When we last left our heroes, Eric and Cory were going on a two-month long cross-country roadtrip. I forgot to bring this up in the last review, but that’s a heck of a lot of driving for one person to do. It takes about a week to get from one coast to the other, and that’s if you’re not planning on stopping anywhere to sleep or eat. Which is a lot to ask of ONE person, since Cory’s not old enough to drive. I guess you could conceivably visit the entire lower 48 in two months, though, if you didn’t really stop anywhere for that long.
But whatever. Their trip is over. And we start season 4 with yet another new opening. So far, every season has had a different opening, with different music, and a different opening montage. This one’s footage of Eric, Cory, Shawn, and Topanga riding in a car, with random clips of past episodes playing in the mirrors and the sky.
Eric and Cory are nearing the end of their road trip. Cory’s using tape recorders to have updates for Topanga. Eric’s fed up with Cory’s constantly being reminded of Topanga during the whole trip. Cory’s fed up with the road trip. They’re only 3 hours from home, and said they’d be home that night , but Eric’s stalling.
Alan has one grocery store manager of the year, so he and Amy are going to some gala event. Topanga and Shawn arrive, and ask if they can wait at the Matthews home for Cory. Amy’s cool with it, even though Cory’s not supposed to be back until late. Shawn declares he’ll take a bath upstairs while Amy and Alan are out, and Alan does not like that. Because it’s weird. Shawn comments that Alan’s been in quite a bad mood lately.
Meanwhile, Eric’s made a stop in Pottstown, home of the world’s largest yogurt cup. Cory’s still miffed, he really wants to go back home already, but Eric’s too busy flirting with a local yogurt diner waitress to care what Cory says. Cory leaves in a huff to watch the sprinkle parade outside, and a rain of sprinkles temporarily blinds him.
Amy and Alan come back, with Alan’s award in hand. Amy puts it on the mantle, and Alan’s all sad. He’s reached the peak of his career. “I’m Alan Matthews, I am 42 years old, and I am a grocer.” No, you’re a manager, but whatever. Amy’s shocked to find Alan maybe wants to get another job.
Shawn comes downstairs, fresh from his bath, wearing Alan’s robe. Alan’s understandably upset that Shawn is wearing his robe, and wants him to take it off. Shawn says he can’t, because he’s naked under the robe, and the audience all cheers. He’s 15 audience, calm down.
Of course Cory and Eric are still in yogurt land. Cory still says he wants to go back home already, and Eric says he only got them a hotel room so he could get ready for his date. He also says he doesn’t want to go back home because there’s nothing there for him. All his friends got into college and he didn’t, but I guess in Pottstown he can make something of himself? Also, what friends? His friend Jason stopped showing up a while ago and he wasn’t really friends with anyone else.
Cory basically says that enough is enough, and if Eric wants to stay that’s fine, but he’s going home, and he takes Eric’s car keys. Eric chases after Cory, since it’s Eric’s car, and Cory can’t drive.
The diner girl Eric had a date with is surprised to find Eric’s still around, she thought he’d find someone more interesting to talk to and leave, but he thinks she’s super interesting.
He says something about staying again, and decides to relent and let Cory go home on his own. But first he asks Cory to give him the keys, just to make sure he actually had the car keys. So Cory tosses him the keys and Eric says, “I can’t believe you fell for that,” and puts the keys in his own pocket.
Cory, his plans now foiled, says he’ll just go out and hitchhike. An obvious solution would just be to call home and explain the situation, have one of his parents picks him up, but whatever. Diner girl says there’s no chance that anyone will actually pick up Cory anyway, because everyone in town is currently in the diner.
Alan talks some more about grocery store zzzzzzzz, erm, okay. Anyway Feeny comes out, and Alan asks Feeny if he hates his job. Feeny says in that deadpan joking manner that the only job he ever hated was his job as a bagboy at the grocery store. He goes on to say that he actually loves teaching, and if he didn’t love teaching anymore, he’d find some other job to do.
