Recap: Natalie grumbles about how badly she wants to write a substantive article in the school paper, and that it would be a departure from the fluffy drivel she usually churns out. [The writers must have plum forgotten a couple of things: just two episodes ago, Natalie went out on a limb publishing a story in the school paper about her anti-book banning activism - a show of balls that got her terminated as school paper editor.] That said, let us digress..
Natalie announces her intention to tackle an important societal issue, and the other Facts girls rack their tiny brains trying to guess what it could be - drugs, cheating, venereal disease (!) - but Natalie says it's none of those and proudly announces that her article will be about abortion. Gasp! Faint! Swoon! Mrs. Garrett makes a blech face and says it's a tough subject for a high school newspaper, and Blair agrees that it can get pretty touchy. Natalie says she'd really like to "stir things up", then complains that it's a moot point 'cause no one at Eastland will talk to her on the record about their abortions. Mrs. Garrett breezily assures her she'll come up with something else, and then she, Jo, and Blair escape the uncomfortable abortion talk by making a break for it to the kitchen. Natalie tells Tootie she's called every clinic and doctor's office in the area, but none were willing to give her a list of Eastland students who had undergone an abortion...so all she has for her article are boring statistics. She insists that she needs a "POV" (personal point of view) on the issue, and Tootie decides that this is the perfect opening to tell her about Louise, the imaginary friend she used to have in lieu of actual friends who were probably turned off by her sharp-tongued sass. As she reminisces about how Louise was anything she wanted her to be, Natalie looks like she's just stumbled upon a brilliant idea and says she'll write her abortion story from Louise's perspective! She explains that "Louise" can be a composite of all the statistics and background information she's been gathering - but Tootie gets all judgey and exclaims, "You can't do that!" Natalie says it's done all the time...except in this case she has zero intention of disclosing that "Louise" doesn't exist, 'cause it might take away from the story's impact. Tootie tells her that that's dishonest, but Natalie just shrugs unconcernedly, says she's doing it anyway...and that if she doesn't like it, she and her sassy tongue can suck on it.
Natalie publishes her abortion story, and all the Eastland students are gathered in the cafeteria, reading the paper and gabbling excitedly about the article. Jo tells Natalie, "This is powerful stuff" and Blair is impressed with her strong and sensitive writing style...while Tootie scowls disapprovingly in Natalie's direction. Blair says she feels like she knows the girl who had the abortion and wonders who it is, and Natalie says she can't say 'cause it would be a violation of her journalistic ethics...and Jo agrees that it's imperative she protect her source, even if it means going to jail...or being expelled (oops: spoiler). Blair begs her to give her a little hint who this girl is, e.g. her name, and Natalie says she really can't, and Tootie bitchily snaps, "You can say that again." Jo tells Natalie that the article is so darn good that she should enter it in the annual Journalism Contest, and Natalie says she definitely likes the sound of that idea.
Mrs. Garrett bustles into the cafeteria and moans, "Ooooh, it's happening again!" Blair asks her if she read Natalie's article in the school paper, aka "the bombshell", and Mrs. Garrett wryly replies, "You're telling me." She tells the gals that Mr. Parker is on his way over, and informs Natalie that they have a problem. She then stares into space and bitches about how Mr. Parker always makes her deliver bad new, then tells Natalie he's demanding to know the identity of the girl she wrote about in her abortion article. She has twenty-four hours to rat her out...and if she refuses, she'll be expelled. Natalie pales and is all, "Wuh?" and then Mrs. Garrett and the Facts gals stare concernedly into space while the scene fades to black for a commercial break.
Natalie refuses to give up her faux abortion source, and Mr. Parker says he respects the right of a journalist to protect her source - except when it results in his office getting flooded with calls from concerned parents who are demanding to know if their daughter is the slutty culprit. You'd think Mr. Parker would have learned his lesson on the dangers of immediately caving into parental pressure from last season's ridiculous book banning episode. Natalie assures him that "Louise" is A-OK after her abortion, but Mr. Parker says he can't let her be the final judge of what's best for this girl, 'cause somehow that's his job. He then tells her that if she continues to refuse to tattle on the tramp, she'll be suspended for as long as it takes to smoke her out. Natalie says she'll never give up her source...and as Mr. Parker struts off, Mrs. Garrett promises to try to talk sense into the moron. The other Facts gals rally around Natalie and insist that the threat of expulsion is an infringement of her First Amendment rights, and then Jo babbles some nonsense about the case going as high as the Supreme Court...'cause, yeah, Mr. Parker's authoritarian dickery is definitely something that requires the highest court in the land to sort out. Blair says her mom used to date a judge, so she's going to get on the horn with him to see if there's anything he can recommend. After everyone dashes off, Tootie tells Natalie that this crisis is getting out of hand and that she needs to 'fess up to Mr. Parker...but Natalie is reluctant, 'cause then everyone will know she made the whole thing up.
