy to lend a hand. He says he may take her up on that, so then she warns him that they prolly shouldn't mention this conversation to Kelly. No duh.
Donna and Felice are getting their nails done when Donna mentions to her mom that she's trying out for the Rose Court. Felice looks displeased and calls it frivolous, and Donna scrunches her big face in confusion and reminds her that she was on board with her equally-as-frivolous debutante stint last season. Felice insists that that was completely different (how so?) and haughtily retorts, "A debutante does not compete." That's right - she does the Texas dip while her breasts spill out of her coming-out gown. She tells Donna she doesn't want her to be disappointed [when she inevitably loses], and Donna gets irked and says she's sick of being made to feel like she's not good enough or pretty enough. She glumly tells her mom she thought she'd get "a big kick" out of her trying out for the Rose Court...which is totally understandable, since it really does seem like the sort of thing that would be up Felice's alley. But somehow it isn't.
Student Union. Toni is sitting at a table, studying, when Dylan comes over carrying his motorcycle helmet. He tersely says, "Let's go" and when she protests that she has school, he's like, "To hell with that." Toni gives in and leaves with him, leaving Bruno lurking alone at a nearby table. It's a little creepy that his only job seems to be following her around 24/7.
Rose Court tryouts. Kelly, Donna, Clare, and Valerie are all trying out for the Royal Court. Valerie tells Kelly that she tried to get Colin to take the night off from mural painting, but to no avail. Liar, liar, pants on fire. Leslie Sumner calls the meeting to order, and describes for everyone the ghastly selection process: each girl will flounce across the lawn, stand prettily before a panel of judges, then vapidly introduce herself. Susan Keats, who's "covering" the event for The Condor, is muttering something sarcastic, and an irked Brandon suggests that perhaps this is simply a non-sexist American tradition. She looks at him like he's nuts, so he accuses her of criticizing for the sake of criticizing, which he finds elitist and unattractive. Susan digs deep for a snappy retort, but the best she comes up with is, "I'm rubber, you're glue."
Dylan and Toni are speeding down the highway on his motorcycle...and Bruno is in hot pursuit with his car. Toni urges Dylan to try to lose Bruno, so Dylan increases the speed.
Rose Court tryouts. The Rose Court hopefuls are getting a tour of the Rose Court mansion (or whatever this building is). Valerie is weirded out by how "traditional" the house is, but Donna feels right at home and coos with delight when she comes across a glass display of tiaras from the Rose Courts of yesteryear. After that, the gals (minus Val, who has wisely fled) head outside to the rose garden, where they run into Brandon and Susan. Susan is taking notes, once again muttering to herself sarcastically. Donna twitches with excitement when she realizes that her number will be called next...and a few seconds later, she sashays over to the panel, smiles that obnoxiously serene smile that always makes me want to put a bag over her head, and introduces herself. She tells the judges she's watched every single Rose Parade since birth and thinks it's a great tradition, one she'd be honored to be part of. One of the female judges thanks her, then gushingly tells her she's "very lovely" - OMFG, writers - and Donna contorts her face and purses her lips and somehow manages to look both bashful and sanctimonious, and breathlessly thanks the judge.
Dylan and Toni take a break from their motorcycle ride and stop along the ocean. She tells him it was her first time on a motorcycle and calls it sexy. She then says she'd like to drive it, and runs over to the bike and climbs atop it. Dylan points out all the controls, and suddenly Toni expertly kick starts it, and then [her stunt double] does wheelies up and down the road. After that pointless display of her motorcycling skills, she laughingly tells Dylan she lied about never having been on a motorcycle before...and explains that her dad always wanted a son. Dylan says he's very glad she turned out not to be a guy, and the two start kissing. Bruno, who's parked nearby, creepily watches them make out.
After Dark. Colin is busily working on his mural when Kelly enters the club and invites him to take a break. She slips into her annoying baby talk mode, which I notice she does whenever she talks amorously to a guy, and offers to skip the ball tomorrow night in order to help him with his work. Colin declines and tells her to have fun at the party and that they'll hook up later. She mulls that over and says David would no doubt be willing to take her 'cause he'd do anything for her...and in the very next scene, David flatly refuses to take her to the ball if it means having to dress up in a tuxedo. Haha! A few seconds later the phone rings, and Nat tells David it's his mom...and David looks annoyed and tells Kelly he's supposed to go to her apartment tomorrow night and play cards again. He suddenly realizes he'd much rather go to the ball, so he cancels the mother-son card game.
Clare is tutoring Steve, but it's going so badly that she tells him she's starting to feel bad for him because of his staggering stupidity. After that, she invites him to escort her to the Royal Ball, which seemed really weird and contrived.
The Walsh house. Brandon is vacuuming the living room while Dylan slouches on the couch. When he's finished his impromptu bout of housecleaning, Brandon asks him what "the Marchette kid" is like, then remarks on her extreme cuteness. Dylan remains tight-lipped, so Brandon accurately guesses that he's falling for her. Dylan claims he knows what he's doing, then hands Brandon a key to a safety deposit box in case anything nefarious should befall him. Steve, meanwhile, summons Brandon to the kitchen and says he has an emergency. He's in a live chat room (on the computer), but somehow got "locked out". Brandon quickly diagnoses the problem - an unplugged keyboard - and gets Steve back up and running. Dylan glances at the screen curiously and asks him what he's doing, and Steve suddenly gets embarrassed and stands in front of the screen so that Brandon and Dylan can't read his romantic chatter with "Cuddles". He announces that he has plans to meet up with his new Internet friend after going to the Royal Ball with Clare.
