Recap: When the Edna's Edibles boiler starts making loud banging noises, Mrs. Garrett decides it's time to call in a real plumber and not rely on Jo to fix mechanical stuff she has no business pretending she knows how to fix. Blair sweeps in and announces that she scored second row Baryshnikov tickets...and Natalie and Tootie squeal excitedly at the prospect of seeing their favorite male ballerina up close, while Jo contorts her face with distaste at all the money Blair shelled out for the tickets.
As Mrs. Garrett browses through the yellow pages to find a plumber, Jo insists she fixed the boiler as expertly as she recently fixed the hot water heater, and thinks the underlying issue is "air in the pipes". She begs for another chance to look into the boiler's banging issues, but Mrs. Garrett mumbles, "No way in hell" while continuing to browse the yellow pages.
As Tootie covers the store, an impossibly cute little blonde boy named Danny Slater ambles in, prompting the studio audience to coo, "Awwwwww.." the way '80s sitcom studio audiences were programmed to do whenever sweet-faced tots were forcibly interjected into storylines. Danny and Tootie exchange cute banter, discuss their mutual interest in Morse code, and he tells her he's a latchkey kid who has to hang out alone every day after school in the apartment he shares with his mom (atop the real estate office next door). Tootie contorts her face all indignant-like and snarkishly asks, "You mean your negligent mother leaves you home alone every day after school?", and he's like, "Uh, yeah..?" and shows her the house key that's attached to his pants with a little retractable pulley thing.
Upstairs in the communal bedroom, Natalie is staring lovingly at her framed, black and white photograph of Baryshnikov, telling it she'll be with him soon, blowing him kisses from the audience. Jo rolls her eyes in her usual 'I hate everything' manner and says she couldn't be any less interested in watching a grown man prance around in his underwear.
Tootie bursts into the room to announce that Danny is signalling her [for help with his homework] in Morse code 'cause he's not allowed to answer the telephone unless his mother calls using "the signal". She moans about the inhumanity of Danny having to sit alone in an empty apartment until his mother comes home from work - but Jo says it's really not that big a deal, and that she too was a latchkey kid while being raised in the Bronx by her hard-done-by waitress mom.
Mrs. Garrett enters the room, prefaces what she's about to tell them with, "Don't freak out, but.." and explains that she called the gas company after the stench of gas in the boiler room became overwhelming...and after the gas company people came and looked into it, they told her it's possible that the entire building (and/or block) could blow up at any moment. The Facts gals shriek in terror, then run around the room like headless chickens in a panic to grab their most treasured valuables (Blair: entire wardrobe, Natalie: framed photograph of Misha). Jo tells Mrs. Garrett she plans to stick around and try to sort out the gas problem herself - but Mrs. Garrett warns that if she doesn't get the hell out this instant, she's going to start screeching uncontrollably in her unbearably screechy voice while beating her with a frying pan. The camera then pans over to Tootie, who suddenly looks alarmed and cries in the annoying hysterical way she cries whenever she finds herself affected by a Facts-manufactured crisis, "We have to get Danny out! He's home alone! No one knows he's in there!" And Mrs. Garrett's like, "Holy fucking egads, Tootie! Let's rush over there right now and do our best to save the hapless boy!"
Mrs. Garrett goes to the building next door, knocks on Danny's door, and tells him he has to leave with her right now 'cause of an emergency - but Danny refuses to open the door 'cause of the hundreds of times his mother warned him to never open the door to strangers. A few seconds later, Tootie bounds into the building and implores Danny to come out 'cause he get hurt really badly if he stays behind...and Danny opens the door and casually says, "Hi, Tootie." Tootie sanctimoniously points out to Mrs. Garrett that Danny opening the door for her is the payoff for her (and no one else's) efforts in cultivating a trust-based friendship with the latchkey tot...and Mrs. Garrett somehow refrains from telling her where she can shove her self-aggrandizing sermon and focus on helping her get Danny out of harm's way.
An hour later, the neighborhood gets the all clear that the gas leak crisis has been resolved. Phew! Blair returns to Edna's Edibles with her wardrobe, while Natalie clutches Misha's photograph and natters endlessly about how she just cheated death. Mrs. Garrett tells her to stuff a sock in it and do something useful, like take Danny out for some ice cream so he has something fun to do until his mom comes by to pick him up.
The plumber informs Mrs. Garrett that he fixed the banging boiler, along with the water heater Jo pooched when she tinkered with it. He then explains to everyone that, easy as it would be to believe that Jo's incompetence was the cause of the gas leak, a nearby road crew was the culprit when they unwittingly broke a gas line.
A worried looking Jean Smart rushes into Edna's Edibles, identifies herself as Danny Slater's mother, and asks where her son is. Mrs. Garrett assures her that Danny is fine, and that he's enjoying an ice cream treat with one of the Facts gals. She offers to go get him, then rushes out...and Tootie contorts her face in a judgey expression and tells Jean Smart she met Danny when he came into the store one day, struck up a conversation with her, and told her how he spends his after school time alone in their apartment. Jean Smart gets defensive and says this doesn't mean she's, in any way, mistreating her son, but Tootie haughtily retorts, "Well, no...you're not around enough!" Jean Smart, who somehow feels the need to explain herself to this holier-than-thou twit, explains that she has to work full time in order to stay off of welfare - and Tootie says she doesn't care about the real world predicaments of adults who struggle to make ends meet and rails about how dangerous it is to leave a little kid home alone. Jean Smart says that's exactly why she's drummed it into her kid's head that he's not supposed to answer the phone or open the door to strangers, and Tootie snaps, "That didn't work well today!" then suggests she find [free?] daycare, or leave Danny with a friend who's conveniently home every weekday afternoon and would be happy to babysit. Jean Smart says she's new to Peekskill and that it's not easy making friends, then chides Tootie for not showing up at her door in a Welcome Wagon capacity when she and Danny first moved in. Tootie deflects blame by snappishly pointing out that no one even knew that she and Danny were living next door 'cause she didn't think to stop by the neighborhood bakery and make a grand announcement to the staff regarding hers and Danny's arrival in Peekskill...'cause, yeah, that wouldn't have been weird.
Mrs. Garrett brings Danny back to Edna's Edibles, and Jean Smart lets out a relieved cry and hugs her tiny son. Danny explains that he only left the apartment after Tootie warned him he might get hurt if he stayed behind...and Jean Smart assures him it's A-OK, then reluctantly thanks Tootie for potentially saving her son. As she turns to leave, Tootie's bitchitude subsides and she says she'd be glad to look in on Danny in the afternoons, seeing as how they're neighbors and all...and Jean Smart nods in agreement - while whoever's in charge of the studio audience applause meter take a few seconds too long to cue the applause sign before the camera freezes and the end credits appear. Awkward.
Recap: Mrs. Garrett is on the phone with the Board of Health, confirming that she got a bunch of their forms in the mail, along with with a notice stating that they'll be dropping by on an unspecified date/time to formally inspect her shop to ensure that it's up to code. Mrs. Garrett assures them she'll fill out the forms and mail them in on time, then asks if it's possible to get a heads up as to when the inspection will occur. The person on the other end tells her to go pee up a rope and just make sure that her store is meeting all of their regulations, and she snarls, "Sourpuss.." into the phone receiver. Very mature, Edna.
Natalie is campaigning for the Miss School Spirit pageant at Eastland...and when Jo grumpishly asks her why she gives a rat's ass about winning a popularity contest, Natalie says she's never been Miss anything and figured that this was one pageant she had a reasonable shot of winning. Blair breezes into the room to moan about her latest conundrum: she's having her new passport photo taken and can't decide what to wear. But somehow refrains from fixating about whether or not a photo of her in her fluffy '80s 'do is going to stand the test of time over the next ten years.
A frazzled Mrs. Garrett waves around a long to-do list and tells the Facts gals they have a lot of work to do if they're going to pass inspection from the Board of Health, e.g. move the refrigerator at least ten feet away from the water heater, and get Tootie to remove the fruit fly science project she's been allowed to store inside the refrigerator of a public eatery, OMFG. Tootie natters excitedly about the various scientific findings of her fruit fly experiment, but Mrs. Garrett snaps at her to shut it, then..
The gals disinterestedly mutter, "Yeah yeah.." while Mrs. Garrett heads off to - fingers crossed! - book a lucrative catering gig for an upcoming Bar Mitzvah.
Tootie cheerily gets the mail and distributes it to the gals...and they're bemused when they all get the same chain letter, then get annoyed when Tootie proudly announces that she was the sender. Jo and Blair tell her they have zero desire to participate in such an outmoded mail scam, but Tootie warns them about all the bad luck that will befall them if they dare break the chain and not send the required $15 to the person at the top of the pyramid.
