21 Jump Street: "My Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"
(Note: Today's episode of Shut Up, Penhall has been rescheduled for a later date.Please enjoy this airing of Shut Up, Hanson instead.)
Drink for that episode title. What ever happened to Timbuk3, anyway?
The door of a Gothic-dorm-type building opens, and out into the rainy night tumble three tipsy prepster dudes, clutching paper cups and laughing contrivedly, and one big-haired girl who is so drunk she has to cling to the middle prepster to stay upright. The middle prepster is played by one Mitchell Anderson, a.k.a. Richard Carpenter in The Karen Carpenter Story (I remember him as Ross on Party of Five). But wait: the big guest-star gun has yet to roll in.
As Josh Brolin's credit appears on the screen, the man himself helps to pour Drunk Girl into a Beemer. She nearly falls down while sloshing into the front passenger seat. More "omigod it's seewwwww funneh how I've lost control of my motor functions" guffawing from Drunk Girl as the prepsters — who don't seem quite as ripshit as DG — laugh also, more at her than with her.
Brolin is wearing a pink oxford, which means he's probably evil, and purchasing two bottles of champers and a fifth of off-brand vodka at a bodega. The cashier asks for ID a couple of times, but Brolin richily suggests he ring up the purchase and keep the change from a hundo instead. Then he snottily asks for cups to go with…
…but the next shot finds the prepsters and Drunk Girl aboard a friend's boat and serving the champagne in proper glassware.
The next morning, a paper boy is delivering along his route when he stumbles across a hyper-dramatic focus push — and, a second later, Drunk Girl's dead body lying in a culvert and totally breathing during a close-up, like, really, show? A shot edited down so short, it's practically subliminal, and you can't use the frames where the dead girl isn't moving around?
Jump Street. The team gets the brief from a chief of some sort: Drunk Girl, whose name is Kim Morgan, died of choking on her own vomit. She had booze and drugs in her system; witnesses last saw her at a dance at "West Chadway," and she left with three seniors. Ioki asks why they can't just haul in everyone at the West Chadway dance, or at least the three guys, and find out who gave Kim the alcohol and drugs. The chief has to explain that the rich are different from you and me, private-school kids' parents have posh lawyers, etc. Jenko tells Hanson and Penhall that they're transferring into West Chadway, and grumbles about how it costs six grand a year (drink), while Penhall and his studded watch band whine about the dress code.
West Chadway. Hanson and Penhall get the tour from the principal, who explains the unnecessarily complicated class schedule, only seniors can go off-campus, where the girls' school is, blah blah. Penhall has tamed his hair somewhat with gel and a razor part, but the result is quite unfortunate. Remember the Monkees episode where the guys ran into that kidnapped prince who looked exactly like Davy? And in the scenes with both Davy and the prince, also obviously played by Davy, the props department put a badly-matched wig on a female double and shot over her shoulder? Penhall's hair looks like that wig.
Hanson and Penhall head into AP English. Hanson has to explain to Penhall what "AP" means, so I assume we can "look forward to" a series of "funnies" on the theme of Penhall, Dese-And-Dose Fella, Confronts The Canon. Blech. The teacher, a poor man's Julian Sands, asks pointed questions of the class about Robert Penn Warren — first Mitchell Anderson, coiffed outlandishly and here called "Scott Crowe"; then Brolin; then Penhall, who actually knows the answer. Hanson, called upon to interpret the work, flounders while Scott stares homosocially at him. The teacher snorts that apparently the academic standards at Westminster, whence Penhall and Hanson allegedly transferred, "are more uneven than we've been led to believe," which prompts a chant of "STATE college, STATE college, STATE college" from the entire class. Scott then turns in his seat to deliver the correct answer, complete with bedroom eyes, to Hanson; it involves the straight and narrow and moral decay, and is about as subtle as the literary parallels found in any given episode of Dawson's Creek.
