Fame - Season 2, Episode 20
Recap: The Fame kids are rehearsing for an upcoming show (before classes start) in a very cold dance gym. Ms. Grant turns the music on, and the kids start leaping and twirling about...but it's clear that they can't stop shivering. One of them, Kelly Hayden (played by Connie Needham, who played a totally different character in the To Soar and Never Falter episode) looks befuddled by all the confusing steps and can't seem to keep up. Ms. Grant interrupts the rehearsal and asks Doris and Leroy to run downstairs and tell the custodian to turn the heat on, then chides Kelly for her shittastic dancing and snarks at her to try moving with the music.
Leroy and Doris scamper down the hall and run into a fellow student we've never seen before named Timmy Ellis. He sadly tells them he's handing around a petition to get the show in which he starred as a child actor, Here's Mikey, from being pulled off the air. Well...based on the title alone, I highly doubt it's standing up to the test of time and probably shouldn't ever have re-aired in the first place. Leroy and Doris are like, "Sure, whatevs" and sign the petition, then continue scampering down the hall. They burst through a set of double doors, then abruptly stop and widen their eyes in shock and horror.
Doris races back to the dance gym and tells Ms. Grant there's something she urgently needs to see...and in the next scene, the students and faculty are slowly wading through a hall that has been scarily vandalized. Miss Sherwood glances at all the graffiti, trash, and locker contents strewn about and mutters, "Who would do this?" Ms. Grant tells the students to return to the dance gym to resume their rehearsal, and Doris comforts a distraught looking Kelly then urges her to go back to class with her. Dwight, meanwhile, sifts through the wreckage and comes across a disturbing letter. He goes, "Oh wow!" then rushes it over to Miss Sherwood and tells her it must have come from one of the lockers. Miss Sherwood reads it over and puts on her extra serious face.
We get a montage of Mr. Reardon, Ms. Grant, and Miss Sherwood telling their respective classes that something highly disturbing was found in the vandalized hall - but don't actually spell out what it is. Dwight blurts out, "Is this about the suicide note?" - LOL - and the camera cuts to an assembly featuring a woman named Janet Hammond, who has been rushed over to the School of the Arts from New York's Suicide Prevention Center to counsel the students and faculty. Janet asks the group how many of them have ever thought about killing themselves, and a few people tentatively raise their hands [Doris understandably]...and when she asks how many of them know someone who has attempted suicide, a few hands stay up. Janet assures them that it's not all that weird to have suicidal thoughts, 'cause a lot of people hurt on the inside, then adds that if anyone is currently hurting they need to know they're not alone and have lots of people who care about them. She implores whoever wrote the suicide note to talk to someone with whom they feel safe and comfortable. After the assembly, Doris tells Julie and Coco she once knew someone who contemplated suicide - but no one did anything...and two weeks later she died in a car accident. Or was it? I guess we'll never know.
Doris tells Danny and Coco she has some ideas on how they can figure out who the writer of the note is. Danny says he has zero interest in that, is far too busy, then rattles off a list of all the stuff he's currently got going on. After he flees, Coco starts babbling about how suicide goes against everything she believes about the universe...and that fate gives them their own "individual dance", so she's reluctant to "interfere with the power of fate". Whatever, Coco...just say no. After she flounces off, Doris looks bummed by the lack of support from her friends...but then suddenly beams as another ill-fated idea pops into her tiny brain.
Doris bursts into the dance gym and tries to enlist Leroy in whatever plan she's concocting, but he's not interested either and tells her to go pee up a rope.
Doris's last stop is Bruno, who's playing his usual craptastic music on a synthesizer in the music room. She begs him to help her figure out who needs potential saving from suicide and says he's her last hope, but he tells her they should probably leave suicide-related stuff to the professionals 'cause they might make things worse...and he really doesn't want to take the responsibility for causing someone to be even more determined to jump off a building. Doris says she fully intends to prevent her yet unnamed classmate from killing her/himself and won't risk sitting by and doing nothing. She sanctimoniously snaps, "I don't want responsibility for that."