Later, Jo is pecking away at her typewriter when Mrs. Garrett enters the room and asks her to pleaaaaaase help her move the fridge so it's at regulation distance from the water heater...but Jo just keeps typing and mutters, "Just gimme five minutes." When Blair arrives home, Jo tells her she decided to throw all of her alleged street smarts out the window by deciding to send out chain letters after experiencing a bout of bad luck: she encountered a black cat who she had to swerve to avoid hitting, which resulted in an accident that caused damage to her motorcycle. Blair sheepishly admits that after encountering a string of bad luck of her own, she reacted by quickly mailing out a batch of chain letters.
A bummed Natalie announces that she got creamed in Eastland's Miss School Spirit contest - just as Mrs. Garrett bursts in with her to-do list and shrieks, "I need your help!!!" Jo promises to mail the Board of Health forms [along with her chain letters], and Blair makes a weak promise to paint the sign she's determined to procrastinate over as long as possible. Mrs. Garrett re-reminds Tootie to get her fruit fly project out of the fridge, fucking asap, then says that its rapidly growing population is really starting to freak her out...as it would her customers if they knew they were eating food that had been stored in the same fridge as an out-of-control fruit fly colony.
A serious looking grey haired man enters Edna's Edibles carrying a notebook, gives a curt hello nod to the Facts gals, then approaches Mrs. Garrett and asks her if she's the owner. She's like, "Yeah", but adds that she's too busy to give him the time of day - even though everything about him screams 'I'm an inspector with the Board of Health' - so could he please go away and ask one of the girls for help? The man introduces himself as Klaus Stevens from the Board of Health...and Mrs. Garrett's all, "Ack!", leaps up, shakes his hand, and asks him if there's anything she can do to suck up to him enough to get a favorable inspection report. He tells her she just needs to stay out of his way while he conducts his inspection...and Mrs. Garrett looks ashen and asks him if he could put off the inspection until such time as she and the Facts gals can get their shit together. Klaus tells her he had been planning to put off this inspection for a few more months - but when he got $15 mixed in with her forms, he assumed it was a bribe and figured he'd better look into this potentially corrupt situation pronto. As Mrs. Garrett scrunches her face confusedly, Jo's like, "Fuuuuuuuuuck" and quickly realizes that she accidentally put the chain letter money in with the Board of Health forms. Mrs. Garrett tells Klaus that no way in hell is her store ready for an inspection, and he's like, "Good! Let's start." Haha!
Klaus tut tuts Mrs. Garrett and the gals for leaving the food they just finished preparing for the Bar Mitzvah was uncovered, which is the first violation he's going to cite in his report. The second will be the lack of a 'this door is unlocked during business hours' sign. Mrs. Garrett snaps at Blair for neglecting to take care of this task despite repeated reminders, and Blair sheepishly replies that she was too busy beautifying herself for her passport photo. Klaus amuses himself by telling Mrs. Garrett that she should have named her store "Edna's Excuses" - haha! - and heads over to the kitchen to continue his inspection.
Tootie suddenly remembers that she forgot to remove her fruit fly project from the fridge, then blames Natalie for distracting her by making her do stuff for the Miss School Spirit campaign.
Klaus taps a bunch of numbers into his calculator and tells Mrs. Garrett that because of the unsanitary way she runs her store, she managed to rack up $500 worth of fines. She shrieks, "Five hundred dollars??!!" and whines about how impossible it is to monitor her idiot employees every minute. Klaus points out that if they're as inept as they appear - which they certainly are - they probably shouldn't be employed in her store. And that as the owner of Edna's Edibles, she bears ultimate responsibility for whatever violations occur. He then chuckles about how bad the inspection report is going to be, and how hard his coworkers are going to laugh when he shows it to them. Bwahahaha!
Once Klaus is out of earshot, Natalie asks if it's about to hit the fan...but Mrs. Garrett just stares despondently into space and says that right now she's far too angry to launch one of her usual screeching fits. Tootie tells everyone to look on the bright side...the bright side being all the good luck the chain letters will soon bring. Mrs. Garrett stares at her with a look of utter incredulity and informs her that chain letters are stupid, not to mention illegal...and that she could have [and probably should have] gotten shut down for all the health violations Klaus cited. Jo chuckles and breezily declares that money won't be an issue once the chain letter money starts to roll in...and Mrs. Garrett continues to stare incredulously as she tells the gals that since they have no idea how hard they may have boned her livelihood as an independent shop owner, she's finally going to make a sensible business decision by cutting the four of them loose and replace them with one or more responsible adults. She wanders over to the residence part of the set to write up a help wanted ad.
The next day, the gals enter the store, all dressed up, and inform Mrs. Garrett that they're here to apply for the jobs from which they just got fired. Er, OK..? When Mrs. Garrett tries to shoo them away, Blair pulls out a this door is unlocked during business hours sign she just painted, and Natalie tells her that last night she lined all the pasta barrels with five layers of plastic. Blair lays it on thick about how Edna's Edibles is "the finest store in all the land" ... but then the gals get serious and admit that they deserved to be fired for messing up so badly. They beg to be forgiven and given another chance - not least 'cause if they remain fired, it'll screw with the show's winning formula of four girls living under the same roof with their former house-mother well into adulthood - and Mrs. Garrett says that since they sound so newly mature and responsible, she'll strongly consider their collective application.
A few seconds later, someone calls about the job ad...and Mrs. Garrett stares over at the Facts gals and tells whoever's on the other end that the position has already been filled.
Big mistake, Edna.
Recap: Natalie and Tootie are decorating the Edna's Edibles Christmas tree and nattering about how excited they are to head home for the holidays - just as Mrs. Garrett emerges from the kitchen with a giant batch of fruitcakes, shrieking, "Fa la la la la...la la la la!!" Natalie tells Mrs. Garrett she feels guilty that all the Facts gals are abandoning her at Christmas, but Mrs. Garrett assures them she'll be fine, and that she's looking forward to earning some extra cash when she sells off her many fruitcakes. She tells them she hired a young man to help her out...and by young man, she means Old Man Lesseroni, the caretaker of the town's cemetery who was last seen in the Halloween Show episode. Jo bounds into the store to excitedly tell everyone she bought a silk blouse at a huge discount for her long-suffering waitress mom, and then Blair saunters in wearing a gorgeous new coat and imperiously announces that she'll be spending the holidays skiing the slopes of Vail.
Jo gets a phone call from her mom...and after she hangs up she wanders around the store looking unmistakably bummed out. When everyone's all, "Wha-at's wrong?" she breaks the news that her mom decided that idle hands are the devil's workshop, so she's heading to Miami to spend her Christmas holiday slinging hash at her friend's restaurant. Tootie looks aghast and says it's going to suck "being stuck here with Mrs. Garrett" ... and when Mrs. Garrett shoots her an excuse me? glare, she makes a half-hearted effort to back pedal. Blair tells Jo she feels bad about her ruined holiday plans, but Jo breezily insists it's no big deal and that Christmas is just another day.
When Jo enters the communal bedroom with a basket of laundry, Tootie announces to the gals that she's selling $1.00 raffle tickets for charity. Natalie eagerly buys a ticket...and when Blair generously offers to buy $10 worth of tickets, Jo agrees to shell out a dollar. Tootie says that the winners will be announced later today, but Jo just shrugs and says, "No one ever wins those things" and shuffles out of the room. Once she's fully out of earshot, Blair and Tootie cackle to each other about what a brilliant acting job they just pulled off. When Natalie stares at them in puzzlement and asks what in blazes they're talking about, Blair tells her there's no raffle, and that it was just a ruse to trick Jo into thinking she won the bonus prize: a plane ticket to Miami. They're also relying on Jo not twigging onto what an unbelievable coincidence it is that she won a trip to Miami one day after telling everyone it's where her mom's going to be working over the holidays.
Mrs. Garrett shriekily complains about how badly the local Merchant's Association botched the advertisement for Edna's Edibles in their newsletter, and is worried that she's not going to be able to sell her fruitcakes. After she leaves to give the association the what-for, Tootie informs Jo that she's the winner of the faux raffle's secret bonus prize. Jo lights up and summons Mr. Lesseroni, 'cause for some reason she decided to give him her ticket. Mr. Lesseroni opens the envelop and looks super excited when he tells everyone he just won a free trip to Miami. Blair scrunches her face in a peeved-like expression and tells him he can't go 'cause the ticket wasn't supposed to be transferable...then decides the jig is up and admits that she bought the plane ticket so that Jo could spend the holidays with her mom. Jo gets irked and snaps, "Forget it. I don't need handouts" and Blair explains that she was merely trying to do something nice for the street-smart tomboy she's been secretly crushing on for years. Jo bitchily retorts, "Rich people do that for poor people" ... and when Tootie says they all felt bad that she didn't have anywhere to spend the holidays, Jo snaps at her to stay the hell out of her bidness.