Hallway. Hanson grouses at Penhall for showing him up; Penhall shrugs that he got lucky, as that book happens to be the only one he finished reading in high school. They spot Brolin and Scott shooting the breeze, and Hanson highhandedly instructs Penhall to hang back and let him do the talking: "These are my people." Guys with bear-claw haircuts? Is that an ancient order of which I'm unaware? Penhall grumps, "Tom Hanson: born to prep." Good one, Chet! Wait: not really.
They breeze past Brolin and Scott; the third prepster from the opening scene, Kerry, comes down the stairs and tells the other two they need to talk, because Kim Morgan died the other night. Brolin and Scott look shifty but don't betray much surprise. Kerry asks what they're going to do. Scott: "We're not going to do anything." Brolin grins evilly.
The student canteen. Penhall worms his way into a table with two girls by asking if he can try on the brunette's earring. It does look kind of good on him, and kudos to the writers for realizing that a beefy dude with a piercing would be girlnip at that school. The blonde is wearing a hideous Shaker-knit sweater from The Limited, and has a
wretched bang puff that I can't even make fun of because I had the same one. She's also staring at Hanson like he has a case of the hard-cheese farts, which is hilarious. The Three Prepsketeers roll up to the table, and Penhall sends an irritated Hanson to the bar for drinks. After a few "jokes" about ear-piercing and forks, Penhall intimates that Hanson got kicked out of Westminster for cheating. The TPs have trouble believing that "that dork" got busted on an honor-code violation (heh), but Penhall assures them that Hanson is "really quite corrupt once you get to know 'im." Scott mentions that Brolin is the president of the honor council. "Can you be bought?" Penhall asks, and all three of them crack up way too much; Kerry smirks, "I like this guy."
Hoffs tries to get more information about Kim's movements from Kim's mom, who tearfully relates that she probably shouldn't have let Kim run so wild after her father's death; she heard Kim had gotten A Reputation. Kim liked to hang out with the West Chadway boys because she "could marry more money in a minute than [she'd] make in a lifetime," but Mom tried to discourage that kind of thinking — not because it's antediluvian, but because "those boys don't marry anyone from the east side." Enter Kim's brother Vinnie to crack on Hoffs for her youthful appearance, and wax class-angsty about how the cops will probably ask a few pro forma questions and circular-file the answers because they're in the pocket of west-side taxpayers or whatever the hell. Hoffs resents that, but Vinnie has accepted that the three boys who killed Kim "will never see the inside of a jail cell."
Pointed cut to Scott, handing around crystal highballs of Absolut. I might have to do a shot of Peppar myself if I have to keep looking at Scott's outfit, which even by the pathetic standards of the time is unforgivable. Somewhere, Milton Berle is like, "Kid, if you're going to borrow my sweater without asking, at least don't wear it with those
clown pants. "A toast is raised to "The Fun Club," explained by Scott as "thrill-seekers, risk-takers, and wealth-makers." He practically has to shout to make himself heard over Kerry's amateurishly loud snorting of a line of cocaine (and the sproinging sound of my eyes rolling), but fails to explain how these presumptive Ivy-Leaguers settled on such a sucky name. "Also known as The Royal We, dedicated to competition and recreation," Scott pompouses. He leaves out the part about blindfolded selection of Cosby sweaters, but it goes without saying. Or believing. This is how we lived. FOR YEARS. Brolin, wearing the white pullover he mugged Nancy Lopez for, lowers his face hammily onto some blow while Scott quizzes Penhall on what his "old man" does and, on hearing that he travels a lot, invites The Fun Club over to Penhall Estates for future meetings because Scott Sr. is due back in town the next day.
While Penhall takes fifteen goddamn hours to feign coke-snortage, a Joey-McIntyre-looking guy named Niles comes in to kill everyone's buzz. He refers to himself as their "business partner" and flashes a briefcase full of cash; Scott is freaked out, but coolly tells him they're not "making another run 'til mid-semester break." Niles is like, the fuck you're not. Scott tries to claim too much homework, but Niles points out that they had time for "a wild date" last weekend. "You know about that?" Kerry gulps. Well, if he didn't before, he does now, criminal jackass-termind. Niles claims they botched the job, but he cleaned it up, whatever that means, and Scott interrupts to say that they "should be cool; we've made enough money." Niles is like, again: no. Scott uses Niles's "facilities" for a party; Niles uses Scott Sr.'s plane for a run, "end of report." He hands the briefcase to Scott and says the three could use some sun anyway: "Have fun, for goodness sakes!"
