Season 5, Episode 4: “Mop n’ Pop”

We open in the hallway at PCH as Tony, apparently tired of being in a relationship that doesn’t seem like a relationship half the time, prepares to shoot Sam. Maybe we’re about to go back to whatever that weird court was last season that facilitated the clip show episode.

Before he can, though, Sam sees him and shoots first. I’m sure one day George Lucas will rectify that. Now, I know that this is silly string she’s firing. Between the poor quality of the video and Tony’s reaction, though, I thought we were witnessing the return of the Oozinator:

So it turns out this entire display is an advertisement for our subplot, in which Sly somehow thinks he invented shooting silly string out of a gun and that game where you get a person’s name, try to shoot them with a harmless gun, and see who’s the last one standing and shit. But I guess putting two things together makes them original, ind of like how The New Class was completely original because they mixed up the prefab characteristics of the original six.

In any case, Sly wants everyone to play, and, when they aren’t enthusiastic about the prize being a date with him, he agrees to let the winner keep the guns, because you totally couldn’t just buy a damned gun in the store. Mark says Sly just wants to sell the guns, and I’d say he’s going to have some patent infringement lawsuits in his future but this is the show where Jake refused to sue a guy for blatantly stealing his song because he didn’t care about the money.

Oh, and, of course, Sly calls his game “Baboom,” and shooting someone is called “babooming” them. I’m not sure the writers fully thought through the possible sexual implications of this name.

Speaking of Jake, we meet his father, Al. Through some exposition, we find out Al was laid off from his job as an airline mechanic and has been looking for work. Well, he’s found a job and it’s convenient enough to create conflict for this week’s plot: Al is the new janitor at PCH! Naturally, since Jake is all heutey teutey since about this second, he doesn’t like the idea of his father doing menial shit like being a janitor.

Jake and Al eat lunch in the classroom for some reason as they have a father/son bonding moment.

This is convenient, as it allows them to see two Stingray ripoffs come in playing Sly’s game and, as Tony and Sam get them out, they make it a point to flail about the room and make as big a mess as possible, scattering shit everywhere because they were obviously given direction to create one of the most ridiculous falls in the history of television. On top of that, they’re all, “We’re not cleaning up our shit because we’re better than that and want to create as much conflict between you and your father as possible,” so Al cleans up the shit while Jake looks horrified. Meanwhile, I’m thinking that all Al would have to do in a competent school is find Principal Blumford and those idiots would have to clean up their shit. This is the Engel-verse, though. I’m not sure why Al is so laid back about people creating work for him.

At Sharkey’s, Al comes in to let Jake know he’s going to be late coming home because he has to stay and clean toilet bowls, because that’s such difficult work he has to work all through the night I guess.

Sly makes a smart ass comment, and Jake’s ready to pound him.

But then Jake proceeds to start tripping on those mushrooms he took and imagines the entire band making fun of him for having a janitor as a father. Really, I’m less concerned about Jake’s embarrassment at this point as to whether he’s about to OD. He decides the magic mushrooms are telling him the truth, though, and he has to find a way to get his father to quit being a janitor.

His brilliant solution is to set up the band, who each happen to have the name of someone else from the band in an amazingly contrived twist, to have some epic showdown in the hallway. And, since this is the week of ridiculous falls, they proceed to throw shit around everywhere…

…meaning Al has to clean up the mess because Jake’s friends are a bunch of messy assholes. Except the band offers to help Al clean up, but Al, apparently being resigned to misery as his fate, tells them he’s all too happy to lean up after them.

Oh, the game? Yeah, it was so stupid I forgot it was still going on. Tiffani, Mark, and Lorena are all out, in case you gave a shit.

In the classroom, turns out Jake didn’t have lunch with his father today, and Tiffani worries Jake is being disrespectful and shit to his father.

Sly comes in “disguised” as a janitor so Sam can’t get him in the game, and she pops out of the trash can and gets him. She finds out Tony is her next target.

Since we need some more stupid conflict, Jake assumes that Sly’s idiocy is being disrespectful to his father, and Sly proceeds to do nothing to make himself look good by cracking a bunch of jokes about Al. So what do we end up with?

Why, it’s a rip-off of the Saved by the Bell episode “The Fight,” of course! Except that episode worked because Zack Morris and Slater shared a common conflict and had been shown to have built a friendship over the four seasons of the show. Jake and Sly have no common conflict, and Jake’s been shown to hate Sly on more than one occasion. We needed a stupid fight to push the plot forward, though, and we got it, right up to the teacher coming in and taking Jake and Sly off to see Principal Blumford.

