The Scholar
If Max really wants to go to college, he needs to start being more of a player and less of a playa. He's a cute kid; the girls will flock to him once he makes it to the Ivy League — why stir up trouble between the girls with such similar names? Also, I hope that was an alcohol-free club those kids were at and they didn't spend their time on campus scoring fake IDs. Either way, it was hopping, and I was surprised to see tonight's ultimate winner Melania dancing around a pole. I guess even brainy kids need to let loose once in a while. I felt bad for Liz, who got bumped out of the final round first after memorizing a whole bunch of facts about African geography. But she's got a career in radio if nothing else works out for her, because that way-older-than-her-years voice could help her go far. I'm happy that the tasks and the questions seem to be getting smarter, even though it means that I am able to answer fewer and fewer of them correctly. Guess I need to do a four-hour cram session like tonight's girls.

On a random note, will the four kids who win the $50,000 scholarships but not the full-boat grand prize be somehow penalized when financial-aid time rolls around? I'm thinking back to that Gilmore Girls episode where Lorelai gets a sudden windfall and then can't get any monetary help to send Rory to Yale. Could this be a problem for these deserving kids, or am I just getting reality and TV confused again? — Angel Cohn

Six Feet Under
Loretta Smith Sibley, 1908-1953. "It's a stinkin' life," young George's mom tells him in flashback while washing pills down with booze. "You try your hardest; you wear high heels and a girdle; you go to work every day and things just get worse. That's the way it is." Poor George. At last we find out at least part of what's behind his problems, and it only makes me more annoyed at Ruth for being such a harridan. Speaking of pills, though, Billy tells Claire he's a new man because of her, but doesn't tell her he's stopped taking his own meds. That's almost as big a sin as those black briefs he's sporting. Meanwhile, Rico heads to the funeral directors' conference and... good lord — it's crazy, scary Angela — who proves she's saner than Rico by giving him some pretty fair advice.

Now maybe I'm becoming the cranky old man I always feared, but I get more than a little joy out of Claire being cut off from Nathaniel's money because she's not in school. Sorry, kid, but those are called rules, which you already knew, and it doesn't matter how many tantrums you throw. It also doesn't matter if you think your mom's a "controlling bitch" or that you claim you're learning from life. This is life's lesson, especially since you seem to think your existence should be one big VW commercial, with more drugs and boozing... and no VW. Now, what's up with Nate meeting Maggie and sparks flying? In the biz, that's called a plot complication. In life, it's a plain old complication. And this week's guess at who'll end up dead at the end of the season? Claire. (Remember, this will change often, and I'll pretend I was right all along, even if no one dies at all. I'm a big cheater that way.) — Michael Peck

What is up with Bradin? Last week he was smart enough to know when he was being hosed by that two-faced business manager. This week he can't even see that his new surfing buddies are totally playing him? Nice little game they had going, too. First, they boosted his ego by telling him what a great surfer he was. Then they acted like they were watching his back after they encouraged him to hit on a girl who just so happened to have a very jealous boyfriend. Finally, they turned him against Jay after he disciplined Bradin for dropping seven grand on a flat-screen TV. All so that they can fleece him for free meals and a cool place to crash. And we're supposed to believe that if Ava were there instead of traipsing around Europe trying to (gasp!) launch a successful business, he never would have fallen in with the wrong crowd, right? Hard to say. Jay did a great job watching over Bradin. Loved when he demanded that Bradin apologize to Erica for telling his so-called friends he'd shagged her. And Johnny was doing just fine taking care of the kids on his own, especially the way he handled Nikki when she got drunk before the poetry contest. (Her poem wasn't quite "Anne Sexton meets Queen Latifah" but it did speak nicely to the strong ties this new family has managed to weave together.) Guess Ava's not the only one who's grown up in the past year. (Didja notice she now calls them her kids!) And that's a good thing. Cause it takes a beach house (not quite a village) to raise this crazy family. — Robin Honig

Hell's Kitchen
And the quote of the night goes to... Jessica! "Frog just went into my eye." Lovely. Well, I guess that's an occupational hazard of working in a kitchen that serves Kermie's legs. Much like having your ass chewed out by a British chef who's obviously skipped his meds. Of course, I'm betting even the best pharmaceuticals couldn't take the edge off Gordo's seething distaste for Andrew's messy garnishing chops or the misplaced tuna entr&#233e that cost poor Mary Ellen her chance in Hell. As for the challenges, could Jean Philippe's lesson in setting a proper table be more snoozable? You need 96 pieces for a seating of six? Cripes, it's a wonder any of the diners even noticed the mushy risotto and pigeon with all the business crowding their plates. Frenchie needs to pick up an issue of Martha's mag and learn himself on simple elegance instead of bone-china gridlock. Impressively, despite the insanity of having to prep the room before the dinner service, the Red Team whipped it out and fed all of their patrons in time to save themselves from yet another elimination. Not to mention Ramsey's wrath. Let's just hope the Blue Team is as lucky next week, 'cause if "I'm a Learning Machine" Andy winds up on the chopping block for a third time, his goose is so cooked. Though knowing this crew, it'll probably be underdone and served with the wrong side. — Damian J. Holbrook

Channel Surfing
If there are celebrities doing something a little bizarre on television, I'm there, but Celebrity Charades might be pushing the limit of weirdness. First, the party is hosted by Chad Lowe, Hilary Swank and Bob Balaban — who looks remarkably like Ron Rifkin, which could come in handy if Alias ever does another double-Sloane episode — and Hilary is nowhere to be found. In fact, the word "celebrity" is bandied about a little too easily here, as Julianna Margulies and Stanley Tucci are the most famous people still working, while the others — Steve Guttenberg, Fisher Stevens and Loudon Wainwright III — are more like obscure blasts from the past. Plus, it is charades, which was popular... when? — AC

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