Niles leaves. Penhall stares after him Really Hard but manages to keep his palooka trap shut, giving Brolin the opportunity to suggest that Penhall be "initiated" the next day: "You got a passport?" He does. More gooby rhetoric about the risk and the rush, Scott tries to tempt him with the promise of "a little adventure," and we go into the break with Penhall looking weirded out.
Jump Street. Hoffs reports that everyone she's talked to about Kim says the same thing: "We're not dealing with Gidget here." Hoffs isn't sure it's even a homicide. So it wasn't a rape either, Penhall offers, but Hoffs shuts that down with a PSA: "It's rape as soon as a girl says no, let's just get that straight right now." Fair enough, Penhall says, but despite their involvement in the drug-running, the Three Prepsketeers don't strike him as murderers.Hanson is dismissive, asking what happened to Penhall's whole "I hate these rich kids thing." Penhall correctly points out that at least they don't think he's an uptight twerp, unlike some people. He orders Hanson to read his assignment for the next day so he doesn't make Penhall look bad in class. Hanson snarls that Penhall resented guys like the TPs until he got to become one. Jenko intercedes with the following awesome line: "Hey, cut the rebop!" Outstanding. I plan to use that frequently in the coming days, and I urge you to do the same. "I think we're supposed to turn left here." "Hey, cut the rebop!" "More coffee for you folks?" "Hey, cut the rebop!" "Have a great holiday!" "Hey, cut the rebop!"
Rebop temporarily cut, Jenko says he'll follow up on Niles. Hoffs adds that Vinnie Morgan is under the impression that his sister was a virtuous maiden who got murdered by "a cult of Izod-worshippers" (drink); she doesn't think it's that simple, but she's working the case. Penhall wonders if maybe Kim Morgan isn't a party girl who happened to die in the woods, and Hoffs rips his head off for suggesting that "bad girls" can't get raped.
Jenko doesn't dignify this, grumbling about how "downtown" is pissed about Jump Street's budget, and Penhall has even worse news: they need a house at which to convene The Fun Club. More unwarranted snark from Hanson, but Jenko will try to get them a staging house. Hanson wonders which case they should prioritize; Jenko says they should follow the murder, and hold the drug case back, as leverage. Maybe Niles will flip on the other three if they set him up right. Hanson thinks Penhall is committing a crime if he goes along on the drug run, since Hanson apparently still does not understand the nature of undercover police work. Jenko sets Hanson straight. Ioki doesn't get why these guys need the money in the first place, but Penhall repeats, "No risk, no rush."
The Three Prepsketeers, Hanson, and Penhall sit around a table in the student canteen, pretending to think that a story Scott is telling is hilarious. It isn't. Then it's time to hop a plane to Puerto Vallarta, but Hanson isn't going — as Brolin regretfully explains, the plane only seats four. Scott kindly suggests assembling at Hanson's house for cocktails when they get back. Hanson bitches, "Do you want hors d'oeuvres? Shall I chill the wine?" It's your whine wants chilling, dumbass — you are trying to win the trust of these people, which is much easier to do when you don't act like a chafed anus. Instead of poking him in the eye, Brolin smiles, "Not if it's red." Hanson fumes. Shut up, Hanson.
Jenko scores Hanson a house thanks to an IRS asset seizure.
Hoffs drops by Vinnie's garage by way of returning his call. Vinnie wants to know what they're doing about Scott. Hoffs smells a rat and asks how he knew about that guy; Vinnie eye-rolls that he broke the lock on Kim's diary, and crabs again that nothing is being done about her murder. He has names for Hoffs — the Three Prepsketeers — and tells her to arrest them. She says they have to have evidence first; then they'll arrest the responsible parties. Vinnie emotionally says that if the cops don't do something about those three guys, he will. Hoffs says that, if he takes matters into his own hands, she'll bust him, too, and Vinnie breaks down — he's just sick of them. He's caddied for them, cut their lawns, he fixes their cars "because they don't want to get their hands dirty," class struggle in America wah wah Hoffs looks chastened. Hey, Vinnie: cut the rebop!
