Recap: Emma is hanging at the Walsh house, commiserating with Kelly about creepy Dr. Monahan. Kelly says she's decided to rat him out to one of the foundation directors tomorrow, and Emma applauds her courage and says it's clear that the sleazoid's behavior is all about power (not sex), and that he's deliberately trying to make her feel uncomfortable. She shakes her head in faux disgust and says, "Men can be pigs, even the good ones." Cue Brandon, who arrives home with David and looks all discombobulated to see Kelly and Emma klatching in his kitchen. Kelly explains that she invited Emma over for dinner and suggests they order in - but David says he has to decline 'cause he's too broke to afford takeout, and heads upstairs. A panicked looking Brandon runs after him and offers to pay for his food 'cause he needs him to act as a buffer between his girlfriend and the skank he's about to cheat on her with [oops: spoiler], and David takes pity on him and promises to go back downstairs after he takes a shower. At that moment, Valerie opens her door in the midst of getting dressed - giving David and Brandon an eyeful of her hooters encased in a lacy black bra - and pulls David into her bedroom. She cackles about how jealous Noah is getting about their faux hookup, but David looks skeptical and asks her if Noah would really buy that she could love a lowly carwash employee...so she reminds him that she fell for Noah when she thought he was nothing more than a penniless boat dweller. Fair point. Downstairs, Kelly asks Emma if the "friend" she's writing about in her column is really going to hook up with the committed guy, and Emma says she just might, since the two have already kissed...and as she's saying that, she fondles Brandon's leg under the table. Kelly nods and grins stupidly, somehow still clueless about what's happening literally right in front of her.
After Dark. Noah and Donna decorate the club with Christmas decorations, and Noah natters on and on about how he's never had the opportunity to celebrate the holidays in a traditional way, blah blah...I don't care.
Carwash. Ben shows David the wrapped gifts he intends to give to his parents, since he figures they can't stay mad at him forever. Valerie makes an appearance to drop off sandwiches for David's and Ben's lunch, which was uncharacteristically thoughtful of her.
The Beverly Beat. Steve is anxiety-ridden 'cause he can't think of what to buy Hilary Swank for Christmas. He asks Terri and Emma what sort of gift they like to receive...but neither of them are interested enough in his contrived plight to come up with any ideas, so he continues to scrunch his face worriedly and hope for a pre-Christmas miracle. Emma remarks that she hasn't even started her column yet, so Brandon sidles over to her and asks her what she'll be writing about this week. She saucily tells him she's going to continue to beat the dead horse that is the ongoing saga of her "friend" who wants to go to bed with the committed man. Brandon asks, "Isn't that played out yet?" and Emma mulls that over and decides that, no, the totally played out scenario isn't quite played out enough. Brandon quietly admits that he's attracted to her, but can't bring himself to actually do the bedtime deed...and Emma smirks and says, in that case, she'll use the "what could have been" angle and keep her readers wondering. Please. I doubt they're wondering about anything other than why you're not writing about something more substantive. Brandon reminds her that all they shared was a kiss, and she retorts, "It doesn't have to be" then flounces out of the newsroom in her revealing mini-skirt.
Wyatt Clinic. Kelly is about to spill the beans to the foundation director, Audrey, about Dr. Monahan's icky advances when Audrey suddenly starts waxing on and on about how great the sleazy doctor is...so great, in fact, that she wants Kelly to speak on his behalf at the foundation's upcoming holiday party. A dismayed looking Kelly stammers, "Uh...yeah, sure."
Steve is helping Hilary Swank drag a newly cut Christmas tree inside her apartment, then tries to get her to give him hints about the kind of present she wants, but she tells him she's a Christmas traditionalist and clams up. Zack appears and announces to the adults that his little friend Billy has informed him that there's no such thing as Santa Claus. OMFG no. Hilary Swank half-heartedly tries to convince him that the jolly fat man who climbs down every kid's chimney once a year truly does exist, but Zack doesn't buy it and despondently stares down at the floor as he mutters, "There's no Santa" and sadly shuffles to his room. I shall spend the rest of the episode praying that Christmas can be saved for the tiny boy with the bowl shaped hairdo.
