February 26, 2012
BH90210 3.8, The Back Story: Blowing Smoke
Summary: Brenda, Kelly, Donna, Steve, and David are in an SAT prep class, though only David is nervous about the test. He wonders why everyone is retaking the test if it’s not a big deal. As they leave the class, a woman from the local news asks if anyone is willing to do an interview about the pressures they’re feeling pre-SAT. Brenda does an interview, but Steve interrupts to tell her the reporter is really from a sleazy news magazine called The Back Story. He’s mad because of an unflattering story they did on his mother.
At school the next day, Brandon and Steve discuss Nikki, who Brandon says he’s not interested in because she’s a sophomore. (I thought she was a freshman. Eh, whatever.) Steve is supposed to hang out with a girl who’s dating a college student named B.J. Harrison. Brenda’s stressed enough to want a cigarette; Kelly lectures her and reminds her that her parents would kill her if they knew about the habit she developed in Paris. Brenda adds that Dylan would, too, since he hates smokers. Kelly adds this to the list of Dylan-related secrets she’s keeping from Brenda.
Nikki asks Donna why everyone’s so anxious, because apparently she’s too dumb to realize what’s going on. Donna tells her that Brandon and Andrea are the only people not retaking the SAT. She adds that Brandon is often at the Peach Pit after school. The reporter from the day before stakes out West Beverly High so she can talk to Brenda. They go to a café and the reporter, Beth, asks Brenda to help her with a story that will break down stereotypes about Beverly Hills teens.
Brenda then heads to the Peach Pit to try to talk to Brandon, but he’s too busy. Nikki also wants his attention, but he barely notices her. Steve hangs out with B.J. and his girlfriend, complaining about all the work he has to do. B.J. offers him a master key to West Beverly High; it’ll give him access to every office, filing cabinet, and grade bank. It’s passed down from student to student every year, and Steve getting it is an honor. Steve isn’t sure, so B.J. gives him a few days to think about it.
After work, Brandon tells Brenda that Nikki makes him nervous. She seems too innocent for him. Brenda tells him about Beth’s offer, and Brandon thinks that after what happened to Samantha, it’s a bad idea. He advises her to talk to the vice principal, Ms. Teasley, first. Brenda has felt a little out of place since coming back from Paris; Donna’s always with David, and Kelly’s acting weird. Brenda wants to do something to make the school look good.
As the twins arrive home and greet their parents, Brenda accidentally drops a pack of cigarettes. This leads to a family meeting where everyone tells Brenda she’s being stupid. She thinks everyone’s overreacting. Cindy reminds her that she’s already had a cancer scare. (Ironically, that was the last time she was supposed to take the SAT.) Brenda denies that she has a problem, using the cliché that she can quit anytime. Jim challenges her to do just that.
Donna and David study some vocabulary as Kelly tells Brenda she’s glad Jim and Cindy found out she’s smoking. Brenda comes clean to Dylan, telling both him and Kelly that she’s already given up the habit. Dylan announces that he’s skipping the SAT to visit his dad in jail. Kelly defends him for not necessarily wanting to go to college. Later, Brenda takes Beth a yearbook and video scrapbook, telling her that she needs to talk to Mrs. Teasley. Beth wants to put the piece together first. She asks Brenda to skip class to help her out.
Andrea tells Brandon that the Blaze has a new sophomore-class representative: Nikki. Beth and Brenda watch the video scrapbook, and Brenda reveals Donna’s learning disability and Kelly’s past life as a slut. Oh, and she smokes with Beth. B.J. visits West Beverly, and Steve sees how beloved he is by Ms. Teasley. Brenda spends the rest of the school day with Beth, then goes to see Dylan, who can tell she’s been smoking. She promises to quit if he takes the SAT on Saturday.
Brandon gets rid of Nikki at the Blaze, and Andrea tells him to break it to her that he doesn’t want to date her. Brenda visits Beth while she’s editing, though she’s having trouble putting together the story she wants. Her producer, Dan, wants something a bit more exploitative. Ms. Teasley tells Brandon and Andrea about The Back Story‘s presence at the school, asking them to put an announcement in the paper telling students not to talk to them. Brandon realizes it’s too late for that and rushes off to find Brenda.
Dylan’s also looking for Brenda; he wants to say goodbye before he goes to see Jack. He adds that a girl named Nikki is looking for Brandon, and he did Brandon a favor by telling her how much he likes her. Dylan admits that he’s not taking the SAT, despite his deal with Brenda. Brandon advises him to keep his options open. Dylan suggests that he do the same. Brandon’s still annoyed that he can’t find Brenda, and he takes it out on Nikki, finally telling her that they wouldn’t work out if they dated. She’s confused.
Brandon finally finds Brenda at the library and tells her the school board doesn’t want people talking to Beth. Brenda blows him off. Brandon then heads to the Peach Pit to work, complaining to Steve that he has a lot of homework to do. Steve offers to make things a little easier with the master key. Brandon points out that things didn’t turn out so well the last time Steve cheated. He points out that Steve can either have a big GPA but worry about getting caught, or he can be happy with average grades.
Brenda comes home in time for her story to air on The Back Story. She’s stunned to see that it’s been edited to make the students seem like rich snobs with family problems. The segment host, who Brenda never talked to, says that Donna has a severe learning disability that her parents dealt with by sending her to Paris for a shopping spree. Kelly’s whole past and family are outed as everyone watches. Brenda tries to call her but can’t reach her, so she goes for a walk.
Brandon runs into Brenda on his way home and asks if she wants to be alone so she can smoke. Brenda thinks she’s earned it. He tells her that if she can get through this crisis without a cigarette, she can get through anything. He takes her home for ice cream instead. Brenda finally gets through to the Taylor/Silver house, but Kelly and David won’t talk to her. Meanwhile, Dylan visits Jack, who wonders why he’s skipping the SAT. He notes that Dylan has money, but he’ll only have respect as long as it’s there. If he works to get a college degree, no one can take it from him.
At the SAT, Tony Miller makes fun of Steve, who was described as being emotionally unstable on the Back Story piece. Brenda tries to talk to her friends, but they’re too mad. Brenda promises Kelly that she never said what the piece claimed she said about her. Dylan goes to another school to take the SAT. Beth goes by the Walshes’, where Brandon blasts her for stabbing Brenda in the back. Beth wants her to know that she quit and wants to make amends.
After the SAT, Brenda turns the tables on her friends by ignoring them. Brandon and Beth show up so Beth can apologize and assure Brenda’s friends that she wasn’t in on the negative parts of the piece. She also has an unedited version of Brenda’s interview to prove that she said nice things about her friends. The teens head to the Peach Pit, and Brandon pulls Nikki aside to apologize for yelling at her the day before. Then he kisses her, for no apparent reason, and she’s all happy.
Thoughts: What’s a grade bank? I mean, obviously it’s a place where grades are stored, but…well, what is it?
Actual funny moment: Brandon’s sarcastic “thanks, buddy!” to Dylan after Dylan said he told Nikki that Brandon likes her.
I don’t think you can just show up at any school and take the SAT. And I guess if Dylan thinks he can take it without any preparation, he either believes he’s smart enough to ace it or he doesn’t care. Probably that second one.
Ah, yes, Beth, the “I was only following orders” defense. Always a classic.
Really, Brandon? Two minutes ago Nikki bugged you, and now you want to make out with her? Boys are weird.