Natalie's in the bedroom, packing her stuff as Tootie tries to convince her to change her mind. A frumpy student we've never seen before, Annie, enters the room to congratulate Natalie on her article...and Tootie's so disgusted by the flattery that she bitchily storms out like the judgemental little troll she is. Annie gabbles on and on about how well the abortion article was written, and how noble it is for Natalie to take a stand against revealing her source...but Natalie just grumbles about not wanting to have to tell her parents that she's been kicked out of school. Annie tells her she can't let herself crumble, then solemnly adds, "I'm counting on you" ... and when Natalie's all, "Huh??", Annie tells her the jig is up, and that she doesn't have to pretend anymore. When it's clear that Natalie is genuinely clueless about what the hell is going on, Annie needlessly confesses that the girl she described in the article is her, and that she came to this conclusion 'cause the article mentioned stuff that no one else knew about. Natalie assures her that no one at school knows about her abortion, and also that she has no desire to make trouble for her. Annie tells her she was upset when the article came out...but after reading it, she was comforted when she realized that someone out there understood exactly what she had gone through. She begs Natalie not to rat her out (despite needlessly ratting herself out), then dashes out of the room. What a self-sabotaging dimwit.
Blair's newest brilllllliant idea is for Natalie to tell her who "Louise" is, and she'll then anonymously leak it to Mr. Parker. I think that that is a truly nonsensical and dickish idea, a sentiment with which Jo also agrees.
Mrs. Garrett tells Natalie that Mr. Parker "just won't budge" on the expulsion issue and insists on knowing the girl's name. Natalie finally cracks and tells her there was no girl, and that Louise is a figment of her (well...Tootie's) imagination. Mrs. Garrett shrieks, "Wha-at??!!" so Natalie explains that since she couldn't get anyone to talk about their abortions, she made up a girl so that all of her research and statistics wouldn't go to waste. Mrs. Garrett bellows, "That's not reporting - that's fiction!!" and chides her for causing so much worry and concern for no reason...then says she's now going to have to explain her fiction writing to Mr. Parker. Natalie's like, "Uh, turns out there actually is a Louise" and tells her that she just spoke with a student who, for some God-only-knows-why reason, admitted that she went through exactly what the article described. Natalie remarks that, in an interesting twist of irony, Mr. Parker is hounding her for a name...and now she has one that could get her off the hook. Mrs. Garrett admonishes her for writing something she knew wasn't true, and says the fact that there's a real Louise at Eastland doesn't mean she was doing the right thing.
Mr. Parker enters the cafeteria to tell Natalie he's totally reversing himself on his threat to expel her. He was hoping she'd cooperate, but he can see that it's a matter of principle for her - plus, his wife ordered him to respect his students' First Amendment rights or else give up access to her cootch for the foreseeable future. He says he'll just have to figure out who "Louise" is on his own by interrogating students and poring over their absentee records...'cause, yeah, that's not an abusive violation of these teenage girls' privacy about a matter that's absolutely none of his fucking business. [Incidentally, I wonder what his ball-busting wife would have to say 'bout that.] Natalie looks stricken and finally admits to him that there is no Louise and that she's willing to print a full retraction. Mr. Parker's all, "Wha-a?!", and bitchily orders her to resign as editor-in-chief, effective immediately. He says, on the bright side, it'll be a relief to all the pain-in-the-ass parents who have been calling his office all day...then pretends as though he suspected all along that the story was made up, 'cause no way would any of his sainted Eastland girls ever hit the sack (unprotected or otherwise) and get herself knocked up. As he blissfully scampers off, Mrs. Garrett and Natalie stare solemnly at each other, then into space as they ponder the dimwittedness of their school's headmaster.
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Recapper: Isabel K. French
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