Recap: Jo is pecking away at a manual typewriter (hey - I'm old enough to remember those!) as the other girls bus the the tables. Blair complains to Mrs. Garrett that Jo isn't helping them clean up, so Jo explains that she needs to finish her journalism assignment before class starts [even though we learn that it's not actually due until next week]. The teacher, Mr. Gideon, has been giving her Cs all semester and nothing she writes seems to please or impress him. She jokes that they've developed a love-hate relationship: she loves journalism; he hates her. A dorky delivery guy named Roy arrives to deliver boxes of bread and pastry, and when he brazenly flirts with Jo, she snarls, "I don't have time for you" and resumes typing. Roy continues to flirt with her so she tells him to get lost...and when he ignores that, Mrs. Garrett steps in and orders him to leave, which he finally does. She then tells the other girls to give Jo some breathing room so she can work on her assignment.
Journalism class! Mr. Gideon (a bespectacled man in his 30s sporting an unruly, white person 'fro) writes the acronym FACT on the blackboard and tells the class it stands for: fast, accurate, concise, true. He then says he'd like a progress report on their stories, which are due next week...and reminds them that they'll be published in the school paper. Blair volunteers to give her update and says she's writing about Nancy Reagan's recent decision to purchase new White House china. As everyone chuckles, Mr. Gideon smiles indulgently and says it's a topic worth exploring. He then calls on Jo, and she excitedly tells him she already has three hundreds words written, then reads out her headline: Eastland's Board of Directors Vote to Redecorate Faculty Lounge. Well, that's riveting. Mr. Gideon narrows his eyes and asks her where she got her information, and she cagily replies, "I have my sources." He snorts derisively and informs her that the teachers all met yesterday and decided that the funds should be used elsewhere...which essentially means she has no story. Jo looks peeved and asks, "How was I supposed to know that?" and Mr. Gideon barks, "It's your job to know! You check, then you double-check, then you check again!" Calm down, dinkwhistle. It's a puff piece about faculty lounge decor. Instead of just leaving it at that, he dickishly asks her to repeat what FACT stands for, and after she mumbles, "Fast, accurate, concise, true", he says that a good reporter gets all four of them...then asks, "How many did you get?" Jo doesn't really answer and says she spent a lot of time on this assignment, and he growls, "Time doesn't count!" and orders her to find another story. Hey - I've got a scoop that just came in: Journalism Teacher Acts Like Asshole When He Needlessly Humiliates Student in Front of Entire Class. Jo just glares at him, visibly pissed off.
A furious Jo violently cleans off the cafeteria tables after dinner, and rails about what a slimy creep Mr. Gideon is - and Mrs. Garrett looks at all the broken dishes in her bin and shrieks, "What did these dishes ever do to you?!" Blair fills her in and tells her that Mr. Gideon made Jo look stupid in front of the whole class...so then Jo chimes in and says she's angry that she now has to start from scratch with a new story. Mrs. Garrett urges her to discuss her displeasure with Mr. Gideon, but Jo doesn't think there's much of a point, since he never seems willing to listen to her. Mrs. Garrett then shrugs and suggests that she just suck it up and write a new story. No duh. After she ambles off, Roy enters the cafeteria and flirts with Jo again. He tells her he's got some awesome gossip that he'd like to leak to her her over a pizza, but she refuses to go on anything resembling a date with him and barks, "Tell me now!" He gives in and tells her (and Blair and Natalie) that Mr. Gideon was caught at a coke party raid...and when Jo goes, "Cocaine?" he gravely nods. Blair looks skeptical and says she doesn't believe it, and Natalie outright accuses Roy of making it up. Roy insists that it really did happen, and that his source is his policeman brother. Jo orders Roy to keep this juicy nugget to himself, then hustles him out of the cafeteria. Blair credits Jo for protecting Mr. Gideon, but Jo says she's not going to allow the Peekskill papers to print the story, 'cause Eastland is going to do it! She reminds Blair and Natalie that the Eastland students have editorial control over their school paper, then gleefully adds, "What's a better story than a teacher being busted for cocaine?" Blair and Natalie just stare back at her with troubled expressions on their faces.
