As a dinner is held in honour of Liz's return, everyone reflects on what has been happening in their lives. Josh has moved in with his newly reunited mother. Rena and Mary are deciding how to proceed after the news that Mary is pregnant. And Ben has been crushed with guilt over Emma's disappearance, while Joe has been trying to get over the betrayal of his former girlfriend. Meanwhile Ben and Joe debate over whether they should invite a new schoolboy into their group.
Summer had recently begun in the town of Wiksteria, and with it not having the best of starts, my friends had decided to celebrate another occasion...
In Joe's house, we see a banner reading "Welcome Back, Liz!".
Liz Taylor had permanently returned from her therapeutic resort, which, in her boyfriend's mind, called for a dinner party...
Flash to Liz being driven to Joe's house by her mother, Amanda Taylor. She kisses her mother goodbye at the car window after stepping out, and Amanda says "goodbye" before driving away.
Due to Ben Ashdale's noise-prone new sister and Liz's friends wanting to keep in with the element of surprise, Joe Hadland had graciously offered to host the part himself, recently doing anything he can to distract himself from his own issues...
Liz walks up to Joe's front door and rings the doorbell, at which Ben answers. "Hey, honey," Liz says with a smile, before giving Ben a quick kiss. He smiles back, and Liz goes on to ask, "Why did you want me to meet you here?" having not been told. "Here's why," Ben tells her, stepping back and offering Liz passage inside, and she is overwhelmed to view Katie, Joe, Rena, Mary, Josh, Dean and Alex (Josh's stepbrother) all sitting around a dinner table beneath a "welcome back" banner. She smiles joyously.
Being a Ben-planned event, the dinner party began formally...
Flash to the pupils eating appetizers as each one socializes with the guest of honor.
...and continued down that road...
Flash to everyone about to tuck in, and Ben taps his glass with his fork. He stands up, "I would actually like to say a few words..." he starts, and everyone around the table groans. He ignores them, and looks down to Liz, however, as he is about to talk, the doorbell rings. Everyone pauses. "Are we expecting anyone else?" Liz wonders. "No..." Ben says, turning to the door. "I'll go answer it," Joe says, standing up and heading to the door as everyone watches. He opens it to an unfamiliar face, who stands on the porch with a broken down car on the road just beside the house. "Um, hi..." Joe says to the obvious schoolboy. "Hello," the boy says, "I'm Fraser, and..." he gestures the car behind him, "My ride just broke down... and my cell's out of charge. Can I use your phone to call my friend to come pick me up?" Fraser requests. "Sure..." Joe says, quickly walking away from the door and back over to the dinner where everyone looks at him expectantly. He shrugs before grabbing the wireless phone off the wall, he then heads back to the door and hands it to Fraser who begins dialling.
Of course, this event wouldn't be keeping in with tradition if something weren't to go wrong.
Fraser finishes his phone call and hands it back to Joe. "I'll just wait out here I guess..." Fraser says. "Cool," Joe tells him immediately before slamming the door in his face. He then goes to sit back down in his place at the table and everyone begins staring at Fraser, who is just in view through the window. It suddenly thunders and begins to rain, and all of the guests turned to one another, wondering what to do.
Benjamin Ashdale had a caring nature, an instinct to think of others before himself...
If you were to ask Ben where he acquired this good nature, he would tell you that it was due to his granddad...
