"May the Smartest Man Win" is the 38th episode of Desperate Schoolboys.
As a genius festival is held in Wiksteria, Ben and Joe get obsessively competitive. Rena decides to begin carrying around an imaginary baby, in preparation for being a dad. And Joanna tells Josh that he should bond with his new step-brother, but this leads to a shocking discovery.
Since moving in with his new family, Josh Miller had done some bonding...
Flash of Josh sitting at the Manning family dining table, playing a board game with Joanna and Theodore.
He had got acquainted with his mother...
Flash of Josh and Joanna having lunch together, talking.
And he had shared some common interests with his new Step-Father...
Flash of Josh and Theodore at a baseball field. Theodore throws a ball at Josh who hits a home run with the bat. Theodore watches it proudly and smiles, "Good shot, son!" Josh looks at Theodore and smiles back.
But there was one family member who Josh was having difficulty with...
Flash to Alex sitting silently during dinner.
For there was something aloof about Alex...
Josh attempts to engage with him but Alex then gets up from the table and walks away in a gaze.
Flash of Josh walking past Alex's room however he stops when he hears something, causing him to peer into Alex's room. He looks to see Alex talking to himself, looking out the window, inaudibly mumbling words to himself.
...And very cold...
Flash of Josh and Alex walking when suddenly a small bird falls dead in front of them. Josh steps back in shock, but Alex stands motionless. He then kneels down beside it and looks into its dead eyes. Josh standing behind him looks shocked.
So Josh decided to try and make an effort to get to know his new Step-Brother...
Josh knocks on Alex's door before entering. Alex looks over from his desk as Josh greets him, but Alex sits silently. "Me and my friends are going to the movie theatre. You want to join us?" Josh asks. Alex merely shakes his head, before turning his eyes back to his desk. But Josh persists, "Are you sure?" "I'm sure," Alex says. Josh sighs and then walks closer, "Alex, you need to meet people. You can't sit here every day." Alex turns his gaze to Josh, "When I met your friends at the dinner it was because my father insisted. But I don't usually like to socialise." "Alex..." Josh starts. But Alex interrupts, "Please leave me alone," Alex turns his gaze to the wall and stares, while Josh talks behind him. However Alex hears nothing that Josh says because suddenly a flash goes through his head. A pool of blood is all over the wooden floor. Standing atop the pile of blood is Alex, who lifts an axe and violently slashes it downwards. Alex forces the vision to clear from his mind as he stands and shakes his head. He turns to Josh, realising that he is still talking. Alex stops him, "Get out." Josh looks puzzled, "What?" Alex begins repeating quietly, "Get out. Get out. Get out." Suddenly Alex begins shaking and sweating as he grabs the desk with his hands, shaking it, and shouts, "GET OUT!" Josh quickly turns in alarm and exits the room. Alex begins to weep as he wheezes and then drops his head to the desk.
...But Josh believed it to be impossible. Mainly because Alex was hiding something, and Josh had no way of knowing what.
Josh stands outside the bedroom, listening to Alex wheeze. Josh looks concerned and suspicious.
The town of Wiksteria was hosting a genius festival...
We are shown a line of students with their parents lined up outside a stall in Wiksteria Park, signing up for the festival.
...Where children would be submitted to an IQ test...
Amongst the students in the line, we see Ben standing with Lydia, whose fussing over him.
...And only the person with the highest intelligence wins a meeting with geniuses.
