September 16, 2014
Summary: We haven’t gotten a lot of Isabella-centric storylines, which is probably why I went into this book feeling like there isn’t a whole lot to her. She’s a little like Lila, in that her parents seem to be rich and she likes fashion, but she’s much more down to earth. In this book, though, she proves to be pretty smart, and shows that following your gut is usually the best move, especially when there’s someone unstable involved.
Anyway, Isabella has a fabulous birthday with all her friends, then wraps up the night with some alone time with Danny. He gives her a ring, so of course she thinks he’s proposing, but he just wants to let her know how special she is by giving her a family heirloom. He pretty much says that he loves her but isn’t sure he wants to marry her. Yet he’ll give her something special that’s been in his family for generations? How is it that he loves her enough to do that but not to marry her? Whatever, this is just setting things up for Isabella and Danny to be on the outs a little.
Isabella and Jessica go get free haircuts from salon students, and Isabella’s is kind of a disaster. (Jess, for once, is smart enough to trust her instincts, and she decides not to let the untrained style disaster assigned to them touch her precious hair.) To add insult to injury, Isabella then bangs up her car and can’t afford the repairs. She also can’t ask her parents for money, and she’s too busy with extracurriculars to get a job. I would suggest that she drop one or more of those extracurriculars so she has time for a job, but that’s crazy talk. Instead, Isabella decides to look for a roommate for her two-bedroom apartment. No, I don’t know why her parents agreed to pay rent on a two-bedroom when she’s the only one living there. The Riccis don’t seem that bright.
As if we’re in some bad movie, we’re treated to a montage of horrible roommate candidates before we come to Lisa Fontaine. She’s shy, she’s a bad dresser, and she’s awkward, but she doesn’t seem like an awful person to live with, and she can pay her share of the rent, so Isabella will take her. Also, she claims to have transferred from NYU, and people from New York are, of course, awesome, so how can Isabella turn her away?
Lisa tries desperately to befriend Isabella, who warms up to her as soon as she proves useful around the apartment. One shopping trip later and the girls are BFFs (and sometimes pretending to be sisters, which is kind of weird for people past the age of eight). The only thing Isabella finds strange about her new roommate is that she doesn’t like people touching her stuff, but Isabella can kind of understand that. Danny tries to smooth things over with Isabella by giving her a kitten, and Lisa names it Rosie. Lisa gets a little too rough with Rosie, who doesn’t appreciate it. This is when I started to get nervous and make threats against the ghostwriter.
Isabella thinks Lisa is the perfect roommate, but it’s not long before things start to go downhill. Lisa deletes a message Danny leaves for Isabella on their answering machine, so she can have lunch with Isabella. She tells Isabella that Danny never called. They start talking about their families, and Lisa mentions that she had a twin sister who died at birth. She also says that her parents were very protective of her, which is why she’s never been on a date or done a lot of the things most college students do.
Jessica meets Lisa and thinks she’s awesome. Jess has recently been in a good mood since she started dating a guy named Josh. (Ben doesn’t exist in this universe.) She hasn’t introduced him to many people yet, just Elizabeth and Tom, because she thinks he’s so awesome that all the other girls at SVU will want to steal him. Normally I’d think that Jessica was delusional, but the guy is pretty great.
Jessica introduces Josh to Isabella, but it’s not really an introduction – they know each other from high school. In fact, they dated in high school. (I don’t know what the odds are of a girl randomly meeting and falling for her friend’s ex without knowing it, but they have to be astronomical.) Jessica quickly becomes jealous of their closeness, but Isabella promises that she and Josh are ancient history.
Lisa, though, decides to mess with Jessica’s head, and later with Danny’s. When he calls looking for Isabella, Lisa tells him that she’s hanging out with an old boyfriend. Then when Isabella gets home, Lisa tells her that Danny was mad when he called, so Isabella should ignore him for a while to teach him a lesson. When Danny finally calls back and asks Isabella to meet him, she goes looking for a sweater she loaned Lisa and finds a bunch of what she thinks are her clothes in Lisa’s closet. They’re actually Lisa’s own clothes that are exactly like Isabella’s. Creepy…
Isabella tries to tell Danny about Lisa’s weird behavior, but he’s so jealous of Josh that he doesn’t listen. Danny’s boyfriendliness in this book is really lacking. Later, Isabella spots someone with her exact haircut and realizes it’s Lisa. She rushes over to Jessica and Elizabeth’s room to talk to Jess…who’s out with a new friend. Elizabeth thinks her name is Lisa. So we have clothes- and hair-copying, and friend-stealing. Isabella is right to be freaked out.
Jessica and Lisa are suddenly BFFs the way Lisa and Isabella were BFFs, and Jessica wants Lisa to join Theta. She invites her to a frat party, asking her to remind Isabella about it. Of course, Lisa doesn’t, so she goes out to have fun with Isabella’s friends, after spending some time chatting up Danny and making him think she’s both awesome and normal. At the party, she tells Jessica that Josh probably hasn’t shown up because he’s with Isabella.
Now Isabella’s on the outs with Theta, and Lisa’s…um…on the ins? I guess. Jessica nominates her as a new member, ignoring Isabella when she protests. Jess is a worse friend in this book than Danny is a boyfriend. Speaking of Danny, he gets a late-night visit from someone he thinks is Isabella, but who’s actually Lisa. He actually puts the brakes on before they can have sex, and asks her to have breakfast with him the next day. Lisa shows up at breakfast instead, of course, telling herself that Danny knew she was the one in his room and is just pretending it was Isabella.
Jessica’s supposed to go to Malibu with Josh for the weekend, but he has to cancel. Instead of picking up a phone or going to her room to tell her in person, he gives Lisa a note to deliver to Jessica. Then she sends Josh off in Isabella’s direction. So just as Jessica’s learning that her weekend plans are being called off, she sees her boyfriend with his ex. Now Jess is furious with both Josh and Isabella.
Lisa tells Danny that Isabella’s cheating on him with Josh, then makes sure that Isabella sees her with Danny and thinks they’re getting closer. Isabella’s had enough and decides to kick Lisa out of the apartment. While she’s packing Lisa’s things, she snoops a little, finding answering-machine tapes Lisa’s stolen, plus pictures from a farm and letters addressed to someone named Helen Mueller. There’s also an article about a girl named Rosie Mueller being found dead in a well after playing in the woods with her twin sister Helen. Of course, Helen is Lisa.
Meanwhile, Jessica’s still on her quest to get Lisa into Theta, but now she also wants Isabella out. The one person she thinks can help her is her old nemesis Alison. Alison has her own nominee for the only empty spot in the sorority, so Jessica convinces her to help her get Isabella ousted so both Lisa and Alison’s girl can join. Alison will bad-mouth Isabella to the other sisters, pointing out that she’s stopped caring about her appearance, so she’s not a good representative of them anymore. Jessica doesn’t have to lift a finger.
Lisa comes home while Isabella’s about to pack her stuff, so Isabella jets to the registrar’s office to get some contact info. There isn’t any – no one named Lisa Fontaine or Helen Mueller is registered at SVU. Back at the apartment, Lisa realizes that Isabella was looking through her things. She starts going dark, remembering how, when she and her sister were young, Rosie got all the praise and Helen got…locked in the cellar as punishment. Okay, now I just feel sorry for her. It’s not her fault she’s crazy! She had horrible parents! We also get a flashback to Rosie falling down a well and Helen leaving her there to scare her and make her experience what it’s like being locked in a cellar.
When Isabella gets home, she finds the kitten dead. Curse you, ghostwriter! That was so unnecessary! Isabella tries to find another place to spend the night, but all her friends hate her, so she sleeps in the student union. Poor Izzy. As soon as she sees Lisa leave the apartment in the morning, Isabella runs in to grab some of her things, but she’s not fast enough. Lisa ties her up and heads out to meet Danny.
Jessica FINALLY talks to Josh about how she thinks he’s cheating on her with Isabella, and he tells her she’s wrong. He’s rescheduled their Malibu trip, has only been spending time with Isabella to comfort her, and no longer has the feelings for Isabella that he does for Jessica. Jess is smart enough to realize that this means something else has been going on with Isabella, and she might be right about Lisa being a nutjob.
Jessica goes to the apartment, where Isabella has smartly turned up the TV so someone will come over and tell her to turn it down. While Jess frees her, Danny starts figuring out that Lisa has some issues. She tells him that Isabella attacked her, and mentions that she, not Isabella, was the one in Danny’s room the other night. As Danny runs off to find his girlfriend, Lisa goes home and finds Jessica in the apartment. She ties Jess up and makes Isabella write a fake suicide note.
