Miranda’s got the go ahead from her parents to throw an inter-gender party and she’s bound and determined to make it the best, most perfect party possible. So much so that she’s submerging her natural inclinations. To wit, she invites Kate to her party (though she doesn’t even like her anymore) and takes an effort to *not* invite Larry Tudgeman. This last part disturbs Lizzie. Greatly. But Miranda fears that his presence will foul up the ‘perfect-ness’ of the evening (but even then she tries to assuage her own conscience by convincing herself that he wouldn’t want to come anyway).
Of course, one has to wonder at this strategy. Miranda invites everyone in the school except one person, Tudgeman, because he’s too much of a ‘nerd’. Yet, as we’ve seen in other episodes (specifically “Election” and “Gordo and the Dwarves”), there’s a whole section of the school that share the same hobbies as Tudgeman. In effect, there’s a whole lot of ‘Tudgeman’s’. Yet Miranda has no problem inviting *them*. To use the vernacular of the day, “What’s up with that?”
Lizzie brings up the subject of allowing Larry to come to the party no less than three times in Miranda’s presence. And each time Miranda gets surlier and surlier, and more and more adamant that he *not* come. And this brings Miranda’s shockingly bad behavior to light.
Miranda is in this episode acting just like the person she most reviles: Kate. It’s a move worthy of that guru of shallow popularity. And as such it highlights Miranda’s own role in the triumvir of her Lizzie and Gordo. In psychological terms Lizzie is the Ego, the clearinghouse that decides between the two halves that are Superego and Id. The Superego is the side that controls the higher thoughts. The one that urges intelligence and morality. The Id is the one that councils self indulgence and carnal gratification.
If Lizzie is the Ego, Gordo is the Superego, whereas Miranda is the Id. Lizzie is intelligent, but Gordo is more intelligent. Lizzie is slightly shallow, but Miranda is slightly more so. Id, Ego, and Superego. All on display here.
Miranda becomes more and more stressed over all the work that goes into making a successful party. The food, the drink, the music, the invitations, it all contributes to Miranda’s increasingly surly demeanor. Though the episode tries to use this as a reason (in part) to excuse Miranda’s actions in regards to Tudge, it rings slightly hollow. It was a contributing factor no doubt, but Miranda made this decision *before* she started stressing out. Excluding The Tudge was almost her first item of business.
The actor who portrays Tudgeman (Kyle Downes), does an *excellent* job in this episode. One really feels badly for Tudgeman when he finds out he’s not invited but tries to bravely brush it off. One suffers with him. And more to the point, one becomes angry with Miranda!
But Lizzie’s conscience won’t be denied. And she enlisted Gordo’s help. Which highlights something else one has noticed of late. It seems that beginning with “Just Friends” there have been a lot of scenes where Lizzie and Gordo (Hilary and Adam) are present and doing something while Miranda (Lalaine) is off somewhere else. While not odd in and of itself, in so far as there was much the same thing in Season One, the odd part comes in that these Gordo/Lizzie twofer scenes were offset by the same number of Miranda/Lizzie twofer scenes. But since “Just Friends” there have been no offsetting Lizzie/Miranda scenes. This reviewer is hard pressed to remember a single scene since that episode in which Lizzie and Miranda (Hilary and Lalaine) are alone. There’s always at least one other person in their scenes. It’s almost as though Miranda’s character (and Lalaine’s presence) has been pared back. Connection with rumors of backstage politics? Or merely coincidence?
While Tudgeman eventually goes along with Lizzie’s plan to change his physical appearance to get into the party, he is initially reluctant. He makes a good statement, “Tudge changes for no one”. And he’s right. One should not change whom they are just to try and fit in with someone else’s idea of what ‘cool’ is. If you have to change yourself to hang around with someone, then that someone isn’t worth hanging around.
This innate sense of worth reasserts itself when Tudgeman reveals himself to Miranda (whom it would appear is falling for this ‘mysterious stranger’!). After Miranda displays the signs of falling for ‘Lawrence’ Tudge feels the need to show her that its what’s under the surface that matters. The realization that her ‘Lawrence’ is in actuality The Tudge sets her to screaming. Which in turn leads her to confront Lizzie (and Gordo) and thus, inadvertently, make a scene at her own party.
But it all turns out well when Miranda admits (publicly no less) that she was wrong to have excluded Tudgeman from her party. And what’s more, she seems to have no compunction about staying coupled up with him! She leads him over to the punch bowl, and stands by him, as the party gets back under way, as though she intends to spend her time with him. She even asks about “Star Flip”! And Larry even feels comfortable enough to call her a ‘geek’ due to her inability to get the term right!