After Ben's been signed up by his mother, he goes over to Liz who's sitting on the swings, observing, and takes a seat on the adjacent swing. "You signed up?" he asks her. "Nah," she says, "sounds kinda crummy, to be honest." "Yeah," Ben blindly agrees, "Yeah, I'm only doing it 'cause my mom wants me to." He then gestures to Lydia who's talking to a group of other mothers, exclaiming phrases such as "My son's gonna win!" and "All your children can do is hope for the best, I suppose...". "Right," Liz says, "You know anyone else who's signing up?" Ben then scans the queue before saying, "No. You?" "I think Katie's signing up, but I'm not sure if she's here yet. Hey, you okay?" she asks, suddenly noticing Ben's faraway look and depressed demeanour. As soon as Liz asks, he suddenly looks up and says, "Yeah, yeah, just, um..." "Thinking about Emma?" Liz wonders. "Yeah..." Ben admits quietly. "It's not your fault what happened, you know?" she reassures, but he just nods, still seeming upset. Liz sighs before scanning the crowd herself. "Hey, look, there's Joe. I didn't know he was signing up for this, you could go talk to him," she suggests. "Why?" he wonders. "'Cause your friends," Liz says in an obvious tone, "And your going through similar stuff. You're upset about Emma, he's upset over Silvia..." she explains. "Great, we can depress each other even more," he retorts, but Liz insists that Ben just go talk to him, and he eventually caves. Joe emerges from the queue, having just signed up for the IQ test, when Ben approaches. "Oh, hey..." Joe says, "You signing up for this, too?" "Yeah," Ben says, "But only 'cause mom wants me to" – he gestures Lydia again. "Right, yeah, I was only doing it 'cause... you know, I was bored and... stuff," Joe replies. "Yeah, yeah..." Ben says; an awkward silence ensues.
The thing about intelligence is that it can bring out competition where none was intended.
Ben and Joe look over to the IQ stall, before looking back at each other.
Dean is seen approaching the door of his grandparents' house, where he's currently staying, and answering it to Rena. "Um, hi..." Dean says, surprised. "Hey," Rena says, "Everyone else is busy and you're the only other person I could think of." "As flattered as I am, don't you think you could wait for—" "I can't be a dad!" Rena exclaims suddenly, leading Dean to offer, "Why don't you come in?" Soon, the two of them are sitting in Dean's living room. "So why the sudden panic?" Dean wonders. "It's just all getting so serious, you know? Mary's talking about doctor's appointments and Lamaze classes and breast pumps and it's all just suddenly hit me: I'm gonna be a dad. A dad. Me. I just... I don't think I'm up to the responsibility it takes to be a parent." Rena finishes, breathing heavily, and Dean asks him if he needs a paper bag or something, which Rena refuses. "Hey, you know what might help you prepare?" Dean suggests, "In health class once, they made us carry round a bag of flour for a week and pretend it's our baby, to teach us the responsibility of parenthood." "And you think that'll work?" Rena asks, smirking a little. "Well, couldn't hurt," Dean says. He then walks to the kitchen and Rena follows, watching as Dean takes a sack of flour from the cupboard. "Here," he says, handing it to Rena, "Carry this round, feed it, burp it, whatever, and you'll see you've got this whole Dad Thing down." "Okay..." Rena says, holding the sack of flour out in front of him and leaving the house with it.
Josh is sitting eating breakfast as Joanna walks in, "Morning." Josh greets her back, "Morning, mom." Joanna kisses him on the head before joining him, sitting down and also grabbing a bowl of cereal. "So are you enjoying it here, Josh?" she asks. Josh nods, "I really am. It's like a real family." "We are a real family," Joanna smiles. Josh smiles back. "So do you like Ted?" Joanna asks. "He's great," Josh assures her. "And Alex? I think the two of you could be great friends," Joanna says. "Alex, Alex is....odd," Josh admits, "I'm trying to get to know him, but..." Joanna nods, "Try a little harder. He's a complicated child." "He's crazy!" Josh corrects. Joanna shakes her head, "You don't understand, Josh. He's a very sweet and bright kid. He's just had a difficult past." "What happened?" Josh asks. "It was before I met Theodore and Alex," Joanna explains. "Did Ted do something?" Josh asks. "No, Ted saved him. Ted isn't his real father," Joanna says, "He's Alex's Uncle." "His Uncle?" Josh asks. "Ted saved Alex from Alex's parents. Not that long before I met them. Ted took him in and has loved him as his own son since. But the memories still haunt Alex. So try a little harder, Josh. Spend the day with him. Please," Joanna asks. Josh nods his head, "Alright."
