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'My So-Called Life' nostalgia recap: You got me in chains

Season 1 | Episode 18 | “Weekend” | Aired Jan 19, 1995

This week, in the penultimate episode of My So-Called Life, Danielle, the oft-ignored younger Chase daughter, gets a chance to narrate. Graham and Patty are preparing to go away for a couples’ weekend with Graham’s brother, Neil, and his girlfriend, Marla. Camille is helping Patty pack, and in a valiant best-friend effort to spice up Patty and Graham’s relationship (she’s still concerned about “that Hallie Lowenthal person”) she loans Patty some handcuffs. Scandalized, Patty contemplates them but ultimately ditches them in her bed before Graham can see.

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Rickie has been spending a lot of time at Angela’s, which is awkward because Rayanne, who is still his friend, calls and wants to hang out occasionally. While Patty frets over leaving the kids alone for the weekend, Angela tries to reassure Rickie that he’s still allowed to hang out with Rayanne, not missing an opportunity to ask if Rayanne has mentioned her recently. Graham returns home with yet another Hallie Lowenthal story, this time involving car trouble and him literally looking under her hood, and he finally mentions to Patty that Hallie broke up with her fiancé. Patty barely has time to process this unsettling information before Neil shows up—but with some new woman named Cheryl (Laura Innes) instead of Marla.

The four set off on their trip, and Patty and Graham are immediately annoyed by Cheryl’s loud opinions and cackling laugh. Upon arrival at the lodge where they’re staying for the weekend, Patty changes into a negligee Camille packed for her in an attempt to have a romantic moment with Graham. Just as things start to get hot and heavy, they’re interrupted by the loud sounds of Neil and Cheryl having their own romantic moment in the room next door.

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Back home, Danielle is loving hanging out with her big sister and her “cool friend” Rickie. Rayanne stops by to see Rickie and receives a downright icy “welcome” from Angela. Alone with Rickie in Patty and Graham’s room, Rayanne casually asks if Angela has asked about her recently. She sits on the bed and stumbles upon the abandoned handcuffs. In typical Rayanne fashion, she dramatically cuffs herself to the bed while Rickie panics. Turns out he had good reason to panic, as they quickly realize the key is nowhere to be found. Uh oh.

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Angela quickly discovers what’s going on, and they all try to hide the fact that Graham and Patty apparently own handcuffs from Danielle. “I’ll explain later. Like, when you’re 30,” Angela says. Meanwhile, Patty realizes she left the handcuffs on the bed and calls Camille, asking her to go to the house and take them back so the kids don’t find them. Angela panics when Camille and Sharon stop by, attempting to prevent them from going upstairs. She can only hold them off for so long, but by the time Camille enters the bedroom Rickie, Danielle, and Rayanne have created a decent cover story—Rayanne is faking sick, explaining her presence in the bed, as Danielle and Rickie strategically block the handcuffs from view. Angela is so entertained by the ridiculous sight that she starts cracking up. Somehow, Camille seems to buy it.

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Rayanne asks Angela if they can have a moment alone. Angela clearly doesn’t want to talk about what happened, saying nothing can change it. Rayanne didn’t want to talk, though, she just has to pee and wants Angela to bring her a jar. Typical. Sharon suggests they call Brian Krakow, who is smart enough to maybe have a solution to their predicament. Danielle, who still has a megacrush on her next-door neighbor, is thrilled by this turn of events. Brian and Sharon buy a new pair of handcuffs from The Pleasure Center, hoping the key will be the same, but it’s not. In the funniest moment of the episode, Sharon’s on-again/off-again boyfriend Kyle and his friend catch Brian seemingly on top of Rayanne as she yells, “It won’t fit! It’s too big!” regarding the key. To make it seem even kinkier, Rickie, Angela, and Danielle are all in the bedroom watching.

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Meanwhile, at the lodge, Graham, Neil, and Cheryl leave Patty alone almost all day as they search for somewhere to buy liquor. By the time dinner rolls around, Patty’s weeks of pent-up frustration manifest as she gets super wasted on brandy, making a huge scene in the lodge’s restaurant. The manager informs them they’re being kicked out come morning, and Neil and Graham have to literally carry Patty up to her room. The next day she is extremely hungover and regretful. She apologizes to Graham and accidentally brings up Hallie, revealing the true cause of her outburst.

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Brian takes apart the headboard, which results in the entire bed collapsing with Rayanne still on it. It’s still a success, however, as Rayanne is finally detached from the bed. She attempts to immediately split, which outrages Angela, but when Danielle gets a call that her parents will be home in 20 minutes, the kids all come together to clean up the house and reassemble the bed. Patty and Graham return home to a normal sight of the kids watching TV—normal aside from the handcuffs still attached to Rayanne’s wrist that they are hiding. Danielle watches as Patty unpacks the key, which she had accidentally taken with her on the trip. She surreptitiously passes it off to Angela, who removes the cuffs from Rayanne, saving the day.

Finally alone, Patty and Graham “reconnect,” with the help of the handcuffs. Angela intercepts Rayanne, who was (of course) trying to steal the key. “Weekend from hell,” Angela exclaims. “That was the best weekend of my entire life,” Danielle thinks, delighted.

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Best Danielle-ism: “My whole life is waiting for something to happen.”

Claire Danes Cry-Face Count: None. Although there’s nearly a laughs-so-hard-she-cries face.

Most Ignorant Teenage Moment: Rayanne attempting to bail while still wearing the handcuffs.

Angst-o-Meter: 6/10. While the angst is certainly underlying, this episode is more funny than sad.

If you’d like to follow along with my recaps, the entire series is available to watch for free on Hulu!