- Madison is back in Erinsborough, at Paul's behest
- Madison brags about her cadetship at the West Waratah Star
- Paul suggests Madison do a series of profiles on people in the community
- Piper and Tyler agree to come clean to Brad and Terese that they want to be together
- Xanthe is devastated and takes it personally when Ben says he doesn't want to go to the formal
- Gary pays Ben $300 to take Xanthe to the formal
Ben presents Karl and Susan with tickets to the gig they wanted to go to. He claims he's been saving his tutoring money, and wanted to do something nice for them, since they've been so 'awesome' lately. (Have they?) They're reluctant to accept such a generous gift, but Ben insists, so they thank him profusely.
KARL: Best grandson ever!
Here be titles.
Xanthe and Piper are covering their faces with a green gunk - some kind of kale paste, apparently, which is meant to be good for the skin.
XANTHE: Everyone in Korea is using it!
PIPER: Which Korea?
Piper gets a text from Tyler, saying, 'Have you told your parents yet? I hate waiting...' Xanthe asks who the text is from, but Piper is keeping quiet. Xanthe correctly ascertains that it's a boy, but before she can force Piper to tell her who, Terese comes in and moans about the kitchen being a mess. Once she's gone, Piper says that Terese has been really grumpy since she stopped working.
Ben turns up, and Xanthe hides her face behind a magazine, much to Piper's amusement. He's come to talk to Xanthe.
BEN: I was thinking about what you said before, and... And I've changed my mind.
Xanthe slowly lowers her magazine, and grabs Piper's hand.
BEN: I think I will go to the formal after all. Do you want to be my date?
Xanthe squeals with delight and rushes over to hug him.
XANTHE: Yes, of course!
Ben ends up with nearly as much kale paste on his face as she has!
Brad is running a Blaze Outreach gym session at the Community Centre, and shows Madison, who's come to gather info for her article, around the place. He introduces her to one of the homeless kids on the programme (Scott Gaensler, though Brad doesn't name him) who is on one of the exercise machines. We learn Scott isn't allowed to sleep at the Centre, but there are some shelters locally.
Brad continues the tour with Madison.
BRAD: When these kids first turn up, they tend to be a bit guarded. But I work hard to make them feel like I'm a friend first, and -
Paul shows up, and Brad immediately goes into apology mode for what happened at the trial (Terese arranging false testimony from Cecilia Saint). But Paul says there are no hard feelings, much to Brad's surprise. Madison says she has everything she needs for her article, so Brad leaves them to it. Madison reports to Paul that her community interviews are going really well.
MADISON: Although I have a feeling my next one will be a bit of a handful.
Cut straight to Sheila in the garden, being interviewed by Madison, while Gary scrubs bird poo off a nearby sun-lounger.
SHEILA: I suppose you could say that I'm a type of matriarch around here. The neighbourhood even anointed me as the official local crone.
SHEILA: It means wise woman.
Sheila tells Madison she's like a community advisor.
SHEILA: Even the Mayor seeks my input before she makes any major decisions.
GARY: All the birds around here must have diarrhoea!
Sheila is embarrassed by Gary cramping her style, but continues to big herself up as a 'local treasure'. Xanthe and Piper arrive; Xanthe is 'literally hyperventilating' because Ben asked her to the formal. (Madison is continuing to record the conversation.) The girls decide to go inside to choose an outfit for the formal, and Xanthe asks for Madison's help in picking one out. She goes in with them.
Surprised at Ben's sudden change of heart, Sheila looks at Gary suspiciously.
Tom Quill is on the phone to Archie, telling him he can't borrow his credit card to buy a new blazer. Archie hangs up on him.
Terese comes in, and Tom explains that Archie isn't coping well with his mother Julie being in jail. It turns out Tom has summoned Terese for a meeting; he explains he's cut all ties with Julie, and that he'll never forgive her for what she did to Terese's family.
