Friday, May 29, 2009

S01 E04 - The Cover-Up

Morning. Rick's sitting at the table reading a magazine on motorbikes. There are sirens in the background, because he lives in a working-class neighbourhood. The room is a mess because Rick's mom isn't around. There's a carton labelled "homo milk" on the table, for which I have no explanation.

Anyway, Rick's dad comes in, looking for his tie. Rick's dad has some of the worst grownup hair on this show (although the actual worst comes later in this episode). Combining two deeply wrong hairstyles, it's huge and fluffy like clown hair, and it's also a mullet. He spots Rick's magazine and asks where he got it, and if "Frank" gave it to him. We get the impression that he would definitely not see this as a good thing.

Rick's well aware of this, and says that he bought the magazine. His dad accuses him of stealing it, but Rick says he bought it with money he got for recycling some bottles. His dad starts lecturing him about how they don't have money to waste on stuff like this, while some kind of train or something goes by, in the next room by the sound of it, just in case you'd forgotten it was a working-class neighbourhood.

Rick's Bad Dad complains that he had "plans" for that money, and mumbles something that sounds like "get out of town with it". Rick's pretty sceptical about the idea that you could get out of town with the proceeds of recycling your bottles, but it seems Bad Dad really doesn't like it when people knock his ridiculous ambitions.

He comes over to Rick, his eyes all bulgy. "Don't you ever talk back to me again!" he says. Then he hits Rick. Then conveniently holds him still so the camera can pan over his bruises from previous beatings. Well, that's depressing.

Hey, it's the inappropriately cheerful opening credits! That'll cheer us up! Forget about the miserable squalid scene of child abuse you just saw!

Outside the school. Rick cycles up to the bike racks, accompanied by guitar music that might have passed for vaguely punky and rebellious once upon a time, and definitely doesn't now, but at least it's a change from the synth kazoo horror of last episode. His bike is some weird thing with a tiny front wheel, and it also has those little rear-view mirrors sticking up from the handlebars like on a motorbike, which is sort of cute.

Joey is dicking around on his skateboard, and for some reason he's going for a French beatnik vibe this episode, having spiced up his usual rotation of fedoras with the addition of a black beret. He's so busy showing off that he crashes into some purposeless concrete obstacle and lands face-first in the grass. Susie and Caitlin watch aghast, as does Stephanie, who's still in her morning burqa. Not that they actually move to do anything. Mr Raditch rushes over, but is disappointed when he realises that Joey's actually pretty much fine, except for a black eye and some stage blood on his forehead. He tells him to go see the nurse, then report to Mr Lawrence for a chastening.

When Joey's gone, Rick goes back to doing some nonspecific bike-tending. At least he got his motorbike magazine back. He's also got him a fanclub – Caitlin and Susie are staring at him from a distance. Susie says he's "sooo cute", and Caitlin distantly says, "Yeah. I hear he's on probation." It doesn't sound like that enhances his appeal for her. In a sweeping moment of judgmentalness, she decides that he's on probation for beating people up, because "he's always got lots of bruises". Bitch.

(I should warn you that I adore Rick, in a wholesome, maternal way, and I won't hear a word said against him. Plus, way to spectacularly misjudge the situation, Caitlin.)

Joey arrives at Mr Lawrence's office, apparently wearing some cotton wool taped to his head with the brown sellotape you use for parcels. Doris the School Secretary asks him what happened, and he claims he was rescuing a kid from being beaten up. FORESHADOWING OMG.

Doris isn't buying any of this BS, and calls his bluff by asking if he's here for a commendation. Joey admits that he's been sent to see Mr Lawrence. She calls the principal on his intercom, and his creepy disembodied voice sighs, "Send him in." Mr Lawrence sounds as if he's weary of life. But so might you, if you had to deal with Joey on a regular basis.

Once Joey's out of the way, Doris goes on the PA to make an announcement: it's photo day on Thursday, and they should all try to dress their best "for a change". Helpfully, we also see a poster repeating the same information. Wow, I wonder if photo day might have some importance to the plot later on? Steph and Spike are walking down the hallway chatting. I can't tell if their horrible awkwardness is intentional because those characters aren't friends, or just due to bad acting.

Anyway, Steph weasels away and goes into the Bathroom of Skanky Transformations. While she's enacting said transformation, Voula comes out of one of the cubicles. Steph tries to say hello, but Voula manages to say hello back in a way that's even colder than ignoring her would have been.

Steph grudgingly apologises for her general crappy electoral behaviour and asks if Voula's ever going to forgive her. I'd say the answer is no, because all Voula says is "You'd better watch out, Stephanie. It wouldn't look good for our school president to be caught talking to a lowly peasant like me." Well, if Voula doesn't want to be seen as a peasant, she should probably stop going around in peasant blouses: today's is a shade of mustard that precisely matches the bathroom door.

Voula's about to flounce out, but then, seeing an opportunity to mess with Steph's head, comes back and asks if she's going to wear her hideous skankwear on photo day. This scene would have a lot more impact if Steph wasn't wearing her least revealing and most non-horrible, something-a-sane-person-might-wear outfit to date (a stripy V-neck top and a skirt that's short but far from her usual levels of traumatic indecency). Voula points out that Mama Kaye won't be too pleased if she sees what her daughter dresses like at school. This genuinely seems to be the first time that this has occurred to Steph, and Voula (for once knowing when to quit) leaves her gaping in terror at her own reflection.

In the background is another hand-drawn photo day poster (do these kids have nothing else to do with their time?), which includes a cartoony drawing of a guy all dressed up to get his picture taken. Because of his huge clowny hair, he looks like nobody so much as Rick's Bad Dad. It's rather disturbing.

Rick enters the Grade 7 classroom, to guitar music that sounds oddly like the intro to 'Everybody Wants Something'. Foreshadowing, or they just couldn't be bothered to pay someone to write more background music? You decide. Anyway, he sits down to read his motorbike magazine in peace, unaware that the Rick Fan Club is staring at him again.

"He always looks so traaagic," says Caitlin. Susie thinks it must be weird to flunk and get left behind by your friends, but Caitlin reckons Rick doesn't have any friends. No, just fangirl stalkers. "He's such a loner, and he never smiles," Caitlin complains. "I think we should help him – we should make him smile!" And a lifetime of meddling and irritating activism begins!

In the Grade 8 room, Voula is blithering about how she can't wait for photo day. L.D. says photo day is "pretty special", so she's going to wear her Castrol T-shirt, calling up mental images of Alan Partridge's funeral jacket. Seriously, what was the deal with all the Castrol merchandise they used to have in those days? That seems so weird in retrospect.

