June 30, 2015
Summary: At the end of Elizabeth’s New Hero, the twins won tickets to a Melody Power concert. At the beginning of this book, they’ve just gotten back from the concert, and Jessica is way too excited about it. Her new life goal is to become a rock star. She starts dressing like Melody, who seems to have the same wardrobe preferences as one Robin Sparkles. She talks about the concert all the time, annoying the other Unicorns. Yeah, that would definitely get old very quickly.
Jessica finds out that some SVMS guys have started a band, and they’re looking for a singer. She decides to audition, but using a singing voice that’s more like Melody Power’s than her own. Elizabeth thinks this is a horrible idea, since Jessica’s Melody impression makes her sound terrible. Jess won’t hear it – this is how rock stars sound, and she’s destined to be a rock star. She thinks her Melody voice will help her beat out the competition, which happens to include Dana Larson, future SVH rock star.
The guys in the band are Bruce, Aaron, and two other guys we don’t care about. Apparently Bruce plays the bass. I’m surprised he doesn’t want to play lead guitar and be the band’s obnoxious front man. Everyone gathers for the auditions, but Mrs. Patman soon kicks them out because she’s having a committee meeting. There will be other meetings at the house, which is apparently not big enough to accommodate a rock band, even though the Patmans are freaking rich, so the kids have to find a new place to practice.
Jessica immediately offers up the Wakefields’ basement, not bothering to ask her parents if it’s okay (of course). After the girls audition, the guys pick Jessica. How convenient that they chose the girl who has rehearsal space for them! Even though she clearly wasn’t the best singer! Isn’t that just the best coincidence? Elizabeth immediately realizes what’s going on, but Jessica’s too happy and clueless to figure out that the guys are just using her.
Jess remains clueless as the guys hold practices in her basement but don’t give her a chance to sing. They send her on errands and treat her like a manager/roadie instead of a lead singer. This might be a blessing, though, since Jessica still sounds horrible when she sings like Melody. She picks the stage name Gem, but she sure doesn’t sound like one. Even though the practices cause Jess to miss Unicorn meetings, making everyone mad at her, she keeps going to them.
Jessica advertises for the band, NRG (sounds like Energy), putting up signs around town so people can hire them to play at parties. They actually land a birthday party, though the guys in NRG don’t bother crediting Jess with getting them the gig. They know they’re not in the best shape to play in public, but they get to work improving their sound. Jess has to fend for herself. She hears herself on tape and realizes that she’s not as great as she thought. Fortunately, she figures out quickly that it’s the Melody voice causing the trouble, and she practices using her own voice.
Lila learns about the birthday party and decides to get herself invited so she can hear NRG. Jessica is self-aware enough to know this is a bad idea. She’s starting to realize how much work goes into being a big star. Plus, all the practices mean she doesn’t get to spend time with the Unicorns, doing stuff she actually enjoys.
At the mall, Elizabeth overhears the NRG guys talking about the party. They want matching outfits, and they don’t care if Jessica looks dumb for dressing differently. In fact, they don’t want her there at all. They’re going to tell her to come to the part an hour and a half after it starts, so by the time she gets there, she won’t have a chance to sing. Elizabeth is mad about their scheming, but she’s not sure if she should tell Jessica what they’re up to. After all, Jess will just embarrass herself if she sings.
Back at home, Elizabeth hears Jessica practicing and realizes that she’s good. She tells Jessica that Bruce called to change the time she’s supposed to be at the party, so now Jess will be there on time. She also tells her sister what the guys are wearing and loans her an outfit that will match theirs. At the party, NRG is pretty bad, but Gem swoops in to save the day, impressing everyone.
Now the tables have turned, and the guys in the band want to make sure Jessica is involved in everything. But Jess has decided that being a rock star is too much work, so she’s done with the band. She’d rather hang out with the Unicorns and talk about boys than do something a lot of people would love to do. The guys will have to find a new place to practice and/or a new girl to use.
The B-plot is pretty brief, and is only there to set the stage for the next book. Amy has a pen pal named Samantha, but Samantha hasn’t written her lately, so Amy’s worried about her. Samantha probably just found out that Amy is lame and decided to stop writing her.
Thoughts: Mary’s stepfather is a big Melody Power fan. Isn’t that kind of weird?
I can’t believe no one makes a Jem joke about Jessica’s stage name.
“All the boys laughed at his wit.” Bruce is only 13 and he already has yes men.
June 28, 2015
Summary: Something lurks in the sewers of Baltimore as a man enters an office building. Elevator doors open and the cable seems to shakes, as if it’s being climbed. The man leaves a message telling his wife he’ll be working late, then goes down the hall to get coffee as a hand unscrews a vent. When the man gets back to his office, he’s attacked. The attacker retreats through the vent and screws it back into place.
In D.C., Scully has breakfast with an old colleague, Agent Colton. He thinks they should be jealous of another colleague, but Scully reminds him of an investigation he did that led to a major capture. He questions her work with “Spooky Mulder” and his pursuit of the supernatural. He tells her about the death of the man in the office, which isn’t the only strange death he’s investigating. All the victims had their livers ripped out by someone’s bare hands. Colton is determined to solve the cases himself, but he’s okay consulting with Mulder. The cases might also get Scully out of the X-Files.