Inside the Hadlands' house, Joe is sitting on the couch with an envelope in his hands - his IQ results. Annie looks over, "Why don't you open it?" "I'm waiting for Ben to get here. We're gonna' read them together," he replies. "I hope you two aren't taking this too serious. You two can get so competitive with each other," Annie says. Joe looks insulted, "We aren't children anymore, mom!" Annie shakes her head with a smile, not buying it. The doorbell then rings as Joe goes to answer it – it's Ben. They greet each other and Ben then comes inside and sits with Joe. "I'll go first then," Joe says as he opens his envelope. Joe smiles, "130." Ben pats him on the shoulder, "Congratulations." "Is that good?" Annie asks. "Good? It's practically genius. Bravo, Joe," Ben says. Joe smiles, "Thank you. So where are you?" Ben opens his and then utters, "139. First place in Wiksteria." Joe stands, looking a little distressed, "Well, well done, Ben." "Thank you," Ben responds, "And Joe I'd love for you to be my guest at the meeting with the geniuses." "Well thank you," Joe says. "You're being very mature," Ben adds. "Well, I think this can be a sign of real growth - that our competitiveness is behind us," Joe smiles, "Now, I suggest we call it a night. We want to be nice and refreshed for our meeting with the two geniuses tomorrow. Oops, or in my case the three geniuses." Joe takes Ben over to the door as Ben blushes at the compliment, "Oh, now, now." Joe then fakes a yawn before saying goodnight and then quickly shutting the door behind Ben. Joe quickly spins round and shouts over to his mom, "Is the library open all night?" "I think so. Why?" Annie asks. Joe responds, as he walks into the kitchen, "Oh, for god sake. Do you think that I'm gonna' let him humiliate me in front of the geniuses tomorrow?" "What are you talking about?" Annie asks. "Mom, he's smarter than I am! Ben will be sitting there rambling on to the geniuses about the cosmos, black holes, matter, antimatter, and I won't matter at all! I'm going to make myself a thermos of coffee and get down to the library!" "Oh, Joe, what are you going to learn in one night?" Annie asks. "I may not have an IQ of 139 but I'm a quick studier," Joe asks from the kitchen. Joe hits the coffee machine and then asks, "Mom, is there something wrong with the coffee machine?" "You need to plug it in," Annie informs him. "See, there you go, you won't have to tell me that again," Joe says. Annie shakes her head.
In the Ashdale house, Liz and Katie are talking on the couch. Meanwhile Ben is sitting studying from books at the table. He looks over to Katie talking and he thinks to himself:
Liz asks Katie, "How have you been?" "A little lonely if I'm honest. My family are all on holiday. There isn't much to do," Katie admits. "We should set you up with someone," Liz says. "Oh, you don't need to do that," Katie replies. "It'll be fun. We could double-date with someone. Right, Ben?" Liz turns to Ben, who's clearly in another world. "Ben?!" Liz shouts. Ben turns his attention to Liz.
Crap, what did she say? I'll just 'yes'...
Ben nods, "Yes." Liz smiles, causing Ben to smiles to himself. Katie looks over and asks, "What are you even doing? School is over." "He's studying for his meeting with the geniuses tomorrow," Liz mocks, "He wants to outsmart Joe. For god sake, Ben, isn't it enough that you got the higher score?" Ben shakes his head, "I can assure you that Joe is sitting in his house doing the exact same thing. You should have seen how eager he was to get me out the house." "Oh yeah, cause that couldn't have been for another reason," Liz remarks, causing her and Katie to laugh. Ben looks over, not amused. Katie says, "I guess all boys are the same. My brothers compete over everything. Who can run the fastest, jump the highest. They even had a strange one where they took my youngest brother, put him in a potato sack and then competed over who could roll him the farthest over the frozen lake out back. They loved that one..." Ben looks over with widened eyes as if Katie is crazy. Katie continues, "...Then one year the ice broke...and he went right through the ice. Then when his toe fell off the brothers told him to put it under his pillow for the toe-fairies....of course once they planted $5 under his pillow, well then it was all they could do to stop him from sawing off the rest of them." Ben suddenly stands with a nauseated face, "I'm going out!" Katie and Liz look over as Liz asks, "Where?" Ben shrugs, "Maybe I'll go to the library." "Oh, you'll see Joe," Katie says. Ben looks cross, "What?! Joe's at the library?!" "Yeah, I saw him walking there on my way here," Katie explains. "THAT WORM!" Ben shouts, as he runs out the door and slams the door behind him.