Mrs. Garrett is miffed when no one seems interested in buying her fruitcakes...and Mr. Lesseroni returns to the store, dressed up as Santa, and says he also had zero luck peddling the cakes to passersby on the street. Tootie tiptoes over to Jo and tells her she doesn't want to leave for the holidays thinking she's mad at them, and Jo snappishly retorts that she hates handouts, and that Blair's answer to everything is to throw money at the problem. Natalie, meanwhile, expresses worry that her parents might not know how badly she wants a new stereo for Christmas, so Tootie advises that the best course of action would be to sit on the lap of the nearest Santa and make her Christmas wishes known to the universe. Natalie mulls that over and decides 'that sounds just crazy enough to work!', and calls over Mr. Lesseroni. Natalie perches herself on his knee, slips into a little girl's voice, and tells him she really really wants a stereo for Christmas...and the scene actually comes off looking far less creepy than it might easily have. A few seconds later, Mrs. Garrett bursts into the room to screechingly inform Natalie that a package from her parents just arrived.
Natalie runs over to the residence part of the Facts set, tears open the package, and is disappointed to find a new coat...but inside the pocket is a note telling her that her new stereo is waiting for her at home. Hurray! - and way to spoil the Christmas morning surprise, Mama Green. Jo ambles into the room to watch the Facts gals gather their stuff and head out to the train station. They each hug Jo goodbye and wish her a Merry Christmas...and Jo stares after them sadly.
By Christmas Eve, Mr. Lesseroni has resorted to selling off the fruitcakes by telling customers that the ingredients include whiskey. Heh. At closing time, he offers to buy up all the rest so he can give them as gifts to all the lonely men in the nursing home, and Mrs. Garrett gushes, "That sounds like a wonderful idea." He thanks her for hiring him to help out at the store, wishes her and Jo a Merry Christmas, then heads out to go sledding. Mrs. Garrett grins at Jo and asks her if what she thinks of having a hamburger for Christmas Eve dinner, and Jo perks up and says she definitely likes the sound of that.
Jo goes into the living room and puts on some Christmas music...then wanders around and stares wistfully into space. Blair slips in through the front door, quietly says hi, and tells Jo she decided that of all the places to which she could afford to travel for the holidays, she decided there was nowhere she'd rather be than in Peekskill, cuddling next to her in front of the fire...and indulging the non-hetero romantic stirrings she hasn't been able to squelch since the premiere of Season 2. Jo grins and says, "Good choice" and tells Mrs. Garrett she's going to need to put on another burger. Mrs. Garrett exclaims, "Blair!" and looks delighted to be spending Christmas with not one, but two Facts gals, and the three collapse into a happy group hug.
Recap: Jo’s parents are hanging with Jo at Edna's Edibles...and Mrs. Garrett gushes to them about what a super awesome store employee Jo is. Jo reminds her parents that they have to leave soon for the dirt bike race she's competing in this afternoon, and Mama Polniazcek wrings her hands about how nervous she always gets whenever Jo enters these races.
Natalie comes downstairs to complain about being set up on another blind date tomorrow night, courtesy of her meddling mother. This prompts Papa Polniazcek to reminisce about how he and Mama Polniazcek met on a blind date...though not really, 'cause apparently they checked each other out at a bowling alley prior to the date and decided why not give it a shot since neither was likely to get themselves hooked up with a higher quality person. Jo looks intrigued, then grins happily at how well her parents have been getting along this episode. Mrs. Garrett suggests to Natalie that she make the blind date a double date to take the pressure off, but Natalie says she's reluctant to subject anyone to a miserable evening with this boy, known only as "Florence's son" ... then swiftly changes her mind when Tootie enters the room to announce how excited she is about getting together with her boyfriend tomorrow night. With that superfluous subplot resolved, Mrs. Garrett offers to give the Polniazceks a quick tour of her kitchen, and this gives Jo a chance to giddily express her girlish glee that her parents are finally not snapping at each other...and takes a giant leap in interpreting this to mean that they're going to get back together and live happily ever after.
Jo returns home with her parents with an injured arm after taking a spill during the dirt bike race. Everyone's all, "OMG! What happened?!" so she says she fell during the last leg of the race and sprained her arm. Mama Polniazcek says she's changing her plans and spending the weekend in Peekskill so she can be available to nurse Jo back to health, and Papa Polniazcek likes the sound of that idea and suggests they get a couple of rooms at the local motel so they can unwittingly lead Jo on into thinking they're seriously contemplating the idea of taking a second crack at their shitty marriage. When the two head out to get settled into the motel, Jo rips off the sling on her arm and screeches, "Yippee! I feel great!" and tells the bewildered Facts gals that while she was racing, she noticed her parents were looking cozier than usual...so she decided to fake an accident so that the trauma of caring for their injured, fully grown adult child would bring them even closer together. She happily adds that she's just going to limp around this weekend and let nature takes its course.
The Polniazceks are back at Edna's Edibles, enjoying the pizza that Mama Polniazcek made for everyone. After dinner, Mama Polniazcek announces that she's heading back to the Bronx, then tells Jo her father's going to hang around longer 'cause he has something important he wants to talk to her about. Jo grins stupidly in anticipation.
The room quickly clears out so that Jo and Papa Polniazcek can talk privately. He stammers about how much he's changed for the better since being in the clink - and when Jo barks at him to spit out the fantastic news, he excitedly tells her he's pretty sure he's getting married again. Jo beams and goes, "Really..?" and assumes he's talking about a marriage re-do with Mama Polniazcek...until he starts talking about his new lady friend Carol, who has a son and daughter in desperate need of a father figure. Jo's smile evaporates, and she's all, "The fuck?" and snarkishly asks him how he could do this to her and Mama Polniazcek. She shriekily accuses him of walking out on them again, yells, "You haven't changed at all!", and storms up to her room. [Warning: this is the first in a long series of storming around that Jo does throughout the rest of the episode.]
Jo drops by her ma's apartment 'cause she figured the old gal would need comforting after hearing that her ex-con dipshit of an ex-husband is getting remarried. Mama Polniazcek complains she barely got any sleep last night, 'cause every time Jo hung up on Papa Polniazcek, he'd call her to commiserate. She implores Jo to talk to him, but Jo stubbornly refuses and snarks that she has nothing to say. She asks her ma if she's not devastated by this shocking news, and she's just kind of like, "Meh" ... but admits that she wishes that she had been the first of them to re-hook up with someone new.
Papa Polniazcek arrives at the Bronx apartment, explains that Natalie blabbed about where he could find her, and says he's so distraught about Jo's reaction to his relationship with Carol that he's thinking about calling off the wedding. Jo perks up and says she likes the sound of that - but Mama Polniazcek chides her for being an obnoxious bully and tells her to grow the fuck up and accept that her father is moving on with his new gal. [OK, that last part was more my reaction to Jo's caustic cuntiness.] Jo sarcastically yells back that, next thing ya know, she's going to be asked to give him away at the wedding. She shrieks, "This is wrong!" and storms out of the apartment. Fuck she's exhausting.
Jo storms all the way back to Peekskill...and when she arrives home, Mrs. Garrett puts her most comforting face on and says she heard about what happened. Jo bitches about the lack of privacy in this household and storms up to her bedroom, finds Blair studying, and snippily bitches about how it would be nice to get the room to herself once in awhile. Blair refrains from telling her prickly roommate to go pee up a rope with her annoying temper tantrummy bullshit and instead amiably gathers up her books and offers to study elsewhere. She asks Jo if she wants to talk about whatever has sparked such an extreme bout of bitchitude this episode, and Jo snaps, "It's none of your business!" - but then proceeds to rail about how her mom is just standing by and allowing her dad to get remarried. Mrs. Garrett interrupts to tell Jo that her dad has just arrived and wants to talk to her, so Jo starts railing about how he's been gabbling on about marrying a strange woman and becoming stepfather to a couple of strange kids who need a father...then tears up and says, "Maybe they do - but why does it have to be miiiiinnnnnne?!" Blair steps in and says that since this is her area of expertise, she assures Jo that it's normal to be jealous of step-siblings and worry that there will be less love from the parent to go around. Jo bristles at the idea of her out-of-whack emotions being considered normal - just as the looming, slouchy form of Papa Polniazcek appears in the doorway.
