Case #5.01: "Business as Usual (Blackout)"

As I begin recapping this final season, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone out there who's been reading and enjoying this blog. You all are the reason I do this!

A woman carrying a gym bag gets into her BMW. Elsewhere, a rowdy group of teenage boys outside a convenience store packs way too many of them into a truck bed. They're carrying paper bags that undoubtedly contain cases of beer. Cut to the woman backing her Beemer out of the driveway and driving through town.

The boys in the pickup truck's bed toss an empty beer can over the side. We see a swingset and a sign that reads BROOKSIDE PARK--HOURS 6 AM TO SUNDOWN. It's definitely after hours, but the Beemer parks there anyway. The boys in the pickup stop on a nearby hill and get out. They crack open more beers and head into the park.

The woman, stretching by her car, doesn't notice them. She starts jogging through the park. The boys stop hooting and wrestling in the grass as they see her. I don't like where this is going. The woman jogs past the picnic table strewn with beer. One of the boys chases her. She runs faster. The other boys join the pursuit, driving her deeper into the wooded area. One tackles the woman to the ground. Another boy steals her jewelry and a third hits her in the head with a rock. Intense opening scene that seems like it belongs on a grittier show, such as Law & Order: SVU. Theme song.

Just outside the Lincoln High School gym, a group of boys who appear to be basketball players warn their friend/teammate Marty to keep his mouth shut about what happened in the park. There's a throwaway scene showing Doug is undercover as a gym teacher and another involving a teacher admonished for missing his first-period class. It's not like there's a torrential downpour or anything. Doug announces the parking lot is flooded. A lot of teachers couldn't get to school because the storm closed roads. The principal refuses to dismiss early.

In the halls, Judy and Tom think the Lincoln High kids all seem too normal to have been involved in the park incident. Marty argues with his girlfriend Allison about how much time he spends with his friends. He recently broke a date to hang out with a kid named Rob. Marty says all they did was hang out at another kid's house and rent movies. He sometimes has trouble saying no to them. Allison wants to break up. Marty swears he didn't even really want to hang out with Rob.

Marty produces a gift from his shirt pocket: the same charm bracelet the woman in the park was wearing. He lies that it belonged to his mom. They head down the hallway hand in hand.

In one of the classrooms, a teacher is conducting a recreation of the famous Stanford Prison Experiment to teach the kids about peer pressure. Allison shows off her new charm bracelet to Judy. 

In wood shop, the students cheer as a lightning strike knocks out the school's electricity. Doug brings a small generator to the office so they can use it to power the PA system. The principal contacted the bus garage and was told it'll take 3 hours to find enough drivers. Doug has bad news; the generator is out of gas. Another teacher (Mr. Gibbert) gives Doug his keys and tells him to siphon the gas out of his car. The other teacher recommends keeping the students in their current classrooms instead of dismissing them to the next period.

An English teacher tells his class a ghost story. Rob, Allison, and Judy sneak out of a different English class. Allison wants to go to wood shop so she and Marty can ditch class together. Rob mocks her for thinking Marty would rather be hanging out with him. Judy goes with Allison.

Doug and Mr. Gibbert come back into school with the gas can. Doug heard a rumor that the perpetrators of the park incident might be students at Lincoln. The other teacher insists he has no idea of any students who'd be involved in something like that. However, he's concerned the kids will start acting out like people do during major power outages in New York City.

Rob, Allison, and Judy convince the shop teacher that all the students are supposed to go to their next class. Someone throws a trashcan into the hallway and tries to dump its contents on another student. Judy quietly tells Tom that Allison's bracelet matches the one described by the jogger. Mrs. Dawson, an English teacher, hears the commotion in the hall and opens her door. A boy pops his head into the room and makes a scary face. The others outside are kicking lockers for no apparent reason. Let chaos reign!

The principal bitches at someone on the phone. The school buses have been stranded by a mudslide. Everyone is stuck until at least dark. This is starting to remind me of the Hey Arnold! episode when the kids were trapped at school due to a flood. Doug gets the generator working, but it shorts out the PA system. Doug doesn't think it's a problem. They can each take a section of the school and announce what's happening.

Mr. Anderson, the teacher who was telling ghost stories, says there's a kink in that plan: Mrs. Dawson locked her class in and won't open the door. A bunch of kids are "raising hell in the hallway. It's a little frightening." I'd say more like terrifying. Mr. Gibbert suggests putting two teachers in every classroom until the buses arrive. "That's my decision!" barks the principal. He picks up the phone and dials the district office.