Steph comes in and mocks L.D., obviously. She's closely followed by Joey, who tells Voula that he hurt his head when "these three big guys said Stephanie was only the second-best president the school has ever had, so I had to teach them a lesson". Stephanie kind of seems to buy this story, which is pretty stupid considering she was there when he fell off his skateboard.

Raditch comes in, and immediately grabs Joey's face to check out his injuries. He seems pleased enough with how banged-up Joey is, so starts in on yet another tiresome lecture about the quality of everyone's homework. Once he's gone, Tim leans over and asks Joey what he's wearing for photo day. Joey says it'll be "a classic case of the four J's – Joey Jeremiah and his jean jacket".

Anyway, Raditch hears them talking and gives his stock rant about how socialising is not done in his class, followed with a Stinkeye Lite. He then goes back to pacing and going on about verbs, and the camera zooms in on his blackboard, where there's yet another announcement about photo day, like we might have forgotten about photo day in the ten seconds since it was last mentioned. Jeez.

That afternoon, Joey skateboards home. The house is painted a shade of red-brown that makes me unutterably sad. Inside, his oddly dishevelled mother (wearing a blue sack and some proto-Uggs) is sewing some kind of jeans-like garment. I can't see this going wrong at all. She gets all worried when she sees the cotton wool sellotaped to his head. In a sad attempt to amuse her and thus win her approval, he claims he was studying when a book jumped up and hit him in the eye (wtf?). She completely ignores this and asks if the nurse had a look at it. Who does she think bandaged him – Wheels?

Joey goes upstairs and is appalled to find that someone cleaned up his room. He comes down to complain to his mother, who says she got sick of nagging him to do it. But his precious stash of fedoras and vitamin tablets is safely boxed up in the basement, so no need to worry. Joey, ungrateful punk that he is, whines about invasions of his privacy, and even tries complaining to his dad, who just laughs at him. You can tell Dad is a Good Sort, because he's doing the washing-up and wearing an apron.

Joey's already gearing up for a Category 4 tantrum, and then realises what his mom's been doing the whole time: she's patching his jeans with a piece of his favourite jacket. His parents say they bought him a new one, but apparently wearing a new jacket makes you look like a "broomhead" and they have to be broken in. And Thursday, in case you hadn't heard, is photo day! And we hit Category 5…. now. "You know what this is?" wails Joey. "Child abuse!" Yeah, it turns out child abuse can take many forms, including housework. Who knew?

Joey runs upstairs, and his parents for some reason don't burst into hysterical laughter, which would totally be my reaction.

Next morning. Rick cycles into school, and announces his arrival by tooting an extremely high-pitched horn. Which completely kills any sort of biker badass cred he might have had previously. Tragic abuse victim Joey is rambling at Tim about how he hates the brutal housecleaning savages who gave him life. "Parents are a real pain," mumbles Tim with the air of someone who's well-versed in pretending to listen to another person's rants while actually thinking about something else altogether.

"It's child abuse, is what it is!" says Joey. "It took me months to get that jacket right, and then they go and ruin it! Now I've got nothing to wear for photo day!" The menion of child abuse gets Rick's attention, and he tells Joey that he could sell him one of his jackets. "Like, used and everything?" asks Joey. "Everything I've got's used," says Rick in a sad, wistful voice, but Joey doubts the extent of Rick's poverty, and says he wants to see the jacket first.

"So come and see it," says Rick. "What?? To your place?" Joey exclaims. Jeez, Joey, if a poor kid asks you over to their house, the polite thing to do is not recoil in fright. If Rick's offended at this, he doesn't show it, and just tells Joey to meet him after school. After a second's terrified hesitation, Joey says, "All right. Thanks, buddy!" This, however, does cause offense: Rick calls him back to say, "Just 'cause you're buying my jacket doesn't make us 'buddies', OK?" He says the word "buddies" with a depth of scorn that's a little frightening in one so young. Luckily, Joey's interpersonal skills are so limited (probably because of his tragic history of abuse) that he doesn't understand he's being brutally rebuffed until some time later.

A little later, Susie and Caitlin are lying in wait in the hallway. Rick strides manfully past. "Rick!" Susie calls. He turns around with a vaguely suspicious look. "I've got a joke for you," she says. "It's really funny. Why did the turtle cross the road?" Rick doesn't even shrug, more twitches his arms in a sort of lukewarm pastiche of a shrug. Alex is listening in disgust from behind him. "Because it was the chicken's day off!" Caitlin answers. Both girls do some kind of stupid hand-flourish. Rick gives this joke the response it deserves, viz., he turns around stony-faced and walks off.

In the classroom, Voula is minding her own business when a terrifying apparition looms up behind her. It's Steph with her wheedling face on, wearing the halterneck collared shirt from a couple episodes back. A random selection of her hair is pulled up messily in a huge clip, in a style that appears over and over again in this show and consistently looks ridiculous. Also, Snake is in the background, and I'm 90% sure his Hawaiian shirt is made from the same fabric as her top.

"I need your advice," she tells Voula. You know what's coming, don't you? "I wouldn't presume to offer advice to someone as important as our school president," Voula snaps ritualistically. Stephanie is getting less and less patient with this, just like the audience. "Come on! We used to be best friends! I still want to be." She mumbles the last bit like she's mildly ashamed of it. Friendship is for squares!

Voula reluctantly turns around in a way that suggests she's prepared to listen. She's leaning on a huge book called "Drama IV", presumably a guide to dealing with drama queens such as a certain school president I could mention. Anyway, Steph explains her problem: if she gets her photo taken (on photo day) in home clothes, everyone will laugh. (Not an argument that'll win much sympathy from Voula, who's forced to dress like a 19th-century peasant because it fits with her father's vision of a socialist utopia.) But if she wears hideous skankwear, her mother will do the responsible thing and ground her forever (for which the general population of Toronto would be deeply grateful).

Voula weighs it up for a moment, then chirpily declares, "Its your problem!" and goes back to drawing up the latest party manifesto. Steph looks utterly bereft, like talking to Voula was her last, last hope, and there is now absolutely no way around this problem, such as wearing something that isn't convent-wear or in violation of local obscenity laws. OK, maybe she is stupid after all.