Jo snaps at her father to get out - but Blair argues that it's her room too and he's welcome to stay...but then beats a hasty retreat with Mrs. Garrett. Papa Polniazcek admonishes Jo for acting like such a childish dickwad in lieu of discussing the matter like an adult. Jo snarkishly retorts that it looked like he and Mama Polniazcek were acting all close and cozy this weekend, and Papa Polniazcek concurs and says they've become friends...and that it's no small thing 'cause it took a long time for both of them to get there. When Jo urges him to give their friendship a chance to re-blossom into what would no doubt become an ill-fated remarriage, Papa Polniazcek tells her that the reasons they got divorced haven't changed. Jo tears up and says that when the three of them were hanging out this weekend it felt like they were a family again...and Papa Polniazcek firmly says that while he loves the two of them, they'll never be a family again. Jo weeps as she and her pops position themselves in the 'TV tropey' way that no one in real life ever does: she faces the camera with her face scrunched in distress, while a concerned Papa Polniazcek stands uselessly behind her.
Recap: Jo is going over the books for Edna's Edibles and remarks on how sucky business has been lately. Mrs. Garrett chalks up the lagging sales to a temporary lull, but Jo tells her that if she wants to stay in business, they're going to have to take more of a "no frills" approach to their expenses. The two head over to the residence part of the building, where Natalie is pecking away on a computer. Jo snarls that the computer, which costs $160 per month to rent, is going to have to go...and I would strongly concur, 'cause assuming they don't have some kind of "rent to own" arrangement, that is a colossally stupid waste of cash. Natalie looks aghast at the idea of getting rid of the computer she affectionately nicknamed Dirk, and Mrs. Garrett informs Jo that the store's entire bookkeeping system and recipe collection is now stored in the machine. Jo backs off of her no frills mandate, but warns that "Dirk dies" if business doesn't pick up by next week.
Kelly (the faux street tough from the previous episode) pops by with a stack of newspapers and tells Jo she got herself a paper route. She asks Jo if she's proud of her, but instead of throwing Miss Needy a bone, Jo rolls her eyes and dickishly snaps, "Beat it." Kelly retorts that she heard Edna's Edibles is "dead" ever since Pete's Deli (down the block) got into the gourmet edibles business. Apparently, Pete's general MO in maintaining a monopoly in the neighborhood is to target new Peekskill businesses by copying their products and underselling them. Sounds like a cunty douchebag, this Pete. Mrs. Garrett urges everyone to dial down the panic and reminds them that they still have a wedding to cater this weekend. Jo snarlingly says she'd like to march over to Pete's Deli and utter her usual empty-type threats, but Mrs. Garrett reminds her that threats of violence are not the answer - not least 'cause it's stupid and illegal to do that - and admits that she was probably getting complacent by relying too much on her personal charm. Er, OK..? She decides that what Edna's Edibles needs is a "dynamic new taste thrill" in the form of her famous Wisconsin cheese puffs! After she rushes off to the kitchen to find a block of cheddar to start grating, Jo tells Tootie and Blair they're going to have to figure out what Pete's next move is so they can stop him. Tootie squeals, "Garbology!" and explains that it's the practice of sifting through one's garbage in order to learn everything they can about the person. Blair makes an ew face and says she has a more sanitary idea, then grins seductively and coos, "Pete is a man, isn't he?" and brags that she merely has to bat her eyes and fluff her hair in order to reduce him to silly putty.
Blair enters Pete's Deli, and we get our first look at Pete: a portly middle-aged man decked out in unsightly overalls with a plaid flannel shirt underneath, and who's acting ickily schmoozy with the female customers. When one of the customers recognizes Blair from Edna's Edibles, Pete waltzes over and lays on the schmaltz. Blair informs him that they're competing in the same gourmet foods market, so he sharply retorts that ever since Edna started peddling bratwurst, she crossed the line into "deli country". Blair offers to stop the sale of bratwurst if he agrees to stop selling croissants - but Pete nixes that idea since they're now also competing as caterers. Blair suggests divvying up the catering jobs, then stupidly gives him the details of the wedding Edna's Edibles is catering this weekend. Pete stares contemplatively into space, says, "We have a deal" ... and after Blair exits the deli, he immediately gets on the phone with the father of the bride and asks whassup with him hiring Edna's Edibles to cook the wedding feast. He orders him to dump Edna asap and hire Pete's Deli, then lays a guilt trip on him about the time he once pulled him out of a burning truck.
Mrs. Garrett is miffed and bewildered when her catering job abruptly gets cancelled. Jo snappishly wonders aloud how in blazes Pete found out about the gig...and a sheepish Blair admits that the details somehow slipped past her loose lips while she was at the deli earlier. Mrs. Garrett vows to fight back in the only way she knows how: by working on her batch of tasty cheese puffs. Blair, meanwhile, says she's going to go back to Pete's Deli, incognito, so she can spy on the yokel's every move. Sounds like a less than productive use of her time, but OK.
A stenchy Tootie announces that she's been sifting through Pete's garbage...but a few seconds later, an excited Natalie bursts into the room and says she has something to show them on the computer. When they rush over to where Dirk is set up, Natalie says she managed to hack into Pete's computer so she could view his data...which kinda stretches the boundaries of credulity even for this show, since I'm pretty sure the relic she's using is an un-networked computer not equipped with a modem, it being 1983 and all. Tootie chides her for invading Pete's privacy, and Natalie wryly counters that she just snooped through the guy's garbage. She then gabbles about how Pete's computer data includes his orders and recipes, and that she's able to change his records quite easily. Jo perks up and asks her if they can do stuff like screw up his orders and alter the recipes, and Natalie grins conspiratorially and replies, "Piece of cake." A disapproving Tootie reminds them that computer tampering over a non-existent network is against the law - but Jo ignores her, seats herself in front of the computer, and asks Natalie which keys she has to tap in order to best screw with Pete's data.
Natalie gets wigged out when Jo completely messes up Pete's financial records - just as Ms. Garrett shriekingly enters the room with the plate of cheese puffs she just whipped up. She asks them what they're doing on the computer, and they do their best to not look guilty and breezily tell her they're just playing a computer game. After Mrs. Garrett returns to the kitchen, Natalie is horrified when she realizes that Jo has inadvertently erased all of Joe's data. Yeesh. I hope for his sake it's all backed up on a floppy somewhere.
Business at Edna's Edibles has picked up, and one of the guests who attended the wedding Pete's Deli catered tells Mrs. Garrett that the food was terrible. Larry Wilmore makes his second appearance on Facts of Life as Officer Ziaukus to deliver a summons to Mrs. Garrett for computer tampering. Mrs. Garrett scrunches her face confusedly and is all, "Wha-a-a?" ... and once Larry Wilmore exits the shop and is safely out of earshot, Natalie sheepishly explains that they accidentally tampered with Pete's data and somehow wiped everything out. Mrs. Garrett stares at them, aghast, and shrieks, "What you did was a crime!!" and says she's off to Pete's Deli to beg Pete to drop the charges.
Mrs. Garrett arrives at Pete's Deli (along with Jo) and introduces herself to Pete. He snarks about how they'll soon be meeting in the police station, points across the room at Blair - who's donning a black wig and a Morticia outfit in a less-than-covert spy mission - and starts to irritably shoo them out of his store. As he's doing that, Natalie and Tootie burst into the deli with the news that Tootie discovered something incriminating in Pete's garbage: copies of all of Mrs. Garrett's recipes. Apparently, this is solid proof that Pete has been using his computer to break into their computer for weeks...'cause, yep, it's totally plausible that a yokelly hillbilly who doesn't look as though he could find a computer's on switch is actually a pre-Internet era hacking genius. Pete hangs his head shamefully and tells Mrs. Garrett he'd like to avoid being counter-sued for computer tampering and hopes they can settle the matter amicably.
Mrs. Garrett mocks Pete's phony southern accent, tells him she doesn't give a rat's ass if he wants to unveil his new line of Tennessee cheese puffs in direct competition to her new line of Wisconsin cheese puffs, and smugly says the customers will always be drawn to the best quality food. Pete argues that she's going to end up the loser in this tedious 'gourmet edibles war'...and the episode ends with the two of them bickering like an old married couple. Weird.
