Belz on Bell

Saved By The Bell S3E5: ‘Operation: Zack'

Over at the MAX, Zack is busy doing homework.  Wait, homework? Am I watching the right show?

In run Slater, Jessie and Kelly, who are also perplexed by Zack’s chosen activity – especially since he’s running late for the basketball rally. Zack is the team captain but he’s planning on sending someone else in his place until his take-home test is completed. Like clockwork, Screech walks in wearing a Bayside jersey and a blonde wig.

Jessie takes a look over Zack’s work and recognizes it as being the test that was due last Friday. Zack got an extension after telling Mr. Dewey that his house burned down. “No home, no takehome,” Zack says with a grin. Zack must be super glad that Dewey doesn’t read newspapers or talk with any other student about the logistics of his huge lie.

Lisa walks in next and similarly gets berated over her lack of basketball-rally-gear. Lisa explains that her jerk of a mother is forcing her to volunteer her time at the hospital where she’s working. Lisa’s a candy striper – Screech, despite being named school valedictorian later in the season, asks her if that means she paints stripes on candy canes.

“Lisa, helping other people is a beautiful, selfless act!” Jessie comments. “Now you just sound like my mother!” Lisa complains. Seriously – Mrs. Turtle is such a jerk. Doesn’t she realize that Lisa is a cheerleader?

Back in the boy’s locker room, the team – seemingly made up of adult professional football players – gets a pep talk from their vertically impaired coach (because, of course). His motivational words are “This is the championship game. Oh yeah. Win, too.” Belding wants to give his own speech. He wants to talk to the men about life.

According the Belding, the basketball is a representation of our hopes and dreams and the backboard resembles the ability to rebound back and try again. When Slater gets him to wrap it up since they have a game to play, Belding and the team all leave the locker room at once.

Zack, right behind Belding, manages to –somehow?- trip on him and fall. Quite possibly the least dramatic injury in all of sitcom history. Honestly, you guys – I’m cracking up over here.

(Fellow Bell Enthusiast SummerofMorris actually made the video which depicts the tragic event, and I am eternally grateful.)

Within seconds, Zack is wheelchaired into the hospital. Belding tries to explain the injury to Lisa and you can tell he’s riddled with guilt. Zack twisted his knee and is heading for an X-ray. Belding nervously tells Screech to let Lisa take control, but Lisa claim she “doesn’t do wheelchairs” and goes to find her Mom. Probably because wheelchairs are super dangerous to handle.

While Belding and Screech wait patiently, Zack comes back from his X-ray with Mrs. Turtle. Her diagnosis is, “I’m afraid he’s really hurt his knee.” And here I was, thinking he had pneumonia like a fool.

Zack will be staying overnight for further tests, which doesn’t scare him once he sees some hot nurses walk by. Mrs. Turtle doesn’t give us any more information because she thinks it’s a good time to yell at Lisa and tell her to run up to the pediatric ward to change some diapers. It’s time for her to learn some responsibility!

Belding wishes there’s more he can do – after all, it was due to his “Life is a Basketball” speech that landed Zack in the emergency room. He decides to go meet up with Zack’s Mom in the parking lot, probably to try and convince her not to call a lawyer. Zack figures that Belding’s weak emotional state will help him get out of that math take-home test he still hasn’t finished, as well as a French test. Belding, unsure what to do, departs down the elevator wearing a frown.

Later in the day, Zack is being visited by the gang and looks as if he just woke up from a coma.

According to Slater, the team lost by a point – Slater got distracted by Belding shouting at him to “shoot your hopes and dreams!” So wait – did Belding wait till the end of the game to wheel Zack into the hospital? No wonder he’s in such bad shape.

Secretly sleeping in the bed next to Zack’s is Lisa – and she’s exhausted by all of her responsibilities. Pretty soon Nurse Monique comes in to take a look at Zack, who is “suddenly complaining” about a “neck cramp”. After she gets handsy, Slater uses this opportunity to also get a neck rub from the nurse, which leads Jessie to physically assault him by slapping him on his back. “Keep her around in case you choke on a bone!” Nurse Monique says in a valley girl voice. The audience “oohs”, not sure whether or not this was a joke or a catty insult.

