“South of Nowhere” Recaps: Episode 2.4 “Rules of Engagement”

Another Day of No Classes, Assignments or Assemblies at King

High — It’s Club Day at KHS, and the banner exhorts students to “Come Find Your Next Obsession.” When I read it, I thought it was an ad for a new KHS dating service, but then I guess that says more about me than the folks who design the banners for Club Day.

Madison arrives and doesn’t like the lack of traffic at the cheerbitch booth. She tells the cheerleaders, “The table wouldn’t be dead if there wasn’t a corpse running it! Get moving!” and angrily tosses a pom pom in the face of her Purple-Haired Minion.

I just noticed that the Cheerleaders are called the “Snake Charmers” which undoubtedly invites all sort of nasty sophomoric innuendo. Whose idea was that?

Ashley, Spencer, Clay and Chelsea wander into the "Next Obsession" zone, and Ashley is so put off by it all. She sneers, “I’ve never understood why people have to go all joiner. Isn’t it enough to just do what you do?”

She is as contrary as a cat. And this is exactly why I came up as Ashley on the “Which SON Character Are You?” quiz. (Experience tells me that this particular attitude problem is unlikely to improve with age.)

Chelsea counters with a sunny take on it all. “I think it’s nice to feel like you belong to something bigger than yourself.” Chelsea obviously scored as Abraham Lincoln on the “Which Famous World Leader Are You?” quiz. (I was JFK. Looks like things won’t end well for either of us.)

Ashley: Right. Like the math-letes have to feel like some small cog in a larger geek machine? Please.

Clay: It looks good on a college resume.
Ashley: You belong to the math club don’t you?
Spencer: He’s the Vice President.

Spencer has finally joined the conversation after floating around the tables in a silent, trance-like state. You’d think she was solemnly walking a labyrinth and not cruising for a new after-school activity.

Clay and Chelsea exit to get their “logarithm on” (SON previews indicate that this will have some pretty serious consequences), while Spencer and Ashley continue to walk the KHS social gauntlet.

Ash suddenly grabs Spencer’s arm and barks, “Spencer, stay away!” when she spies the Gay-Straight America table. (The “straight” contingency must have designed the poster, because it is decidedly un-fabulous.)

Ashley gets the hell out of there, snottily telling Spencer that if she needs her, she will find her “loser-adjacent.” I think Ashley has a bit of a Daffyd-complex—but with way cuter outfits.

Spooked, Spencer dutifully steers away from the Homo Club booth but casts a longing gaze at its shoddy, salmon-colored poster that just may signal her New Life.

Smelly Gym — Aiden pounds a punching bag (while wearing a shirt!) and is soon approached by a sporty blonde who looks like Denise Richards’s butch younger sister.

Denise Richards Jr.: That all you got pretty boy?
Aiden: Tough talk for a chick.

Denise Richards Jr.: Alright, not bad, not bad. How long have you been working out here?
Aiden: Just a couple of months.
Denise Richards Jr.: I’m surprised I missed you.

He feels confusing pangs of fidelity to Kyla and begs off from the sweaty pillow talk. And it’s a good thing because Kyla has her eye on him. She tries to hustle him out of the gym, and Aiden wants to skip out of dorktastic Club Day and head for the beach. But Kyla is eager to attend, telling him, “I need to meet people outside of this little dysfunctional group that I’ve been thrown into—except for you, I mean.”

The Snake Charmer Pit — Madison and her Purple-Haired Minion are discussing routines and landings and other stuff we wouldn’t care about even if we actually attended King High. PHM is getting sassy with Madison, whose life-sucking grip on the World of Cheer is slipping thanks to her new role as working and (defrauding) stiff at Gray.

Glen arrives for his daily dose of humiliation from Madison, which mixes well with his daily doses of OxyC.

Madison: You want to join us?
PHM: Yeah, we could use some boys.

This would be a perfect activity for Glen now that basketball is probably out of the picture. In fact, one of his heroes was a cheerleader. But he declines.

Glen: No thanks. I think I’m going to go find something a man can do.

Madison: Oh but what if you can’t do it?
PHM: Right! How embarrassing that must be.

After having successfully chased Glen away with references to humiliating (and now well-publicized) side-effects from his medication, Madison is bored. So she and her PHM spontaneously perform a sleazy, t.A.T.u.-ish cheer routine designed to draw a crowd to their deserted booth. And it actually works.

Across campus, Kyla and Aiden are still dancing around the sex/no-sex dilemma. Every conversation they have is really an exchange of euphemisms that refer to their sexual standoff.

Aiden: Next time you come to the gym, you should work out with me.
Kyla: Well it looks like you already have someone filling in that spot. Plus kickboxing’s not really my thing.
Aiden: Well what’s your “thing”?

Kyla: What, I can only have one?

See what I mean?

Kyla ends the volley when she squeals, without any irony, “Oh my God!!! There’s the drama club!!!”

She’s off to be recruited by her fellow geeks (trust me, I was in the drama club, I know) and Aiden is left wondering how he has picked yet another unavailable girl (trust me, I – oh never mind).

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