Episode 32: Who's Afraid of Amanda Woodward?


Yowza! Lots of stuff to think about over the summer. The face of Melrose As We Know It could change radically when the series continues in the fall.

A special Matt Slot for the entire fifth season goes to ... Billy! Sure, he got plenty to do in the last month, but he was practically invisible in the first few months after Jake and Alison hooked up and before he and Samantha mind-melded ... or is that mind-melted? Matt "Desperately Seeking Subplot" Fielding and the sadly wasted Kimberly tie for second.

I'll leave the shocking conclusion as a separate section at the end of the recap.

Amanda, Kyle, Billy, Sydney, Craig, and Jennifer:

The morning after the Upstairs party, Sydney steps out of her apartment to get the newspaper. She's wearing dandelion slippers! Her '60s fashions have not totally disappeared! Craig rushes out. He says he tried to contact her last night, but she ignored him. "I've been waiting here, disguised as a fern, for 12 hours. Thank God no one in this complex has a dog!" Syd thinks he's dumped her in favor of Amanda. He protests, "Amanda is a joke and I told her so! Watch!" He turns as Amanda exits her own apartment, and he calls out, "Mistress!" She growls, "Kiss my butt, worthless slave." He is vindicated in Syd's eyes. She says, "Get in here, you goon!" They tonsil-box. Her slippers cross-pollinate.

At Dumb & Dumber, Amanda heads another big meeting where she pitches D&D's campaign to a key client. She says the big push "will be four 30-second spots on the episode of 'Regis and Kathie Lee' where Kathie bawls her eyes out over Frank's infidelity." The price tag: $15 million! When the client says that's $5 million above last year's price, Amanda says that's because the client is more successful now. (Interesting logic: Since you make more money, then you should pay more money for the same quality of service!) However, Efficiency Expert Sydney completely undercuts Amanda, telling the client that her price tag is ridiculous! "The fact is you're being fleeced." Amanda quivers with rage! The now-unhappy client gathers his wool and leaves. Amanda yells at Sydney and Craig. Syd is defiant, saying Amanda was giving that guy a snow job. Amanda counters, "This whole business is snow jobs! Blizzards of snow jobs!" She orders them to fix things with the client -- or else! As Sydney walks off with a dejected Craig, she suggests to him that they start their own advertising agency! "Let's put the bitch out of business." Craig whimpers, "She abused you more than she did me. I've fallen out of favor!"

That evening, Amanda goes to the Upstairs jazz club, where customers are few and far between. Kyle isn't worried. He tells her that any new place needs some time to find an audience: "You must have faith. In the meantime, I'm lighting the place with two 60-watt bulbs so no one will notice." The very cute, very annoyed, and very self-deluded Jennifer tells Kyle that he's got a phone call. When he leaves, she then casually chats with Amanda, asking about her relationship with Kyle ("Strictly business") and her reported vow of celibacy! "That's not for real, is it?" she wonders. She gleefully adds that when she and Kyle had their affair back in Boston, they had sex "daily for five months, in motels, the backs of cars, the Lincoln Bedroom ... actually, if there was a word that was the opposite of 'celibate,' that would have been us." A repulsed Amanda says, "Oh, but there is a word, Jennifer. It's 'tramp.' Or maybe it's 'Duchovnian.' Pick one, trollop!"

Back at D&D, Amanda tries to unilaterally start a "Casual Day" in the office. She wears something that looks like it was raided from last year's "90210" wardrobe! She announces to the staff that the client has jumped ship and gone to some silly new company called "Sky High Advertising." Sydney happily says that she and Craig created it! They both quit D&D, effective immediately, and Craig invites the rest of the staff to come with them! "You'll get an immediate 20 percent raise, plus dialogue!" He's even sold off his share of D&D, saying it'll soon be worth zero. Amanda, furious, unwisely issues one of her famous ultimatums to the staff: "You walk out of here and you can never come back! You'll be dead in this industry! You'll never eat brie in this town again!" Sydney and Craig leave as he sings, "I have broken the shackles of my bondage! Goodbye, ex-Mistress!"

Several days later (I'm being generous), Craig and Syd are checking out their new offices, still bare of furniture. Craig shows her two plane tickets to Las Vegas and he proposes to her on the spot! Syd, thrilled, says yes! "Instead of Vegas, can we have a big wedding? Flowers, a dress, a season-ending cliffhanger?" Sure! They drop to the floor like sex-crazed ferrets and "break in" the carpeting!

