21 Jump Street: "The Worst Night of Your Life"
And now: A Very Explosive Episode of 21JS.
"Shut Up, Penhall" Count: 1
Catholic school. A nun patrols a hallway sternly, to the accompaniment of organ music. After she's passed a Jesus statue, a door next to the statue opens and two kilted students peer out. The heavy-set one, clutching a videotape, is scared and insists repeatedly that "we shouldn't do this"; the blonde one is like, relax, God has a great sense of humor. "Tell that to Job," Heavy-Set grunts, pulling a videotape out of her bookbag. She asks what happens if they get caught. Blonde snorts that they probably won't get to go to prom, then. She grabs the videotape from Heavy-Set and sprints up the stairs; Heavy-Set follows reluctantly.
The Mother Superior addresses the senior class on the topic of sex education, saying she expects the subject "to be received with…maturity." New on the job, then, MoSu? "And perhaps," MoSu adds, "even with a little bit…of healthy excitement." Heavy-Set looks like she might hurl; Blonde can barely contain her giggles, and says they should open a window, she's getting excited already. Ha? Cut to Hoffs, playing along by chuckling. MoSu notes that the archdiocese has given them a video called "The Miracle of Marriage," and a student next to Hoffs giggles, "That's not what my parents call it." Cue the video, which of course Blonde and Heavy-Set have replaced with a French soft-core title. Blonde flashes Heavy-Set a thumbs-up. About three weeks later, MoSu and her nun sidekick finally realize that all the grunting and bam-chick-accordion probably isn't the chastely informational soundtrack of "The Miracle of Marriage," and rush to turn it off as the class hoots and hollers.
In the hallway, a bomb explodes in a locker.
The fire alarm sounds. MoSu assumes it's a drill and drones the usual "single file, don't panic" instructions — until the room fills with smoke and the students freak out.
Chaos in the hallway, fire trucks in the streets.
Jump Street. Penhall is trying to interest Hanson in an evening of chick-dogging, Penhall-style. Hanson wisely declines, saying that he has plans — it's his bowling league night. This is fairly awesome, but Penhall and Ioki react with an endless shtick about how lame Hanson is, and how Penhall's pick-up skills are so legendary that Ioki is now known as "the Gunslinger." …Don't ask; you wouldn't believe the answer anyway. Hanson's like, so go out with Ioki then, but Ioki's having none of it, apparently due to the ugliness of the last girl Penhall helped him pick up. Well, maybe if you didn't pair those silk camp shirts with the pleated Cavariccis belted up around your nips, friend. Just a suggestion.
Before it can get any more undignified, Hoffs comes in, rattled by the explosion at the school. Jenko comes in to check her okay, and to report that a couple of students spent the night in the hospital with smoke inhalation. Hoffs sighs that she thought Catholic-school girls "were supposed to be good girls!" She…did? Really? Hit the comments to discuss, but I don't think I've ever thought that, and in fact I thought the opposite was the conventional wisdom. My town had two girls' schools, the Catholic one and ours, which is non-sectarian, and everyone in the region knew the deal: our school had the uptight bookworms with eating disorders, and the Catholic school's girls gave BJs and snuck out to go to shows. Which I personally thought made them way cooler than us. I can point to exceptions on either side, obvs, but generally speaking, in my town, you had the girls'-school girls who could get you beer, and then you had…us.
Anyway, Jenko reviews the various fires set at Our Lady Of Whatever — the boiler room, the vestibule, and now this one, the third in two weeks. Ioki suggests cross-checking all the students to see if any of them have records, and after a dumb joke from Penhall involving giving up chocolate for Lent, Hanson nerds that he already ran the records and found a girl who's gotten busted shoplifting eight times; a girl with a DUI and a marijuana bust; and a girl who lit her parents' garage on fire. Hoffs notes that that last girl, Patty Blatcher, is the head of the prom committee, and doesn't think she's good for the fires, but Jenko informs Hoffs that now she is on the prom committee too, so she can spy on Patty.
