Recap: Natalie is sitting in front of her typewriter in the dining room area of the Facts of Life set, trying to come up with something interesting to write...and after a few 'it was a dark and stormy night' type attempts, she eventually decides to write about the Facts gals' return from summer vacation for the eighth - OMFG, retire this show already - season.
Jo remarks to the other Facts gals how unusual it is that Mrs. Garrett hasn't yet made an appearance to shriekily greet them now they've all returned to Peekskill from being on vacation all summer, then asks Tootie if she happens to know anything 'bout that. Tootie dishes about the big change in Mrs. Garrett's life: she has a serious boyfriend named Bruce Gaines, who she met in Africa when the two were in the Peace Corps twenty years ago. [Which doesn't quite square with the timeline of Edna's marriage to her first husband Robert...and/or when she would have been caring for her two sons, who were both young children at the time she was supposedly a single, carefree woman working overseas.]
Mrs. Garrett arrives with Bruce in tow and introduces him to Blair and Jo...and when Jo asks him if he's dating Mrs. Garrett, he chuckles about what an old fashion notion dating is, then deadpans, "We're going steady." Tootie informs Mrs. Garrett that her sister, Beverly Ann, called to report that she and her Winnebago are lost somewhere in Connecticut, then chuckles about how she'd probably like them to clear out of the living room so that she and her new boyfriend can be alone. Mrs. Garrett's like, "You got that right, get the hell out", and the Facts gals scurry upstairs.
Mrs. Garrett and Bruce reminisce about their time in Africa, and Bruce recalls the first time he saw her, which he describes as "love at first sight". He then leans in for a smooch and abruptly proposes marriage...and when Mrs. Garrett reminds him that he proposed to her while they were in Africa all those years ago, Bruce says he meant it then as much as he means it now. Mrs. Garrett looks overcome by the prospect of marriage, then blurts out, "Yes!" - but Bruce says that before she accepts - womp womp! - she should prolly be aware that marrying him entails shipping off to Africa in two weeks 'cause he just rejoined the Peace Corps. Mrs. Garrett mulls over the prospect of abruptly pulling up stakes and moving overseas, then firmly says she can't 'cause she's built a life here and can't possibly leave her shop or her gig housemothering four fully grown women. She sadly says, "No, sorry", and Bruce says he too is sorry and dejectedly shuffles towards the door. She asks him if she's going to see him again before he sails for Africa, and he wistfully smiles and says, "Sure. It was a wonderful dream" with which she can only concur.
Mrs. Garrett naps on the couch as the audio of her screeching 'I built a life here!' swirls around her head while she has a dream about her own funeral. As Tootie presides over the grim event, Blair wanders in late, and Natalie writes the obituary about "a woman of no importance". Bruce gets up to make a few remarks, including how he almost married the deceased, who surely would have been known as Edna of Africa. Blair then makes a dramatic confession: she killed Mrs. Garrett after she bored her to death with her constant cookie baking. As they close the over-the-face part of the casket, a dead/alive Mrs. Garrett panics and shrieks, "Wait! My life had meaning!!" ... and the Facts gals come running into the living room to see what the ruckus is all about.
Mrs. Garrett tells the gals that Bruce just proposed to her, but that marrying him means she'd have to rejoin the Peace Corps and live in Africa. Jo looks aghast at that prospect and reminds her that that's at least a two year committment, and Mrs. Garrett says she's well aware of that, but that she felt soooo good about herself when she was allegedly in the Peace Corps twenty years ago. Blair cautions, "Africa's a rough town" [though...more like a giant, non-monolithic continent], while Tootie urges her to go for it if she thinks it'd give her life new meaning. Mrs. Garrett chews on that for a few seconds before declaring that she's made up her mind to marry Bruce and move to Africa. After she scampers off to give Bruce the good news, Jo, Tootie, and Natalie grumble about how she didn't even ask them what they thought of this drastic life decision...so Blair points out that, at some point, one or more of the foursome is eventually going to want to pull the plug on this unnatural living arrangement and move on with life. Tootie agrees and says that they should be happy for the old lady - but Jo glumly remarks that it's hard to imagine life without Mrs. Garrett...then has flashbacks of the various times she's been a supportive tower of strength for the four of them.
The camera pans back to the present, where Natalie is applauding herself for constructing flashbacks within a flashback.
Back in time..
Mrs. Garrett scampers back into the room and says she can't possibly make this kind of life decision without first talking to them...then natters that if she were to leave Peekskill, they'd have to find someone else to..
Natalie continues to tap out her story on her typewriter, and begins telling the tale of Mrs. Garrett's big day.
Back in time..
Blair is on the phone with Beverly Ann, who's inching closer to Peekskill, but is now lost in New Jersey. I wonder if it's ever occurred to the imbecile to chart her cross country journey with the aid of a road map. Mrs. Garrett tells the gals that Bruce's departure date to Africa has been moved up to tomorrow morning - ack! - which means she barely has time to pack and will have to have her wedding on the boat or in Africa once they arrive. The Facts gals nix those options and remind her that they've waited seven long years to be her bridesmaids, and Blair decrees that anything is possible and promptly takes charge of Operation Quickie Wedding.
Blair is on the phone with the city clerk, offering monetary bribes in order to speed up the marriage license process, while Tootie and Jo help Mrs. Garrett pack her suitcase. She thanks them for all their help, tells them how important they are to her, and hopes they always felt love in between her tough love judgemental stink-eyes whenever they got on the wrong side of acceptable behavior.
