Once again, I'm shaking up the episode order of SVH TV, but this time I have the best reason ever. I noticed that a number of you were quite upset at the way the TV series handled the cheerleading book arc last time, especially the lack of cross-dressing and the brunette Ken. While it looks like they're not going to rectify the brunette Ken situation, the boys-dressing-like-cheerleaders storyline is well and truly alive. And there's a cameo from a Power Ranger. Not even kidding. I have come across an episode so amazing, it needs to jump the queue. If this was Springfield, it'd be principal of the queue. Prepare yourself for the greatest greatness you ever did see.
We begin the day at the Moon Beach. Winston, Liz and Todd are hanging out, talking about how Winston is some sort of marching band conductor. Oh, and check it out -- in the six episodes between last week's recap and this week's recap, TODD CUT HIS HAIR! Unfortunately, this means that the several small woodland creatures that no doubt inhabited that untamed mane have now been displaced. Spare a thought for them as you swoon over Todd's new Vanilla Ice hairdo.
Winston goes off somewhere (possibly band-related), and Enid and a random Sweet Valley jock approach the table with a big poster that reads BIG MESA/SWEET VALLEY FOOTBAL GAM. WELCOME ALUMNI. I suppose it's for the upcoming Big Mesa/Sweet Valley football gam(e) and subsequent alumni weekend. Todd flies off into a crazy rage, screaming, "Sweet Valley/Big Mesa football gam?! Wha-wha-what is a football gam?! You're both fired!" Oh, would you look at that. Todd's disproportionately angry. Must be an odd-numbered day...or an even-numbered day...or just a day, really. Liz tells him to chill the fuck out, and then asks Enid to please fix it. She and the jock with no speaking lines (who, may I point out, is blonde and could've easily been a better Ken Matthews than the other guy) leave the premises, and Todd asks Liz to check all the banners before Mr. Hagan gets here. Who's Mr. Hagan, you ask? Shh, don't interrupt, Liz is just about to tell us. Apparently Mr. Hagan is some alumni guy who now works at ESPN, and Todd really wants to impress him in the hopes that he'll get a summer job at their network. Liz asks, "How could he not hire you?" Um, Liz, need I point out the number of instances that point directly to the fact that Todd is a few chairs short of a set? Don't worry, I'm sure there will be plenty more in this episode if you don't have time to go back and reminisce.
Lila and Jess come barging in to save the viewers from the funk they inevitably find themselves falling into whenever Liz is onscreen too long. While pushing through the crowd of people, Lila has the sense to tell a stranger to "chew with your mouth closed, please." Lila Fowler, folks, dishing out etiquette lessons on the run. Of course, Work Ethic Todd tells Jess that she'd better have her cheerleaders ready for the alumni weekend, and we get this exchange:
Jess: They will be. I've booked my entire squad in for root touch-ups."
Todd: "I mean the cheers!"
Jess: "Oh, please. No one ever listens to the cheers. It's all about hair."
I absolutely love that Jessica is self-aware enough to realise this. Todd? Not so much. He buries his head in his hands.
Just then, two Big Mesa students (naturally, a jock and a cheerleader) walk in to spoil all the fun. Oh, and their names are Rex and Ginger. Rex and Ginger. No wonder Enid's using words like "gam" -- apparently Sweet Valley is located in sunny 1937. Apparently this Rex fellow used to date Lila, which I so don't believe because he looks like a total mouth-breather. He tells Jessica off for some prank she pulled on Big Mesa, and then he and Ginger leave, probably to help Toothpick Charlie and the bootleggers sneak liquor onto the premises in a hearse. (I feel like I could've done so much more with my one and only Some Like It Hot reference.) Cameo alert -- Ginger is played by none other than Catherine Sutherland, AKA Kat from the ever-popular Power Rangers! Not only is she Australian, she was also the freakin' Pink Ranger! I was so happy when she and Tommy (who also does an SVH cameo in the third season!) ended up together, despite the fact that at that point he was the Red Ranger, and whatever Ranger children they might've had in their future would've come out all colour-clashy.
