Recap: Jo is going over the books for Edna's Edibles and remarks on how sucky business has been lately. Mrs. Garrett chalks up the lagging sales to a temporary lull, but Jo tells her that if she wants to stay in business, they're going to have to take more of a "no frills" approach to their expenses. The two head over to the residence part of the building, where Natalie is pecking away on a computer. Jo snarls that the computer, which costs $160 per month to rent, is going to have to go...and I would strongly concur, 'cause assuming they don't have some kind of "rent to own" arrangement, that is a colossally stupid waste of cash. Natalie looks aghast at the idea of getting rid of the computer she affectionately nicknamed Dirk, and Mrs. Garrett informs Jo that the store's entire bookkeeping system and recipe collection is now stored in the machine. Jo backs off of her no frills mandate, but warns that "Dirk dies" if business doesn't pick up by next week.
Kelly (the faux street tough from the previous episode) pops by with a stack of newspapers and tells Jo she got herself a paper route. She asks Jo if she's proud of her, but instead of throwing Miss Needy a bone, Jo rolls her eyes and dickishly snaps, "Beat it." Kelly retorts that she heard Edna's Edibles is "dead" ever since Pete's Deli (down the block) got into the gourmet edibles business. Apparently, Pete's general MO in maintaining a monopoly in the neighborhood is to target new Peekskill businesses by copying their products and underselling them. Sounds like a cunty douchebag, this Pete. Mrs. Garrett urges everyone to dial down the panic and reminds them that they still have a wedding to cater this weekend. Jo snarlingly says she'd like to march over to Pete's Deli and utter her usual empty-type threats, but Mrs. Garrett reminds her that threats of violence are not the answer - not least 'cause it's stupid and illegal to do that - and admits that she was probably getting complacent by relying too much on her personal charm. Er, OK..? She decides that what Edna's Edibles needs is a "dynamic new taste thrill" in the form of her famous Wisconsin cheese puffs! After she rushes off to the kitchen to find a block of cheddar to start grating, Jo tells Tootie and Blair they're going to have to figure out what Pete's next move is so they can stop him. Tootie squeals, "Garbology!" and explains that it's the practice of sifting through one's garbage in order to learn everything they can about the person. Blair makes an ew face and says she has a more sanitary idea, then grins seductively and coos, "Pete is a man, isn't he?" and brags that she merely has to bat her eyes and fluff her hair in order to reduce him to silly putty.
Blair enters Pete's Deli, and we get our first look at Pete: a portly middle-aged man decked out in unsightly overalls with a plaid flannel shirt underneath, and who's acting ickily schmoozy with the female customers. When one of the customers recognizes Blair from Edna's Edibles, Pete waltzes over and lays on the schmaltz. Blair informs him that they're competing in the same gourmet foods market, so he sharply retorts that ever since Edna started peddling bratwurst, she crossed the line into "deli country". Blair offers to stop the sale of bratwurst if he agrees to stop selling croissants - but Pete nixes that idea since they're now also competing as caterers. Blair suggests divvying up the catering jobs, then stupidly gives him the details of the wedding Edna's Edibles is catering this weekend. Pete stares contemplatively into space, says, "We have a deal" ... and after Blair exits the deli, he immediately gets on the phone with the father of the bride and asks whassup with him hiring Edna's Edibles to cook the wedding feast. He orders him to dump Edna asap and hire Pete's Deli, then lays a guilt trip on him about the time he once pulled him out of a burning truck.
Mrs. Garrett is miffed and bewildered when her catering job abruptly gets cancelled. Jo snappishly wonders aloud how in blazes Pete found out about the gig...and a sheepish Blair admits that the details somehow slipped past her loose lips while she was at the deli earlier. Mrs. Garrett vows to fight back in the only way she knows how: by working on her batch of tasty cheese puffs. Blair, meanwhile, says she's going to go back to Pete's Deli, incognito, so she can spy on the yokel's every move. Sounds like a less than productive use of her time, but OK.
A stenchy Tootie announces that she's been sifting through Pete's garbage...but a few seconds later, an excited Natalie bursts into the room and says she has something to show them on the computer. When they rush over to where Dirk is set up, Natalie says she managed to hack into Pete's computer so she could view his data...which kinda stretches the boundaries of credulity even for this show, since I'm pretty sure the relic she's using is an un-networked computer not equipped with a modem, it being 1983 and all. Tootie chides her for invading Pete's privacy, and Natalie wryly counters that she just snooped through the guy's garbage. She then gabbles about how Pete's computer data includes his orders and recipes, and that she's able to change his records quite easily. Jo perks up and asks her if they can do stuff like screw up his orders and alter the recipes, and Natalie grins conspiratorially and replies, "Piece of cake." A disapproving Tootie reminds them that computer tampering over a non-existent network is against the law - but Jo ignores her, seats herself in front of the computer, and asks Natalie which keys she has to tap in order to best screw with Pete's data.
Natalie gets wigged out when Jo completely messes up Pete's financial records - just as Ms. Garrett shriekingly enters the room with the plate of cheese puffs she just whipped up. She asks them what they're doing on the computer, and they do their best to not look guilty and breezily tell her they're just playing a computer game. After Mrs. Garrett returns to the kitchen, Natalie is horrified when she realizes that Jo has inadvertently erased all of Joe's data. Yeesh. I hope for his sake it's all backed up on a floppy somewhere.
Business at Edna's Edibles has picked up, and one of the guests who attended the wedding Pete's Deli catered tells Mrs. Garrett that the food was terrible. Larry Wilmore makes his second appearance on Facts of Life as Officer Ziaukus to deliver a summons to Mrs. Garrett for computer tampering. Mrs. Garrett scrunches her face confusedly and is all, "Wha-a-a?" ... and once Larry Wilmore exits the shop and is safely out of earshot, Natalie sheepishly explains that they accidentally tampered with Pete's data and somehow wiped everything out. Mrs. Garrett stares at them, aghast, and shrieks, "What you did was a crime!!" and says she's off to Pete's Deli to beg Pete to drop the charges.
Mrs. Garrett arrives at Pete's Deli (along with Jo) and introduces herself to Pete. He snarks about how they'll soon be meeting in the police station, points across the room at Blair - who's donning a black wig and a Morticia outfit in a less-than-covert spy mission - and starts to irritably shoo them out of his store. As he's doing that, Natalie and Tootie burst into the deli with the news that Tootie discovered something incriminating in Pete's garbage: copies of all of Mrs. Garrett's recipes. Apparently, this is solid proof that Pete has been using his computer to break into their computer for weeks...'cause, yep, it's totally plausible that a yokelly hillbilly who doesn't look as though he could find a computer's on switch is actually a pre-Internet era hacking genius. Pete hangs his head shamefully and tells Mrs. Garrett he'd like to avoid being counter-sued for computer tampering and hopes they can settle the matter amicably.
Mrs. Garrett mocks Pete's phony southern accent, tells him she doesn't give a rat's ass if he wants to unveil his new line of Tennessee cheese puffs in direct competition to her new line of Wisconsin cheese puffs, and smugly says the customers will always be drawn to the best quality food. Pete argues that she's going to end up the loser in this tedious 'gourmet edibles war'...and the episode ends with the two of them bickering like an old married couple. Weird.
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