Recap: Mr. Bradley is lecturing the girls about how they're at a crucial stage of the semester where they need to cut down on distractions and focus solely on their studies. Blair moans, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" and Sue Ann retorts that even a dull boy would be welcome at Eastland. Mr. Bradley ignores that crack, orders them to buckle down, then heads out. Once he's safely out of earshot, the girls pull out a Ouija board. Blair wants the board to tell her how old she'll be when she gets married - and when the board tells her she'll be thirty, Natalie jokes that at that age, she won't even have her own teeth...and the show's mind-numbing laugh track kicks in. Molly wants to communicate with her dead hamster, Harvey, to find out if he made it to pet heaven...and suddenly there's a knock on the door and Molly excitedly bellows, "Come in, Harvey!" Some old guy enters, and the studio audience immediately starts clapping. I was slightly curious who he was, and since I didn't recognize him, I Googled him and learned that he's a theater/film actor, as well as Alan Alda's father, which is...well, whatever. He tells the girls he's looking for Mrs. Garrett, and that he's her ex-husband, Robert Garrett. They inform him that she's not here at the moment, then introduce themselves to him...individually. The girls seem very intrigued to meet their housemother's ex, and when Blair snidely asks him on what grounds they were divorced, the stupid laugh track kicks in, so we don't hear an answer to that relevant question. Tootie offers to show Robert a card trick - and he tells her he loves card tricks, and totally shows her up when he picks a card and somehow makes it appear inside his wallet. Meanwhile, Mrs. Garrett has returned from her errand and is shocked to see her ex-husband. He strides over to her and gives her a long, intense smooch - a visual I definitely didn't need. She gets irritated and asks, "What are you doing?!" and admonishes him for kissing her like that in front of the girls. He asks her if they can speak in private, but she says they have nothing to talk about...so he smooches her again, and this time she looks more into it and light-headedly mumbles that they can probably think of a topic to discuss. After they disappear into another room, the girls speculate over Mrs. Garrett's wild past. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that we're in for a particularly tedious snore of an episode.
Mrs. Garrett and Robert remark on how they haven't seen in other in three years. She assumes he resurfaced 'cause he needs money to pay off a gambling debt, since apparently he's established a strong precedent for that kind of douchebaggery. Robert insists that he's a changed man and that he works as a reservations manager at a hotel - a job he took so he could be home with her every night. He then blurts out, "Will you marry me?" and she just stares at him, dumbfounded. He reminds her of all the good times they used to have together in their apartment overlooking Central Park. Mrs. Garrett dreamily recalls the hansom cab rides, and then he reminds her of the moonlit boat rides on the lake...and she chuckles, remembering the time they almost fell in. Robert says he'd like them to try to rekindle that old spark, and invites her to dinner at a swanky restaurant. She accepts, but mutters that she's worried she might actually be tempted to accept his proposal.
That evening, the girls are overly interested in why Mrs. Garrett and her ex-husband are out so late. They suspect that since he took her to a fancy restaurant, he must have something up his sleeve. Sue Ann wonders why he came back after they've been divorced for fifteen years, and Natalie jokes, "Maybe he forgot his laundry." Nancy's theory is that he came back to propose, and Molly thinks they should take the modern approach and just live together. Tootie argues that it's improper for people to live together, and Natalie shoots back with, "Why not? We do." Haha.. The girls suddenly hear the lovebirds rustling around at the front door, so they all scamper out of the room...except of course for Tootie, who can't wheel herself out fast enough on her rollerskates, so she hides behind the couch. Mrs. Garrett and Robert enter the residence holding hands. She's singing gaily and looks to be a bit tipsy from all the wine she drank at dinner, then jokes about how he's always been a terrible influence on her. The phone rings, and she rushes over to answer it. It's Mr. Bradley, who wants her to drop off the menus for next week. As she's on the phone, trying her best not to sound drunk, Robert starts kissing her neck. Mrs. Garrett shrieks into the receiver and tells Mr. Bradley that her hands are full at the moment, but that the menus are in her purse and she'll bring them over right away. She then hangs up, looking overcome with desire, and Robert plants anther big smooch on her. She looks discombobulated as she informs him that she's going to drop off the menus, and he urges her to hurry back. Robert then starts singing to himself, and Tootie emerges from behind the couch. She chides him for making her look dumb earlier by ruining her card trick, so Robert offers to teach her another trick...but when she declines, he shrugs and starts playing solitary poker. Tootie looks intrigued and asks him if he could teach her how to play, and he obliges and tells her that she and her friends can make the game a lot more fun by betting stuff...like toothpicks, for example. Tootie scrunches her face with distaste and tells him that playing for cash would be way funner.
Mr. Bradley is dispensing cash for all the girls from their accounts, and he's puzzled as to why they all seem to need cash at the same time. Miss Mahoney enters the room...and holy hell, she is sporting one fuzzy ass '70s perm. She tells Mr. Bradley that Natalie's mother just called, demanding to know why he's charging an additional $40 for biology supplies. Mr. Bradley stares back at her blankly and tells her he's not charging for any biology supplies, so she glares at him and asks, "Are you trying to drive me cookoo?" He assures her he's not, and that he's just trying to "handle the bank". Molly appears and announces that she needs to use the Yellow Pages so she can figure out where to pawn her typewriter...and Mr. Bradley mulls that over for a few seconds and realizes that Molly doesn't own a typewriter - it belongs to the school! He rushes out, determined to get to the bottom of this lame storyline.
