That night, Laura retreats to the studio where she strums and sings a maudlin ditty called, “Alone Again.” I was hoping for Gilbert O’Sullivan1, but this is a more basic, age appropriate ballad that makes no mention of dead parents. “Alone again with my guitar/ Alone again underneath the lonely stars…” GROAN. You get it. Like all songs from Jem, there’s an accompanying music video with slightly psychedelic visuals that are meant to convey the characters’ emotional journey (as opposed to actual events within the narrative). Here we see Laura peering into a giant mirror as shadowy figures dance around her. Deep.
Of course Jem and the Holograms wander in while Laura’s singing and are TOTALLY AMAZED by her talent. Jem invites her to join them onstage at the Big Concert. Laura refuses at first but then Kimber (magenta hair) calls her “chicken” — a.k.a. the world’s most motivating insult, even when you’re talking to someone with zero self-esteem — so Laura’s now obligated to perform onstage. And she worries.
Laura continues worrying at school the next day. She sits on a see-saw — at the playground, outside a high school — and talks out loud to herself about wishing for a natural disaster to fix her problem. Enter a dude.2 He greets her by name, makes a dumb joke about wishing for earthquakes during finals, and introduces himself as Bobby Braddock. Even with a cartoon face, this guy looks ten years too old for the part. But, as my D.A.R.E. education taught me, it’s totally normal for drug dealers (oops, spoiler) to infiltrate your school so they can sell you crack on the playground. Happened all the time!
Being a self-loather, Laura wonders how this guy is aware of her existence. “I just sneaked a look at a list of new kids in the administration office.” Um, not comforting. RED FLAG. “I always make it a point to know the names of cute new girls at school.” BARF. Of course, this works. Laura is hooked by his pushing-30 good looks. Bobby offers her mysterious pills to get her ready for The Big Concert. She hesitates but then he pulls some BS about being there to see her perform. “Don’t you want to play your best, for me?” It’s so clear this guy is a sack of shit, but Laura lacks self worth so his ploy works.