Written by Barry Purchese. Tx 2nd February 1982
The episode opens with Roland sitting underneath the stairs, eating. His location is an interesting one. We can hear the sounds of the rest of the school enjoying themselves but Roland has deliberately isolated himself. No doubt this is partly to escape Gripper’s attention (although if so it doesn’t work as he’s discovered by both Gripper and Denny) but it also implies that he’s an outcast from the school community at large.
Roland’s not been able to keep his regular appointments with Gripper because he’s been seeing Miss O’Keefe (Penny Casdagli). Gripper knows who she is. “Kids get sent to her if they’re a bit loopy.” It’s ironic that when Gripper discusses his own encounters with Miss O’Keefe he obviously doesn’t class himself as loopy – in his world he’s quite sane. He explains to Denny that he deliberately acted stupid – putting square bricks into round holes – and his behaviour was so infuriating that he was eventually slung out. If true this is another example of the system failing both Gripper and the rest of the school. Knowing about Roland’s visits is a useful nugget of information for the pair though, since it means they’ll be able to extort a little more money from Roland in exchange for keeping quiet about his meetings.
Elsewhere, Jonah is chaffing at not being able to wear his badges, although this is quickly forgotten as Annette introduces him to the wonderful world of stickers. Soon, N1 have established a competition – to find out who can put a sticker in the most daring place. Before that happens though there’s still plenty in more obvious places (which naturally upsets Mr Thomson). “Oh I’ve had about enough of this. If it’s not rice all over the floor it’s stickers. On the floors and ceilings. Tch! ‘Rest assured Mr Thomson when we catch the culprits they’ll be made to feel sorry for what they’ve done’. Huh, that’s a laugh.”
Gripper’s next encounter with Roland takes place in his classroom, with the rest of N1 looking on. It’s obvious that by now Gripper is so convinced of his invulnerability that he’s happy to bully people with witnesses present. Zammo and Jonah look on horrified (at one point we see Zammo hide his eyes in the back of the shot – an unscripted move, maybe?) Gripper’s taunting is his harshest yet. “What a big, fat dummy. Ugly, repulsive and mental. If I was like you I wouldn’t have the cheek to go out of the house.” Jonah and Zammo don’t say anything, but the expression on their faces makes their feelings clear enough.
Afterwards they help to clean Roland up and a relationship between the three of them seems to be developing. Roland suggests that the most daring place to place a sticker would be Mr Keating’s classroom and Zammo and Jonah head off to do so. But Gripper overheard them and is delighted for several reasons – it gets Zammo and Jonah into trouble and he can claim that Roland grassed on them, thereby preventing the boy from the sort of friendship he may have hoped to develop.
Jonah tells Zammo that he doesn’t intend to speak to Roland anymore. His friend’s reply is quite telling. “You don’t speak to him anyway. Nobody does.”