We open with Eric and Annie excited that all of the kids will be in school all day. Eric has promised to take the day off and spend the whole day with Annie. He promises that there will be no emergency interruptions, thus ensuring that he will be called away for some reason. Annie is positively giddy at the thought of an empty house.
Lucy stomps in, freaking out about her first day of high school. Eric tries to distract her, but she snaps that he's not helpful. He then makes the mistake of asking her to tell him why she's so scared of high school. She starts with being afraid that she won't be able to open her locker. As though lockers are more difficult to manage in high school. Eric tries to make her feel better by reminding her she has his lucky lock. This fails to comfort Lucy. Then she freaks out about running into Jimmy Moon and Ashley. Ugh. Seriously, Lucy, it's time to move on.
Mary is asking Ruthie if she's nervous about her first day of school. Except it's not her first day of school as indicated (here). Ruthie is afraid of snakes in the toilet. Something Simon told her about. This really shouldn't be a problem because she's been in school for months at this point. Mary tells her it's not true, and convinces her not to let anyone scare her about school.
Matt comes in and asks Mary if she's feeling weird about not being on the basketball team. She says she's fine, but she's pretty defensive about it. Matt offers to show some new kid around for Mary, but even Mary knows that she has no choice if RevCamden asks you to do a favor. She limps out of the room.
Simon comes into the kitchen. He finds some leftover chicken in the fridge and decides to add it to his lunch. I'm sad to say that this will be important later. He's optimistic about starting middle school. Lucy tries to scare him about it, but he's not phased by her pessimism. He and his friend Nigel are planning to stick together. He compares it to the buddy system, but seems to think that it's meant to drag someone down with you instead of keeping everyone safe. Eric tries to correct this, but Lucy agrees with Simon. Going so far as to declare, "Life is Hell." She quickly amends it to heck when Eric shoots her a death glare.
Matt, Mary, and Ruthie come into the kitchen. Eric thinks Matt is borrowing his jacket, but it's apparently a jacket of Matt's that Eric likes to borrow. Matt offers to go change, but Eric allows him to wear his own jacket to school. I'm sorry to say that this will be important later.
Everyone leaves for school. The parents are visibly excited to have their kids out of the house all day. As Annie asks Ruthie if she wants Mommy to take her to school, she turns the baseball hat Ruthie is wearing around so that it's backwards. I'm sorry to say that this will be important later.
The Camdens toast their child-free day with orange juice. Credits.
Eric is reading the paper, when Annie comes in to announce that she's taking a long bath. She promises to be back. Their both overjoyed to have no kids in the house. Annie hopes the kids are okay, and Eric is sure their fine.
Ruthie's class. Her teacher calls her Ruth, which she doesn't appreciate. The teacher also removes her hat, because backwards caps are considered gang paraphenelia. Ruthie argues that it's not a gang hat, but the teacher is firm. Ruthie gets up to tell Lynn that the teacher thinks she's in a gang and the girls giggle at the thought. The teacher is not amused.
Simon's school. Simon and Nigel are trying to find their classes. A big kid orders them to move. SImon calls him a jerk, which the kid calls him on. Simon tries to wiggle out of it, but the kid doesn't seem to be buying it. Simon and Nigel agree to save each other seats at lunch. They seem worried about the rest of the day.
High school. Lucy can't open her locker. Eric's lucky lock is apparently broken. Jimmy Moon and his girlfriend ask if she's having trouble. Jimmy Moon's girlfriend has the locker next to Lucy's. Lucy tries to pretend she's cool with that, but clearly she's rattled. Jimmy notes that she looks ill.
Mary is showing a new boy around. The new kid won't stop talking about basketball and her injured knee. Mary is visibly annoyed. They bump into Lucy and Mary makes the mistake of asking how she's doing. Lucy tells Mary that God hates her and storms off. The new boy tries to hit on her, but Matt interrupts to ask what's wrong with Lucy. Mary quotes Lucy to him and Matt notes that God has hated Lucy for 13 years. Heh. Mary tells the new boy about Wilson, but the guy thinks he's got a shot because Wilson goes to another school. Mary thinks she can ditch him when she gets to her class, but the boy has that class too.
Matt arrives late to his English class. He's surprised to see that Ms. Peabody is not teaching the class. He asks the teacher a bunch of questions that the teacher doesn't appreciate. He orders Matt to take a seat. Then he does that thing where he has everyone look at the people sitting next to them, and promises that he's going to fail most of the class, thus preventing their graduation. Do people really do that? Matt looks terrified.