Sometime later, Amanda hurriedly walks into Kyle's and frantically says, "I need to get my money out of the club!" Kyle explains that's impossible right now. "It's all tied up in supplies, salaries, and those mini eggrolls." She says coldly, "You're making me beg." "Beg? You haven't even asked!" She says she needs to the money to keep her business afloat. Apparently, D&D has suffered greatly in the 48 hours since Sky High opened its doors! Refusing to show anything that could possibly be construed as weakness, Amanda angrily leaves.

Still later, Amanda meets in a dimly lit conference room at D&D with a couple of board members. She's told that nearly everyone has left for Sky High -- she's down to one client! (Did the employees talk the bulbs with them, too? They should have named it "Borg Advertising": Resistance is futile. Your clients will be assimilated.) She says defiantly, "This is not over until the non-anorexic lady sings!" She walks past the vacant cubes to Billy's office. (Wow, the employees even took the computers and files with them! Hey, is that legal?) As Billy is leaving, she says she wants him to set up a meeting with their sole client, Lindy Toys, right away. "Daah, dis is my last day, 'Manda. I'm going to Sky High." Ouch! "You ungrateful bastard! After all I've done for you?!" And now for the first time ever, I'm really glad Billy opens his mouth! He blasts the Amanda Woodward School of Management! "Gaah, all you've done fer me?!? For four years, you stepped all over me! You treated me like dirt!" "I relied on you." "Yeah! As your number 1 chimp...gaah, chump!" Go, Billy, Go! As Amanda yells at him, Billy calmly says, "It didn't have to be this way, Amanda." Yeah! A little positive reinforcement wouldn't have killed you, Amanda!

Later that night, Amanda drives up to the Lindy Toys building, which looks very closed. The security guard tells her that Mr. Lindy went home 15 minutes ago. "That's crap!" she yells. "He never leaves before 10 o'clock! My whole business is relying on this!" She suddenly starts gasping and wheezing! "My God...gasp...I'm turning into Jerry Maguire! Help me!" She staggers back against the building as the guard summons an ambulance.

She later recovers at Wilshire Memorial, where her doctor is none other than The Bizarre Dr. Peter Burns! The good news? She did not have a heart attack. Peter says it was "stress-related." Amanda scoffs at the very notion! Peter says, "When the paramedics asked you for symptoms, your first words were, 'Tell Mr. Lindy this is his last chance.'" Amanda admits, "Okay, I'm losing D&D." Peter, who never liked D&D (except when he controlled it, of course), says, "That's the best thing that could have happened!" She doesn't recall asking his opinion! He says a specialist will give her some tests, but she's not leaving until he says it's OK. He looks around at the bare room and ruefully comments, "No flowers, no visitors .... Times have changed, Amanda. Soon you'll be as pathetic as I am. Hmmm, that didn't come out quite right."

The next day, Kyle visits Amanda, saying he had just heard what happened. He tells her that he spoke to the bank and can give her "maybe $10,000, a blender, and some food stamps," but Amanda snidely tells him it's a day too late. "If you had given me the money when I asked..." "You didn't ask, Amanda. You demanded!" As for her refusal to ever ask for help, he says, "Maybe you call that pride. I call that stupidity. You can't exist as an island, Amanda." "I've done pretty well so far." "Oh yeah, no job, no money, no friends, no Emmy..." He says he'd never trade places with her.

At the Sky High offices (man, it's going to be tough saying this instead of D&D from now on), Sydney is concerned. She tells Craig that no one has RSVP'd to their wedding invitations yet! "Hey, Syd, maybe it's because we only mailed them a day ago. Nah, that would make too much sense! Don't worry -- everyone from Sky High will be there, or else!" Syd says, "But what about the apartment complex and all my friends?" Holy State of Denial, Batman! Sydney thinks she has a lot of friends at Melrose Place? Wow, if that's what she considers "friendship," she might as well invite the Wacky Cult! Craig says, "As soon as we get a little money stored away, we're moving out of that dump!"

