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


Club Day Epicenter — Sean is alone at the Filmmaker Club table–or at least that’s what I think it is. On display is some unfortunate poster art that looks more like an advertisement for Serial Killer Enthusiasts than anything cinematic. Because he has no one to whom he can pitch the study of Werner Herzog, he focuses on deconstructing Spencer as she wanders by.

Sean tells her, “You should make up your mind. You’ve been to every table in the quad except the one that you’ve been stalking.” Spencer is surprised that Sean can so easliy see through her. I’m surprised that a straight guy is encouraging a cute girl to be a lesbian.

Glen is collecting some literature at the Cannon Fodder Club table. Unlike Duke University, they’re so desperate to have him that they won’t even care about his mangled ACL.

Kyla breathlessly rushes over to Aiden to cancel their date so she can audition for a "femme fatale” role in an independent film. (I need to tell my actor friends that they should dump their talent agents and head over to KHS Club Day if they want fast results!) If Aiden really cared about her, he would tell her to keep their date. Kyla is pure "girl next door" and should leave the vamping to Ashley.

Queers "R" Us Booth — A pretty boy in a tight lavender (!) t-shirt tells Spencer that Gay-Straight America is “all about bringing gay and straight students together” (though I suspect she had already figured that out). He also tells her that it’s about “letting people be who they are no matter who it is.”

Spencer seems to take some comfort in this utopian vision, but that beautiful moment is shattered when a menacing no-neck (no, not Henry Rollins — he’s on our side) approaches the table and picks a fight.

It’s the standard “don’t look at me” crap that only ugly homophobic straight guys say. After a futile attempt to diffuse the situation, the sassy little queen can’t help but mouth off to the thug. “You’re not my type” are the last words he utters before getting a fist in the face.

Unfortunately, Spencer gets an elbow in the face, and she goes down hard. It’s going to be a whopper of a bruise, but it’s obviously not life-threatening. So it’s kind of weird when Ashley and Clay swoop in to pull the marginally-injured Spencer to safety while others stand around and aimlessly watch the gay guy get stomped into the pavement.

Our Lady of Perpetual Judgment Catholic Hospital — Paula guides a bandaged Spencer out to the lobby where her brothers and Ashley are waiting. She has a black eye and possibly a concussion, which means it’s probably a good time for Ashley to get Spencer to agree to anything that she wouldn’t normally sign off on. (To be clear, I have no idea what that might be or what their safeword is.)

Spencer can’t believe that something like this could happen (Welcome to Gaydom!). Ashley is disgusted, and yet somewhat blase. You’d think she lobbed the first bottle at Stonewall or something.

Ashley: Stupid guys and their stupid testosterone.
Spencer: This wasn’t some random guy fight! Why are people so horrible?

As if to validate Spencer’s whole “people are horrible” fear, Glen spews his clueless vitriol all over Ashley. He snarls, “This is your fault. If you weren’t that way my sister never would have gotten hurt.”

He is so stupid. Ashley was far away, being a non-joiner, and nowhere in the vicinity of the fight. He might as well blame Lance Bass.

Ashley: You must be high!
Glen: Somebody has to man-up around here and do something!

Glen is The Decider!

He grabs Spencer and starts to drag her out of the room. Clay steps in and tries to calm Glen down, which has just the effect you would imagine. But worse.

Glen: You’re such an idiot for being okay with this!

Clay: She’s our sister! You act like she’s deliberately out to hurt us.
Glen: She’s not OUR sister, okay? She’s MY sister.

Everyone has their line, and Glen just careened over Clay’s. Clay proceeds to kick Glen’s ass (finally, some one has “manned up” to do this) until Paula comes in and breaks them up.

Carlin Court House — Arthur is giving the nice-guy-dad-who-has-just-about-had-it speech to the three Carlin siblings. They’re lined up on the sofa brooding, and no one is spilling the beans.

Except for Old Ass Eyes.

Glen: I can tell you exactly whose fault all this is —
Spencer: (pointedly) Owwww. My head hurts. Can I have some of Glen’s pain killers?

Paula won’t let Spencer become a junkie and a lesbian all in the same semester, so she puts the kibosh on anything more psychedelic than Tylenol.

The Carlin kids’ code of silence gets them sent to their room and grounded from TV, cel phones and computers (plus pre-marital sex—gay or straight—and excessive use of narcotics).

And Paula is all atwitter because some of her own bigotry has ricocheted back at her and her family. She tells Arthur, “I talked to the school and they are calling this a hate crime. Spencer was a part of that! I had to bandage up MY daughter today because she got caught in the middle of something crazy that Ashley drove her into.”

Yes, the police file on this particular gay-bashing will definitely contain a mug shot of Ashley–looking impossibly glamorous despite the blood and brain matter caked onto her knuckles.

Arthur defends Spencer’s right to her own life, and his devoted wife snorts, “Save the social worker crap for someone who’s buying it.” No wonder he’s always drunk.

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