While Lisa’s distracted by Jessica, Isabella manages to escape the apartment. Unfortunately, her streak of smart moves suddenly comes to an end when she decides to use the elevator (which we’ve been told is broken many times throughout the book, and which has supposedly just been fixed). She begins a slooooooow descent to the basement. Meanwhile, Danny happens to run into Lisa’s aunt in the lobby; she’s looking for her niece, Helen, who recently escaped from a psychiatric facility. Danny doesn’t care.
Lisa follows Isabella to the basement, now in full-blown psychosis, thinking that Isabella is her dead sister. Danny finds Jessica in the apartment and frees her, then heads down to the basement, where Lisa knocks him out. Isabella and Lisa end up in the elevator, with Lisa trying to choke Isabella. She thinks she hears Rosie calling to her from the bottom of the elevator shaft, and she wants to go down and rescue her, since she feels guilty for letting her die. Isabella can’t stop her, and Lisa falls to her death. (Or what I assume is her death. We all know Sweet Valley’s history with evil twins not really being dead.)
Happy ending! Danny’s not hurt too badly. Isabella and Jessica are friends again. Danny proposes for real, but Isabella thinks they should wait before they make that kind of commitment. I assume her money problems also get sorted out, or she at least comes up with a more reasonable way to pay for her expenses besides letting someone move in without a background check or references.
Thoughts: Here’s the plot of Single White Female, in case you’re unfamiliar with it. If you took a drink for every similarity between that movie and this book, you’d be drunk halfway through.
Why does Isabella live in an apartment in the first place? Why doesn’t she live at the Theta house?
Danny, I like you, but giving a girl a diamond ring and not thinking she’ll interpret it as a marriage proposal? Is dumb.
“Do you honestly think I’d date a crimninal?” Actually, Jessica, I’m surprised you haven’t already.
The Zeta frat has a Mexican-themed party with a banner that says “Zetas Go South of the Border!” Oh…oh, dear.
Tom’s going to a journalism conference for a few days and doesn’t plan to take any clothes with him. Tom, you’re gross.
September 14, 2014
Summary: It’s morning at the Walsh house, and Kelly thinks Brandon is too regimented, since he always gets out of the shower at exactly the same time. She’s worried that they get along so well because they both have the same boring outlook on life. Brandon doesn’t get why she wants them to act their age, since 22-year-olds tend to make stupid decisions. There’s nothing wrong with vanilla if you like vanilla.
Donna’s nervous about an upcoming meeting with the widow of a famous designer. She’s willing to do any job, no matter how menial, if it gets her in the door of a major company. David stops by a phone center, trying very hard to keep Donna outside while he gets his service reconnected. That costs $89, and he has to try multiple credit cards before he can find one that covers it.
Nat and Carly work a busy breakfast shift at the Peach pit, though only one of them flirts with Steve. He asks her to come with him to a Harvest Ball that Kelly’s foundation is throwing. Donna meets with the Widow Garibaldi, who loves Donna’s designs and needs help finding an outfit for a séance she’s hosting that Friday. (She needs a psychic to contact her husband so he can tell her where her lost bracelet is.)
Valerie and Cooper go out to eat, talking about pheasant, in case we’ve forgotten that he’s rich. He admits that he feels guilty about being rich because he didn’t earn it himself. He invites her to the Harvest Ball, but Val’s uneasy about him meeting all her friends. Cooper won’t let her give any excuses, and once he gives her a necklace, she can’t really say no.
At the After Dark, David gets a visit from one of the club’s landlords. David doesn’t have that month’s rent, and the landlord won’t give him any kind of break – he pays by the next morning or he’s evicted. When Donna arrives, David pretends that everything’s fine. Meanwhile, Noah meets with a financial planner, telling the guy he doesn’t care what happens to his portfolio. Then he eats macaroni and cheese out of a pan and makes out with Valerie. (Noah, not the financial planner.)
Brandon cooks dinner for Kelly, which is his idea of injecting some excitement into their relationship. But somehow, it turns Kelly on, and they end up making out on the dinner table. (All that perfectly good food going to waste. Tsk tsk.) Donna tries to find Mrs. Garibaldi a psychic while David pretends that his only problem is finding a new headlining act for the After Dark.
Kelly and Brandon never cleaned up after the previous night’s interrupted dinner, and they don’t bother to lie to Steve about having sex on the dining room table. While Valerie takes a phone call from Cooper, Kelly invites Noah to the Harvest Ball; this is the first he’s hearing about it. Val says she didn’t bother mentioning it because she knew Noah wouldn’t want to go, and she’s only attending because a client gave her a ticket as a tip.
David tries to get a loan, but the bank rejects him because he doesn’t have financial stability or enough assets to qualify. He asks about using his car as collateral, but even that won’t sway the loan officer. Steve gets a visit from a woman who wants to advertise her witchy abilities in the Beverly Beat. She comes on to him, but Steve turns her down, because he’s maturing, finally. Brandon teases that Carly has gotten into Steve’s head.
Carly goes to the beach apartment to borrow clothes from Donna for the Harvest Ball. We learn that Carly spent a year at the University Montana, but found it too hard to continue because Zach was only one. Someday she’d like to have a stable office job, but she’s not sure what it’ll be. Kelly calls Brandon at work so they can flirt with each other, then comes over for in-person flirting while Donna uses the paper’s Internet connection to look for a psychic. Steve puts her in contact with the witch.
The witch isn’t exactly psychic, and instead keeps pretending to be the late Mr. Garibaldi to send Donna on multiple wild-goose chases. Donna uses good, old-fashioned deduction to get Mrs. Garibaldi to remember where the bracelet is. Then she realizes that Mr. Garibaldi wasn’t the famous fashion designer, but a completely different Garibaldi. She’s been trying to work for the wife of a dry-cleaner.
Before they head to the ball, Carly and Steve take Zach to Carly’s mom’s house, in case Steve and Carly, um, “stay out late.” Valerie gets ready for the ball on Noah’s boat, trying to get him to promise that he’s in the relationship for the long term. Donna spends her payment from Mrs. Garibaldi on cuff links for David, which he thinks was a stupid move. He tells her he has something to take care of and will meet her at the ball.
Kelly and Brandon can’t keep their hands to themselves in the elevator on their way to the ball. In fact, they like the setting so much that they decide to take another ride before going to the party. Back at the beach apartment, David stops cringing at his eviction notice long enough to help himself to a check from Donna’s checkbook. He tells the landlord that he and Donna have a joint account, and she believes him but warns him not to be late with his rent again.
At the ball, Brandon, Kelly, Steve, and Carly are surprised to see Valerie with Cooper. Noah shows up, having gotten a ticket from his financial planner, and tells Donna he’s going to surprise Val. Carly calls her mom, learns that Zach’s sick, and decides to leave. Steve invites himself along, not caring how much money he spent on the tickets.
Valerie’s shocked to see Noah, and is unable to keep him and Cooper away from each other. Noah immediately figures out that Valerie’s been dating someone else. It doesn’t take Cooper long to realize the same thing, and since he’s not willing to take second place to someone else, he tells Valerie they’re through. So Val started the day with two boyfriends and is ending it with none.
Steve goes home with Carly, assuring her that he doesn’t mind skipping the ball if it means they get to spend time together. He understands that she has priorities, and he loves her for loving Zach. After the ball, Brandon and Kelly head home for more of the same thing they’ve been doing the whole episode.
Donna finds David at the beach apartment and blasts him for skipping the ball. She’s frustrated that their schedules are so different and they never get to spend time together. She wishes he would make her more of a priority – assuming he still considers her one. David will get back to her once he’s done brooding and drinking.
Thoughts: Someday I hope to be rich enough to hire psychics to contact dead people to find things for me so I don’t have to waste time looking for them myself.
We get it! Noah is the new Dylan! Can we please move on?
How is Steve not disturbed about Kelly and Brandon having sex on furniture everyone in the house uses? And why would they tell him that’s what happened? Always lie about where you’ve had sex! Always!
September 13, 2014
Summary: Claudia’s still in San Francisco and has taken over the household responsibilities. Charlie thinks she’s only making herself useful so he’ll let her leave her boarding school. He meets Daphne’s mom, Doreen, and her boyfriend, Lester, who apparently didn’t know Diana was born until just recently. Daphne doesn’t want them to stay at the house, but Charlie’s happy to have a house full of people.