Miss Sherwood shows Janet Hammond the list she made of all the kids whose lockers were broken into. For some reason she tells Janet all about Leroy, who leads a miserable existence without parents and lives in a decrepit shitbox in Harlem. Janet concernedly says he's just the sort who could be "at risk" (a new-fangled term for those most vulnerable), but Miss Sherwood insists that it can't possibly be Leroy. Ms. Grant enters the room, quickly concurs, and says she suspects Kelly Hayden of being the suicidal one - based on her erratic state and her consistently shittastic performances in the dance gym. She tells Janet she was just about to recommend that Kelly be booted out of the dance program altogether - but an alarmed looking Janet urges her to hold off on that for now.
Doris is in the library, reading up on suicide prevention, when Coco comes over and nonsensically babbles about fate, the universe, and cosmic forces. She tells Doris she now wants to help solve The Case of the Suicidal Student, and Doris shares with her a list of the students whose lockers were broken into, along with some pre-suicide warning signs to look out for:
In drama class, Julie is doing a scene with Timmy...and it's going so badly that Julie goes out of character and wearily says, "This isn't working." Mr. Reardon agrees and gets on Timmy's case about his complete inability to demonstrate emotion while acting out a scene. When Timmy reminds him that he used to be a child actor, Mr. Reardon snaps, "Then you should probably learn the right way to play a scene." Ouch. Looks like Mr. Reardon didn't get the memo that he's supposed to be extra nice to the kids for awhile so that he doesn't unwittingly push a potential suicide victim over the edge.
At lunch time, Timmy gets a tray of food, then sits at a table with Doris. He laments how awful the ratings of Here's Mikey are, and is now contemplating asking his school mates to sign letters in support of keeping the dumb show on the air. Doris asks why he's being so intense about something that's so clearly past its prime, then suggests he move on. Timmy miserably says he's too fugly, not special enough, and far too terrible at acting to have anything to move towards ever again. Plus he's a total downer all the damn time. Doris tries to pump him up by pronouncing, "You're Timmy Ellis, and that's something special!" but Timmy sadly retorts, "For a lot of people, Timmy is Mikey...and time is running out!" As he storms off, Doris looks alarmed by the finality of Timmy's words...but not alarmed enough to do anything beyond staring worriedly into space.
Kelly dances horribly again, and Ms. Grant is about to give her one of her sassy put-downs, but remembers Janet's warning and chirps, "It's really coming along!" - LOL - and urges Kelly to try to put a tad more rhythm into her moves.
Timmy goes downstairs to the maintenance office, where apparently he and the custodian like to watch reruns of Here's Mikey together. Yeesh...that custodian must really be hard up for entertainment. Timmy watches the rerun, this time by himself, and stares sadly at the TV set.
Danny, Doris, Coco, and Bruno convene in the library and talk about their theories on who the suicide note writer is - but start bickering when they can't agree on a single culprit.
Ms. Grant is presiding over ballet class, grimly watching Kelly struggle with her arabesques and pliés. When the bell rings, Ms. Grant asks Kelly to stay behind so they can have a chat...and then the camera cuts to the teachers' lounge, where Kelly is seated at a table with Ms. Grant, Miss Sherwood, and Janet Hammond, who are all staring at her concernedly. Kelly tells Janet she felt so much better after the anti-suicide assembly, especially the part about not being alone and that lots of people care. She babbles about how her family puts a lot of pressure on her to be successful, and is terrified that she's not a good enough dancer to stay at the School of the Arts. Which she's clearly not - though somehow Doris, who has no discernible talent in anything performance arts related, manages to stay enrolled. Janet asks her what she'd do if, hypothetically, she got dropped from the dance program...and Kelly thinks that over and says at one point she probably would have killed herself. She tearfully says that the worse her dancing has gotten, the more alone she's felt. Janet assures her that she's not alone anymore and that a lot of people care, blah blah. Kelly appeals to Ms. Grant for her help and patience in dance class, and Ms. Grant clutches her hand from across the table and says, "You got it, baby." Janet asks Kelly, now that they've all had a heart-to-heart, if they could please forget about her suicide note...and Kelly stares at her blankly and goes, "Note..? I didn't write a note." Ms. Grant and Miss Sherwood are all, "Wha-a?" and an exasperated Miss Sherwood grumbles about how they're back where they started - LOL, damn that Kelly and her faux suicidal warning signs - but Janet reaches for Kelly's hand and happily says, "Oh no, we're not."
