At the beginning of this episode it shows all the girls walking with a few baby-sitting charges and you’re like WHERE’S CLAUDIA?! But then everyone points excitedly and here she is, running over!
Phew. (I have to say, I like TV Claudia way better than Book Claudia for some reason.) Everyone is squealing as they look through old photos of themselves.
Claudia (Jeni Winslow) gives Dawn (Melissa Chase) credit for coming up with name of the bulletin board they’re working on: Stoneybrook Through the Years. Dawn basks in a round of applause and bows, as if it took tons of brain power to come up with the title that literally describes the bulletin board’s purpose.
Oh, look, it’s Vanessa Pike (Stephi Lineburg), and she talks in rhyme. Barf.
Oh wait – Margo’s the barfy one. I’d like to give Vanessa more shit, but the actress who played her was also on “Ghostwriter” and in Richie Rich, which are both fantastic, so she gets a pass from me… but not from Mallory (Meghan Andrews), who is up her ass about rhyming and smudging the photos.
Dawn and Claudia go to retrieve the bulletin board from the SECRET PASSAGE in Dawn’s room. While getting a grip, Claudia finds an old piece of paper taped to the rafters.
Claudia thinks it might be a treasure map. You can tell it’s old because it’s super dusty:
Dawn and Claudia definitely overreact to the letter. “This is amazing!” “This is spooky…” “This is incredible!”
Chill, dudes. It’s a letter. At the BSC meeting, Kristy (Avriel Hillman) dresses up like Sherlock Holmes to inspect it.
Claudia says it could have been in the SECRET PASSAGE for a hundred years; Dawn says maybe more – the house was built in the 1700s.
Kristy does a dramatic reading of the letter: “I didn’t lose Bettina’s diamond ring. Why won’t she believe me? She’s so mean sometimes that I’m afraid of her. I wish with all my heart I never had a big sister. I vow never ever to speak to her again.” *mic drop*
Mallory hypothesizes that Bettina found her ring and apologized, but Claudia has a feeling that the sisters always had bad blood. She wonders if they took their feud to the grave.
Kristy’s like “it doesn’t matter – they died long before we were even born”. Way to shit on everyone’s parade, Kristy. But Claudia can’t be kept down – she wants to have a séance in the SECRET PASSAGE when the girls all sleep over at Dawn’s.
Dawn is stoked. Everyone else is like, “uhh… for real?” Queen Stacey (Jessica Prunell) has a cute moment when she says she feels like Charlotte Johanssen is her little sister and she’s glad they found one another – the two “lonely, only children…”
Then Janine (Jane Chen) appears! DUN DUN DUN.
Claudia is not impressed with Janine’s big words, but she agrees to be on time to their tutoring session.
After Janine leaves, Claudia asks, “What language does she speak? What planet does she come from?”
On her way to sit for the Pikes, Jessi (Nicolle Rochelle) drives right through Becca (Najah Dupree)’s jumprope zone and Becca gets pissed. (Have you figured out yet that this episode is all about ~sisters~?) Becca tells Dawn, “baby-sitters don’t like to baby-sit for their own sisters and brothers”.
The gang goes grocery shopping for the slumber party/séance and buys snacks and “blood red” (in Dawn’s words) candles.
After Claudia makes a hilarious joke about broccoli being Dawn’s wedding bouquet, Dawn holds up carrots to mimic Claudia’s earrings.
Whatever, Dawn. You wish you could pull off carrot earrings. Dawn also takes a moment to butt in and tell Jessi what Becca said.
The girls decide to throw a party to honor all the little sisters.
Mallory mentions that the letter could be a message from the past, reminding them to pay attention to their siblings. Mallory’s a crackpot.
We finally get to see one of Claudia’s hollowed-out books filled with candy. She’s a mad genius. But not at math. She’s trying to stay awake during a tutoring session with Janine.
“Claudia, you’re not being attentive.” Jeez, Janine, you’re fifteen – go rob a liquor store or something.
Claudia tries telling Janine about the letter and the séance but Janine is just like “YOU DUMB” so Claudia’s like “LET’S NOT TALK TO EACH OTHER ANYMORE”. Janine capitulates (gives up).
Claudia manages to turn the séance into a fashion moment, which is amazing.
Everyone giggles their way through the séance and Kristy brings a tape recorder to play spooky sounds. Cause she’s five. While she tries to hide the tape recorder, she finds something in the insulation. Could it be…
…Bettina’s missing diamond ring?! “It’s like a ghost is really trying to tell us something!” Queen Stacey says.
Back at the Kishi homestead, Claudia tells Janine the séance worked. Janine is not buying it when Claudia says she thinks the letter is two hundred years old.
“Claudia, really,” Janine says, “when do you think they invented transparent tape?” Meanwhile, the bulletin board has gone up:
Jessi is shocked to see Claudia reading a book, much less on a Saturday.
But Claudia has learned that transparent tape wasn’t invented until 1930, which means that the sisters could still be alive, and wouldn’t even be 70 years old!
They try – but fail – to track down Bettina with house deeds and yearbooks. Then Vanessa and Becca have the idea to take the ring to an old jewelry store and see if they have records of the purchaser.
The jeweler, who is kinda weird and creepy, remembers Bettina Tronell and tells the girls she married the grocer’s son.
He also remembers Bettina’s little sister Flora, who was wild. “They were different as night and day.” He doesn’t know what happened to Flora… “it’s like she just disappeared”. NOW THE BSC IS FREAKED OUT.
Stacey’s side-eye says it all. The girls head to the grocery store and grill the new grocer, who says he bought the store from Bettina and that she opened a flower shop.
Meanwhile, they basically think Flora the little sister was murdered, because no one knows what happened to her. When they meet Bettina (Maeve McGuire), they think they’re about to die.
I mean, to be fair, she did creep into the room holding shears kind of weapon-like. But they needn’t worry, because Flora (KELLY BISHOP!) walks in a second later.
I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve realized that Emily Gilmore was on “The Baby-Sitters Club”.
Dawn returns the ring to Flora and Bettina, who still argue over how it got lost.
But then they’re like, “whatevs, it was literally 40 years ago and the ring wasn’t that cute”. The BSC is glad that Flora was never butchered and buried in a backyard somewhere.
Claudia and Janine make up, and Janine makes cupcakes for the Little Sister Picnic.
At the picnic all of the sisters wear flower crowns (ahead of their time, thanks to Flora) and love each other and do a giant ring around the rosey. I leave you with this stunning photo of young Emily Gilmore:
You know what this episode needed? MORE JACKIE RODOWSKY.