We open with Zack Morris looking surprised that the camera caught him talking on the phone. Who was he talking to? I have two guesses: either a phone sex line or Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Friends Network, who told him that his mystical powers would soon allow him to break the fourth wall. Oh, Saved by the Bell, you never cease to amaze me with how nonsensical you can be!
Anyway, Zack Morris lets us in on the plot of the week: that Bayside is holding a ’50s style Sock Hop! Geez, this season was really scraping the bottom of the barrel for plot ideas, weren’t they? I mean, at this point, it doesn’t even seem like they’re trying. It’s like watching Dustin Diamond’s career: it started out with such promise and then crashed and burned!
Screech is an idiot like usual and didn’t bother to find out what sock hop is so he just hops around with no shoes on because HAHA IT’S A PUN SO IT’S SUPER FUNNY! GET IT? SOCK HOP! COME ON, GUYS! LAUGH! THEY SPENT ALL MORNING THINKING THAT ONE UP!
Meanwhile, since Jessie’s locked in Zack Morris’s basement this week in addition to Kelly, Ginger fills in for Kelly at The Max, and the gang regale her with their order fifties barber shop quartet style. Well, it wold be that style if it the editors had done any work to make it sound like the words they’re singing are actually their voices. Ginger, being in a competition with Screech, Ox, and Tommy D for dumbest character in this franchise, thinks they’re good and that they ought to perform at the sock hop. Zack Morris says they will be performing, but not as their former band, Zack Attack, but as their new musical endeavor, the Five Aces.
Assuming they’re using “ace” as an adjective, that means they’re the Five “Very Goods.” If they’re talking about the playing cards, they’re all Screech level dumb at this point.
After Ginger leaves, Slater tell the gang that his sister, J.B., is home for a couple of weeks. Tori asks Slater how it is he’s been on this show four years and has never mentioned the fact he has a sister. The rest of the gang tell Tori not to be dumb because Slater totally talks about his sister all the time, just when the camera is turned off. She’s been at boarding school last year and spent the summer in Europe. She’s a tomboy, which Screech points out is like Tori, which is good because it gives someone an excuse to slap Screech upside the head.
I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. After all, Kelly, Jessie, and Mr. Belding all had siblings who developed bad cases of Chuck Cunningham syndrome after their only appearances on the show.
At Bayside, Mr. Belding’s upset that he’s been signed up for a “male sensitivity seminar,” which means he has to sit around all weekend getting in touch with his emotional side, which is just stupid because everyone knows men don’t feel feelings! I wouldn’t even bother to mention this whole exchange except it does play a role in the plot later.
And meet J.B. Slater, who’s become feminine and grown boobs and shit, which means Zack Morris now doesn’t recognize her and thinks she’s totally hot. After she has a brief opportunity to catch up with the gang, Slater takes J.B. along to wrestling practice.
Since Zack Morris has a horrible boner he can’t seem to get rid of because of J.B., he decides to go along with her to Slater’s practice. He distracts her with sexy talk of growing up so that she misses seeing Slater throw men around in a singlet. They discover they’re each single, which I would assume will surprise Tori, and Zack Morris invites J.B. to The Max with him since wrestling practice is so fucking boring.
The next day, Lisa’s wet over Zack Morris dating J.B. and is convinced Slater will be happy for them.
Slater is less than thrilled with the news, though, and says that he can’t let Zack Morris go out with his sister because he’s a piece of shit who treats women as objects. Wow, he dated Jessie too long. He’s developed a mild case of quasi-feminism!
At The Max, Slater wants Screech to ask J.B. out first since he’s a repulsive insect, but Screech fucks it up, much like everything else in his life, giving Zack Morris the opportunity to asks J.B. to the movies. Since Tori is present and not upset at all, I can only assume this is an out of order episode from before they dated. If not, then she’s taking the news she’s being dumped for Slater’s sister very well. Either way, I’m really confused.
But, yeah, Slater decides he can’t allow Zack Morris and J.B. to go to the movies alone so he forces Tori into a double date.
At the movies, the date goes about how you’d expect, with Slater doing everything in his power to get between Zack Morris and J.B., both literally and figuratively.
Tori gets pissed that Slater’s paying more attention to his sister than her because it’s getting fucking creepy in an incestuous way at this point. Slater finally fakes chocking on a piece of popcorn and convinces the others to take him home.
At Bayside, Tori tells Lisa how much of a jack ass Slater acted on the date.
Slater’s in a good mood despite Tori telling him off because he believes that, now that Zack Morris has been on one date with J.B., he’ll tire of her and move on. Okay, this entire episode is driving me crazy with how they’re characterizing Zack Morris. He’s an ass, but it’s not like he’s never been in a multi-episode relationship. In fact, we’ve seen him in three multi-episode relationships over the course of this series. He may be a horny little bastard hoping to lose his cursed virginity at times, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have actual relationships.