Ned plans to stay at school over Christmas break, and he’s not exactly thrilled that Julia’s going to call him a bunch so he doesn’t get lonely. At the Salingers’, Charlie encourages Daphne to spend time with Doreen, which is the last thing Daphne wants to do. Griffin thinks Charlie needs to ease up on Claudia, but Charlie’s still mad at him for taking her out of school. The school is threatening not to release her transcript, which means she might have to repeat the year.
Julia goes to say goodbye to Ned, who’s struggling with a paper he has to write quickly. She didn’t realize his grade in the class was in such jeopardy. She announces that she’ll help him write, and the next day they’ll both be able to go home and spend Christmas with their families. Owen’s still staying with Bailey and Sarah, and still upset that his place as youngest child has been usurped.
Daphne complains to Charlie that Doreen’s pretending she wants to be a family when she hasn’t called in a year and a half. Charlie wants Daphne to give her a chance since she’s the only grandparent who’s been around in years. If Doreen wants to be there, they should let her, because the holidays are supposed to be about families.
Bailey and Sarah find some broken ornaments and know that Owen must have used them to lash out. Sarah urges Bailey to talk to his brother, but Bailey doesn’t want to make him mad on Christmas Eve. Julia and Ned work in a hotel room, since the heat’s been turned off in the dorms; I’m surprised they’re getting anything done. Also, I’m pretty sure Julia’s doing more work than Ned is.
Daphne’s mom asks Charlie if he loves Daphne; when he says yes, she asks why they’re not married. She gets her answer when Kirsten the perpetual babysitter makes an appearance. Griffin tells Claudia he’s looking for an apartment since Charlie hates him now. He’s living with a family that isn’t his.
Bailey and Sarah take Owen to a rehearsal for a Christmas pageant, which he doesn’t want to participate in. Bailey’s clueless about Owen’s behavior, and Sarah has to point out that he doesn’t want to take part in a play celebrating the birth of a super-special baby. Julia finishes Ned’s paper and they start to make out, but she realizes she needs to get home to her family. He unplugs his computer and pretends he can’t print his paper so Julia will stay and help him some more.
The doll playing baby Jesus at the pageant disappears, and Bailey quickly realizes that Owen was probably responsible. Daphne’s upset that Doreen sent Kirsten home, thinking Kirsten’s after Charlie. Daphne argues that they’re just best friends, and Kirsten’s the only reason she’s surviving with a newborn. She thinks Doreen’s still stuck in her own mindset of keeping other women away from her man.
Julia and Ned rush to a print shop, arriving just as it closes. Ned thinks they should just spend the night relaxing. Julia demands peace on earth and good will towards men (and women) from the guy working at the print shop, who eventually lets them in. At the Salingers’, Claudia complains to Griffin that no one’s there for Christmas Eve dinner. Griffin had a worse family situation, though, so Claudia’s not going to win this one.
Owen denies taking the doll, so everyone searches the church. Sarah tells Bailey to confront his brother, but Bailey wants to believe Owen, or at least pretend to, so he doesn’t get more upset. Doreen and Lester decide to leave, but now Daphne wants her mother to stay for Christmas Day. She needs Doreen to do the same things for Diana that she did for Daphne as a baby. Doreen points out that Daphne got pregnant, so she gets to take care of her own child.
Bailey, Sarah, and Owen arrive at the house for Christmas Eve dinner, but the only person Owen wants to talk to is Griffin. Julia’s still an hour away, and Claudia’s tired of waiting for everyone to arrive, but Bailey doesn’t think it’s right to start without her. Claudia blasts everyone for pretending that they’re going to be one big, happy family.
Sarah suggests that they each open a present, and when Bailey goes to get the gifts, he finds the doll. The present exchange begins, but Daphne’s MIA, and no one bothered to wait for her. Nice, guys. The only present under the tree for Charlie is for Griffin. Again, nice, guys. These people should all be on Santa’s naughty list.
Ned leaves his paper outside his professor’s office, where Julia spots a sign granting a grace period for late papers over the holidays. So Ned didn’t have to rush to get his paper done after all. She’s mad that he manipulated her to stay with him, and probably didn’t want to finish the paper in the first place. Julia could have been home with her family, but Ned made her lie to them.
Bailey finally sits Owen down for a talk about the doll. He lectures that even if the doll (but he really means Diana) doesn’t matter to Owen, he needs to respect that it (she) matters to other people. He makes it clear that Owen’s not allowed to act out just because there’s another child in the family. Bailey will be like Santa, keeping an eye on everything Owen does.
Daphne asks Doreen what it was like for her when Daphne was a baby – did she miss her daughter when they weren’t together? Daphne admits that it’s easy for her to be away from Diana, and she would even be okay if Diana were taken away from her. She thinks she has trouble loving Diana because Doreen had trouble loving Daphne. She doesn’t want to continue that cycle.
Bailey tells Sarah that Owen won’t talk to him, like, you just yelled at him on Christmas Eve, when everyone was opening presents. What do you expect? Bailey wishes he’d postponed the confrontation, since Owen was doing better. Sarah wants to help, but since she’s not a mother, she doesn’t know how.
Charlie stops Doreen and Lester before they leave, telling Doreen that he wants to try again for everyone to be a family – that’s what Diana needs. Doreen won’t budge. Claudia’s annoyed that dinner hasn’t turned out as planned, but she refuses to give up on having a perfect Christmas Eve. Bailey and Sarah start to leave, and Owen asks to come with them – he’d rather be with the brother who yelled than the brother who ignores him.
Charlie takes Diana out to the “guest cottage” to see Griffin, so no one’s in the house when Julia finally arrives. She finds Griffin’s present to Charlie, a scrapbook full of pictures of the Salingers. Charlie’s currently thanking Griffin for it, having been reminded of his feelings about life after he was told his cancer was in remission. He realized that Griffin doesn’t have the same kind of family Charlie does. Griffin and Claudia are the only people who want to be there, and Charlie keeps pushing them away. “If you’re not family, I don’t know who is,” he says.
Daphne takes Doreen and Lester to the bus station and considers buying a ticket away from her own life. Julia returns to school, still mad at Ned but kind of appreciative of how hard he worked to keep her around. Charlie, Claudia, and Griffin eat Chinese food by their Christmas tree while Daphne watches them from outside the house.
Thoughts: I love how Charlie’s all, “The holidays are about spending time together! But not if Claudia’s here. Also, go away, Owen. And I haven’t noticed that Julia’s not around.” Charlie’s cluelessness and inability to multitask continue to astonish me.
Why did only Bailey and Sarah go to Owen’s pageant? No wonder he’s so upset. No one in his family pays any attention to him.
Was Claudia only cooking a turkey? There were no side dishes? There was nothing else to eat? I don’t get it.
’90s music alert: Natalie Merchant’s “My Skin” (which I thought was called “Untouchable”)
September 9, 2014
Summary: What happens when Elizabeth tries to help someone so irritating that the reader doesn’t care what happens to him? Let’s find out!
There are three big things going on in the twins’ lives. First, the sixth- and seventh-graders are about to start a big group project where they start their own businesses. Second, there’s a national essay contest Elizabeth wants to enter. (The prize is $100. For a national contest. Really? That’s it?) Third, Unicorn Kimberly Haver is throwing a huge birthday party; she’s inviting all the seventh-graders and some select sixth-graders. Jessica’s worried that her parents won’t unground her in time.
Alice and Ned agree that Jessica can go to the party if her grades improve. This means Jess needs to do a super-duper good job on the big group project. She already has an idea – a boutique, selling the group members’ old clothes – and she’s sure that she’ll be allowed to work with some of her fellow Unicorns. Ahh, middle school, when working on a group project with people you weren’t friends with was a fate worse than death. I don’t miss that time of my life at all.
Jessica’s hoping that there will be one specific non-Unicorn in her group: Tom McKay. The McKays are new in town, and all the girls think Tom is super-cute. His older brother Dylan (hee, Dylan McKay), however, is a big geek, and no one likes him. He’s sullen, doesn’t think he’s good at anything, and jealous of all the attention Tom gets. I want to feel sorry for him, because it’s hard to be overshadowed by someone, but Dylan is so annoying that I just want him to go away. Also, for the record, Tom tries to really hard to be a good brother, so it’s even more irritating when Dylan gets mad at him, because Tom hasn’t really done anything wrong.
Because Elizabeth is always nice to everyone, no matter how annoying, she tries to befriend Dylan. Even Amy thinks he’s a lost cause, so I guess she’s not drinking the Liz Kool-Aid in this book. The two girls are put in the same group for the big project, while Jessica, a bunch of Unicorns, and Tom are placed together. Elizabeth tries to reach out to Dylan again, but he’s still a grumpy jerk.