Bowling alley. Penhall has accompanied Hanson to his bowling night, and is trying (and failing) to pick up an alley betty by claiming he gave up bowling in favor of race-car driving. No dice. Hanson is bowling awesomely, but Penhall wants to leave "before somebody sees us." Heh. Hanson's like, you can bitch and moan, or you can try it. This doesn't work out like he'd hoped, as Penhall goes caveman and starts hucking two balls at a time down the lane, which gets them both kicked out of the bowling alley, Hanson's anus contracts to the diameter of a subatomic particle, Penhall tries to hit on two girls in the parking lot and gets shot down, [sad pennywhistle].
Our Lady Of Kaboom. At a meeting of the prom committee, Blonde intones that the prom theme is very important. Aw, high school. Heavy-Set gripes that she'll never get a date, and Blonde tells her not to worry about it. A rodent-faced girl pipes up that Blonde might not have to worry about it — if she doesn't get her grades up, she's not allowed to go to prom at all. Rodent-Face is apparently Patty Blatcher, although we're not told her name in this scene and Blonde acts like she's heading up the meeting, not Patty. Anyway, this is the girl who lit her parents' garage on fire. Don't hold your breath waiting for an explanation for that; you won't get it. Blonde tells Patty to stow it. Hoffs delivers a homily about how there's all this build-up to prom for years on end, and then when it finally arrives, it "could be the worst night of your life." Drink! Instead of wondering where that pesky perspective came from, Blonde embraces "the worst night of your life" as a perfect prom theme. Patty nibbles a seed disapprovingly. Hey: cut the rebop, gerbilicious.
In the bathroom, a smoking trash can sets off the sprinklers. Dun!
MoSu's office. Blonde, whose name is actually Jane Kinney, is escorted in, looking nervous. MoSu busies herself with paperwork; the offending porno tape is perched at the front of her blotter. MoSu opens with that old standard, "Do You Think This Is Funny (Answer Me)," and in response Jane hums a few bars of "I Don't Know What You Mean (While I Stifle Laughter)." MoSu informs Jane that, if she doesn't pull her grades up pronto, all extracurriculars are out, including the prom, which wipes the smirk off Jane's face. MoSu continues that Jane's reputation as a practical joker is not exactly a secret, and asks if Jane knows anything about the fires. Jane says unconvincingly that she doesn't. MoSu will hold on to the porno until Jane's parents can come pick it up. Jane slinks out; MoSu sighs.
Oh "goody," it's back to the bowling subplot. Penhall appears at Jump Street in a thrift-store shirt with "SUAVE BOWLERS" on the back, and berates Hanson for showing him a terrible time. He also shares with Ioki that "half the ladies there were named 'Bert,'" which is not a bad line, but is alas delivered in the service of a Penhall, Ladykiller subplot.
The conversation moves on to the latest fire at Our Lady Of Perpetual Boredom, and whether Penhall went to his prom. Penhall is offended by the question and claims that he went to his first prom at age 11. Shut up, Penhall. Ioki didn't go to his, and we get a broody close-up as he muses that he guesses, in high school, he "didn't believe it was the last time [he] was gonna be there." Penhall gives him a duh, but Ioki's like, it's different now. "Could be worse," Penhall says, whipping out a lighter. "We could be…pyromaniacs." Uh…huh?
In Jenko's office, Hoffs and Jenko get a brief from a department psychologist on how likely it is that girls become arsonists. Several paragraphs on eighteenth-century servant girls later (…I know), the answer is: not very likely. A frustrated Hoffs doesn't know whether to look for someone on the inside or not. Jenko thinks that, if the school suspected an outside job, they'd have filed an insurance claim by now; I don't get why they couldn't still file such a claim, provided they haven't colluded with the arsonist, but anyway, he'll put a uniform inside the school at night, and Hoffs will continue working days. Hoffs theorizes that perhaps the firebug wants to get caught, and the shrink seizes on that, talking about "heroic victim syndrome" — the arsonist sets a fire, then appears on the scene all dressed up to star in her own drama. (Which he pronounces to rhyme with "Gramma." O Canada!) Hoffs puts two and Carrie together and quavers, "How about a prom?"