David drives Ben over to his parents' house to drop off their Christmas presents, but Ben's mom won't accept them and says she's too skeered they'll make her dickwad of a husband an even angrier douche than he already is. Ben sets the boxes down on the lawn just as an appalled David storms over to give Ben's mom the what-for. Ben earnestly asks his mom when he might be able to come home, and she grunts something unintelligible, then shakes her head worriedly and asks, "Ben, are you OK?" David interjects and says he's not actually, and that it's ridiculous (not to mention child abandonment, aka a crime) to kick their teenage son out of the house. The mom wails, "My husband just doesn't understand!" and David snaps, "Then explain it to him." The mom rambles about how Ben's dad had so many hopes and dreams for him, and Ben points out he's still the same person. She suggests he give up on his gayness so he can move back in, but Ben just sadly pronounces, "My father hates me. I make him sick" and runs back to David's car. She wrings her hands uselessly and moans, "I'm soooo worried!" and David snaps, "You should be worried. Your son is seventeen and sleeping in a carwash." He tells her he's doing everything he can for Ben, but essentially the kid is fending for himself. She just kind of shrugs at that and says that she and the a-hole she married "just need some time".
The Peach Pit. Steve, Hilary Swank, and Zack enter the diner...and as soon as Zack starts blathering about Santa Claus being non-existent, Donna comes by and tells him she has someone she'd like him to meet. She steers him over to the After Dark, where Santa is sitting on a giant throne type chair - but suddenly Santa starts stripping off all the fur trimmed clothes and stuffing...and we see that the person underneath is a shapely female stripper. Oops. As a horrified Donna hustles Zack out of the club, he mopishly tells her it just confirms what he already knows: that Santa is a phony. When the tot is safely out of earshot, Donna berates Noah for hiring a stripper at a Christmas party and not even putting up a Warning: Santa Stripper sign to alert passersby. Valerie interjects and tells her she just crashed a private party, and that for some bizarre reason the client requested Stripper Santa...and Donna just glares back at her and barks, "Get out of my face!"
Carwash. While munching on tacos at lunch time, David tells Ben he has a friend who works at a foundation that dabbles in various social services, but Ben declines and says he contacted his aunt and uncle yesterday about spending Christmas with them in La Jolla. David says that sounds awesome, and Ben thanks him for being his only friend in the world, and for being so cool and accepting of his gayness. David ignores the not-so-subtle suicidal farewell and heads home.
Brandon drops by Emma's apartment to pick up her column that she saved to a floppy disk (hee! I remember those), 'cause apparently she fibbed and told him her email wasn't working. He tells her she needs to stop this brazen flirting, and she disagrees and says it's pretty obvious he needs an excuse to see her. Brandon weakly insists, "I love Kelly" and Emma says it seems like he's already moving on from Kelly, but just doesn't know it yet. She then leans in for a smooch, and Brandon puckers up and smooches her back...and a few seconds later, they hit the sheets and start getting it on in earnest.
Carwash. David bursts into the locker room and finds Ben glumly sitting on the bench, contemplating which vein he wants to slit first. David tells him he was driving along, then realized what total BS that story about his aunt and uncle in La Jolla is, since he's never once mentioned them before. As Ben stares back at him tearfully, David barks, "What are you hiding?!", and after a quick frisk, he uncovers a razor blade. He gets all in Ben's face and screams, "A blade?! A blade?!" which seems like a really horrible way to treat a suicidal person. Ben admits he was pretty close to ending it all, then starts crying...and David dials down his bitchitude and gives the kid a comforting shoulder squeeze.
The Walsh house. Kelly enters the living room and finds a guilty looking Brandon putting gifts under the Christmas tree. She asks him if they can open one early, and when he says no, she goes, "Pleeeease?! Can't we just cheat?" Heh. A stricken looking Brandon apologizes for being so late, then hugs her with a really sheepish expression on his face.
The next morning, David tells Valerie he's doing his best to help Ben, but worries he's still going to off himself. Valerie says the kid is lucky to have such a good friend, and the two tiptoe into the living room to look in on Ben, who crashed on the Walsh's sofa for the night.
The Beverly Beat. Emma sashays into the newsroom with the floppy disk Brandon forgot to take along after their illicit doink. He does his best to avoid making eye contact...and when she hands him a Christmas present and then tries to give him a from-behind cuddle, he pulls away and says he had no idea that cheating on his beloved Kelly would feel this shitty. He says he now regrets the whole sordid thing, and Emma gets miffed and storms off.
Noah drops by Donna's photo shoot, but she looks annoyed to see him and reminds him that they parted on bad terms. She tells him she's still traumatized about all the bald-faced lies David constantly told her, then says how much she hates that he works with Valerie. Noah assures her he's not a liar like David, and that nothing is happening between him and Valerie.
David drops by Ben's parents' house to tell his useless mother and douchewad father that Ben was contemplating slitting his wrists last night. Douchewad just shrugs and says, "There's nothing I can do to help" then natters about how Ben has made his own choices and orders David to get off his property. David snaps, "Do you want a gay son or a dead son?!" and hands Ben's mother a piece of paper with his name/address/phone number written on it. Douchewad glares at him and bellows, "Go to hell!", storms inside his house, and slams the door.
