Happy 20th Anniversary – “I Choose Me”

I choose me

It’s the 20th anniversary of a seminal moment in Beverly Hills, 90210 history.

A couple of years ago, we looked back at the 20th anniversary of “Donna Martin graduates!” It’s now time to look at another monumental TV moment.

On May 17, 1995, an episode titled Hello Life, Goodbye Beverly Hills, hit the airwaves and it could’ve been more appropriately titled, I Choose Me.

Now, twenty years later, we look back at the episode, which was the resolution of the second big love triangle (third if you count the early Emily Valentine flirtation with Dylan, though Brandon won that one quite easily) of the series, after the Kelly/Brenda/Dylan love triangle.

That love triangle left Brenda sad and disheartened and eventually on her way to London. Maybe she went on to look for Reek again?

The second major love triangle concerned two of our three original love trianglers. Kelly and Dylan were yet again involved, but this time, another great man was involved. His name is Brandon Walsh, but we’ll call him BWalsh for short.

The episode we are celebrating happens during season five. It’s the 30th episode of the season. At the end of season four, Brandon left for Washington, D.C. on task force business and Kelly, after breaking up with Dylan because he was inundated with business and about to get schemed out of his money, joined him for the trip to be his faux girlfriend. Well, you don’t get to be BWalsh’s faux girlfriend for long. We can guess what happened there.

I Choose METiffani Amber Thiessen (TAT for short) joined the show during season five as Valerie Malone, Brenda and BWalsh’s friend from Buffalo. She takes Brenda’s room. This was apex TAT. Some may think she was at her apex in Saved By The Bell, but that was when she was a mere child. Here, she was an adult. And what an adult she was.

If you compared this 1995 version of TAT to a basketball player, she’d be LeBron James. If she were a baseball player, her WAR would be over 10. If she was a quarterback, her QB rating would be over 130. She was that mean. And she was all over this season.

Here’s where we stand before season five starts:
- Brandon and Kelly are a couple, yet Dylan doesn’t know.

- Dylan has lost all his money, but no one knows.

- Donna and David aren’t together any longer as David sleeps with Ariel (played by the fantastic Kari Wuhrer) and Donna catches him.

- Andrea and Jesse are now with child; Hannah Rose Zuckerman-Vasquez.

Let’s take a look at what the three main players did in season five.

Dylan Michael McKay

- He comes back home and tells no one, making everyone wonder where McKay is and what he’s been doing.

- He goes into a drinking and coke bender because his money was stolen, bedding Valerie in the process. Everyone thinks he’s rich and he has zip.

- He interrupts Donna’s debutant dinner after learning that Kelly and BWalsh are together. Chaos ensues.

- When Brandon tries to help him, he utters the classic line, “May the bridges I burn light way.” By the way, check out this tour de force performance.

- Thanks the great man that is BWalsh, Dylan’s friends plan an intervention (hosted by Mackenzie Phillips from One Day At A Time) so that he doesn’t completely destroy himself. He checks himself out of rehab after one day.

- After figuring out that alcohol and coke wasn’t enough of a rush for him, he tries heroin, crashes his car, and ends up in the hospital.

- There’s an entire episode devoted to him having dreams and being unable to fully regain consciousness. He finally sees a vision of his father and wakes up. We even get to see the great Iris McKay for her one and only showing in season 5.

- He finally goes to rehab and meets Charlie, who originally gives him crap because he’s wearing a Rolling Stones hat and it makes Charlie want to do drugs.

- Dylan gets his money back from those jerks Suzanne and Kevin after hiring Jonesy and Valerie to go with him to Mexico. This all happens in a single one-hour episode. Dylan is cured of all drug issues!

- Andrea cheats on Jesse and Dylan sees her exit a seedy hotel. Even in being a recovering addict, he still has time for his cheating friends. What a guy.

- Charlie believes Dylan should go after Kelly and Dylan agrees because he’s been seeing a hypnotist and he believes he and Kelly were together in another lifetime. What an asshole.

Kelly Maureen Taylor

- She and Brandon come out as a couple, which frustrates Dylan deeply.

- She also hates Valerie deeply.

- At a rave thrown by her pal Steve Sanders, a fire ensues. Kelly and her friend Alison are trapped inside and burned in the fire. (Not as much of a tour de force performance.)

- Around the same time, she modeled with her mom Jackie Taylor. Seventeen magazine came a calling.

- On the same exact night that the fire is burning his girlfriend, BWalsh visits his former flame (no pun intended) Emily Valentine. Now, we’re not entirely sure what happened, but if you know BWalsh like I do, you can guess what happened.

