A Tangled Web
August 15, 2013
Running time
Production code
Flash sideways
Centric character(s)
Written by
Directed by
Special Guest Star
Special Guest Star
Special Guest Stars
Archive footage

"A Tangled Web" is the 39th episode of Desperate Schoolboys.


The Wiksteria police begin a search for the killer of the girl found in the park, but for the schoolboys life goes on. Ben has the idea of setting Katie up with Paddy, however Paddy's interests lie elsewhere. Joe, realising his feelings for Katie, gets jealous. And Rena and Mary follow the advice of a couple from their Lamaze class, by preparing for a drug-free birth. Meanwhile Josh tries to mend some of the issues of his past by confronting his mother about why she left him.



The cops of Wiksteria were stumped...

Flash to the interior of the very busy Wiksteria police station.

A body had recently been discovered in the park, and they had no idea what had happened...

Flash to the inside of a coroner's office, where a dead woman is laid out on a table.

...They didn't know how the legs had broken, nor how she was choked to death...

The shot moves up the woman's body, before landing on her face.

...Only one boy, had a clue.

We see Josh approaching Alex in the Manning house. "What were you talking about?" Josh immediately asks. "What do you mean?" Alex asks in return, not bothering to look at his stepbrother. "Yesterday, you said you thought you knew who killed that girl, and then silence! You didn't even tell the police, you left all the talking down to me!" Josh exclaims angrily. "Did I?" Alex asks. Josh pauses, confused, "Yes!" he exclaims. "Who asked you to call the police?" Alex wonders. "There girl was dead for God's sake!" Josh yells, more angrily, and Alex finally turns to him. "Just forget about it Josh." He then gets up and begins to leave the room. "How can I forget about it, you may or may not know a murderer!" Josh calls after Alex who makes his way up the stairs. Once he's gone, his bedroom door is heard slamming, and Josh sighs to himself.

Unfortunately for Josh, that clue led him no closer to the killer than the police.
James Clark

Act I

Liz Taylor cared about her friends. She was concerned with their predicaments...

Ben, Liz, Rena and Mary are sit down in a coffee shop. They are all sitting down as Liz helps Mary take her seat and begins asking her how she is.

She was always there when her friends needed someone...

Flash to Liz and Nick sitting under the stars, as Nick talks to her about deceased James. (See "All for the Best")

And she was prepared to go to extremes to her help friends...

Flash to Liz approaching an amnesia Ben at Emma's summer home. (See "Strong, Fast and Fresh from the Fight")

...So when it came to her friend Katie, who was a little lonely, she was determined to help.
James Clark

"So what's wrong with Katie?" Mary asks. "She's just having trouble meeting people," Liz says. "Say no more!" Mary exclaims, taking an address book from her bag, "I can help her meet someone." Just then Joe walks over, "Help who?" "She's helping Liz find someone for Katie," Rena explains. Joe's eyes widen in discomfort, "You're going to set her up with a friend of Mary's?" "What is that suppose to mean?" Mary asks. Joe replies, "I'm just looking out for our friend, we want her to meet someone of standard." Mary looks insulted as Rena says, "Dude!" Mary stands, "We're meeting someone anyway." Her and Rena then walk off and Joe smiles to himself. But Liz then looks over to see Paddy enter. She turns to Ben, "There's Paddy from school. He's always seemed like a nice kid. Invite him to a double-date." "Him?" Joe asks with disdain. Ben looks uncomfortable, "I don't want to ask him! You ask him!" Liz gives Ben a glare, causing Ben to stand and utter, "Fine." Ben walks over to Paddy and greets him, "Hey, Paddy. How's your summer going?" "Oh, hey. Good, thanks," Paddy replies. Ben continues, "So anyway, a few of us from school are meeting for dinner tonight. It's a bit short notice, but..." Paddy looks surprised, "You're asking me?" "Sure," Ben smiles. "Thanks, sounds like fun," Paddy says. "Great. My house at six," Ben says, before turning and giving a thumbs up to Liz. However as he turns Paddy checks Ben out and then smiles to himself.