Tarmac. The Three Prepsketeers disembark from a Cessna as Hanson waits in a limo. Ioki is posing as the driver, and there's some back-and-forth to establish that Hanson is a credible asshole to "the help." And where's Penhall? "We made him fly commercial."
Elsewhere at the airport, Penhall comes shivering towards the limo in a loud Hawaiian shirt and ill-fitting khaki shorts and hucks his luggage at Scott. Scott sniffs that they couldn't take a chance on Daddy's plane getting seized, now could they? So he…sent Penhall through airport security with a bag of narcotics? Brilliant plan. Not. Although…I guess it worked, so whatever. More fake squabbling between Hanson and Ioki; then everyone heads to Hanson's fake dad's fake house.
In the limo, it's just the Jump Streeters; Penhall is having a post-customs wig about carrying a kilo of coke in a false-bottomed case. Hanson is livid: "You muled it through?! Now we don't have a case!" Okay, Hanson, here is the thing about working UNDERCOVER: there is A COVER, and the officer must remain UNDER IT. YOU DIPSHIT. Also, it's called "conspiracy," and an apple-polisher like yourself surely is familiar with the pertinent statutes. Also also, cut the rebop! Ioki eyes them in the rearview but says nothing as Hanson tells Penhall that, if they can't make the murder charge stick, it's his fault because he's "implicated bringing [the drugs] in!" Penhall sighs that he already feels bad enough; apparently neither of them remembers the conversation from the previous day in which Jenko told them that's not an issue. Certainly Hanson doesn't seem to remember any other conversation in which it might have been suggested that he act like less of an underinformed fuckwad.
Penhall adds that the Prepsketeers have it "wired" in Mexico — condo on the beach, private airstrip, kilos delivered within the hour. Ioki speaks up to say that the coroner's report indicates Kim was raped.
Cut to the fake house and Hanson lying that his fake dad is an arbitrageur. While Scott is snotting something to Penhall about cocktail hour, Niles arrives, and almost blows their cover by remarking that he thinks he's been there before. Hanson shrugs that his dad bought it from Jason DeMarco — the guy who lost it to the IRS in the first place — and Scott ironies that DeMarco is a character: "Guy makes a little money, thinks that — he's above the law!" He titters feyly and adds, "The nouveau, they never learn." Niles is like, so anyway, I'm in a hurry. Heh, seriously. Niles opens his case, makes a show of placing a pistol on top of it, and tests the flake: "Not bad. Last batch was better." Brolin has some reason for this, but Niles doesn't need to hear it: "I trust you. You're president of the honor council, aren't you?"
Cut to Hanson and Hoffs tailing Niles in Hanson's Mustang. So Hanson just walked out of cocktail hour so they could follow Niles? When it's ostensibly at his house? How'd they sell that one? Hoffs says they're only supposed to follow Niles, not arrest him, in case he's only a middleman. Penhall thinks Niles can put the Three Prepsketeers at the scene, so the plan is to play Niles off of them with a drug bust.
Niles pulls in and parks. The Jump Streeters are confused by the choice of location, but although it looks like an upscale boutique area, we're asked to believe it's a hooker stroll. Niles flashes a Benjamin and says he wants to party, but the lady of the night is actually a cop; he's busted. Hanson is pissed that they ran into a vice sweep, and he's about to jump out of the car when Hoffs stops him: "No, man, don't blow your cover." As opposed to leaving his own (as far as the others know) house to follow two car lengths behind a suspect. Sigh. "Jenko's gonna love this," Hanson complains. Well, then Jenko should have coordinated a BOLO with vice, shouldn't he.