Jo's on the phone with a police sergeant, confirming that Mr. Gideon was, in fact, arrested after a cocaine party raid. Blair continues to look skeptical and thinks there must be a simple explanation, but Jo firmly declares, "He did it" and starts pecking away at her typewriter. She says it's her duty as a faux reporter to make an example of him - but Blair argues that her motive is revenge. Jo ignores that accusation and reads aloud her headline: Teacher Busted in Cocaine Raid. Well, it's definitely more interesting than a faculty lounge refresh. When Tootie suddenly enters the room, everyone clams up. She asks whassup, and they're all like, "Nothing" and Jo tells her, "It's kinda private." Tootie shrugs disinterestedly and says she's going to the kitchen for a snack...and Jo gets back to her typewriter. Natalie starts to rethink the appropriateness of publishing the story and tells Jo there may not be room in the current issue...and Blair says it doesn't actually need to be printed at all. Jo insists it does and professes that it's her journalistic duty to report on Mr. Gideon's descent in the underworld of drugs.
Natalie heads over to the lounge where Mrs. Garrett is sitting and asks her if they can have a heart-to-heart about a difficult editorial decision she needs to make. She tells Mrs. Garrett she has a hot story, but that it would hurt someone at the school. However, if she doesn't print it, she's compromising her journalistic principles. Mrs. Garrett agrees that that is a tough decision, then tells her about a pie contest she once entered during which she suspected her friend Sarah of not actually baking the pie. But then, upon further investigation, it was discovered that Sarah did, in fact, bake the pie and just used a plate with a store logo. Natalie mutters, "That's not helpful" and tells her that Mr. Gideon was arrested at a cocaine party, and that Jo confirmed this when she called the police department. Mrs. Garrett scrunches her face concernedly and tells Natalie she's in over her head and that this kind of story may not be right for a school newspaper. Natalie sheepishly replies, "I already printed the story" and adds that the issue is coming out later this morning. Mrs. Garrett shrieks, "Then why did you ask for my advice?!" and Natalie just shrugs and goes, "Habit." Heh.
The students flock to the cafeteria, and everyone has a copy of the school paper and is gabbling about Mr. Gideon's cocaine bust. Jo gushes to a remorseful looking Natalie about how much she loves her headline and exclaims, "We're a sensation!" Sue Ann and Cindy drop by for superfluous guest appearances to gush to Jo about how super terrific her story is. Cindy asks her how she found out about the arrest, and Jo just says, "I've got my sources." Sue Ann backpedals on her praise and says she probably wouldn't have blown the whistle on Mr. Gideon, him being a teacher and all. Natalie, who's been eavesdropping on the conversation, makes a beeline over to the table, and credits herself for making "the gutsy call" to print the shocking story.
Tootie says she's miffed that she didn't hear about Mr. Gideon's arrest before it was published in the school paper, so Jo explains that she had to keep her exclusive...well, exclusive. Tootie looks indignant and goes, "Do I look like a security leak?" and everyone within hearing range shouts, "YES!" Bwahaha! Blair is annoyed by the story and calls it "a hatchet job", and Mrs. Garrett disapprovingly says that everyone on campus is gabbling about the breaking news...and that she feels sorry for people who are unfairly treated by the press. She informs Jo that Mr. Gideon was released an hour after his arrest, and that the police had no evidence that he had even used cocaine. Natalie turns pale, then moans, "I feel sick.." and sinks into a chair. Mrs. Garrett says that the police didn't even press charges against him, then glares at Jo and snarks, "But that wasn't in your story!" Jo says the police didn't mention anything 'bout that, and Mrs. Garrett asks her if she bothered asking...or if she asked Mr. Gideon for his side of the story. Er...no - it doesn't look like she followed the rules of FACT at all, except maybe the one about being fast. She sternly reminds Jo that she's playing with a man's career, and that it was no time to be careless. Jo shamefully hangs her head and agrees that the whole thing is her fault. Well, d'yuh.
