Freaks and Geeks: S01E07 “Carded And Discarded”

SPOILER WARNING: I’m assuming in these reviews that readers have seen the show.

Apparently Freaks and Geeks’ seventh episode was meant to serve as a “second pilot”, trying to catch the attention of people who might just be tuning in. I’m not certain that it is entirely successful in that respect, although everyone does get their share of screen time. But Carded And Discarded is nevertheless a solid show exploring relationships: friends, family, romances, and what they all involve. While exploring how Sam, Bill and Neal react to The New Girl, Maureen (Kayla Ewell, who went on to The Vampire Diaries), how Harold and Jean deal with their children moving away from them as they mature, and how Lindsay and Nick are feeling their way in their new sort-of-romantic pairing, this episode shares many funny and touching moments about growing up.

As usual, the geeks have the best moments with the beautiful but delightfully nerdy Maureen. Not only does she look stunning, but she loves model rockets, too! The kicker is that they feel they can be themselves in her company in ways that they never could with girls before. It’s telling that when walking with Maureen, Sam ignores a surprised Cindy when passing her in the hall.

Meanwhile, the freaks are getting flak from their hip guidance counselor, who sings and plays “I’m Eighteen” in his attempts to communicate with his students. (“Some of those chords are hard,” says an impressed Nick.) But privately, he tells Lindsay, “You’re not one of them. You’re a different breed.” This shocks viewers as much as it does Lindsay, and is the worst possible way to get her to change. When she gets three hundred dollars from her aunt and uncle for her birthday, it’s no wonder that she suggests spending it on fake IDs for the freaks so they can go see the band Feedback play at a local bar.

For his part, Harold is trying to get the kids to be part of the family again with the temptation of the game Pit. Somehow, they refuse his blandishments, but Jean enjoys it, using their time alone to suggest having sex. She also wisely tells her husband that forcing their children to spend time with them won’t work, and to his credit, he listens to her.

When the freaks are going to get their IDs, Kim and Lindsay discuss her new boyfriend. “We only kissed once,” she says, dismissing its importance. Behind her, Nick is telling Daniel, “We’ve got a real connection.” This does not bode well for their future.

The geeks, meanwhile, are arguing over who gets to have Maureen as his girlfriend. (Pardon me while I roll my eyes and bang my head against a wall. Thank you.) Bill is the lucky man, aided by the use of his spit on his name when they draw from a hat; but ultimately, he chickens out, and they ask her out as a group, with advice from fellow geek-stud Harris. They’re alarmed because Vicky, the head cheerleader, has been inviting Maureen to sit at her lunch table and come to a party she’s throwing. Despite using Eli to run interference, they can already see her drifting away.

Lindsay and the others get their IDs, although not without difficulty. Their first attempt with a mall store clerk fails because of subpar Canadian IDs (mostly; Ken likes his). Their second try is successful, but Lindsay gets ripped off by Millie’s cousin Toby, who spent time in jail, grows pot and deals in stolen goods along with his fake ID laminator, and who tries to hit on Lindsay, causing Nick to rise to her defense and Lindsay to agree that yes, she’s his girlfriend. Ouch.

As it turns out, their IDs aren’t needed at the bar; at least, Lindsay’s isn’t, since she’s a girl. Feedback isn’t quite the band they’d expected, however, much to everyone’s disappointment. Except, perhaps, Nick.

Maureen accompanies the geeks to an all-you-can-eat restaurant (“Don’t eat the bread,” Neal advises wisely). While they have a great time, the handwriting’s on the wall, and all of the boys know it. When they see her accept Vicky’s invitation to have lunch on Monday, none of them are surprised, although they act like it’s no big deal when she asks if it’s OK. They know how the social stratification of high school works. It was a sweet dream, while it lasted.

Points Of Interest

*The use of Billy Joel’s songs Ce’tait toi (You Were the One) and especially Rosalinda’s Eyes during the rocket launch sequence were absolutely inspired. Lesser efforts would have gone with She’s Always A Woman, or Uptown Girl, which hadn’t even been recorded yet.

*“I don’t know why, but I’m liking her more & more every day”—Ken, regarding Lindsay’s offer to buy them fake IDs.

*A young Jason Schwartzman as the clothing store clerk is awesome. He’s got a shipment of “genuine Canadian driver’s licenses.”

*“Had to bring the big rocket, didn’t you?”—Neal to Bill. Love Martin Starr’s grin when Maureen compliments it.

*Bill says you can’t have a relationship with someone you can’t fart in front of. There’s actually a lot to this.

*“I’ve got some brochures…Several are in color!” How could Lindsay resist?

“I just want to hear this band play.”—“That’s why they make records.” Ah, Millie, your logic is impeccable.

*The chickens in Toby’s yard are a marvelous touch.

“Bring them some of your finest pop.” Such a Midwestern term. Although in St. Louis, we always said “soda”.

Next up: Girlfriends And Boyfriends