After school, Joey's waiting for Rick by the bike racks, and sits on his bike for a second. He then notices Rick watching him with arms folded and a very unimpressed look on his face (although what's new?) and Rick has actually got quite muscular arms. Joey leaps off the bike pretty sharpish. "Let's go," Rick snaps. "Come with me!" Joey whispers frantically to Tim, but Tim's having none of it. Off they go.

They arrive on a normal-looking city street, although Joey's looking around like he expects to get knifed any second. Going around in that stupid Hawaiian shirt and beret combo isn't a good way to prevent that. They get to the door of Rick's apartment, but the sound quality is so terrible that it's impossible to hear what they say.

Anyway, they go inside and up the stairs; Rick complains about how slow Joey is, then jogs up the stairs, his hair bouncing hilariously with each step. The carpet is one of those greeny-brown ones with a pattern of cabbages that old people always have in the good sitting room, along with a giant painting of the Virgin Mary and a matched pair of china dogs by the fireplace.

Joey's impressed by the moderate messiness of Rick's living room. "I like this place! Your mom must be real cool." "I don't have a mom," says Rick matter-of-factly. Joey flinches, for once actually realising when he's made a massive faux pas. Rick goes over to the fridge and gets himself a Coke, then turns to see Joey staring at him with a look of sheer unadulterated fear. "Do you want a pop or something?" asks Rick, in a vague effort to defuse the situation. "Yeah! Sure!" says Joey nervously. Rick shoves the last remaining Coke at him and goes to get the jacket out of the wardrobe so he can be rid of this weirdo.

Joey drifts over to admire a very grim-looking poster of a motorbike on the wall. "I've been on one of those," says Rick. "My brother Frank's got one. He takes me driving on it sometimes. When he gets it going real fast, it's like nothing can stop you. Like nothing matters any more." Joey looks briefly moved, but then both guys remember that talking about one's feelings is unmanly, and the moment's over.

Rick gives Joey the jacket. "This used to be Frank's," he explains. "Does Frank live here too?" asks Joey as he puts the jacket on. "He moved out," Rick explains, only, being Canadian, he pronounces it more like… oewt? Sirens wail in the background again, to remind you of the squalid working-classness of the boys' surroundings, and speaking of misery, here comes Rick's Bad Dad.

Joey actually tries to be polite, holding out his hand and introducing himself, but RBD ignores him. "Wouldn't believe the day I've had," he groans, then goes over to the fridge to look for… a Coke? I suppose if he wanted a beer, that would cross the line into parental alcoholism, which is reserved for a whole nother episode and an altogether less sympathetic character.

Rick can tell what's coming and he tries to bundle Joey towards the door. Joey asks about paying for the jacket, but Rick says they'll talk about it tomorrow and Joey really needs to go now. RBD doesn't notice this exchange, and complains that he had "something to drink" in the fridge (it's very obviously Coke, but actually mentioning the brand would be too blatant?). When he sees that Joey and Rick were drinking the last Cokes, he loses it. "You're asking for trouble, is what you're doing. You think we can afford to give stuff to every little punk you know? You wanna start bringing home a paycheque!"

Joey finally gets the hint around the point RBD starts smacking Rick in the face, and runs out the door. We can hear the world's most savage beating taking place inside the apartment. Out on the street, the cogs inside Joey's brain start to turn very slowly. "Wow, Rick's dad sure is an asshole. I wonder if he tidies Rick's room too?"

Back in the apartment, a freshly bruised Rick locks himself in his room and sits down on the bed to cry, while his dad yells insincere apologies outside. The scene is pretty damn sad, but its gravitas is undercut by the terrible, terrible musical accompaniment (a very shoddy synth clarinet).

After the commercial break (how I desperately wish the DVDs could have included some '80s commercials), we see some guys outside the school pulling some camera equipment out of the back of a van. Can it be? Photo day has finally arrived!

Joey skateboards up to Tim, who compliments his new jacket. Tim is wearing a keyboard-tie. "So, it went ok?" he asks. "He was cool?" Joey replies incredibly insincerely, "Yeah. Sure. He was cool." AAAAUGH Wheels is wearing those disgustingly tight corduroy pants again. Speaking of Wheels – how come Joey's had a different best friend in every episode so far?

In the school library, the photographer is at work. Everyone's queuing outside. Alexa's wearing a baggy orange satin jumpsuit with an enormous collar that makes her look like an evil alien queen. Voula's wearing her Austin Powers shirt again, and dear lord it is just spectacularly awful. She's also draped a cardigan over her shoulders, granny-style, like she doesn't even have the courage of her horrible fashion convictions. Steph arrives in a mint-green miniskirt and a pink boob tube that just doesn't fit her, being simultaneously too short and too wide.

"I've decided I have to be me," Steph announces proudly to Voula. Voula smirks. "Very sophisticated! I'd like to see your mother's face when she sees the pictures!" Steph looks freaked out all over again, like she forgot about this problem since she last talked it over with Voula, 24 hours ago.

The photographing continues inside the library. Melanie freaks out because she's got a zit on her forehead. What, even after she took all those vitamins? Caitlin is wearing one of her trademark headbands for the first time, and it already looks stupid. Melanie sits down in front of the camera and pulls her hair down so it covers most of her face, but apparently the cameraman doesn't give a crap, and just takes her photo anyway. One of the twins is trying really hard not to laugh at her.

Rick is next up. He goes to sit on the stool, and Susie and Caitlin stand literally like a foot away from him. Subtle and not at all intimidating! The cameraman tactfully arranges Rick's face so his massive bruises are facing sort of away from the camera.

Speaking of tact: Joey, who has just been staring at Rick with his bruised face and all, turns around to Tim and asks, "What would you do if you knew someone who was getting beat up all the time by his dad?" "Who?" asks Tim. "It's just a question," Joey says, and then goes back to staring fixedly at Rick. With his bruised face and all.

"Smile, please!" orders the cameraman. Rick just stares at him with a look of absolute heartbreaking misery. The cameraman tells him to smile again, then gives up and takes the photo anyway. Rick's incredibly unperceptive fangirls giggle fangirlishly to each other at this.

When the Grade Sevens are marched out of the room, Rick goes over to Joey and demands his money. Joey's five dollars short, though, and Rick demands the jacket back. Joey begs and pleads with him not to take the jacket, lest he look like a broomhead (I think that battle was lost long ago, actually). Rick really doesn't care, but eventually agrees to let Joey give him the rest of the money after school, and stomps off.

