The College Years Episode 5: “Slater’s War”

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In our cold opening, Zack Morris is, once again, determined to fuck Leslie. He wants to take her to San Francisco to see Pearl Jam and she’s all, “Because it’s convenient to the plot, I’ve decided I don’t want to date you again!” He notices a ski in her general vicinity and invites her on a ski trip since everyone in this universe seems to be obsessed with skiing despite four of them being from Southern California. Leslie’s initially hesitant, as would be any sane woman, but, when he promises it will be a part of a group trip, she agrees in the interest of pushing the plot along. Naturally, Zack Morris lets the audience in his living room know that he intends to ditch any other group members in favor of getting lucky.

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After the credits, we find out that the writers are already running out of ideas for subplots as they’ve decided to rerun the plot from “Slater’s Friend,” having Screech watch Mike’s mouse, a project to explore the interaction between behavior and diet, while he’s off at a sensitivity training seminar. Get it? Mike’s a big macho former football player but he’s going to a sensitivity seminar. Isn’t it hilarious? Laugh damn you!

The only good thing about this scene is the mouse poops in Screech’s hand. I don’t blame it. I have many times wished I could do that!

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Zack Morris starts trying to recruit people for the ski trip. Kelly has to work at the job she suddenly has at the student health center, Alex is up for a part in a play, and Screech sucks ass. That only leaves one possibility if Zack Morris hopes to get laid.

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Yes, Slater will come along and he’ll even bring his own date to get frisky with because he can be just as big a womanizer as Zack Morris when he puts his mind to it.

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Slater’s date comes in the form of very random Spanish speaking girl Theresa, who seems to think all Latinos speak Spanish and is shocked to learn Slater took French in high school. The audience loses their shit when she insists Spanish is a sexy language and waste time before class starts.

Whatever class they’re in, their professor is studying bias in the media and they talk about Eurocentricism and, since Theresa seems to be going for it, Slater tells hr he thinks Eurocentrism is sexy and they should meet later before thy fuck.

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Back at the suite, Screech has already managed to lose Mike’s mouse, freaking Alex the fuck out to where she gets a bat to beat the shit out the mouse. Fortunately, Zack Morris opens the door, letting the mouse open as Screech, Kelly, and Alex chase after it and leading to a rare moment of meta insight: that he’s living in the world’s worst Tom and Jerry cartoon.

And, in case you’re worried about Leslie going on the ski trip, she’s rightfully nervous that it’s just Zack Morris and Slater with her on the trip. He assures her that Slater’s bringing a date who can read and everything!

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At the student union, Theresa starts going on about how Mexican-Americans are underrepresented in academic studies and Cal U needs an independent Chicano Studies department. Bow, an episode all about how Latinos are shit on and we’re off to a great start as Theresa assumes Chicanos are the only Latinos at Cal U who need representation. Besides, according to “Running Zack,” Slater’s ancestors were matadors, meaning he’s Spanish, meaning…oh, fuck it, the writers don’t give a damn about anything other than what’s convenient for this plot, do they?

Naturally, Slater finds her talk about Latino stuff boring since he’s been with this franchise five years and has never considered he’s not white. Theresa gives him some sound bites about Latino culture and convinces him to come to a meeting about getting the Chancellor to pay attention to the Chicano Studies department rather than thinking about ski trips. Also, she criticizes the fact that Slater is an Anglo name, not a Latino name. Ironically, the actress playing Theresa changed her name to sound less Latina.

In the boy’s room, Slater tells Zack Morris he’ll find someone to go on the trip with them, but tonight he wants to go to the meeting so he can find out more about being Latino given the zero attention he’s given it in his eighteen years of life. Zack Morris thinks it’s stupid despite the fact he was super hyped to find out he is a fake Native American and Slater’s all, “You should have been paying attention all these years that I’m the Latino one even though my ethnicity has been inconsistently characterized by asshole writers who can’t keep continuity straight from one episode to the next!”

Also, yes, there’s an inside joke about Zack Morris thinking Slater was Italian. Yes, this is a throwback to a line from the original series where Slater claimed to be Italian. Yes, it’s weird that Zack Morris remembers this minor detail but can’t remember major plots like the fact that last week was actually the second time he learned the lesson that frats suck ass.

At the student union, Screech tutors Slater in how to speak Spanish while he busts tables since Slater’s decided his Mexican heritage requires him to speak Spanish suddenly. Also, Screech is keeping cheese in his pants, hoping to attract Mike’s mouse. Sadly, this is not the scariest thing Screech has ever done.

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Now comes the part of the episode where we go from being merely stupid to being inane and irritating. This is where Slater becomes a straw Latino, taking offense at anything anyone says in the least and assuming it’s a slight to his Latino heritage, including this grunger who is a little rude but just wants his damned table cleared by the guy who works there.

I should explain what I mean by a straw Latino. A straw Latino is a person who’s obsessed with their Latino heritage to caricature. These sorts of caricatures are used by lazy writers to make lots of legitimate causes look ridiculous by showing a character taking legitimate issues to ridiculous lengths. That’s what’s going on here. Slater’s taking offense at every little remark, twisting it to his liking. The goal is to allow us to simply dismiss Slater and Theresa and, by extension, activists in real life, as stupid, reactionary, and not worth listening to. In reality, the writers are just extremely lazy and not even trying, relying on a trope that diminishes real issues in hopes of cheap laughs.