In the hallway, Al asks Tiffani what the fuck happened, and she tells him he should ask Jake. Al realizes Jake’s ashamed of him and lies to him, telling him the airline brought him back on and he’s quitting as janitor. Jake’s overjoyed because now his family can have money that won’t conflict with his classist tendencies.

At the loft, Tony shoots the last extra to be in the game, and is shocked for some reason to find out Sam is his next target. Um, Tony, you’re not too bright are you? If you and Sam get everyone out, you’re eventually going to be the last two left. Why is this such a shock? He wonders whether he can shoot Sam but Mark says she’s going to fuck up Tony’s shit and he decides he can.

The rest of the band also lets Sly know he was a piece of shit, as normal, for how he pushed Jake’s buttons.

Sly and Jake instantly make up, but then comes one of those conflict resolving moments the Engel-verse occasionally has that just comes so out of left field it makes me laugh hysterically. See, Jake finds out his father lied about getting his job as a mechanic back and Sly proceeds to tell Jake he’s a piece of shit for how he treated his father. Yes, Sly’s father, who’s never been mentioned on this show before, apparently works so much he doesn’t have time to be interested in Sly’s life. Um, show, you did this exact same plot last season when you didn’t have the guts to portray a suicidal teen. Why wouldn’t Sly use this to empathize with the caller in that episode? Why would he just pull this out of his ass now?

The only answer I can reasonably come to is that Sly’s a lying piece of shit like he always is and he did that to manipulate Jake, who runs out to find his father and apologize.

Meanwhile, Sam comes in, and she and Tony use Sly and Mark as human shields to keep the other from shooting. No, no, no. That’s not how you do it at all! You need live ammunition first if you’re going to use those two as your human shields.

In Jake’s room, Al apologizes for not being the father Jake wanted and Jake apologizes for being a piece of shit son. They makeup, but Al is still unemployed I guess. I was distracted by the fact they acknowledged Jake has a brother as that’s something that hasn’t been talked about since season two.

At Sharkey’s, the band plays a song, a novelty for them nowadays.

Sly announces Tony and Sam are both winners and get to keep their guns because apparently everyone at Sharkey’s gives a shit about the random antics our band was up to this week, and they say they just love each other so much they can’t shoot the other. I call bullshit on this, not because of the sappy ending, but because Sly would have used this as an excuse for no one to win and no one getting to keep the guns. But, never you mind, our episode ends with Sam shooting Tony, because love doesn’t mean shit to her when she has an Oozinator war to end!

And, yes, that’s really the end. No better resolution for the plot with Jake and Al. Oh, Al is randomly in the audience during their song, but I guess we’re lead to believe that Al’s just unemployed for the rest of the series now because Jake couldn’t get over his fear of being working class even though that’s totally his image and shit.

Mark singing

Another repeat song. I’m beginning to wonder whether the show had run out of songs at this point and was just recycling whatever might loosely fit with the them of the show. It still sounds like they’re trying way too hard to be UB40, and its just odd for a band that purports to be rock-inspired. It’s also continuing proof that Mark is not needed in this band. Sam’s on keyboards this week and Jake could have easily been on drums. Remind me again why he’s a character on this show when he barely ever does anything?

6 thoughts on “Season 5, Episode 4: “Mop n’ Pop”

  1. Boys Meets World did the same plot with Shawn’s dad getting a job as the school janitor and him being embarrassed about it. Except BMW did it way better.

    Also, the ep aired a little less then a month after this one.

  2. I thought if nothing else, you’d appreciate the sight of Sly getting punched in the face.

  3. I hate this episode as Jake is really out of character. It seems like it would have made more sense for Mark, but it felt like the writers just didn’t give a shit about Mark.

  4. When I saw this when I was a kid I liked it. But now, it just seems strange. Jake is completely out of character. It’s like the writers retconned him the most out of all the characters over the years.

    He seems very blue collar, with a bike, leather jacket and loves working on cars and motorcycles. Yet lives in Malibu, his brother goes to an Ivy League school and he’s embarrassed when his dad works as the school janitor. Even though his dad worked another very blue collar job as a mechanic. He acts stereotypically Italian. Yet an episode two seasons ago says he’s Eastern European. More Romanian then Italian. Acts like a tough guy, yet sings and writes nothing but sappy love songs.

    He’s a walking contradiction.

  5. Maybe Tony thought there was at least one more extra after shooting silly string at the delivery guy (apparently the Dreams ordered Domino’s that day).

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