Joey, the King of Subtlety, yells after him, "Rick? Do you wanna talk about last night?" …Yeah, seriously. Whatever the situation, you never shout that at anyone in public. It will not instil in them a desire to talk about last night. And if you're a guy shouting this at another guy in the aggressively heteronormative environment of a 1980s junior high, this goes double. "Mind your own business," snaps Rick. Joey doesn't want to let it go, but Rick tells him to shut up, and he eventually does.

Spike gets her photo taken – she's wearing her usual punk hairdo, with a very demure blouse and an actual blazer. Sometimes stylistic incongruity in an outfit is cool and ironic, and sometimes it's just incongruous. This is one of the latter times.

Voula gets hers taken, and then it's the turn of Steph, who's looking at the camera like it might steal her soul. Silly Steph! Doesn't she know she has no soul? Eventually, she mans up and sits on the stool, frantically hitching up her boob tube, and the guy takes her photo. There's a quick, menacing close-up of the camera lens, and it looks eerily like a beigy version of HAL.

Back to probably the worst subplot of this whole series: Caitlin and Susie are out in the hall, putting on plastic pig-noses. Yeah, I know. Even Caitlin is aware that Rick might not find this funny, but Susie insists, "Of course he'll think it's funny!" When Rick appears, the girls oink at him.

Let's just say he doesn't think it's funny.

Not because he has a tragic life, but because it isn't funny. At all.

He shoots them a pitying look, shakes his head, and walks off. Shane and Alex watch with looks of stunned disgust on their faces; they couldn't look more appalled if the girls were wearing real pigs' noses from pigs they'd slaughtered for the purpose.

In Mr Raditch's room, the kids are sitting through a class on "confusing words". Tim's been mulling over Joey's feeble efforts at obfuscation, and finally leans over to him (a scene from the credits!) and whispers, "This guy getting beat up by his dad – it's Rick, isn't it?" Joey insists it's just some theoretical kid called Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadu, but Tim keeps pestering him, and eventually an apparently PMSing Raditch snaps and lectures them AGAIN on how his classroom is for learning, not socialising, blah blah blah, and sends Joey off to see the principal. Joey stomps off, giving Tim a filthy look on his way out.

Later, Joey comes out of Mr Lawrence's office. On his way past Doris's desk, he gets an idea. Because he doesn't learn from experience, he asks her the same question about "What if some guy was getting beat up by his dad?" Doris sort of jumps down his throat looking for details, and Joey panics and says he's only asking "in case I ever run into someone like that". Heh. Doris asks if everything's ok at home, and Joey gets a deer-in-the-headlights look in his eyes and mumbles, "More or less, I mean… Parents, right?" and literally runs away. So you really can't judge Doris too harshly for promptly phoning Children's Aid.

After school, Rick is waiting for Joey, and reminds him that he still owes him five dollars. Joey's starting to look perpetually terrified at this point, but faintly tells Rick to come over to his place for the money. Tim watches them go, and so does the Rick Fan Club. For some reason Tim has tucked his trousers into his socks as if he was going rat-catching. It looks stupider than that sounds.

On the way to Joey's house, Rick's bike chain comes off. Joey says they can fix it at his house. They walk on awkwardly, and find a huge motorbike parked outside Joey's house. Rick says it's not as cool as the bike of his godlike brother Frank, but "not bad" all the same.

Inside the house, Joey's parents are having espressos and tiny snacks with some dude who has, hands-down, the lousiest hairdo in this show. The back and sides are cut short, but the top is long and has been spikily back-combed to an enormous size and dyed blonde. He looks like he has a huge sea anemone growing out of his head. His motorbike helmet is on the coffee table, which is almost certainly bad table manners.

Joey's dad is bitching that they've raised four kids and nobody's ever accused them of child abuse before, "although I can say there've been times I've felt like it!" Strained laughter all around. Yeah, reeeeally not a joke you should make to a social worker who's investigating you for child abuse.

The boys come in, and Joey's mother introduces Anemone Guy as Mr Somebody from Children's Aid. AG shakes hands with Joey and gets down to business: "This afternoon you told your school secretary about a father beating a child…" Joey insists that his parents never hit him and he got his black eye from falling into some bikes. Rick looks extremely shifty and starts backing towards the door. "Who are you talking about, Joey?" asks AG, staring fixedly at Rick. "Because if it's true, he needs help very badly. Even if he won't admit it!" The last part is yelled out the door at the departing figure of Rick.

Outside, Rick tries to escape on his bike but is thwarted by his gammy chain. Anemone Guy comes out the door and fixes him with another creepy stare. "Do you want a hand with that?" he asks. He has a really weird voice that sounds like he's speaking through a cardboard tube.

Inside the house, we see Joey and his parents crowding at the front window to spy on this little tableau. Classy behaviour, people.

Rick insists that he doesn't need help (ooh, symbolic!) but AG goes to his motorbike and fishes out some kind of bike-chain-attacher, which he uses to attach the bike chain. "I can get a court order if I need to," he says casually, out of nowhere. To fix the bike?

"Do you get a bonus for every kid you bag or something?" asks Rick. "No!" says AG, completely talking over Rick. "But the kid gets help."

Bike fixed, Rick cycles off, but AG isn't done with him. "I'd like to talk to you," he calls. And it looks really creepy, because he's sort of crouching down behind a bush as he says it, and we all know to avoid guys like that. Rick, not unreasonably, tells him to leave him alone. There's some emotionally overwrought bickering, everyone questions everyone else's motives, and AG insists he can help Rick, and asks if there's someone non-brutal who Rick can stay with.

Next morning, Rick's waiting for Joey in the corridor. He asks him for the five dollars, and Joey swears to him that he didn't say anything about Rick getting beaten up. Rick just wants the money, and Joey gives it to him and scuttles off to his locker and the soothing familiarity of his BUSTS poster.

After a second, Rick comes over to Joey again and says that he's going to go live with Frank for a while, and that Joey can come visit some time. Joey seems happy at this news, but possibly he's just relieved that Rick hasn't come to kill him. "So, see you around?" he asks nervously. Rick takes off Joey's beret and tosses it back to him. "See you around, buddy!" he replies. With a huge, extremely gap-toothed grin.

Rick's creepy meddling stalkers, Caitlin and Suzie, are watching as always. "Suzie," says Caitlin, "he's smiling! He's smiling!" The girls are delighted, and will no doubt go on to write lots of Rick/Joey slash. The credits roll over an incredibly unflattering image of Rick's toothy grin. Dude, I'm glad you're not being beat up any more, but please put those teeth away.