After overhearing Rob and friends talking about an out of control party they went to the night before, Tom gets suspicious. He asks Marty about the bracelet. This time, Marty's story is he bought it at "some place on Main Street." He picked out the charms himself. Tom asks about the one that had the initials HK. Marty tells Tom it's personal. For reasons unknown, Rob and friends start chanting "Boom shakalaka." 

Mrs. Dawson's class is getting restless. It's 3:00 and one girl has to go home to babysit her brother. Several kids have after-school jobs. Mrs. Dawson can't let them leave until the bell rings. A boy points out the bell can't ring if there's no power. Mrs. Dawson, calm until now, snaps at them to sit down and shut down.

Rob leads the other kids in a chant of "Boom shakalaka" as they run through the halls. Allison thinks they're lame. Marty promises he'll take her home after he and his friends get revenge on their mean shop teacher Mr. Burke.

The phone goes dead as the principal (Mr. Townsend) calls the district again. The secretary asks how the kids are supposed to get home. Mr. Townsend doesn't answer.

The chant continues in a whisper, freaking out Mr. Anderson, patrolling the school on his own. Allison gripes to Judy about how stupid this whole thing is. Judy asks if Marty was at the park on Saturday night.

Mr. Burke hears the kids approaching. They charge through the shop doors and corner him. The boys grab his shirt and drag him toward the locker room, the chant morphing to "Shower! Shower!" Rob grabs some tools off a bench. Hammers, mostly. Just lovely.

Doug knocks on the door of Mrs. Dawson's classroom. One of the kids lets him in. Mrs. Dawson quietly admits to Doug that the students scare her "after that thing in the park." A boy stops in the doorway and gleefully announces that Mr. Burke is being dragged to the showers. Doug sees one of the boys is armed with a crowbar. Rob has a hammer. Doug orders them to let Mr. Burke go. "He sweats, he showers, your rule," says one of the boys. 

Tom offers to let Doug and Mr. Burke switch places. Doug tries to push Mr. Burke into the safety of Mrs. Dawson's classroom, but she shuts the door and locks it again. In the locker room, Doug and Mr. Burke are locked in one of the storage cages used for equipment. Doug tells the kids it's not to late to stop before someone gets hurt.

Tom thinks the best thing he and Judy can do is split the group up into two factions: Rob and Marty. Tom will try to get to the office to tell Mr. Townsend what's going on. The group stops at the outer office door. Mr. Townsend orders them to leave; the kids are already in enough trouble. "Then we'll huff and we'll puff and we'll blow your door down," says Marty. The kids start huffing and puffing, then kicking the door.

Judy tells Allison that the charm bracelet the teen is wearing belonged to the woman who was attacked in the park on Saturday night. "If Marty was one of those kids, then what happened in the park could be happening all over again," says Judy. Allison doesn't believe Marty could hurt anyone.

The kids kick in the office door. Mr. Townsend punches Tom in the face. Congratulations, you just assaulted a police officer! Rob and another boy beat up Mr. Townsend while the others toss things around the office. "POLICE!" Judy cries. Everything comes to a screeching halt. Tom flashes his own badge. The kids scatter and the two cops chase them.

After this episode is over, I never want to hear the words "boom shakalaka" again. Mrs. Dawson lets Tom and Judy into her classroom. When they stupidly stick their heads out, the kids pounce, dragging Tom down the hallway by his legs. Allison takes off her charm bracelet and tosses it to the floor.

In the locker room, Allison pulls Rob and another boy off Judy. Rob pushes her. Allison gives an unrealistic lecture about the mob mentality. Tom and Judy are able to get up. Tom lets Doug and Mr. Anderson out of the equipment cage.

In Brookside Park, Marty tells Allison that although he was in the park that fateful night, he didn't participate in raping the jogger. Allison tells him he's just as bad for not trying to stop it. She leaves. Marty goes to inform Rob and company that Allison won't alibi him. "They'll never get us if we stick together," says Rob. 

Title card time! "Marty Franklin came forward and admitted his part in the brutal rape of Helen Kolata. The others were arrested and although they were juveniles, they were tried as adults. They were sentenced to serve 10 years for rape and attempted murder."

Not sure why there was no sign of Dean from the last recap.

No comments:

Post a Comment