When Billy arrives, Craig tells him he has the corner office -- if he agrees to be Craig's best man at the wedding! "Daah, wat about yer college buddies?" "That was my old life, Billy. From now on, I'm going to surround myself with beautiful women and stupid men." "Okay!" Craig calls out to a never-before-seen D&D'er, "Guy, show Billy to his office." Guy walks over and says, "Hey, Billy, same faces, different address, eh? So, what do you think of my first dialogue?" "Gaah, not bad, Guy. Congratulations." "Yeah, after years of slaving for that witch Amanda, I've finally got something to say, damn it! Do you think they'll let me sing?" "Ah, don't push it, Guy." Guy says, "Yeah. Oh, here's a message for you that came a while back. You know, all we need is Alison here! Of course, there's absolutely no connection between the message and my mentioning Alison, is there?" Billy stares at the message and runs out! [See Alison and Jake section for an explanation of the message.]

Matt and Chelsea:

Matt calls Chelsea at the hotel during the evening, where she's watching "Twister" on the TV. They joke about Helen Hunt's indestructible hairdo, but they realize the fun may soon be over: The custody hearing is tomorrow. She gets off the phone when she hears her mom Denise return. When she goes into the next room, she sees Mumbling Mom passed out on the bed from drinking -- and she's not alone! A sleazoid guy walks over and says he's an old friend of Denise's from Europe. "My name's Dez. I'm so cheap I couldn't afford a real name." Chelsea, frightened, backs into her room, but Dez follows her and puts his hand on her thigh. "Has anyone ever told you how pretty you are?" Slimy! Chelsea runs out and tries to wake up Mom, but she only moans, "Ohhh, Mr. Vice President..." In horror, Chelsea flees the room!

She takes a taxi to Melrose Place and throws herself into Matt's arms, obviously quite upset. A confused Matt says, "Wow, I didn't think Helen Hunt's hair was THAT scary..." He asks what happened, but she doesn't want to talk about it and asks if she can go to bed here. Besides, she says, "the hearing is tomorrow, so it wouldn't make a difference."

At the hearing, Denise apologizes to Chelsea and asks if she told Matt anything about last night. "Don't worry about it," says a sad Chelsea. Denise's lawyer asks Matt questions about his arrest for solicitation, his treatment for drug abuse, his homosexuality, and his fondness for Yodels. Then she surprises Matt with a question about the friend who slept over a couple of episodes back. Matt stammers that he was just helping a friend whose lover had died. "My God, where are you getting this from? Damn paparazzi!" Chelsea stares at her mother, who whispers, "Come on, Chelsea, you knew what your War Journal was for!" As Matt is excused, Chelsea runs out of the courtroom, hoping that Mom didn't read her "secret" entries.

The next day, Chelsea is on the stand, getting easy questions from the lawyer. "Chelsea, is there any reason, any reason at all, why Denise Fielding wouldn't be a great mother?" Denise tries to mentally implant the answer "No," but after a few seconds, Chelsea finally says, "Well ... she was drunk as a skunk and she brought in this sleazy guy with a goofy name who came on to me!" Denise jumps up and says, "Chelsea, tell them you're exaggerating!" "No! It was a goofy name!" The judge says he'll render his decision tomorrow. Matt's lawyer says, "10 to 1 you got the kid."

The next day, the judge awards custody to ... Denise! He says she and Chelsea need time together to mend their twisted, callous relationship. Matt's lawyer is stunned. "It doesn't make any sense." "Sure it does," Matt says, "Put the biological parent vs. a gay man in the season finale, and the parent will win every time. Next time I'll arm-wrestle her for it!"

Back at Matt's, Chelsea is all packed and ready to go. She says, "It's not fair. I really love you, Uncle Matt!" They hug, and Matt tries to encourage her about her new life with Denise in Europe. "You'll get to go to great places, argue with rude Parisians, and watch your mother bring home a succession of sleazy, drunken losers. That's got to be so exciting!" The phone rings -- it's Denise, but she wants to meet secretly with Matt around the corner. When he gets there, a tearful Denise says she realizes that Matt would be the better parent after all! After observing her own actions and listening to Matt speak in the courtroom, she knows that her love for Chelsea isn't enough. "I've been around this planet four or five times, and I can't get away from who I really am! SOB! I hate my dialogue!" Matt tells her she needs to explain this to Chelsea face to face, but Denise simply gives Matt a note for her. "See, I'm a coward too." Matt says, "No, what you're doing takes an incredible amount of courage. Of course, I can afford to be magnanimous because ... I won! Ha Ha! I got Chelsea and you don't! Ha Ha!"

