“South of Nowhere” Recaps: Episodes 3.1 & 3.2 “The Valley of the Shadows”


Welcome back, one and all, for a third season of South of Nowhere recaps. I’ll be your cruise director as we sail the high seas of teen drama. Be sure to take your Dramamine (no pun intended, believe it or not), because the Season 3 premiere is a doozy.

Emergency room — Finally, it’s the season premiere: time to find out who got smoked at the end of last season. The ER doors slide open and in walks Glen, who we now know will live to annoy us all another day. Mother Superior is on duty in the ER, and she hugs Glen tightly. He may be a big pain in the ass, but he’s her pain in the ass.

In the background are Chelsea and Sean, looking very forlorn. Her corsage is wilty. Chelsea herself looks pretty wilty, too.

Aiden is rolled in on a stretcher with what looks like a bullet hole in his chest, and Ashley is right by his side. He’s whisked away to the operating room, but I think he’ll be OK. As the resident slab of beefcake, they need him to stick around. And remember: They can always rebuild him. They have the technology. They can make him faster, stronger, smarter. Well, at least they can make him faster and stronger.

Madison is there too (Thank God they didn’t off her!), weeping and wringing her hands.

Madison: What do they say about Aiden?

[sniffles] That he’s 50/50.

That’s what they say about you too, sweetie. Heh.

Then Ashley remembers that she has a girlfriend. She goes to Spencer, who is sitting in the corner with a bloody bandage in her hand. Ashley enters into a new set of hysterics and insists that Spencer get treated, but it turns out that our girl has only fallen down and scraped herself. She wasn’t shot.

Suddenly, the emergency room doors slide open, and Clay is rolled in on a stretcher. He doesn’t look so good. Spencer begins to freak out, as does Chelsea. Spencer’s pop, Arthur, shows up to check on his kids. Ashley sees him embracing Glen and Spencer, then she looks around and sees Chelsea being comforted, too. She looks down at her perfectly manicured, blood-stained hand and stares at it. It’s empty. No one is holding Ashley.

And that’s when her stepsister, Kyla, bounds into the seat next to her and gives her a big hug. And I’m glad, because with all of this death and destruction, I don’t think I can handle one of Ashley’s “poor me, I’m all alone” hissy fits.

Paula comes back into the lobby to find Arthur and Spencer. She’s removing her bloody scrubs. That is not a good sign.

R.I.P. Clay Carlin — The Carlins gather around Clay’s lifeless body and begin to cry. Clay seems to have died with a smile on his face, which is weird.

Wonder if that has anything to do with the rumors surrounding Danso Gordon’s departure from the show. Allegedly, he didn’t like working on a pro-gay show because it went against his morals.

Was he really that happy to go?

Through a window, we see Ashley standing alone and watching them. She’s separated from Spencer at this horrible moment and doesn’t quite know what to do with herself. I think they call this “foreshadowing.”

Three months later — We fast-forward ahead to three months after the shooting, sparing us the funeral scene and the Carlin family consumed by grief and shuffling through their house like zombies. Why can’t life be more like TV?

Spencer is in her über-girlie bedroom, wearing her über-girlie pink bathrobe. Sigh. I’ve missed Spencer, my child bride.

A softer, more subdued Paula comes in to say good night, followed by Arthur. He wants to know if Spencer’s ready for the first day of school tomorrow, and he gives her some of his therapist advice for getting through the day. Spencer will always be a daddy’s girl.

Back to school — At King High, Madison finds Kyla standing in front of a shrine created for the students who were killed in the shooting.

Madison: This feels really, really weird.

I know.

How was your summer?

Um, I guess Madison’s done some speed-grieving of her own! Death is such a bother. It gets in the way of talking about hair and makeup and poaching other people’s boyfriends.

Kyla tells Madison that she had an epiphany over the summer, learning that “every moment matters, and none of them should be wasted.” Madison looks at her a little blankly, then goes to her default setting: pissy.

Madison: Tell me you haven’t joined a cult.

[exasperated] No.

Tell me you’re not starting one.

[now completely through with her] Madison! No cults.

Kyla needs to dial back her expectations of Madison. She’s not the kind of girl who’s going to spend her summer break reading Pema Chödrön at the beach.

Kyla notices a camera crew in the schoolyard. MTV is there to make a documentary about the shooting, and the commercialization of the tragedy makes her wrinkle up her nose in disgust. Madison, however, is thrilled.

Madison: Our school has finally made it! I’d better go do my hair!

Kyla now looks like she just got a whiff of Aiden’s gym bag. Madison is quick to assure her that she’s kidding. You know, that thing people always say when they’re totally not kidding.

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