10 Year Ago
A young Ben is at the park playing with other children, while Leonardo watches from a park bench. He sees Ben give out some sweets to the other children, then a little later a plump and angry boy grabs them from him and violently pushes Ben to the ground. Leonardo quickly gets up from his seat and runs over. Later, we flash to Leonardo and Ben walking home. "So why did that boy push you down, Benjamin?" his grandfather asks him. The infant Ben looks up with innocent eyes and shrugs. His granddad looks to ponder and then asks, "Did you give him some of your candy?" Ben shakes his head. "But you gave some to the other boys," Leonardo states. "I don't like that boy," Ben admits. "But how do you think it made him feel to be left out?" Leonardo asks, causing Ben to merely shrug again. "I bet it made him feel angry," Leonardo explains, "There's nothing more important you can learn, Benjamin, then how to look at your actions through other people's perspectives. You must always be aware of how your actions affect others. And despite what you may feel towards that person, you should always choose to make that affect positive. Because we are who we are, Benjamin. I assume that boy is unpleasant and maybe even mean towards you at school. But you don't know why he is that way or what is home life is like. He has such little self-esteem that he felt the need to push you over when you left him out of giving candy. Now, that may not make you feel sorry for him, Benjamin. But you must always have empathy. Think of others before yourself, and you'll be a great man." Leonardo lowers himself to Bens height, as they stop in their tracks, and he asks, "Do you understand, Benjamin?" Ben nods his head with a smile, and the two embrace lovingly.
...And so now, Ben was in a predicament...
Now. At the dinner table Ben is staring outside, to where Fraser is standing alone. Suddenly there is loud thunder and Ben looks to see the heavy rain falling from the sky.
...A predicament where he knew he had to do what was right...
Ben gets up from his seat and goes towards the door, with intention of inviting Fraser in. But suddenly he stops as Joe is in his way. "What you doing?" Joe asks. "It's raining. I'm letting him in," Ben responds. "No, we don't need to do that," Joe says. "Why not?" Ben asks. "Because this is my dinner and I want the people I want here. I want our best friends. Not him," Joe takes his seat again as he finishes with a smile, "Simples." Ben looks at Joe and then he turns to Fraser outside in the rain.
...But the question was 'how'?
Everyone is still looking at Fraser through the window and he is standing calmly outside being soaked by the rain. "I feel bad for the guy..." Ben tells Joe, "We should let him in." "I agree," Katie, who's next to Joe also, interjects. "No," Joe dismisses. He then stands up out of his seat and approaches the window, proceeding to draw the drapes. "There," he says, "Problem solved." Joe goes back to the table and sits down, as the scene cuts to flashback.
Joe Hadland had often had a relatively easy time trusting people, which is why now, he vowed to be more careful...
We see Joe lying down on the couch in Dr. Sonya's office, and the latter, who's sitting at an armchair beside Joe, declares, "Right, I think that's about it for today." "Are you sure?" Joe asks, "It feels like the hour just flew by." "Well, it's up. Time for you to go home. But I feel we made some excellent progress today," the therapist smiles. "Alright," Joe says before hopping off the couch and walking over to the door. As he's about to leave, he turns to Sonya, who's moved to be sitting at his desk, and tells him, "Thanks." "Thanks?" Sonya asks, "For what?" "Just... you've been quite helpful lately and... I know I didn't exactly take well to these sessions at first, but...you've managed to make them bearable." Dr. Sonya smiles, "Thanks." "Thank you, Dr.," Joe says before leaving the office and adding, "I'll see you tomorrow." Once Joe is gone, Dr. Sonya approaches the door and locks it, he then returns to his desk where he sits down and delves into his drawer, from which he pulls out his tool chest. He begins to unlock it...
Joe then flashes back to him and Silvia sitting in a restaurant together, on a date. "I'm glad we did this," he tells her. "Me too," she assures him with a smile. They each grab a menu and begin looking at it when Silvia's cell phone rings. "Who is it?" Joe wonders. "Oh, um, I just quickly gotta take this," she tells him. "Cool," he tells her, smiling, and she stands up from the table. "Love you," Joe tells her, smiling, as she begins to walk off, and Silvia gives him a quick wave, "Love you, too," and smiles back. Her smile fades into a frown as she walks further forwards and goes around the corner to another segment of the restaurant containing all empty tables, stopping next to a fish tank. She looks at her cell phone and utters, "Ugh, Jacob... Stop. Fucking. Calling me." She then takes a quick look around to make sure no one is looking, and discretely drops her cell phone into the fish tank, causing it to frazzle and electricity to surge through the water. Silvia then looks over again to check no one is in this particular section of the restaurant and seems content that she went unseen; she then looks to the dead fish floating in the tank and casually walks back to her table.