Jenko is sitting in the middle of the cop shop, doing sonic tests with his guitar — it's Jenko; just go with it — when Hoffs and Hanson come in to break the bad news about Niles's vice bust. Jenko doesn't think too highly of the vice squad and doubts they will find the cocaine in Niles's car on their own, but he'll try to get the bust squashed. He calls the chief to see if he can get Niles's arrest "lost," but the night commander of the vice division apparently hates Jenko's guts.
Cut to Jenko, awkwardly uniformed — it fits like a janky Halloween costume — and kissing enemy ass. He explains to the night commander, who thinks he recognizes Jenko but which Jenko denies, that they can't expect Niles to roll over on the other three if he's in jail on a soliciting "rap." What? Tell vice where the cocaine is, they charge Niles with that and the hooker thing, you come in and offer him a deal in exchange for info, done! Nobody in this department ever watched TV before? The night commander asks for a form in triplicate, and Jenko makes his escape.
Vinnie sits in a darkened room and tries to reach Hoffs to report that the Three Prepsketeers are throwing a party. When he can't get through, he pulls a gun out of a drawer, and pants and glares for, I kid you not, three weeks before someone finally yells "Cut!" ("…the rebop!")
The Three Prepsketeers consult Kerry's uncle (?) about getting Niles out of jail; they'd like to keep him happy, and they don't trust him. The uncle assumes they have business dealings with Niles, but instead of speaking to that, Scott wants to know what, hypothetically, would happen if Niles rolled over on, you know, someone regarding something. The uncle wants to know what crime they're talking about. Kerry mealy-mouths that it's an "incident that could be misconstrued as a triple rape [sic] and a possible homicide." Uncle is "very disappointed" in them. Brolin glibs that he finds the entire thing "regrettable," and wonders if it will affect his plans to attend Princeton. Historically, that hasn't been a problem, but maybe admissions policies have changed. Uncle asks if Brolin mentioned it on his application. Brolin shoots him a "you're…kidding me, right?" look, but Uncle evidently isn't, so Brolin says no. H…eh?
Security at the party gives Vinnie a hassle. He says grimly that he's the guest of honor. He's turned away.
Jump Street. Hoffs is pissed that she's only just now getting a shit-ton of messages from Vinnie. Just then, Jenko calls to report that he didn't get Niles out — but someone else did, Jenko doesn't know who. He tells Hoffs and Ioki to tail Niles once he's released.
Niles takes 70 years to pull out of the police parking lot in his Bronco. Ioki takes another 23 years to pull out after him. Sometimes, people talk about the decreased running time of dramas now, versus 20 years ago, in terms of how it must rush or otherwise hurt the storytelling, but I have to think it's actually improved narratives by forcing them to work more efficiently. This sequence takes a full minute and a half to relay information that — provided you think it's necessary at all, which I don't — could have been done just as easily and clearly in 6-7 seconds. When dramas and cop shows shrank from 47 minutes to 42, it's this momentum-killing stuff that got lost, and it's an evolutionary step forward, I'm telling you.
Anyway, now that we're all 138 years old, Hoffs calls for backup.
The hooker stroll, populated by working girls who seem to have come straight from jazzercise class. (Awesome: MS Word recognizes the word "jazzercise" without comment.) Quick tip for the wardrobe department: hookers do not wear oversized v-neck sweaters from the Gap. They just don't. Quick tip for the writers: Niles just got pinched for soliciting and sprung by his rich benefactors. He's that much of a sex addict that he's going to go straight from jail to try to get his baton twirled again? No, guys. Hoffs taps on his window; Niles says he's not interested. She badges him. He says it's not illegal to look at hookers, and Ioki corrects him: he's actually under arrest for possession of narcotics. They've failed to secure the car, so Niles peels out. Hoffs and Ioki chase him on foot, and behind them is a black-and-white with siren and lights going. Another black-and-white joins the chase, then another, as Hoffs and Ioki run after the vehicles with guns drawn, like, just go back to the car and drive after them, Jesus.
