Recap: Natalie's in the bedroom, primping for the Halloween party...and judging from the tiny square moustache under her nose, she's going as Charlie Chaplin. Tootie chides her for spending so much time primping, but Natalie says she's determined to win the costume contest 'cause first prize is two tickets to the upcoming Bruce Springsteen concert in New York. Blair and Jo enter the room, and Blair is accusing Jo of scaring away some guy named Michael, who she's pretty sure was about to ask her to the Halloween party. Jo, however, says she rode along on her motorcycle just in time to save Michael from being railroaded into going to the party with her. Tootie asks them which movie stars they're going to the party as, and Blair says she's going as Jane Fonda...and Jo's all, "Wha-a?" 'cause she's going as Peter Fonda. Blair looks horrified and orders Jo to pick a different movie star, but Jo says she already has the outfit all prepared (sunglasses and a leather jacket), and that she really digs what Fonda represents: bikes and freedom. Mrs. Garrett stumbles into the room looking discombobulated and says she has something serious to tell them: Mrs. King, the off-camera headmaster's secretary, was attacked this evening while walking to her car. She grimly adds, "She was raped" and the girls stare into space in silent horror as the scene quietly fades out.
Later in the kitchen, Jo remarks that they've all walked down the street where the attack occurred a hundred times. Blair says she'd rather forget that it happened, but Jo tells her she should be aware that there's a lot of crime out there. Blair rolls her eyes and haughtily replies, "I know. I watch Hill Street Blues." Mrs. Garrett assures them that the school's administration is taking every possible precaution and is installing alarms and electric gates. Natalie waddles into the room dressed in her Charlie Chaplin costume, and Mrs. Garrett and the girls all gush about how awesome she looks. Jo says, "You'll bring the party to its knees" and Mrs. Garrett puts on her somber face and says, "If there is a party." She explains that the headmaster is seriously considering cancelling the party, and Natalie looks aghast and says she's been working on her costume for weeks (seriously?). She breezily theorizes that the attacker is probably long gone, and that there's no real reason to worry about it tonight since the party will be held on campus. Mrs. Garrett agrees, but warns them to be careful nonetheless. Tootie suddenly bursts into the room and informs everyone that there's a new notice on the bulletin board, advertising a self defense class. Everyone eagerly signs up for the class except Natalie, who blithely says she's not interested in any kind of self defense. Hmm...this doesn't bode well for Natalie's safety.
That evening, Tootie returns home from the party and hobbles into the lounge in a tight gown and heels. She complains to Mrs. Garrett that she had a terrible time at the party, since there were fourteen Diana Rosses - and two of them were white! Egads! A few seconds later, Jo and Blair return, and Blair grumps that she too had a horrible time. Apparently, Michael snubbed her, then started making out with a Sophia Loren lookalike. They tell Mrs. Garrett that Natalie didn't win the costume contest, but it looked as though she was having a good time...so they decided it was A-OK to abandon her there so she'd have to walk home alone, despite the fact that there's a rapist on the loose. Blair announces that she's off to bed when a shell-shocked Natalie stumbles into the cafeteria with a sleeve of her Charlie Chaplin costume nearly ripped off. Mrs. Garrett and the girls rush over to her and exclaim, "Wha-at happened?!" so she says she was hurrying and that she wasn't far from the dorm. She whimpers, "I was almost home" and explains that a strange man leaped out from the bushes and grabbed her...and that she tried to scream, but he covered her mouth. Mrs. Garrett moans, "Oh my gawwwwd" and Natalie says he pushed her down - but suddenly she heard voices...and the presence of other people must have spooked her attacker 'cause he abruptly got up and ran off. She says, "If those people hadn't passed by..." then falls into Mrs. Garrett's arms and wails, "I was almost home." The scene fades to black, and the absence of any further dialogue and the silent reaction from the studio audience makes it clear that this sitch just got real.
Later, Jo and Blair are in the kitchen, helping Mrs. Garrett make tacos. Blair says she's exhausted from being up all night with Natalie, comforting her about her terrible nightmares. She says she hopes they catch the guy, and Mrs. Garrett assures them that the police are doing everything they can. Jo remarks that Natalie doesn't seem like her usual fun-loving self, and Mrs. Garrett somberly tells the girls that Natalie has suddenly realized how vulnerable she is...and that she's afraid. Jo growls, "I'd be angry" and Mrs. Garrett hastily explains that Natalie is angry...on the inside. Blair chimes in and says she has just the thing that will cheer Natalie up, then flashes four Bruce Springsteen concert tickets. Jo's all, "Woo hoo!" and Mrs. Garrett gushes, "That's wonderful!"