Scully talks to Mulder about the cases, telling him that his reputation isn’t such that Colton will trust him to solve them alone. Colton joins them and teases about little green men. Mulder corrects that aliens are actually gray. The agents investigate the office crime scene, and Mulder quickly figures out that the killer came in through the vent. Colton scoffs at the idea, since the vent is too small and the screws are in place.
But Mulder finds a fingerprint and matches it to one taken at the sites of ten other unsolved murders. The problem is that the murders were committed over the past 90 years, 30 years apart. With five murders committed each time, there are still two to go in the ’90s. Scully thinks they’re looking at a copycat, but Mulder says the fingerprints are perfect matches for each other, so they have to be from the same killer. Also, the killer’s fingers are ten inches long.
Scully reminds Mulder that the case is Colton’s. Mulder says that since the first case is an X-File and comes from 1903, it’s really his and Scully’s. He agrees to let Colton run his own investigation while he and Scully continue with theirs. Scully writes up a report about the killer, who she thinks is a male, between 25 and 35, and very smart. He know about the interiors of the buildings he’s committed the murders in, or he works in them. She thinks the livers are being taken because they cleanse the blood; the killer sees this as cleansing his own impurities.
Scully shares her theories in a meeting with Colton and his cohorts. She thinks they should focus on previous murder sites, since the killer could return to those scenes. Another agent, Fuller, invites Scully invited to come along to visit one of the previous sites, as long as she doesn’t mind working on a case that might not involve aliens. The agents stake out a parking garage that night, but Scully only finds Mulder, who’s sure the killer won’t come back to the scene of a previous crime. It doesn’t present a challenge since he’s already mastered the interior.
As Mulder leaves, he hears something moving around in ducts. He tells Scully to call for backup. Both of them see that something’s moving around in the ducts. A man emerges, and the agents take him into custody. Mulder admits that Scully was right. The suspect, Eugene Victor Tooms, undergoes a lie-detector test, testifying that he works for Animal Control. He admits to having killed a living creature, but never a human. He doesn’t admit to being super-old, though (sorry, Mulder).
Tooms passes the test, and the maintenance crew in the building confirms that they called Animal Control. Scully thinks it’s still suspicious that Tooms crawled up an air duct without alerting security. Mulder’s sure that Tooms is their guy – he lied on the two questions about his age and being somewhere in 1933. Fuller thinks that’s crazy and Tooms is innocent, so they’ll release him. Scully thanks Colton for letting her participate, but she’s sticking with Mulder. They’ll continue their own investigation.
Scully asks Mulder why he brought up Tooms’ possible lies even though he had to know that the other agents wouldn’t believe him. She thinks he was being territorial. Mulder tells her he appreciates that she respects their investigations even when she doesn’t agree with his ideas. He gives her the chance to drop out, but she wants to know where Mulder’s going with this. He shows her a comparison of Tooms’ fingerprints and the one he found at the office crime scene. When elongated, Tooms’ print is a match.
Tooms stalks a new victim, this time to the man’s house. He scales the brick siding and stretches his body to squeeze down the chimney. The victim picked a good night to light a fire in the fireplace. Too bad Tooms is already in the house. Colton investigates the next day, arriving just before Scully and Mulder. Colton thinks they’re dealing with someone who’s taking livers to sell on the black market. Wow. I don’t think black-market liver-dealers pull out the organs with their bare hands.
Mulder quickly finds Tooms’ fingerprint and sees that he took something from the victim’s fireplace mantle. Back at FBI headquarters, Scully learns that Tooms’ apartment is a cover – he’s never actually lived there. Mulder points out that his address is on Exeter Street, in the same building where the first 1903 murder was committed. Scully thinks the first killer was a member of Tooms’ family. Maybe homicidal tendencies have been passed down through genetics. “The anti-Waltons?” Mulder teases.
He notes that if they don’t catch Tooms before the fifth murder, Tooms will disappear for another 30 years. He assigns Scully to look through the census while Mulder searches birth and death certificates. Research time! Unfortunately, they find zero information about Tooms. However, Scully does get contact information for the detective who investigated the 1933 murders.
They meet with the man, Briggs, who tells them how horrible the crime scenes were. He thinks Tooms is as evil as anyone who killed people in death camps during the Holocaust. Briggs hands over a piece of one of the victims’ livers. He adds that the killer took small trophies from the crime scenes. Mulder asks if he’s ever heard of Tooms. Briggs has surveillance pictures from his investigations; they show Tooms, looking exactly the same as he does now, 60 years later.
Mulder and Scully go to the Exeter Street apartment building, where they can immediately feel evil in Tooms’ supposed home. Mulder finds a hole in the wall leading to a cellar. There, they find the trophies from the murder victims. Mulder determines that Tooms lives in the cellar, having made a nest out of newspapers and rags. Scully thinks it’s held together by bile. Mulder quickly regrets touching it. He thinks this is where Tooms hibernates during his 30-year disappearances. The livers sustain him during that period. Basically, Tooms is a mutant. Call the X-Men!
Mulder sends Scully to look for surveillance footage that proves that Tooms has been there. As she leaves, her necklace snags on something. She thinks the snag releases the chain, but it doesn’t – Tooms, who’s hanging from the ceiling, has taken it. Mulder meets with a couple of Colton’s men, leaving them to stake out Tooms’ building. Colton immediately calls off the stakeout, complaining to Scully that Mulder is misusing personnel. Scully slams him for being a jerk so he can climb the ladder in his career. She can’t wait until he falls off of it.