He’s further upset that Tom is entering the essay contest, when Dylan was hoping to make that his shining moment. Waaah, waaah, sibling rivalry, waaah. Tom and Dylan get in a fight in the cafeteria, and Tom ends up with a bloody nose. He covers for his brother so Dylan doesn’t get in trouble, and I only hope he tells his parents what happened so Dylan can get some much-needed therapy.
Elizabeth’s project (compiling a journal of students’ writing) is going well, despite the presence of Dylan in her group. She and Amy come across some papers he left with the students’ writings, and Elizabeth gets snoopy, realizing that one of them is the essay Dylan was going to submit for the contest. She calls him to let him know, but he doesn’t want to submit it anymore. Of course, Elizabeth submits it for him. Stop meddling, you meddler!
While Elizabeth’s company is coming along well, Jessica struggles to get anything done. This is her own fault, though – she’s elected president of her “company,” and she uses her position to appoint a bunch of Unicorns as vice presidents. Then they use THEIR positions as excuses not to do any work. Smart girls. Ned lets Jessica know that as the leader, she needs to, you know, lead. And also do work. Fortunately, Jess listens, and she whips everyone into shape.
Kimberly distributes invitations to her party, and everyone in the seventh grade gets one except Dylan. I don’t think he would have gone to the party even if he’d gotten an invitation, but this is one more excuse for him to justify his feelings. Add that to another compliment his mom pays Tom, and Dylan has had it. He’s going to run away. Too bad he’ll have to wait until he has some money. Jessica runs into him at the bus station (with the tissue-paper-thin reason that she needs transportation schedules for her project), and he tells her he’s getting ready to visit his aunt in San Francisco.
Somehow, the national essay contest gathers all its submissions, evaluates them, and announces a winner all within a few days: It’s Dylan. But for some reason, no one contacts him directly to tell him he won. This $100-prize national contest is sounding shadier by the minute. Word spreads that a McKay won, and Dylan thinks it was Tom, since he doesn’t know Elizabeth submitted his essay. So now he’s more determined than ever to run away.
When Elizabeth hears that Dylan won, she goes looking for him, but he’s already left for the bus station. Kimberly admits that she forgot to give him his invitation, though it sounds more like she didn’t want to give it to him. Why didn’t she just give his to Tom? Whatever, no one cares about Kimberly. Jessica mentions that Dylan said he was going to San Francisco, and when Tom reveals that they don’t have an aunt there, he and Elizabeth go to the bus station to stop Dylan from running away.
Dylan realizes that not everyone hates him, that his brother’s a pretty good guy, and that he needs to be a little more likable for people to actually like him. And they do like him now, since they’re impressed that he won the essay contest. I’m sure no one’s going to pretend to like him just because he’s recently come into some money, right? Anyway, everyone goes to the party, which Jessica’s allowed to attend because she did so well on the project. That storyline pretty much died.
By the way, this book was extremely short and there was barely any story. I think the ghostwriter came up with the idea and realized too late that there wasn’t enough to flesh it out. It took me longer to write this recap than it did to read the book.
Thoughts: Amy to Elizabeth: “Do you have to be nice to everybody?” Get used to it, girl.
But honestly, even though Elizabeth can be frustrating, I like that she looks out for other people. Kids who are nice to other kids without being asked are awesome.
Dylan doesn’t know how to use a hammer? Okay, that boy is hopeless.
All the girls with crushes on Tom are in for a big surprise in four years.
September 7, 2014
Summary: David and Steve are driving to the After Dark, discussing Devin’s band, Cain Was Able. Steve hopes the ad he put in the Beverly Beat for the band’s upcoming concert will bring in a lot of people. The band’s demo has impressed a guy named Ari at a record label, and he calls David to set up a meeting. Brandon doesn’t like that Kelly’s job will be taking her to South Central L.A. today, especially since the shooter is still at large. Kelly tells him they both need to get on with their lives.
There are a bunch of people at the After Dark, waiting to get tickets for Cain Was Able’s concert, but they won’t be very happy if David can’t work out his financial problems and complete transactions with his vendors. Donna winds up paying for one of his deliveries since he can’t find his checkbook. She then goes to the Peach Pit to meet with a client who doesn’t show up. She tells Carly that she thought things were going well in her partnership with Valerie, but now they have no more clients.
David’s also at the Peach Pit, meeting with Ari, who wants to sign Cain Was Able. David wants to delay making a decision since some other labels are interested. Ari tears up the contract, then says that he just wanted to see if David was a player or not. He is, so Ari will draw up another contract and come back for the concert. David’s thrilled because now he’ll have labels fighting each other for Cain Was Able.
Cooper flirts with Valerie while she’s supposed to be picking out clothes for him. He asks her to host a dinner that weekend for potential investors. Val denies that he can hire her for every job he has, but he figures that he’s already charmed her enough to get her to do whatever he wants. Also, he got her a couture gown, and she can’t say no to that.
Steve goes by Carly’s house with a present for Zach; he’s still trying to make up for the missed trip to Magic Mountain. Carly slams him for trying to use Zach to get to her. She doesn’t want Zach to get hurt when Steve inevitably decides he’d rather date someone else. Kelly and Brandon start getting it on in their bedroom, but he gets distracted by thoughts of the shooting. Kelly would really like to stop talking about that already.
Valerie invites Steve and Carly to Cooper’s party, though he thinks that’s too big a deal for them when they’ve never actually had a date. Val changes his mind by pointing out that a single mom would probably love a night out. Brandon and Kelly try to plan their own date, since they definitely weren’t in the mood for anything the night before. A detective calls to talk to Brandon, and Kelly pushes him to get off the phone.
Donna breaks the news to Valerie that they’ve lost all their clients. Val’s like, “That is brand-new information! I have no idea what happened to all of them!” She asks Donna to help out at Cooper’s party, as Cooper’s their only remaining client. David tells Cain Was Able that they were offered a contract but he turned it down in hopes of sparking a bidding war. “You people know how to squeeze a wallet,” Devin remarks. David finally realizes that, hey, maybe Donna was right about the band being anti-Semitic.
Carly comes home to find her house clean and a rose on her pillow. Her mother tells her that Steve cleaned the whole place, then spent some time with Zach. He also left her a note asking to get to know her better. At the movies, Brandon and Kelly spot Valerie and Noah, and while Kelly’s distracted, a guy bumps into her and knocks her down. Brandon has a flashback to the shooting, when Kelly was knocked into his arms, and goes off on the guy. Someone needs therapy!
Noah checks on Kelly the next morning (after spending the night with Valerie), then tells Donna about Valerie’s plans for the day, not realizing that he’s outing her for stealing Donna’s clients. Donna asks Noah to fill in for her at Cooper’s party. At a salon, Valerie confides in her hairstylist that she’s dating two guys and can’t decide between them. Carly’s also there and overhears her.
Noah visits Brandon at the Beverly Beat to express his concern over Brandon’s behavior. Brandon tells him to take off his cape and stop trying to be a hero. (Pot, meet kettle.) Noah cautions that Kelly’s more afraid of Brandon than anyone else. The detective calls to tell Brandon that they got the shooter, who’s at a hospital.
David goes over Cain Was Able’s set list with Ari, who wants them to play some new songs. Donna notes that their lyrics are extremely racist (in fact, they wouldn’t be out of place at a KKK rally). Ari doesn’t care – they’ll sell CDs. He doesn’t like the idea of censoring artists. Donna’s like, “Have fun spending the money you make from white-supremacist hate-mongers, then.”
That night brings two special occasions: Cooper’s party and the Cain Was Able concert. Val’s shocked to see Noah at the party and tries to keep him away from Cooper. But one of Cooper’s guests mentions that Valerie’s there as Cooper’s date, which Steve and Carly overhear. Noah accidentally spills food on one of Cooper’s relatives, so Valerie takes advantage of the mess-up to encourage him to go to the concert instead.
Brandon arrives at the hospital to find the shooter already dead (having, ironically, also been shot). He’s also not the guy Brandon thought was the shooter – he ID’d the driver. Brandon tells the shooter’s body that he got what he deserved. Over at the After Dark, things are looking good, though Donna’s upset that David’s going to let the band perform. David points out that the guys hate everyone, not just Jews and minorities. Donna urges him to take a stand. After all, his grandfather was a Holocaust survivor.
