Monday, January 13, 2014

Episode 2x09 "Fear Strikes Out"

Cory and Shawn are going to be attending some party where they'll be playing 7 Minutes in Heaven. Ah, high school... Overt sexual expression weakly disguised as a game... I'm sure we all remember a few where we were thinking "this, this is just not even close to a game, at all." But that's for a very different sort of blog. Cory wants to really rock out at this party, so hopefully his practice pays off.

Concurrently Mr. Turner spies the new social studies teacher, Kat Tompkins. Feeny (lightheartedly) gives him a hard time about it, and it's hilarious. Their chemistry is ridiculously good. As good as Cory and Shawn. As good as Amy and Alan.


Cory sits with Eric to ask for some party advice, but it has the opposite effect. Eric describes all the things that can go wrong, and Cory loses his nerve. Dammit Eric, we spent a whole episode building that confidence. All Eric ever does is sabotage his little brother in the guise of experienced advice. I honestly can't tell if he's ever actually trying to help. That makes him interesting.

We're not wasting any time as we jump right to the makeout party. This is almost certainly the same set as that chin-girl's party. Cory's still very nervous, and Shawn is very not. We've seen a lot of episodes recently where Shawn has some quality Cory wants, or can thrive in some situation that Cory can't. This just occurred to me now, and it's kind of blowing my mind, but "the world" that Cory was "meeting" back in season one was Mr. Feeny, but now it's Shawn. Shawn shows us how Cory can grow during this season. Sometimes, at least. 

Either way, what Cory needs to worry about isn't his breath or where to put his hands. It's his god damn collar. 

Am I the only person in the universe who pays attention to the clothes on this show? There should be someone like me on every set whose job is to say "woah, what the fuck" when something like that happens. And then the director will yell "Cut! What the fuck, guys."


Cory's got mad performance anxiety in the closet. I guess this is that fear striking out from the title. Topanga's totally understanding. I wouldn't expect any less. Topanga is a paragon of rationality and age-appropriate maturity. Whoever made the call to leave her paranormal weirdness by the wayside deserves a medal. In principle, this is a totally legitimate situation to build an episode on. But in practice, it... doesn't make a lot of sense. Cory and Topanga have kissed plenty of times already. There's no reason in the world for him to be nervous about this. At the end of the day, Boy Meets World is notorious for forgetting and rewriting history (ironic, since Feeny teaches history), so we better get used to it. Anyway she manages to calm Cory down, and just as they're about to kiss, time's up! 

Cory was using that lacrosse stick to explain how men want to be tough, rather than "nice guys". You gotta wonder what everyone else is thinking when they see him with that.

It's certainly not obvious just from what they saw, but for the sake of the plot, the other kids glean that Cory and Topanga did not kiss. At school, the other guys taunt Cory by calling him "the amazing lip-less". 

...Really? Might as well be "Closet No Topanga Kiss Man". Same level of quality. 

And Topanga's not making his life any easier.


The writers remembered that they gave Mr. Turner a subplot earlier, so now we've got that female teacher, Miss Tompkins, asking Mr. Feeny for the insider scoop on our favorite English teacher.

Nice bolo tie, blonde-Alice-Cooper. Think I've seen it somewhere before.

I agree, Stan. 

We all agree.

We're at the Matthews house and Cory invents the word "agoobwah" to describe how awful the party was. Morgan has some lines and I'll let you take a little quiz here.

It was ________________

a) Richard Nixon
b) Buy More Ovaltine
c) A Jar of Almonds
d) so bad that it made ConfidenceKBM want to join a monastery
e) Both a and d

Amy and Alan pick up on the fact that this is all Eric's fault and dole out some punishment. He's not allowed to go on another date until Cory feels ready to go on a date again. This destroys the only thing Eric has to live for, so he gives his little brother a pep talk. Cory agrees to go on a double date with Eric, since Eric promises it will be totally unromantic and there won't be any pressure for Cory to kiss his date. The only girl in the school who will speak to Cory right now is Topanga, so there we go.

We jump ahead to the date, located at some coffee place with an open mic for poetry readings. The set is blatantly just Chubbie's with a bunch of drapes everywhere, but that's showbiz. This clip is delightfully reminiscent of the first time I had a date at a coffee shop.