TERESE: Look, if I'm only here for you to express your sympathy -
TOM: No, look, please - hear me out. I know it's probably a long shot, but with me juggling day-to-day management of this place and Archie, I'm not up to it.
TERESE: What do you want me to do about it?
TOM: I'm offering you your old job back. Director of Operations.
TERESE: I'm not sure that I can do that.
TOM: I promise you that Julie will not benefit from your work in any way.
TERESE: No, it's not only that. It's just, the hotel, it has a lot of bad memories.
TOM: Yeah, I can understand that.
TERESE: And not to mention, I'm still facing charges for Paul's trial.
TOM: I can make sure you get all the support you need. Against those charges, and emotionally too. And besides, Lassiter's needs you.
TERESE: I'll need some time to think about it.
Xanthe is looking at potential formal outfits online, but Piper is distracted with her phone.
XANTHE: If you're gonna text a boy while I'm planning my formal, I need to know who it is.
PIPER: It's no-one!
XANTHE: Fine. Play it down all you want, but I already know who it is.
PIPER: Do you?
XANTHE: Well, I have my suspicions. Tyler, for one. I mean, you've liked him for ages, and I totally ship you guys, but - it'd never work. Your parents would lose it.
But Piper distracts Xanthe by talking about jewellery for the formal instead!
In the kitchen, Sheila confronts Gary over her suspicion that he had something to do with Ben changing his mind about taking Xanthe to the formal - and even drops a 'Gary Francis Canning' to make him fess up about paying Ben $300 to ask her. Sheila's appalled; she says she knows Gary's heart is in the right place, but if Xanthe ever finds out, she'll be shattered.
SHEILA: And that could ruin your relationship with her for good!
Susan is expressing concern to Karl about Ben spending so much 'hard-earned' money on the gig tickets for them.
KARL: Darling, he's getting paid to tutor a girl he fancies. He's hardly breaking his back down a coal mine, is he?
SUSAN: He's only doing it because he thinks we're struggling financially, and it's causing tension.
KARL: Yeah. Kind of true, isn't it?
SUSAN: No. No! If there's tension, it's because you're cheating the government to the tune of $5,000!
KARL: Oh, come on. Not declaring every single cent of income is practically a birthright in this country!
SUSAN: You know how dodgy that sounds, don't you?
But Karl protests that they could find many better uses for the money than giving it to the government - he doesn't agree with half of what they spend his taxes on!
SUSAN: Well then, run for office and become treasurer. No, actually, please don't do that.
Karl continues to protest, but Susan says they could get into serious trouble if Karl was audited - so she tells him he's going to the accountant today!
Paul is sitting alone. He watches as a barman puts a tray of glasses on the side, and the sound causes him to flash back to a prison door slamming. Nearby he sees someone eating dinner, and he has a flashback of the disgusting prison food.
Tom approaches, and asks if Paul's okay. Paul takes this the wrong way, and tells Tom not to patronise him. Tom insists it wasn't his intention.
TOM: It's good to see you out and about.
PAUL: Oh, how kind (!) And that's supposed to make up for your stepmother framing me, is it?
TOM: Yeah, Paul, you have every right to be angry. Julie ruined your life and she would have ruined mine. I'm sorry you had to go through that.
PAUL: I do not need your apology. And besides, Julie didn't ruin me. Look, a setback like that only makes me stronger. I intend to bounce back to where I was, in fact even higher. Starting with making sure Robinson's runs Lassiter's into the ground.
TOM: I was hoping we wouldn't make it personal.
PAUL: There's nothing personal about it. See, I like to win. You're in my way. Simple as that.
Terese turns up and tells Paul she wants to speak to Tom privately. But Paul says she can say whatever it is in front of him. So Terese tells Tom she accepts his offer of coming back to her job at Lassiter's. Tom is pleased and welcomes her back, but Paul looks furious.
Madison is interviewing Karl outside Harold's about his medical work.
MADISON: I've been told you're also a very well-known musician.