Scully heads home, stalked by Tooms. Mulder goes back to the now-unstaked-out Exeter Street apartment, where he finds Scully’s necklace with the other trophies. Scully sees bile dripping through a vent in her bathroom and quickly gets her gun. Mulder’s on his way over, trying to call her. Tooms tries to grab Scully’s leg through a vent, which he then crawls through. She fights him, but he overpowers her and starts to go for her liver.
Mulder bursts in, and he and Scully manage to fight Tooms off and handcuff him to the bathtub. Mulder tells Tooms that he won’t be able to get his fifth liver this year. The next morning, Briggs is pleased to read in the newspaper that Tooms was arrested. Tooms reads the same article, then tears it out and uses it to build a nest in his room at what appears to be a hospital.
Scully reports to Mulder that tests show that Tooms has abnormalities in his musculature and sleep patterns. Mulder notes that people pay tons of money for security systems, but with Tooms around, they don’t matter. As the two of them go back to work, someone brings Tooms a meal, pushing it through a mail-sized slot in the door. It gives Tooms an idea…
Thoughts: It makes Tooms even creepier to know that he’s played by Doug Hutchison, who famously married Courtney Stodden when she was still a teenager.
Conversely, while Colton is really annoying, he’s played by the lovable Donal Logue.
Mulder to Scully: “Do you think I’m spooky?” Probably, but she also thinks you’re pretty, so you’re good.
I’ve never been so happy not to have a chimney. Be right back, moving heavy stuff in front of all my vents.
“Is there any way I can get [the bile] off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?” Oh, Mulder. Please don’t think you’re cool.
Do we know which D.C. suburb Scully lives in (if she’s not in the city itself)? It’s freaking expensive here, but her bathroom is as big as my apartment.
June 27, 2015
Summary: Matt and Lauren are at a pharmacy, trying to get a refill on her prescription even though there aren’t supposed to be any left. Matt tries but fails to talk the pharmacist into making an exception. When he doesn’t, Matt tries to steal them but gets stopped by a security guard. Matt, you’re an idiot. At the After Dark, David tries to convince Donna that they should get back together, since they clearly still have feelings for each other. Donna thinks they’re in the middle of too much craziness to make a big decision like that. She won’t go on a date with him.
Donna tries to avoid Noah, who thinks she dumped him because she wants David back. Donna reminds him that he and Gina hooked up, even though they didn’t. She says that regardless of what did or didn’t happen, Noah has lost her trust. Matt fills Kelly in on Lauren’s situation, and she mentions that when she worked at the clinic, she knew patients who got their medications in Mexico. She offers to call around and get in touch with their contacts. Matt’s hesitant to do that, even though he was willing to steal drugs the night before.
Gina’s decided to open her own gym, financing it by borrowing against the money in her trust fund, which she earned when she skated as a teenager. She tells Donna again that she and Noah didn’t hook up, but Donna still can’t trust her again. Gina’s mother Bobbi arrives for a visit; she was supposed to bring information about Gina’s trust, but it slipped her mind. The trust was set up in Beverly Hills, and Donna’s father has accounts with the bank, so she agrees to take Gina there to talk to someone.
Janet and Steve had lunch with her parents, who have no clue that they’re dating. Mr. Sosna disapproves of the Beverly Beat being a tabloid. Steve makes jabs about how tabloids expose secrets – you know, like the secret Janet’s keeping from her parents. At the Peach Pit, Donna tries not to seem jealous when she and Gina see David talking to a woman. When Donna finds out that the woman is a famous sex therapist who’s going to be on David’s show, she suddenly decides she wants to go on a date with David after all. After Donna leaves, Gina teases David a little.
Steve thinks Janet hasn’t told her parents about them because she’s embarrassed. She’s annoyed that he was trying to hold her hand in front of her traditional father. Also, her father would prefer it if she dated Japanese men. At the bank, Gina and Donna learn that there’s only $14,000 in her trust fund, as opposed to the $75,000 Gina thought was there. That can’t be good. At David and Dylan’s, Kelly tells Dylan that she wants to get Lauren’s medication in Mexico, as a “mission of mercy.” Dylan’s looking forward to it. Gina shows up, learns about the trip, and scrams.
Lauren blasts music at the Walshes’ house in the middle of the night, wanting to drown out the voices in her head. Matt explains the concept of schizophrenia to Steve and Noah. Kelly and Dylan head down Mexico way, discussing the fact that the medication might let Matt get Lauren back for good. Kelly asks if Dylan would take risks like this to get Toni back even if he could lose her again. Dylan talks about second tries and people you love, etc., etc., and I don’t think he’s talking about Toni, guys.
Gina and Donna confront Bobbi, who used Gina’s trust money for things like home renovations. She’s unapologetic, since she gave up so much for Gina. Gina replies that Bobbie robbed her of a childhood, and now she’s robbing her literally. Steve complains to Janet about her father’s bigotry while he digs through a celebrity’s trash, like, maybe your ethnicity isn’t the only reason Mr. Sosna doesn’t like you, Steve. Janet admits that her father has arranged for her to go on a date with a Japanese guy.
Noah tries to make up with Donna by bringing her flowers. Yeah, that’ll do the trick, Noah. After Donna leaves, Gina tells Noah that Donna and David were together before Donna and Noah broke up. Noah confronts Donna, who says it doesn’t matter, considering what Noah did (even though…he didn’t do anything. Okay, Donna). Noah calls Donna a hypocrite. Steve crashes the double date Janet’s on with her parents; he’s happy to see that he’s up against a nerd. Except he’s really up against a rich guy who’s definitely not a nerd.
