Writer: Paul Budra
Director: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.
Original air date: June 14, 1991
In the cold open, one morning, Danny meets Mr. Ernst, who’s ready to do some fishing.
He’s really excited about it.
Then his tackle box falls behind the front desk, so he bends over to pick everything up.
Jake and Melody come by. Jake’s annoying Melody with a “stupid” (Melody’s term) ventriloquist’s dummy that seemingly a guest had left here. It’s not clear if the guy’s coming back for it or not, but Jake guesses “maybe next week”. In the meantime, Jake’s having way more fun with it than any teenager would actually have in real life, and he’s not even good at it. His lips constantly move.
Melody starts verbally sparring with the dummy until she realizes it’s a fucking waste of her time.
Anyway, Jake takes this as a sign that he’s getting good at this (he’s not), and he proceeds to use the dummy to insult Mr. Ernst. Melody cautions him, but…
Mr. Ernst is hella pissed and threatens to fire Jake if he acts up just one more time.
After the credits, at the lake, Melody is relating the incident to Brad, Ted, and Danny. Danny and Brad are unconcerned (Danny once saw Mr. Ernst bawl out a fence post). Melody declares this is the maddest that Mr. Ernst has ever been at Jake. Really? What about the various instances in “New Kid on the Block” (season 3, episode 04)? Brad says Mr. Ernst is not the type to hold a grudge, and Danny agrees. Ted guesses Mr. Ernst has forgotten about it by now.
Nope. Mr. Ernst is making Jake wear a dunce cap and a “Kick Me” sign, the latter of which has gotten him “a lot of nice attention from the guests”. Ugh, I can imagine. My yellow vest at work gets me attention from customers and coworkers. Also, back when I worked at Kmart, the manager hand-drew a sad face and taped it next to my name on my badge, because I didn’t get enough reward card or credit card sign-ups.
Also, Jake has to clean out Mr. Ernst’s boat, so he can go fishing. Brad is surprised Mr. Ernst goes fishing here, and Melody hits her. Jake explains Mr. Ernst stocked the lake. Wait, the girls and guys went fishing at the lake way back in “Battle of the Sexes” (season 1, episode 2). Why would Mr. Ernst need to stock the lake? Did the guests catch all of the fish?
Anyway, Jake finds a bunch of shit in the boat, including soda cans, candy wrappers, and a toaster. Yep, this is typical guest/customer behavior: throwing their shit wherever, because they’re “always right”. But why is Mr. Ernst’s boat just sitting out on the lake? Why wouldn’t it be in the boat house?
Jake removes something against Danny’s advice, and…
Jake runs off to get a bucket. The others laugh.
Mr. Ernst arrives, talking up his supposed fishing skills to the gang.
Mr. Ernst is pissed and demands to know who did this. Melody abruptly blames “the new kid”. Mr. Ernst and Brad are confused. Melody clears her throat, and Brad instantly gets in on the act, which isn’t a dead giveaway at all. Melody says it’s the new kid that Lucy just hired today. Mr. Ernst instantly disbelieves it. Melody passes along a fake apology. Mr. Ernst tells them to tell the new kid to get to his office to sign the payroll forms. He also asks for the kid’s name. I don’t understand what the girls say (because they speak simultaneously), but Melody then nervously comes up with “Jed”, which isn’t suspicious at all. Danny nearly fucks up their deception by betraying his ignorance of Jed – and then overcompensating with talk of their closeness, which isn’t a dead giveaway at all. Also, Jake’s come back with a bucket.
Mr. Ernst gets in a canoe and sends the gang to do their chores – except Ted, who’s done with his, but Mr. Ernst tells him to go the fuck away anyway.
Jake whispers thanks to Melody, and he’s the only one that remembers Jed doesn’t exist (seriously?!), so they’ve got another problem.
And it’s not just the fact that a nonexistent person has to sign work papers. What happens when Mr. Ernst decides to talk to Lucy? I mean I know she’s not in this episode, but she must be at the ranch if she “just hired” Jed – unless she and Kyle took off for another rodeo “just after” that.
The scene ends with a gag of Mr. Ernst accidentally throwing his paddle into the water. Ha.