Patty, alone in the gym, does some Very Suspicious busywork with crepe paper and what looks like accelerant, then flicks a lighter — to light her cigarette. D…un?
Smash cut to Penhall lighting a Benatar clone's cigarette at a nightclub. His rap is not going well — possibly because the target has so much makeup on that she looks about 45, possibly because Penhall is working a piece of gum like it's a hot dog and he's Kobayashi. But he wears her down…
…and later, outside, she's hanging on his arm while he blathers about his career in commodities trading. Well, I guess manure is a commodity. Benatar finally consents to a ride home on Penhall's motorcycle — but then her partner in crime materializes out of a nearby alley to hold a gun to Penhall's head. Benatar asks what took the guy so long; she thought Penhall would never shut up. Snick. Penhall gasps that he's a police officer, but of course she doesn't believe him; she cleans out his wallet, and the thieves run off while Penhall, instead of chasing them since he's a cop and on a bike and they're lawbreakers and on foot, just sits there like an embarrassed lump.
Our Lady Of Felonies. A mysterious female figure breaks into MoSu's office and leaves about 184 fingerprints all over the desk. Crafty! The mystery figure is reading a file by the light of a Bic when the night cop busts in to reveal: Jane.
Jump Street. As the others look on, Penhall looks through a mug book for the lady thief. He finds her without delay; her name is Terry Palmer, and her mug shot occasions the following comment from Jenko: "Well now there then. Nice teeth." Hee. Jenko tells Penhall to tip Vice to her, and asks if Penhall told her he was a cop. "Among other things," Penhall cringes. "Maybe you should have told her you were a bowler," Ioki says. Shut up, Ioki. After some teasing, Penhall sighs that he guesses Hoffs is his date to the prom, which makes no sense, except as a segue into Jenko saying the Our Lady Of Intact Hymens prom is probably off — Jane got picked up last night, presumably about to set fire to MoSu's desk. Hoffs reads the file and can't believe it's Jane Kinney: "I just didn't think she was our girl. I mean, she's kinda nice, actually." Hanson suggests setting Jane up with Penhall. Penhall claims he's just in a slump. NO ONE CARES. Jane is apparently in the county jail while the DA decides whether to charge her as an adult; Hoffs wants to see her. It'll blow Hoffs's cover, Jenko says, but Hoffs says, "Big deal — I mean, they already busted her." Yeeeees, but if she makes bail and comes back to sch– you know what, forget it.
In the Jenkomobile, Hoffs says she wanted to go to this prom, to make up for her real one — she saved and saved for her dress, her date's car ran out of gas, her date got drunk and barfed all over the back seat, and then he got lost and turned up in the school's boiler room at 4 AM, plus he wore a plaid jacket and so on and so forth. Jenko, meanwhile, got stuck with a date who had a 10 PM curfew, so he spent the rest of the night at the late movie and "was in heaven, in [his] pink and black tuxedo." Heh. "'Course, that's not what I told my buddies." "'Course not," Hoffs smirks.
