August 24, 2013

Party of Five 3.3, Short Cuts: How to Succeed in School Without Really Trying

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 3:13 pm by Jenn

Cute puppy says, "Cheer up, Kirsten! Give me a high five!"

Cute puppy says, “Cheer up, Kirsten! Give me a high five!”

Summary: Bailey’s trying to figure out what to wear on his first day of college, even though he tells Charlie it’s not a big deal. Charlie disagrees, and they reminisce about Bailey’s first day at kindergarten. Charlie repeats what their parents told him on his first day of college: This is his chance to get a clean slate and make his life into whatever he wants it to be. He adds that no one at college will know Bailey, so he really does get a new start.

Julia, Sarah, Justin, and Julia’s horrible bangs are now high school seniors, which means it’s time for them to start thinking about college. Julia isn’t sure where she and Justin stand, but she doesn’t want to avoid him all year. After a summer apart, the two of them meet up for the first time, and Julia learns that Justin’s mom had her baby. Justin’s on the same page about not avoiding each other anymore.

Kirsten meets up with her grad-school advisor, who tells her that someone read her dissertation and discovered that she’d plagiarized a portion of it. At registration at Berkeley, a guy pretends Bailey is a guy named Larry so he can cut in line to “catch up with him.” Bailey and the guy, Cooper, quickly hit it off, and Cooper offers to share his brother’s advice about succeeding in college with little effort.

Julia and Justin let each other look at their letters of recommendation for college, then wrestle Sarah’s away from her. Sarah’s embarrassed because a teacher called her the most gifted student he’s ever taught. Bailey and Cooper get lunch together, and Cooper gets a free meal by pretending his card was stolen. Claudia’s in high school now, and she’s boring, so whatever, let’s move on. Kirsten comes home upset and tells Charlie about the plagiarism accusation. He thinks it’s unfounded, but she admits that she forgot to cite her source.

Bailey tells Sarah about Cooper’s tips for college success while she disapproves of his easy class schedule. Julia and her awful headband are mad that her college advisor brought to her attention that she didn’t have any extracurriculars her junior year. Somehow Sarah managed to find time to do a bunch of stuff while also hanging out with Bailey all the time. Justin tells her she’s getting on his nerves. Julia realizes that they can start their own club. He jokingly suggests Students for the Ethical Treatment of Students, and she thinks it’s an awesome idea.

Charlie looks through the house for notes Kirsten might have taken that would prove she didn’t plagiarize. Instead, he finds a prescription. Claudia tries to sympathize with Kirsten with a story about how she once thought she wrote “Big Yellow Taxi” because Julia played it over and over and it seeped into her subconscious, or something. Kirsten doesn’t find this comforting.

Julia and Justin can’t get their fake club off the ground, so Julia considers taking advantage of her mother’s alumni connections at Stanford. Sarah suggests that Justin enter an essay contest, but he doesn’t know what to write about. He also doesn’t know how to compete with Sarah’s topic (meeting her birth mother) or Julia’s topic (her parents’ death). He rants that the girls will win in a tie, and he’ll end up working on a grocery store. “I’d be okay with a tie,” Sarah murmurs.

Bailey takes Sarah to a college party that night, but he’s not much fun since he’s worrying about some sort of computer-proficiency placement test. Cooper’s brother is taking the test for him and will take Bailey’s as well; he’ll just need Bailey’s student ID number. Bailey declines, but possibly just because Sarah’s there to disapprove.

Charlie does some research into Kirsten’s prescription and learns that she’s been taking antidepressants. She admits that she started taking them after their non-wedding, and though she’s okay, she was so depressed while writing her dissertation that she doesn’t even remember writing the portion that she plagiarized. Charlie urges her to tell her advisor what happened. Kirsten agrees when he promises to go with her.

Apparently the other Salingers know about Kirsten’s problems, and Bailey can understand doing whatever it takes to make a deadline. Julia doesn’t think that’s an excuse. Claudia feels bad for Kirsten’s students, who can no longer trust her. Charlie hears his siblings talking and tells Claudia to be mad at him, not Kirsten. Justin apologizes to Julia for his freak-out, then looks over her submission for the essay contest. He won’t share his, though.

As Bailey takes his test, regretting not letting Cooper’s brother take it for him, Julia turns in her essay and spots Justin’s already in the submission box. She reads it and learns that he wrote about her pregnancy. Sarah asks Bailey about his test, and he tells her he couldn’t finish. If he doesn’t take the test, he has to take a class in computer programming, which he really doesn’t want to do. He’s going to let Cooper’s brother take the test for him. Sarah thinks this instance of cheating will snowball into more.

Charlie waits outside while Kirsten learns that her Ph.D. is being revoked. She refuses to let him try to change the faculty’s minds since it’s her the result of her actions, not his. At Berkeley, Bailey asks Cooper to get his brother to take his test. Julia blasts Justin for writing his essay about her pregnancy; she thinks the teachers who read it will know it’s about her. She doesn’t want to “share custody” of what happened to her. Justin reminds her that he was involved as well, so he has the right to process it the way he wants. Julia orders him to pull the essay from the contest.

Now that Kirsten has no Ph.D., she’s lost her job, so she’s reduced to wallowing in the Salingers’ house. Charlie pushes her to figure out a way to get back into her career, but Kirsten just accepts that she’s doing the time for her crime. She’s starting to lose it a little, saying over and over that she’s responsible and has to clean up her own mess. Cooper’s brother gets Bailey a great score in computer proficiency – so good that his advisor thinks he should look into engineering. He also thinks Bailey’s making a terrific adjustment to college life.

Justin won’t pull his essay, so he and Julia have returned to avoiding each other. She accuses him of going out of his way to hurt him. He tells her he just wanted to win the contest. They’re no longer required to look out for each other the way they once were. He gets her to admit that if there were one spot left at Stanford, she would want it for herself, not him. Justin admits the same, but at least they both agree that they don’t care if Sarah gets in. Elsewhere, Kirsten is depressed. Okay, we get it.

Thoughts: Cooper, don’t buy Bailey a beer! Cooper, noooooo!

Why doesn’t Julia join the newspaper? Remember how she used to be a writer?

Why is Claudia always at the house when the others are at school? Yeah, maybe her middle school started at a different time than the high school, but aren’t she and Julia in the same school now?

Owen status: alive.

Justin, about a girl who said hi to him: “She’s just a friend.” Julia: “That’s okay – so am I. A friend who’s seen you naked.” And that’s how you stay friends after a breakup.

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