The flashbacks cease, and Joe is still sitting at the table. "Can we stop fretting about him now please?" he requests, "Let's eat."
With all that was going on, no one had noticed how unusually quiet Mary and Renato were being. Luckily for them, because there was something on their minds...
Flash of the dinner, Mary and Rena are silently eating dinner.
...It wasn’t the boy outside. And it wasn’t the delicious food that Joe's mother had prepared. No, there was a bigger distraction on their minds...
3 Weeks Ago
Rena and Mary are sitting across from each other at Miguel's home. "So you want to keep it, right?" Rena asks. Mary nods silently. "Good, good...that's fine...we can do it...my dad will help...and we, we...have the money...and, and..." Rena stops when he realises he's rambling to himself. Rena looks at Mary and asks, "When will we tell people?" "We'll tell your father," Mary responds. "And our friends?" Rena enquires. "We should tell them all together," Mary says. "So when Liz gets back?" he asks. Mary nods, "There’s gonna be a dinner when she gets back. We'll tell everyone then." Rena nods, thinking it sounds good. But then he stops and asks, "How will we tell them?" Mary looks up at him and they both blankly stare at each other, both unsure to the answer of Rena's question.
...And so Mary and Rena were in a predicament of their own...
Now. At the dinner table, Rena and Mary continue to eat silently. Ben turns to Rena and asks, "What's your thoughts, Rena? We should let him inside, right?" Rena looks blankly and responds, "I don't care."
...A predicament that was all they could think of.
Across the table, Josh is seen sitting with Alex. "Thanks for inviting me here tonight," the latter says, quietly. "No problem," Josh tells him, smiling, "You've been kinda quiet, you not wanna try mingling with anyone?" "Nah," Alex replies, "I'm not that comfortable meeting new people..."
That being said, Josh began thinking about the last time he'd been around new people. When he met his 'new family'.
In flashback, we see Josh walking through the door of his mother's new Wiksteria home. "Well the place looks great," Josh tells Joanna, continuing in the conversation they were having outside. "Thank you," Joanna replies, "We're almost done decorating." Josh smiles, before a man is seen approaching – Ted. "Ah, you must be Josh," he says, extending a hand, "My wife's told me all about you." Josh shakes his stepfather's hand and soon notices the teenage boy hiding behind his father. "And this is Alex?" Josh wonders, and Ted confirms it, pulling Alex in front of him. "Hi," the shy boy says, giving a slight wave, and Ted goes on to suggest that they not stay standing and offers Josh a look around. He accepts.
Later, after Josh has seen the house, Ted opens a final door, and Josh walks into the room, seeing nothing but a bed. "And this is your room," Ted tells him. "My room?" Josh asks, confused. "It's the biggest one, and I know it's a bit bland, but we figured that you could decorate it yourself, however you want." "'We'?" Josh questions, to which Ted replies, "Your mother and I." "I'm confused..." Josh states, "You want me to live with you?" "Well, that's really up to you," Ted states, "The room will always be here, whenever you want to use it. I just want to make it clear that you're welcome in our home whenever you want. You're as much my son as Alex is." "Right..." Josh says, not knowing what else to say. "I know," Ted begins, "Why don't you stay here for say... a week? Get to know your mother and new brother a little better?" Josh ponders this, and finally answers positively, "I'd like that." Ted smiles.
Downstairs, in the kitchen, Ted tells Joanna what he just offered Josh, and Joanna tells her husband, "The kids are so lucky to have you." "No, darling," Ted replies, "I'm the lucky one."
The flashback ceases and Josh remains staring at a silent Alex.