Recap: A young Larry Wilmore makes his television acting debut playing a Facts of Life cop who takes a statement from Mrs. Garrett regarding a graffiti complaint. As he writes up the complaint, he urges Mrs. Garrett to keep her doors locked during non-open hours, then leaves to further study the graffiti that some unknown hoodlum spray painted on the store's exterior. Mrs. Garrett wrings her hands worriedly about who she could possibly have offended [no doubt her obnoxious screechiness had a lot to do with it], and then Tootie wrings her hands about the five of them being defenseless women. Blair suggests hiring an armed guard, while Jo boasts about the street cred she earned from her Bronx upbringing and calls graffiti "small potatoes". Mrs. Garrett disagrees and solemnly says that graffiti scares her to death.
A mullet-haired young girl (whose name we soon learn is Kelly) enters the store, and Jo recognizes her as the shoplifter from the Just My Bill episode and bitchily warns her not to try to steal anything. Mrs. Garrett tut tuts Jo for her crankiness and explains to Kelly that they're a bit on edge 'cause of the scary graffiti situation - but Blair interjects and concurs with Jo's bitchitude and tells Mrs. Garrett that Kelly is a shoplifter who once tried to smuggle out a smoked ham under her coat. Kelly swiftly deflects any talk of her shoplifting by gushing over the shiny lustrousness of Blair's blonde hair, a compliment that receives a giddy response from Blair. LOL. Kelly tells Mrs. Garrett she's pretty sure that the Lords of Discipline [a made up street gang loosely based on what I can only assume is The Lords of Flatbush movie that starred the Fonz] were the ones who left their "calling card" on the wall of her building. She calls them the roughest gang in town and gravely adds, "They rule." She offers to have a word with the gang about their vandalism, and Tootie looks impressed at how "connected" Kelly is and asks her if the dudes in this gang are anything like the street toughs in Michael Jackson's Beat It video. (My guess is yes.) Mrs. Garrett declines Kelly's help and says she'd prefer to leave the matter in the hands of the police - but Kelly insists on getting involved and promises to do her best to smooth things over with the Lords.
Kelly returns to the store the next day to report that she spoke with the Lords of Discipline about leaving Edna's Edibles alone. Apparently, they did not take kindly to the request and reacted by chasing her down the street while shouting threats, and Natalie and Tootie buy her implausible nonsense and are all, "Oooh nooo!!" Kelly digresses and asks them how they all know each other, and Tootie proudly tells her they all met at Eastland...and can't bear the thought of not living under the same roof as their former housemother - even in future seasons: when they're all well into their twenties. Kelly looks impressed at the mention of Eastland, then puts her sad face on and says that her mom can't afford to send her to a fancy school like that 'cause she's been out of work, leaving her and her many siblings to live far below the poverty line. Tootie clucks her sympathy and invites her to the movies with her and Natalie - their treat - and Kelly perks up at the prospect of a fun night out with the girls and eagerly accepts.
Jo enters the store carrying a crumpled garbage can lid, and Blair explains that the Lords of Discipline were the likely culprits. Jo scrunches her face skeptically and says if there were a gang in Peekskill, her "street smarts would be tingling" ... but promises to look into the existence of this pretend gang once she's finished making her deliveries. On her way out, she encounters Kelly entering the store and snidely calls her a smurf...and for whatever reason, Kelly takes great offence to being referred to as an adorable blue cartoon character and directs her disproportionate level of anger towards Blair. She brusquely tells her they have to talk business, identifies herself as one of the gang's "old ladies" (a notable shift from her earlier nonsense), and warns Blair that Edna Edibles' graffiti problems are going to get a whole lot worse unless they start paying her protection money. Blair haughtily calls that extortion...and Kelly turns all menacing and threatens to break every window in the place. When Blair counter-threatens to call the police, Kelly picks up a large jar sitting on the counter and smashes it onto the floor and orders Blair to hand over whatever cash is in the register...and a shaken looking Blair obeys. Kelly warns her that next time she's asked to hand over protection money, she wants her "service with a smile", then smugly exits the store.
Jo returns home a few hours later and boasts about how her "street smarts are humming". She says she got the low-down on the Lords of Discipline...the low-down being that the gang doesn't actually exist. The Facts gals are all, "Wha-a-a-a?" 'cause of how gullible they were to believe Kelly's wild tales, particularly the one about her life of extreme poverty. Blair looks stricken and sheepishly confesses that she handed over $50 from the register to Kelly after she broke a jar and threatened to trash the place. Mrs. Garrett angrily declares that she's reporting the extorting little creep to the police first thing in the morning - but Jo's like, "Easy there, Edna" and says she'll take care of the situation by tracking Kelly down and getting the money back. She starts her search with the local phone book.
Jo is able to easily track Kelly to her parents' fancy apartment...and when Kelly answers the door and is all, "Wha-at are you doing here?!", Jo glances around at the tacky '80s furniture and expensive stereo system, says it's obvious she's not a member of any gang, and that she's going to have to pay back the $50 she intimidated Blair into handing over. When Kelly chuckles at how easy it was to extort money out of Blair, Jo snarls at her to wipe that smirk off her face and rails at her for hassling her friends. Kelly rails back that she only stole the $50 'cause she was so deeply angry about Jo calling her a smurf...and Jo says that in the future, she needs to air such grievances with her directly. Kelly's like, "Whatever" and says she no longer has the cash, so Jo threatens to hang around her fancy digs until she can scrape it together. Kelly's all, "Noooo! My parents are due home any minute!" - but Jo just glares at her with her hand outstretched. Kelly decides the jig is up, so she pulls the money out of her pants pocket and hands it to Jo...and Jo snappishly orders her to stay far away from Edna's Edibles. As she storms out of the apartment, Kelly stares sadly after her.
Mrs. Garrett and the gals are shocked when Jo tells them about the luxury pad Kelly lives in with her parents. A few seconds later, Kelly enters the store...and everyone shoots her the stink-eye and admonishes her for making fools out of them, however effortless it was for a tiny teenager such as herself to pull off. Jo growls that she's no longer welcome at Edna's Edibles...and when Kelly scrunches her face confusedly and goes, "Why not?", Mrs. Garrett gives her a WTF? stare and reminds her that she stole from them, spray painted graffiti on their building, blamed the vandalism on a made up gang, then bullied Blair into handing over $50. Kelly just kind of shrugs and says she likes hanging out at the store 'cause her parents are the workaholic, neglectful types who are always leaving her alone in the apartment. When Mrs. Garrett snaps that her store isn't a home for wayward girls, Kelly promises to abstain from spray painting graffiti, telling whoppers of lies...and that she'll give people a chance to realize that underneath the layers of her wise ass street talk is a misunderstood Jo-like girl with a heart of gold.
Kelly shyly tells Jo she first became aware of her when she saw her working at a motorcycle shop last year, and was impressed by how efficient she was with her tools and how tough she acted with her male counterparts. She gushingly says she really looks up to her and would like her to function as a mannish role model...and Jo gruffly pretends to mull that over before mumbling, "I guess so."
Recap: Tootie and Natalie plead really hard with Jo to tell them where she and Blair are taking Mrs. Garrett for her birthday. Jo snarls in her usual snarly way as she cryptically replies, "It's a place" ... then adds that their plans are a surprise, and if she tells them she's worried that they'll blab it all over town - 'cause, yep, I'm sure Peekskillers have nothing better going on in their lives than to wonder where a screechy middle-aged redheaded woman is going to be celebrating her birthday. When Tootie and Natalie continue to beg, "Pleeeeeeease tell us!", Jo throws in the towel on keeping her evening plans the world's most boring secret and reveals that she and Blair are taking Mrs. Garrett to Wedgewoods, a male strip joint. Tootie widens her eyes and opens her mouth in shock...and Jo quickly muzzles her with her hand before she can blurt anything aloud. Tootie then scrunches her face in judgey disapproval and pronounces it tacky to treat men like sex objects, while Natalie takes on a far more cavalier attitude and says she has no problem with objectifying men since it's something they've been doing to women since forever.
When Mrs. Garrett enters the room, Natalie and Tootie give her a homemade birthday present from both of them: an apron with the caption Quiche me, you fool. Hee...that was surprisingly witty. After that, Blair and her blonde haired boyfriend Cliff arrive and sing Happy Birthday to Mrs. Garrett. Cliff then gives her a birthday card and a single rose while laying it on thick about grateful he is to her for making him so many free lunches lately...on account of he's a med student who's too broke to afford decent food. He asks the gals where Blair and Jo are taking Mrs. Garrett for her birthday, and Tootie and Natalie dissolve into giggles and tauntingly retort, "We know!" - very mature, idiots - and Blair shoots Jo the stink-eye for blabbing their secret plans. Cliff says goodnight to Blair...and Blair asks everyone to turn around so she can have privacy while giving her boyfriend a chaste peck on the cheek. Cliff coos, "Bye, Monkey" ... and once he's out of earshot, the Facts gals tease Blair about Cliff's charming nickname for her, as well as her flushed cheeks whenever she's in his presence.