Rena is seen pushing a stroller along the sidewalk with the sack of flour sat in it, he then sees Dean stepping out of a shop and approaches him. "So, how's it going?" Dean asks casually. "Great, great..." Rena says a little stressed. "Where'd you get the stroller?" Dean wonders. "I just found it in the garbage, can you believe someone just threw it out? I mean, I had to clean a family of rats out of there, but it's in pretty good shape right?" "Right... how's the, uh... 'baby'?" "It's fine, it's fine," Rena says, "I dropped it a couple times and it tore a little, but I just taped it back up, it's fine." "You know you can't just tape up a child, right?" Dean asks. "Uh, what do you call band aids?" Rena points out. "Okay, well, good luck..." Dean says. "Bye," Rena exclaims, too cheerfully, and strolls off, getting odd stares as he does so.
Whenever Alex Manning closed his eyes, he saw the blood...
Josh and Alex are walking through the park together. Josh is talking about how nice it is they're spending the time together and should get to know each other. However a vision of blood splattering flashes through Alex's head, distracting him. He tries to blink the image of redness away.
...And no matter how hard he tried the blood kept returning...
Alex grabs his head and yells, ridding the vision of blood, when it returns. People look over concerned, as Josh grabs him and asks if he's alright. Alex is shaking as Josh looks around and assures passing people that he's fine. "Pull yourself together. People are looking. They think you're crazy. What's the matter with you?" Josh says. Alex straightens himself and looks blankly at Josh. "I understand that you're haunted by some memories. But I can't understand or help unless you talk to me," Josh says, "I want to understand. I want to help. I want us to be friends." Alex asks, "What do you know?" "I know you had problems with your parents, and that Ted saved you from them," Josh explains. Alex shakes his head, "You know nothing." "Then tell me," Josh persists. Alex looks at him but suddenly his hearing is taken up by a thudding noise. He looks round to find its source and sees a small boy bouncing up and down a ball. Alex stares at the ball, the thumping of the ball getting louder in his head. As he watches the ball it suddenly changes to an axe, thundering downwards and causing a violent spray of blood. The vision ceases and Alex yells again. Josh grabs him concerned but Alex pushes him off and says, "You can't help me." Alex then turns and begins running away through the park. Josh looks confused and shouts after him, "Alex!"
...Sadly for Alex there was no running from the blood, or the nauseating guilt that came with it. No matter how hard he tried.
Joe and Ben are seen in a room within City Hall, about to be introduced to the geniuses; both of them look extremely tired. "Hope you're ready," Joe says, smiling to himself before letting out a massive yawn. "Oh, I a – a – aaaaaaammm," Ben says, yawning as he speaks. He then sneezes loudly. Joe turns to him with an accusatory glance but then turns away. Ben sneezes again. "It was you!" Joe yells suddenly. "What, what was me?" Ben wonders, yawning again, then sneezing. "Sorry, I have a cold and it's heightening my allergies," he takes some pills from his pocket and downs them. "You were the one sneezing in the library all night," Joe states. "What are you talking about?" Ben asks. "You were there too?!" Joe exclaims. "Maybe..." Ben responds. "I can't believe you!" Joe yells. "Well, it's no different to what you did, studying in order to outshine me!" Ben argues. As the boys begin to get into a yelling match, two people emerge from a door – the geniuses. Ben and Joe don't notice and continue bickering. One of the geniuses then clears their throat to make themselves known and Ben and Joe stand to attention, however, Ben sneezes then faints. Joe lets out another yawn, leaning his head against the wall for a moment, leading him to fall asleep standing up, snoring loudly. The geniuses appear confused.
