Remember when Spencer did her little video confessional for Ashley and wished she could have another â€œfirst timeâ€ with someone who mattered? Let's just say that we probably aren't the only ones experiencing some wish fulfillment with this episode.
Spencer: When I woke up this morning and you weren't here next to meâ€¦ for a second, I thought it was a dream.
Ashley: I know. I didn't even want to get out of bed. I just wanted to shut the world out a little bit longer.
Spencer: Come back.
Talk about making an offer you can't refuse! But somehow Ashley does.
Ashley: I would love to, but you might want to see who's looking for you.
She shows Spencer her cel phone, and it is overflowing with messages â€” most likely from family members in varying states of misery.
Just to refresh, our Season One cliffhangers included the following calamities: Glen busted his knee and was taken to the hospital, Mama Carlin was making out with her ex-boyfriend in the hospital parking lot, Clay was having a disappointing reunion with his birth mother, and Papa Carlin was home hitting the sauce, all by his lonesome.
Glen's Hospital Room â€” The Carlin clan, except for Spencer, is huddled around numskull Glen's hospital bed. Spencer rushes into the room, horrified to find her big brother in traction. She asks Glen if he's in any pain, but the goofy smile on his face should answer that question. â€œNot right now, but ask me when I'm not hooked up to this thing!' He holds up the button for his morphine dispenser and clicks it like he's buzzing in with a winning answer on Jeopardy.
Alex Trebek: The answer is â€œCollege Hoops 2K7â€ for Xbox 360.
Glen: What is the only basketball game in my future?
Glen tells Spencer that he's torn his ACL, and his family members exchange grave looks. (For those of you who don't know much about sports medicine, ACL stands for Accidental Career Loss. Basketball could have been very good to Glen.)
Spencer may be the last one to join the party, but it turns out that none of the Carlins were there for Glen when he was rushed to the hospital the night before. So they take turns telling each other glaringly obvious lies about where they were in Glen's hour of need.
Clay mutters something about studying with his buddy Sean, but we cut to a flashback of where he really spent his evening. Cue his insufferable birth mother giving him a self-righteous lecture about how putting him up for adoption was her greatest gift to him.
Clay is such a dork that no one really thinks he was out scoring drugs or hookers anyway, and Paula and Arthur are so focused on each other that they probably never dreamed that Clay would look up his birth mother in the first place. So Arthur quickly takes the spotlight off of Clay and shines it (passive aggressively) on his wife.
Arthur: Looks like no one wanted to come home last night.
He shoots a steely look at Mother Superior. Wow, either dad has toughened up this season or he's still a little drunk from the night before. Did he really just call Paula out in front of the kids?
Paula makes a lame â€œworking lateâ€ excuse and quickly throws the blame back on her husband. Ahhh, the cozy warmth of her familiar pattern of blame. It's like a big snuggly blanket. The more everyone else changes, the more Paula stays the same.
Paula: Arthur, I called you at home.
Arthur: I was there.
Paula: Nobody answered.
Arthur: Guess I didn't hear the phone ring
Cut to a flashback of Arthur taking a big swig from his highball.
Suddenly it's Spencer's turn to offer up an excuse, and she'd better make it a good one.