Oh, Yasper. My goofy, magical Yasper, I knew you didn’t do it, and I promise never, ever to doubt you again unless you do something even remotely suspicious over the next five episodes.
Yasper volunteers to be Danner’s next questionee, claiming that he knew Xavier better than anybody because of their shared tenderness for horn sections and checkered Vans. Beatboxing his way into the groove of the story, he’s suddenly the star of his very own High School Musical, but thankfully without that tortured Troy Bolton bangs swoop. To the applause and finger guns of his classmates, he struts and backflips through the reunion. Aniq, however, cannot strut, as he’s too busy kicking himself for neglecting to catalyze Zoë’s isotopes 15 years earlier.
Yasper, A/V man with pop-idol dreams, assures him that “We All Get One Shot Twice,” a song that sounds similar to “My Shot” from Hamilton but doesn’t at all resemble Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” thereby obliterating my hastily crafted theory that all shot-themed songs are alike. As he raps about his and Aniq’s reunion opportunity to grab hold of the dreams that eluded them the first time around, everyone in the gymnasium sings and boogies along. Ned gets a break-dance solo! Aniq gets several chemistry puns! Even Uncle Amir gets a verse! And Walt … gets unceremoniously cut off after a single line. Poor Walt. Watching him try and replicate the dance moves two beats after everybody else is very relatable.
Knowing Aniq wants alone time with Zoë, Yasper pulls Xavier aside for the anticipated track-blessing conversation. He figures Xavier owes him at least a couple of auto-tuned grunts, considering that it was he who encouraged his Ska-pe Diem bandmate to drop “Eugene” and go by his far more shaggable middle name. Xavier offers a noncommittal answer, which Yasper takes to mean that he and Xavier soon will be humping arena floors as a duo and starring side by side in the movie version of KerPlunk. He croons “Yeah, Sure, Whatever,” a ditty dedicated to Xavier’s iron-clad collaboration promise, as the pregnant Jennifers shimmy behind him and Brett makes his Stratocaster purr like the engine of a 1970 Dodge Charger.
The song and dance spills outside, where Yasper sees Chelsea doodling on his car with lipstick. He offers to ferry her to the afterparty since her lurching gait and slurring prophesies about making someone sorry give the impression of a person who oughtn’t to be operating a vehicle. He, Chelsea, and the concussed Aniq arrive at Xavier’s place, and Yasper immediately texts Xavier to see if he’s ready to make track-blessing history. But although an ellipsis materializes, it never transforms into a response, prompting Yasper to deliver the ballad, “Three Dots From Stardom.” Emphasizing his misery are a trio of circular footstools, as well as three cater-waiters holding their pan lids in a row. Even the fixtures illuminating Aniq’s tumble into the crustacean shrub are positioned in a sad line of three. Circles, man. As any antidepressant user knows, they are the saddest of all the shapes.
Xavier finally replies: There’s a usable blessing on his studio computer, and he’ll meet him in ten minutes. The specified track, which incorporates Yasper’s crowd-hype phrase “How great is this party,” needs just a smattering of fairy dust to take it from mere greatness to brain-exploding pop perfection. Apparently, the secret ingredient for achieving this effect is a clip of the teenage Yasper screaming the phrase at ten bored barbecue goers back in 2006. Yasper accesses the video of this MLK Day concert through his Yazzmatazzsixtynine YouTube page, which features several videos of two spindly guys pogo-ing with guitars while a single kick drum and lone trumpet sit unused beside them. If a horn sits on a stage, and there’s nobody there to play it, does it really make a ska?
Xavier hasn’t shown up in the recording room yet, busy as he is with whatever Chelsea’s got up her fabulous furry sleeve, so Yasper attempts to get his attention by blasting Ska-pe Diem through all the household television sets. Surely this will compel Xavier to get his tight little butt into the studio. But there will be no tight little butt, not ever again. Moments later, Xavier is dead, the last words he ever devised memorialized on Yasper’s phone. I can’t help but guess they’re an improvement over any lyric on Somebody Xave Me.
Though Yasper knew about the Daryl Hall eyeball pointed toward the crime scene, Danner and Culp’s ineptitude has forced Aniq into collecting “diarrhea” writing samples from his fellow partygoers — you know, just for funsies. Though only Ned seems over the moon to participate in the game, Zoë is openly annoyed at being asked to “Spooky Dookie” at a time like this. Aniq confesses that he’s using the samples to crack the case before he’s erroneously tossed in jail. When Zoë passes Aniq’s scrawl test, Walt wonders aloud if Zoë might have altered her Es because she knew her penmanship was being scrutinized. But Aniq isn’t worried.
Aniq heads over to Chelsea, who is now the only person who was present in the house when Xavier died and hasn’t displayed her writing. But, wait. Aniq suddenly remembers that Jenn No. 2 was in the living room when he emerged from his Solo-cup bath and that she hasn’t been seen since. Is there a second victim, another body concealed somewhere in the house? Probably not, as heavily pregnant women tend to be difficult to hide, but there’s absolutely a new prime suspect. Chelsea’s flask has been discovered on the beach beside Xavier’s body, and now all eyes are on our favorite drunken fashionista. If you go to prison, Chelsea, I know someone who would be happy to babysit your coat.
• The Hillmount High mascot appears to be a beret-clad, tarted-up lady cougar, which I also strive to be one day.
• Series creator Christopher Miller is a fine director, but why wasn’t the hilariously name-checked Eric Stoltz brought on to helm this musical episode? Guy’s directed 19 Glees, for goodness’ sake, he’s up for it!
• In addition to uploading Ska-pe Diem’s 2006 MLK Day Barbeque Concert, Yasper’s YouTube account, Yazzmatazzsixtynine, has graced “Skank You Very Little - non-requested encore 2006,” “Divine Ska-medy Church parking lot 2005,” “Do the Ska Ska Cha Cha 2005,” and “Ska-mic Relief Charity Concert 2005.”
• I was wrong when I said Xavier did only three subpar things during his career. He was also in a movie called Legal Beagle. Its tagline? “You Can’t Handle the Woof.” RIP, you beautiful genius, you.
• Joan’s Vote For Homekilling Queen: Not you, Zoë! You’re a molder of young minds! The Marie Curie to Aniq’s Louis Pasteur (I know exactly two chemists)! You can’t be a cold-blooded murderer! But between her strange outburst in Yasper’s memory and the whiff of femme-fatale-ness during her kitchen interaction with Aniq, something’s going on with her. Could Aniq’s perfect woman stoop so low as to misspell “diarrhea” on an innocent neck?