KARL: Oh, goodness! Well, I guess I am somewhat of a rockstar...
Karl gets a call from Susan, pestering him to go to the accountant! He apologises to Madison and leaves, as Susan browbeats him into going immediately!
Paul turns up, and suggests Madison do another community interview - this time, with Terese. Madison says she has enough people already, but Paul tells her to 'cut someone' to make room.
PAUL: What about Lauren Turner? I mean, she just runs a shop. Whereas Terese on the other hand, has been put in charge of the hotel, and the entire Complex.
Madison is easily convinced, and puts Terese on her list. Paul smiles to himself as Madison leaves.
Ben is playing the Neighbours theme tune on his guitar (!) when Piper turns up. She tells him Xanthe's wearing a red dress to the formal, so he should get her a matching corsage as a surprise. Ben says he'll remember that.
BEN: She's really keen on this formal stuff, hey?
PIPER: Big-time. And I'm glad you asked her. Finally admitting that you like her.
BEN: Is that what it comes across as?
PIPER: Come on, Ben. You don't have to play it cool with me.
BEN: I'm not, I...
PIPER: What, you're not into her?
BEN: No, it's not that. It's just... Me taking her to the formal wasn't exactly my decision.
PIPER: What does that mean?
BEN: Her dad paid me to do it.
PIPER: What, he bribed you? That's hideous? And what's more hideous is that you took it!
BEN: I only did it to get my grandparents a present. Give them something back.
PIPER: Yeah, at Xanthe's expense!
BEN: Maybe I should just fess up.
PIPER: No! No way, okay! If Xanthe finds out about this, it'll break her heart! You can't tell her, Ben - ever.
Terese comes in. She looks sadly at the plaque in reception for Josh and Doug, then greets Tom - she's here to sign her contract of employment. Madison turns up, and asks Terese if she'd mind doing an interview with her, as a 'local person of note'. Terese isn't sure, but Tom points out that Lassiter's needs some good publicity! (You're not kidding.)
TERESE: Okay. Well, I guess that's a yes.
Xanthe is discussing the minutiae of her plans for the formal with Gary and Sheila. She informs them that they need to be available for the entire day - they're her backup plan, 'in case Mum doesn't show'.
SHEILA: Has she said she's coming?
XANTHE: No. No, but we always talk about it. Mum said that the formal was the biggest night of a girl's life. So I emailed her, to let her know the deets.
SHEILA: And has she written back?
XANTHE: No. No, but I'm sure that she's really busy, you know. She'll answer if she has the chance to. That's why I need you guys.
GARY: I'd be honoured!
XANTHE: Great, I'm so excited. I really hope Mum can come.
GARY: Well even if she doesn't, that's okay. Because I'm more than happy to be the Caitlyn to your Kendall.
XANTHE: Oh! I think that's the sweetest thing anyone's ever said to me!
GARY: As long as you don't expect me to look that good in heels.
Xanthe gets a text from Piper, and asks if it's okay if she comes over to stay the night. Sheila says it's fine. Once Xanthe's left the room, Gary and Sheila agree that Brooke, Xanthe's mum, won't show up for the formal. Sheila says Xanthe had better not find out the truth about her date, either - she wouldn't cope.
Ben is helping Susan with the cooking. Ben mentions Xanthe, and Susan observes that it's the tenth time he has.
BEN: I get you don't like her.
SUSAN: No, Ben, it's not that. It's just that when the two of you are together, you get into a lot of trouble.
Ben says he's taking Xanthe to the formal, and Susan's surprised he's changed his mind about going. Karl comes in, complaining about the 'red tape-obsessed, thieving swindlers' otherwise known as the Taxation Department!
SUSAN: So, it went well then?
Ben goes to his room, and Karl explains that the Department™ is taking his entire $5,000, and fining him for good measure! Susan is smug about it.
KARL: I worked hard for that money! Most of these lazy public services spend our taxes like it grows on trees!