Valerie and Noah arrive, and Val slams Donna for skipping out on the party. Donna confronts her for stealing all her clients. She asks Val how she lives with herself. Valerie wonders how Donna lives with herself since she doesn’t have anyone to share her bed. She mocks that she’s slept with David, too, and Donna slaps her.
The crowd chants for Cain Was Able, but David’s torn about letting them perform. Ari tells him that he’s not in college; there’s no lesson plan to follow. If he screws this up, he might not get another chance. David tells Devin that the band isn’t going to be performing tonight. He gets onstage to tell the audience the same thing, but Devin riles up the crowd and takes over, complaining about being censored. David manages to regain control, with help from Noah and some punching.
Steve takes Carly home, and she lets him kiss her but won’t invite him in, since Zach is there. She does let him know she wants them to get to know each other better. As Steve leaves, he sees that Zach stayed up to see him come home, and he looks very happy. Brandon tell Kelly that he saw the shooter, and he’s sorry for…something. Eh, who cares?
At the After Dark, David tells Donna about how an SS officer took a book from his grandfather and destroyed it in front of him. David knows he can’t censor people’s thoughts, but Donna was right about how he should take a stand. He got mad that, before the Holocaust, his grandfather’s parents kept saying that things would blow over. David feels like he owes his family something after they lost their lives to anti-Semitism. Donna assures him that he’ll still have a career.
Thoughts: Nothing’s sexier than, “Hey, remember that time you got shot?” Way to go, Brandon.
Who’s paying Carly’s rent? Her place is huge, and she’s a waitress.
When did STEVE SANDERS become the most romantic guy on this show?
Rock on, Donna Martin. That was the perfect way to get back at Valerie.
September 6, 2014
Summary: Did you know babies cry a lot? Party of Five is here to remind you. The Salingers have hired a baby nurse, for some reason, and she thinks Charlie and Daphne need to let Diana start soothing herself. Charlie disagrees, but Daphne thinks the nurse, Nora, should take care of everything so they can sleep. Get used to Daphne doing nothing with Diana throughout this episode.
Julia makes up with Ned, telling him it’s hard for her to see a family not getting along after she’s spent five years keeping hers together. She tries to invite herself along to spend the day with Richie, but Ned declines. At the restaurant, Bailey learns that he’s earned a big tax refund because the restaurant is doing so well. In fact, the place is more profitable than it was when his father ran it.
Griffin looks for a job, considering one as a courier, which will let him travel a bit. Daphne continues to let Nora take care of her child. Griffin asks after Claudia; everyone’s still ignoring her pleas to come home. Bailey wants to spend some of his money on an expensive suit but isn’t sure it’s a practical purchase. A salesman reminds him that one day, he’ll be dead. Thanks, salesman! He really means that Bailey should want to be remembered as a fashionable dresser, not a practical money-saver.
Charlie butts heads with Nora over whether Diana should be eating anything other than breast milk. Nora decides she can’t work with a parent who’s so controlling, and she quits. Daphne begs Charlie to hire a new nurse so she can get some sleep. I’m not sure why Daphne isn’t sleeping, since she’s not actually doing anything to take care of Diana, but whatever. Julia crashes Ned’s day with Richie, upsetting both brothers.
Despite telling Daphne he wouldn’t, Charlie asks Kirsten to come take care of Diana for a few hours. She assures him that Paul won’t care. She’s happy to help, saying there’s no one she’d rather spend the evening with than Diana. Sorry, Paul! Bailey asks Charlie to build a wine cellar for the restaurant; he’s thinking of doing a big renovation. He’d also like to take Charlie and Daphne out for a nice dinner.
Claudia’s friends are worried because she’s been isolating herself from them. Griffin shows up, having taken a detour while in Boston on his courier job, and makes plans to hang out with Claudia that night. Bailey buys Sarah a dress and looks at new furniture for their apartment. He wants Sarah to go to dinner with him, Charlie, and Daphne, but she has work to do for a professor. Bailey suggests that they hire someone else to do the work.
Julia and Ned go to his parents’ house to take care of some plants; this time her presence doesn’t upset Richie because he’s ignoring her. She recognizes his allegedly nonsense ramblings from before as a poem, and she recites it with him. At their super-fancy dinner, Bailey encourages everyone to get expensive food, but Charlie just wants to speed things up so he and Daphne can go home. Bailey and Sarah realize that friends with kids can be a little annoying.
Paul goes to the Salingers’ to complain that Kirsten is once again helping the family. He wants them to do something the next night; “the Salingers will just have to do without you for one day.” Claudia confides to Griffin that she feels like she’s in the wrong place, which he can relate to. She reminisces about how her mom taught her to take care of Owen, which helped her not be so jealous of him. She asks Griffin to teach Owen to take care of Diana.
Bailey takes Owen to his place for the night, and Owen’s surprised by the amount of attention he’ll be getting. Bailey takes a call from the bursar’s office at Sarah’s school and learns that her tuition’s due in 20 minutes. Claudia accompanies Griffin as he makes his delivery (a ferret), but they run off with it when they learn that it’s supposed to be buried with its deceased owner.
Sarah learns that Bailey paid her tuition and blasts him for taking care of her. “When you pay for something, you own it,” she says. Bailey reminds her that she taught him to share, and he wants to share their success. Sarah denies that she’s had anything to do with how well the restaurant is doing. Bailey disagrees, telling her this is his way of saying thank you. He’d appreciate some gratitude from her.
Kirsten is back at the Salingers’ to take care of Diana while Daphne sleeps. Okay, it’s time for Daphne to see a psychiatrist. Charlie finally asks Daphne why she keeps calling people to look after Diana. Daphne claims that Kirsten came over on her own. Griffin takes Claudia back to school, feeling bad about having to leave her in a place she doesn’t want to be. At the last minute, he tells her to go pack her things.
Julia wants to use more poetry to connect with Richie, but Ned denies that Richie can have any kind of meaningful communication with anyone. When he was younger, he tried to analyze what Richie said, but he never found anything he could understand. He thinks Julia’s “looking for something that could make him worthy of love,” when they should just love Richie for himself.
Griffin takes Claudia home to San Francisco, angering Charlie. Griffin’s upset that no one listened when Claudia told them she was miserable. Charlie thinks she should stay in her prestigious school that will open up doors for her. Claudia would rather help take care of Owen and Diana, since Charlie sucks at it.
Kirsten doesn’t make it home in time for the plans Paul made for them, so he asks her straight out who she would rather be with, him or the Salingers. Kirsten tells him that since she doesn’t have a job, taking care of Diana makes her feel useful and comfortable. Bailey and Sarah discuss how uncomfortable the restaurant’s success has made them – she because she feels like a kept woman now, and he because he feels like he needs to figure out who he should be. Sarah likes her new dress, so the perks of being rich aren’t all bad.
Julia tries to explain to Ned that she thought she could understand him better by spending time with his family. He tells her that he’s always been overshadowed by Richie; he wants Julia all to himself. Daphne wants to hire another baby nurse, even if it’s one who’s not compatible or competent. Charlie thinks something’s wrong with her, whether it’s postpartum depression or something else – Daphne isn’t connecting with Diana. Daphne already knows it but doesn’t know how to fix it.
Thoughts: Everyone should check out Vulture’s oral history of the first season of Party of Five. Everyone is very cheerful.
Charlie and Daphne need a nurse for Diana because…? And they’re paying her…how? Also, Nora is played by Ms. Teasley from Beverly Hills, 90210.
Julia, stop trying to fix everyone’s problems. You’re not Brandon Walsh.
When Griffin is the most compassionate person on the show, something’s wrong.
Is the Salingers’ house magical or something? Why does everyone want to be there all the time?
Charlie shouldn’t be so surprised that Daphne’s distant with Diana. She didn’t want a baby in the first place. I’m glad she reminds him of that, because it’s a little weird of him not to think about it.
September 2, 2014
Summary: Summer is wrapping up, and the lifeguards of Sweet Valley Shore are getting ready for their annual triathlon, where they’ll compete against their South Beach rivals. Ryan has ditched the squad and become a waiter. That makes Elizabeth mopey. Jessica, however, is now having a great summer, since she and Ben are together. Unfortunately, soon he’ll have to go back to school in Chicago while she stays in California. They can’t afford to visit each other much, so they’re hoping their squad has the best record of the summer, which will earn them merit pay.
Remember how Winston had to get a job dressing up as a huge hamburger because he didn’t make the squad? He’s still doing that. He gets in a fight with the South Beach lifeguards and ends up betting Sweet Valley Shore’s merit pay that they’ll win the triathlon. He does this without consulting his friends, and despite the fact that the merit pay isn’t his to do anything with. Good job, Winston!