Back at the Camdens, Annie is watching a movie that Eric slept through. She's folding laundry. They start to head upstairs, when the phone rings. Annie answers the phone and quickly hands it to Eric, telling him that whatever the problem is she's going with him. It's Sargent Michaels, calling with a problem on the powers of RevCamden can solve. He wants the Reverend to help him talk a jumper down.
High school. Lucy still can't open her locker. One of Matt's friends comes up to share some gossip. A kid in her class is threatening to jump off the roof of his apartment building. He's trying to do her a favor by including her. Jimmy and his girlfriend drop by. Lucy tries to share the gossip, but they already know about it. She heads to her class, but Matt stops her to tell her about the jumper. She snaps at him that she already knows.
They see that Mary is still showing the new kid around. He still needling her about basketball in an effort to ask her out. Matt notes that she looks like she's not having fun. Lucy snaps at him a bit more. He asks her why she's carrying so many books, giving her the opportunity to rant about her locker.
Matt offers to try, but since Jimmy and Ashley are kissing right there, Lucy turns him down. The bell rings and Matt's English teacher wanders by to give him crap about being tardy.
On the roof. Mark from Home Improvement is sitting, looking pensive. Below, his mother is trying to make sense of the situation. She's really defensive about her parenting. She reveals that they argued about his clothes and other things that morning. Annie tries to be sympathetic, but you can tell she's judging. Mark stands up, sees the commotion below, and mutters "Oh, no," before the scene ends.
Middle School. Nigel tells Simon some gossip about the jumper situation. I am shocked at how quickly news spreads in Glen Oak. Nigel wants to check it out at lunch, but Simon points out they have no ride. The bell rings, and Simon finds himself alone in the hallway. He runs off to class.
Ruthie's class. It's storytime. Ruthie takes this to mean that she can put her hat back on. She gets in trouble again. The teacher threatens her with a time out. The teacher invites the kids to ask questions before they begin, so of course, Ruthie asks if any of her classmates are gangmembers. The teacher insists that the rules are the same for everyone. Another kid starts talking about the jumper. The teacher turns it into a brief lesson on calling the cops in an emergency. The kids thinks the cops were going to call in a super hero. The teacher seems annoyed by the turn in conversation, but since she asked if they had questions, she has only herself to blame.
Rooftop. Mark's mother announces she's going up. Eric tries to talk her out of it. His mother thinks he's not suicidal, but that he's just trying to make a point. She starts yelling at him to come down immediately. Mark shouts down at Eric not to let his mom come up.
Annie suggests that Mark's mother take a walk with her. This gives Eric a chance to talk to Mark without interference. Mark just wants to be left alone. Eric and Sargent Michael's plot to get closer to Mark. Eric tells Mark that he's coming up. Mark tells him not to, and Eric agrees to wait until Mark is ready.
Ruthie's class. The teacher is just finishing the story. She announces that it's time for recess, and every kid in the class gets up and puts on a backwards baseball cap. Only Ruthie gets a time out though. Ruthie's friend asks for a time out too. The teacher gives her permission.
Middle school. Simon and Nigel are eating lunch. The big kid from earlier hassles them about sitting at his table. Simon offers to share his lunch, thus placating the bully. Simon starts to use a butterknife to cut his chicken in half, and is immediately busted. A lunch aide sends him to the principal's office. The bully explains to Nigel that Simon had a weapon, and then proceeds to eat Simon's lunch.
High school. The new boy is still following Mary around. She's finally had enough, and heads for the ladies' room. She finds Lucy with her giant stack of books. Lucy vents about her locker, and complains about how carrying all her books is starting to hurt her arms. Mary offers to let Lucy put her books in Mary's locker and tells her that she has some aspirin.
The new boy is waiting for them, and asks if they're done putting on their faces. The guy continues to be skeevy, and Mary finally ends the tour. She then gives Lucy a couple aspirin, which Lucy takes at a nearby water fountain. This catches the eye of the principal and both girls are sent to the office. Upon noticing that Jimmy and his girlfriend witnessed this, Lucy threatens to puke. Mary just rolls her eyes.
Matt and his friend are complaining about their new English teacher. The teacher's name is Koper. As they're whining, Koper wonders up behind them. Clearly overhearing their conversation. Before Matt can make excuses, a beeper goes off. This gives Koper the chance to bust him for carrying drug paraphenelia. Koper clearly takes a lot of pleasure in sending Matt to the principal's office.