Jo finds Mr. Gideon standing near the front of his classroom. She asks him if they can talk, and he haughtily retorts, "I said my door was always open." Jo tells him she came to apologize, and that she now knows he was released by the police and that no charges were laid against him. He bitterly guffaws and snarks, "Oh. That" so she quickly admits that she missed some key facts, and acknowledges that he could sue her for libel. Mr. Gideon says in order to do that, he'd have to prove that she wrote the story with malicious intent, and Jo replies, "That wouldn't be too tough." Mr. Gideon shoots her the stink-eye and barks, "Why?!" so Jo wails, "Because you ride me all the time!" She complains that he criticizes everything she does, and that no one likes to be called a dummy. He scrunches his face in confusion and goes, "Is that you think I've been saying all these months?" and she nods and says, "It's pretty obvious." She points out that he never rides Blair, even though her big exclusive was a dumbass story on White House china, so Mr. Gideon explains that Blair has no interest in journalism...but knows how much it means to her (Jo). He wanted her to be challenged so she'd work her hardest...and apparently decided that giving her shitty grades all semester and humiliating her in front of her classmates was a good way to accomplish that goal. Jo now scrunches her face in confusion and she says she's very surprised to hear that he actually likes her stuff...and he assures her he does, then asks her how they got "on opposite sides of the fence". [Um, 'cause you're a douche?] Jo explains that when someone pushes her, her instinct is to push back - and apologizes again for publicly embarrassing him...even though he kinda had it coming. He tells her he's the most angry with himself, and that when he saw all the coke snorting that was going on at the party, he should have left. "My mistake," he wryly admits. No duh.
Jo notices that Mr. Gideon is packing up his stuff in a box, so she asks him whassup. He explains that he's leaving Eastland 'cause the administration has asked him to resign for the good of the school. Jo's like, "That's crazy!" but Mr. Gideon says he's getting out of teaching (since no school will hire him now that they think he's a coke snorter) and is heading back to Boston to work on a newspaper again. Jo offers to print a retraction or start a petition, but he just glares at her and stonily says, "You can't fix this." Jo hangs her head in shame and says she has to do something, so he says, "Then help me pack" and stalks out of the room carrying his box. Jo just stares after him, looking sheepish and miserable.
Shame shame, double shame, Jo!
Thanks for reading! If you are enjoying TVofYore's recaps, consider thanking me by buying me a "coffee"!
4/2/2021 10:25:00 pm
The teacher was a malicious monster to Jo. Even if someone is unusual or deficient in some way doesn’t give someone the right to terrorize them over it. Because she wasn’t good at journalism, not only did he give her poor grades, but he said the most abusive things he could think of. Then when she gets back at him, all of a sudden HE’S right and SHE’S wrong. “Shame, shame, double shame, Jo!” you wrote. You said he was a creep, so why is it wrong when Jo retaliates?
8/11/2021 07:39:41 am
Mr. Gideon wasn't even a good teacher. If he were, Jo would've known to check facts on this story. Good teachers don't berate or bully students. Also, he was dealing with teenage students, not professional reporters. You watch this episode and hope that at least Eastland hired a better journalism teacher.
8/11/2021 05:30:50 pm
Hi Penny! I was thinking the same thing. Jo’s only a teenager - it’s not fair to expect her to be as good as a professional reporter. Sometimes staff cares more about the teacher’s credentials than how he treats his students. That’s how he got hired. I’m glad he got fired - he brought it on himself.
10/4/2021 09:22:30 am
I don't believe this was totally Jo's fault. She DID call the police station to verify the story. They never told her that Gideon had been released an hour after the arrest OR that no charges were filed against him. That's on them, not her.
Leave a Reply.
The Facts of Life homepage
Recapper: Isabel K. French
Your contributions help keep the site ad-free
Television of Yore
Snide recaps of television's most entertaining classics