Eventually Niles wrecks into a dumpster. He bonks his head on the steering wheel — remember when airbags weren't standard? Drink! Hoffs and Ioki come running up, and Niles recognizes Ioki as "the houseboy." "This is my day job, jack," Ioki tough-guys. Then the frame freezes on Hoffs and Ioki, because…I don't know why it does that.
Interrogation room. Niles is smart-alecking that he doesn't know anything, despite pressing from Penhall. Jenko reviews the case against him. Niles is like, whatever — where's my attorney? Penhall semi-roughs him up, asking how much the Prepsketeers are paying Niles to go to prison for them, but Niles isn't biting. Penhall grouses that Niles will do a couple of years for the drugs, and come out to a big pile of money. Niles puts on a pair of pimp aviators that are on the table and purrs, "My future's so bright…"(Drink.)
Penhall keeps complaining out in the hallway. Hanson Gallants that the Prepsketeers will have to live with what they've done; Penhall makes a clumsy (but accurate — guess he's up on his lit after all) reference to Poe in saying that that kind of guy doesn't feel remorse, or have to deal with punishment. He adds that the Prepsketeers are laughing at the cops right now because they got away with it. Hanson asks if Penhall's going to let that happen. Penhall wonders if he's just supposed to barge over there and kick the door down.
Cut to Penhall and Hanson doing exactly that. They walk in to find the TPs enjoying their customary afternoon toot. Kerry and Brolin freak a little and try to hide the coke, but Scott is cool, saying a little jailbirdie told him the two of them are cops. Brolin observes that, because they're taxpayers, technically the cops work for them, and Scott snottily orders a vodka martini "up, with a twist." What a skidmark. Penhall's like, no thanks — but I'll tip this table over and spill your coke on the floor. Hanson warns them that two middle-class public servants with a grudge and "permission to kick your tail" (Depp clearly says "ass" — drink) could cause big problems for the TPs. Penhall chimes in that Niles is going to roll on all of them. The TPs laugh this off, but Penhall mentions that various venue changes and sentencing enhancements mean the TPs' deal with Niles is probably off. The TPs remain unfazed.
The cops leave. Kerry starts to freak out, saying he never should have gone along with the other two. Scott says Niles already took the deal, so don't worry about it; Brolin tells Kerry to "bone up — trust us!" Brolin heads out, saying it's handled and he's got an exam tomorrow, but Kerry is clearly worried.
The precinct front desk calls the chief to say there's a guy out front who "says he knows all about the Kim Morgan death." Then we have to endure a week of footage of the chief walking doooowwwn the hall and then down the staaaaaairs and oh my GOD just CUT TO HIM AT THE FRONT DESK ALREADY. …Place your bets, friends. It's Kerry, right? I thought so too, but no: it's Brolin! He claims he can't have it on his conscience anymore (read: he'd rather rat than be ratted). A couple of his friends are involved, and he'll tell them everything if the DA comes down and grants him immunity. Told you the pink shirt meant he was evil!
The gang sits around bitching that Brolin is getting away with murder. Jenko tries to encourage Penhall in particular, saying he made the best deal he could, and these things have a way of evening out. As he continues to talk about cosmic justice…
…we switch to a Jenko voice-over of footage of Brolin walking to the campus parking lot. Vinnie Morgan is sitting on Brolin's car. He identifies himself to Brolin as Kim's brother. Brolin asks what he wants. "What'd you do to my sister?" Vinnie asks. Brolin looks down guiltily for a second, then back up with a smirk: "Hey, come on, man." But he can't hold Vinnie's gaze for long. The camera pushes in tight, then freezes the frame, and I thought they'd chosen to go out on an ambiguous display of possible remorse, but then! A gunshot echoes over the freeze-frame!
It's a little cheesy, that ending, but it earned this one: DUNNN!
Tags: 21 Jump Street Davy Jones Dawson's Creek Gidget hey cut the rebop! jazzercise Joey McIntyre Josh Brolin Karen Carpenter Milton Berle Mitchell Anderson Nancy Lopez Party of Five Richard Carpenter Robert Penn Warren shut up Hanson The Monkees Timbuk3 TV