Rena and Mary sit at their table in the coffee shop, as Mary says to the waitress, "Two coffees and a cinnamon bun with extra frosting." The waitress goes off to get that, as another young pregnant couple then walk in - Randy and Sam from Lamaze class. They all warmly greet each other and then sit down together. Sam begins emptying a bag, containing plastic containers and a bottle filled with a green coloured smoothie. She explains, "I take my own food everywhere now. For the baby. I don't eat any refined sugar, white flour or gluten. I'm sure you're the same?" "Oh, of course," Mary says. Just then the waitress comes over with Mary's plate, "Cinnamon bun with extra frosting?" "No thank you, I'm pregnant," Mary replies. The waitress looks confused, "But you or-" Mary shouts, "I said no!" The waitress takes it away as Randy then asks, "So Mary, what are you planning to do with your placenta?" Rena, who is drinking his coffee, looks up in surprise at the question and begins coughing up coffee. "Ours will nourish the roots of a special tree," Randy says with a smile as he strokes Sam's hand, "And of course you'll need a Doula!" Sam adds, "Randy, I'm sure they have a Doula!" Rena and Mary nod dishonestly. Suddenly they look startled as Randy begins making strange wheezing noises, taking big breaths. "What's happening to him?" Rena asks. "He's being a 'sympathetic father'," Sam explains. "What is that?" Rena asks. "He feels everything that I feel: the nausea, morning sickness and hormones," Sam informs him. Rena nods, "I'm sure there is a medical term for that." "There is...'love'," Randy answers. Randy then stands, "I need some air." Sam follows Randy outside as he continues making ridiculous breathing noises. Rena watches the crazy couple leave and then remarks, "I don't like them." But Mary says, "They're getting so much more out of this than we are. How can we not even have a plan for my placenta?" Rena shakes his head, "Mary, it's crazy." "We need more expert help. I'm going to ask for the number of their Doula," Mary says.

Josh is seen heading upstairs after dinner when he bumps into Ted. "Hi," Josh says, and Ted returns the greeting. "How're you doing?" Ted wonders. "Um, fine," Josh answers awkwardly. "Good," Ted says, "You enjoying yourself? The house? Everything?" "Yes," Josh says, smiling, "I've been loving it here. I just wish I could have had this kind of family before, when I was younger, but... well, obviously..." he trails off. "Obviously what?" Ted asks. "Well, you know, when your mother abandons you... puts a damper on things." "Now now, I wouldn't hold your mother to that. She was young, insensible, and I'm sure she regrets it," Ted puts a comforting hand on Josh's shoulder. "Has she ever told you?" Josh wonders, "Why she left me?" Ted shrugs, "You'd have to ask her."

The doorbell rings in Ben's house and Ben answers it to Paddy. "Great, you made it," Ben says smiling, offering to take Paddy's coat. Paddy thanks him as Ben hangs his coat on the rack, and Paddy then sees that the table is set for four. "Oh, are people joining us?" he asks. "Yeah," Ben tells him, "It's gonna be a double-date." Liz and Katie then walk in from the kitchen. "Ah, great, Paddy, you're here," Liz says smiling. "I'm here..." Paddy says awkwardly as Katie checks him out. "Right, shall we start then?" Ben asks. "Sure," says Paddy, and the four of them go to take their seats. "You'll be next to me," Ben says to Paddy as the two of them sit opposite their respective dates. "This is nice," Paddy says, "I didn't know you two were together," clearly referencing Liz and Katie. However, Liz takes this to mean her and Ben, and says that they've been together for a while now. "Right," Ben says, happy that everything seems to be going smoothly, "Everyone tuck in, I suppose." Just as the cutlery is lifted, the door is heard opening again and everyone turns to see Joe enter. "Oh, hey guys," he says, seeing the dinner set up, "You guys having dinner? Mind if I join? Great, thanks." And without waiting for a reply, Joe pulls up a chair and takes a seat at the end of the table.