So the authorities will only have Matt's word and a note stating that he's Chelsea's guardian? I'm sure that'll be enough! Right!

Michael, Megan, Lip Lass, and Peter:

In the morning, Taylor poses in the latest lace undergarments from Victoria's Bulemic Secrets. Through some twisted mockery of science, her lips absorb all of her calories! No wonder she's so thin! The Bizarre One is sleeping it off. The phone rings, and Taylor quickly grabs it. It's Dr. Constriction! She brusquely informs Lippie that Peter is an hour late for his own staff meeting. Peter stirs and asks, "Who was that on the phone?" "Oh, that horrid Constriction woman." "What did she want?" "Who cares," says Lip Lass, "when you've got this in front of you?" "Huh, what?" He glances at the clock and jumps out of bed! He yells at Lippie, "What are you doing? What are you wearing? I need a pill!" He orders her to get rid of her "cheap perfume and trashy outfits." "And call the cable operator! Tell him I want 24 hours of The Beth Channel! All Beth, all the time!" And do you notice how the gel level in Peter's hair gets higher as he gets more weird? He was nearly gel free last year, but he's now reaching original Evil Peter levels!

Taylor goes to Michael's office and says, "Peter hasn't hit rock bottom yet, and we need to get him there! How dare he choose his high-paying, prestigious job over my slutty self?" Just as Michael is complimenting her on her change of mind, Megan enters! "Michael, you lying pig!" Michael, realizing he must act fast, tells Lippie to leave and he "explains" things to a surprisingly gullible Megan. "See, Megan, I'd tell you, but Lip Lass swore me to secrecy." "I swear, if you tell me she has a brain tumor...!" Michael tells her everything about Peter's "rage epilepsy" and Taylor's "abuse." Megan's first reaction is to report this, but Michael tells her he's treating Peter, that bad publicity would ruin the business, and that Taylor herself wants to keep it a secret. Megan reluctantly agrees to stay silent for now.

At the hospital the following evening, Peter is preparing to speak at a children's charity event. As Michael and Megan arrive, Peter notices that she's giving him the cold shoulder. Michael steps outside just before Peter speaks, and he sees Lippie wearing a skin-tight, micro-mini outfit that looks like it would rise to her navel if she sat down. Michael nods approvingly! "Oooh, that is 100 percent you and zero percent Beth. I think Peter's gonna hit the roof!" They want Peter to overreact in front of Megan. Michael says, "She's convinced I do everything underhandedly ... which of course is true." Even though Megan has sworn to secrecy, Michael is convinced she will take the high road.

Inside, Peter speaks: "We must protect children. They're a wonderful resource. They get sick all the time and allow us to keep raising our fees." Applause! Taylor slinks in, drawing shocked gasps from the assembled guests. She does everything but French kiss the waiter! Peter hurriedly wraps up his speech before he blows his stack, then rushes over to his table and roughly grabs Lippie by the elbow. "You look like a two-bit whore!" Megan, as planned, refuses to stay quiet and she interrupts. As Peter and Lippie leave, Dr. Constriction asks Michael, "Is he always this rough on his girlfriends?" Michael does his best to sound concerned: "I just hope he never crosses the line."

The next morning at the beach house, Megan considers going to the police to protect Taylor. Michael shoots down that idea, but he has a "sudden revelation"! He "remembers" that the hospital has counseling programs that deal with these situations: "Marriage difficulties, substance abuse, Magic card collecting... All we need to do is get Peter into one of them!" He tells Megan that Dr. Constriction is in charge, BUT he can't say anything because of doctor-patient confidentiality. So Megan happily volunteers to do this for him! Wow, Michael planned this very well! Of course, what if the Bizarre One sought a second opinion...?

Inside the hospital, Peter sees Megan wrapping up a hallway chat with Dr. Constriction, who then walks over to him and gloats about how she's been waiting for him to screw up. (Remember that Peter forced her to dump her "boy toy" who was the last Chief of Staff.) Peter confesses that he's suffering from rage epilepsy and that he's been suffering blackouts. "Oh? What about last night? Forget to take your pills?" She tells him that she's calling a meeting tomorrow, when he will be forced to step down as Chief of Staff!