Later, Mr. Ernst is goofing off in his office and has to quickly hide his shit and pretend he’s busy when there’s a knock at the door. Oh, look, his computer’s back. I notice it appears and disappears, depending on the episode. That might be a fun drinking game to play: take a shot whenever it changes.
The girls need Mr. Ernst to make an “executive decision”. “The pool man” just came by and is giving them a choice of two different types of chlorine to use in the pool. Is this a lucky coincidence, or did the girls just make this up? If the latter, they’re just digging themselves in deeper and can expect to be fired when Mr. Ernst finds out.
Anyway, the girls hand him both bowls, inform him that Jed is waiting outside, and leave him to make his decision. Brad locks the door on her way out.
So “Jed” is just Jake doing a stereotypical redneck accent on the other side of the door (admittedly, he’s pretty funny). Mr. Ernst can’t unlock the door with the bowls in his hands, and he can’t set the bowls down without spilling the chlorinated pool water.
After around a minute, Mr. Ernst just takes the forms that Jed needs to sign between his teeth and slides them under the door. Never mind punishing Jed for the boat incident. Mr. Ernst is so exhausted that he decides to take a nap.
Later that day, Mr. Ernst posts the new work schedule, which is an odd time to post it. He’s got Jed doing all kinds of stuff.
Melody decides they’ve gotta divide up Jed’s chores and cover them themselves. Why?! How does she expect this scenario to end?! Brad sees this for the stupid idea that it is and proposes telling Mr. Ernst the truth. Jake disputes that – not because they’d be in trouble but because Mr. Ernst would “never believe it”. Melody agrees with this (why?!) and adds Jake will get fired because of the boat. Brad relents and goes with Melody’s plan. Ted’s mostly silent during this scene except for saying “I don’t wanna work”, which is cute. Danny wants Jed’s “bunk time”. I guess he means breaks.
The next day (I think; they’ve done Jed’s chores for “two days”), the gang is exhausted, and Jake upsets the others by eating, because he gets hungry when he works. Melody wants to kill Jed, the character that she created. Brad suggests a “fatal accident”. Melody dismisses it, because there would be no parents that would show up and no body to claim. Ted suggests a “crippling accident”.
Buddy puts in his sole appearance in this episode by informing the others that Mr. Ernst wants to see Jed now. For whatever reason, they brought Buddy in on their deception. He’s about to explain why he agreed to this but doesn’t get the chance. We can guess it’s so his cousin, Jake, won’t get fired.
Mr. Ernst shows up and asks where Jed is. Melody says he’s in his bunk. Mr. Ernst wants Ted to get him. Ted objects. Mr. Ernst sarcastically asks if Ted was planning to write a symphony or an epic poem. This might be a joking callback to Ted’s saw playing in “Treasure Teens” (season 2, episode 08), although I admit I’m stretching it. Anyway, Melody decides they’ll all get Jed, and the teens – sans Buddy – quickly leave – except Jake, who Danny has to remind to come along (he’s really hungry). Mr. Ernst observes they get weirder every day.
As they get lunch or dinner, Mr. Ernst questions Buddy about Jed. These are the biographical details that Buddy pulls out of his ass: he’s from Chicago (who knows what Jake wrote down on the work forms?), he watches a lot of cowboy movies, his mom owns a worm ranch, he mountain climbs, he’s afraid of heights, he plays the guitar, he speaks Japanese, and he’s been to Australia.
The gang (sans Jake) arrives with “Jed”, who’s wearing the exact same clothes as Jake. Melody “accidentally” lets Jake walk into a tree and then makes the introduction. She and Danny bullshit a condition called “photophobia”, explaining Jed can’t be exposed to any light for 24 hours. “Jed” is guided over to a table. Mr. Ernst invites him to sit next to him, saying he’s got a plate of food for him and wants them to get to know each other over lunch. The rest of the gang (led by Melody) wants to leave. Jake objects, but Mr. Ernst agrees on privacy.
So the rest of this scene consists of Mr. Ernst “feeding” “Jed” through the top of the box and questioning him about various things based on Buddy’s bullshit biography. Jake bullshits his way through it (admittedly, he’s pretty funny). Mr. Ernst seals the box up, praises “Jed”, promotes him to “co-senior staff” (a lot more responsibility and a much bigger paycheck), and leaves.
