Wednesday, June 20, 2012
"The Last Dance" begins a sequence of episodes I like to call "The Dark Jeff Saga." To be fair, the Jeff character isn't necessarily evil or anything, I mean, he seems like a nice enough guy. Sure, he sexually harasses an underage employee with the grace and ease of a seasoned lech, but, um, he's got nice hair. Actually, if you are already privy to how this "saga" ends, you know that Jeff is kind of an evil dude or, if you prefer, a fairly normal dude. And dudes are assholes, man. Deal with it.
Saved by the Bell touched on some heavy topics over its four seasons--drug abuse, gender equality, drunk driving, unemployment, homelessness, zits--but "The Last Dance" is the episode that affected me the most. It still does. It is, without a doubt, the most cringe-inducing episode of SBTB ever committed to film, and not just because Slater and Jessie sing a duet of "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You." This is the episode where Zack and Kelly break up. As a kid, this was too much for me to handle. In my opinion, what Zack and Kelly had, well, that was true love. They had the kind of relationship that could endure any storm, any obstacle, any college sophomore in a salmon-colored shirt. It's remarkable how much this episode still gets to me. If Zack and Kelly couldn't make things work, what chance do the rest of us have?
The writers set Zack up for devastation from the opening scene. Zack, who was always wild about Kelly Kapowski, even before they became Bayside's hottest item, is especially smitten here. And he never lets up. The scene at the Maxx in which Zack thanks Jeff for giving "his girl" the night off to attend the costume ball, makes me want to sad-vomit.
So, anyway, Kelly gets a job at the Maxx to help out her family (Remember, Kelly is not only "the popular one," but also "the poor one.") and starts to develop an attraction for her boss, Jeff. It's all very awkward and unconvincing.
Meanwhile, Zack Attack agrees to play Bayside's costume ball. Um, yeah.
Jeff and Kelly kiss, Zack suspects something is up, and Bayside's cutest couple breaks up, dancing their last dance together to Jessie and Slater's rendition of the old Michael Bolton classic. Done.
Honestly, this isn't a very good episode. Screech's intelligence is beginning to evaporate, but he still scores some of the episode's best lines. The acknowledgment that Zack Attack is a thing that exists is always welcome. And the gutterpunks who cause a scene during Kelly's first day on the job ("We're not payin' for this...garbage!") are personal favorites of mine. But, mostly this episode is just kind of meh. The break up of Zack and Kelly however, always gets me down. Plus, the events of "The Last Dance" set up the far superior next episode, "The Aftermath," which we will discuss at length next time.
Fantasy Sequence: No fantasy sequence this time around, but we do get Zack Attack's "Make My Day," which totally rocks?
Screech: What a waitress! She serves French fries like a real French person!