Recap: The cafeteria is filled with a gaggle of Eastland extras who are wooting/crying over their acceptance/rejection letters from the various colleges they applied to. Mrs. Garrett is comforting a particularly distraught looking girl when Natalie marches over with a microphone and tape recorder and cheekily asks the girl how it feels to be rejected from the college of her choice...and the girl shrieks in mortification and flees the room. Tootie and Alexandra (of The Royal Pain episode) make an entrance, and Tootie explains to the Italian princess that college hopefuls get either a thin or fat envelop from the colleges they applied to, and that a fat envelop is good 'cause it generally means it's an acceptance. Blair enters the room with a faux glum look on her face...and when Mrs. Garrett asks her if she got a fat envelop in the mail, she says no, then beams from ear to ear and announces, "I got three fat envelopes!" and happily says she got into every college she applied to: Wellesley, Smith, and the fictional Langley (her top choice, conveniently located in Peekskill so that her post-secondary school decision won't disrupt the show's winning formula of four aging teenagers living under the same roof as their housemother). When Jo enters the room, Blair also gives her the good news...and Jo congratulates her and shiftily says she hasn't heard anything from any colleges yet. After everyone clears out of the cafeteria, Mrs. Garrett asks Jo whassup with the large yellow envelop sticking out of her back pocket, and Jo admits that's it's her acceptance letter from Langley. Mrs. Garrett lets out a joyful screech and gives her a congratulatory hug - but Jo just shrugs and says it's no big deal. Mrs. Garrett argues that it is a big deal, especially since she was awarded a partial scholarship. She scrunches her face in puzzlement and asks Jo why she didn't tell the Facts gals about her acceptance letter, so Jo says she's not planning to attend Langley...'cause even with a partial scholarship, her mother could never afford to pay the hefty tuition costs. Mrs. Garrett urges her to discuss it with her mother, but Jo refuses and says she's had a hard enough life already, slaving away at two minimum wage jobs just so she could attend Eastland. When Mrs. Garrett refrains from pointing out that Mama Polniaczek likely sent her to a fancy boarding school so she could get into a fancy college and one day earn a lot of dough, Jo dramatically rips up her acceptance letter and announces that she's off to the Bronx for the weekend. Mrs. Garrett stares after her concernedly and is all, "Wha-a-a-a-a?"
Mama Polniaczek greets Jo in the hallway of her building when she arrives and gives her a hello hug. When they enter the apartment, a group of Bronx extras yell, "Surprise!" and we see that the little apartment is decorated with balloons, streamers, and a Congratulations for getting into Langley! poster. Jo immediately gets irked and asks her mom if Mrs. Garrett blabbed to her about Langley, but her mom says she found out about her acceptance when she received a bunch of financial aid forms in the mail from Langley and put two and two together. She gushes about how proud she is...as does Aunt Evelyn, who gushingly calls her a genius. Jo pulls her mom aside so she can quietly point out that in order to qualify for an acceptance to Langley, they're going to have to fork over $6,000 which neither of them has. Mama Polniaczek insists she has the funds to cover it, then tells her about the hot stock tip she got from a customer at one of the restaurants she works at...and how she subsequently turned over her life savings of $900 to her ex-husband to invest for her. Since then, the stock has gone through the roof, and her investment is now worth $5,000. Assuming this happened in the somewhat recent past, that sounds like a completely implausible ROI, but then I'm a recapper not a stock market analyst. A few seconds later, Papa Polniaczek arrives at the party...and when he gets a moment alone with Jo, he confesses that he didn't actually invest his ex's $900 in what he assumed was "a long shot stock" - and instead put it in a low earning money market account, where it's currently worth about $1,000...which, incidentally, sounds like a far more realistic return on her money. Jo's all, "Wha-a-a?" and tells him he's going to have to confess to Mama Polniaczek that he totally screwed the pooch on her investment plans.
After Papa Polniaczek has dropped the bomb about the money and quickly fled, his ex-wife is sitting on the couch, staring despondently into space. She insists that there has to be a way to send Jo to Langley - there is: apply for a student loan - but Jo says she'll get herself a minimum wage job and move back in so the two of them can be roommates. Mama Polniaczek wails that she doesn't need a roommate, but rather a daughter with a future...and Jo yells, "I'm not going to college, and that's that!" and storms out of the room, leaving her mother staring worriedly after her.
The next morning, Papa Polniaczek drops by the apartment looking sheepish. He tells Jo it would be a crazy decision to not go to college, then promises to somehow come up with her tuition money. His ex-wife bitchily reminds him he's a deadbeat ex-convict with zero financial resources, and the two start bickering until Jo screams at them to shut up, then storms out of the apartment.
Jo cuts her Bronx weekend short and returns to Eastland. Natalie gushes at her about how awesome Langley is and explains that she found her ripped up acceptance letter. She then sticks her microphone in Jo's face and asks her why in blazes she'd turn down a partial scholarship, and Jo shoots her the stink-eye and shoves her away.
Mama and Papa Polniaczek arrive at Eastland to wrap up the 'we're going to put our heads together and find a way to send Jo to college' story arc. Papa Polniaczek insists that Jo get herself educated - and Mama Polniaczek concurs 'cause she'll be damned if she doesn't recoup at least some of the money she's worked her ass off slinging hash in two restaurants to keep up with Jo's pricey Eastland tuition payments. When Jo points out that they're going to need $2,000 for a college deposit in the very near future, Papa Polniaczek says it suddenly dawned on him during the ride over that he could sell his '66 Mustang. When Jo half-heartedly says she can't let him sell his beloved car, he tells her he always knew he was saving it for something important and that he'd be honored to invest in her future. Jo looks touched and hugs him just as Mrs. Garrett and Blair return from spending the afternoon at Langley. Blair shows off all the shirts and banners she bought...and when Jo grabs one of the Langley shirts and puts it on, Blair says it'd prolly make more sense for her to buy one from her own school. Jo proudly says, "Langley is my school. See you around campus!" and Blair scrunches her face and is all, "Wha-a-a?" - but then beams at the thought of carrying on with her unrequited, non-hetero crush on Jo well into the Facts college years and chirps, "Great!" just as the episode comes to a weirdly abrupt end.
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