Kelly gets cold feet about the drug-smuggling, so Dylan tells her to sleep on it. Then suddenly they’re kissing. Then they’re on the bed. I think they’ve forgotten why they’re in Mexico. Noah confronts David for going after Donna while they were still together; Noah thought they were friends. David can’t really deny it. Kelly wants to go back to Beverly Hills, feeling bad that she kind of cheated on Matt, though I’m not really sure of the logistics of that, since he’s married to someone else. Dylan clearly feels no remorse about sleeping with someone other than Gina.
Steve remembers when Janet said that her parents were hippies and believed in free love. She admits that she lied (though it’s probably that the writers just remembered they wrote that). Steve accuses Mr. Sosna of being racist. Janet doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting your child to share her life with someone who has the same values. Steve says there are a lot of things that make him who he is other than his race. In the middle of his list, he says he loves Janet. Before he can realize what he said, Mr. Sosna shows up to talk to Janet about her date from the night before. She tells her father that she already has a boyfriend: Steve.
At the border, Dylan and Kelly tell a guard that they don’t have any fruits or vegetables, and they definitely don’t have any medications, no, siree. The guard thinks Kelly seems nervous, so Dylan covers by telling him about their past relationship and their hookup the night before. Kelly doesn’t get it, since they don’t have anything to hide. It turns out Dylan got the drugs without Kelly knowing. He claims that he didn’t mean what he told the guard about them possibly still having feelings for each other.
On her date with David, Donna tells him about Gina’s trust, and how Donna encouraged her to sue the trustee who didn’t guard her money. They discuss their kiss and how much it hurt Noah. David has no sympathy for Noah because of the way he’s treated Donna. Kelly and Dylan bring Lauren her drugs, but she’s not as happy as you would expect. Steve and Janet spend the night together, and in the morning she dreads going home and seeing her father. Steve assures her that she did the right thing. She brings up his declaration of love, giving him the chance to take it back. He doesn’t want to.
Kelly apologizes to Gina for asking Dylan to go to Mexico with her. Gina doesn’t want to talk to her or Dylan, who tells Kelly he’s not going to let Gina know what they did. Kelly decides to keep it quiet from Matt, too. Lauren throws out the medication, even though she knows it would give her something to look forward to. Matt tells her they can move back to New York and go back to their lives until she gets sick again.
David and Donna run into each other at the Peach Pit, awkwardly agreeing that they enjoyed themselves on their date the night before. She says she has some things to work out with Noah. Janet tells Steve that though her father respects her decision, he won’t let her live under his roof anymore. Yeah, that sure sounds like respect. Donna admits to Noah that she’s a hypocrite, and she’s sorry for not telling him that she kissed David. It was supposed to be a pose for a picture, but it meant something to her. She doesn’t know where that leaves her and Noah.
Lauren calls Kelly over to the Walshes’ house to thank her for the Mexico trip, and to reveal that she’s not going to take the medication. She’s willing to wait until there’s a cure, if there ever is one. Lauren asks Kelly to look after Matt and make him happy. Then she tells Matt that she wants him to live the life he’s built in Beverly Hills, and be with Kelly. At the beach apartment, Gina and Donna – who have strangely bonded over the trust issue – ask Bobbi to name the trustee who didn’t look after Gina’s money. Bobbi begs Gina to drop it, but finally admits that the trustee is Felice.
Thoughts: Who breaks the law for her ex’s wife? Oh, right, the same person who bought a car for a guy who’s supposedly just a friend.
Who put Donna’s hair in four ponytails? Please never do anyone’s hair ever again.
Excuse me, but if I go to Mexico to get you illegal drugs, you’re taking them. Have you no decency, Lauren?
June 23, 2015
Summary: We haven’t had a Lila book in a little while, so here’s something to satisfy us. Well, not really. Nothing about it is satisfying. This book takes place in an alternate universe where Bruce is spending the semester in Japan. Also, Nick doesn’t seem to exist.
Lila has a hot new TA in her class about 20th century art. He’s Damon Price, and something about him seems familiar to Lila. The two of them feel an immediate connection, beyond the fact that they’re both hot. Lila tells Jessica, who was supposed to be in the class with her; she skipped to go tanning. Instead of being intrigued by this automatic connection Lila and Damon have, Jessica decides that she’ll steal Damon for herself. With friends like Jess, who needs archrivals?
Lila manages to track down Damon’s phone number, and she leaves him a message asking to meet up with him to discuss…research. Yes, research. That’s what the kids are calling it these days. Meanwhile, Damon doodles a picture of Lila, feeling like she’s familiar. He puts up a painting in his office of clouds that form a girl’s face. The face looks like Lila’s. That’s not creepy at all.
There’s a Theta meeting, as the sisters are trying to come up with an idea for a fundraiser. Lila suggests a masked ball. Everyone loves the idea and fawns over Lila. Jessica, jealous as always, hates when Lila makes her feel like she’s not a star. Maybe come up with your own ideas instead of being lazy in every aspect of your life? Just a suggestion.
Damon and Lila make a dinner date, and then there’s a whole thing about how Lila wants Damon to call, but she doesn’t want to call him because that would be too forward. When has Lila ever worried about being forward? Jess starts scheming to steal Damon from her. I’d like to point out that Jessica hasn’t even met Damon yet. This is so dumb. The lack of Nick is confusing.