County Jail. Jane is lounging, bored, when Hoffs comes in and explains she's a cop. Several shots of Hoffs's pin-festooned jean jacket make sure to show us that one of the pins is a sheriff's star — which I don't think I'd have noticed if I hadn't just watched Tombstone last night. (Looking for a drinking game? Turn on the Tombstone director's commentary and do a shot every time he brags about how nobody had to use stunt 'staches. Hilarious.) Anyhoodle, Hoffs says she's undercover at Our Lady Of Whiskey At The Dance specifically because of the arson; she's surprised it's Jane. Jane's like, join the club, and adds that her parents have refused to bail her out in order to teach her a lesson. Hoffs does a variation on the theme of "Do You Think This Is Funny (Wipe That Face Off Your Head)," and Jane insists that she didn't set the fires. Hoffs wants to know why the report had Jane in the office "with an open lighter," which…is not an expression, but anyway, Jane explains that she forgot a flashlight; she actually broke in to get the porno tape back. Either way, she guesses she isn't going to the prom. "Guess not," Hoffs grits. Jane rolls her eyes and yells again that she didn't do it, and Hoffs says it sure looks like she did, which, fine, but didn't you come all the way down there because you already thought she didn't do it? So what's with the 'tude? After more back-and-forth, Hoffs relents and makes a deal with Jane: Jane keeps it quiet that Hoffs is a cop, and Hoffs will stay undercover and figure out what's really going on with the arson. Jane: "Why?" Hoffs: "'Cause I know what it's like to miss your prom." And also it's your job to gather evidence that is more than circumstantial, but: bagatelle.
Patty comes storming into the gym to screech that she did not okay the "The Worst Night Of Your Life" prom theme, as embodied by a banner the other committee members have just hung up. Hoffs's seat neighbor from class, Tracy, smugs that the rest of them took a vote in Patty's absence. Patty whinges that she's the head of the committee, and when Tracy points out that it's a democracy, Patty bitches that no way is she approving Jane's idea when Jane is in the hoosegow for trying to burn down the school. Hoffs shrugs that they figured the theme was fitting for that very reason — unless Patty has a better idea. Patty does, but won't share it because Tracy and the others will just make fun of it; she adds that prom only comes around once and she should get to enjoy it. "You can spit on tradition, but I'm not going to!" Ooh, good one. …Oh, not really. Tracy's like, um…it's a dance, who cares.
Heavy-Set, whose name is Margie (…of course; gotta give the full-figured girl a dowdy name) (no offense, Margies), shyly says she had a theme idea; Hoffs encourages her to tell them what it is. Oh, dear: "Young Love Never Dies." Tracy and Patty crack up. Hoffs says it's not so bad, but Tracy thinks it sounds like the Harlequin novels Margie always buys in the supermarket. Margie does a slow burn while Tracy performs a reasonably funny riff on a Southern belle eloping with a lonely karate instructor; then Margie snaps, "You make me sick." Tracy whatevers, "Got a date yet, Marg?" Margie runs off, the Foley unkindly making her sound as clompy as possible. Hoffs is like, way to be a dick, but Tracy's like, who cares if anyone has dates, "this thing's gonna be a disaster anyway, with Jane in jail and everything?" Patty is sick of Tracy mentioning Jane; she's glad Jane isn't coming to prom, "she'd just ruin it!" "Well, listen to her," Tracy snorts, and asks if Patty has a date yet either. Patty glares and longs for her hamster wheel. OMG it's totally Patty! Maybe!
Hoffs comforts Margie in the bathroom. Margie says she doesn't have a date so she's not going. Hoffs says she doesn't have a date either and she's still going, but Margie sighs that Hoffs doesn't need a date: "You're gorgeous! I'm fat." Ouch, but also: huh?
Cut to flames, tearing the theme banner in half! OMG it's totally Margie! Maybe!
Jump Street. Hanson builds something with toothpicks (…dunno) while Penhall advises him and Ioki not to fall for Terry Palmer's tricks. He also assures them that she's a lot prettier than her mug shot might suggest. Overruled. Penhall blithers that, because of his pick-up slump, his defenses were down, and it could have happened to anyone. Hanson eyeballs the mug shot, grimaces, and says it wouldn't have happened to him. Heh. Hoffs comes in to continue the conversation, which I would recap except no one cares. Next!