Peter heads right to his office and confronts Megan. He demands to know why she did this. When she says it was just to get him into a diversion program, Peter yells, "A diversion program? She's firing me!" Michael pulls him into his office. Peter demands, "How did she find out? Did you tell her?" "NO, of course not!" When Peter tells of his imminent firing, Michael says with a straight face, "Oh, Peter, I'm so sorry. I feel totally responsible." He's great! He even has another "revelation"! He suggests that Peter resign today, and appoint Michael as his "interim" successor. Of course, when Peter is better, Michael will step aside. Ha! Peter hesitates, but Michael says, "It's either me or the She-Wolf of Wilshire Memorial." When Peter leaves, Michael thrusts his arms up in victory! (By the way, this is some business where you can simply appoint your successor! It sounds like a Medieval monarchy!)

A defeated Peter returns to The Bizarre Pad. Taylor is lounging on the patio in a non-Beth outfit, but Peter doesn't mind. "This game is over! Rock Bottom!" he yells. He knows that he'll soon be taken off round and, in a couple of weeks, everyone in the hospital will know about his problem. "Lippie, you're the only one who's stood by me this whole time." He embraces her, and she says, "We'll get through this, together." Her lips dominate the screen and they curl in victory! (So she actually thinks she'll have a better relationship with him after he's been destroyed and humiliated? Like he doesn't have enough emotional problems!)

The next day, Michael tells Dr. Constriction that there's no longer any need to have a meeting. Peter has legally named him as the new Chief of Staff! She is skeptical! "You've been after this job forever. You probably hatched this plan months ago, using everyone in sight: Peter, your wife, his girlfriend..." Wow, she's got a future career on the Psychic Friends Network! She asks, "Does he really have a problem?" "Immaterial at this point," he answers. When she threatens a full investigation, he calmly says, "That would be too bad, since my first task would be to make you head of Neurology." Oh, well that's different then! Dr. Constriction congratulates Michael and walks off smiling. Megan then appears in the hallway (why is she there?), and Michael gives her the good news. "Aren't you glad you did this the right way?" she asks. (Geez, what happened to the savvy, streetsmart ex-hooker?) Michael says, "The honesty part is best." He laps it up!

Later, Peter bumps into an associate, Dr. Deus X. Machina, who tells him that the new EEG he conducted shows absolutely nothing wrong with Peter's brain, "although you do have an unusual glandular condition that secretes gel into your hair." Peter doesn't understand: He has to have rage epilepsy. "My partner, Dr. Mancini ... ran ... the ... tests ... D'OH!"

He then calmly questions a worried Taylor about his blackouts. "What did I say? What did I do?" "You hit me, and you started talking Crazy Talk about Beth and about the New York Mets winning the pennant! You were insane!" But Peter says that if he doesn't have rage epilepsy, then what could have caused the blackouts? "I'm gonna go for a walk, Lippie. Want to come?" "Naaah, I'll just sit here and panic." "This could be good news. I'll be back on top in no time! MUAHAHAHAHA!" When he leaves, she rushes to the phone! "Michael! Peter's one step away from figuring it out!" "Whoa! Not possible!" "He's this close to putting it all together! Thank God that Peter isn't standing 10 feet behind me listening to this entire conversation without my knowing it!"

Michael and Megan slip into the office at night for some fun with the bubble wrap, but they hear motion in Michael's office. There's Peter, casually looking through Michael's files -- specifically the medical records of the real guy with rage epilepsy, which Michael switched with Peter's test results. Peter knows all! He stands, getting a little more intense with each second. He tells Michael he even knows about the drug that caused the blackouts! Megan coldly asks Michael, "Is even one word of this true?" Michael can't answer. Peter punches him with a good hook! "You want abuse, Michael? I'll give you abuse!" He shoves him through the interior window! He walks out, as a bloody Michael stares in shock at his glass-lacerated hands. "Impossible ... the glass should have fallen away from me, not landed on my hands. This defies the laws of physics! Call 911! Call Stephen Hawking!""