Act II

Rena and Mary are setting things up nice in their living room, ready for the Doula to arrive. The doorbell rings and Mary exclaims, "That'll be her!" Rena goes to answer the door with a smile however it drops when its Dean at the other side. "Hey. You busy?" Dean asks. "Well, act-" Rena begins, but Dean just walks right in, rambling, "Josh is so busy with his family right now. I just have nothing to do." Dean sits on the couch and begins helping himself to the snacks on the table. Rena prepares to say something, due to Mary's angry stare, but the doorbell then rings again, causing Rena to spin back round and open it. There is a small woman wrapped a shawl at the door, "You must be Rena and Mary." Rena smiles, "Lovely to meet you. Please come inside." The Doula enters the house as they all sit on the couch. Mary looks at the awkward Dean and explains, "This is our Doula." "What dat?" Dean asks. The Doula answers, "I am a midwife who believes in optimising the spiritual presence of a birth." "How do you do that?" Dean asks. "By a drug-free birth," the Doula smiles. "Whoa. No drugs?" Dean looks startled. "The birth of a child needn't be painful," the Doula says. Dean replies, "It needn't be, but it be." "How painful?" Mary asks, suddenly looking concerned. "Would you ever get your tooth taken out without any drugs?" Dean asks. Mary shakes her head, "No." "Well a tooth is only this big," Dean shows a measuring with his fingers. The Doula then stands for the door, "I'm sorry, I misunderstood when you called me. I thought that you wanted to be emotionally present during the moment your child is born. But now I see that all you want is for someone to dope you up, strap you down and yank it out." Mary stands, "Oh, no, no, no, don't leave!" "Yes, our friend was just leaving," Rena adds, giving a glare to Dean. Dean stands, "Alright, alright, I know when I'm not wanted." Dean passes by Mary on his way and pulls one of her hairs. "Ow!" Mary shouts. "Times that by a million," Dean tells her, before exiting the house.

Back at Ben's house, everyone but Joe is laughing at a joke that Paddy just told. "Yes, yes, very funny," Joe says, "Do you always feel the need to prove yourself through humor, Paddy? It's almost as though you're inadequate." Everyone else falls silent. "I... don't think I'm doing anything out of the ordinary..." Paddy says confused. "Well, maybe what's ordinary for you, but you don't really look like an ordinary boy, now, do you Paddy? Kinda weird-lookin' if you ask me." Paddy falls silent now, and Ben whispers to Joe, "You're being really rude..." "Am I?" asks Joe, "I was just trying to help Paddy here more welcome and accepted, since, you know, I doubt he's gonna be able to do that on his own merits." Before Paddy can respond, Katie exclaims, "Perhaps we should wash up now! I don't mind doing it, Paddy, you wanna help me?" "No need, I'll help you," Joe says immediately, "It'll help make up for me intruding on such a... train wreck." "Train wreck?" Katie asks, confused. "Forget I said anything," Joe says, getting up and accompanying Katie into the kitchen, however, he is followed by Paddy. "I thought we made it clear, we've got it covered," Joe tells him, disdain in his voice as Katie leaves to get started on clearing the table in the other room. "I'm not here to help..." Paddy says. "Hmm, says a lot about you Paddy. Not judging, just my opinion," Joe says with a fake smile. "Okay, that's why I'm here. What's with the hostility?" Paddy asks. "Hostility? Who on earth's being hostile? Well, except you with that accusatory tone of yours. Is that natural or are you just being rude again?" Joe asks in return. "Me rude?" Paddy says, shocked, "Have you heard yourself tonight? Look, if you've got a problem with me dating Ben, just come out and say something, don't—" "Ben?" Joe asks confused. "Yeah... you're kind of putting a damper on our date," Paddy says. "Your date with Ben?" Joe asks. "Yes..." Paddy confirms. "Oh, I don't have a problem," Joe says, a genuine smile breaking out on his face, "You... you just forget about me and go and have a good time... with Ben," he says. Paddy nods, confused, and leaves the room. Once he's gone, Joe begins laughing hysterically.

Liz walks into the kitchen and asks Joe, "Paddy seems nice. Do you think him and Katie..." Joe shakes his head, trying to hold in the laugher.
In the dining room Ben says, "That was a good evening." "Yeah, I can't remember when I last laughed so hard," Katie smiles. Suddenly they hear Liz roaring with laughter from inside the kitchen. The three peer in to see Liz laughing and Joe laughing with her. "I'll go and put some music on," Katie says, leaving Ben and Paddy. "She's, er, quite a girl, don't you think?" Ben asks. Paddy replies flatly, "Yeah, she's lovely." Ben smiles but Paddy then asks with a suggestive tone, "Do you think we could get some alone time before the evenings over?" Ben, thinking he means with Katie, smiles, "I think that can be arranged." Ben then walks off to find Katie.

