Recap: Mrs. Garrett and the gals are irked at Roy for missing the breakfast and lunch deliveries of the baked goods they depend on daily. When he finally saunters in, he explains that he got unavoidably delayed 'cause he's training a new assistant - then introduces Leo. Tootie and Natalie appreciatively eye the attractive newcomer...and when Roy murmurs, "He's kinda slow", the gals interpret that to mean he physically moves around in a very slow fashion. Jo snaps at Tootie and Natalie to quit drooling over him...and a few seconds later, Blair breezes into the room carrying a stack of library books. Roy offers to carry them for her, but she tells him to get lost - then sees Leo, perks up at his attractiveness, and lays it on thick about how exhausting it is for a delicate flower such as herself to be carrying such a heavy stack of books. When Leo just stares back at her blankly, she orders Natalie to introduce them, then gushes over what a powerful name Leo is. When Leo just continues to stare blankly at her, she comes right out and says, "I need your help carrying these books", and hands them to him...and the two head off to the library.
Roy flirts with Jo for awhile, then looks around for Leo and says he must have wandered off somewhere. Tootie and Natalie tell him that Leo left with Blair, and Roy scrunches his face in confusion and asks why an it girl like Blair would be interested in someone like Leo. He then shrugs and says, "I suppose with Leo's looks it doesn't matter that he's retarded" and everyone freezes and is all, "Wha-a?!" so Roy explains that when he referred earlier to Leo being slow, he figured they all understood that it meant in the head. Jo snaps, "Well, obviously we didn't" ... and Tootie suddenly looks alarmed and says, "Neither did Blair" and Jo, Tootie, Natalie, and Roy all stare concernedly into space.
Leo is in the school library with Blair, trailing after her as she wanders around the stacks, looking for something new to read. She asks him which authors he recommends, and somehow doesn't get a clue when he just stares at her blankly instead of answering. She asks him why they haven't met before, so he tells her he attends a special school...and by special school, Blair assumes he means a school for the intellectually gifted. She breezily tells him that her parents wanted to send her to a school for gifted kids - but then says she's very happy at Eastland. She asks Leo what he's studying...and when Leo says, "I like to draw", Blair's like, "Me too!" and asks if he prefers oil or acrylics. Leo looks befuddled by the question, then says he likes to use a paintbrush. Blair chuckles at what she thinks is him making a joke...but when he gets that vacant look on his face again, she finally realizes that something is amiss here. She suddenly looks deep in thought, murmurs, "Special school..?" and Leo nods enthusiastically. Blair stares at him in bewilderment, then whirls around and shoots stink-eyes in the direction of the live studio audience. LOL.
Jo and Tootie nervously wonder how long it will take Blair to get a clue about Leo, then fret about all the inappropriate things she's liable to say and do during that time period. Natalie says that one of them is going to have to break the news to Blair, then suggests they draw straws for that undesirable task. When Natalie ends up drawing the short straw, she's all, "Ack!" and implores Mrs. Garrett to advise her on the best way to enlighten Blair, and Mrs. Garrett just shrugs and tells her to be honest. Tootie concurs, then demonstrates how one might tell Blair the truth about Leo by blurting out, "He's retarded." Blair, who just happens to enter the room at that moment, tells everyone to chillax 'cause she's already aware of the status of her new friend's mental capacity. She proudly tells them she's not even going to try to shake him off her leg, but rather make him her new pet project. She excitedly announces that she and Leo have plans to go out on Saturday night - and everyone scrunches their faces in confusion and are all, "Wha-a-a?!"
Late Saturday evening, Tootie is anxiously pacing the cafeteria, waiting for Blair to return home. Natalie reminds her that Blair and Leo went to the movies, but Tootie says she called the movie theater and they told her that the movie already let out. Tootie tells Mrs. Garrett that she's worried about Blair being alone with Leo, specifically because he might turn out to be like Lennie from Of Mice and Men: a sweet retarded man who didn't know his own strength and killed things he loved. Mrs. Garrett tut tuts Tootie about assuming that Leo is dangerous or violent just 'cause he's slow...then recalls, "In my day, we couldn't even talk about retarded people!" Much less exploit them on '80s sitcoms. When Blair returns home, Tootie snaps, "You're late!" and Blair sarcastically retorts, "Sorry mom" and explains that she and Leo decided to walk home after the movie. She says they had a lovely time, and that Leo notices things most people take for granted (e.g. the moon and the stars). She announces that tomorrow she's taking Leo on a tour of Victorian houses in order to "open up horizons for his potential". Mrs. Garrett scrunches her face concernedly - as that pronouncement has disaster written all over it - and reminds her that Leo is special...and that she's not a professional. Blair argues that Leo needs her special attention and assures Mrs. Garrett she's totes down with his specialness.