- Kelly spends the next few episodes sad because she doesn’t think she’ll ever be as pretty and wonders about life in general.

- Kelly is brainwashed by a professor named Finley who is banned from California U. BWalsh and Dylan spend an entire episode trying to un-brainwash her. They are finally successful.

- Kelly is shot. Okay, I made that up. They’d have to save that for a later season. She had enough this season.

Brandon Martin Luther King Jr. Walsh

I Choose MeOkay, I don’t really know what Brandon’s middle name is. I’m just guessing here.

- There’s nothing much to say about BWalsh other than his hair was at its apex. Okay, maybe a few things happened.

- He was the running-mate of Josh Richland for California U presidency and they won. Then Josh Richland died in a car crash. That means BWalsh becomes president.

- His old fling Emily Valentine comes to town and he feels so guilty about messing with Emily while Kelly is nearly burned to a crisp in a fire that he doesn’t even really tell her. He’s so confident it’s the right thing that it’s almost admirable.

- He and Claire go at each other’s throats in College Jeopardy, but they lose to Andrea, who represents California U.

- Val tries to hit on the great BWalsh, but he volleys her advances back like Steffi Graf playing in the Australian Open. Well, he does make out with her during the last episode of the season, but we won’t really count that.

Now that we’re all caught up with our three main characters, let’s get to the episode which wasn’t actually the finale. But it should’ve been.

Hello Life, Goodbye Beverly Hills

- Dylan buys two tickets for a trip around the world. Yes, one says Kelly Taylor. Asshole.

- Papa Jim is feeling frustrated with work as his company was being secretive with him, causing him to almost quit. But it’s only because he’s going to get a promotion, a raise, and have to move to Hong Kong. The sun shines on that Jim Walsh.

- Dylan and Kelly make out in the park. Assholes. He tells her about the trip around the world. He tries to diss BWalsh by calling him Uncle Minnesota. Asshole.

- Jesse gets a teaching job at Yale specifically so that Andrea can go to med-school. Just a few days prior, they had both cheated on each other. What forgiveness.

- Valerie finds out about Kelly’s trip around the world and immediately throws shade on her, like she should’ve.

- Valerie snitches on Kelly and tells BWalsh that Dylan invited Kelly to go around the world.

- Feeling threatened, BWalsh buys Kelly some new rollerblades and inside the one of the rollerblades is an engagement ring. What a guy.

- The great Donna Martin tells Kelly that Dylan didn’t give her a ring.

- Jim and Cindy let Brandon and Valerie know that they’re moving to Hong Kong.

- Jesse sets up a picnic at West Beverly High so Andrea can say goodbye, since they’re moving. Andrea is back on her high school campus, looking not a day older than 35. Mrs. Teasley and Gil Myers visit Andrea to say goodbye.

- The great Andrea Zuckerman-Vasquez tells Kelly that BWalsh told her what was going on and hugs her. But we know where Andrea’s loyalties lie. I mean, BWalsh is only her best pal.

- After Ray Pruitt (Mr. Hold On) is mean to Donna, Kelly gives her some advice and says to go with her heart. What horrible advice. I have a feeling that’s what Kelly’s about to do. Asshole.

- Andrea meets the crew at the Peach Pit for one last time before leaving, tells Donna to be happy about being a virgin, tells Dylan he saved her marriage, tells Kelly to go for the brass ring and marry Brandon, tells Steve she loves him, and tells the great BWalsh that he is her best friend and that she’s going to miss him. He calls her chief one last time. I have goosebumps.

- She and Jesse leave via the U-haul, which sets the stage for the moment of all moments.

Whoops, that’s not the right one.

Here’s the right one:

“I made my choice, and I choose me.”

So what did it all mean? Well, it’s hard to say. In the future seasons, Dylan would get married, his wife would get killed soon thereafter with her father pulling the trigger, and he’d scream, “Look what they did to her!” (and that may be the next episode that we blog about). He’d also leave the show for many seasons, only to come back at the end when the series needed a bullet in its head.

Brandon and Kelly would eventually get back together in a future season as she would keep the ring and wear it around her neck. And the they’d become engaged again and on the day that they were to marry, agree to not get married at all. That’s not an episode we’ll blog about by the way.

What it was, was the culmination of the season that changed the direction of the show. Season four was the highest rated season of them all, doing on average, 31 million viewers per episode. Without Brenda, the show had to change into more of an adult soap opera. The 90210 clan was now in their second year of year in college and the viewers had aged five years themselves since the beginning. Season four may have been the peak, but the show had to grow with its audience. Kelly made her decision (the wrong one by the way), closing the season strong.

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