After Mrs. Garrett heads upstairs to primp for her mystery night out, [a subconsciously jealous] Jo bitchily asks Blair, "What's the catch?" and points out that Cliff is funny, smart, nice...in other words, not her type at all. Plus, he's not from a rich family and doesn't even own a car. Blair concurs and tells them that Cliff rides the bus, then gushes, "Isn't that cute?" She says that regardless of his current lack of wealth (which is likely temporary, considering he's in med school and will no doubt be a rich doctor one day) she's totes in loooove. Tootie suggests to Blair that she throw a little money Cliff's way - but Blair says she's offered and he won't take it, which, duh...that must have been a stupidly awkward conversation. Jo scrunches her face in puzzlement and says there has to be something wrong with the guy.
Jo, Blair, and Mrs. Garrett arrive at Wedgewoods, where barechested hunks wearing suspenders are ambling about, seating horny ladies and taking drink orders. Mrs. Garrett looks around in wonderment at all the hunky testosterone in the room...and blushingly giggles when the buff waiter pretends he needs to see her ID (no doubt 'cause he largely works off of tips). He flirtily recommends a special drink, then returns to the table to present her with a small birthday cake.
Show time! The MC, who's decked himself out in a tuxedo, appears on stage to cheesily introduce the first exotic dancer: Fireman Freddie. The hunky "fireman" then bursts onto the stage and starts sexily gyrating in a yellow raincoat and helmet as the women hoot and holler. Next up is a pantsless cowboy...and Blair hands Mrs. Garrett a stack of dollar bills so she can enjoy slipping them inside the cowboy's g-string. He thanks her by giving her a big smooch (!) ... and Mrs. Garrett, who seems fairly hammered by this point, shriekily screeches, "Hi ho, Silver!" OMFG.
The MC goes backstage to tell the next performer, a blonde haired man who's sitting with his back to the studio audience, that things are getting wild out there. A few seconds later the man stands up to warm up for his routine...and we see that it's - gasp! - Cliff who, incidentally, looks much more impressive with his bare pecs on display than not.
After the commercial break, Mrs. Garrett continues to have a shriekingly good time. The MC introduces the next dancer - Dr. Love - and Cliff bounds onto the stage with his face partially obscured by a surgical mask. When he starts gyrating sexily and rips off his mask, Blair's face falls and she stares at him with an incredulous, WTF?! expression. Cliff sheepishly stares back at her as she runs out of the bar in disgust...then puts an abrupt end to his sexy dance and flees the stage.
Back at Edna's Edibles, Jo tells Blair that learning that your boyfriend is an exotic male dancer isn't the end of the world, then offers to cheer her up with a snack. Blair moans miserably with her head in her hands...and a drunk Mrs. Garrett staggers in and makes a half-hearted effort to spout comforting platitudes at Blair.
Tootie and Natalie barrel down the stairs, eager to hear how their night at the strip joint went. Mrs. Garrett solemnly tells them they'll talk about it in the morning - but when the two stare confusedly at Blair and ask whassup with her visible distress, she springs up from the couch and blurts out, "Cliff was one of the strippers." Bwahahaha!! As Tootie and Natalie gasp in shock, a sheepish Cliff drops by to explain himself. Blair snidely asks Dr. Love if he's making a house call...and as he stares shamefully at the floor, Mrs. Garrett clears the room so that Blair can berate Cliff in private.
Cliff explains that he took the job at Wedgwoods to help pay for med school - but Blair rails about how angry she is that he didn't tell her, and nonsensically wonders aloud what would have happened if her mother's friends had been partying in Wedgewoods and recognized him?? Cliff apologizes for keeping his exotic dancing secret from her, but she derisively calls him "a hunk of meat" and asks him if he feels dirty when horny women are pawing at him. The way Mrs. Garrett was hornily cackling while stuffing dollar bills into the cowboy's g-string, for example. Cliff explains that he can earn at the club in one night what it would take over a week to earn waiting tables...and since he's a med student, he needs all the study time he can get. Blair continues to look unmoved and bitchily challenges him to go home with rich horny women 'cause he'd prolly make a lot more money gigoloing. She then walks over to the door and glares at him...and he implores her to accept his apology, but she snarls that an apology isn't good enough and that there's nothing more he can say to fix the traumatizing spectacle of seeing him shake his naughties at women for cash. Cliff wails, "I though I meant more to you!" then says he would never throw her away if she made a mistake...but when she just stares back at him stonily, he slinks out looking very sad.
Three days later, Blair is still moping about the Cliff-stripping situation. Jo, who's being surprisingly judgey about Cliff's temporary employment choice, rails on and on about how Cliff fooled all of them - until finally Mrs. Garrett barks at her to give it a rest...and to start acting more in character after years of passing herself off as a world-weary Bronxite (Bronxian?) who's supposedly seen it all and wouldn't likely get this wigged out about a med student stripping on the side to get by. She then sternly reminds Jo that the three of them were no better behaved than the other horny women at Wedgewoods: ogling and screeching at hunky young men to take their clothes off. Blair admits that she's been softening on the issue and is confused about whether or not she wants to throw away her chance to get in on the ground floor of hooking up with a future rich doctor. Jo snaps, "You either hate him or you don't" and declares that they hate him. It's unclear to me why Jo feels that any of this is any of her business...and Mrs. Garrett must concur 'cause she tells Jo to put a sock in it and reminds her that it's Blair's relationship, and that she's going to have to decide what she can live with. Jo snarks, "I couldn't live with it" and Mrs. Garrett and Blair refrain from snapping, "No one's asking you to, you sour-tempered prick!!!" Sorry. That was me, yelling at the TV.
A few minutes later, Cliff drops by and tells Blair he's been thinking about their relationship and asks her if she's ready to talk without acting so sanctimoniously judgey. She contritely says she is...and when he holds out his hands, she puts hers inside them and gazes up at him adoringly.
And that's where this quasi very special episode abruptly ends.
Recap: Natalie and Mr. Parker arrive at Edna's Edibles...and Natalie is bursting with excitement as she urges Mr. Parker to reveal the happy news. Mr. Parker tells Mrs. Garrett and the rest of the Facts gals that he set up a liaison with Langley College to proceed with an advanced placement program - and when Natalie can no longer restrain herself from interjecting, she blurts out, "I get to take a course at Langley!" She proudly adds that she was chosen 'cause of her exceptional academic record...and everyone gushes over the accomplishment. After that, Mr. Parker asks Mrs. Garrett to cater his wife's birthday party [why in blazes does this grown woman need a catered party every damn year??], and she offers to give him a tour of her new digs.
Natalie and the other Facts gals pore over Langley's course catalogue...and when Natalie asks for advice on what she should wear while on campus, Jo rolls her eyes and barks, "Clothes."
While hanging in the Langley student lounge, a vapid looking guy asks Natalie how she did on her Chekhov paper, and she proudly tells him she got an A. Boots St. Clair saunters into the lounge and taunts Blair for not living in a sorority house, then remarks on Natalie's double life as an Eastland student and pseudo college freshman. She says her story would make a great article for the college's newspaper, and a beaming Natalie says she likes the sound of that and offers to write the article. She mentions that she also has to write up the senior spoofs for the Eastland newspaper, then dishes to everyone all the embarrassing stuff she's written about Blair and Jo...like the time Blair got sprayed by a skunk (that must have happened off camera) and Jo thinking she was nun material, before she blew it by punching Blair in the face. LOL. Everyone in the student lounge starts laughing hysterically...except Jo and Blair, who are shooting Natalie extra squinty stink-eyes.
Natalie is too distracted to be of much help to anyone at Edna's Edibles...and after rudely ignoring several customers, she explains that she's too busy working on an assignment for Boots to function as a store employee. Tootie bitches at her for not completing the senior spoofs yet, and Natalie rolls her eyes and condescendingly calls it fluff. When Mrs. Garrett comes over to ask whassup with all the sniping, Tootie tattles on Natalie for not doing her fair share of the work. Blair and Jo arrive at that moment and complain about all the gossiping Natalie has been doing while holding court in the Langley student lounge...and a few minutes later, Boots makes an appearance, greets Natalie with phony air kisses, and announces to everyone that she's enlisted Natalie to help her move into a more spacious room in the sorority house. When Natalie rushes out of the room and reemerges with Boot's dry cleaning, Blair teases her for being Boot's lapdog...and Natalie snaps back that she's just jealous. Mrs. Garrett barks at her to drop the arrogant 'tude she developed just 'cause she was allowed to take one college course, and Natalie smugly retorts, "For now" and reminds everyone that she was specifically chosen for the advanced placement program because of her exceptional academic record and all-around awesomeness. She then reveals that she dropped in on the Langley admissions office and was told that if she takes a bunch of summer courses at Eastland and keeps her grades up, she can skip her senior year altogether and enter Langley in the fall.
