The question: Can an actor separate himself from a role he plays in a production, even if he's one of the United States' most infamous traitors?
That's what Peter has to work his way through as he realizes that he's meant to be Benedict Arnold in a school play ... and that "Everyone Can't Be George Washington."
Peter, now in eighth grade, wants to play the lead role in a school production about the American Revolution. But in auditioning for the part, he does so well that he is cast in the No. 2 role: That of Benedict Arnold. Seems that the director had a lot of faith that Peter could handle the much more demanding role of the villainous Arnold.
Peter contemplates dropping out of the play, but Carol suggests to Peter that he was chosen as Benedict Arnold for a reason and that he has never been a quitter. Peter realizes that Mom is right and decides to give it his all.
He's so enthusiastic that he tells all his friends that he's playing Benedict Arnold in the school play. But what happens instead?
He loses all of his friends — or seems to have — in short order, and Peter now is ready to quit the play again. It seems that all of a sudden, he's fallen ill with laryngitis. But Mike sees right through that and rather than allow Peter to make the decision on his own to be honest and say "I quit," he convinces him to follow through, noting that many professional actors have faced the same dilemma — getting hate mail sometimes for playing parts of infamous dictators, traitors, criminals and so forth. But even more importantly, and the point the Brady patriarch stresses, is that if Peter quits the play, he'll let the entire cast and production down (just as the historical Benedict Arnold did), especially that they are counting on him to come through and give the best performance he is capable of.
Peter realizes his father is right and all of a sudden becomes "well" again. He goes on to give a masterful performance and wins over the crowd. And all is forgiven with his classmates, who now realize that Peter Brady is definitely no Benedict Arnold.
Meanwhile, Jan gets the position of set designer, as she has the best qualification of any student: her father, the architect. But the now seventh-grade Jan is already starting to develop her artistic talents ... and oh, how far they will take her.
Tropes present in this episode:
- Foreshadowing: This episode drops another hint at Jan's future as an architect when she's picked as the set designer for the play. She even cites Mike being her father as a major reason she was chosen, and does a bang-up job with his and her siblings' help.
- Playing Sick: When Peter is at the end of his rope dealing with his friends' stupid remarks about him playing Benedict Arnold, he schemes to come down with laryngitis. Mike quickly cures this "illness" by convincing Peter how critical his role is.
- School Play: A historical presentation about the Revolutionary War.
- What an Idiot!: In-universe: Peter's classmates, who are junior high students but yet cannot separate the actor (good ol' lovable Peter) from the role (the U.S.'s most famous traitor).