Dubious lessons of the week: Working-class parents beat their kids, unlike middle-class ones. If someone you know is being beaten up, you don't need to figure out what to do – just bumble around ineptly for a while, and eventually someone smarter than you will realise what's going on. Despite what you might think, if your parents tidy your room and fix your clothes that probably doesn't count as abuse.

Monday, May 4, 2009

S01 E03 - The Experiment

Mr Raditch's room. Mr Lawrence is on the intercom, asking for the caretaker to come to the broom closet with her master key. Obviously Joey hasn't got sick of locking kids in there yet. Yick is safe, though, because he's right here, getting in some last-minute Spiderman-reading before class. And Arthur's safe too, although if he wants to keep avoiding the attention of bullies, making friendly conversation with Mr Raditch about how he just got a totally funky new watch is probably not the best way to go about it.

Raditch manages to disengage himself from the conversation, and goes to the front of the class. In a doomed effort to seem cool, he's sitting on the table with his foot up on a desk and has his hands in his pockets, and he looks acutely uncomfortable.

Arthur leans over to ask Yick if he's going to basketball tryouts. Yick says yes. "This is great – just think! We could be on the same team!" Unfortunately, in his inexplicable excitement at this prospect, Yick's speaking too loudly, and Mr Raditch hears. Seizing the chance to get out of his ill-advised "cool" position, Raditch stalks down to Yick's desk, declaiming, "Mr Yick Yu, who else? Mr Yu, the Disorganised!" Which is a fair criticism as Yick has now covered his desk with several thousand random bits of paper. Raditch then proceeds to insult Yick with some kind of sports-based metaphor that I can't be bothered to repeat here, but the general point is that Yick's a deadbeat. Arthur looks deeply pained at the news that he's been wasting his time hanging out with some kid who can't even put together an efficient filing system. When Raditch has gone back to blahing about essays, Yick leans over to Arthur and whines, "He's always picking on me."

Opening credits. Give us a try at Degrassi Junior Hiiiiigh!

After class. Mr Lawrence is announcing that he'll address the whole school that afternoon in the auditorium, presumably from behind some elaborate system of screens and curtains and with a giant holographic head projected onto the stage. Arthur bumbles out of Mr Raditch's classroom and makes yet another doomed attempt to talk to Steph. She tries to get rid of him with the obligatory "I don't talk to Grade Sevens", but he ignores her and asks if she has the sports shoes he left at their mother's. Steph somehow resists the urge to bludgeon him to death with said shoes for referring to the fact that they have blood relatives in common. He then makes things worse by saying he's going to basketball tryouts because their dad used to play basketball – "It's in my blood!" Steph just tells him again to stay away from her: "If anyone finds out you're my brother, you're gonna wish you were never hatched." Arthur placidly answers, "Don't worry. No problem. See you on the weekend," but Steph is long gone and he's talking to himself. Apparently, being bullied by evil harpies is another Kobalowski trait.

And speaking of bullying: it's Joey, the most half-assed bully in the history of bullying! Today's effort: "Hey, Artie Smartie! I hear your mother recalling you!" What the hell is that even supposed to mean? Joey and Wheels then set off down the hall to jointly perv on Steph. Just another day at Degrassi Junior High.

Melanie and Kathleen come out of a classroom. "Junior high is a lot different than I thought it would be," says Melanie. "Yeah, too much homework," says Kathleen. "Not that!" says Melanie. "Parties! I thought there'd be lots of parties! Not political parties. But real parties. With music and boys and potato chips. And drugs! My mom warned me all summer: junior high is full of drugs. I haven't seen any." I think this is one of my all-time favourite speeches from this show. We were promised drugs, dammit!

Kathleen is looking scandalised, although she hasn't yet cultivated the Victorian scowl of disapproval that will be her default expression for most of the rest of the series. "You'd really try drugs?!" she asks. "Oh yeah, for sure. Wouldn't you?" says Melanie. "Um, yeah. Sure," Kathleen answers. Palpable awkwardness.

Basketball tryouts. First Snake gets the ball in the basket. Everybody claps. Then Arthur tries, but hits the ball off the rim and it bounces wildly off across the room and everybody laughs and embarrassing stuff like that is why I quit basketball in school. That and my debilitating laziness. Anyway. Shane tells Arthur that he can be Degrassi's secret weapon, by playing for the other team. Harsh!

Wait, who's this woman in charge? Is this the only time we actually see a teacher other than Mr Raditch and Ms Avery? They seem to have some kind of a gym teacher here! She puts her hand on Arthur's shoulder and tells him to relax and try again, in the sort of deep, soothing voice you normally hear on relaxation tapes. Which I personally would find more distressingly patronising than Shane's overt insults. Anyway, Arthur tries again and misses horribly. Everybody laughs. Next is Yick's turn. He gets the ball in the basket easily. High fives all round. Go Yick!

After school, Shane and Alex are Yick's new basketball groupies. Arthur catches up with Yick after the others have gone, and weedily asks him for help with basketball, if he's not too busy and doesn't find him too loathsome. Damn Stephanie has reduced him to a shell of a boy! But Yick, unlike Steph, has a soul, so of course he'll help.

Training montage, accompanied by some dreadful music played on a synth kazoo. I'm wilfully ignorant about sports, so I can't really tell if Arthur's supposed to be improving over the course of this. On the way home, Arthur apologises to Yick for getting him in trouble with Mr Raditch, but Yick says that it's not his fault, because Raditch is always picking on him. "He always gives me the same crummy marks – he doesn't even read my stuff. He's got me stereotyped. I could hand in Einstein's paper and I'd still get a D or an F." Well, probably yes, but that might be because Mr Raditch doesn't teach physics.

The boys go into some kind of low-rent diner-type place. Melanie and Kathleen are at a table inside, and Joey's at the next table with Shane and Alex, bitching about his mom's cooking. What a total rebel! Arthur and Yick get milkshakes and sit down in a corner, in front of Heather and Erica (apparently, just filling the diner with kids from the school was cheaper than finding some extras for this scene).

Arthur suggests an experiment. He'll get a paper from last year's class, Yick will copy it out in his own handwriting, and if it comes back with a worse mark than last year, they'll know Mr Raditch has it in for Yick. Yick worries that he'll recognise it, but Arthur ostentatiously does some calculations on his calculator watch and says that Raditch sees 3,000 papers a year and won't recognise this one paper of Stephanie's. Yick wants to know how Arthur can get one of the school president's old papers, but Arthur just says it's a long story and to forget he ever mentioned Steph. Yick actually goes along with this, displaying levels of incuriousness rivalled only by the castaways on Lost. He and Arthur toast their plan with milkshakes.