The Revengeful Dr. Peter Burns then meets Lip Lass as she leaves Kyle's Restaurant. (Yes, she still works there, believe it or not.) He says his first therapy session went well: "I got a lot off my chest." In fact, he feels so good that he's arranged to take her away for a romantic vacation, Right Now. "I've even packed a body bag...I mean, suitcase for you." "Okay," says a surprised but happy Taylor.

The next day at the hospital, Megan walks into Michael's room, where he sits with bandages around his arms and bruises on his head. She says Peter and Taylor have vanished, and she's filed a "complete report" with the police, including everything about Peter, Michael, and Taylor. Disgusted, she asks, "Do you have any concept of what you've done? How many lives you've ruined?" Michael says, "Yeah, but it's just a case of thinking I'd never get caught."

At the Hitchcockian Subplot Lighthouse on the coast, Peter and Taylor enjoy the view from the top. She leans forward to stare at the nice, big, jagged rocks below! Peter stands behind her. She says, "I feel like we're on the verge of a real breakthrough." "Yeah, me too," he replies, stepping forward. Push her! C'mon, Petey, push her! Taylor says, "I have to tell you something..." Push her! Do it! "...I'm pregnant with your child." Peter backs off. Weenie! Still looking down, Taylor makes some weird open-mouthed expression, like the rocks really turn her on.

Samantha, more Billy, and Evil Dad:

Billy returns to MP after a morning jog to find police all over his apartment and Samantha being led away in handcuffs. The nasty detective who's been hunting Jim says Sam gave them fake info about his whereabouts. "Doy, Billy, I didn't do anything." As she's escorted away, the detective tells Billy, "The fact is, that girl lied to you, and I bet it wasn't the only time." Andrew Shue stares. [Translation: Billy is emotionally distraught. His girlfriend has been arrested, but perhaps she IS shielding her Evil Dad. Should he trust her? Did she make coffee before she was arrested?]

Later, the detective calls Billy into the precinct to watch "America's Funniest Interrogations." The host asks Sam, "Okay, Samantha, we're going to ask some simple questions with Yes or No answers. Answer enough questions correctly and you'll win ... a new car!! Answer too many incorrectly and you'll win .... 20 years in prison with Über-Warden Roseanne Barr! Let's begin!" Sam, who's not exactly sharp as a tack to begin with, gives confusing and almost self-implicating answers. Billy tells the smug detective, "She was scared. She was tired. She'll do better in the bonus round." The detective offers to let her go and keep her under surveillance -- if Billy asks her questions about Jim. "Daah, ya want me to spy on my girlfriend?" "It's the only way she's getting out." Billy refuses.

After a day of no sex, though, Billy returns and agrees. "I'll be yer spy, just let her go." The detective is disgustingly smug through all this, and he even adopts a James Bond villain pose, steepling his fingers and pursing his lips as Billy leaves.

Sam greets Billy when he returns home from work that night. "Ah, doy, they let me go! They must think I'm totally innocent. Yay! I'm so brainless I think we should have sex to celebrate!" "Ahh, gah, yeah! Let me lock up first." Billy sees Detective Smug waiting in the Melrose shrubbery. Right, that's subtle! Where the hell were the cops when Evil Dad was sneaking in two weeks ago?

In the morning, Billy and Sam relax after mondo sex. While she is quite happy, Billy starts asking her questions about Jim. "Daah, ya sure ya don't know where he is?" "Hey, you sound like the cops. Well, they have better diction, but still, I don't appreciate it!" Notice how Billy waited until AFTER sex before he risked pissing off Sam!

At night, they get a phone call ... from Jim! He says he's calling from "Mexico." (I don't think so!) He says he's gone for good and warns Billy to "take care of my little girl, or I may just come back and kick your slack-jawed ass." After he hangs up, the police knock on the door and Detective Smug says, "We traced the call to some place in Encinada." When Sam reacts with shock to the knowledge that her phone was tapped, he says, "Hey, it got you off the hook. Oh, and ... thanks, Billy!" What a rat! When the cops leave, Sam is furious that Billy didn't totally trust her. She runs out, saying she'll stay at Sydney's. Huh? Why would Sydney take her in?

