Another Wednesday night, another outfit for Jack. Ron offers Jack some calamari. Jack picks up a piece in both hands, bites into it, and then says "it tastes like a deep-fried rubber band. So, what's calamari?" Ron: "It's Italian for 'deep-fried rubber band.' It's squid." Jack looks just a little bit grossed out, and responds with suspicion when Ron offers him a piece of portobello mushroom. They both agree that Jack should pick the restaurant next time, and then Jack starts playing with the calamari like it's a piece of silly putty. If it's that stretchy, they should really find a better restaurant. And if Ron is so boring, why was Jack so excited about going with him to the movies in that flashback? I can just picture Ron taking an eleven-year-old to see the latest Fellini masterpiece.
Jack is at home, taking off his jacket and tie. There's some completely meaningless business that involves Stockard asking him about dinner with Dad, and then Michael coming in to collect any items that Jack wants to donate to the homeless. The only point of this scene is for Michael to ask Jack how he would feel about Michael building a zendo in the backyard. So, I guess this means Michael has moved in? Stockard has all the luck -- a sexy Buddhist carpenter. Where do I sign up for that?
The next day, Jack carries a box of donations to the end of the driveway while Stockard shoots some hoops. He tells her that she is embarrassing him, but you can tell he doesn't really mind, because he stops to play with her for a few minutes. There's definitely some stunt-dribbling going on, because we only see Stockard from the waist down or the shoulders up. And the point of this scene, I guess, is to show us just how cool it would be to have Stockard Channing for a mother. Like we needed Showtime to tell us that.
Stockard and Jack walk out the front door of the house. Stockard asks Jack if he isn't excited, and then she waves to the street and calls out, "Hi Mr. Bailey." We then see Brent Spiner standing in front of a driving-school car. Oh man, I wish Data had been my driver's ed instructor. "You must turn the wheel twelve degrees to the left and apply one point three five kilograms of pressure to the accelerator. I detect an increase in your heart rate; do not allow your adrenal response to cause a mishap." How awesome would that be? And now I can't stop imagining other Star Trek characters teaching driving school. (Worf: "You will parallel park with honor!") Wing, do you mind if I quit writing this recap and work on a script for Star Trek: Driving Academy? No? ["Not only don't I mind, but I command it." -- Wing Chun] Okay, back to the scene. Stockard encourages a reluctant Jack to walk out to Mr. Bailey's car. (There's a nice low funky guitar track playing over this entire scene. Very Baretta.) Mr. Bailey puts his arm around Jack's shoulder and tells him that "new drivers pass through levels. Each level offers more responsibility, freedom from restrictions." Spiner plays this perfectly, with a kind of scary old man, no-nonsense, a little too full of himself authority figure air about him. You can just tell, in his mind, Mr. Bailey thinks he's Clint Eastwood. Periodically, Bailey taps on some part of the car and asks Jack what it's called: "Teenagers pick up their parents' driving habits....The more crashes the parents have had, the greater the likelihood the teen will crash. Get in the driver's seat. Have your parents crashed?" Jack: "I don't know, they're divorced." Jack pulls out with that stop-and-go jerky motion that I only ever see in television driving lessons. Mr. Bailey: "I have only one neck."