Everyone is enjoying the meal and commenting on how nice it is, when suddenly another noise of thunder causes them all to look at Fraser outside. Suddenly Liz asks, "Joe, this isn't really my place, but have you considered letting that boy wait for his ride inside the house?" "Yes I have," Joe responds, "And I don't think it's a good idea." "Why not?" Liz asks. "This is the first time that we've all been together in ages. I want it just us. Why should some random ruin that for us?" Joe explains. "I agree," Josh adds, "Besides, he's always seemed like a weirdo." "Really? A weirdo? I think he's cute," Katie says. Joe shakes his head and says sarcastically, "Well, Katie, you make a persuasive point, but I'm still not letting him inside." "You would let him in, right, Dean?" Ben asks. Dean looks over and says, "Well, if he was a brother I would." "Isn't that a form of racism?" Liz asks. "I'm just looking at the facts," Dean says, "A brother might steal your car but psycho kids who chop up other kids are always white." "Now it's getting ridiculous. The kid is obviously harmless," Ben argues. "I agree with Dean. There's something really off about the kid. Something in my gut is telling me to stay away from him," Joe says. Ben shakes his head, "It's not this kid you want to stay away from, Joe, it's the whole world. I understand you've been screwed over a few times recently, but that doesn't mean you should lose faith in people." Having struck a nerve, Joe stands up angrily, "Get out!" Ben stands, "Gladly. I will go and sit with the boy. It'll be like the first thanksgiving - the Indians didn't know the Pilgrims but they took a chance and brought them food." "Yes, and then the Pilgrims scalped them, you idiot!" Joe retorts. Liz shakes her head, "I think you both have the story very wrong." "Well, anyway, I'm going to do the right thing," Ben says and goes out the door to join Fraser. Liz stands and says, "Sorry Joe," before following him. Katie is then going through her bag and begins fixing her make-up in her mirror and redoing her lipstick before following. Joe watches the three leave and then sits with an angry exhale.
With Ben, Liz and Katie gone, the rest of the dinner party sit in silence. "Well..." Josh says to Joe, "Way to go on losing the guest of honor." Joe merely gives him an angry stare and continues eating. "Awkward..." Dean utters. "Shut up," Joe says. "Don't tell him to shut up," Josh argues. And as the two of them begin bickering, Alex is seen sitting back in his chair, staring lazily into space. His eye then quivers and moves to be looking at the dinner knife resting next to his plate. Suddenly, we are shown a flash of an axe swinging in an unknown location and Alex stirs in worry at the dinner table. "What's wrong?" Josh asks his step-brother, noticing that he's now shaking and taking a break from his argument with Joe. "That's it," Dean announces, "I'm going outside, too." He begins to walk to the door and turns to Josh, asking him whether or not he's coming too. At that moment, however, Alex gets up and walks off to another room, still shaking. "Um... Just a sec," Josh says, chasing after his step-brother, and Dean proceeds to leave the house.
As Mary Strange thought of ways she could tell her friends of her situation, she began to let other worries fill her head...
Mary is playing with her fork at the table, staring into space.
...worries such as if she would be a good mother - or if she would be like her father.
5 Years Ago
Mary is sitting at the breakfast table, within the Strange's old city house, reading a newspaper as her father walks in the room. Mary shows the headline, "Prostitute murdered." Mary remarks, "Horrible." Henry looks over and asks, "What's horrible about it?" Mary looks surprised, "An innocent woman was killed." Suddenly Henry looks angry, "Innocent? INNOCENT?! IS THAT A JOKE?! Only in a world as sinful as this one would we call that woman innocent! A world where a deadly sin occurs on every street corner, everyday, and where people do nothing about it! Whether it's a lust and disease spreading whore such as that! Or a fat man who eats himself to death! Or a corrupt lawyer who lies for a living! Or, or, you..." Henry's hateful eyes gaze up to a scared Mary as he notices her short dress and make-up, he then screams, "A vain girl, so desperate to look appealing on the outside, cause she's so ugly on the inside! WHY ARE YOU DRESSED LIKE THAT?!" Henry throws everything off the breakfast table, causing Mary to stand and step back with a fearful exhale. Henry grabs her forcefully and begins shaking her, "DO YOU WANT MEN TO LUST AFTER YOU?! YOU SINFUL SIREN! TAKE IT OFF! TAKE IF OFF!!!!" Henry slaps her across the face as Mary turns and heads for her room. Henry shouts after her, "Whoever killed that whore, was a killer of sin - warrior of the Lord! They did this world a favour! Just as I am doing the world a favour by ridding you of sin, Mary! And when you have a child, sweet daughter, you will do your duty by ridding them of sin too." Henry ends with a smile, as Mary looks at him and then disappears to her room to change.