Joanna is seen sitting in the living room, reading, when Josh approaches. She looks up at him and shuts her book, asking what he wants. "To talk," he says, sitting down next to her. "About what, sweetheart?" she asks, smiling. "I've just been wondering... why you... left me," he says awkwardly. "Oh, Josh..." Joanna starts. "I was just curios," Josh professes. "It's okay," Joanna assures him, "I'm not mad. Let me tell you..."

17 Years Ago

A baby Josh is seen crying in his crib when Joanna bursts into the room, seeing that Bob is sat on the couch, watching TV. "Why didn't you tend to him? You heard him crying!" Joanna exclaims, picking Josh up out of his crib and cradling him. "What do you want from me? The game's on!" Bob tells her, returning his attention to the television. "What I want is for you to be a father at some point. I just got home, how long has he been like this?" she asks, shushing her son. Bob shrugs.

It was all just too much for me. I couldn't handle the responsibility. I had just got a job, I was struggling to make end's meat, your father was no help at all... It was a constant struggle... but eventually...

We see Joanna writing a long, thought-out note, before pinning the piece of paper to baby Josh's blanket. She kisses her son on the forehead, "I'm sorry," she whispers before leaving the room. As soon as she does so, Josh begins to cry, and Joanna stops for a moment, breathing heavily, before continuing on out the house.

I left. I decided one morning that I had had enough. I left your father a note, explaining that I left you with him because I didn't think that you would have any sort of better life... with me. I'd been fired from my job due to exhaustion, me and your father fell out of love long before... I couldn't handle motherhood any longer.
Joanna Manning

We see Joanna driving away from the house in her car just before Bob goes inside. He hears the baby crying and calls out for Joanna, asking if she's going to get to that, however, when he walks into the living room, he looks down at his son and discovers the note. He begins reading it with anger on his face, as Josh continues to cry.


"So that's why you left me?" Josh asks, after his mother has finished her story. "I'm not defending what I did, it was... so awful of me..." Joanna says, crying herself now. "Yeah, it was," Josh says angrily, "You just got bored one day so up and left?" "I wasn't bored," Joanna says. "Dad told me you had died..." Josh states. "I know," Joanna says sadly, "And I'm sorry you had to grow up believing that." "I know you are..." Josh says as Joanna puts her hand on his, patting it gently. "Can you forgive me?" Joanna begs. "That was seventeen years ago..." Josh says, "Yes, I think I can. I mean, look at you now. You've changed, I've changed, and you've... matured." "I have," Joanna smiles. "And you have a proper family now," Josh continues. "One that you're a part of," Joanna reminds him, "I wanted to go back the moment I left, but I... honestly thought I was doing what's best for you." "I know," Josh says, smiling himself. The two of them share a hug, "I love you," Joanna utters. Josh replies with, "I love you too, mom."

Ben leaves the living room just as Joe approaches the door. "You leaving?" Ben asks. "Yeah," Joe says, a smile still etched on his face. "Does this mean that you won't randomly attack Paddy again?" Ben wonders. "Yep," Joe says, now bursting out in a giggle. "What? What is it?" Ben asks confused, "Is there something on my face?" "No, no..." Joe says, cutting off his laugh by covering his mouth with his sleeve. "Then what?" Ben asks. "Okay, this isn't fair to Paddy. Ben... Paddy's gay," Joe reveals. "What?" "Yep," Joe nods. "Then... why is he here?" Ben inquires. "Because," Joe says, giggling slightly again, "He thinks he's on a date with you." Ben's eyes widen, "What? Oh, God..." "Yeah... you may wanna break it to him before the night is over. Of course, if you don't, there's a good chance you could get lucky tonight. He seems pretty into you." Joe continues to smile but Ben appears horrified, "I-I'll tell him..." Ben says. And just as Joe's about to leave again, Ben asks, "If that's what you and Liz were laughing about earlier, how come she didn't tell me?" "Oh," Joe says, "That's 'cause she lost the coin toss." He proceeds to exit the house.