Wedding day! Tootie enters the living room bearing pretty tulip bouquets, while the only guests other than the Facts gals - two little old ladies - arrive. Mrs. Garrett, who's chosen to wear a powder blue dress for her big day, frets about what could be keeping her sister, so Jo heads out to see if she can spot the halfwit's Winnebago. A few seconds later, Beverly Ann makes a grand entrance with her arms dramatically outstretched, rushes into her sister's arms for a hello hug, then is introduced to her brother-in-law-to-be. After that, she pulls Mrs. Garrett aside and asks her if she's absolutely sure about having so quickie a wedding...and Mrs. Garrett says she had to make up her mind quickly, but is fairly certain she wants to board a boat and sail to Africa with Bruce, never to be seen on Facts of Life again. Beverly Ann wishes her well, then scampers back out to properly park her Winnebago.
Mrs. Garrett is telling the Facts gals how overwhelmed she is by the speed at which her wedding is taking place when Jo bursts in to inform everyone that Beverly Ann just ran over the minister with her Winnebago.
As Natalie reads through her typewritten story, she assures viewers that the paramedics were called...and since Beverly Ann only ran over the minister's feet, his injuries were not life-threatening.
Back in time..
As Bruce helps the traumatized minister hobble into the living room, Beverly Ann profusely apologizes for the mishap while Mrs. Garrett calls an ambulance. She then wails at Bruce that she can't do this...this meaning all of the "winging it" that's been going on with respect to their wedding plans, and that she much prefers to take her time before making major life decisions.
When the paramedics arrive and wheel off the injured minister, Mrs. Garrett declines to go along with Bruce to the hospital...and once he's out of earshot, she informs Beverly Ann and the Facts gals that she's decided to not move to Africa after all. Beverly Ann laments ruining an important milestone for her the way she's ruined all of her past milestones: her last wedding anniversary, senior prom, a kindergarten incident. Mrs. Garrett says she's forgotten about all that, but that she can't help noticing that the man she loves just walked out the door the moment she (Beverly Ann) walked in. Ouch. When she storms off to the store part of the set, Tootie and Jo rush after her and do their best to convince her to follow through with her plans to go to Africa with Bruce - but Mrs. Garrett says she's suddenly decided that she really doesn't want to leave Peekskill after all.
A sheepish Beverly Ann tells Blair and Natalie that she did her best to make a good impression on her future brother-in-law, then glumly adds that she really screwed the pooch for the happy couple...and Blair and Natalie are like, "Yeah, no shit."
Jo and Tootie tell Mrs. Garrett she's a fool to give up her dream of living in Africa with the man she loves, and she barks at them to leave her alone, then returns to the living room and is told that Beverly Ann and her Winnebago have left the premises.
Alone in a trailer park, Beverly Ann mutters to herself about spending another lonely night in her Winnebago, then self-piteously adds, "At least out here I can't hurt anyone." A few seconds later, the Facts gals drop by after being tipped off about her whereabouts from a map (she left behind to serve as an unmissable clue) to apologize for not giving her a fair chance. They assure her they like her, and she thanks them and says that after all the Eastland stories Mrs. Garrett has told her over the years, she kinda thinks of them as her extended family.
Soon after, Mrs. Garrett arrives at the Winnebago, wryly explains that someone left a map directing her to the trailer park hanging on the chandelier, and apologizes for her bitchitude earlier. She then says that if Bruce really truly loved her he'd show up in the next few seconds...and, sure enough, he drops in with the minister in tow to profess his love for Edna and offer to cancel his Africa plans if she agrees to marry him. She squeals delightedly, says she'd loooooove to marry him and follow through with their original plan to move to Africa, then offers to drive the Winnebago back home so she can pick up all of her wedding stuff. She seats herself behind the wheel and hits the gas pedal...and somehow collides with a guardrail that borders a dangerous cliff (?!). As everyone inside the trailer panics at the implausible turn this season premiere has suddenly taken, they hold on for dear life as each Facts gal escape certain death by slipping out the main door, one by one, onto a nearby ledge. When the ledge gives way, effectively trapping Mrs. Garrett and Bruce inside, Beverly Ann climbs atop the roof of the Winnebago and helps lift the two to safety through the top hatch. Phew!
As Natalie continues to tap out her story, she reveals that everyone made it out safely, and that Mrs. Garrett decided since time was of the essence she wanted to have her wedding in the trailer park.
Back in time..
Blair fluffs Mrs. Garrett's hair while pinning a sprinkling of tiny flowers into the red rat's nest, Tootie produces a blueberry bridal bouquet she managed to cobble together, and Natalie brings over some candles she just happened to stumble across. A touched Mrs. Garrett tells them she's learned sooooo much from each of them, will miss them all terribly, then channels her inner Dorothy Gale as she addresses each of them to gush about their best qualities.
Beverly Ann assures her sister she'll do her very best to serve as the Facts gals' superfluous new mother figure and wishes her well in her African life with Bruce...and when the wedding ceremony finally gets underway, a random camper sitting off to the side starts playing The Wedding March on his harmonica. Beverly Ann interrupts the proceedings to order Bruce to take good care of her sister...and that if he doesn't, she'll hunt him to the ends of the earth. With that threat uttered, the happy couple exchanges vows, rings, and are pronounced husband and wife. After a quick group photo, Bruce reminds his bride that they have a boat to catch, and Mrs. Garrett...er Gaines rushes off after tossing her blueberry bouquet...and the bundle is caught by Jo, who looks less than thrilled to suddenly have her hands stained by the messy concoction.
Natalie finishes tapping out her story, concludes with "and that's how Beverly Ann came to live with us" just as Beverly Ann comes downstairs to bossily remind Natalie that it's 3am, which - she can only assume - is well past her bedtime.
Oh dear, Beverly Ann. You're not starting out very well.
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