The lifeguards aren’t happy when they hear what Winston did, but Wendy thinks they can win. Nina isn’t sure they can without Ryan. She also thinks she’s been a bad leader, which is so laughable, I don’t know where to start. Nina, you have been completely awesome in this trilogy. Don’t ever doubt yourself. Also, don’t mention Ryan; it just makes Elizabeth whine. It also makes her stalk him to the restaurant where he’s working, and get mad when she sees him with another woman.
The weird incidents from the previous book, such as the Sweet Valley squad being sabotaged and Paloma Perro being poisoned, continue here, starting with some robberies. Someone keeps breaking into a locked drawer in the squad’s office and stealing money. Wendy also has her wallet stolen from Pedro’s house. So it’s a little suspicious when Paul keeps buying Nina things like jewelry and lobster dinners. Paul says he’s just prespending the money South Beach will get when they win the triathlon.
Money is also turning up in Winston and Hamburger Harry’s hands. They’re taking bets on the triathlon, pretending they’re not bookies and aren’t doing anything illegal. Winston is allowed to be an alternate on Sweet Valley’s triathlon team, despite not being a lifeguard, but doesn’t see any conflict of interest. Meanwhile, Elizabeth gets a call from Tom, who still has no idea that she’s been mooning over Ryan all summer. She realizes that she still loves her boyfriend, but she also obviously has feelings for Ryan.
Winston and Harry continue accepting bets, including from a preteen boy who threatens to turn them in to the police if they don’t take his money. Then Jessica cuts her foot on a knife someone left in the sand, so she’s out of the triathlon and Winston’s in. He doesn’t think he’s in good enough shape, though, so Jessica talks Elizabeth into going to see Ryan and asking him to rejoin the squad. Ryan declines.
Nina previously saw Paul with a knife, so she thinks he planted it in the sand to injure Jessica. I’m not sure how he could possibly know exactly where she would step, but whatever. Nina’s usually pretty smart, so I’ll give her a pass on this one. She sends Jessica to South Beach’s station to flash around a wad of money in hopes that they’ll steal it and Sweet Valley will be able to confirm that they’re the burglars.
Throughout the book, Wendy’s been upset that Pedro, who’s off on tour, hasn’t been in touch with her. While she’s at his house, looking after his dog, she hears an answering-machine message from his manager, mentioning that his tour ended a week ago. Wendy’s super-suspicious that Pedro has been off the radar – he must be with another woman! There certainly couldn’t be any other explanation! Rachel (Ben’s ex, and the Regina George of this trilogy) randomly turns up and mocks Wendy, not believing that she’s dating Pedro.
While the Sweet Valley lifeguards stay up all night waiting for someone to come rob Jessica, Elizabeth goes back to see Ryan, like, Liz, you’re turning into a stalker. Chill out. He kisses her, then drives away. She follows him (again, stalker), finding him at a church with the woman from before. She figures they’re there to plan their wedding. Elizabeth, for someone who wants to be an investigative journalist, you SUCK at investigations.
Back at the beach, the Sweet Valley lifeguards find out that Winston’s been taking bets on the triathlon. Ben points out that he can’t take action on a competition he’s now in, so they kick him out. Then Wendy rescues a kid from drowning, but realizes it was all a diversion so someone could steal her wallet again. Where are the police in all this? Oh, right – Sweet Valley. Their badges say, “We’re incompetent.” By the way, Paul has been MIA for most of the book, but remains the Sweet Valley squad’s main suspect.
Elizabeth follows Ryan into the church and gets directed to the basement. And then she discovers Ryan’s true secret: He’s an alcoholic. Last summer, he skipped work because he was hungover, and a girl drowned. He blamed himself because he thought he would have been able to save her if he’d gone to work. After that, he got sober, and has been for a year. The woman Elizabeth saw him with is his sponsor.
Instead of being embarrassed that she thought Ryan was seeing someone else (even though they’re technically not dating anyway), then stalked him to a meeting he obviously wanted to keep quiet from her, Elizabeth guilts Ryan into going back to the beach and making amends to the other lifeguards. She also forces him to compete in the triathlon, which is dumb because he hasn’t been training. Whatever – Ryan comes back to the beach and everything is fine again.
Ryan regains leadership of the squad, and the triathlon gets off to a good start. In the biking portion, the only strange thing that happens is that two of the South Beach lifeguards try to knock Elizabeth and Ben over, and Rachel warns them to play nice. The swimming portion also goes fine, and the two squads are tied going into the running portion. Then Wendy gets lost in the woods, and the ghostwriter makes a big deal out of it, but it doesn’t go anywhere.
Nina comes across Paul, who’s been knocked out and tied up in the woods, after leading in the race. He doesn’t know who tied him up, just saying it was a kid. He admits that he was arrested for petty thievery a few years ago, and Captain Feehan (the guy in charge of all the lifeguards) helped him turn his life around. They teamed up to make Paul look like the burglar while they investigated other suspects.
Wendy beats Rachel in the running portion (though it seems Rachel may have let her win). Pedro’s waiting for her at the finish line, with the ring he went to Mexico to get from his grandmother. Despite thinking just hours ago that Pedro was cheating on her and she couldn’t trust him, and despite the fact that they’ve been together less than two months, if that, Wendy immediately accepts his proposal. Yeah, mazel tov, have a great life. I don’t care.
Somehow, South Beach wins the triathlon, which makes no sense if Sweet Valley won two portions, but whatever. This means Jessica and Ben’s long-distance relationship will have to mostly take place via phone. Captain Feehan reveals that he knew Winston and Harry were taking bets on the triathlon, but let it go because he’s looking for anyone who might have placed a large bet. That would be the preteen who threatened to go to the police. Guess what? He’s Rachel’s brother. They bet on Sweet Valley winning, then tried to throw the triathlon (including getting Paul out of the way).
Rachel tries to swim her way to freedom, which is kind of hilarious, because…how far away did she think she’d get? Was she going to swim to Mexico or something? Anyway, she hits her head and Winston saves her. Then she goes to jail, and Winston mails her a $50 for bail, which cracked me up. Wendy asks him to be her best man, so I guess that wedding’s going to happen.
Of the other summer couples, only Jessica and Ben remain together. He tells her he’s going to try to transfer to UCLA, which is super-close to SVU. Nina and Paul part ways, and she goes home to Brian, which is so dumb. And Elizabeth goes home to Tom, who will probably never find out that she spent the summer obsessed with another guy. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but poor Tom.
Thoughts: Ha, this book ends on Labor Day, which is when I finished reading it.
“Jessica couldn’t think of a single Jenny, Jen, or Jennifer at Sweet Valley Shore or neighboring South Beach.” I guarantee there are at least ten.
I love that Elizabeth’s mad that Ryan might be seeing someone else. Never mind that she’s currently cheating on her boyfriend. No one sneaks around behind Elizabeth Wakefield’s back while she’s sneaking around behind someone else’s back!
“Something in her resisted the idea of researching history papers and saving the world and doing all the other serious, grown-up things that lay around the corner.” “Saving the world”? Shut up, Elizabeth. Who do you think you are, Buffy?
“[Ben] shuddered at the thought of Jessica’s proud, strong body compromised in any way.” She cut her foot. Chill out. Also, ew.
August 31, 2014
Summary: Kelly wakes Brandon up from a nightmare about her shooting and reminds him that it wasn’t his fault. “You are not the bad guy,” she tells him. By the way, they’re totally back together, since they’re sharing his bed. Kelly’s a little anxious about looking at a lineup in a couple days, but she knows she needs to go through with it.
Donna goes to see her newest client, Parrish the sweatshop guy, and visits said sweatshop after they meet. She tries again to talk to Olivia, the woman she spoke to earlier, hoping to convince her that they can change things. Donna gives her Brandon’s name if she wants to talk to someone. Parrish catches Donna in the employees-only area, and she tells him she got lost.
Steve wants to take Carly and Zach to Magic Mountain, but Carly doesn’t want to let Zach skip school to go. Steve sees no problem with having to miss work to take him. David arrives at the Peach Pit with Devin and his bandmates, telling Steve that Donna was wrong about thinking that Devin used an anti-Semitic slur. Then he asks to borrow some money to pay for the band’s meal.