Back to the much more entertaining secondary plot and the kids who have some vague theoretical knowledge of how to party! Kathleen's worried about getting "hooked" if she tries drugs. "Nobody wants to get hooked," says Melanie sagely. "I mean, I don't want to be an addict, in horrible poverty with rats and lice and everything – I just want to try drugs once." The empowered young woman of today knows exactly what she wants.

Joey overhears this, and comes over into their booth. "Joey F. Jeremiah, Esquire. F for Farmacy, at your service." See, this is something of a warning sign; I would want my drugs supplied by someone with basic literacy skills. "So," he asks, "what do you want? Smoke? Draw? Pot? What's your style? Lebanese Light? Bolivian Blue? Degrassi Grass? Or the top of my line, New Zealand Zappers?"

The girls are panicked and probably quite surprised that drugs turn out to have such stupid brand names, but they don't want to look like cowards, so they agree to it. Joey says he'll see what he can do.

Casa de Kaye. Steph's wearing her home clothes; this time it's an enormous knitted sweater with what looks like reindeer on it. She's laboriously accessorising it with a Lucy-style scarf, but hides it in a panic when there's a knock on the door. Ok, seriously, what is the deal with these scarves? They're completely unobjectionable – the sort made of really thin cotton with a few sparkly threads running through it that you get off market stalls or in hippie shops. Were they somehow subversive twenty years ago? Why on earth was Steph so surprised Lucy's parents let her wear them last episode, and why is she hiding hers now? Will somebody please tell me?

Anyway, it's only Arthur at the door, so Steph takes the scarf back out of her bag and goes back to practising wrapping it around her neck. Seriously. She is just sitting at the mirror, wrapping and re-wrapping it like it's an actual skill or something. Arthur says he's there to visit their mom, and then picks up one of Steph's perfume bottles, examining it rather intently. She looks ever so slightly alarmed at that, and asks him what he wants. He puts the bottle down and asks if he can borrow one of her English essays from last year, "strictly for research purposes". She doesn't believe him, but I think she sort of likes the idea of him cheating and is relieved he didn't come over to borrow her perfume, so she gives him the essay.

Next we see Arthur skulking in a darkened alleyway with the essay under his jacket. He sneaks up to Yick's house and knocks on the window. Yick's on the phone, but hangs up as soon as Arthur knocks. Sorry, Grandma Yu – low-level fraud trumps your annual call from Vietnam.

Yick opens the front door and asks for the essay. Arthur looks around veeery cautiously and takes it out from under his jacket. Miraculously, a horde of Mounties do not leap out from the bushes and arrest both boys. Yick unfolds Steph's essay and is delighted to see that it got a B+. Shocked that Steph can get high grades? Well, just because she dresses like an insane whore and stole an election through prostitution and screws over her friends and uses her huge teeth as a flirting tool and got outrageously drunk when she had to give a speech doesn't mean she's stupid! I think we all learned a little something about stereotypes today.

Yick is in his bedroom, copying the essay out in his own writing, accompanied by a synth-kazoo cover of the school song, only this time it's sort of tarted up and evil-sounding, so you know he's doing something WRONG. For some reason, his room is full of elaborate sound equipment; maybe he is in fact the one responsible for the synth kazoo effect, and he just likes to listen to his own compositions while working.

Next day, in a slightly dodgy-looking stairwell at school. Well, actually, it's just a normal stairwell with bad lighting. Mr Lawrence is on the intercom, issuing an urgent plea for new tuba players for the music club. Melanie and Kathleen skulk down the stairs to meet Wheels and Joey. Joey's wearing some plastic kiddie sunglasses for extra drug-dealer authenticity. He's got a little compartment on the underside of his skateboard, from which he takes out a few tablets. "Is that… drugs?" asks Wheels, the least useful drug-henchman ever.

Joey ignores him and tells the girls that these are the New Zealand Zappers, and they'll be $5 each. Well, they may be mystery tablets sold out of a skateboard by an imbecilic 14-year-old who's wearing sunglasses indoors, but if the price is right… The girls are pretty stingy, or else are having an attack of common sense, so Joey has to goad them into it: "No pay, no play. No tip, no trip. No pills, no thrills." He sounds exactly like the drug dealers off those Very Special War On Drugs Episodes of various '80s cartoons, which is presumably where he got this patter from.

Anyway, his spectacular rhyming ingenuity somehow convinces them that this is the less-stupid thing to do, and they hand over the money. Wheels is watching with a look of utter horror, but obviously has no plans to intervene. Joey tells the girls that they'll be "pushing up dandy-lions" if they tell anyone where they got the pills, and then says to try them. "Instant insanity!" he promises.

When they hesitate (they haven't actually said anything all scene), he takes one of the pills himself, and promptly starts tripping. "Oh… mild… cool… very cool… mild…" he mumbles, then gathers up his henchman and leaves. Wheels anxiously helps him up the stairs.

"You can go first," says Melanie, trying to sound generous. "No, you go first!" says Kathleen. "It was your idea." And I'm sure she'd persist in telling everybody that, forever, if Melanie proceeded to OD and die horribly, because that's the way Kathleen rolls. After a bit more prevarication and mutual accusations of chickenism, they swallow the pills together.

"You feel anything?" asks Kathleen. "Oh yah… cool… very cool…" says Melanie, then rolls her head around in a vaguely druggy way, watching Kathleen out of the corner of her beady eye. Kathleen catches on. "Mild… very mild…" she sighs. Then the giggling starts.

And then three tuba players walk past, presumably on the way to the music club. Or else they've mutinied, and they're the ones the music club is now trying to replace? Sadly, we'll never know. But the girls find it hilarious.

Upstairs, Wheels has grown a conscience, conveniently after the drug-selling is complete. "Selling drugs? Are you crazy?" "They were crazy," says Joey. "Wheels, my man, have a little faith!" He pulls out a huge bottle of vitamin tablets. "I saved these kids from a life of destitution, and gave them nourishing vitamins!" That Joey, he always has kids' best interests at heart.

Mr Raditch's classroom. Melanie and Kathleen come in, laughing hysterically. He gives them an entirely justified stinkeye, and they do that fake-shutting-up thing you do when you're trying to let on that you're not really intimidated. Everyone's staring at at them, and Kathleen's actually red in the face from giggling. Raditch's moustache looks especially huge; I think he may have blow-dried it with a round hairbrush for extra body.