Convent of the Flaming Heart. Jenko awkwards into MoSu's office, wearing a necktie that stops at his bellybutton. MoSu has read Hoffs's report, but doesn't want to cancel the prom; it's one of the few things they allow at the school, and the girls really look forward to it. Jenko reminds her that the prom could turn into "a bonfire," a possibility MoSu characterizes as the PD's problem, and when Jenko says that he thinks safety issues outweigh the other considerations, MoSu admits that shutting down the prom due to an arson threat is a PR problem for the school. Jenko notes that a burning building in the newspaper is not exactly a gilt-edged advertisement either, in his opinion, but MoSu says in so many words that she's not interested in his opinion; she wants his help keeping the prom safe, that's it. As Jenko takes his leave, MoSu tells him she expects his squad to dress appropriately. Oh, Lord. Jenko makes a crack about asbestos tuxes, and awkwards out the door.
Montage! Tracy sulks as the crispy banner is taken down and a new one is unfurled. We don't see what it says, but Patty is clearly pleased.
Hoffs springs Jane from lockup.
Mystery hands fill an industrial sink with gasoline.
Penhall hits the florist.
Mystery hands soak decorations in the gas.
Ioki tries on a Dracula tux. I think that shot's in the credits, and it does look pretty foxy on him.
The mystery arsonist adds the flammable cardboard hearts to the décor. Note that the mystery arms look pretty skinny.
Hanson hops out of a white limo, holding a Walkman the size of a pillow.
Jane gets sewn into her pink three-tiered prom gown.
The "Young Love Never Dies" banner hangs in the gym.
Margie fearfully approaches the ringing phone. It's Hoffs on the other end, begging her to just go to the prom stag. Margie draws nigh to a Carrie reference by saying she doesn't want everyone to laugh at her, but Hoffs says nobody will, and it's the prom, she only gets one. Margie mulls it over, then asks if "he" is "cute." "Yeah, in a way — yeah, I guess!" Hoffs lies. Hee. Margie wants to know what he's like, so of course we have to cut to…
…Penhall, who's hitting on yet another woman, but this time it's in the service of doing his job (sort of) — he's asking if she's seen Terry Palmer. The woman is enthralled by the badge, though, and keeps asking, while turning the 150-watt bedroom eyes on him, if he's really a cop. Penhall gives up on gleaning any useful info, and is fixing to ask her to the Sacred Fart prom when the poor man's Jack Wagner appears and makes it clear he's her boyfriend. Exit Penhall, mugging.
Prom time. Ioki is wearing his Dracula-san rig; Penhall is in a white tux, with a shirt that has pink ruffled edges and a lamé cummerbund/tie combo (obviously); and Hanson is in a cheap-looking dove-grey groomsman get-up. Jenko makes fun of them, yells to Hoffs to hurry up, and informs the lads that he's got the fire department on standby, "but the key word here, amigos, is 'prevention.'" They spot the culprit, they hustle her (or him) right out of there. Ioki notes that they don't know who to look for, so Jenko acidly tells him to rely on Penhall's great instincts with the ladies. Jenko then reviews the couples: Ioki's with Hoffs, Hanson's with Jane, and Penhall's with Margie. Poor Margie. Penhall tries to trade with Ioki, because he can afford to be picky now?
Hoffs is finally ready. She's wearing a dress made of what looks like balloon material; it's dated, but we would have thought it was fuckin' sweet, back in the day. The lace gloves, and/or the matching balloon-material bow worn at the very end of her stretched-out ponytail? Not so much. Jenko puts her corsage on and asks her to save the last dance for him.
Prom. Ioki, Hoffs, and Penhall rock it on the dance floor (well…relatively); Hanson is glued to the sidelines a la Brandon "I Don't Dance" Walsh. Jane stands next to him all, "Wow, this is 'fun.'"
Later, after a few meaningful shots of the decorations, Penhall and Hoffs slow-dance. Hanson and Jane: still in a corner, not dancing or talking. Maybe Penhall should pay a little more attention to Margie, by which I mean "notice that she isn't there," but in his defense, he's spending part of the time defending the punchbowl from incursions of alcohol. Patty comes up for a drink, and Penhall compliments her on the prom. "Thank you," she prims. "I worked very hard on it." So, I guess she's not the fire-starter.