Ben walks into his living room. The music is playing. Paddy is sitting on the couch, his glasses off, and a sly smile that gives no room for doubt. "So...alone at last," Paddy says. Ben stutters, "So...I hate this music." Ben goes and switches the player off. "I don't usually date guys from school," Paddy says. "Well, I'm kind of bending my rules for you too," Ben admits. "You're cute when you're nervous," Paddy says. "Well...I must be utterly adorable right now," Ben utters. Ben pulls himself together and then says, "Paddy, I'm afraid that there has been a terrible misunderstanding here. You see, I am completely straight." Paddy looks offended, "Hey, if you're not interested then just say!" "Oh no, it's true," Ben says, "The truth is that I invited you here for Katie." Paddy's eyes widen, realising, "You really had no idea that I was gay?" On cue for this is Katie entering the room, she hears this and then quickly retreats back out the room without saying anything. Ben and Paddy watch her, both looking embarrassed, before Ben explains, "Don't take this wrong, but it never even occurred to me that you might be gay." "Well don't take this wrong, but it never occurred to me that you might be straight," Paddy says. "I feel just awful," Ben says. Paddy stands and heads for the door, "It was an honest mistake. You'll apologise to Katie?" "For the rest of my days," Ben assures him. They say goodnight as Paddy exits. Ben turns to see Katie and says, "I'm sorry, Katie." Katie heads for the door and says goodnight to Ben before exiting, looking very glum.

Rena and Mary are at home as the doorbell rings and they greet the Doula who enters and announces, "Sam went into labor last night!" Rena exclaims, high-pitched and almost teary, "Oh, I'm so happy for them!" Mary looks at him and explains, "He's been trying out that 'sympathetic father' thing." "I'm beginning to have no control over it," Rena smiles. "Then stay off the couch in case your water breaks," Mary mocks, shaking her head as she's clearly a little fed up. The Doula holds up a DVD, "I have the labour on film if you'd like to see it." "That would be great!" Rena exclaims. The Doula inserts the DVD into the living room television; we hear Sam being told to push by Randy as the Doula plays a bongo drum. "This is two hours into the labour," the Doula informs them. "I'm so excited! I can't wait until this is us!" Rena says gleefully. Suddenly a scream of pure, hellish agony rips from the TV. Mary's eyes widen as she stares in horror. "Look at Sam glow," the Doula smiles. "MOTHER OF GOD, JUST KILL ME!!!" Sam screams on the TV. Mary stutters, "She, she looks like she's in a little pain." "Pain is just fear leaving the body," the Doula smiles. "STOP THAT DAMN DRUM BEFORE I PUT YOUR HEAD THROUGH IT, YOU CRAZY BITCH!" Sam screams. The Doula tells them, "She laughed at that afterwards. She actually loves my drum." Mary shakes her head and switches the TV off, "I've seen enough. I'm going to have my labour the way God intended, in a hospital and numb from the waist down." Mary grabs the Doula by the arm and begins taking her out the door. She slams the door after her and then turns to Rena who is rubbing his nipples. Mary looks in disdain and says, "And you, stop acting pregnant - you're a man, for god sake!" Rena drops his hands.

Life is a string of misunderstandings. We may think one thing, when the reality is totally different. We can expect one thing, and receive another...

Flash to Paddy walking into his own home, looking saddened.

...Or discover an alternative that was never really an option...

Flash to Rena and Mary meeting with a drug-approving birthing coach.

...Old news can still take us by surprise...

Flash to Josh leaving the living room as Joanna continues with her book.

...And we can think we've finally found what we're looking for, only to discover that there's absolutely no hope.
James Clark

Joe knocks on Katie's house door with his other hand behind his back. Katie answers. "Hey," Joe says, "I just wanted to apologize for the other night. I was a real jerk and... I feel bad that you were cheated out of a date." Katie smiles, "It's okay," she assures him, "In fact," a car horn is heard beeping, "There's my date now!" Joe turns to see a car park outside Katie's house, and in the drivers' seat is – "Fraser..." Joe utters. "Yeah," Katie says happily, "I bumped into him after my 'date' with Paddy and we got to talking and he asked me out! Isn't that great?" she asks. "Yeah..." Joe says, forcing a smile, "Great..." "See ya', Joe," she says happily, running across the garden to join Fraser in his car. As they drive off, we see that Joe was carrying a bouquet of flowers behind his back. He then drops them to the ground and stomps on them angrily, before walking away.