Damon and Lila have their date, which Lila switches to a fancy restaurant at the last minute, using her money and name to get in. She offers to pay for dinner. And yet she won’t make a phone call? The two of them feel like they’ve known each other for years, and seem to know things about each other already. They go to Damon’s place, where he accidentally hits Lila in the head with a book and knocks her out. She seems fine, but then weird things start happening.
First there are dreams. Lila dreams about a woman named Flora who’s part of high society in the 1930s. She and her husband, Theodore Grey, seem happily married. Flora falls down the stairs, landing as Lila wakes up. She goes to Damon’s class, where Jessica decides to grace everyone with her presence for the first time in a week. She mentions Bruce, who Lila downplays. Damon chastises Jessica for her poor attendance, and she runs off.
Lila’s totally in love with Damon, though she’s not sure why he told her he didn’t have a phone when she saw one at his place. She’s quickly distracted from that when she recognizes a painting Damon shows the class as one from her Flora dream. She’s sure that she’s never seen it before. When she tells Damon, he shows her the cloud painting and tells her how he thinks the face in it looks like her. And the painter’s name? Theodore Grey. Dun dun DUN!
Jessica gets revenge on Lila by trying to call Bruce in Japan to tell him that Lila’s cheating on him with a TA. I wonder what Ned and Alice will say when they get that phone bill. Jessica can’t reach him, so she writes a letter. I guess no one in this book has email, even though it’s 1998 and lots of people had it then. Maybe Jessica doesn’t think an email will travel all the way to Japan.
Lila has another dream about Flora and Theodore. In this one, they throw a big costume party, even though Theodore admits to Flora that his family’s money is running out. He’s mad at her for talking to a reporter about it, though Flora denied it (because she didn’t know). Theodore is becoming a stereotypical frustrated artist, growing angrier because he can’t sell his paintings. They fight, and he throws a book at Flora’s head. Quality guy there, Flora.
When Lila wakes up, she gets a phone call but there’s no one on the other end. She heads to the library to read up on Theodore. Damon is doing the same, looking at Theodore’s paintings, which all feature the same face. One has a slash and red paint through the neck. Creepy. Lila learns that Damon looks just like Theodore, and that Theodore’s wife’s name was Flora.
At this point, I’d be so out. I’d drop the class and never talk to Damon again, because everything was fine before he showed up. But no, Lila goes to Damon’s and tells him about her dreams and Theodore and Flora. He thinks she’s losing it and offers her no sympathy, even though she’s really shaken up.
Lila’s next dream sees Flora finding Theo destroying his paintings. He slashes the throat of her portrait and adds red paint to it. Okay, Flora, time to get the heck out of there. Lila gets another phone call, hearing someone murmuring her name over and over. She thinks Damon has been calling her, playing a weird joke on her. Maybe Damon is trying to recreate Theodore’s life. In Lila’s next dream, Theodore claims not to remember destroying his artwork. He thinks the slashed portrait looks great, and he’ll put it in his next exhibit.
Lila goes back to the library, reading about the slashed portrait. Apparently it was a bit of foreshadowing – there was some big tragedy in Theodore’s life. After doing some more research, Lila finds Flora’s obituary, which says her body was found with neck wounds. Theodore was arrested for her murder, and witnesses say they heard a big argument between the couple. Oh, and Lila looks just like Flora.
Even though she just suspected that Damon was trying to recreate Theodore’s life, which means he could be plotting to kill her like Theodore killed Flora, Lila decides she needs to warn Damon. She now thinks that history is repeating itself. Damon still thinks she’s nuts. But as they’re fighting, he calls her Flora, so now who’s nuts? At least now Lila gets that Damon might not be a stable person to be around. Damon himself worries that he’s become a horrible person. You think?
Lila dreams of Theodore taking Flora to see his new exhibit. All of his art is pictures of her with slashes on her body. Everyone thinks they’re brilliant. What’s wrong with these people? Lila gets another phone call; this time she’s called Flora. She’s sure Damon’s making the calls because no one else knows about Flora. In another dream, Theodore beats up Flora, accusing her of stealing his ideas and his money.
Damon calls to let Lila know he’s going out of town for a few days. Minutes later, she gets another creepy call warning that with Damon gone, Lila’s helpless. He goes looking for her, instead of leaving town, and Lila agrees to talk to him. Lila, no! She thinks there’s something off about him; there isn’t life in his eyes like there usually is. He says the phone calls must be from a frat boy playing a joke. Lila reveals that she’s going to get a caller ID machine (smart girl). She notices a scar on his face that she hadn’t noticed before, and decides she doesn’t know enough about him to be with him.
Lila’s too freaked out to be alone, so she goes to Jessica’s room. The two of them make up and talk about all the weird things that have been going on. While they’re having a big sleepover, Jessica spots Damon lurking in the bushes outside the dorm. Okay, guys, time to call the police. At least Lila realizes that she wants to be with Bruce, not Damon.
Lila dreams of Theodore strangling Flora, though Flora notices that her husband’s hands aren’t soft like they usually are. When Lila tells Jessica about the dream, Jess wonders if someone other than Theodore killed Flora. Time for more library research! They read up on Flora’s cause of death, which wasn’t her neck wounds, but a heart attack.