The Facts girls (minus Blair) are cleaning up the cafeteria after a meal. Jo grumbles about how Blair is never around to pitch in these days, and Natalie reminds her that she's busy broadening Leo's horizons by taking him to art museums, galleries, and concerts. A few seconds later, Blair sweeps in and announces that she's giving Leo another painting lesson in the lounge, then gushes to Mrs. Garrett that he has sooo much talent. When Leo arrives for his lesson a few minutes later, Blair informs him that today they'll be focusing on a technique known as perspective, aka painting something that's far away, meaning smaller. She demonstrates the technique on the canvas, then asks Leo to give it a try...but he doesn't seem to grasp the concept and just mashes his brush on the canvas. Blair grimaces and says she knows he can do better, then orders him to paint a straight line. When he earnestly does as she asks, she barks, "Bolder! Bolder!" and Leo gets so confused and frustrated that he throws a tantrum and knocks down the easel and whips the paints onto the floor. As he tries to flee the lounge, he bumps into Mrs. Garrett, causing the tray of cookies she's carrying to go flying. She asks the distressed lad where he's going, and he bursts into tears and whimpers, "I'm going home" then awkwardly scampers out. A visibly shaken Blair says she has no idea what just happened, so Mrs. Garrett explains that she was pushing him too hard and expecting too much. Blair insists that Leo was making wonderful progress in his art appreciation lessons, but Mrs. Garrett points out that he simply likes pretty pictures, then accuses her of wanting to turn Leo into a non-retarded person. Blair sadly retorts, "I just want him to be the best he can be" and Mrs. Garrett chides her for not accepting him the way he is now: warm, sweet, sensitive ... but, yeah, retarded.
Some time later, Roy and Leo arrive at Eastland to make their daily delivery of baked goods. Roy flirts with Jo, as per usual...and Jo snaps at him to get lost, as per usual, and then warmly greets Leo. Mrs. Garrett asks Roy if they could discuss next week's order in the kitchen...and everyone discreetly clears the room so that Blair and Leo can wrap up the episode with a tender, heart strings pulling moment. She tells him she's very glad to see him, and he looks surprised then sheepishly says he was skeered that she'd be angry with him 'cause of his tantrum the other day. She smiles and says she could never be angry with him...so an emboldened Leo offers to paint her a pretty picture and asks her what she'd like. Blair, who I'm happy to report learned her lesson from the previous scene, wisely replies, "You decide" so Leo excitedly tells her he'd like to draw the view from his window 'cause it has lots of trees and pretty flowers. Blair tells him that that would be won-der-ful...but then Leo suddenly looks anxious and says he's worried she might not like it. Blair urges him to draw the view the way he sees it and promises she'll love it no matter what...and Leo beams, closes his eyes real tight, and happily pumps his fist into the air.
Bravo, Blair. Bravo.
Thanks for reading! If you are enjoying TVofYore's recaps, consider thanking me by buying me a "coffee"!
1/27/2021 03:58:17 pm
Leo (Thomas Byrd) returns a few season later as Nick, Blair's druggie boyfriend.
8/17/2022 02:54:55 pm
I actually thought this was a sweet episode, I like how Blair realized she was taking the fun out of art for Leo and felt bad about it then encouraged him to just have fun the way he liked to. It shows Blair's nice side. Also, I was pretty surprised to watch this on DVD and hear flagrant use of the word "retarded." I mean, I totally understand that the technical sense of the term should be NBD and it wasn't used in a derogatory way in this episode but I grew up in the 90s where it was definitely used derogatorily so it elicits a wince in me every time.
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