This presented a very nice side of Mary, while also showing a rather disturbing bit of stupidity on her part, and on Donna's.
Here, Mary has a friend named Ellen, who is totally unable to attract boys because she is too smart, according to what we hear. Ellen is not unattractive at all, but is thought to not appeal to boys because she is bright, and doesn't work to have them huddle all around her doing her little favors like a really popular girl, Melanie, is shown doing at the malt shop. In that scene, several boys are seated around Melanie, who drives Mary nuts by using the word "divine" as often as modern teens say "like." Every time a boy comes into the shop and starts speaking to Mary and Ellen, even when sitting with them, Melanie calls out to the boy to come over for some silly reason or other and he obeys almost like a servant, immediately leaving Mary and Ellen's table.
Mary's "crusade" as the title goes, is to try to get a boy to ask Ellen to the big dance coming up. She is so committed to this task that she doesn't even worry about getting a date for herself. She tries to teach Ellen how to flatter boys and walk differently, etc. But none of her efforts pay off, and with the dance almost at hand, she is ready to give up. She tells her mother that she was so sure she'd get a date for Ellen that she promised her that if she couldn't, she wouldn't go to the dance herself.
Now this seemed kind of dumb to me. There's no need for both of them to miss the big school event just because one can't get a date. Their plans to see a movie together could easily have been done the night before, or after, and Mary could have still had a good time at the dance. I sure wouldn't want a friend to miss out on some fun just because I couldn't join them.
It seems, from what this script writes, that no girl in those days would even think of going to the dance without a date bringing her. I would think that a good many of the teens would be going "stag" leaving them free to dance with numerous people all evening and not feel tied down with one of them.
So Mary is not sure what to do about honoring her promise or not. Donna encourages her to honor the promise and never tries to teach her how stupid the promise was. I thought she should have told her to talk to Ellen about the whole thing, to suggest they see a movie together and have fun the night before the dance instead, since it would be obvious that Ellen wouldn't really want Mary to miss the dance just because of her. But no, honesty is not something they encouraged in this episode.
The next part will spoil the latter part of the show if you haven't seen it.
Ellen comes by the Stones' house and tells Donna and Mary that she has been invited to a fancy birthday party by a boy at her old school, and that she'd like to break her movie date with Mary. Mary is delighted Ellen has something special to do, and that she can now happily go to the dance without going back on her promise.
But Donna learns that Ellen is lying just to help her friend Mary feel free to go to the dance. Then she stupidly tells Mary about it instead of letting Ellen's lie solve the problem, or better yet, getting Ellen back to tell her that they know the truth and get her to realize that being honest is a better way for friends to treat each other.
To give a happy ending, there is another twist at the end, nothing surprising or particularly funny. Actually, there were almost no laughs in this episode other than the almost hypnotic way Melanie commanded all the boys to hang out at her table almost fighting over her, ignoring all the other girls.
Can't give this one more than a 4 out of 10.
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