Jessica suggests that Lila see a reincarnation therapist, who tells Lila that she’s dreaming about her past life – she’s a reincarnation of Flora, and Damon is a reincarnation of Theodore. I mean, of course. But karma will come through, and the suffering Flora underwent in her life will be avenged. Except that means Lila might kill Damon. Of course, again.
Damon’s waiting outside the building to be creepy with Lila some more. Jessica rescues her, then decides this is a good time to admit that she wrote Bruce to tell him about Damon. Lila’s furious and takes off on her own. While Jessica searches for her Jeep, Lila goes home and hears a message from Bruce telling her that he got Jessica’s letter but still loves Lila. Bruce is kind of great in the SVU-verse.
Damon ambushes Lila in her apartment and knocks her out. She dreams of Flora seeing two Theodores fighting. Jessica finally makes it to Lila’s, running into…Damon. He’s outside, not in the apartment. When Jess accuses him of all the creepiness, he insists it wasn’t him. The other, creepier Damon ties Lila up and puts knives in front of and behind her so she can’t move without getting stabbed. He’s full-on crazy now, calling her Flora and whining about everything the other Damon has gotten. Lila finally realizes that Damon has an identical twin.
Damon confirms this when he and Jessica get to the apartment. The twin is Dylan, and he wants Lila out of the picture. Jessica helps Lila while the brothers beat each other up. Eventually Jess gets sick of them, decides the one with the bad haircut is the bad twin, and knocks him out with a Cuisinart. He falls on one of the knives, accidentally killing himself. (The description is actually pretty graphic for a Sweet Valley book.) Lila starts having chest pains, which paralells Flora’s death from a heart attack, but it turns out she’s just having a panic attack.
Later, Damon explains that Dylan was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager, after years of crazy behavior. He escaped from the institution where he was living and started to wreak havoc. So some of the times Lila saw Damon and he was being weird, that was actually Dylan. (Some of the times, it was Damon. He has some anger issues, it seems.) Guess who else had a twin? Theodore. Damon, Lila, and Jessica piece together that Theodore’s twin, Thomas, killed Flora. Dylan almost reenacted Flora’s fate on Lila, but instead was the one who wound up dead. That breaks the curse, or whatever, and Lila thinks Flora can now rest in peace.
Damon feels horrible for the times he treated Lila badly, and he doesn’t ever want to hurt her again. That won’t be a problem – Lila has decided they can’t be together. She wants to go back to Bruce and, I imagine, never speak of this again. Which she probably doesn’t. So this whole book was a waste of time. Awesome.
Thoughts: I haven’t seen it, but apparently this book is a rip-off of the movie Dead Again. Incidentally, Dead Again stars and was directed by Kenneth Branagh, who was also in The Gingerbread Man, which was referenced in the previous book. So maybe the ghostwriter is a Branagh fan and that’s who Nick is supposed to look like after all.
“I read The Rules. I know The Rules.” Lila, no!
Elizabeth has an ab roller. Liz, no!
At least a third of this book is just Lila wondering why Damon hasn’t called. (And don’t ask why she doesn’t just call him. Rules girls don’t do that.)
New career goal: become a reincarnation therapist named Astra.
June 21, 2015
Summary: Near Ellens Air Base in Idaho, a group of military police swarm on a house. The woman of the house arrives and learns that her husband has violated military procedure. The MPs burst inside and find their man, Colonel Robert Budahas, cowering in a corner, his whole body red. In D.C., Scully and Mulder meet up at a bar, which is surprisingly busy at 2 p.m. Someone appears to be watching them.
Mulder tells Scully about Budahas, who had a psychotic episode and barricaded himself in his house four months ago. He was hospitalized, but the military won’t comment on his status, even to his wife. She’s reported her husband as kidnapped. Mulder continues that in the past 30 years, six pilots from Ellens have been listed as MIA. They were all reported as accepting assignments to fly experimental aircraft.
Scully thinks the rumors about them being shot down in Russian airspace is true. Mulder says that the cases have been deprioritized despite the fact that they were never investigated. Guess who gets to investigate now? Scully isn’t sure why they’re looking into cases that might not be paranormal. Scully’s going to learn very quickly that anything weird = paranormal.
Mulder ducks into the restroom, where the man watching him earlier warns him to leave the case alone. The man says he can help Mulder, since he has an interest in the X-Files. He won’t identify himself or who he works for. He just repeats that Mulder needs to drop the case. The man (hereafter known as Deep Throat) leaves, and when Mulder tries to chase after him, he disappears.
Scully goes back to FBI headquarters and reads up on Ellens. The aircraft the missing pilots flew utilized stealth weaponry. She calls Mulder to confront him for possibly involving her in a “UFO goose chase.” Mulder hears clicks on the phone line and looks outside to see someone across the street in a van.
Time for a trip to Idaho! Mulder and Scully go to the Budahas house (say that five times fast), where Mrs. Budahas tells them that her husband developed a rash under his arms a couple years earlier. Then his personality became unpredictable. For instance, he put fish food on his plate during a dinner party. He would also become angry, then start shaking like he was having a seizing. All Mrs. Budahas knows about her husband’s job is that he’s loyal to his country.
Mulder asks if Mrs. Budahas knows of any other pilots experiencing the same thing. She points him in the direction of another officer, McLennen, who uses his own hair in fishing lures. His wife objects to Mrs. Budahas getting the FBI involved; she thinks therapy will solve everything. Scully also sees a psychiatric issue, telling Mulder that McLennen is suffering from extreme stress. She thinks the missing test pilots “washed out” of the mission to fly into Russian airspace.
