For once in its run, the time frame of an episode from this show actually makes sense as we open to discover it’s time for mid-terms at Bayside. Given that we’re nearly halfway through the season and that includes two episodes that took place over two weekends at the mall. That means this episode takes place at roughly the right time in the school year. I’m a bit blown away they got something like this right…
Naturally we open with Eric being horrible at being over-dramatic over being finished with a midterm the previous period. Considering Anthony Harrell might now be the worst actor of the bunch, he’s not doing a very good job and really just comes off as a bad Screech impersonation.
The girls are bummed because they have to study for a hard history exam but the boys say they’re finished studying. All they have to take is a home ec final and everyone knows home ec is super simple and you never need to study for it because home ec is stupid girls’ stuff no one cares about.
Enter the home ec teacher, who’s no longer the maid from Diff’rent Strokes but is now Mrs. Wellington, a cheap look-a-like who didn’t do much else in her brief Hollywood career. Naturally anyone who teaches home ec has to be plus sized. They also apparently need to be incompetent as she admits that, though she hasn’t allowed her students to cook all semester, instead insisting that they just watch her, and now she expects them to bake a lemon meringue pie as their midterm. They’re naturally panicked by this and rush off to study how to cook, however you do that.
Meanwhile, Screech begs Mr. Belding to hold a dance for the students following midterms. For once in his career, Mr. Belding doesn’t want to have a dance. Given the excuses Bayside has used in the past to hold dances, Mr. Belding naturally doesn’t want to do anything that will raise morale and release tension following a stressful time like finals. That’s just crazy talk. He finally relents to get Screech to leave him the hell alone and rushes off.
After he’s gone, Screech needs someone to monologue to since he can’t break the fourth wall like Zack Morris unless he’s recapping two parters, so he tells the girls that the party is really a surprise party to honor Mr. Belding’s tenth anniversary as Bayside’s principal. Nothing better to celebrate a man with no professional boundaries than a party that all his students will be at!
Now this naturally presents a problem with the timeline of the franchise since that means Mr. Belding couldn’t have been in Indianapolis to be principal of JFK Junior High during Good Morning, Miss Bliss, but I suspect they said fuck all to that show long ago.
After Screech is gone, Maria conveniently gets up and turns her back in such a way that she won’t see Sean, a guy who’s now the hottest guy at Bayside, come up behind her. She mumbles about how he’s the hottest guy in school and, when Rachel and Katie let her know he’s standing behind her, she plays it off as if he doesn’t have ears like most of the rest Bayside’s student body. Sean asks Maria to The Max for lunch, and she accepts, despite the fact that this means she’s blowing off Rachel and Katie for studying. This naturally upsets Rachel since she’s trying to form a tight psychological grasp on her friends but Maria won’t be budged: she wants some hot Sean meat.
At The Max, the boys study for their home ec midterm…by reading cookbooks. Not the brightest bulbs in the bunch since even the biggest simpletons know that cooking is a practical art that requires experience you can’t get just by reading a book.
Katie eyes Maria and Sean creepily, offering running commentary on everything they do as Rachel tries to study. Meanwhile, Sean sucks ass at speaking Spanish so he figured that, since Maria’s the current Latina character, maybe she could help him study for his Spanish midterm. Maria says that she has to study for her own midterm but Sean insinuates he’ll get some other girl to help him study. Seeing her chance at getting laid slipping away, she agrees to help him study after school. She rushes over to tell Rachel and Katie, which doesn’t please Rachel’s controlling ways, but Katie’s all, “Let her get a guy. She’s the only girl without one after all!”
The boys are finding studying hopeless but, when the waiter comes over to offer them desert, which, by contrivance, just happens to be lemon meringue pie, they see an opportunity and order a whole pie to go. Also, if you pay attention to the background, Rachel and Katie are now magicians who have teleported themselves across the room to another table so the producers wouldn’t have to pay extras to sit at that table. It’s magic!
At the home ec midterm, the boys have somehow snuck in the pie while pretending to bake one and fooled Mrs. Wellington, who loves their pie and gives them an A. Screech comes in and tastes the pie, agreeing that it’s great. In fact, it’s so great that he wants the boys to bake a cake for Mr. Belding’s party. They try to refuse, saying they don’t deserve the honor. Also, if Screech wasn’t so incompetent himself he might realize that skill coking one thing doesn’t equal expertise with something else.
The boys’ refusal to be Screech’s slave elicits the logical reaction from Screech: doing an impersonation of the Pillsbury dough boy on Ryan’s abs. I wish I was joking but that really just happened. The boys stop resisting Screech’s advances lest he give a bad touch to Nicky or Eric, too, and they begin to panic that they now begin to panic that they have to bake something else.
In Katie’s room, Rachel doesn’t understand why Maria would want to spend so much time with Sean so Katie explains that Maria hasn’t fully accepted herself as a lesbian yet and wants to spend time with a boy who might have sex with her. She walks in late, explaining that Sean’s so bad at Spanish he can barely order off a Taco Bell menu, which is disturbing considering Taco Bell isn’t real food. She can’t stop talking about him, distracting Rachel and Katie from studying. This culminates in Sean calling Katie’s phone since everyone at Bayside knows everyone else’s number, and Maria says she has to go help him study some more. She needs to help him study bad.
