Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Season 8, Episode 1: Back to School

A new season, a new setting: SCANDAL! now goes to high school!

Episode 1: Back to School

Our story begins outside Little Five Points High on the first day of school, where the popular cheerleader Sterling Schremerhorn ran into her best friend, Gwendolyn Pinchot, and was taken aback by Gwen’s new punk look. Gwen told Sterling that they couldn’t be seen together, since it would be bad for her new image…but they could still be friends secretly.

Art teacher Randy Huggins asked new student Joe Luderman to stay after class. Mr. Huggins had sensed that Joe was holding in some secret inner turmoil, and reassured Joe that he could confide in him. However, since Joe’s inner secret was that he’s really an undercover cop sent to infiltrate the school’s drug trade, he couldn’t confide in anybody.

Guidance counselor Ms. Munsen-Meyer was going through some files when Miller, the school stoner, arrived for his 10:30 appointment. She explained how proud she was of him for reaching his senior year after only 8 years. She warned him that there were some people in the school that still wanted to hold him back.

Assistant Coach Carl Damon and custodian Mr. Cook were hanging out by the lockers, discussing their suspicions about the new kid, Joe Luderman. Damon worried that Joe was on the marijuana, so when Joe stopped by his locker, Mr. Cook tried to lull him into a false sense of security by assuring Joe that he could store & distribute anything in his locker with complete privacy. Joe thought that Cook was trying to make a business deal.

Gwendolyn Pinchot was at her after-school job at the local coffee shop The Crash Pad when Ms. Munsen-Meyer entered. Gwendolyn asked if she could help out in Ms. Munsen-Meyer’s office after school, and Munsen-Meyer eagerly accepted. As a show of good faith, Gwen offered to cover up the obscenities on her T-shirt when she’s in the office.

Miller was asleep in art class when Mr. Huggins woke him up and gave him an F. Miller defended himself by explaining that he was dreaming about art, and we saw the dream with Miller as Picasso, painting and smoking a chorus line of dancing joints. Huggins would not budge on the F, explaining that he doesn’t believe in rubber-stamping students just to move them along. If Miller wants a passing grade, he’ll have to earn it.

In the auditorium, Assistant Coach Damon and Sterling Schremerhorn were leading a pep rally for the lacrosse team. Suddenly, the school mascot, the Fighting Panhandler, arrived and wandered into the audience, begging for change. Damon explained that this was how they raised money for the school’s woefully-underfunded athletic programs.

STERLING: “I’m the cheerleader AND the team! Please give money!”

After the pep rally, Damon took the Fighting Panhandler aside to offer some tips on his begging technique. The Panhandler showed off his new moves, proving that he doesn’t need any advice. Upset by the Panhandler’s snub, Damon threw his dodgeball at the Panhandler. Damon was stunned that the Panhandler could survive a direct hit without injury, and was left to wonder who was inside the costume.

Ms. Munsen-Meyer and Mr. Cook were in her office, discussing cleaning techniques. They were surprised by the unexpected arrival of Munsen-Meyer’s star assistant from last year, Lewis von Kemia, who had just left the hospital and was ready to start school again. Lewis told her that, during his coma, the only thing that gave him the will to live was his deep subconscious need to file.

At the Crash Pad, Gwendolyn was tallying up the day’s receipts when Joe Luderman entered, looking for a job. Sterling Schremerhorn arrived and invited Joe to her birthday party. (“Gwendolyn, I would invite you, but we’re ‘not friends,’ wink-wink.”) Sterling asked if she could hire Gwen’s boyfriend’s band, The Dead Bunnies, to play at the party. Sterling told Joe that Miller would be providing the Coors and “party favors,” whatever that meant. After Sterling left, Joe asked Gwen if she knew anything about the drug traffic in the school. Joe explained that he thought Mr. Cook was trying to recruit him as a dealer. Gwen remembered that Cook once got her into a pyramid scheme selling moisturizer, so she wouldn’t put it past him.

Mr. Huggins was alone in his classroom, grading the students’ self-portrait kites, when his former star pupil Lewis von Kemia arrived. Huggins was thrilled to see Lewis again, and expressed his admiration for Lewis keeping his sense of humor in the face of his life-threatening illness. (“Well, if you can’t laugh at it, it just kills you.”) Suddenly, Sterling Schremerhorn entered and was startled to see her old boyfriend Lewis, now devoid of his former flowing golden tresses. They hugged, but she was reluctant to return his embrace. She explained that her hesitation wasn’t due to his changed appearance, but because she was afraid of hurting him. Lewis and Sterling had a musical montage/flashback to happier times, culminating in Lewis kicking the shit out of Miller.

Mr. Cook was eyeing Joe’s locker when Miller arrived and offered Cook some 9-year-old daiquiri mix. Cook started to explain his suspicions about Joe, when the Fighting Panhandler wandered by and started hassling Miller for change. A scuffle ensued.

Assistant Coach Damon was eating his Hot Pockets in the cafeteria when Ms. Munsen-Meyer entered. She told him how much she admired his struggling to get by on his experience in the real world, without the benefit of her Ivy League education. Then she broke the bad news that his application to become a full-fledged Coach had been declined, even though the Coach position was vacant. Damon angrily complained about his workload, holding down five jobs and enduring a hellish commute to make ends meet, and the strain it was putting on his marriage…not to mention his medical condition of priapism (look it up). As Damon ranted, Munsen-Meyer held up her hand to silence him. Suddenly, Damon touched his palm to hers.

NEXT WEEK: Lewis delivers the good news to Gwendolyn.

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