Mary suddenly stands from the table with a disturbed face and heads for the door. Rena stands and watches her concerned, "Mary? Mary, you okay?" Rena turns to Joe and apologises before following her out the door. Joe is left sitting alone.
With no friends left to talk to, Joe had nothing better to do other than reflect further on his trust issues...
Joe continues to sit in silence.
...continuing with the oldest and most terrible of all.
We see Joe and Matthew in a basketball court together, shooting hoops. Joe manages to score a basket and Matthew smiles, seeming worn out. "All right, I think that's enough for today. I better get you home to your mom." "Five more minutes?" Joe suggests, but Matthew shakes his head. "Nah," he says, "I'm beat. Come on; let's get back to the car." Joe concedes and begins to follows his father, bringing his basketball with him. "I had fun today," Joe says happily on the way to the car. "Yeah, me too," Matthew replies. "Maybe we could do stuff like this more often?" Joe suggests. "Hopefully. I plan to stick around, as long as your mom's okay with it." The two of the proceed to get into the car. "I'm sure she will be," Joe says, "I'm sure she wants me to get to know my dad, and for you, you know, to be part of my life from now on..." he trails off. "I agree," Matthew says, "I hope I'm in your life for a long time." Joe looks up at him from the passenger seat, "Really?" Matthew puts his hand on his son's shoulder – "Really. You can trust me." Joe smiles.
In the present day, Joe turns around to look at the people out the window, all of which seem to be having fun. He then sighs and continues to sit in silence.
As Joe sits at the table, Brian and Annie are seen descending the stairs. "Where is everyone?" Annie wonders, taking a look around. Joe merely points at the window behind him where the dinner party guests are visible. "Well, why are they out there? Why aren't you?" Annie asks, confused. "'Cause they prefer some random to me," Joe says sulkily. "Well... I came down for tea, so I'm gonna go make that..." Annie says, as she leaves the room, she stops at Brian and asks him to talk to Joe, and once she's in the kitchen, Brian goes over to the table and sits opposite Joe. "So, what's up?" Brian asks. "Some kid showed up and I wouldn't let him in – they didn't like that," Joe explains, still set in a sulky manner. "Well, why didn't you let him in?" Brian asked, trying to remain casual. Joe looks up at him and grunts, "Don't trust strangers." Brian is silent for a moment, and then points out, "Well... you trusted me." "No I didn't, I spent like a month trying to get rid of you," Joe reminds him. "Yeah, but... you still took a chance on me, maybe you should do the same for the new kid," Brian says. Joe looks up at him, considering this. "I'm not so sure..." he says. "Well, I am," Brian tells him, "Now get the hell out there before I run out of sentiment." Joe smiles and stands up, "Thanks Brian," he says before proceeding to leave the house. Annie then emerges from the kitchen without any tea, and smiles at her boyfriend. Outside, everyone looks at Joe as he emerges from the house. "I'm... I'm sorry," he says gruffly, before sitting down. Everyone smiles and the dinner party commences.
In Joe's house's back garden, Josh approaches Alex, who's standing still out in the rain. As he nears his step-brother, he flashes back.