SUSAN: Hey! We're both public servants - are we lazy?
Karl tells Susan not to be too pleased with herself; the accountant went through all their finances, and told them that they can't keep the Off Air bar - it's not viable anymore. Susan pretends to be really disappointed, but smirks the moment he turns away!
KARL: Could this day be any worse?
Xanthe and Piper are hanging out in the living room, but once again, Piper is texting on her phone - and Xanthe demands to know who the guy is. Piper says they're not even serious yet - they're just sending gifs and making small-talk.
PIPER: Actually, I'm thinking about sending him a video. You know, to let him know how I feel?
XANTHE: OMG, yes. Mum always said if you are ready to move into that relationship, you've just got to Take It To The Next Level™. You know, like, sexy selfie Next Level™.
PIPER: No. No, no, no. No. Nothing trashy. I want it to be from the heart. And plus, those sorts of things can end seriously badly. I mean, look what happened to Ben.
XANTHE: Can't you just be a little bit cheeky? You don't want him to lose interest, do you?
PIPER: We're not talking about this anymore!
Xanthe pulls a towel over her face in protest, and Piper laughs.
A gang of hoons are graffitiing the outside of the Community Centre, and drinking from nondescript bottles wrapped in brown paper. Among them is Scott, the homeless guy from Brad's outreach programme. Suddenly, Paul appears, and takes a photo of them all on his phone.
PAUL: You guys are all part of Brad Willis's outreach programme, aren't you?
SCOTT: Come on, let's get out of here.
They all rush off with a shopping trolley full of supplies.
PAUL: You forgot to do a smiley face!
Paul watches as they leave, glancing at his phone and smiling.
Piper and Xanthe are setting up the sofa so Piper can sleep over. Xanthe continues to push the issue of Piper's mystery man.
XANTHE: You know, once the lights are out, it's the perfect opportunity to take a few pics.
PIPER: Oh, you're like a dog with a bone!
Xanthe demonstrates how to take the perfect selfie.
XANTHE: Okay, so you hold the camera above you to make you look skinnier. Duck-face is sexy, and Facetune is your friend.
PIPER: Okay. This is all very interesting, Xanthe, but I'm not doing it.
XANTHE: Fine! Then don't come crawling back to me when he stops texting you!
Xanthe bids Piper goodnight. But once she's gone, and the lights are out, Piper begins to film a video for Tyler.
PIPER: Hi. Welcome to a Very Special Episode™ of Pipe Up. A private video for one person only. Hi, Tyler. I've been thinking about you all day. And I keep thinking about how much I like you, and I want you to know how far I want to take this.
Madison is just finishing up her article on the upstanding citizens of Erinsborough. (Among them is Steph, for some reason!) Paul turns up and asks her how it's going; she says she just needs to run it by her editor, Penny. She's a 'tough customer', Paul says, but he thinks she'll be impressed.
MADISON: To be honest, I'm pretty keen to impress you.
PAUL: Oh, don't be silly! You don't have to prove yourself to me.
MADISON: You were a news editor. Plus, Dad's a journalist. I want to do a good job.
PAUL: Maddy - I'm already more proud of you than you know. And so's your dad. In fact, why don't you give him a call? I'm sure he'd like to congratulate you.
While Madison walks off to do just that, Paul leaps straight on her laptop, scrolls to Brad's profile in her article - which is full of praise for his outreach work - and deletes it, before replacing it with his own text!
- Brad tells Piper that the article Madison has written contains 'an outright lie'
- Mark also seems to be upset about something, as Steph looks over his shoulder
- Sonya asks Terese if she 'can believe that'
- Sheila is upset about what Madison said about her in the article, too
- Madison asks Paul who would do this to her
- Tyler tells Piper he doesn't want to stuff things up between them. She says 'me either'
- Piper asks Brad what he thinks about something; he refers her to Terese
- But Terese doesn't respond well to news that Piper's 'feelings have changed'