Yick and Arthur come in. Yick shuffles up to Raditch's desk and hands in the essay, and Raditch makes a big show of being impressed that he's handing it in early. Plagiarism is a real time-saver!

The following morning, Arthur and Yick are walking into school. Yick's worrying about Raditch finding out what they did. Arthur says, "Even if he does, it's a scientific experiment! Nothing will go wrong!" …Arthur doesn't know much about science.

Raditch is wearing a white suit that makes him look like a CIA spy unsuccessfully trying to go undercover in Havana. He hands back everybody's essays. Susie is wearing socks with gladiator sandals. Melanie's essay was "very imaginative"; B vitamins are almost as good a source of inspiration as LSD. Little-known fact. Yick gets an A- on Steph's essay. Arthur's delighted, but Yick just looks annoyed.

After school, Yick explains that if he and Steph got different marks for the same essay, it means Mr Raditch is a bad marker. Arthur says it doesn't matter, because it proves Raditch doesn't hate him. Yick says Raditch actually just thinks he's stupid, so he was overimpressed by him handing in a non-dreadful essay and gave him too good a mark. There is no pleasing some people.

Still, Yick masterfully overcomes these doubts he tells Arthur to bring him more of Steph's work. Arthur says that "once is an experiment, but twice is cheating". Actually, once was cheating, too. Twice is just cheating twice. But Yick says slightly menacingly that he has to give him more essays, because he helped Arthur to not suck at basketball. So what is he going to do if Arthur says no – break his fingers? It doesn't matter, though, because Arthur is completely spineless, so of course he'll agree to this.

Later that day, the cause of his spinelessness is in her room, painting her toenails. When Arthur knocks on the door, she hides the nail varnish, which is pointless because you can smell that stuff for an hour after you use it, but I digress. Actually, while I'm digressing, I would like to theorise that Steph is pretending her mother is stricter than she really is, because nobody in their right mind would object to a 14-year-old painting her toenails in winter, when nobody is even going to see it. Steph is just doing this so that she can feel hard-done-by. In later years, this will be refined into an art form known as being an emo kid.

Anyway, in comes Arthur. He returns the essay and then stands there, watching her paint her toenails (a slutty, slutty shade of hospital-décor pink), until she asks him what he wants. He tells her that "the experiment was successful, but the thing about experiments is that they need to be replicated". She looks at him blankly: "Replicated?" I suppose we can blame this on the nail varnish fumes.

Anyway, he gives her some brief pointers on research design, but his point is that he wants another essay. "Are you in some kind of trouble?" she asks, apparently thinking there might be loan sharks or heroin dealers who will let you pay them off with old bits of homework. When Arthur says no, she says he can't have any more essays.

And this is where Arthur discovers a spine! And promptly decides to use his powers for evil! He ever-so-subtly alludes to the fact that he doesn't tell their mother about Steph's hideous skankwear. Steph can see where this is going, and tells him, "That's blackmail!" See, she does have a vocabulary! Arthur just nods, like, "You're really not in a position to negotiate, dollface. It's this or the convent."

Next day, in the school library. Lucy is standing at a rack full of books. Joey and Wheels sleaze over to her. Joey tries to flirt with her, but she just walks away without a word. Nice. The guys busy themselves looking through the books (the one Wheels picks up has a man and woman in a passionate clinch on the cover, and Joey tries to wrest it out of his hands). Melanie and Kathleen come over, along with some background guy I've never seen before and the current Token Wheelchair Girl, and Wheels and Joey anxiously square up for a fight.

A few words on Degrassi's Token Wheelchair Girls: there is always one, who is in the background of every episode, but she changes at least twice over the course of the series. There is never more than one girl at a time. I think accusations of tokenism are justified because only the final girl actually gets a name and plotlines of her own (plotlines which are, of course, exclusively centred around the fact that she is a Wheelchair Girl), but not until Degrassi High.

Anyway, it turns out that the girls want more drugs. (Obviously Melanie's decided that being hooked and having rats and lice aren't so bad after all.) Background Guy and TWG want in on it too. Joey says he'll bring some tomorrow. "You bring the money, I'll make you funny." It'll take a lot more than some cheapass recreational drugs to make Kathleen funny.

Next day, the Stairwell of Druggitude. Mr Lawrence is on the intercom, advertising a talk on "street smarts", as a sunglass-wearing Joey counts out vitamin tablets, accompanied by ominous MIDI music. This guy already has all the street smarts he needs.

A few minutes later, in Mr Raditch's classroom, and the school junkies are giggling again. This place went downhill in no time. Raditch quiets them yet again with his Anti-Giggling Stinkeye (ably backed up by the uptight twin), and announces that everybody's essays were good, and Yick's was especially interesting. "Yes, I was impressed. Not as impressed as I was last year, when I first read this paper." Obviously he was up all night rehearsing that line.

Raditch asks how Yick got the essay, and eventually Arthur owns up. But Yick says that it was Raditch's fault (not an argument likely to get him any leniency) because he made Yick cheat by always giving him bad marks. Arthur says Raditch is bad at his job because Yick and Steph got different marks for the same paper. Raditch protests that "literature is not an exact science", which is true, but we're really not dealing with literature here, are we? To more drug-addled giggling from the New Zealand Zapper kids, Yick complains that Raditch gives people any mark he feels like, and stereotypes them. Raditch rants about "perceived imperfections in the system" and gives them both detention and demands an essay on what they did and why it was wrong. Sad music. Oh the injustice!

Later, in the diner, Steph sits down next to Joey and Wheels (absent-mindedly flashing The Teeth at Shane on the way over) and announces, "We've gotta talk." Both guys seem to think this means there will be sexy talk, although Wheels discreetly moves his drink away from Steph, probably worried that she might drunkenly throw up in it if he's not careful. Joey asks if she wants to come to the mall and help him buy new clothes – if a guy asked me that, I would think he was gently telling me I was Not His Type. Wheels sits there and ogles her in silence. Creepy.

But it turns out that Steph is not here for sexy talk or even clothes talk. "I hear you've been selling drugs," she mumbles. Cut to Kathleen and Melanie at a nearby table. "I don't care what you think," says Stephanie, "but drugs are dangerous!" Wait, is she actually displaying some sort of responsible school-president-type behaviour? How dreadfully disappointing. Joey tells her, "I wouldn't sell drugs, I wouldn't even take them. They wanted drugs so I sold them vitamin pills. They just thought they were stoned!" Melanie and Kathleen listen in horror.