Wyatt Clinic. During the holiday party, Kelly dutifully goes up to the mic and gives a complimentary speech about Dr. Monahan. She looks queasy as she credits him for providing health care to poor people and says she's super proud to work with him.
Hilary Swank tries to convince Zack that Santa Claus is real, but Billy has convinced him that mall Santas are fake and Christmas gifts come from the department store. As he sadly retreats to his room, Hilary Swank laments to Steve what a terrible Christmas this is going to be for the disillusioned little imp. Isn't this scene a near exact replay of the earlier scene where Zack first doubted the existence of Santa Claus? (Giddyup with that heart attack, Papa Swank, so you can summon these two dullards back to Montana asap.)
Wyatt Clinic. Dr. Monahan tells Kelly he'd like a quick word with her, then steers her over to his office, closes the door, says, "Thanks for the kind words", and gives her a full on lip smooch. Kelly shoots him the stink-eye and storms out, then heads over to Brandon and tells him they need to leave, like pronto. When he asks her what happened, she tells him that Dr. Monahan cornered her in the office and kissed her, and Brandon puffs up his little chest and says he wants to confront the creep. Kelly stops him and says she's embarrassed enough, and the two slip out of the clinic and head home.
Valerie returns home from her morning jog just as Ben is attempting to sneak off. She snarkishly asks him if he doesn't want to say good bye or thank you to David before he runs off, then says she knows what it's like to feel alone and ashamed of the slutty, manipulative skank she's become. Ben says he thought razoring his wrist veins would make things easier on everyone, so Valerie reminds him that David is his friend and that he won't ever turn his back on him. She urges him to hang at the Walsh house a little longer, then gives him a hug and assures him that everything is going to be A-OK by the time the credits roll.
Kelly finally gets up the nerve to tell Audrey about Dr. Monahan's groping ways, especially in light of last night's icky, uninvited kiss. Audrey tells her that the foundation has a strict policy against sexual harassment and says that once she files a complaint, it will have to go on record. She warns Kelly, "It's your word against his" and says it might look bad that she made a sexual harassment complaint in her first real job. OK, but it also looks bad when a foundation director does fuck all to hold a grown man accountable for making unwanted sexual advances on his subordinate, especially when the subordinate is imploring you to remedy the untenable situation.
Boat. Noah returns home to find his boat filled with Christmas lights strung everywhere and Donna standing in the middle of the room, pursing her giant lips together in breathless anticipation of his reaction. He pretends it doesn't look at all tacky or stupid and chirps, "I love it!" Donna tells him she was feeling brave and wanted to show him that celebrating Christmas in a traditional way can be fun...and the two start smooching.
The cast slowly arrives at Casa Walsh for the show's annual Christmas party. Ben looks like he's having a blast, while Kelly twitches in a corner and looks upset. Nat arrives (dressed as Santa), along with Noah and Donna. Steve and Hilary Swank usher Zack to the backyard, where someone's decorated a tree house with Christmas lights. Ben's parents drop by to quickly wrap up Ben's gay/aborted suicide arc...and to that end, his douchewad father says, "Your mom and I have been talking..." and basically says that they're both suddenly fine with his gayness and would like him to move back home. Douchewad admits he doesn't understand the first thing about being a gay teenager, but is willing to try. Ben declares, "I am what I am" and Douchewad says, "I know. You're my son." Ben cries happy tears and hugs his parents...and thank goodness that dreary storyline is finally resolved.
David and Valerie are outside, staring up at the moon. Valerie credits him with saving Ben's life, then recalls all the solemn storylines the writers have given them over the years. She now thinks that faking a relationship with him to make Noah/Donna jealous is stupid (well, d'yuh), and the two are about to smooch for real when Nat (dressed as Santa) interrupts and says he's lost his keys. David and Valerie head inside to either look for them there or avoid getting caught up in another pointless conversation with Nat...and from the tree house, Zack is transfixed by the sight of Nat/Santa searching the patio for his keys, and looks as though he finally believes Santa is real. Yay! Christmas crisis averted.
Brandon gives Kelly permission to open one Christmas gift early, and Kelly squeals excitedly and grabs the nearest one: the gift Emma gave him, thinking it's for her. As Brandon watches in horror, Kelly unwraps the gift, which is a man's wristwatch. She stares at it in puzzlement for a few seconds, then decides she loves it and smoochily thanks him. Er...OK.