Mrs. Turtle walks in with some more pressing medical news. Zack’s knee is going to be fine! But he tore some cartilage and the only way to fix it is with some surgery. “Surgery?” Zack asks in a panic. “You mean you’re going to cut me open?” Mrs. Turtle swears it’s a simple procedure but Zack is a bit more concerned. “How can I rest?” he asks the camera. “They’re going to hack Zack!” Yes, Zack – or they’re going to give you a simple, common surgery. One or the other.

Back at the MAX, Belding is freaking out over a mound of text books. I wonder if he knows that talking to the teachers one-on-one to excuse Zack from the assignments would be much easier and probably more legal than “taking the test for him” but Belding is too frazzled to think like an adult professional. “This is not my fault!” Belding panics, but the gang doesn’t agree. How dare Belding walk out that locker room door when he knew Zack might randomly fall behind him for no reason, right?

Zack’s friends are back at the hospital, where they try to assure our fallen hero that a surgery isn’t the end of the world. Screech tries to alleviate everyone’s pain by turning on the television but instead it makes Zack’s bed fold up and bounce around, which probably isn’t great for his knee. Jessie snags the remote from him and reprimands him for using the wrong button to control the TV – but Jessie messes up the bed too!

Jessie – a close second to valedictorian of Bayside – thinks that one remote controls both a bed and a television? I’m not the greatest with remotes either but come on, sister!

The gang decides to leave after the mishap and give their best to Zack, who is probably going to die tomorrow. Zack decides that maybe he just needs a good night’s sleep to ease him of the surgery and in Saved By The Bell, actual dream sequences include a hazy white border – I guess hot pink is just for cool fantasies.

In Zack’s dream, he’s at the hospital, being visited by Angel Screech. Screech’s angel name is “Skippy” and is ready to take Zack into heaven. Zack wants to see his friends one last time before he ventures onto his magical death journey.

At Bayside, they’re holding a ceremony in Zack’s honor. The students are marching down the hall wearing black and don’t notice Zack’s haunting presence. Wearing black cheerleading uniforms, Lisa and Kelly do a sad cheer in Zack’s memory while Slater and some basketball hunks come by to retire his jersey. Belding decides it’s time to dedicate Zack’s locker to his memory but Screech interrupts the party. They won’t lock up his locker for good until he’s inside! Belding refuses this suicide mission and the group whines and cries.

Zack wakes up and realizes that he can’t go through with the surgery. He’s escaping! Wearing a doctor’s uniform and hobbling around on his bum leg, the nurses assume he’s a legitimate hospital worker. “What do I do,” says one nurse. “The patient in room 312 is having chills!” “Uh, put him next to a guy with a fever!” Doctor Zack claims.

Before he escapes, Zack gets hit on by an older nurse, who demands that Zack heals her with his kisses. After a short awkward pause, Zack emerges from the room with fake lip prints all over his hospital mask. “That is one sick lady!”

While he tries to escape via elevator, he is spotted by Mrs. Turtle. BUSTED!

Back in his room, Zack is fearing his own death while Lisa comes in to berate him. He finally admits that he’s afraid of the operation and Lisa reminds him that they were both in the hospital before – back when they were 9, and pretending to be Olympic ice skaters. It must have been the day before Zack and Jessie saw E.T. and biked home in the dark by themselves. They were scared then, too.

Lisa assures Zack that he has the best surgeon in LA working on him and decides Zack is ready to get some sleep. She gives him a kiss on the forehead and holds Zack’s hand while she prays to God that Zack gets taken care of. Turns out, Lisa has no faith in her mother’s capabilities whatsoever!

Post-surgery, Zack is alive! And people are signing his cast already!  He invites Belding over to sign the cast and Belding admits he got a C- on that take home Math test. Belding gushes about how he’s missed around school. He loves Zack and his shenanigans! Zack gives a special thank you to Lisa, who lost a nail while wrapping up Zack’s cast. I’m sure that isn’t very hygienic, but Zack is alive. So nothing else matters.

Lessons Learned: Minor injuries can get you anything you want. Teachers can allow Principals to take tests on your behalf. Candy striping has nothing to do with candy or striping.

Photo credits:, The Summer of Morris

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