In our cold opening, we meet two guys who look way too old to be junior high students, Trevor and Rick. They’re members of a club called the “Rigmas” which is apparently some cool club that has the best parties and the best women. They invite Lisa to a party on Friday night and she is, of course, elated. They then invite Zack Morris to join them and they tell him that they’ll give him the pledge rules after school.
After the credits, Miss Bliss tells us in voice over that pledging school clubs isn’t for everyone because you have to take orders, do insane things, and endure constant humiliation, which means that, of course, Zack Morris was up to it if it meant joining the cool kids. Trevor and Rick make an announcement which requires Zack Morris to stand up in the middle of class and sing…oh god…”Swanee,” an old song by George Gershwin and Irving Caesar from1919, the year my grandfather was born. Yeah…we’re less than three minutes in and I already think this episode is ridiculous and being written by someone with no idea what kids are actually familiar with. I can see it now:
Writer 1: What kinds of song do those hip teenagers like nowadays? Do you think they listen to Stephen Foster on their new fangled Walkmans?
Writer 2: Of course not! Stephen Foster is from another generation! What kids love nowadays is George Gershwin and Irving Caesar! They’re the cat’s pajamas!
Miss Bliss asks Zack if doing a song and dance from the early twentieth century is actually so important to him and Lisa tells her that of course it is because if he keeps doing turn of the century American compositions no one from his generation have heard of, he might be allowed in their club where they can listen to hip artists like George Cohan and Irving Berlin! Oh to be Zack Morris right now!
Of course, his next pledge activity is doing something he’s probably hoped to do for years: carry Screech’s books for him. Is this a club or is it a gay dating service?
In the office, Mr. Belding asks Miss Bliss to be the designated acting principal should he have to be absent. This requires her to be in charge of the school for a week. She enthusiastically agrees on the condition that he get her a new set of encyclopedias so that something is in it for her, despite the fact it could be valuable experience that leads to a promotion. Also, if shes’s going to ask for something, why not that TV shenaskedfor earlier in the series?
In the cafeteria, Zack Morris is hiding from Trevor and Rick and asks Not-Jessie and Lisa not to tell them he’s hiding under their table in plain sight. The two come in looking for Zack Morris and Screech rats him out. They order Zack Morris to go up on stage to do forty jumping jacks, which Not-Slater suddenly thinks is ridiculous despite the fact that he’s been encouraging Zack Morris to be a Rigma.
Not-Jessie and Lisa soon join in because the writers of this episode can’t maintain continuity for more than a minute and because doing jumping jacks is apparently cruel and unusual punishment for a jock.
Mr. Belding comes in to teach Miss Bliss’s classes while she’s acting as principal because there apparently aren’t enough substitutes to go around and they wanted to givemMr. Belding to do besides burrow up Miss Bliss’s ass the rest of the episode. Mr. Belding sucks ass as a teacher and doesn’t even realize they’re in homeroom. Because he thinks they should be doing something, he suggests they rap about life, M.C. George Gershwin style.
Zack Morris comes into class dressed in nothing but a pair of short shorts and his stupid hat with a towel on his shoulder, which I’m pretty sure was discouraged even in the days before strict dress codes. Mr. Belding, because he’s incompetent as a teacher and because the plot demands it, doesn’t think anything of it and just turns into a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle while telling Zack Morris, “Cowabunga!”
After class, Terry and Rick approach Zack Morris and, after shooing away everyone else so they can have him to themselves, tell him they have a surprise, which is usually cue for a kid Zack Morris’s age to report the two creepy adults making sexual inuendos towards him. Before they can reveal it, Acting Principal Bliss comes up and asks him, within earshot of Terry and Rick, whether he thinks the Rigmas are taking the pledging too far. He tells Miss Bliss no and she tells Zack Morris about when she was in college and had to eat live goldfish, giving Rick and Terry ideas. Wait, are there no adults in this building who give a damn that you have a nearly naked teenager running around school? What the hell am I watching?
Terry and Rick show Zack Morris that they have a Rigmas jacket for him but he has to ditch his friends to get it and, because Zack Morris has no sense of loyalty or right and wrong, he agrees to it.