But, more than all this, you should hate this scene because it’s completely out of character for Slater and doing exactly what the crew of Saved by the Bell claim they never do: diminish the characters to their race. Whatever reason you hate this episode for, hate it and hate it with fierceness. I’m so annoyed by this episode and we’re only halfway through.

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So now that we’ve had a bit of horrible inclusion of social issues, let’s get back to important things, like Alex freaking the fuck out over the loose mouse. I asks a friend whether Alex ever does anything except act like she’s bat shit crazy, and his response was no. I think she was separated at birth from Vicki Needleman. She puts masking tape all over the door to keep it closed so the mouse doesn’t get in the girls’ room as Kelly watches and wonders why she came back to the franchise.

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Meanwhile, Mike returns and wants to know where the fuck his mouse is, not comforted by the fact that Screech has cheese in his pants. They hear screaming from the girls’ room, with Alex screaming that masking tape is too strong to break off the door. Mike goes running, hoping to find his mouse, and does the rational thing…

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…of breaking the girls’ paper thin door down and searching everywhere for the mouse. Kelly tells him Alex is just crazy and hearing things, which leaves Mike nearly in tears as he describes how he’d become close to the mouse and is now sad that the mouse is gone. If only Mr. Belding was there to give an inspirational speech about losing your pet friends.

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Back to the fucking annoying plot, Theresa spouts on and on about the chancellor ignoring their demands and Slater suggests they have a sit-in to take over the chancellor’s office tomorrow night. This annoys Zack Morris since that means missing the ski trip. Oh, yeah, Zack Morris, Leslie, and Alex are randomly there, too. They argue over how Slater should get back to his real priority: getting laid, but he says he’s not going to ask Theresa to cancel the sit in.vlcsnap-2015-09-21-17h27m16s63

Back at the boys’ room, Zack Morris and Slater fight over the situation using a method I approve of: inflicting pain upon Screech. This naturally doesn’t lead to resolution since there’s still five minutes left in the episode and they argue pointlessly over the situation I just wish would end and shit. Zack Morris actually asks why Slater would pick this weekend to be a Chicano being that it inconveniences Zack Morris, and Slater says it’s about him learning off-screen his father changed their last name from Sanchez to get into the military academy. Yeah, really, no kidding. Sanchez. God help me in these last few minutes.

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Back to the important mouse subplot, Mike’s putting up posters looking for his mouse. Yeah, I’m sure someone will randomly recognize the mouse based on this poster. Kelly comes up and says she was channeling Jessie and found the mouse off-screen but hid him because he was afraid Mike would do cruel experiments on him. Now she can see he really cares about the mouse and has decided to give him back. Unfortunately, the shoe box she brought has shoes in it and they hear Alex screaming, leading Mike back to his mouse and ending this all important plot.

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At the sit-in, Theresa and Slater won’t back down, even when a representative for the chancellor comes in and threatens to have them all arrested. They tell the representative that the media is on their way and the man walks off to consult on what to do.

Zack Morris comes in and tries to talk Slater out of being arrested. He won’t back down, though, believing that his cause is just. The representative for the chancellor returns and Zack Morris gives gives a speech about listening to each other and shit. The representative says the chancellor is unmoved by Zack Morris speech because he already wants to meet with the protesters at 9:00 the following morning so we can end this subplot. The protesters, sans Slater and Zack Morris, go off to celebrate and watch Alex chain herself to the bike rack for media attention.

Zack Morris and Slater make up for their fight and say they love each other more than any stupid exaggerated stereotypes that the untalented writers for this show may come up with. They promise to be friends forever.

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And our episode ends with Zack Morris and Slater walking off arm in arm, finally having found their love for each other.

Thank god this episode is over. Let us never speak of it again. No, really, I’m betting it will never be spoken of again.

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During the credits, Alex does some more bat shit crazy stuff hoping to usurp a protest to benefit her own acting career, and we get to see Screech experience more pain during the fight between Zack Morris and Slater.

5 responses to “The College Years Episode 5: “Slater’s War”

  1. I think the Zack joke of Slater being Italian is a double edge inside joke. Yes in one episode in the first season Slater makes one comment he was Italian.

    Also when the show was casting for Slater they originally wanted a John Travolta/ Vinnie Barbarino type. But when they couldn’t find any Italian actors that fit, St Peter decided to interview some Latino actors in stead. And bam, Mario Lopez showed up and they loved him. So ya, Slater was originally Italian.

    But St. Peter would find his Italian Slater a few years later in the form of Tommy D. Or in California Dreams in the form of Sly Winkle and Jake Summers.

  2. ILovedKellyKapowski

    Didn’t Slater speak Spanish when he worked at Malibu Sands, so he could talk to the striking kitchen workers? Or was that Spanglish?

  3. BTW Spoilers!!!!!!!!!

    When does Alex and Slater start hooking up? I remember one episode Slater is his normal horn ball self. Then out of nowhere in the next he and Alex say their in a relationship. But I don’t remember them hooking up. Was there an episode showing that?

    • ILovedKellyKapowski

      Slater and Alex hook up in next week’s episode “The Homecoming” – another contrived relationship! SMH

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