1 Week Ago
Josh is seen sitting on the couch adjacent to his father. "Hey, so... mom's new husband offered to let me stay with them a little while." Bob snorts, and doesn't respond. "What's that meant to mean?" Josh wonders, "Do you not like them?" "No, Josh, I don't like them," Bob admits, "I don't like the woman who abandoned me with a baby, nor her new husband who clearly doesn't know what he's getting himself in for." "Still..." Josh says, "She's my mom." "No... she's not," Bob says, clearly getting worked up. "So, can I go or not?" Josh wonders, a little confused. "No," Bob states. "You... you can't tell me what to do," Josh argues. "Then why you ask me?" Bob points out. "I'm polite like that," Josh says angrily, "Which is more than what can be said for some people." "Josh, if you wanna go, go!" Bob roars. "Yeah? Maybe I will! Maybe I'll stay longer than a week, too. Maybe I'll never come back!" Josh yells without thinking. Bob doesn't answer, and Josh simply storms out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
In the present, Josh stands next to Alex. "You alright?" he asks. "Yeah," Alex says emotionlessly. "Wanna come back to the dinner party?" Josh wonders. "Sure," Alex says, still staring into space. They begin to walk back into the house. "What, um, what was wrong?" Josh wonders. "Nothing," Alex says, but when they make their way through the kitchen, he sees a set of knives in a stand, and we see another flash of an axe swinging in an unknown location.
Everyone is talking, eating and being cheerful at the dinner, as they all include Fraser in their conversations. Suddenly Mary and Rena interrupt by standing to their feet. Everyone ceases their talking to give them their attention as Mary says, "Excuse me." As everyone's eyes turn to them, Rena begins, "So, we have something to share." Mary takes a bit of paper out her pocket. She then begins to read it:
We have some sudden news to share,
News of something quite a scare,
The friends at the dinner table are all listening attentively.
We need your welcoming and generous heart,
Ben is listening, while sitting beside Fraser.
We need your experience that's made you so smart,
Joe is listening as his visions of Matthew, Silvia and Dr. Sonya clear from his head.
And we need your ideals of family that's really quite an art,
Josh is sitting with Alex, both listening.
For if we can take a value from each our peers,
Then this baby that's coming will have nothing to fear,
As Mary finishes, with fears, Rena holds her tight. The friends are tearing themselves and they each all stand to hug and congratulate Mary and Rena.
Although Ben always had a need to do the right thing. This need had recently been stronger than ever...
As everyone runs towards Mary and Rena, Ben stops in his tracks. He stands motionless and stares into space, suddenly a depressive look is visible on his face.
...due to guilt.
3 Weeks Ago
It's night, by the river where Emma fell. There is policemen all around, searching the area within markings of yellow tape, and divers searching within the water. Ben is standing with a policeman who says, "We've searched the whole river. I'm sorry, son. We didn't find anything." Ben looks horrified as he turns towards the water and utters, "No, no, no...she has to be here. She has to be!" Ben runs into the cold river and begins splashing the water as he frantically searches and shouts, "Emma? Emma! EMMA!!" Ben stops as tears begin to fall down his cheeks and he cries to himself, "I'm sorry...I'm so sorry, Emma."
Ben turns away from Rena and Mary, as he begins slowly ambling away. He begins tearing to himself in a heat of guilt.
Summer had recently begun in the town of Wiksteria, and my friends would always remember it beginning with a dinner party in the rain...
Overview of the characters around the table together as the rain pours down.
...A dinner where secrets were announced...
Mary and Rena sit together as they laugh and converse.
...where fears were overcome...
Ben and Joe are seen doing the same.
...where an old friend was made welcome once more...
We see Liz smiling as she considers the dinner party a success.
...and where a new friend was made, who would certainly change things...
We see Fraser at the table as Katie stares at him dreamily. However, a car soon pulls up and he excuses himself to get into it. As he gets in the car, everyone else at the party waves him goodbye, and he smiles before leaving.