In the office, Miss Bliss has become an extremely popular principal after getting much of the staff exactly what they ask for. Mylo sings her praises as Mr. Belding enters the room and Mr. Belding is butt hurt that it seems like Miss Bliss is a better principal than him. I don’t know what he expected. Despite the fact that she thought nothing strange of a half naked student in school, she’s still the most competent person in the building.
In the cafeteria, Terry and Rick tell Zack Morris, now fully dressed, that it’s time for him to show his loyalty. He goes over to the table where Screech, Lisa, Not-Slater, and Not-Jessie are sitting and apologizes for what he’s about to do, as if that makes everything alright. He tells a girl Not-Slater likes about his crush on her, sending him fuming out of the room. He tells Lisa he called her parents and told them about her wearing make-up at school, despite the fact that we later find out he only left a message on the answering machine that she was able to intercept and delete. He calls Screech a nothing, and, in one of the more unintentionally hilarious moments of the episode, he hits Not-Jessie in the face with a piece of pie.
Once Zack Morris has successfully alienated all of his friends, Terry and Rick tell him that he’s in the Rigmas and give him his sparkly new Rigmas jacket.
And Rick tells Zack Morris they’ll always be friends forever…forever….
I’m imagining these three dumb asses at Rick’s house after school for some hot butt fucking.
In Miss Bliss’s room, Zack Morris is getting the cold shoulder from his friends, apparently confirming that he has no concept of right and wrong as he thinks they should all just get over it.
Mr. Belding is teaching historical word associations from index cards and apparently even wrote his name on an index card. He gives a series of historical figures and asks what they each had in common. Everything goes fine until he gets to Judas and Benedict Arnold, whom Not-Jessie says are relatives of Zack Morris. Lisa joins in and a fight looks like it’s about to happen when Mr. Belding drops his note cards. As he’s picking them up, he tells them they can all be friends on the weekends now that he’s in the Rigmas. Not-Slater picks up his jacket and starts tossing it back and forth to Not-Jessie over Zack Morris’s head. Mr. Belding steps in and sends everyone, even the extras, the entire class, to the principal’s office, which may be the dumbest thing Mr. Belding’s done to date considering the chaos this causes in the next scene.
In the office, Miss Bliss is overwhelmed by all the extras yelling at once and tries to get all the stories straight, and there’s a stupid gag about her thinking Zack Morris called Screech’s parents and told them Screech wears make-up. Once Miss Bliss realizes Zack Morris is at the center of it all, she tells Mr. Belding to get the rest of the students the fuck out of the office so she can actually do something about it.
Zack Morris tells Miss Bliss the others are just jealous because he’s one of the cool kids now and Miss Bliss tells him to shut the fuck up and actually think about what he’s done. He gets all emo and says no one understands him, that he had to do stupid ass shit to get in the club. Miss Bliss just sends him away without punishment telling him that the price of his jacket was the only four people in the school who tolerate him.
Miss Bliss checks on Mr. Belding and he’s had a horrible day. He’s jealous that everything Miss Bliss does is perfect but then he finds out she didn’t get approval from the school board on anything she did as principal, which brightens his day because it means Miss Bliss isn’t perfect. Wait, I get funding, but why the hell does she need to get school board approval for things like moving the crossing guard and towing an old car from the parking lot or allow a teacher to have a day off? Whatever, the plot demanded it and now that subplot is over.
In the cafeteria, Zack Morris tells the others that he’s decided to choose them over the club so they can take him back now and he acts shocked when they tell him to fuck off because how could someone not capitulate to Zack Morris’s every demand? Terry and Rick come in and tell Zack Morris to come sit with them and they reveal that he’s not really in the Rigmas. Turns out their initiation was to find an eighth grader to pretend to initiate and humiliate, and Zack Morris was their chump. And we get a homoerotic declaration from Terry and Rick of Rigmas forever.
Because the episode only has about a minute left, the others instantly decide that Zack Morris has learned his lesson by being humiliated himself and decide to instantly forgive him because they still have one more episode of this show they have to do together. Zack Morris says he just wanted to inflate his sense of importance by being cool instead of hanging around his geeky friends all the time and asks forgiveness. And the episode is wrapped up just in time for Zack Morris to throw his Rigmas jacket away as the credits come on.
My parting question for this episode: what the hell is a Rigma? I was hoping this episode would get around to telling me but apparently we may never know. And so we have one more episode before we say good bye to Good Morning, Miss Bliss!