Brandon and Donna do some research on the sweatshop while Cooper calls Valerie to invite her to breakfast. She declines, but he’s already sitting outside her house in a limo, because he’s a creep. Noah shows up to do laundry and also asks Valerie to have breakfast. He reveals that he’s heading back to Hawaii for a job, so he just has a few hours left in Beverly Hills. Val decides to accept Cooper’s breakfast invitation, but kisses Noah goodbye, which Kelly sees. Noah invites Kelly out on his boat.
Valerie heads off with Cooper, reluctantly agreeing to take over Donna’s work assignments for the day. Cooper’s disappointed because now they can’t go to San Francisco for breakfast. Kelly goes off with Noah, telling him how nervous she is about the lineup, since she doesn’t remember the shooting. The detective wants her to look at the lineup in hopes that it will jog her memory. Noah offers to be there for her.
Brandon and Donna visit the company that owns the building housing the sweatshop, and quickly realize that Rush owns it. Dun dun dun! Valerie tells one of Donna’s clients that Donna’s gotten involved with a sweatshop, but Val herself is completely ethical and an upright businesswoman. Carly and Zach go to the Beverly Beat offices to tell Steve they’ll take him up on his Magic Mountain offer the next day.
Brandon and Donna inform Steve that one of Rush’s properties houses a sweatshop. Steve points out that Rush owns a lot of properties, so he might not know the sweatshop even exists. Brandon tells him that the landlord has been cited for safety violations, so Rush must know that something’s going on. Steve wants to be the one to follow up with his father.
David has a recording session with Devin’s band, but they have to leave when David can’t pay for extra studio time. Devin makes racist remarks to David about the African-American guy running the studio. Steve talks to Rush about the building housing the sweatshop, but they’re both really casual about it, like nothing going on is a big deal.
Donna asks Valerie to cover for her again the next day, not realizing that Val trashed her to a client. Val asks about relationship stuff, saying she wishes Noah had Cooper’s money, because he’s otherwise a great guy. Cooper arrives to take Valerie to San Francisco just as she was trying to race off to say goodbye to Noah. Noah’s upset that she didn’t make a last-minute romantic appearance.
Brandon tells Steve that Rush is responsible for any violations at the sweatshop; he’s reporting the building’s owners, and Rush’s name will have to be mentioned. Steve thinks Brandon’s just trying to publish a big exposé to show up the newspaper that turned him down for a job. Brandon denies this. Steve asks him to keep Rush’s name out of it, but Brandon says he can’t.
Donna arranges a nice evening for her and David, who considers accepting one of those spammy “easy credit” offers to keep bankrolling the band. He addresses Donna’s claims about Devin being anti-Semitic. She says she wants David to be successful, just not with Devin. David shoots back that at least Devin doesn’t operate a sweatshop. Donna replies that at least she’s doing something about it.
Kelly and Brandon meet for dinner, and Brandon hasn’t gotten past his jealousy of Noah, so that’s charming. They talk about the lineup, and how Kelly can’t remember anything about the shooting, despite having all of her other memories back. She thinks she recovered those memories because she wanted to remember. Brandon promises her that after the lineup, everything bad will be over. Uh-huh.
David and Donna bicker some more about Devin, but then he apologizes for fighting the night before. She’s upset that they haven’t been able to spend much time together. He promises that things will get better once he’s squared things away with the band. After Donna leaves, he calls to apply for instant credit. Carly and Zach arrive at the Peach Pit to meet Steve for their Magic Mountain trip.
Brandon and Donna stake out the sweatshop to try to talk to Olivia. She’s not there and no one will talk to Donna. She decides to stick around while Brandon goes to the lineup. Olivia goes to the Beverly Beat to talk to Brandon but instead finds Steve. Steve doesn’t want to deal with her until Olivia reveals that she was fired for talking to Donna, even though she didn’t tell Donna anything. She tells Steve how bad things are, and he starts to record their conversation.
Noah goes to the Walshes’ to retrieve his laundry and complain that Valerie didn’t show up the night before. She thinks he’ll be back in town sooner rather than later, because he can’t stay away from her for that long. Noah thinks she didn’t come see him because she’s afraid to find out what would happen if she asked him to stay.
Kelly and Brandon are at the police station for the lineup, and he says again that once it’s over, no matter what happens, they’ll get to move on. Sure, Brandon. Kelly looks at the lineup but doesn’t recognize any of the guys in it. She now remembers the shooting, and is positive that the guy Brandon ID’d isn’t the culprit. This means the DA will probably drop the case against him. But it’s over now, right, Brandon?
Brandon’s mad that his ID isn’t holding water, since he’s a more reliable witness than Kelly. Kelly thinks he was wrong because he’s been under so much stress. He might have picked the wrong person because he was so adamant on picking anyone. Brandon points out that he was right about the make of the car and its license plate. Kelly snaps sarcastically that he’s right about everything.
Steve visits Rush to get his side of the story about the sweatshop. Rush argues that the charges being leveled are against the sweatshop’s management, since they’re labor-code violations. Steve reminds him that he runs the company that owns the building. Rush’s excuse is that he owns a lot of properties and can’t keep track of everything that happens in all of them. He slips up by revealing that he knows exactly how many workers are employed there.
Rush says he’s sure they can figure out how to do the right thing. Steve reminds him that he’s always bugging Steve to be an adult and do the right thing. Rush is all, “I meant in school, when you were pulling pranks, not when people’s lives were at stake and I might get in trouble with the police.” Steve makes it clear that he’s going over to the Brandon side of thinking.
David can now pay for studio time for the band, but he’ll also have to pay for two hours of overtime because the band was late. Also, now he has to hang out with a racist, so that should be fun. Donna and Brandon meet up at the Beverly Beat, where Brandon reveals that Steve got Olivia’s testimony on tape. Brandon offers to write the story without mentioning Rush, but Steve wants his father held responsible for whatever he knew. Rush has agreed to make any changes necessary.
Donna reminds Steve that he missed his trip to Magic Mountain with Carly and Zach. (But how can Carly complain? He has a pretty good excuse.) Valerie goes to make her last-minute romantic plea to Noah, asking him to stay in Beverly Hills. He wants to know what’ll change if he does. Val isn’t sure, but she wants to find out. Well, first of all, she should stop agreeing to go places with Cooper.
Steve goes to Carly’s house to apologize to her and Zach for accidentally ditching them. Steve tells Zach that a grownup let him down today, too, so he understands if Zach hates Steve for letting him down. Zach is willing to forgive him since Steve is going to try to forgive Rush. Things are totally not awkward at all between Brandon and Kelly as they’re getting ready for bed. Kelly doesn’t think the police will ever catch the shooter, which means their anxiety will never end.
Thoughts: ’90s music alert: “Tubthumpin’.” Whatever happened to Chumbawumba, anyway? (Don’t answer that. I don’t actually want to know.)
I have to laugh at Steve for thinking Brandon has any selfish motives in reporting the sweatshop. When has Brandon ever NOT done the right thing?
Yes, David. Devin is a better person than Parrish because he only says hateful things. That’s certainly never caused any harm. Pssst: When you defend a racist, you’re not any better than a racist.
Awww, Steve’s heart just grew three sizes!
August 30, 2014
Summary: Charlie’s trying to get Diana to sleep by singing “Hush, Little Baby,” but he can’t remember the words. (“If that mockingbird don’t mock…”) He and Daphne are tired but happy. Then Owen ruins it by loudly reminding Charlie that they’re supposed to go fishing. Claudia calls to talk to Charlie, but he blows her off for the fishing trip. Griffin’s like, “I have no life, so if you ever want to talk, just call me. I’m sure no one will think it’s weird if you call your family and ask to talk to your sister’s ex.”
Owen thinks Charlie’s bored because he keeps yawning. They actually catch a fish, so I’m impressed. Joe’s coming to town, so Julia tells Ned she’s heading home for a family dinner, which means she won’t be meeting his family on parents’ weekend. Ned tells her they’re not coming anyway, so he’s made some plans for a weekend on his own, seeing John Woo movies and writing a paper.
At the restaurant, Bailey has to turn down an employee’s cousin for a job because his immigration documents aren’t in order yet. Then he gets a visit from Sean Sullivan, a successful restaurateur who’s thinking of opening a place right across the street. Charlie and Owen come home with a bunch of fish, which they’ll be having for dinner. While Charlie’s out of the room for a few seconds, Owen attempts to clean the fish with dish soap, so there goes dinner. Bailey brings home food instead, telling Julia and Sarah about his possible competition.