Now comes the question: where do they go from here? Miranda has shown herself here (and in the past) to be essentially a sensible and good girl. In this episode she has come to realize that there is more to Tudgeman than meets the eye. Sparks definitely flew when she was dancing with Larry. And she appears to be cogent of that fact. She knows what she felt. All the qualities she seemed taken with in ‘Lawrence’ are the very real qualities exuded by Larry. In point of fact it was Tudgeman all along that she was falling for. At one point, in a close up on Miranda’s face, there is even the patented ‘slow motion’ shot! That is always a dead give away that romance in the air.
Familiar bantering? Standing close to one another? Holding hands? A slow motion shot? Does this mean that there may be a romance budding between the two? And if so, it brings to mind another quandary.
This episode takes place before the events in “Clueless”, where we see Tudgeman and Veruca share a tender romantic moment. Miranda is absent from this episode, and those that come afterward (straight on through the movie). Presumably the last 6 episodes (and the movie) happen one right after the other.
But what happens when Miranda returns for the new school year? What will be the situation at that point? Veruca obviously likes Tudgeman in ‘that way’. And from all indications from this episode, it would appear that Miranda could as well. That would make for a very lively long-term plot thread in a mythical Season 3. Can you imagine? Miranda and Veruca vying for The Tudge! It would be a dream come true not only for him, but for any male of any age.
And both Miranda and Veruca have shown to be scrappy and tenacious. And both look as though they could take care of themselves in a fight as well.
A ‘love triangle’ centered around Tudgeman would make for an interesting plot thread indeed.
The concept of Miranda falling for Tudgeman, and the fallout of a possible Miranda/Veruca battle for him is by far the most compelling of consequences to result from the events of this episode.
But there are the incidentals as well. For one, “Star Flip”?!? Who doesn’t know what Starfleet is? Who in the past 30 years *hasn’t* grown up watching reruns of “Star Trek” (of whichever incarnation)? “Star Trek” has to be the most well known fandom of them all! Even ‘normal’ people are conversant in its lore! What rock have Lizzie and Miranda been living under to constantly profess an utter lack of knowledge of anything associated with the franchise?
And did anyone else notice Kate after it was revealed who Larry really was? She *still* dug him! I guess for some people the clothes really do make the man!
And then there was the search for the right ‘look’ in which to smuggle Tudgeman into the party. They go through a retro 70’s look (get a load of the afro!). The biker look. The sailor look. And finally the James Dean knockoff look. But one has to wonder, where did Lizzie get all those clothes? It doesn’t look like Lizzie’s room, and it and it doesn’t have the sci-fi/fantasy memorabilia one would expect from Tudge’s room, so that leaves Gordo’s house. But where the heck did Gordo get those clothes?
As for the subplot, it revolves around Matt and Melina having to spend time with a couple from a local old folks home as a school project. Matt does make an excellent observation at the outset. How can it be volunteer work when in fact they are being made to do it by the school? His very real question isn’t even graced with an answer, which is unfortunate. It is a legitimate query.
The two old ‘geezers’ are Mo and Marge, who are basically old versions of Matt and Melina themselves! Right down to the woman of each group being in charge! *LOL*
Like the subplot in “The Greatest Crush of All”, where Matt learns to get along with someone he starts off disliking spending time with, Matt (and Melina) learn to like spending time with Mo and Marge. It is like they say: our dotage is in fact a second childhood. Mo and Marge ride scooters; play Frisbee, even sneak into their retirement home after hours, all in the accompaniment of Matt and Melina (But what was with the ‘talking squirrel’ bit? Weird!).
It’s a solid subplot, and in the course of it we even get a guest character (Mrs. Carrabino, last seen in “You’re a Good Man Lizzie McGuire”). But one does hate to tear oneself away from the main plot.
At its heart, this episode’s main purpose is to act as a sort of ‘high watermark’ for the long-standing ‘Tudgeman likes Miranda’ plot thread that has been percolating ever since Season One. One has to wonder what would have become of it had Lalaine not left the show. As it stands in the “Lizzieverse”, when Miranda comes back from her summer vacation there’s going to be a sticky wicket waiting.
Overall, it’s the main plot that makes this episode, but the subplot does an admirable job of holding up its end as well. We get some more character development on the Tudge. We get intimations of romance. And we get to see the age-old struggle between the very young and the very old.
I recommend this episode highly.