Steph, who's being uncharacteristically ethical all of a sudden, chews him out for swindling the kids out of their money (so it would be better if the drugs were real?), but he tells her that "lessons don't come cheap". Actually, $5 and some public humiliation is extremely cheap, compared to the gothically Tragic Consequences that will come from drug use later on – but I'm getting several years ahead of myself. For now, Melanie and Kathleen look distinctly queasy.

Detention. Wow, Mr Raditch's hair is luxuriant. Arthur is writing but Yick is just sulkily tapping his pen on the desk, until he gets a patented Raditch Stinkeye (he'll wear that eye out if he's not careful). Someone hammers on the door, and Raditch actually wipes the chalk dust off his hands with a towelette before he goes to answer it. A little neurotic, don't you think? It's some woman at the door, asking to speak with him for a moment, with the hyper-clear diction of an actress who knows she may not get any more lines in the show, so she'd better make the most of this one.

Left alone in the classroom, the boys bemoan their lot. Yick thinks it's all Raditch's fault, but Arthur points out that there was the matter of their repeated cheating. Yick is unconvinced and decides he's not going to do the assigment because he "can't write papers". Arthur tells him to make an effort, but Yick takes offence and says not only is he not going to help Arthur with basketball any more, but Arthur is the worst player in the world and has no hope. Not no hope of success, just no hope in general, which is pretty harsh.

Arthur maintains that being crap and trying to improve is still better than cheating – hang on, wasn't the cheating his idea? He does have an impressive talent for bamboozlement, though: before Yick can point out his hypocrisy, Arthur distracts him by listing off his many faults and then claims that Raditch only thinks Yick is dumb because Yick hasn't given him any reason to think he's not. Oh, there's that spine again; this time, he's using his powers for good, but still being kind of a dick about it.

Raditch comes back in, giving them both the frowning of a lifetime just for good measure. Yick starts to write. For no particular reason, we cut to a janitor mopping the hallways, then back to Yick and Raditch in the classroom after Arthur's gone home. There is the most confusing poster on the back wall – it's headed "CONCESSION" in huge letters, as if it was a motivational poster, but the illustration is a sciency diagram of the solar system or something. What?

Anyway, Yick finishes his opus and hands it to Raditch with a Significant Look. Raditch starts to read it. It's a rather widely spaced half an A4 page, which really doesn't qualify as an essay. Plus I'm pretty sure that page has been crumpled up and flattened out several times. I'm getting more and more convinced that Raditch has a point.

Next morning, the Degrassi pill-poppers are gathered outside the school. Melanie's explaining to Token Wheelchair Girl and Background Guy that they've all been scammed.

Cut to Joey checking himself out in the two Playboy mirrors he has inside his locker. Also in there are some bits of Stephanie Kaye propaganda and a poster called "Busts", which shows about 20 different pairs of boobs in unflattering sports bras. What… what the hell? The concept may be pure sleaze, but this is in fact a thoroughly unerotic poster, like something that might be on the wall of a breast doctor's office. A more salacious person than me might speculate that that's why it's here in Joey's locker instead of at home under his mattress, but I'm not a more salacious person than me, so let's move on.

Anyway, he spots his disgruntled clientele reflected in the mirror, and turns around to see if they want "to buy some more". "Some more vitamins, huh?" asks Kathleen. Kathleen is dressed as a preppy boy today: she's wearing these very manly grey slacks, and a sweater vest with a pinstriped shirt underneath. She looks better than usual.

Kathleen and Melanie demand their money back, while Background Guy and Token Wheelchair Girl scowl menacingly. They're obviously not being paid to speak. Joey admits that he spent the money on a ridiculous Hawaiian shirt, then runs for it, pursued by an angry four-person mob of vitamin junkies. Bust-ed! You see? Because of the busts? Ah, forget it.

Later, in the classroom, the kids are quietly working when Mr Raditch announces that he wants to read out an assignment that "one of them wrote". It's about how stereotyping people is wrong, and "this guy I know" apparently doesn't suck royally at basketball after all, and "this other guy I know" supposedly isn't an idiot despite appearances to the contrary. Yick, by the way, has the worst poker face in the history of anything, and is pulling an assortment of silent-movie-grade nonsensical faces while his essay is read out. Way to preserve your anonymity, Yick.

Raditch dismisses the class but calls Yick back. He tells him that the paper really deserves an A, and generously doesn't mention the fact that he assigned him a completely different topic. Yick turns to go, but Raditch asks him for a "clean slate" and for both of them to try harder, and this is apparently as close as he ever gets to offering an apology. Which is not terribly close. He even offers to stop calling him "Mr Yu the Disorganised", which is just as well, because it was the least catchy nickname ever, and I'm sure he's going home to work on something infinitely more hilarious. After a not-at-all-suspenseful period of hesitation, Yick agrees to shake on it. Happy music.

Arthur's opening his locker. Caitlin walks past in a black-and-white leopard-print catsuit of some kind. Yick arrives with his basketball, and we get a glimpse inside Arthur's locker. There's a carefully cut-out photo of a moustached basketball player, and a calendar: this month's picture is a barn owl. I would mock it, but owls are kind of nifty, and anyway I'm too busy feeling relieved that Arthur didn't also have a "Busts" poster, or its companion poster, "Asses in High-Waisted Panties".

Yick asks Arthur if he wants to go practice basketball and then go for a milkshake, if he's not too busy. He knows how to show a boy a good time. Arthur gives it a bit of thought and decides he does have time to hang out with Yick and be henpecked by his sister and cut out photos of sporting heroes. Bless.

Just then, the guys hear someone yelling from inside a broom closet. They open the door, to find Joey inside wearing nothing but his Y-fronts and his hat, which he immediately uses to cover the Y-fronts. For which I am grateful. "Drug-crazed [inaudible]s stole my clothes!" he explains – the early episodes have quite poor sound quality. The missing word might have been "zombies", or it might have been "homies", or it might have been more ludicrous made-up Canadian slang.

Anyway, Arthur and Yick cheerfully shut the door and leave him to starve. At least there does seem to be a urinal in there (or just a giant sink?), although it probably isn't connected to actual plumbing. But I guess you can't have everything.

The boys head to the exit, engaging in some very undemanding basketball-horseplay, and the credits roll.

Dubious lessons of the week: Don't buy drugs from a shady kid you don't know, because they might not really be drugs, and then where would you be? If you do decide to set up as a dealer, your skateboard is a foolproof place to hide your stash. Cheating at your schoolwork will lead to increased understanding and empathy between you and your teachers. Breasts, contrary to popular belief, are not always sexy.