A day or two later, we see Billy enter the MP Laundry Room, where Sam is finishing a load. Hey, they've repainted the place since Kimberly blew it up! Instead of Intimidation Grey, it's now a pastel yellow. He apologizes to her, and says they shouldn't give up. "Gaah, I did a weird thing. I wrote down a list of all the reasons I love you. Ahem. 'The Reasons I Love You, a haiku by Billy Campbell': Your beauty, the brown dove flies / Your warmth, sitting on a pretty park bench / Your honesty, the brown dove seeking my head with glee / The hollow sound your head makes when we kiss, plop, plop, plop. Thank you." Sam is moved!

Jake and Alison:

Jake is repairing the basketball hoop outside their future "home," the diner in Ojai. He tells Alison they can sign the papers tomorrow. She's increasingly grumpy. "This place is a dump! We've sold Shooter's, pulled up stakes, pissed off long-time viewers ... all this for a hole in the road?" How dare they sell off Shooter's between episodes? That's damn rude of them! Who bought it? Enquiring minds want to know! Jake, confused by Alison's anger, says simply, "It's my dream," like it's the secret of the universe. Alison mocks him! Citing the failed bike shop, the boat, and Shooter's, she says, "This is another in a long line of failures." Nasty! She goes back to L.A.

Later, Colleen heads over to Melrose Place at Alison's request. Alison says she "forgot" she had Jake's papers in her car when she drove off, and since she's reluctant to go back to Ojai, she asks Colleen to go. (One day, someone on Melrose Place will invent the fax machine.) Colleen sees through Alison's ruse to get her and Jake together, but Alison denies it. Still, if she and David were to go to Ojai...

Jake signs the papers, giving him ownership of the former Ojai Grill. As David plays on the basketball court, he tells Colleen, "It seems strange without Alison here." He thought about not signing the papers until he figured out Alison's motives, "but I love this place, and trying to understand Alison's important emotional needs would have required too much thinking. Jake not like to think." Colleen notices Jake staring quietly at David outside. "What's wrong?" she asks. "That's just it. Nothing's wrong. Everything's perfect."

Jake returns to Melrose Place and finds Alison and a strange guy sleeping it off on the couch, with a bottle of vodka on the coffee table. He angrily tells the guy to get lost, then yells at Alison, "Have you gone totally insane? You'll leave a ring on the coffee table! Use the coasters!" Alison acts drunk, and he says, "I gotta get away from the stench of this place." When he leaves, the phone rings. It's the guy who was just inside, calling from his car phone. "Are you okay?" he asks. "Yeah, yeah..." He's a fellow AA member whom Alison talked into staging the Fake Drunk routine for Jake's supposed benefit. "If this doesn't push him away," she says, "I don't know what will. Maybe if I chew food loudly with my mouth open..."

Colleen and David show up at MP the next day, and Colleen asks Alison if she can use the phone to call Jake. What, they don't have phones in your hotel? As she does so, Alison takes a moment to talk to Jake's son, David. He really wants to stay with Jake, but he's resigned to going to Hawaii. Alison suggests that may not be definite and that he should ask Jake for his opinion. "If you don't ask, you'll never know." Hey, with the way David's mouth slumps when he speaks, don't you think he looks more like Billy's kid? Now that would be a good plot twist!

The next day, Jake is packed and ready to leave the complex. He sadly asks Alison, "Did you want to get caught?" She lies and says, "Maybe subconsciously." She tells him, "It's over. I could never be who you wanted me to be." For the end of such an emotional relationship, you'd think at least one of them would be misty-eyed, but no! They both look like Visine models! Jake wants to talk this out, but Alison tells him no. "Go to Ojai." Boy, this relationship fell apart in all of, what, 90 minutes?

At the airport, Colleen is arranging the flight to Hawaii, while Jake tells David they'll be able to visit each other. David says, "I want to go to Ojai! Mom does, too. All you've got to do is ask her." Jake, the Master of Communication, says, "It's not that easy." "Sure it is!" David says, "I love you, Dad!" Wow, you can tell there's been no strong Father Figure here! Any good father would've taught his son to repress his emotions! When Colleen comes out to say goodbye to Jake, he bites the bullet and describes that damn dream of his again, "to have a family, go to Ojai, and run a diner." (If that's his lifelong dream, Alison is better off!) He realizes only now that he HAS a family right now. Duh! Colleen happily says, "Yes! We will come with you!" As they group hug, Alison watches with sad approval.