Mm, tough spot. Feeny’s got a point, that it’s stupid to work if you really hate your job. Find something else to do, in that case. On the other hand, Alan’s got 3 kids and a wife to support, and I assume being a grocery store manager, when you’ve been working at the same store for about 20 years, you probably get paid pretty well, especially since this is the 90s and the economy wasn’t as bad as it is now (“Oh boy I got a 5 cent raise with this promotion!”). The other thing is, Alan just sounds like he’s bored and is embarrassed. He mostly sounds like he doesn’t feel like he’s accomplished anything with his job, and that’s a disappointment to him, not that he HATES his job.
And then on the… other hand, if Alan’s going to be miserable, there’s no reason for him to stay in that job even if it pays well. And Amy’s got… well, it depends on the episode whether she’s an unemployed housewife, works as a realtor, or works in an art gallery. So nevermind. And they seem well-off enough that they’d probably be okay if Alan was out of work for a while, while he was looking for a new job.
But on the… fourth? hand, what job is he going to get? He’s been working at the same store for like 20 years. If it were me, I think I’d be unsure of whether or not he could adapt to a new work environment after working at the same place for so long.
But I already know he just buys a wilderness equipment store anyway so all of that discussion is a moot point.
Cory’s outside in the dark, nervously waiting for someone to pick him up. A guy on a horse-drawn carriage stops by. He’s only going as far as “that farm house, over there,” but Cory’s going to Philadelphia. The guy offers to take him as far as, “that farm house, over there.” Cory appreciates the offer but wants to wait for a vehicle with some actual combustion. The man tells Cory if he changes his mind, he’ll be over at “that farm house, over there.” Cory points out that’ll do him no good since he’s trying to get past that farm house over, and the man replies that while that may be true, his intentions were just, and his heart is true. He leaves, and Cory points out that also does him no good.
Back at the diner, Eric’s sampling some pea soup and pie. The diner patrons and the waitress talk about how they’re probably going to have to close the diner, not enough business. Eric basically tells them to put up signs along the highway to encourage people to stop by. Everyone loves the idea and wants Eric to stay forever.
Cory returns, and enjoys some pie with that one old guy who’s in a lot of these 90s sitcoms and you don’t know his name. Then Alan shows up.
Cory actually called him, I guess. Or else Alan’s true calling is as a psychic detective who can just tell when people need him, or something.
Alan of course wants Eric to come home with him, but Eric doesn’t want to go. Eric wonders what all those years of schooling were for, if he was just going to go home for nothing. Whatever he says, Alan relates to it, and then Alan gives Eric good advice that I already forgot what he said. Something about “settling”. Eric’s afraid to go home, and Alan tells him not to be, it’ll all be all right or something. Eric asks him how he knows it’ll be okay, and Cory appears, saying “Because he’s dad.” Alan affirms, “Yeah, that’s mostly what I am.” So then I guess they go home.
Well I guess we all learned a very valuable lesson about Alan’s sense of self-worth.
During the credits, it’s the next day. Amy, Shawn, and Topanga are waiting int he kitchen for Cory and Eric. Morgan bounds downstairs, saying she finally got them up by telling them they were having blueberry pancakes for breakfast – which was a lie.
Shawn haughtily tells Topanga to be prepared, because as soon as Cory sees him he’ll forget all about Topanga ever existing. Cory comes downstairs right then, says “Shawn!” and opens his arms for a big hug…
…goes straight past Shawn to go kiss Topanga a billion times.
Shawn stands around lamely while he and Cory have a conversation in-between the kisses, with Shawn concluding the episode by saying something like “See, Topanga?” lamely.
Eh. I just don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for Alan. I get that it sucks, he got stuck in this job that was only supposed to be temporary while he found a real job, but we’ve got all this focus on a father of 3 who just got an award for doing his job really well, and honestly not a whole lot of focus on Eric who’s afraid to go home because he can’t do anything well and has nothing waiting for him. And Cory, who’s not involved in any of this, having to be stuck in some dinky little town 3 hours from Philadelphia with no way to get home.
I give this episode a dismissive shrug out of 10.
Next episode should be exciting, I’ve actually got it on DVD so the screencaps might not be as terrible.