When she leaves, Rachel and Katie agree that Sean’s using Maria for cheap studying and that he’s a stupid doo doo head for it. Actually, if Sean is the villain of this episode, he’s yet to do anything worse than Zack Morris which means, four years after the original series ended, they’re still making Zack Morris look like a total sociopath.
Back at Bayside, the boys try to convince the girls to chip in money so they can buy him a cake, but they think a cake is a stupid idea and would rather buy him a tie.
Before they can object too strongly, the Sweedish Dumb Ass Chef escorts the boys off to bake a cake because what they need to help them is a guy who was once mistaken as an alien.
Maria and Sean find the girls and Maria decides to chip in with the rest of the gang. Sean says that he knows a great place to get a designer tie so Maria yanks the gang’s money out of Rachel’s hand and gives it to Sean to go buy a tie. The implication here, naturally, is that we’re supposed to believe Sean is also a thief since he’s using Maria to study, which doesn’t follow and makes every previous contrivance of this franchise look plausible by comparison, but the writers decided they really wanted to hammer home that Sean is a scumbag so why the hell not.
In the kitchen, the boys don’t know shit about baking, literally beating their butter and throwing the eggs in shell and all, but, since Screech is even more incompetent than them, he doesn’t know the difference. He leaves them to cook three cakes, with the plan being to secretly have Mr. Belding taste all three and see which is the best.
This, of course, leads to disaster as all three cakes are potential health hazards and actually lead to Mr. Belding’s health being threatened.
Maria brings in the tie Sean bought and Rachel doesn’t believe it actually cost $150 because it looks like crap. I’m going to give Rachel the benefit of the doubt since she’s supposed to be the fashion expert and say that she can tel the material sucks ass. At least I hope this is the explanation since I’ve seen ties that look a lot worse cost a lot.
Rachel and Katie decide they have to tell Maria that Sean is as big of a bastard as Zack Morris, knowing that she’s going to react badly.
Back at Bayside, the boys confess that they cheated on their midterm and Screech is mildly disappointed they let him down despite the fact they never claimed to be able to bake cakes and it was just Screech’s idiocy that put them there.
Studying paid off for Rachel and Katie as they think they did good on the history midterm. Maria, on the other hand, isn’t so optimistic.
Rachel and Katie sit Maria down and tell Maria that Sean sucks ass in a contrived sort of way. We’ve still got seven minutes left in the episode so Maria doesn’t believe them yet and accuses them of being pissed off that she likes someone outside the core six. Rachel and Katie tell her that, while hiring a recurring character would put the show over budget, they’re just hating Sean for the reasons they’re supposed to this episode. She rushes off, telling them if they can’t like her man, she’ll just drop out of the cast.
At The Max, Rachel and Katie update the boys on the Maria subplot while Eric says Screech won’t talk to them, which one would think is a blessing but they’re upset that the most incompetent man on Saturday morning television doesn’t like them anymore.
Rachel and Katie try to make up with Maria, saying that she can just date Sean off screen like Screech and Alison, but this isn’t good enough for her and she tells them to fuck off before Sean gets there.
Rachel and Katie return to their table and show Sean’s tie to the boys. Eric recognizes it as a tie he saw on sale at the mall for $10. Rachel convinces the boys it’s time to cross subplots so that the boys can get in on the pissing off Maria action.
Maria got a D on the midterm and begins to have doubts when Sean doesn’t care about her problems and just keeps bragging about getting an A.
After he leaves, the boys come in wearing the cheap tie. She needs a more dramatic reveal that Sean’s a horrible person, though, so she storms off, unsure of who to believe and certain the writers wouldn’t really let the only guy to touch her in ages be a douche.
Screech is upset that he has to return his present to Mr. Belding in order to buy a cake, but the boys promise that they’ll stay up all night and have the most convoluted plot off screen as possible if that’s what it takes to bake a good cake for Mr. Belding.
The next day, Mr. Belding’s tenth anniversary party gets off to a roaring success with Screech nearly killing him as he turns out the lights and leaves a conveniently placed chair in the middle of the floor.
The boys reveal their horrible lop-sided cake which, fortunately, tastes better than it looks. Screech says that this totally makes up for their cheating so he’ll force Mrs. Wellington to give them an A or else he’ll make her watch his porno. Thus ends the thrilling “the boys suck at baking and cheat” subplot.
Maria realizes that Sean has a new cell phone and he confesses that he bought a cheap ass tie and used the rest to buy a new cell phone. I hate to tell them this but $140 wouldn’t have bought very many cell phones in 1996 but whatever. Maria tells him to fuck off and steals his phone, telling him that she’s going to give it to Mr. Belding because you totally don’t have to worry about cell phone billing or anything silly like that.
Maria makes up with Rachel and Katie once again because she hasn’t realized they can do no wrong. They say it’s a shame they don’t have a good present for Mr. Belding. Maria gives him the phone. It turns out that Screech’s present was also a cell phone but Screech tells Mr. Belding not to worry and calls him.
And our episode ends with Screech informing Mr. Belding that now they’ll never be apart since they have matching cell phones which is, quite possibly, the most terrifying thing one could be told during a celebratory party. It ranks up there with finding out you have cancer or that your partner has been cheating on you.