Mulder and Scully next visit a man named Officer Kissell, an MP, but he won’t talk to them about Budahas. A reporter, Paul Mossinger, finds them and tries to ask about their investigation. Now Mulder’s the one who won’t talk. He asks Mossinger if he’s ever seen any UFOs, and where he might be able to talk to any of the UFO fanatics in the area.
The agents are sent to a diner (awesomely called the Flying Saucer), where a waitress tells them how egotistical pilots can be. There are photos of strange objects in the sky, one of them taken by the waitress herself. Mulder buys it and Scully calls him a sucker. She notices that Ellens isn’t on her map. Mulder tells her he got the waitress to draw him a much more helpful map. Then he calls her a sucker.
They drive to a spot just outside the base while Scully complains about having to put a UFO search in her field report. They’re there until after dark, and Scully falls asleep in the car. She wakes up when something flies overhead, breaking the rear window of the car. Mulder excitedly takes her to his waiting spot as two lights fly around each other in the sky. Suddenly there’s an explosion and the lights disappear.
The next light they see is from a helicopter, which allows the agents to see two teenagers nearby. The helicopter and the agents chase the kids, but it seems they were just there to make out. Mulder and Scully take them to a diner, where the kids, Emil and Zoe, say they go to their makeout spot all the time, but this is the first night they’ve seen the lights. Outside, Mossinger watches the four, using a walkie-talkie to confer with others.
Emily uses his burger to demonstrate the movements of UFOs he claims he’s seen. He tells Mulder they look just like the object in the waitress’ photo. After spending the night talking, the teens go home, and Scully realizes that Mulder believes everything they said. She thinks they were stoned. Mulder shows her photos from Roswell and reports that pieces from the wreckage there were sent to Ellens. He thinks the military is flying planes they built using UFO technology.
Scully, of course, thinks this is crazy. All he has to go on are two pictures of blurry triangles taken 50 years apart. Mulder reminds her that she saw the same lights he did the night before. Scully says that just because she doesn’t know what they’re dealing with doesn’t mean they’re alien in nature. Mulder points out that the “unidentified” in “unidentified flying objects” covers a lot of territory. Scully would rather focus on figuring out what happened to Budahas.
The agents head back to their motel, where Scully receives a message from Mrs. Budahas: Her husband has returned home. But when they go to the Budahas house, Mrs. Budahas says the man there isn’t her husband, even though there’s nothing strange about his behavior. Budahas just says he’s been in the hospital. Mulder asks him questions about his life, which he can answer just fine, but when faced with a question about flying, he can’t remember his job.
As they leave, Mulder tells Scully that it seems like Budahas’ brain has been rewired. Scully points out that you can’t just go into someone’s brain and erase certain files, like a computer. Maybe he has a form of amnesia. Mulder thinks that if technology exists to fly the aircraft they saw last night, there’s also technology to mess with Budahas’ brain the way it seems it’s been messed with. He thinks Budahas became a security risk after his breakdown, so the government took him out.
In their car, the agents are suddenly stopped by a bunch of men in black suits. While they’re frisked, the men search the car and take any evidence they might have of strange goings-on at Ellens. They order Mulder and Scully to pack up and leave town without talking to anyone about what they’ve been doing. Instead, Scully calls in their plates and learns that no car is registered with their numbers.
Mulder thinks the helicopter they saw the night before was chasing them away from the base. He also thinks that Budahas was returned as a decoy. He finally tells Scully about Deep Throat and the tap on his phone. Clearly there’s some kind of conspiracy they want to keep quiet. Mulder thinks there’s a UFO at Ellens, and the pilots are being hushed or hidden to keep the information from getting out.
Scully still thinks they’re just dealing with experiments. The government has a right to keep secrets. Mulder says there has to be a limit to what the government can do to its citizens to further its work. Scully points out that their job there is over – they came to investigate a kidnapping, but the abductee has returned. They should leave while Mulder still has a job. Mulder wants to find out about the UFOs that have been photographed there, but Scully isn’t going to indulge him.
Mulder pretends he’s going to take a shower before they leave, but he sneaks out to go back to Ellens. Emil and Zoe help him sneak onto the base, but the kids won’t go in themselves, since it’s still daylight. They warn him not to go too far, like Mulder’s going to listen. They forget too late to remind him that there might be landmines.
Mulder waits until nightfall to venture too far onto the base, and when he does, he sees what’s definitely an unidentifiable aircraft. It captures him in its spotlight, then flies away. Mulder’s chased by a bunch of soldiers who throw him into a vehicle and inject him with something. In the morning, Scully tries to call D.C. but can’t find a working phone at the motel. An employee tells her the phones there are unreliable, possibly because of aircraft interference.
A semi-conscious Mulder is taken to a hangar, where he can see an aircraft that looks like what the waitress photographed. Mossinger comes looking for Scully, who hears the walkie-talkie in his car. She locks herself inside and searches it, finding a gun and a badge identifying Mossinger as Ellens security. As she’s restraining him, Emil and Zoe arrive, admitting that they took Mulder to Ellens. Scully orders Mossinger to find out where Mulder is.