Rena walks into his house, pushing a stroller with only three wheels with a charred and squashed sack of flour in it. Mary, whose sitting on the couch, gets up to greet him, but is taken aback by the flour. "What... happened?" she wonders. "I wanted to learn the responsibility of being a parent..." he says, "But then I was at the bus stop with this thing and someone lit a cigarette and accidentally dropped it in the stroller. Then I had to stomp on the baby to put it out. Then I put it back in, but one of the stroller's wheels came off, and the baby fell out onto the road. Then the bus came..." He squints his eyes, as though reliving the painful memory."Let me get this straight," Mary says, apparently amused, "You pretended flour was our baby?" "Responsibility... parent... I'm not cut out to be a parent..." he declares. "Okay," Mary says, sitting back down on the couch. Rena joins her, abandoning the dead flour-baby. "First of all, a sack of flour is not an accurate substitute for an actual baby. Second of all, you have nine months to prepare for this stuff. Third of all, I'm not letting you out of my sight with our child. And finally, that idea to teach yourself responsibility was... really stupid," she tells him. "So you don't think I'll set our baby on fire and run it over?" Rena asks hopefully. "No," she assures him, "No one's good at being a parent to begin with, but they learn. And I'll be here to help you learn." He smiles and kisses her, before looking back over to the flour, "Okay," he says, "Will you help me get this stroller back to the dumpster I found it in, 'cause I'm pretty sure I saw a cockroach in it when our baby was on fire..."
Ben's eyes open. He looks around disoriented, seeing that he's lying on his couch. He gets up and then wanders into the kitchen where he hears Joe pouring a drink. Joe looks to see him, "Oh, hi Ben, surprised to see up so soon. How are you feeling?" Ben shrugs, "I feel, uh, not too bad. How long did we last at the genius meeting?" Joe pours Ben a drink too, who takes it with a, "thank you". "Not very long," Joe replies, "You know, whenever I'm envious of your higher IQ, I'll just think back to you drooling over the floor of city hall in front of the geniuses after having fainted." "Oh dear," Ben utters, "I'm sorry for being such an ass." Joe shrugs, "We're both in the wrong. I guess I was so fixated on this because, because, well things haven't exactly been easy for me lately." Ben nods sympathetically. Joe continues, "I thought I really found something with Silvia. You know, like you and Liz have." Ben pats his shoulder, "I could help you find someone, Joe." Joe shakes his head, "I don't want a pity date, please." Joe turns and exits the house, as Ben watches him with empathetic eyes.
We see Joe walking home from Ben's house.
Whilst walking, Joe is looking at his feet, and so can't see in front of him; because of this, he accidentally bumps into Katie, causing her to drop her purse. "Oh, sorry," they both say at the same time, before crouching down. Joe grabs Katie's purse from the ground and hands it to her, and they both stop for a moment before standing up. "I'm just on my way to see Liz," Katie says. "Right, she's at Ben's. I was just there," Joe explains. "I thought she might be," Katie says smiling, "Not that I'm that excited to see her, she's begun talking about setting me up with someone." "Yeah, I just got the same crap from Ben," Joe says, smiling. "Well... I'll be off then," she says, still with a smile on her face. "Right," Joe says, "See ya'." She goes to step around Joe who does the same, blocking her. This happens a few times before they finally make it past each other. As Katie walks away from Joe, he finds himself staring after her with a confused smile on his face, before turning around and walking away himself. Once he does so, Katie stops and looks back, only to see Joe walking away. She continues to make her way to Ben's place.
Josh is walking through the forest area of the park, looking around and shouting, "ALEX!" But he is met by silence. He continues to go into the forest, shouting for him, but suddenly he stops with a gape. His eyes widen and he stares in shock. The camera spins to reveal what he's looking at - a young girl lying dead on the park ground. Atop the body is Alex. Josh asks, "Alex, what did you do?" Alex's eyes slowly gaze up towards Josh, and the two boys continue to stare at each other.
There was a genius festival in the town of Wiksteria. And the children of the town had come to learn a little something about intellect. They had learned the silliness of petty competition...
Flash of Ben returning home, he throws the IQ score into the bin.
They had learned something of responsibility...
Flash of Rena sitting with Mary, when suddenly Rocky runs into the room and jumps on the bag of flour. As Rocky begins tearing the pretend baby to pieces Rena just shakes his head and smiles.
And they come to learn something about their own feelings...
Flash of Joe and Katie walking away from each other. Joe watches her with a smile.
For life is but a learning experience. And we should appreciate it while we still can, for the time will come when...
Josh stares in horror at the dead girl in the woods, as Alex slowly gets off the body.
...this learning experience we call life, is over.
Josh repeats, "Alex, what did you do?!" Alex dazedly stares at the body and the looks up at Josh, shrugging, "I didn't murder this girl... but I think I know who did."