Later, again at the airport, Billy rushes in to find Alison about to board a plane to Atlanta! "Daah, I saw yer note! Divorcing Jake, movin' to Atlanta? What's dat all about?" She tells him that Jake will be happy with his family and that Atlanta seems like a good place for her to "start over." Billy says, "I'm going to miss you, miss our friendship." He asks if she can take a later flight and have a cup of coffee, "Billeeee, it'll just make things harder." "Okay. Can I still get coffee?" Her plane is boarding, and they hug. Billy kisses her on the cheek, but she says, "After all we've been through, is that the best you can do?" Big Kiss, with some Lip Action! "Good luck," he says. "Goodbye." Billy and Alison -- separated forever! Let's see: In terms of character departures this year, we've had airport, death, airport ... hey, it's time for death!

The Wedding and the Finale:

Billy, as the best Cro-Magnon, welcomes the guests into the church. Well, at least this one is better attended than Syd's last wedding, when no one showed up! Kyle enters with Jennifer, who is clutching his arm so tightly his hand turns blue. He tells her to let go, adding this is NOT a date. They sit next to Matt and Chelsea. The music starts and a very attractive Syd (yes, in white!) makes her way down the aisle toward Craig. (Gee, nice of Sydney's family to turn up. Not! Jane? Jane who?) Matt leans over to Kyle: "By the way, I'm the new manager. If you need explosives, Venetian blinds, or stalkers, or you want to pay rent, I'm your guy." Kyle asks, "What about Amanda?" "She's moving to New York. She should be leaving any second. Didn't she tell you?" Jennifer smiles. Kyle is surprised and starts to fidget!

The priest says, "Sydney and Craig have come here before God and Aaron Spelling to declare their eternal love for each other." (Billy raises a skeptical eyebrow at that!) Kyle stands up, mumbles an excuse, and walks out, much to Jen's displeasure!

At the supermarket, Samantha -- who apparently could not get off work to see the wedding of her "friend" Sydney -- is interrupted by Evil Dad! He pulls a gun out, grabs her, and orders the employees to hand over all their cash and Lotto tickets.

Kyle arrives at MP just as Amanda is leaving. He says, "Stay. Don't go." "Why?" He says, "I need you. For a lot of reasons, some of which I haven't figured out yet, but I need you." Amanda hesitates, then says, "I need you, too. I've been trying to ignore that and I would have -- if I didn't want you so much." Sayyyyyyy! "Lady, you got me!" He carries her up to her apartment and they go to it on the couch. Celibacy be damned! And would it have killed them to close the smegging door?

Sam is in a far less pleasant situation. Her gun-toting dad is ordering her to keep driving until they get to Mexico! She says they'll never make it. She's staying with Billy! In fact, she's even going to drive over to the church! She pulls over to the curb first and says, "What are you going to do? Tie me up every day?" "Well, now that you mention it..." Just as he realizes that there's no point in dragging her to Mexico when her life will be just as miserable right here with Billy, the cops show up! Jim pushes down on the gas, while Sam desperately tries to control the car.

Meanwhile, the wedding party emerges from the church! The photographer says, "I'd like a few pictures of just the victim...I mean, bride."

Sam wrestles with the car, which is now flanked by speeding police cars, and Jim continues to floor the gas. (Hey, Sam, there's this option on the stick shift called "Neutral." Check it out sometime!)

Jennifer strides over to Craig and says, "May I be the first to kiss the groom?" And she plants a good one on him. She walks off and Craig thinks, "Who was that nut? God, I'm a stud!"

Suddenly, the car comes speeding down the road. (The church is near a freeway?!) It crashes through a bus stop! Syd is trapped like a deer in the headlights even though she had a good two blocks' warning! The car slams into her, and she goes flying over the top. Ow! She lands, motionless, but she still looks great! Craig screams, "Oh, God! Syd! No! Nooooooo! Waaah!" Billy tries to get Sam out of the now stopped car as the police pull up.

The Summer: No D&D? No Shooter's? No Alison? No Sydney? No Jake? Don't know yet, though Courtney Thorne-Smith's departure is a done deal, at least. If Sydney is dead, I'm going to be extremely disappointed. She and Michael are really the main reasons to watch. [5/22: I've since been told that Laura Leighton confirmed on NBC's "Tonight Show" that she's a goner. Waaah!] It's certainly going to be a different "Melrose Place."

--Ken Hart

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