Liz demands to know what sort of prank Jess pulled, and Jess very casually says that a little birdie told her the Sweet Valley fight song played over the Big Mesa's PA system this morning. It will never not sound like the Rydell fight song in my head. Once again, Todd ponders how to respond to such a wild practical joke, and once again, the answer is blind, unnecessary rage. He tells her that he's in charge this weekend, and everyone needs to stay out of trouble. Jessica's hilariously-timed response. "Aww, it's so cute when you think I listen to you."
At home, Jess and Lila are watching TV, and Jess mentions how bent out of shape Rex and Ginger were about her prank. She detects a hint of jealousy on Lila's part the second Ginger's name is mentioned. Lila says, "Me? Jealous of Crocodile Dundee? I don't think so." Lila, come on. That's a cheap shot towards my countrymen, and you know it. Jess lets it go, despite the fact that Lila is clearly not over her Big Mesa beau. She focuses her attention on Casablanca (which happens to be on TV at that moment) and Lila gets excited and screams about how she and Rex saw it five times when they were dating. Well sure, sweetie, and I bet Rex regaled you with stories about how he was actually there when it first came out. Yeah, I said it. I'm making fun of not only his ridiculous name, but the fact that the actor playing him is so old that he surely has adolescent children by now.
The next day, Lila and Jess arrive at school only to see the place trashed. All the banners that Enid's spellcheck-disabled volunteer committee made have been destroyed, and naturally everyone blames Jessica for starting a prank war. Todd comes by and mutters something about how Jessica's "real swift," but is surprisingly calm. Kind-of like how deranged people appear to be fine moments before their shooting rampage begins.
Jess decide that the best way to handle the situation is to steal Big Mesa's mascot. Which happens to be a pig. Whose name is Wilbur. (I like details.) She and Lila sneak onto the Big Mesa campus in the middle of the night and, uh, "bring home the bacon." I almost didn't want to retype that pun for you. Lila makes up for it by putting on the cutest little angry face and saying, "Come with us, swine!...Please?" Of course, Wilbur does not respond favourably to this, and we get a mini-montage of the two girls running around the pigsty, trying to catch Wilbur. They end up on the floor, covered in pig crap. If only Big Mesa thought to build a pig crap silo like Homer Simpson did. Since failing at mascot-thievery doesn't exactly enhance the plot, the girls end up successfully stealing the pig and hiding it at Lila's house.
The next day at the Moon Beach, Lila is complaining about how much Wilbur is stinking up her home, regardless of how much Giorgio she sprays on him. The thought of Lila running around Fowler Crest chasing after a pig with an Armani cologne bottle is too priceless for words. Liz and Todd enter, and Jess hurries up to them, links her arms with theirs and proceeds to tell them about stealing the mascot. How she thought this would make them happy is beyond logic. The best, best, best part about this scene is Todd's reaction to Jess linking arms with him. He doesn't make a big deal about it; he just very covertly tries to get the fuck away as quickly as he possibly can while looking at his plaid shirt as though it's now tainted. I don't understand how I can simultaneously love and hate a character as much as I do Todd.
Liz and Todd tell Jess that they already know about the mascot-napping, because Big Mesa retaliated by stealing Sweet Valley's mascot. Jess is confused, because they don't have a mascot -- they just have Winston dressed up as a gladiator. Todd has to spell it out for her -- Sexy Rexy and his Big Mesa buddies kidnapped Winston. They actually kidnapped Winston! Did I not tell you this was the best episode ever?! Hopefully this won't turn out like the time Palisades kidnapped Winston and beat the ever-loving shit out of him. The thing is, Liz looks kinda peeved, but Todd isn't even mad. He just seems...defeated. Like he's finally realised that rage is not the answer, and is seriously rethinking his life up until this point.
Todd tells Jess that since Winston was supposed to lead the band during the big game's half-time show, everything's ruined and Mr. Hagan is going to be less than impressed. I like how nobody seems to care at all that Winston has been kidnapped. Jess and Lila are celebrating, and Todd's like, "Big Mesa abducted my BFF, and I am concerned not for his safety but for my own ass." Liz finally yells at them for not thinking of poor Winston, who's somewhere in Big Mesa being tortured and held captive.