Joe thinks Diana looks just like the woman she was named after. He invites Griffin to join everyone for dinner, not realizing how awkward that is for him and Julia. Griffin inadvertently reveals that Ned was lying about his movie plans, since the retrospective isn’t for another week. Bailey decides he’s going to go toe-to-toe with Sullivan and shut him down. He’s seriously the only person there who thinks this is a big deal, since no one else will shut up about it.
Julia goes back to school to confront Ned for lying to her. It turns out his family’s in town after all, and they know all about Julia. Julia’s surprised to hear that Ned has a brother named Richie, and that Richie usually has an attendant. He appears to have autism. Claudia calls Charlie to tell him she doesn’t think boarding school is going to work out. He tells her to suck it up and stay put. Claudia then learns that due to some immature behavior by the boys at her school (a panty raid? Really?), everyone’s now under an 8 p.m. curfew and can’t leave campus. The girls are warned not to retaliate.
Owen tries to interest Charlie in another brother/brother activity, but he’s on Diana duty, so she has to come along. Bailey visits another restaurant to try to get the owner to hire a chef Sullivan is interested in. The owner is impressed with how proactive Bailey’s being. Owen wants to see a movie, but Charlie doesn’t think they’d be very popular if they brought an infant into a movie theater. Owen complains that Diana’s stupid and nothing’s fair anymore.
Sullivan goes by the restaurant to tell Bailey that he knows Bailey’s trying to make him lose his chef and the space across the street. Bailey tries very hard not to seem intimidated. Ned apologizes to Julia for lying about his weekend plans and not letting her meet his family. She thinks he’s ashamed of Richie. Ned says he’s not; he didn’t want Julia to meet his parents because they don’t get along. Julia convinces him to let her spend time with them.
Claudia and one of her friends set off a smoke bomb in the boys’ dorm, because the show has run out of interesting plots for Claudia to have. Owen tells Charlie that he didn’t mean the things he said about Diana. Charlie assures him that he understands how Owen’s feeling, but Diana needs things done quickly, while Owen’s old enough to wait. He asks Owen to help him out.
Bailey gets a surprise visit from someone at the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. He never should have told Sullivan he was only 20, because now he’s in trouble for serving alcohol while he’s underage. Claudia left evidence of her identity behind when she set off the smoke bomb, so now she expects to be expelled. Obviously, she would welcome it. Unfortunately for her, the person who busted her is Mr. Kroop, who has a soft spot for her.
Julia has dinner with the Graysons, who tell her they like her a lot more than they liked Maggie. Things quickly disintegrate – Dr. Grayson is disappointed that Ned doesn’t want to be a surgeon like everyone else in his family. It’s very Griffin and his father. Bailey goes by one of Sullivan’s restaurants to call a truce, then changes his mind when he spots the illegal employee he wouldn’t hire. At the house, Charlie and Daphne fight over whose turn it is to soothe Diana, but Owen beats them to it.
Ned complains to Julia about his father, thinking Dr. Grayson is hard on him because he’s the only child who’s capable of living up to the doctor’s high expectations. He seems to admit that one of the reasons he stayed with Maggie so long is because his parents didn’t like her. Ned managed to get into Stanford, but he’s not doing as well as his father would have liked. Julia wonders what he gets out of not succeeding. Ned’s jealous that his parents love Richie unconditionally.
Charlie tries to make plans with Owen, who’s bitter that Charlie always has other things to do. Julia meets up with the Graysons before they leave; they love her and are happy Ned’s dating her. Bailey tells Joe that Sullivan can’t get the space across the street from Salinger’s because he’s being investigated by Immigration. Joe knows Bailey engineered the situation and blasts him for ruining other people’s lives. He and Mr. Salinger would have never pulled this sort of trick. Bailey doesn’t feel guilty at all, since he didn’t do anything illegal, and he’s benefiting.
Claudia calls Griffin and tells him she doesn’t feel like her school is the right place for her. All she thinks about is her family. Charlie talks to Daphne about how his parents managed to spend time with all five of their kids. He wants to go talk to Owen about his feelings, but Charlie’s more interested in sleeping right now. Julia thinks Ned’s going to break up with her to protest how much his family likes her. He thinks she wants to save him, but she’s not sure he’s worth it. He asks her not to give up on him.
Thoughts: This episode’s guest stars are all of the ’90s-sitcom variety. Sullivan is played by Anthony Tyler Quinn (Boy Meets World). Dr. Grayson is played by Daniel von Burgen (Seinfeld, Malcolm in the Middle). Mrs. Grayson is played by Christina Pickles (Friends).
Panty raids? At school? Aren’t those a camp thing?
Charlie, Claudia warned you about Owen’s sibling rivalry. You need to start listening to her.
Was Lacey Chabert doing something else during this part of the season? So far, the kid who plays Owen has gotten more screentime.
I hope Charlie feels good about that nap when Owen starts biting people and shoplifting.
August 26, 2014
Summary: At the end of Tug of War, Jessica met 16-year-old Josh, who quickly took an interest in her. She tells him she’s 14 (and a half), and a freshman at SVH. She knows her parents will never let her date a guy who’s four years older, so when Josh asks her out, she tells him to pick her up at Lila’s, where she’s spending the night.
Jessica and Josh double-date with friends of his, but the other girl, Melanie, is a freshman at SVH and pokes a couple holes in Jessica’s story. Jess manages to cover, mostly because Melanie doesn’t seem that bright. But then they go to the Dairi Burger, where they’re spotted by Caroline Pearce. Caroline happens to have an older sister, Anita, who happens to be Josh’s ex-girlfriend, so she knows Josh is way older than Jessica. Sadly, this doesn’t really go anywhere. Josh and Jessica hit it off, though, and he asks her out again for the following weekend.
Elizabeth is in the dark about her sister’s new guy until she runs into him at the mall and he mistakes her for Jessica, saying he’s looking forward to Saturday night. When Elizabeth brings it up to Jessica, she claims that they’re just going to talk on the phone. In order to keep her family from finding out about her second date, Jessica has come up with a story about going to Tahoe for the weekend with a girl named Kerry, when she’ll really be at Lila’s again. Jess makes the rookie mistake of not asking Kerry to be her alibi, but again, that doesn’t go anywhere. So many missed opportunities in this book.
The Wakefields remember that they’re supposed to be parenting, so they express some discomfort with Jessica going away with a family they don’t know. Jess gets Lila to call Alice, pretending to be Kerry’s mom, to assure her that Jessica’s welcome. Alice falls for it, because she can’t tell the difference between a 12-year-old and someone’s mom. Good job, Alice! Jessica’s only regret about her web of lies is that “going away for the weekend” means missing her family’s annual trip to the circus. Steven will also be ditching the family, attending the circus with friends. Josh won’t tell Jess where he’s taking her for their date; it’s a surprise, and they’re again going with other people. You see where this is going, right?
Before the big second date, Elizabeth learns from Amy (who found out from Caroline) that Josh is 16 and rumored to be dating someone named Jessica. When she confronts her twin, Jess says that Josh lied about his age. Liz falls for it, of course. Jessica goes on her date, which doesn’t start off on the best note when Josh tells her that he still has feelings for Anita. Wow, thanks, Josh. Then things get worse: One of the people they’re double-dating with is Steven. He’s nice enough not to out Jessica to the group, but when they’re alone, he blasts her for lying about her age to date a junior.
Jessica manages to avoid the rest of the Wakefields at the circus, but Anita’s hanging around, so Jessica’s whole night is already a bust. She’s no longer interested in Josh or in keeping up her lies, so she tells Anita to go win Josh back. Josh ends up apologizing to Jessica for the way things have turned out, telling her he still wants to be friends. Eventually, Jessica’s busted by her parents, and Josh learns that he’s been dating a 12-year-old. For some reason, he doesn’t think that’s insane. I guess it’s good that everyone in Sweet Valley is completely asexual, because Jessica could have gotten into a big mess. She comes away with a two-week grounding, but everyone at school thinks she’s a hero for selflessly stepping aside to let Anita have Josh.
Thoughts: Apparently Alice has a pageboy haircut. I never would have imagined that.
Jessica screwed up the one lie that would have given her a lot of leeway – she should have told Josh she went to a different high school.
Steven’s sad not to go to the circus with his family. No way do high-schoolers want to go to the circus, especially with their parents.
“Amy had a nosy little brother.” I…don’t think she does, actually.
“She was wearing a pair of tight designer jeans and a cotton turtleneck sweater, which she hoped looked glamorous and sophisticated.” Yes, I think we can all agree that turtlenecks are the height of sophistication.
Tom McKay has a brother named Dylan. I repeat: Tom’s brother’s name is Dylan McKay. That’s fantastic.