Jay walks into the room toting black socks for everyone. Oh, Jay, you shouldn't have! In fact, Dan says he brought his own black socks just for the performance, a revelation that wins an embrace from Jay. "Did I tell you Dan Miller's my favorite?" Jay beams. Lame jokes ensue about Jay saying the same thing to Ashley, et al, but it can't hide the fact that Dan and Jay have clicked on a spiritual level. Black socks equal white-hot suppressed passion.
Now that he's out of high-school, Ashley wants to prove he paid attention and can count to thirty-one. He does so under the auspices that there are that many vehicles in the Pearlman entourage that day, but everyone knows it's a "Look, Ma, no hands!" type of exercise. "Lou used to sit down and tell us we're on the fast track," Ashley says. "I'd be like, 'Yeah, okay,' but now that I've spent some time here, it's like an unstoppable train that's picking up more speed." Thania is inexplicably present. She must not be out of the picture, but for some reason, Jacob's "relationship" with the hair model isn't compelling whatsoever and thus gets no screen time. Fine. But someone could've at least pinned down why she came, when, and the like. Is a little plot development too much to ask? Oh, wait, this is Bunim-Murray we're talking about, isn't it. Forget I said anything.
The crowd at the Georgia fairgrounds is abuzz, filing into the red chairs in a giant white wave of pre-teen humanity. Seriously, everyone is wearing a white t-shirt. Suddenly, I feel uncomfortable, like I'm witnessing the only sanctioned outing of the state's juvenile insane-asylum inmates. "I've never been so content in my entire life," Jacob gushes. "I can't imagine anything greater." Trevor chips in that the band is excited. The guys gather in a circle and shout, "O-Town!" before announcing that it's go time and they're ready to rock da house. "It's time, fellas," Dan says somberly. Shut up, Dan. An announcer welcomes O-Town and asks the crowd to scream, which it does, but probably because Lou waddled past and they thought the Michelin Man had come to run them over.
O-Town runs onstage. "Break a leg, gentlemen," the announcer says. I hold my breath, wondering if the age-old theatrical idiom will suddenly become gruesomely literal. It doesn't, and the episode further sinks into a bog of unending ennui.
The pulsating beats of The Showdown play, and O-Town struts onstage in rhythmic robo-motion. Lights flash and the beat sound resembles a dripping faucet, turning the fairgrounds a modern, techno water-torture chamber. The crew lock looks stealthy and original, inasmuch as it both frightens me and engraves my face with a pained cringe. At the end, O-Town falls over and scoots backward, as though it's afraid of its own massive suck quotient. The audience looks around in confusion and people scream, unsure what the fuck is happening but completely certain that this isn't the Perry, GA, theatrical premiere of Duets that they were promised.