Jane tries to make conversation. It doesn't go all that well; she's almost laughing at what a stiff Hanson is. When she asks him to dance, he declines.
Hoffs is scoping the dance floor, looking for trouble. She asks Ioki if he sees anything interesting. Ioki: "Yeah: you." Aw. I mean, yikes, but also aw, a little.
Back to Hanson and Jane. Desperate for something to say, he asks if she ever goes bowling. Yeah, she just went last weekend for the first time — she rolled a 243, is that good? Hanson boggles. This B-plot is making me hate bowling, it's that dumb.
Oh, dear. Here's Margie. Unrealistically, everyone turns to look at Margie in her mint-green Swiss-dot Bo-Peep rig, and then the music stops, the better to hear Penhall griping about her looks — but he girds his loins and barges up to introduce himself. Margie barely notices him, so enamored is she of her entire surroundings. (It's also possible that she's afraid to look directly at Penhall's tuxedo, lest her corneas slide right down her face.) She manages to curtsey, but when Penhall asks her to dance, she claws him in the face, yells at him to get away from her, and plunges into the crowd. Everyone's just standing around as she sprints up to the stage with a lighter and a manic grin. …Huh, so it is Margie. Seemed too obvious, even for this show; I thought they'd go with Tracy or something. And they didn't give her much in the way of motivation, if you ask me; she's not a total loner, she did get a date to the prom in the end, it's on-the-nose…enh. Don't love this resolution.
Anyway, the decorations turn into a sheet of fire instantaneously, and it's a complete shitshow on the dance floor; Penhall, too late, restrains Margie as the 46-minute running time "treats" us to a pointlessly long shot of pantlegs dashing past the camera. Hanson and Ioki attempt to extinguish the 10-foot wall of flames with two bowls of punch, which is both ridiculous and exactly what I would probably do. Hoffs and Penhall, Margie slung around his shoulders, get safely outside to find Jenko waiting, and he goes in after Ioki and Hanson. We cut to a "suspenseful" commercial break on a shot of Margie enjoying a case of the psycho stares, but the show ran five seasons, so we can probably assume the main characters all get out okay.
Back from the break to Hanson, still in his prom attire, nerdily celebrating a strike at the bowling alley. So, he's fine — and, as usual on this show, apparently has no paperwork to do. Ioki, Jane, Hoffs, and Penhall sit nearby, in attitudes that reflect more accurately the fact that they just escaped a huge blaze. Hoffs can't believe it, but this prom was even worse than the first one. Aoki notes that he's not that bummed to have missed it the first time around, but Jane points out that at least they won't ever forget it. Hoffs feels sorry for "people like that," so Penhall makes a bowling joke, but of course Hoffs meant Margie: "It was her prom too." Yeah! …Wait. What? Penhall, with Margie's fingernail grooves still fresh on his face: "Yeah, I guess it was." Ioki's like, so anyway: beers? Hanson is a bowling nerd some more. So…Margie? Going to jail? Psych ward? Anyone want to follow up with that whole main plot?
At the alley bar, Ioki spots a woman who looks like Terry Palmer, and approaches. Sure enough, it's her. Penhall wonders, "Where'd Ioki go for the beers, Tokyo?" and gets up to find him; as he's headed towards the bar, he spots Terry Palmer, pulls his gun and yells, "Freeze!" And that's just what the frame does, on a confused Ioki and Terry Palmer. So, just going to wave your firearm around a crowded bowling alley when Ioki has it under control? Or are we supposed to think Ioki just hit on her randomly and didn't know it was her? And does someone want to tell us what happened to Margie or whether the whole school burned down or what?
Is…this thing on? Hello? I…oh. End credits. All…righty then.
Tags: 21 Jump Street Brandon Walsh Brian DePalma fattism in film and TV hey cut the rebop! Jack Wagner Kobayashi legendary facial hair Pat Benatar shut up Penhall The Book of Job TV Val Kilmer What about prom Blaine?! Z Cavaricci