Natalie and Tootie enter the kitchen, and Tootie is complaining to Natalie about making her run all the way home. Natalie anxiously says, "It was getting dark" and Jo scrunches her face and goes, "At noon?" Mrs. Garrett shoots Jo a warning glare, so she backpedals and says, "You're right. You never know when a total eclipse is going to sneak up on you." Heh. Natalie tells the girls that her eyes have been opened, and that she now knows her limitations. She adds, "I don't think any of you know what it's like to be a woman" and Blair mulls that over for a few seconds and replies, "You're kidding, of course." Natalie explains that her new definition of womanhood is being weak, helpless, and not having much of a chance out there. Well that's a confidence inspiring, healthy outlook. Blair concedes that women do bear the burden of being attractive and feminine...then glances over at mannish Jo and says, "Well, almost all of us." Hee! Mrs. Garrett points out that attractiveness is not what these attacks are about - but Blair interjects and is like, "Enough of this depressing rape talk already" and shows Natalie the four Springsteen concert tickets she managed to score. Tootie's all, "Aw right! Get ready to rock and roll!" (LOL) and Natalie says she's super excited to see The Boss perform. Blair and Tootie start gabbling about how they'll take the train to New York and then walk around and soak up the atmosphere...and Jo excitedly says she knows a great Italian restaurant where they can grab a bite. Suddenly, Natalie drops her head and sadly announces, "I'm not going." Mrs. Garrett's all, "Wuh?" so Natalie says she can't just go to the city and pretend as though nothing's happened. She soberly declares, "I know what's out there" and Jo gets impatient and retorts, "The world is out there - the one you used to like!" but this only makes Natalie wig out more, and she shrieks, "I'm not going!!" and runs upstairs.
Mrs. Garrett comes upstairs to engage in a comforting housemother-housedaughter chat with Natalie, who says she's very busy reading Walden. Mrs. Garrett remarks that she's been reading a lot lately, so Natalie gets all defensive and reminds her that a strange man came at her from the bushes, and she's afraid. Mrs. Garrett tells her that eventually she's going to have to overcome her fear, then asks her if she really wants to hide behind a locked door all her life. Natalie shrugs and says, "I'll play it by ear." Mrs. Garrett urges her to go to the self defense class tonight, but Natalie says she isn't interested. Mrs. Garrett says she'd be taking action and would therefore be doing something to help herself...but Natalie says she'd rather mope alone and finish her book. Mrs. Garrett then tries a different tactic and chides her for shirking her responsibility as a journalist by not showing up to the self defense class to cover it for the school paper.
The instructor of the safety class is a tall, twenty-something man who scares the bejeezus out of the Eastland girls when he declares, "Half of you will be the victim of a violent crime at some point in your life." Blair and Jo giggle at his comically grim demeanor, so he shoots them the stink-eye and snarks, "That's right - giggle. But it could happen to you." He then says it doesn't have to, as long as they don't "go around like victims". He kneels in front of where Tootie is sitting and says hi, and she says hi back. He asks her to walk across the room - so she gets up and strolls for a few seconds, then asks him how she did. He goes, "Casual...relaxed. In other words, lousy." He tells her she looked like a victim, then barks at the girls that they need to start walking with more confidence, so that a potential attacker will think they can handle themselves. He asks for a volunteer who thinks she can show a little toughness and grit and - to no one's surprise - Jo gets up, struts over to him, and glares up at him. He's like, "Ack!" and says he'd definitely think twice before approaching her. Jo chuckles smugly and says she almost wishes some creep would try something, which was weird. The instructor wants to act out a "danger scenario" with Jo, so he walks toward her...and when she lets her cockiness lower her guard, he easily knocks her on her ass. He glares around the room and barks, "Don't look for trouble!" then says, "You don't want to put him away - just get away." He then gives the girls meaningless pieces of advice, such as: 1) avoid a confrontation (thanks, Captain Obvious) and 2) if they get jumped by someone, they don't have the upper hand, so they shouldn't "try to play it" (dunno what that's supposed to mean). He asks for another volunteer, so Blair gets up, politely introduces herself and says, "Lovely to meet you." He takes her outstretched hand, easily puts her in a headlock and bellows, "Never let your guard down when a stranger approaches!" As he continues to hold Blair in a headlock, he urges her to use her legs to kick him, or use her other hand to go for his groin...and when she balks, he sarcastically asks, "Is that too unladylike?" She's like, "Yes!" so he releases her in disgust and snarls, "No part of the body is off limits; you're protecting yourself."
Mrs. Garrett asks Natalie what she thinks of the douchewad's advice, and Natalie just shrugs and says, "Interesting, if you like fiction." She starts to head back upstairs to continue reading Walden...but Mrs. Garrett urges her to stay, then volunteers to be the guinea pig for the instructor's next "danger scenario". He tells Mrs. Garrett that if she senses someone is following her, she should scream fire 'cause it gets people's attention...so Mrs. Garrett shrieks, "FIRE!!!!!" in her loud, shrieky voice, and when the instructor regains his hearing, he praises her. He urges Natalie to give it a try, but she refuses and says attacks don't happen that way, and that nothing he's teaching would have helped her on the night she was grabbed. He guffaws, then shames her for her victimhood by asking her what she did to prevent the attack from occurring in the first place:
After sneering derisively at her meek responses, he asks one of the girls if he can borrow her purse, and when she hands it over to him, he dumps the contents on the floor and says there's lots of stuff here that could be helpful in stabbing the perpetrator in the face: keys, a pencil, a hairbrush. He picks up each item and thrusts it at the air in front of him in a stabbing motion (he looked kind of funny doing that), then stresses that anything that can buy them a few seconds might help them get away. He then leads the girls in a karate chopping exercise (LOL), and Natalie shamefully admits to Mrs. Garrett that she probably should have left the party with the other girls, and maybe used the cane from her Charlie Chaplin costume to beat her attacker. She admits that she's still afraid, and Mrs. Garrett gently replies, "Everyone is. These are crazy times" but advises her to use her fear to keep her alert and aware. Natalie mulls that over and decides that it might be a good idea to learn how to karate chop a potential attacker, and joins the rest of her schoolmates.
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