I’m not sure I can capture in writing the alchemical convergence of wonderfulness in these next few scenes, but what I’m going to say is: I was reminded more than once this week how harsh and heartbreaking it can be to invest yourself in a story playing out in the hands of a storyteller who cannot be trusted. You know me by now and you know I think stories are the world’s greatest gift and the people who make stories are real-life magicians. I think the cruelest thing a writer can do is create a world that moves you and then chastise you for being moved by it. I one time saw Russell T. Davies say that “nine hysterical women” were behind fandom’s outpouring of sorrow and anger when he killed off beloved bisexual Ianto Jones on Torchwood. We’ve been seeing Ryan Murphy do that same thing for years on Twitter. Plus when Glee gets self-referential and name-check-y it’s always about chastising fans. And I am beside myself with the Skins creative team’s brutal, callous response to the absolute face-punch it gave the gays this week.
I was in a really morose headspace when I started watching this episode, but what Maya Goldsmith — giver of PinkDrinks — did here was remind me why this show stands alone, and rises above all the others I love. I felt her nudging us in the ribs, and then winking at us. Not brazenly. Not in a way that disrupted the narrative. But I heard her whisper, “I’m going to love the ones who love us.” And it felt like a hug for my little story-loving soul.
Spencer needs the guy running the information booth at Cicero’s newbie fair to help her track down the place that has the phone number that Ali kept calling and calling and calling all summer long from Cape May. Boardshorts’ place. The information booth guy is wearing a shirt that says “Shut your Pi hole” with the Pi sign on it so you know he’s really awesome and really a dick right away. Spence tries to play it to herself like she’s so much cooler than Pi Hole, but once she starts dropping nerd references, it’s like the Holy Spirit has gifted her with GeekSpeak tongues. She calls the guy “Jar Jar Binks” to Hanna, and then spits out the word “Hufflepuff” exactly like Slytherins always do. You’d think she’d have checked some of that Slytherin arrogance by now on account of how Emily Fields, the essence of Hufflepuffery, is the one who kept this whole operation from exploding when Spencer was shuffling around Radley last year with her hair crackling like her brain was on fire.
Pi Hole isn’t really interested in helping Spencer because she’s got crazy eyes (“They’re not that crazy,” Spencer says, in the best line of the season so far.) She kind of mocks him but also inspires him by doing her best Gandalf impression, all, “You shall not pass!” But in the end it’s the Game of Thrones reference that really gets him. He helps her decipher the proximity of the phone number: It’s on Greek row. And she confesses to being both a Lanister and a Slytherin, even though she can do the whole Targaryen speech from the end of GoT‘s first season. But she won’t. Because he doesn’t deserve to be ministered to by her. And because if lesbian fandom’s collective head exploded — and honey, it would — there’d be quite a mess to clean up.
Spencer and Emily hit up Greek row, but there’s a slight misunderstanding about their purpose here on this campus. See, Emily actually needs a non-swimming scholarship to go to school. That’s why she tagged along. Things get real ugly real fast.
Spencer: Hang on. You’re telling me you didn’t drive all the way out to York County with me to shove a photo of our dead best friend in a bunch of college kids’ faces and sing Tippi the Bird’s song into the ears of anyone who will listen and just keep screaming “BOARDSHORTS!” over and over up and down the streets to see if anyone answers?
Emily: Sometimes I think your voice operates on a special frequency that your ears can’t hear.
Spencer: Oh, that’s rich coming from the girl who’s been using her voice and face and “camel lashes” to keep Brenden semi-erect all weekend.
Emily: That was gross. What you just said there, the actual words and the implication, was gross. All I am doing is being awesome, like normal.
Spencer: No! You’re shooting extra-awesome rays right at Brenden, when, last time I checked, your girlfriend was saving all her extra-awesome rays just for you!
Emily: Look, if you want to talk about sexual exploitation, do you remember playing strip trivia with that guy Andrew? Pretty sure you showed him your boobs to get back on the academic decathlon team! Not everybody has a zillion dollar safety net they can brat their way into whenever they feel like it!
Spencer: I JUST WANT TO SOLVE ONE GODDAMN MYSTERY!
Emily: I JUST WANT TO BE A PART OF PAIGE’S PUFFY DRAPES FUTURE!