Timmy enters the dressing room looking despondent. He pulls a gun out of his knapsack, points it at the mirror and growls, "Bye bye, Mikey" then pretends to fire and says, "Bye bye, Timmy." I really think that if this guy decides to stay alive and grow into adulthood, he should consider going by Tim.
Miss Sherwood asks Janet, "What now?" and Janet says they should pore over that student list again. She once again suspects Leroy of wanting to blow his brains out, and then - ack! - Leroy suddenly enters the lounge and bitches about how he just got a D- on his latest history test. Miss Sherwood tells him she can't speak for the history teacher, and he bitches about the need to take history at all. He then notices Janet standing in the room, quietly studying him, and goes, "Yo, whaddup?" and then swaggers out...and when Miss Sherwood informs her that that was Leroy, Janet chuckles and agrees that he's probably not on the verge of killing himself.
Doris enters the dressing room and tells Timmy she just heard that his grisly TV show got cancelled, and that she's very sorry. He tells her the sad story about how his success as a child actor broke up his parent's marriage 'cause his dad was always pissed off that he never made it in showbiz, but his mom really wanted to have an actor for a son. He then takes off his necklace and tells Doris he wants her to have this "friendship gift" and heads toward the exit - Ding ding ding! Pre-suicide warning sign alert! - and Doris just goes, "Hey, thanks" ... but then remembers the stuff she read in the library's suicide prevention books and runs out after him. She chases him down the hall and says she knows he's about to do something stupid, and he shrugs and goes, "I'm just on my to drama class." Doris follows him there, since I guess she too is in the class, and tells Mr. Reardon she'd like to do an improv with Timmy: in a scenario where he's on the ledge about to jump and she's a cop, trying to talk him down. Subtle, Doris. Mr. Reardon says it sounds like a marvellous idea...but when Timmy says he really really doesn't want to do it, Mr. Reardon suggests that Timmy play the role of the cop and Doris be the suicidal nut. Timmy agrees, then half-heartedly mumbles to Doris that suicide doesn't solve anything, and urges her to think about the people she's leaving behind. Mr. Reardon whispers something to Coco and Julie, and they amble over to the stage and start taunting Doris by yelling, "Jump! Jump!" [Haha! Oh...if only Doris were on an actual ledge while suffering from low self esteem.] Doris whines about how much it hurts to be a frizzy haired loser with no looks or talent, then repeatedly screeches, "I just want to get rid of the painnnnnn!" After some tedious back and forth about how suicide is/isn't the answer to life's problems, Timmy eventually breaks down and cries, "I'm there! I've been there for so long and it hurts sooooo bad!" In his befuddled state, he refers to Doris as Timmy, then collapses onto the floor, moaning, "I don't want to die." Doris breaks character and sits next to him and cradles him, while the rest of class stares at each other in confusion. I wonder if maybe they weren't all at Janet's anti-suicide assembly. Doris quietly assures a sobbing Timmy, "We hear you and we care" and the camera pans out as she continues to cradle him.
Later, while a choir performs on stage in the theater, Doris hands Timmy his necklace back...and he smiles at her and puts it back around his neck. Phew! I guess that's that for his pre-suicidal tendencies.
Incidentally, we never do find out who vandalized the school. Bastards!
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Recapper: Isabel K. French
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