To hell with actual continuity, though. We’ve got an episode to force on like the contrivance it is, and, naturally, Zack Morris likes J.B. enough that he wants to ask her out again. That, and the little asshole is concerned about how Slater is after the choking incident that was obviously faked. Zack Morris asked J.B. to the sock hop because…that’s the only reason this episode has a sock hop!
Mr. Belding did, indeed, get in touch with his feminine side at the seminar and now he is more than willing to admit to our male leads that he loves them. He loves them a lot! He’s so in touch with his feelings he wants to help them as well, so he says that, during gym class, the boys will be bonding over sharing how they really feel because we need a transparent way for Slater to get pissy at Zack Morris.
I remember the more naive times when I thought “Running Zack” was the worst abomination of Native American cultural ideas I’d ever see in this series. Unfortunately, fourth season Saved by the Bell is here to prove me wrong. Yes, Mr. Belding with a bare skin on his head is here to lead a talking stick ceremony that starts with a primal scream, or Mr. Belding doing his impression of Captain Caveman. I’m not even fucking kidding. Why is it the writers of this show think Native Americans are somehow linked to The Flintstones? The talking stick ceremony is sacred to many Native American tribes, and using it so flippantly as just a means to therapy is very culturally insensitive. I almost expect Screech and Zack Morris to come out in their bad racist costumes again. What Screech does do at one point is use the talking stick to scratch his back. Die, Screech. Die a horrible painful death you idiot.
The assembled extras including Pete and Ox start talking about their deep seated emotional insecurities about the cliched roles they play at Bayside in the high school pyramid as if their high school peers would not use such insecurities to mercilessly make fun of them.
Of course, we eventually get to the real point of this scene: Slater telling Zack Morris how he feels about him dating J.B. He says Zack Morris stabbed him in the back and abused his friendship by dating J.B. Um, no. He told you right after he decided to date J.B. and you acted like it was no big deal until you decided to have a hissy fit. The one at fault is you for dragging this fucking plot out for sixteen minutes. In any case, he says he’s not going to the sock hop because of them.
That night, while on a date with J.B., Zack Morris keeps creepily seeing Slater’s face on the female Slater, no doubt the result of more pent up emotions he should have expressed during the cultural misappropriation of the talking stick ceremony. He tells J.B. they should date or go to the sock hop and takes her home.
The writers didn’t feel like building the set for the Slater residence again or bringing back Major Slater, so hey just randomly have J.B. come in the next day during wrestling practice to tell off Slater. Seriously, are they not staying in the same house? That must have been an awkward night after Zack Morris dropped her off. She’s been holding it in all this time. In any case, J.B. tells Slater that he’s an asshole for trying to run his life and going along with this horribly cliched plot, and storms out leaving Slater feeling bad for his conduct.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time! Time for what you ask? Why, let’s ask Malcolm McDowell!
We’re going to the so’ ‘op, ladies and gentlemen!
And at this wonderful celebration of what Saved by the Bell thinks the ’50s were like, we find Zack Morris dating the punch bowl while J.B. pays attention to the food. Guess she’s an emotional eater, in addition to dressing up like Betty Rubble.
Speaking of bad dressing, Mr. Belding, for some reason, dresses as Squiggy from Laverene and Shirley, and wants to sing in the Five Aces in Slater’s place. The gang think this is way over the top in boundary crossing and decline his offer.
Slater comes in and apologizes to Zack Morris and J.B. for acting so creepily jealous over his sister this episode and adding fuel to the fire of those fan fics that will claim Zack Morris and Slater should have been a couple. All the while, Mr. Belding stands around in the background with a self-satisfied look on his face as if he did something this episode other than co-opt religious rituals and dress like annoying sitcom characters. Zack Morris and J.B. share their only kiss as the audience loses their shit, ironically proving Slater right that Zack Morris would soon forget about his little sister.
Our episode ends with the newly-reunited Five Aces performing, and they’re the most magical band ever since, in addition to singing with voices that’s dubbed worse than Milli Vanilli, they can now make the sounds of musical instruments that aren’t there, which is strange since they’ve previously established all the gang except Tori can play musical instruments, so why didn’t they bring in fucking musical instruments? Were they over their prop budget from those really sparkly strings dangling in the background behind them? In any case, our gang becomes, once again, the center of attention of the Bayside student body as the rest of the students wonder why they’re in the school district where you have to be up Zack Morris’s ass to be important in any way to the functioning of the school.