One unintentional thing to take away from this episode is that you should know enough about coffee to be able to go on a coffee date. "Let's get coffee" is the easiest date in the world. First coffee date I had, I got a bottle of fuckin Perrier. I didn't know what that was either, but I knew it was at least mostly water, and thus a safe choice. Except it was gross. The point is, learn your shit.

Cory leaves her to order her mocha frappa dappa wappa while he finds a place to sit. Now we get a fun look at one of the more intricate bromances in the series, but a bromance nonetheless.


One thing that Boy Meets World definitely did right with its bullies is that they're not just bullies. Normally shows will say "okay, these are the bad guys, hate them". But I don't hate Frankie and Joey. They're fun, they're interesting. Maybe not realistic, but realistic bullies are just depressing, so that's fine. 

You can see Cory standing around at the end of that clip, and then Topanga walks up and says "Cory, over here," motioning to the nearby couch. His ONE JOB was to find a place to sit. "I'll find us a place to sit." That's a direct quote. COME ON CORY. 

I know I'm goin crazy with the clips today, but a lot of this is just better for you to hear than to read. 


I wish every guy saw this when they were in middle/high school. It doesn't get any realer than that, folks. This show is awesome. 

Another poet takes the stage while the girl from The Fifth Element is hangin out nearby.

I haven't actually seen the movie, or I'd make a better joke. 

This guy does a slow, sensual poem, and all the couples start locking lips, including Corpanga. The audience goes wooOOOoooOOoo, making me roll my eyes. The laughter is justifiable. I get it. I do. I don't like it, but I get it. Fine. But the wooing? Why? Especially in this situation. They're kissing to sensual romantic poetry, not porn-jazz. Ugh.

At school the next day, Feeny is very interested in how Turner's date with Miss Tompkins unfolded, which is hilarious. Cory shares his new secret to kissing with all the other men on the show, and the episode ends with all of them on one big group date at another poetry reading. Including Feeny and Turner and Cory's parents. Because that makes sense.

...So.... wait...

Did we actually solve anything here? Cory is once again able to kiss Topanga, but that doesn't address the original problem. Maybe he can go forward with a new confidence in the knowledge that the girls are just as uncertain and nervous. And the "nice guy" problem didn't come up again after that clip in the hallway. I feel like that could be left to its own episode, it didn't serve any purpose being crammed in here.

Plot: 0.75 - It was fun, but largely unnecessary. Lots of convenience-for-plot-advancement, like Cory getting paired with Topanga in the first place. I think this episode would have functioned better if it wasn't Topanga, since her close friendship with Cory is what made this so easy to resolve. 

Character Development: 0.25 - I'll give a little for the growing friendship between Turner and Feeny, but Cory completely struck out here. I'm just not sold on it. If he went to another makeout party the next day, and got paired with someone other than Topanga, I'd wager he wouldn't fare any better than the first time.

Humor: 0.5 - It was funny, but also kinda not. Feeny and Turner did a lot of the work here again, and Eric got SHAFTED with his lines in this episode. He is absolutely not being used to his full potential yet.

Life Lesson: 1.0 - Refer back to the mind-being-blown gif.

2.5 out of 4. Remember the blonde girl with slicked back hair from 2x08? If you do watch this episode, count how many times she shows up in the background. Spoiler, it's a lot.

Thanks for reading, see you Wednesday!

Clips and images used under Fair Use.


  1. "Am I the only person in the universe who pays attention to the clothes on this show?"

    You listen to the cast commentary on the Season 1 & 2 DVDs. At least half of it is them making fun of the costumes. It's a real shame that they stopped doing commentaries after season 2.

    1. Yeah I seriously need to watch them with commentary. I don't know why I haven't...

  2. You know the recurring female extra you refer to as "The Spectre" in later posts? Michael Jacobs actually notices her in this episode's commentary. She's in the background in the second cafeteria scene (roughly 10 minutes in), pretending to laugh at a conversation with another extra, and Jacobs calls her out for trying to steal the scene with her "silent acting". Unfortunately, he does not give any inside information about who she is.

    1. HAH! That's amazing. I've definitely gotta watch that, thanks for telling me.