Back at the boys’ bunk house, Jake cleans off with a towel, plays with the dummy, and relates the lunch date to the others, who are incredulous that Mr. Ernst fell for it. Brad is upset that Jed will be her boss. Ted is upset that Jed will make more money than him. Wait, what? Isn’t Ted senior staff? Or was he demoted upon his return? If so, then who is senior staff (if Jed is co-senior staff)? Danny votes to kill Jed. Ted adds Jed will die a horrible death, and Melody agrees. Brad suggests maybe Jed could just “disappear” or “quit and go home”. Ted suggests Jed could “get fired”, unaware of his “genius”. Jake lays out the plan, and the others are on board. Brad gets a cute insult to Ted in.
After the fade to black and silence, there’s some brief audio that sounds like someone talking. Weird.
After the commercial break (which comes very late in this episode with just under ten minutes of story left), Mr. Ernst overhears “Jed” insulting various people to Danny and Jake.
It turns out that the guys have a shitty scarecrow-looking thing that…they took the time to make, I guess. Why put this much effort into this deception?! You’re in too deep as it is and just digging yourselves in deeper!
Anyway, Jake’s doing a less convincing job than he did with the dummy (if that’s possible). There’s no way that Mr. Ernst can’t see him supplying Jed’s voice.
Anyway, when Mr. Ernst interrupts, the guys quickly leave to do their chores, seemingly leaving Mr. Ernst confused.
Later, at the corral, Brad is “begging” “Jed” to stop abusing a horse. She then slaps the horse’s ass, sending him running off and making it sound like Jed took off on him.
Mr. Ernst, who has overheard, comes over and questions Brad. To make it sound more authentic, Brad initially covers for “Jed” until pressed about it. She then “admits” “Jed” isn’t such as “great guy” after all. They talk about it for a bit, and Mr. Ernst tells Brad that Jed’s new and has to be broken in like a new pair of cowboy boots. He actually references his “aching feet” subplot from the series premiere. Brad gets a sassy comeback in, which Mr. Ernst takes as a straight (and correct) answer, confounding her. He instructs her to be a little more tolerant, which frustrates her. She asks Jake (who had been sneaking around and observing the situation) for their next course of action. Jake has a “great idea” for Jed to do something “very, very bad”.
Later, Mr. Ernst overhears “Jed” insulting him and goes to investigate, but…
After “accidentally” splashing him, Ted takes Mr. Ernst’s glasses to dry them, leaving him blind.
For some reason, Mr. Ernst can’t open the door to the tack room, even though it’s not locked at all (maybe Jake was holding it closed), but then Jake and “Jed” come out, fighting. Jake defends Mr. Ernst against Jed’s insults.
“I love my Uncle Ben!!!”
Jake throws “Jed” over a fence.
“Jed” then gets up and runs away. Mr. Ernst fires Jed and tells him to be off the ranch by sundown. Mr. Ernst gets his glasses back from Ted, expresses his appreciation to Jake, and tells Jake to forget about all of his chores this afternoon. Jake thanks him.
After Mr. Ernst leaves, the gang is happy. Melody says she’s sad to see Jed go, because he was “the best-looking guy on this ranch”. Danny whacks her with his hat, and the guys chase after her.
Later, Jake’s fishing by the lake. Danny comes by and thanks Jake for doing his fence repair work, which confuses Jake, because he didn’t do it. I guess Danny had asked the others about it first. Jake thanks Danny for doing his shed painting, despite the fact that Mr. Ernst told him to forget about his chores this afternoon, so he really shouldn’t know it was done. Also, he assumes Danny did it, which means he must have asked everyone else about it first. Anyway, Danny didn’t do it.
The girls arrive, assuming the guys mucked out the stalls for them, which they didn’t.
A bit of tape damage or an encoding error.
Ted comes by, demanding to know who chopped up his wood, because he wanted to try out a new chainsaw. None of them did it. Arguing ensues.
Mr. Ernst paddles by and asks why they’re not doing their chores. They explain they’ve all been done by someone else. Mr. Ernst “remembers” “Jed did some of the chores”. He came back and apologized for his behavior, which was caused by breaking up with his girlfriend in Chicago. Mr. Ernst decided to give him a second chance, because “he is the best worker on the ranch”. He leaves, leaving the teens confused. “Scary” music starts playing. Jake guesses they’ve entered the Twilight Zone.
