In the mid-to-late 2000s, it was practically a constitutional duty for young adult dramas to commemorate Thanksgiving with a Very Special Episode bringing the cast together around the dinner table. Traditionally, these episodes serve up family drama with a side of bombshell revelations or romantic intrigue, with the best of the bunch, Gossip Girl's "Blair Waldorf Must Pie!," delivering all three, to delicious effect. But while "Blair Waldorf Must Pie!" is more than worthy of the praise it's received since airing in 2007, its prominence crowds out another, equally deserving, entry: Greek's Season 3 episode "The Wish-Pretzel."
The first and only Thanksgiving episode in Greek's four-season run, "The Wish-Pretzel" (Season 3, Episode 9) sees the bulk of the main cast remain at Cyprus-Rhodes University while the rest of campus heads home for the long weekend. Their reasons for celebrating Thanksgiving at school are varied — Casey (Spencer Grammer) and Rusty Cartwright's (Jacob Zachar) parents ditched them for a trip to Maui, while Evan Chambers (Jake McDorman) and Rebecca Logan (Dilshad Vadsaria) are actively avoiding their families — but they make the most of the experience.
As Rusty and his roommate Dale Kettlewell (Clark Duke), who are competing for the same engineering grant, prepare to host dinner at their apartment, Casey hopes to gin up some "good karma" by volunteering, and Cappie (Scott Michael Foster), whose parents "side with the Native Americans" and thus don't celebrate Thanksgiving, participates in his last Kappa Tau Turkey Hunt. (In true KT fashion, the "turkey" they're hunting turns out to be a bottle of Kentucky bourbon.)
When Rusty and Dale's conflict in the science lab spills over into their friendship, Rusty cancels dinner, and the rest of the group scrambles to make new plans. Still hoping a burst of karmic energy will revive her dating life, Casey invites the volunteers at CRU's Moveable Feast to the ZBZ sorority house for dinner, and with Rebecca and Evan's help, they end up feeding dozens of people. The holiday spirit carries over to the KT house, where the brothers reluctantly allow Evan, their Omega Chi enemy, to break bread with them. After all, says Cappie's ill-informed brother Wade (Derek Mio), "If the cowboys and Indians can do it, so can we."
Despite the cessation of hostilities between Casey and Rebecca and KT and Omega Chi (however brief), "The Wish-Pretzel" is best remembered as the episode that sees Casey and Cappie, Greek's endgame couple, finally get back together. Since the "End of the World" party in the Season 2 finale, the two have danced around their feelings for one another, but when it comes time for the Cartwrights to break the "wish pretzel," a substitute for a real turkey bone, Casey and Cappie can no longer ignore their magnetic attraction. After dinner, Cappie walks Casey home and professes his love for her. The episode ends with the moment fans have been waiting for since the series premiere: Casey and Cappie making out on the steps of the ZBZ house, committing to a more adult version of the relationship they had freshman year.
But "The Wish-Pretzel" goes beyond pure wish fulfillment. The Thanksgiving episode also gets into sticky territory with Rusty and Dale's conflict, which escalates from a friendly competition into a legitimate feud when Rusty catches a jealous Dale reading his lab notes in hopes of learning something he can use to further his own project. The storyline reinforces one of Greek's main themes — the complex, often competitive nature of friendship — while reminding viewers just how egocentric Dale can be, adding an interesting wrinkle to his multi-season redemption arc.
Rusty and Dale's drama also mimics Cappie's ongoing push-pull with Evan. The former roommates recently rekindled their friendship after joining the Amphora Society, a secret group on campus, but when Cappie realizes that Evan dissuaded him from pursuing Casey at the End of the World party because he may also be interested in her, Cappie begins to doubt Evan's loyalty. Both storylines continue into the next episode ("Friend or Foe"), and though they ultimately diverge — Rusty lets Dale win their Battle Bots competition because he pities him, and Evan organizes a mean Omega Chi prank, blowing up his friendship with Cappie — the parallels strengthen the unlikely synergy between Cappie and Rusty, who represent the two halves of the show.
What's more, it's Rusty's pride in his engineering project, a self-healing wire, that gives his KT brother the confidence to take the leap with Casey. "The wire can get cut, but it just keeps growing back," Rusty explains. "It does not give up." The similarities between Rusty's wire and Cappie's relationship with Casey, which has taken many forms over the past two-and-a-half seasons, is not lost on Cap, who spends Thanksgiving dinner staring adoringly at his love interest as he works up the courage to reveal his true feelings.
And though the 2009 episode is undoubtedly a vestige of its time — Grammer sings along to Katy Perry's "Waking Up In Vegas," and being a guest on Charlie Rose is held up as the pinnacle of scientific achievement, for starters — it's aged well, overall. Casey's performative altruism is rightfully skewered by both Rebecca ("How selfless of you," she says upon hearing of Casey's good-karma scheme) and a Moveable Feast organizer, who mocks Casey for volunteering on Thanksgiving, but doing nothing "any of the other 364 days of the year." It also features a few laugh-out-loud jokes that younger viewers (this writer included) may have missed upon a first watch, including a Turkey Hunt clue about Heath (Zack Lively), an openly gay brother, being "the KT that gets the most box" because he's packing up his room ahead of graduation. "Look around," says Heath, as he directs the group's attention to the dozens of half-full cardboard boxes littering the room. "I think it's meant to be ironical."
The efficiency with which these disparate storylines and longer-running gags come together reflects a show firing on all cylinders just over halfway through its run. Greek was never better than in "The Wish-Pretzel," which gave viewers exactly what they wanted, while also treating them to a few things they didn't know they needed. As Thanksgiving episodes go, what could be more satisfying than that?
Greek is streaming on Hulu.
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.