Cut to Big Mesa High, where Winston is tied up in a chair surrounded by cheerleaders. That's some nice torture there, Ginger. Straight outta the Viet Cong you are.
Someone sends Todd a note, telling him to bring Wilbur to the Big Mesa parking lot or they'll never see Winston again. He seems to really labour over the reading of that note, but the fact that he made it all the way through without getting a word wrong means he's making great strides in his learning. Jess crumples up the letter, apparently delighted at the thought of never seeing Winston again. Aww, Jess. You say that now, but you'll soon get sick of doing your own homework and not having a genie. Liz gets mad, and Jess actually says, "I think we all need to stop and ask ourselves -- what have we really lost?" Heh. Jess. Liz protests that Winston's the only one who knows how to lead the band, and then this happens:
Liz: "We have to have Winston!"
Lila: "And what a sad statement that is about our own lives."
Todd and Liz finally convince Jess and Lila to give up Wilbur's location, so they all head on over to the Big Mesa parking lot for the swap. Rex, Ginger and company arrive in their car (which, somewhat shockingly, is a Ford pick-up, not one of those old-timey cars where the doors open backwards) and Jess gives Ginger the pig back. She makes a comment about how funny it is that pets often look like their owners, and Rex is all macho and girlfriend-protecty. I'm surprised he didn't pull out a tommy gun and pump her guts full o' lead. He then tells the gang that they're not going to give Winston back...unless Jessica sings the Big Mesa fight song at the big game. Jess is like, "Fuck the fuck off, fuckers!" and Rex and Ginger drive off maniacally. I notice that Catherine Sutherland seems to be putting on an American accent for whatever reason, which makes the Crocodile Dundee remark seem a little nonsensical.
Todd realises that, like, ten minutes have gone without so much as a raised voice on his part, so he Hulks out on Jess and yells, "You're singing that song if I have to drag you out there myself and choke it out of you!" Jeez, violent threats against women much? Todd is taking rage to an entirely new level this episode. Jess tells him that there's no way she's doing it, and storms off in a huff. Todd is angry. (Naturally.) Liz remarks that there's nothing much they can do now, and Lila evilly and awesomely says, "Perhaps what we need here is the Fowler touch." Oh, yes! Please God, yes! That is exactly what we need!
What follows next is so amazingly amazing, I think tears may have actually sprung to my eyes. We cut (using a diagonal sweeping cut? Way to master Windows Moviemaker, editors!) to Jess and Rex, clad in trenchcoats and shot in sepia, doing their very own Casablanca tribute. She tells him that her school needs Winston, and Rex (in an entirely unconvincing but still totally Jenga Humphrey Bogart impersonation) tells Lila that the only way that'll happen is if she takes him back. Lila's speech is so awesome, I really need to give it to you verbatim:
Lila: "We're from two different worlds! You say football, I say footwear. You say touchdowns, I say touch-ups. Oh Rex, you may not think that the problems of two people don't amount to a hell of decaffeinated espresso beans in this crazy mixed-up world, but I just can't!"
I'm not entirely sure I understand exactly what she just said, but it doesn't stop it from being totally, utterly wonderful. This entire sequence redefines 'awesome.'
Todd and Liz are at the Moon Beach, interrupting my madly brilliant Lila time. What the hell, you guys? I hate you both. Liz is offering shitty suggestions about how to fix Todd's half-time show, and Todd is putting her down every time. What a happy marriage they'll one day have. Lila comes up to the two and tells them that she found out where Big Mesa's keeping Winston, but "I had to break a heart to do it." Are you telling me that the scene before this one actually happened? It wasn't just a fantasy? My tears of joy are spilling over into actual crying now. Todd laments how strange it is that they're keeping Winston in the girls' locker room, and Lila says, "Yes. My sources tell me the girls are the ones who need rescuing." Liz has an idea about how to rescue Winston, and tells Todd she'll need his help. He extremely stupidly says, "Anything! I'll do whatever it takes!" Sigh. Todd, those are words you should never say to a Wakefield. That's basically giving them carte blanche to make you do the craziest shit.