Newsroom. Susan wraps up a staff meeting, and then she and Brandon start bickering about something stupid. Have I mentioned yet how much I hate these two together?? He invites her to attend the Royal Ball with him since they're both covering the event for The Condor - and Susan says she won't go with him in the "date" sense, but agrees to meet him there.
Beach house. Donna somehow made it through the first round of cuts for the Royal Court, but she's bummed 'cause of Felice's lack of enthusiasm about the whole thing. Kelly tells her to forget about her mom's negativity and to just go for it if it's something she really wants to do. David, who's in one of the bedrooms, announces that he's changed into his tuxedo...and Kelly gets alarmed when she sees that instead of wearing long pants, he has on a pair of shorts. David assures her he's just kidding around and fully intends on wearing the entire tuxedo to the ball. After that, Ray drops by unannounced and informs Donna that he can't make the Royal Ball 'cause Jerry Corman is making him sing at his brat's birthday party.
After Dark. Valerie is hanging out with Colin while he works on his mural. He asks her why she didn't go to the Royal Ball, and she tells him she would much rather keep him company. A few minutes later, Colin finishes his work for the evening, and when Valerie invites him to get a bite to eat, he tells her he has an even better idea..!
Royal Ball. Brandon and Susan notice the on-site photographer and agree that it would be fun to get their photo taken. It turns out that the photographer is the same guy who took photos during the prom episode in Season 3...and his skills haven't improved much, 'cause the photo he takes of Brandon and Susan is blurry and awful, much like the ones he took at West Beverly High's prom.
Neither Steve nor Clare is having any fun, and both agree to call it an early night. Kelly tells David she's super proud to be at the ball with the best dancer in the room (bwahaha!) so then he invites her to the dance floor where the two start to swing dance. Susan snarks at Brandon to stop gawking at Kelly, and he insists he's not...even though he kind of was. As Kelly and David continue to cut a rug, Colin and Valerie make a grand, unexpected entrance - dressed to the nines and looking very couple-ish. Clare notices their arrival and remarks to Steve that things are about to get ugly, and this instantly perks up Steve, who's hopeful that a cat fight will make the ball more interesting. Valerie and Colin watch Kelly and David dance...and when Kelly notices them, she stalks over, glares at Valerie, who's grinning like an idiot, and snarks, "You are such a bitch!" Hee! Colin tries to explain why he showed up at the ball with Valerie on his arm, then says she doesn't understand...but Kelly insists that she understands perfectly, then storms off.
Inside the ladies' room, Kelly is bitching at Valerie for showing up at the ball with Colin - so Valerie tells her it was all Colin's idea, and that she and Colin thought she (Kelly) would be thrilled to see them. Together. With her arm tucked in the crook of his arm. Kelly tells Valerie she doesn't trust anything she says and believes she always has an ulterior motive. Well, d'yuh. A fake exasperated Valerie exits the bathroom, then grabs Colin and drags him into the ladies' room, where she orders him and Kelly to talk this out. Colin apologizes to Kelly and insists he merely wanted to surprise her...and Kelly softens and goes, "Really?" and says that, in general, Valerie drives her crazy. Colin tells her she probably owes Valerie an apology for the bitch remark...and Kelly reluctantly agrees, and the two start kissing.
Steve and Clare both declare that they've had enough of the ball and are ready to bail. This leaves Valerie with no ride home, so David agrees to drop her off...but first he has to swing by his mother's apartment.
Dylan's house. Dylan is roused awake by the sound of someone knocking on his front door. He's surprised to find Toni on his doorstep, and she tells him she came by to give him a goodnight kiss. The two enjoy a smooch, and after their lips unlock, she wishes him a good night and then saunters off. Dylan just stares after, looking totally discombobulated.
Newsroom. Brandon and Susan are sitting at separate computers, working on their columns - and they both look hot and bothered. Brandon tells her he enjoys working with her and that he thinks she's a good editor, then fishes for a similar compliment about himself. She tells him she'll have to get back to him on that, then starts twitching nervously. After a few seconds, she springs up from her chair and declares that she admires his "good lips", and the two start kissing amorously. Ugh.
Royal Ball. Ray arrives at the ball just as the last dance is announced. He invites Donna to dance with him out on the terrace, then feeds her a line about how she'll make a great Rose Princess...so then she tells him he'll make a great rock star. I'm not sure which of the two is more delusional.
The Peach Pit. Steve enters the diner to meet up with "Cuddles" and asks Nat if anyone has arrived asking for "Tenderheart". Nat points him in the direction of Clare, who's sitting in a booth with an expectant look on her face. As Nat chortles at the predictable outcome of this dumb subplot, a dismayed Steve calls out, "Cuddles?" and Clare contorts her weird doll face and calls this a nightmare. Both admit they stretched the truth on their online profiles...but, since they're both free for the rest of the evening, they agree to get a cup of coffee together.
David and Valerie arrive at his mom's apartment...and David gets a bad feeling when he sees an ambulance and a bunch of police cars parked in front of her building. He quickly parks and rushes over to the ambulance in time to see his mom being carried out on a stretcher. The paramedic informs David that she tried to commit suicide, and David hops into the ambulance with her, leaving Valerie staring after him worriedly.