It’s the second episode of the don’t-call-it-a-reboot BH90210, and if the first two episodes are any indication, each chapter will begin with a cold open of a dream sequence turned nightmare. This week it’s Jennie Garth’s Jennie Garth who wakes up in a cold sweat. Sporting Kelly’s signature bangs, Jennie G dreams down the halls of West Beverly while DJ David gives us the sweet sounds of Shanice. We’re reminded of Kel’s heavy and melodramatic story lines of 90210s past: rape, eating disorder, cocaine addiction, cult, gunshot wound, and literally being trapped in a burning house. It’s a shock Kelly Taylor never had an evil twin move to the Zip Code (though she did get Single White Female’d). Jennie G wakes up from her flashback and shares (another) smoothie with her daughter, who is pushing the reboot as Jennie’s chance at a “do-over.” They end their smoothie-fest with the news that the daughter wants to be an actress and Jennie’s marriage is officially kaput.
Despite her reservations, Jennie G goes to Fox to pitch the 90210 reboot with Tori, who, innovator that she is, uses the cast’s latest run-in with the law and its online virality to woo the network. Fox is onboard provided everyone is onboard, but first the gang has to face the music at the courthouse. Tori takes the fall for stealing the dress and everyone is sentenced to 50-plus hours of joint community service. Tori’s mea culpa lays the groundwork for her big ask: Can she get everyone onboard for the reboot once and for all? It’s a collective “LOL, no” in Tori’s face before one of our favorite voice-overs of the season: “And you’ll never get Shannen.”
Look, it’s possible the slow burn of Shannen Doherty’s BH90210 reveal is an attempt to build anticipation for the OG star’s triumphant return to the show that very publicly fired and maligned her in the ’90s. However, something tells us that Doherty’s being slow to sign on to the reboot may have necessitated some of BH90210’s narrative’s being reshaped and reshot (crafty ADR here, green-screen Shannen with an E there) once she did.
Undeterred, Tori relates to her husband Nate (Ivan Sergei, her co-star in the iconic 1996 TV film Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?, and yes, we said film) a story about how her father, Aaron Spelling, was turned down time and time again while pitching Charlie’s Angels. What would’ve become of Cheryl Ladd had Aaron given up? Ergo, Tori won’t take no for an answer, and ends up luring Jason into the reboot with the promise of directing the pilot.
Meanwhile, Jason’s publicist wife (Vanessa Lachey) entertains a blackmailer by their pool and seems fearful that her secret will get out. Is it about their unborn child? Or is it that both she and La La Anthony got their start as MTV VJs and are now playing wives on a tonally bizarre reboot? Related: Our new favorite part of BH90210 is when the music changes from BH90210 to the original soapy sounds of 90210. The show really makes no sense, but this kind of clever vacillation keeps us on our toes!
In addition to the poolside blackmailer, we’ve now got a beautiful boy with a perfectly placed chicken-pox scar recording BAG during his fight with Shay. He was spotted in the pilot, but neither of us really cares about this Pretty Little Liars B-plot. Is Beautiful Boy BAG’s stalker or illegitimate child? One of Mel’s other kids come to say hey? Either way, BB’s got BAG’s health-insurance card on display on a corkboard red-string murder map. (For those concerned about height like this is Tinder, the card lists BAG at 5’11”.)
It seems all those long, sexless hours working on The Blaze led to a lifelong friendship for Jason and Gab, such that Jason reveals he and Jennie G did knock boots while in Vegas, while Gab admits that Vegas got her to explore her queer-curiosity. Later, Gab eases Jason’s woes by arranging for the actor he punched to kick Jason in the cojones, which we have to hear Jason refer to as his “coconuts.” That’s SAG power, babe. Anyway, Gab eventually follows Jason’s lead and signs on, but only if she can advocate for diversity, i.e., explore Andrea’s (and her own?!?) sexual fluidity.
Ian, who is licking the wounds of his impending divorce (by secretly recording his wife cheating), is also a yes with one condition: Tori must lend her name to some of his beauty products. Ian as entrepreneur is one of the weaker plot points so far, and also why would he want Tori’s name on his product? Not sure we get it, and not sure Tori gets it, but she agrees to whatever the fuck in order to get him to sign on and keep her DirectTV bill current, and frankly we are taking her lead in not overthinking this sweet snake-eating-its-own-tail of a show. BAG is also in, but then Jennie G dips for some cockamamie reasons involving her newly emancipated daughter.
Enter BAG’s secret BFF, Shannen with an e. Again, were all of Shannen’s scenes filmed on a green-screen at Quixote Studios in Glendale after they had already wrapped the first half of the season? Apparently, Shannen and BAG have a DL friendship where she dispenses marital advice while untangling sea lions from nets. Brian tells Shannen that Tori’s been trying to get in touch with her but Shannen’s too busy being a, ahem, good sea-marine-tine. (You’re welcome!)
After the paps catch them doing their Boy George–lite community service (arguing over turkey carcasses in Griffith Park, so L.A.), they reconvene at Fox Studios to present the execs with a Peach Pit diorama. A very sensuous “Shannen’s delayed in Africa” voice-over lets us know that we are correct in our assumption that at this point in the filming, Doherty was not returning to BH90210. Nonetheless, the reboot is a go, and Emily Valentine — real name Christine Elise, real-life former flame of Jason Priestley — is apparently now a TV exec in a cape, and may be ready to get revenge for her ’90s mushroom cut by being a hardass HBIC.
As we wrap up, every character makes nice with their B-plot counterparts (give Ian something to do!), but then we learn Jason has fertility problems and the blackmailer from the pool introduces himself as a writer for the reboot. Meanwhile, BB applies for the job as BAG’s personal assistant. We are meant to think this is nefarious because he has a 90210 desktop background and a suspicious amount of VHS tapes, but we call red herring.
Speaking of, why does this episode become Clue in the last 30 seconds, when everyone is delivered a box containing their 90210 doll hacked to bits and/or bloodied (save Jason, who gets a voodoo doll)? We were already planning to come back next week, BH90210, this kind of cliffhanger tomfoolery is unnecessary (but appreciated)!
• Hail the return of ’90s butch queen Emily Valentine.
• We are here for Gabrielle Carteris flipping off Tori and Jennie. The president of SAG is not here for their brand-cheapening antics.
• Our favorite joke thus far is BAG saying he’s only “loosely attached” to the reboot. It’s all so glamorous. We are loosely attached to writing these recaps.
• Someone get us those 90210 Playmobil action figures!
• This mystery plot is making us conspiracy-theorize: Matthew Modine and his crony Rob Schneider are running an anti-Carteris campaign in an attempt to topple her as SAG prez; Candy Spelling wants to keep Tori cash poor so is scaring her away from a reboot; and two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank is still mad that she was fired from 90210 and refuses to see it revived in her lifetime.
• Too much mystery, not enough moms! Hi, we know Jackie Taylor died in the other 90210 reboot, but IRL actress Ann Gillespie is still kicking and we know the show-within-a-show could just say she faked her death (yoo-hoo, Jack McKay)!