Cut straight to the Big Mesa hallway. Liz is there, dressed as Jessica, with a platinum blonde Big Mesa cheerleader who looks strangely like Todd. Oh wait, that's because it is Todd. You can't wait for a screencap, can you? Okay, I'll oblige.
Liz (as Jess) calmly walks over to the locker room door, opens it, and tells Ginger that she needs to talk to her. Rex the door bitch doesn't even bat an eyelid. Nice guardin' Tyrannosaurus Rex. The stupidity of your name will never get old. Liz-as-Jess tells the cheerleaders that she'll sing their damn fight song at the game, and they take her to the field to practice. Which is pretty nice of them, actually. Way to sell "evil", ladies. Todd comes out from his hiding place and walks right into the locker room. All Rex does is check him out and gives him the Joey Tribbiani, "how you doin" treatment. Todd tells Rex to beat it.
Todd/Winston slashies, get ready. That's all I'll say to prepare you. Todd finds Winston in the locker room with a paper bag and a sheet over his head. Apparently the cheerleaders found a solution for his perviness. Todd attempts to untie him, and Winston says, "My, what a big girl you are. Just my type." Yes, Winston, we all know what your type is. It takes Winston a good while to realise that his sexy saviour is one Todd Wilkins, and instead of being disgusted that he just hit on his best mate, asks Todd when he started cheering for Big Mesa. Like that's not enough of a hint, Winston then takes the ropes that were binding him and stuffs them in his pocket. When Todd asks him what the fuck he's doing, Winston responds with, "I'm taking them home with me. For...memories." The look on Todd's face says it all.
In the corridor, Liz-as-Jess is doing vocal warm-ups. Ginger yells at her that enough it enough, and they really ought to get out onto the field. It's worth noting that Catherine Sutherland has decided to be Australian again. While this is going on, Winston dons a cheerleading uniform and a ginger wig, and the two rush out the locker room door. Creepy Rex stops Winston, telling him he's always had a thing for redheads (callback to Lila!) and invites him to Miller's Point after the game. Winston apparently seems uncomfortable with any male attention that's not from Todd. Speaking of, Todd runs back over to the door and puts on a girl voice, telling "Winnie" that they mustn't be late for the game. Rex tells him somewhat forcefully to, "Just run on, baby," while balling his fist and holding it up in the air. As...as though to threaten him/her? It's not enough that Todd's making choking threats at Jessica, now Rex Manning over here is two seconds away from punching what he thinks is a girl? The parents in Sweet Valley failed more epically than we originally thought.
Winston attempts to lessen the severity of the girl-bashing threat by taking off his wig and telling Rex, "No means no." Yay, Winnie! Todd and Winston overpower Rex, shove him into the locker room, and rush down the hallway to find Liz. Instead they find a group of VIP alumni getting their photo taken, including the fabulous Mr. Hagan. Somehow Mr. Hagan recognises Todd immediately (Winston yelling, "C'mon, Todd, we gotta go!" probably didn't help, but still) and he quickly rushes off, away from the conductor Todd and the crazy train. Todd's summer job dreams appear to be all but shattered.
A few days later, the gang is hanging out at the Moon Beach, listening to Winston recant the awful torture he had to put up with. Jess mentions that everything worked out fine in the end, but everyone else disagrees. The whole banners-getting-trashed-and-Winston-gett
Just as Liz is reminding Todd that not very many people actually saw him, the accentually-ambiguous Ginger happens by with a copy of tomorrow's Big Mesa newspaper. Naturally, it features a pic of Todd and Winston in their cheerleading finery. Damn that strategically-placed hallway photographer! The caption under it reads, "The ever-beautiful Lila Fowler and Jessica Wakefield," and this epic-upon-epic episode ends with Jess and Lila yelling about how their reputations are ruined, and Todd blankly repeating, "I wore a skirt!" Oh, Todd. I like you again. Just so you know.