A frustrated Tootie has taken it upon herself to attempt a rewrite of Natalie's sub par senior spoofs, then complains to Mrs. Garrett, Blair, and Jo that she hasn't seen much of her supposed best friend these days. Jo and Blair wryly tell her it's prolly 'cause she's always hanging out on the Langley campus, gossiping about embarrassing stuff they've said and done in previous episodes. Mrs. Garrett shakes her head in dismay, then thanks them for covering Natalie's shifts at the store and hands out their pay checks. A few seconds later, Natalie arrives, decked out in her new Langley sweatshirt, and breezily apologizes for being late on account of she was having coffee with her new college pals. Tootie tells her they need to discuss the senior spoofs and how hard the spoof committee thought they sucked. Natalie snootily says they're clearly not sophisticated enough to get the jokes, then haughtily adds that she no longer has time for "kids' stuff". Boots drops by to show Natalie her article in the college paper, and Natalie is miffed when she realizes that the editor opted to not publish most of what she wrote about herself. She whines to Boots about the injustice of being inadequately lionized in The Daily Langlian - but Boots just shrugs disinterestedly, then bids everyone adieu in her usual over-the-top fashion.
Natalie is taken aback when she sees that her pay check is only $18, and a judgey looking Mrs. Garrett points out that she barely worked a shift during this pay period. Natalie says she's been busy, then asks for an advance on her salary 'cause she overspent at the Langley book store.
Mr. Parker drops by to inform Mrs. Garrett that Natalie has been cutting class...and that her grades at Eastland have gotten so shitty that Langley has rescinded its offer of early admission. Seems fickle and premature, but OK. He lectures a sheepish looking Natalie on how she needs to pay more attention on her Eastland classwork, then forbids her to ditch anymore classes. He begs Mrs. Garrett to pleeeeeeease consider returning to Eastland, but she declines and says she much prefers the Edna's Edibles set to the Eastland cafeteria.
Natalie tells Mrs. Garrett she has an idea of how she might weasel her way out of her academic dilemma...her idea being that Mrs. Garrett should write to Langley College and tell them how hard she's been working at the store amid various personal problems. Mrs. Garrett refuses to lie for her and lays down a little tough love when she tells her she's going to have to earn her spot at Langley through her own hard work. She also points out what an insufferable jerkwad she's been to the other Facts gals all episode...and Natalie glumly concurs and promises to apologize. She runs into Tootie a few seconds later and tells her she now realizes how important her friends are, then confesses that she just got booted out of the advanced placement program. Tootie laughs at the self-inflicted misfortune, then runs over to the store to gleefully blab about it to Jo and Blair...and Mrs. Garrett sits on the couch and chuckles at Natalie's comeuppance.
It is unfathomable that this show continued on for four more seasons.
Recap: Natalie is working on a school project that entails filming a frazzled looking Mrs. Garrett as she shriekily flaps around Edna's Edibles, preparing multiple sausage orders...and in the midst of her flapping, she wails about how the local butchers have gone on strike in the middle of bratwurst season! Badoom bah. Roy drops by to deliver an order of buns, then flirts with Jo, who brusquely tells him to take a hike. Oops...I guess his budding romance with Alexandra (the Italian princess) in the Season 4 finale didn't pan out. A wrinkly old man named Mr. Bigley, wearing a plaid yellow jacket, enters the store, then glances around and remarks on how much the building has changed. He gets a faux faraway look on his face and says it used to be solely a residence...as well as the site of the Halloween Massacre of 1905. As the gals stare at him in horrified fascination, he tells a ghoulish story about a triple homicide that occurred when four spinster sisters got into a fierce argument and one of them - "Grisly Gertie" - became so consumed with rage that she went completely off the bend and murdered her siblings with a big butcher knife. Tootie is so wigged out by the story that she drops candy all over the floor...and after she's had a few seconds to recombobulate, Mr. Bigley continues on with his bone-chilling (not really) storytelling. Following the murders, all kinds of unexplained things started happening: certain areas of the house, such as the room Mrs. Garrett sleeps in, would get very cold. He chillingly adds that a number of women who resided in the house post-massacre turned squirrelly before slowly losing their minds. Cue the frazzled Mrs. Garrett, who bursts into the room carrying a large batch of bratwursts. The Facts gals quickly fill her in on the Halloween Massacre of 1905 - but it doesn't seem to get much of a reaction out of her...and Mr. Bigley looks intrigued by the volume of bratwursts she's holding and places an order. He then makes it a point to mention to the Facts cast that he's staying at the motel down the street.
So noted, Mr. Bigley.
At dawn the next morning, a spacey looking Mrs. Garrett stumbles into the Facts gals' bedroom clutching a large butcher knife. When Tootie sees her, she shrieks and wakes everyone up...and when the lights come on, Mrs. Garrett scrunches her face confusedly and says she has no idea why she's standing in the middle of their bedroom with a large butcher knife. She shakes her head as if to brush off the disturbing occurrence and says that since the local butchers are on strike, she's going to have to desperately scrounge around for sausage meat. After she stumbles out of the room, Natalie scrunches her face into a troubled expression and tells the Facts gals that she had been startled awake the other night by Mrs. Garrett, who was looming over her with a knife. Jo, Tootie, and Blair stare at each other worriedly...and when Tootie suddenly spots a slipper that belongs to Mrs. Garrett, she decides it's irrefutable proof that Natalie didn't dream the frightening incident.
Later that day, Tootie, Jo, and Blair are busily working in the store while Mrs. Garrett sharpens her knives with a cartoonishly demonic expression on her face...then rushes back to the kitchen. A frightened Tootie tells Jo and Blair that Mrs. Garrett appears to be possessed - and a few seconds later, Natalie enters the room carrying a garbage bag. She pulls out Mr. Bigley's plaid yellow jacket and solemnly says she just found the bag in the trash can, along with one of Mrs. Garrett's large butcher knives. Blair scrunches her face concernedly and points out that Mr. Bigley never did return to the store to pick up his bratwurst order...and Natalie nods gravely and says she called the motel down the street and learned that his luggage is still there and he never checked out. A freaked out Tootie rushes off and returns with candles to exorcise the evil spirits currently inhabiting Mrs. Garrett...and then Mrs. Garrett bursts into the room shrieking, "I got the meat!!" and shows the gals the big batch of linked sausages she just prepared. The only explanation she can offer is that when she opened the ice box earlier she found a large pile of sausages. The gals (except for Jo) gasp in horror and leap to the assumption that the meat in the sausages could only have come from Mr. Bigley's flesh. Jo takes a bite of one of the cooked sausages and tells Mrs. Garrett it's very tasty.
As Jo continues to chow down on the sausage, an icked out Tootie asks her how she can bear to eat poor, ground up Mr. Bigley. When Roy drops by the store for no particular reason, Blair informs him that Mr. Bigley has gone missing. He furrows his brows concernedly and says he remembers seeing the old man at Edna's Edibles shortly before lunch...and that he was bickering with Mrs. Garrett before the two ambled off to the kitchen. Jo suddenly looks ill, grimaces at the sausage she's eating, and decides that - yep - it's entirely within the realm of possibility that Mrs. Garrett killed Mr. Bigley, then pulverized his body into ground meat and made it into linked sausages.
Mrs. Garrett re-enters the store and shriekily announces that she just got an order from the supermarket for more bratwursts - which means she's going to need additional pounds of fresh meat. Cue two cute children dressed up as Hansel and Gretel, who drop by the store to trick-or-treat...and Mrs. Garrett acts all weird as she coos that they look good enough to eat, and that she'd like to fatten them up before shoving them into her oven. Er...OK. When the kids refrain from fleeing the house in horror and instead remark on how whatever she has baking in her oven smells delish, Jo intervenes and yells at the kids to make a run for it. After the studio audience's obligatory laughter dies down, Mrs. Garrett closes up the store for the night and tells the Facts gals it's time for them to help her make bratwursts, then rushes off to sharpen her knives again. Tootie wails that Mrs. Garrett is definitely possessed by a demonic spirit, and Blair concurs and worriedly whimpers. Jo reminds them that there are four of them and only one possessed old woman - and that they'll be OK if they stick together. Or flee the store and call 911 if they truly are worried about their housemother's mental state. Mrs. Garrett re-enters the room to summon Tootie and Natalie to the kitchen...and when they nervously stammer that they're too busy with homework, she shrieks, "Get in the damn kitchen and get this over with!" The four gals suddenly leap into action, each grabbing the nearest broomstick - in Tootie's case, a giant bread stick - and corner Mrs. Garrett while glaring at her menacingly. Jo barks at her to hand over the knife, which she does before confusedly asking whassup with their sudden aggression.
