A Nerd By Any Other Name
Things get deep -- skin-deep.
The Ten-Cent Trojan Horse Lesson
Cory breezes into class bearing a bright, shiny package, which he presents to an excited Riley. Despite the bows and wrapping paper, the box only contains disappointment. That's how he goes about "teaching" the class the Trojan Horse lesson about not being deceived by outer appearances.
Or at least we're led to assume there's some knowledge being disseminated in that classroom. All it really looks like, though, is Maya serving snark, then dancing on top of Cory's desk.
It's Farkle vs. his female rival, Smackle, in an inter-school debate over school uniforms. Though their arguments are equally feeble, Farkle gets trounced. He then vows to return victorious when the two meet again to debate the topic "Is Beauty Only Skin Deep?" At this point, if you don't already know that the bespectacled, turtleneck-wearing, pig-tailed Smackle is headed for a makeover, you've clearly never watched anything on a screen ever.
Smackle reveals her secret crush on Farkle, causing Riley to take pity on her and invite her over to hang. Thus, the Emma/Clueless wheels commence turning.
Just as Topanga sets a freshly-baked Bundt cake on the table -- as your typical lawyer mom is wont to do in the middle of the day -- Auggie bursts into the apartment in a fit of angst. After thrusting his face in the cake melodramatically (pro tip: eating it is better, little dude), he explains he's distraught because his girlfriend Ava told him they might not be together forever.
It seems he's taken his "lifelong love" cues from his parents, which makes Topanga wonder aloud: "I wonder how many people the idea of 'Cory and Topanga' has ruined?" How many, indeed.
Remove Glasses, Flip Hair
Maya and Riley teach Smackle "the equation for beauty." Take note: Body-con skirt that is most certainly not fingertip length or longer + large-barrel curling iron - glasses (how does she see?!?).
Smackle's still a brainiac, though, okay? You can tell by her proper diction and expansive vocabulary. Maya asks, "Why you still talkin' like you don't know what you look like?" Progressive mothers everywhere cringe.
The Debate Team Diversifies
Only nerds join the debate team. That's the overarching message here. The wardrobe department went to exhaustive links to procure polyester vests, bow-ties, ungodly plaids, and a corduroy blazer to really drive this point home, lest there be any confusion. Let's respect their dedication to their task.
But wait. Game-changer! The jock and nerd worlds that the Saved by the Bell gods created are torn asunder when Lucas explains he wants in on the Lincoln-Douglas fun. He's more than just a pretty face, see? Appearances, guys. Get past 'em.
The Tricker Becomes the Tricked
Maya and Riley try to convince Farkle that the "new-and-improved" Smackle is worth his time. He sees right through his nemesis and her ruse. Duh! She's just using them to help her prove her point for their skin-deep beauty debate! (It's not overwhelmingly clear exactly how, but just go with it.)
Smackle's ruse gets turned on its ear when Lucas and his handsome face show up, turning her into a giggling, inarticulate mess. "I'm broken! I'm pretty! I'm confused!" Hopefully no Jezebel staffers watched this scene, otherwise there's a mess of exploded brains somewhere that needs mopping up.
Riley: Fix My Life
In the grand tradition of Sam and Clarissa, Farkle enters Riley's bedroom window seeking advice. There he finds Auggie, still bummed over his woman problems. "She's vague, man," he sighs, thus irritating any adult who loathes tiny children being made to talk like 40-year-olds.
Riley shows up and turns her brother's frown upside down before turning her attention to Farkle. At his request, she vows to turn Smackle back into her old self so that he can debate the "real" her, not the new "pretty" her. Oh, Farkle! Already point-missing and mansplaining and you're not even out of the throes of puberty yet.
Farkle steps to the trussed-up Smackle before the debate and earnestly proclaims, "I didn't want to win this way. I hope you enjoy being pretty." Boy, stop!
She once again decimates him on the debate stage, giving a total no-nonsense "I'm Every Woman" speech about intelligence, courage, compassion and whatnot. She's talking about all these inner-beauty qualities while simultaneously wearing a sparkly pink mini-dress, chains (wait…chains?!), and cut-out high-heeled sandals. She even put her glasses back on. BAM! So, see, Disney-loving tween girls? You really can have at all!