Annie and Mark's mother are still on their walk. The mother is giving her whole backstory about how hard it is to raise a kid on her own, and how useless Mark's father was. Annie tries to be sympathetic. She fails. Mark's mother decides that she's had enough and is going up to talk to her son. Annie tries to talk her out of it, but Mark's mother is having none of her advice. She resents it when people in authority try to tell her what to do with her own child.
Annie rushes up to tell her husband that she lost Mark's mom. They see her on the roof and all start running. Mark is upset that his mom didn't listen to him. She tells him that she's the mom, and she's not about to start taking orders from her teen-aged son. She tells him that it's time to get to school, and that they will talk about this when she gets off work. Mark doesn't see the point since his mom doesn't listen to him. Then he starts complaining about his pants and how they're the wrong brand. And that he can't wear them to school. His mother fails to understand what is wrong with the pants. They are then joined by Eric, Annie and Sargent Michaels.
Mark confesses that he wasn't going to jump. He just wanted to be heard. And he doesn't want to go to school because nobody understands how hard it is to go to school. He begs his mom not to make him go and sits down. Eric goes to sit next to him and offer a condescending shoulder pat that Elizabeth Wakefield can only aspire to.
Ruthie's school. Ruthie and Lynn are trying to flush her hat down the toilet. The teacher catches them. They explain that they thought flushing would get the hat out of the toilet. The teacher agrees to help if Ruthie promises not to wear it to school anymore. Ruthie agrees and convinces the teacher to let her go by "Ruthie" instead of "Ruth." Lynn notes that Ruthie's never wearing a hat that's been in the toilet. Ruthie agrees and plans to give it Simon.
Rooftop. Eric and Mark are talking about the situation. Mark tells him that he just came up to the roof to ditch because he hates his clothes so much. Eric doesn't understand what's wrong with the clothes. I'm not sure either, except that the white t-shirt with jeans are a little boring. And the pants seem too big, but that was the style in 1997. Apparently, Mark is very brand conscious. Eric pretends to understand. At this point Mark's mom decides that she wants to understand. She tries to give him a pep talk about how bright he is, but Mark notes that makes him a geek. He blames her for his geekiness. Mom tries to rope the Reverend into telling Mark that he's not a geek. The Reverend dodges the question, leading Mark's mother to admonish him for letting what the other kids say get to him. None of this is helpful to Mark, but Eric makes a couple snarky comments. Eventually they come to an understanding.
Middle school. Simon tells the bully that he got suspended. He's worried about getting in trouble until he remembers that Annie put the knife in his lunch box. Nigel asks why the school couldn't get ahold of Eric. Simon's not sure, claiming they've beeped him about 50 times.
Cut to the high school where Eric's beeper continues to incriminate Matt. The principal's understanding, but says she has to apply the same rules to everyone.
Mary and Lucy are waiting in the outer office. Koper introduces himself as the new assistent basketball coach. He offers to help her with her rehabilitation. She's really excited. He then gives Matt an assignment to work on during his suspension. He then tells Matt that he has some talent as a writer. The principal gives each of the Camdens a one day suspension. She also gives Lucy a new lock. And tells her a story about how Jimmy's girlfriend flashed the cafeteria in Pocahontas underwear. Because this principal totally plays favorites where the Camdens are concerned.
Eric and Annie start heading home. He exposits that Mark and his mother will be coming in for weekly counciling with him. They note that they're lucky to have such great kids and smugly suggest that their doing a good job raising them. Sargent Michaels interrupts this to let them know that the schools have been trying to reach them for awhile now.
Night at the Camdens. The kids are blaming their parents for their various suspensions. Which, in these cases, is acurate. Ruthie does give Simon her hat and giggles when he puts it on. Ew. I hope it got washed first.
The kids bring up the jumper. They accurately think he was up there because he didn't want to go to school. Eric tells them a crazy story involving burglars. I can't believe that any of the kids buy it. Though Matt sees it for the ploy it is. Eric asks him to spread it around anyway.
The episode ends with the parents counting down the hours until the suspensions are over.
I guess the writers are against zero-tolerance policies.
It seems funny that beepers were once considered drug paraphenalia in light of all the communication devises that kids have now.
Principal Russell is way too open about her favoritism toward the Camdens.
Mr. Koper is such a character of a tough teacher. Who really tells a class that half of them won't pass?
The plot surrounding the jumper was really uneven. The mom was clearly over-bearing and unsympathetic. And she didn't seem to get the seriousness of the situation. But the kid caused a public commotion because he didn't like his jeans, so it's hard to take him very seriously.
I can't believe the speed of gossip in this town.
Lucy it is well past time for you to be over Jimmy Moon. Please never mention him again.
I will try to post more frequently. There's just a lot to do at work right now.