The girls are gathered together in one of the bedrooms, engrossed in their poker game...and Robert is creepily hovering nearby, observing. Tootie wins and slides the cash filled jackpot toward her, and Nancy says they should probably stop playing and hit the books so they don't flunk their history test tomorrow. Tootie makes a face and sassily orders her to "shut up and deal."
Mrs. Garrett is primping in her room, glowing with happiness and singing to herself. Blair and Sue Ann amble in, so Mrs. Garrett regales them with the story of when she and Robert met: she was eighteen, madly in love, and got swept off her feet. Not long after that, however, the fairytale marriage broke up when he sold all their furniture to pay off his gambling debts. She looks somber for a moment and says it's hard to be married to a gambler who can't quit. Well, d'yuh. Sue Ann's like, "But you were in loooove!" and Blair argues that marriage is enough of a gamble without having the deck stacked against you...and then she and Sue Ann bicker back and forth about that for a little while, blah blah. Mrs. Garrett doesn't know what she's going to do, and tells the girls that Robert has assured her he's changed, so she's tempted to believe him. Sue Ann urges her to go for it, but Blair cautions her against hooking up with a gambling addict. The two then scamper out of the room just as Mr. Bradley and Miss Mahoney appear and demand to know whassup. Mrs. Garrett's all, "Wuh?", so Mr. Bradley explains that a bunch of the girls are withdrawing their money at an alarming rate. Mrs. Garrett suggests to the dumbass that he ask the girls directly, so he and Miss Mahoney head upstairs. Before he leaves, he bitchily remarks that he's sure the problem is somehow her doing, but Mrs. Garrett ignores the jab and continues primping, then starts singing, "Taking a chance on loooove.."
The girls continue to play poker as Robert watches. Mr. Bradley and Miss Mahoney burst into the room and are all, "Busted!", and Tootie warily turns her head toward them and delivers for the first time what will become her annoying catch phrase: "Don't look now, but I think we are in trou-ble." Miss Mahoney points at Robert and asks the girls who that man is, so Molly chirps that it's Mrs. Garrett's ex-husband. Mr. Bradley asserts his male authority and wants to know what a full grown man is doing in a girls' dorm, then orders him out and declares that the poker game is over. Cindy wails that she's out six bucks, and Miss Mahoney widens her eyes with shock, gives Robert the stink-eye, and accusingly asks, "Playing cards...with children?" Robert says that technically he only taught Tootie how to play poker, and has just been coaching the other girls. LOL. He breezily says, It's just a game", and Tootie pipes up and says that betting cash was her idea 'cause "it's the American way". Miss Mahoney tells Mr. Bradley that the girls have been turned into cutthroat card sharks, and he tells her she's overreacting...and also that she should get to a hair salon to de-frizz, like pronto. (OK, that last thing was my suggestion, but goddamn that is one wild 'do.) She asks him if he's condoning this, and he insists he's not...but when the girls say that poker has certain educational elements to it, he wonders aloud if maybe it could serve as a learning experience. Miss Mahoney haughtily tells him that the school board will not stand for gambling on campus - or, for that matter, a headmaster who condones gambling on campus. Mr. Bradley mulls that over and decides he'd rather not get fired [before the end of Season 1, anyway], then scoops up the jackpot money and announces that it'll go toward a scholarship fund.
Mrs. Garrett enters the room and is startled at the sight of Robert holding a wad of cash in one hand and a deck of cards in the other. He acknowledges that this probably looks bad, then says he can explain...and by explain, he freely admits he taught the girls how to play cards - and doesn't think there's anything wrong with that. Mrs. Garrett stares at him incredulously, studies him like he's a curious looking insect, and says, "You really don't see what's wrong about it, do you?" She then tells him she was all ready to accept his proposal, and he perks up and urges her to "take a chance". Molly chimes in and warns her not to trust a gambler, while Cindy reminds her she's not getting any younger and should take whoever's willing to have her...and Tootie agrees. Tootie adds that they can honeymoon on the Mississippi, since Robert has to go to St. Louis anyway. Mrs. Garrett raises her eyebrows and goes, "St. Louis?" then asks everyone to leave the room so they can talk in private. She tells Robert she recalls that St. Louis is where the big poker tournament is held about this time every year...then looks defeated and says she now fully realizes that he's still a hopeless gambler. He insists he needs her, and she tells him he needs her for all the wrong reasons, which include bailing him out. He tries to give her a kiss, but she rebuffs him and says, "The price is too high" so he shrugs his shoulders, nods at her amicably, and heads out...and the audience applauds her wise decision. When the girls file back inside the room, Tootie says it's so romantic she could cry. Um...whatever. Blair asks Mrs. Garrett if she kicked out the deadbeat, and Sue Ann interjects and says that Mrs. Garrett wouldn't do that 'cause she loves him. Mrs. Garrett concurs that she both loves him and kicked him out, then bellows that it's time for them to hit the books. Sue Ann remarks on how sad it is, but Blair says that they just need to break out the Ouija board to find out who Mrs. Garrett's next husband will be. Mrs. Garrett blurts out, "All right, girls. Shake your booty!" and they all pitch in to clean up the cards and poker chips before settling down with their books.
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