Blair demands to know what she did with Mr. Bigley and says that Natalie found his jacket in the trash. She adds that it can't have been purely coincidental when she (Mrs. Garrett) was suddenly able to make a plentiful batch of bratwursts. Mrs. Garrett admonishes them for implying that she slaughtered Mr. Bigley for the purpose of filling her bratwurst orders...and a few seconds later, Mr. Bigley (!) enters the store and nonchalantly tells Natalie he'd like his plaid yellow jacket back please. When everyone's all, "Wha-a-a-a??!", a quasi-sheepish looking Natalie explains that she was trying to be creative with her filming assignment and admits to making up the story about the Halloween Massacre of 1905. She then reveals that Mr. Bigley's real name is Lesseroni, and that he's the caretaker of the town's cemetery, as well as an active member of the local community theater. Womp womp!
Natalie further explains that she wanted to orchestrate a live horror movie and film events as they unfolded...so she cast Mrs. Garrett as a knife-wielding murderess who had become possessed. (And obsessed with filling bratwurst orders during a butchers' strike.) She credits Roy for being the undercover camera man, and he dramatically pops out from his hiding spot in a nearby barrel clutching a video camera. Tootie, Jo, and Blair admonish her for playing tricks on them - and Natalie defends her actions by chirping, "This is the stuff memories are made of!" Mrs. Garrett sternly argues that it was selfish and manipulative - then contorts her face into a faux maniacal expression and says, "The legend is true" and threatens Natalie with strangulation.
Of course, none of this explains why Mrs. Garrett was acting so weird and demonic while waving around a butcher knife throughout much of the episode.
Recap: Blair breezes into Edna's Edibles, impressed with herself for her resourcefulness in booking the opening act for Freshman Night...and by booking the opening act, she means she hired Geri (fuuuuuuuuuck) to perform her wretched comedy schtick for a group of hapless first-year college students. When she adds that she plans to inform Geri about the gig when she stops by later, Mrs. Garrett tut tuts her for not checking with Geri before committing her to the gig, then scrunches her face disapprovingly.
A tall black teenager catches Tootie's eye when he struts into the store and orders a sandwich. He flirtily introduces himself to her as Jeff Williams and says he's a senior at Bates Academy and a member of the school's football team. Tootie flashes him a grin and gushes, "I heard you are the football team!" and offers to make him a free gourmet sandwich. While she's doing that, Jeff schmaltzily tells Mrs. Garrett that her store is a quality establishment...then brazenly ogles Tootie, who blushes and giggles in response. He invites her to his upcoming football game and asks her if she'd like to be his date for the (presumed) victory party afterwards, and Tootie happily accepts his invitation.
In the next scene, Tootie is gushing to Natalie about how super awesome her budding romance with Jeff is going, and that she especially loves the vapid way he silently gazes at her. Blair and Geri burst into the room...and Geri is chiding Blair for leaping to the assumption that she'd want to open for a rock band on Freshman Night. Blair's all, "But you have toooooo!" and somehow refrains from pointing out to Geri that she should be grateful to anyone who's willing to pay actual money for an onslaught of condescending cerebral palsy jokes that feel overplayed really quickly. She tells Geri she has a meeting with the Entertainment Committee and would rather not admit that she screwed the pooch on booking the entertainment...and when she worries aloud that it might ruin her reputation, Geri quips, "Then let me do it!", and the two scurry off-camera together.
Jo snappishly orders Tootie to finish doing an inventory of the store, which she's been promising to do for the last three days.
Tootie gets out her clipboard and begins work on the store's inventory...and while she's doing that, Jeff is bugging her to hurry up and finish 'cause they have plans to go see Jaws and Jaws 2. Tootie tells him the sooner she's done with the inventory, the sooner they can head out to the movies, then suggests he help her speed things along by reading off the labels of whatever's on the shelf so she can cross-check them against the list on her clipboard. Jeff twitches nervously and says he couldn't possibly concentrate on food 'cause his head is filled with football plays - but Tootie gets all pushy and thrusts a jar in his direction and orders him to read the label. When he just stares at it cluelessly, she gets exasperated and snaps, "What's the matter with you? Can't you read?!" and Jeff stares back at her with a stricken expression on his face, then turns around and walks away. He mumbles, "Reading isn't my thing" and says his coach told him he shouldn't distract himself by pursuing the ability to read 'cause of all the college football scouts who've been showing an interest in him. Assuming that's true, he's definitely one dicked up coach. A bewildered Tootie asks him how in blazes he's been able to get this far at Bates Academy, so he explains that he's surrounded by a small army of yes people who are more than willing to help him cheat his way through school. Tootie stares at him sadly and asks him if he doesn't want to learn how to read, and he replies, "I'll get around to it one day" but says he's currently too busy trying to be the country's best quarterback. He then refers to Tootie as his girl - and Tootie perks up and goes, "Wuh? Really?" - LOL - and he nods and gushes about how much he cares about her. He then takes off the chunky necklace he's wearing, declares that he wants her to officially be his girl, and puts the necklace around her neck.
Mrs. Garrett and the Facts gals toast the end of the inventory process...and while that's happening, Geri (fuuuuuuuuuck) drops by to tell Blair she's decided to perform on Freshman Night after all 'cause she's running short of cash on account of it's really hard for comedians who limit their routines to joke-making about cerebral palsy to find work. A few seconds later, Jeff arrives to announce that he passed his latest biology test [by shamelessly cheating]...and that if he also passes his upcoming English test, he'll be eligible for recruitment by colleges [who clearly have scarily low academic standards for athletes]. Natalie toasts his faux accomplishment and touts him as "not just another dumb jock" ... and Tootie puts her sad face on and wanders over to the store. Mrs. Garrett and Natalie follow her and ask whassup with her glumness...and Natalie assumes that Tootie is worried that Jeff will head off to college and forget all about her. She assures her that Jeff will write, and Tootie snaps, "No he won't!", and Mrs. Garrett scrunches her face concernedly and asks her if Jeff has a problem with reading. Tootie says yep, her boyfriend has the reading ability of a small child, and Natalie's all, "Wha-a-a?" and asks how he's been able to make it through nearly four years of high school. Tootie explains that his friends "help" him by giving him the answers to tests, which he then memorizes. Mrs. Garrett shakes her head all judgey-like and says that these people aren't his friends 'cause they're cheating him out of acquiring a basic life skill. Tootie argues that the people who are helping him care, then wails, "They care a lot!" ... and confesses to helping Jeff cheat on the biology test he just passed. It remains unclear precisely how she was able to do that, considering they don't even attend the same school, much less are in the same biology class. Mrs. Garrett and Natalie look appalled at her complicity in Jeff's illiteracy, then implore her to be the kind of friend who will forcibly help Jeff get himself on the right track of learning his ABCs. As Tootie mulls that over, Jeff breezes into the store and is all, "Whaddup?" and Mrs. Garrett and Natalie avoid making eye contact with him as they quickly scuttle out of the room.
Jeff yammers about how relieved he is to have passed his biology test, but Tootie says it's nothing to celebrate and that she's ashamed of herself for helping him cheat. She chides him for being obsessed with football and says he's destined to be "an illiterate jock", to which Jeff shoots her the stink-eye and snaps, "You're getting out of line!" Tootie reminds him that previous generations of their people were forced to work in the fields and had to learn how to read in secret, and Jeff retorts that football is going to give him everything he wants. Tootie points out that he can play football and learn how to read - but he sheepishly reminds her he's almost eighteen years old and doesn't want to go back to a fourth grade class and make a fool of himself. Tootie fails to explain that no one would actually expect him to enroll himself in a classroom with fourth graders 'cause he could simply hire a private tutor, then screeches, "Who cares?!" Jeff says he's afraid that people will laugh at him and that he'll lose everything, and Tootie coos, "I know" and assures him he hasn't lost her...and I'm not sure if this means this isn't the last we'll ever see of illiterate Jeff Williams.