October 29th: Even Stevens

How to manage a milk surplus and influence people.

Back to sunny California we travel, to a time that feels not so long ago, but actually was, forcing us to stare into the void of our mortality and wonder what we've done with our lives these past 13 years...

Oh, are you not doing that? No, I'm not doing it either, hahaha, I was just checking to see if, uh... you know, it's cool if that's what you want to do, but I would mostly never do something like that, so...

Even Stevens

I stand by my assertion from when this was originally on the air that this is a quality, underrated gem of a show. Shia LaBeouf, no matter what has happened to him in the past 10 years, was a young comedic-prodigy. I went over this with Urkel, I know, but it bears repeating that he is hitting beats that most grown-ups can't handle. And he does it while effortlessly modulating between arid deadpan and explosive-hurricane. I mean, he won an Emmy for it. Well deserved.

And Christy Carlson Romano holds her own, as does the supporting cast and writing-staff. I don't recall what this episode is about, but I did read that it has something to do with our haunted rider-theme, so let's just get into it.

Space: Sacramento, CA
Time: September 7th, 2001
Episode: "A Very Scary Story" Season 2, Episode 12

No surprises here, we're going to start with Ren watching (go figure) that darned Horror Movie Marathon:

I think at this point, 29 installments into our time and space traveling journey, we should note just how booming Channel's Horror Movie Marathon is. Since there is, apparently, at least one person in every household watching it at all times, year after year, I have to imagine that the ad-space to be of Super Bowl-caliber prices, right? Are there bidding wars to see who can grab up the most air-time between Horror Movie Part III and Horror Movie Part IV in which to sell their Hot Pockets?

The answer becomes inessential, because the broadcast of someone watching that broadcast is interrupted by a scary phone call, just like every other Horror Movie Marathon watch, and something-something-something, almost-timely Scream-jokes later, we're given Louis in his costume:

Again, I'm not sure why I found this episode listed under a haunted rider category, but I can only assume they were referring to Louis' penguin-jockey outfit. Which, let's keep it real... is kind of awesome. But this is it for the haunted rider motif - he's in this thing for most of the ep. We can say with certainty that he is definitely a rider, but will he be haunted? Will he?

At school the next day, we find many of our heroes engaged in a circle of conspiracy:

You huddle like this when 1.) You absolutely need to talk about someone behind their back, but they're only a few feet away, or 2.) You need to examine the wares of your conspiracy (the conspiracy presumably plotted out in a previous huddle). In this case, it's the latter:

Those are some quality fake eyeballs, I think we can all agree, but I'm sorry to inform you that the intended purpose of this bag of oculi is simply that of gross-out MacGuffin, though they do become the first clue to the mystery about to unfold.

Can we take a sec to appreciate how committed the folks of Lawrence Junior High are to their festoonery?

I really want to believe that no proper school-funding was used for this, but I have a very hard time imagining students and teachers dragging in garbage bags of fake cobwebs and oversized mummy-heads to build this fantasy for themselves. And come on, it's Principal Wexler - the man's a pompous dullard, of course he okayed the transfer of funds from the pensions to the decorating budget. But, why is Tom Gribalski wearing sunglasses indoors, hmmm? Mystery abounds!

Ah yes, we get a glimpse into something only hinted at in previous minutes - the Ren Stevens-dictated eye exams being given by Principal Wexler and Coach Tugnut. Because these are the guys you want poking at your vision organs - run for it, Tawny!

Just when we'd thought we'd seen every variation on Halloween ornamentation, we're knocked out of our socks by this revelation:

Those giant pumpkins they sell seeds for at Home Depot! Yes, the ones that nobody is patient enough to follow through with!

Well, apparently some sly-boots somewhere followed-through, because this ep is overloaded with 'em, and they look spectacular. If we could combine Stevens-Pumpkin Giganticism with Russo-Pumpkin Hoarding and Seaver-Pumpkin Planing, we could see the entire fabric of the pumpkin cosmos unraveled and re-knitted from those goopy winter squash skeins into an expansive, orange afghan! In space!

And just what is going on with these kids today and their sunglasses??

Louis is intrigued. but not enough to pursue it, for he's too fixated on his eye-prank. Are you noticing a theme here? He's "blind" to the truth and missing the neuron-synapse retinal layer for the rods and cones, if you know what I mean. You don't know what I mean? Let's move on then.

Hey, mystery solved!

Looks like (get it? looks like?) Wexler and Tugnut are zapping out eyes and brainwashing the students with their pro-milk agenda, those monsters! Well, glad we got that cleared up, that about does it for-

Oh wait, there's more to it, I guess. Louis finally notices something's up when all of his peers begin zombie-shooing him to his eye exam, leading to his investigation of the school basement:

It turns out he Wexler and Tugnut are mere pawns of an eyeball-loving overlord. But who could be so sinister, and why would they even bother? Don't let this revelation snap your neck in twain, but it's...

...Evil Ren Stevens, mwah-ha-ha-ha!! And by "Evil" I mean "wearing a decent Halloween costume." I guess we shouldn't be so surprised, considering she was touting her eye-plan in the first scene (who in the Sacramento school administration let the 8th grader set the medical agenda!?), and the lair is sporting multiple neon signs spelling out her name.

Her plan involves some machinery left over from Wardenclyffe Tower that will transmogrify the entire student body into a "Ren-plicate" of her student body.

Why, you ask? I have no fucking idea, it's just good, clean evil, I guess.

Get over yourself, Ren - that's way too much business-casual for one basement, I don't care if you are a PTA-endorsed eye-health dictator. Anyway, it seems like all hope is lost and this is the world we'll be inhabiting, so-

Wait! Tsk - why didn't we see it before?

It was alllll just a story to scare that Beans-kid out of the house so these Stevens could return to the business of getting Even. With Dad, I mean - they wanted watch their VHS copy of Getting Even With Dad. Ah, family.