Later, the guys meet in front of their bunk house. Jake goes on about Jed coming to life. Danny guesses Mr. Ernst has gone insane and imagined Jed. But then the girls come by. They’d overheard some guests in the lodge talking about how nice that Jed was. Melody declares “Jed lives!” Panicked arguing ensues. Jake tries to be the rationale one, completely changing his position in less than a minute.
Ted checks inside and asks who’s been sleeping in “his” bunk. So Jed has an assigned bunk? Why? Isn’t the messy bunk Kyle’s? Come to think of it, this is the first episode in which we see the inside of the boys’ bunk house since Ted’s return, so the sleeping arrangements are unclear. Presumably, five people sleep here (Danny, Jake, Buddy, Kyle, and Ted), but there are only four bunks. Was Ted like “Yo, Bud-man! Out!”?
After Danny, Ted, and Jake disavow ownership of the stuff by the bunk, Jake concludes “Jed lives!”, which was his position at the beginning of the scene. What the hell is up with his flip-flopping in this scene?
Ted literally slaps some sense into Jake and then apologizes. Jake thanks him. Danny, taking Jake’s side, puts forth various “reasonable explanation[s]”: mass hallucination, hysteria, or a collision with an alternate universe. They all declare Jed doesn’t exist.
Oh my fuck, it’s Jed!!!
“Jed” mentions the worm ranch that he worked at, apologizes to Brad for taking off on her horse, and apologizes to Jake for the fight (citing “that thing” with his girlfriend).
Jake asks who he is, and “Jed” declares he’s Jed. Melody is so shocked that she can’t get any words out. Ted casually tells Jed that he doesn’t exist. Jake adds they made him up.
During all of this, Brad abruptly turns her head and looks at the ceiling for no apparent reason. Weird.
Jake finally tells Jed to go back into their imaginations, and Brad cutely agrees with what he’s saying in an “I’m going insane” kind of way.
Despite the fact that “Jed” seemingly believed he was real until a few seconds ago, he agrees to disappear.
Suddenly, a flash goes off.
Yeah, as you probably guessed, Mr. Ernst was in on it all along, because he knew Lucy would never hire somebody without checking with him first. Brad points at…Melody, I think, as if saying “See? Yeah? Good point!” But shouldn’t they all have known that? Anyway, “Jed” is actually Andy Ryan (the actor is uncredited; fucking seriously, show?!), who works “down at the Double B Ranch” and agreed to help Mr. Ernst after he explained the gang’s deception. Mr. Ernst wanted to play along to see how far that they’d go, and they didn’t disappoint him. Also, he’s got a picture to remember this incident by. Mr. Ernst gives Andy a lift back, and they have a laugh over the gang’s expressions.
Melody says she’s learned a valuable lesson from this:
Never save Jake’s skin again.
The others join in the Jake bashing.
The (very short) pre-credits scene at the end, on another day, has Jake packing up the dummy, because the guy is coming by later today to pick him up. Melody is relieved, because he reminds her just a little too much of “the late, great Jed”. Jake says he doesn’t need to see another dummy as long as he lives. Suddenly, the dummy seemingly talks. Melody and Jake slowly back away in fear.
Mr. Ernst waits until they’re barely out of frame before revealing himself. Surely, they would have seen him.
So ends another day at the Bar None.
This episode was kind of funny, but it makes absolutely no sense and wouldn’t work in the real world. In fact, I’d go so far as to question why it exists. Jake fucks up. Melody comes up with a hasty, poorly-conceived cover-up and drags the others into it. Then they just keep digging themselves in deeper, piling up deception after deception. At least, Mr. Ernst was an extremely good sport about it, humorously teaching them a lesson instead of, y’know, firing their asses.
The episode seemed to be going for a “scary” feel near the end. Another episode to add to a Halloween marathon, I guess.
Finally, I want to make an interesting observation: I actually remember a lot of this episode from watching it back in the day – much more than from any other episode. I remember lines of dialogue and visuals. I have no idea why, though.