As someone puts some sort of liquid in Mulder’s eyes, Mossinger takes Scully to Ellens. “Intruder arriving,” she hears on his walkie-talkie. A military vehicle pulls up to the gate and Mulder is released. Scully kicks Mossinger out of the car and exchanges him for a very confused Mulder. Mossinger tells the agents that everything they’ve seen is appropriate for the level of protection required. As Scully drives Mulder away from the base, he asks how he got there.
They go to the Budahas house, where Mrs. Budahas says everything’s fine, and her husband’s getting better. She won’t let them see him, though. Mulder knows there’s a cover-up, but Scully thinks they haven’t learned anything in their time in Idaho. At least, that’s what she’ll say in her field report. Back in D.C. a week later, she says the investigation was inconclusive and declares the case closed.
Mulder goes for a run on a track, encountering Deep Throat again. Deep Throat warns that his and Scully’s lives are in danger. He’s willing to provide information, but only if it also serves Deep Throat. Mulder knows that something happened to him that was then erased from his memory. Deep Throat wonders why someone who believes in extraterrestrial life on Earth doesn’t believe all the evidence that it doesn’t exist. Mulder says that evidence isn’t conclusive. He knows for sure there are aliens on Earth. Deep Throat confirms this, saying they’ve been there for a long time.
Thoughts: Emil is played by Seth Green.
This show is harder to recap than I expected. So much dialogue!
There’s a lot of chemistry between Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny already, and this is just the second episode in. Great casting.
If teenagers can sneak onto the military base where you’re performing super-top-secret experiments, maybe look into upping your security. You know, just a suggestion.
June 20, 2015
Summary: It’s morning at the Walshes’ house, and Gina’s bugging Noah. Donna and David are trying not to be awkward around each other after their kiss. Matt and Lauren tell the gang about their wedding, looking very happy together. Kelly arrives and things get really tense. Dylan takes the blame for her not being invited over to hang out with everyone. He claims he’s not picking sides, but Kelly snots that he has.
Steve and Janet are apparently working with Super Brothers and Super Sisters, and are taking a couple of teenagers camping. Janet wants to focus on roughing it, while Steve, of course, just wants to have fun. The teenagers are a stoner type named Stewart and a Goth named Marianne. They hate each other. Dylan books a room at the Bel Age, but not for himself and Gina – it’s a second honeymoon for Matt and Lauren. It’s Dylan’s way of thanking Matt for his help. Gina complains again about how Dylan only wants her for sex.
Noah thanks David for whatever he did that helped get Donna to forgive him for the photo-booth pictures with Gina. Noah admits that more happened, and he wants to come clean to Donna. He wants advice, but David refuses to get involved, because he’s smart. At the campsite, the campers spot a bear and retreat to their car. That night, Kelly joins David on his broadcast at the After Dark, giving advice to callers. Matt calls in to tell Kelly that after some time, she’ll feel better about what happened between them.
Donna and Noah discuss the call; she says Kelly and Matt can probably be friends after a while. It’s not like he cheated on her, which would be pretty unforgivable. Instead of telling her that he slept with Gina (which, remember, he didn’t), Noah asks Donna to move in with him. She happily accepts. Oh, Noah. Lauren pours cold water on her and Matt’s stay at the Bel Age: Her medication is messing with her white blood cells, and her doctor wants her to stop taking it, or she could damage her health. That means she could undo all the progress she’s made with her schizophrenia.
In the morning, the bear is gone, and so are Stewart and Marianne. Apparently they don’t hate each other anymore, as Janet caught them making out the night before. She and Steve find them off by themselves (though at least they’re fully clothed). Dylan and Kelly hang out downtown, coming across a Thunderbird that makes Dylan think about an uncle who drove one. He’s been thinking about his future ever since he got into recovery, but isn’t feeling motivated.
David thinks that Noah told Donna about sleeping with Gina, while she thinks David already knows that she’s moving in with Noah. Confused? Kelly wants to talk to Matt about his call during the radio show, interrupting while Matt’s trying to get in touch with Lauren’s doctor. Matt doesn’t have time for her issues. Steve tries to warn Stewart that getting into a relationship with Marianne will drive him crazy. Meanwhile, Janet tells Marianne to protect herself because boys only want sex. Steve wants Stewart not to get involved with someone he hates.
Dylan wakes up to find a present from Kelly: She bought him the Thunderbird. Lauren’s doctor warns her that if she keeps taking the medication, she’ll develop something that will eventually kill her. Lauren refuses to give it up; she won’t go back to the mental state she was in before. At the After Dark, Gina instructs Noah to keep his mouth shut and never tell Donna what they did. But when Donna shows up, Noah immediately tells her that he and Gina slept together. Donna just as immediately tells him they’re over.
Kelly’s supposed to be on David’s show again the next day, but she asks Donna to fill in. It’s probably not a good time for Donna to be giving relationship advice. She tries to call Gina, who’s at the After Dark, taunting Noah for being stupid – it’s not like they had sex. Noah’s like, “YOU SAID WE DID!” Gina plays dumb, pretending she didn’t mean to imply that they did. Clearly he wanted it to be true or his mind wouldn’t have gone there.
Matt wants Lauren to fight and look for a different medical option. He’s lost her once and doesn’t want to lose her again. Dylan tries to be supportive of Matt, who knows it’s because Dylan can relate to losing one’s wife. Janet tries to teach Steve to light a fire, telling him they can’t just use a lighter because kids like Stewart and Marianne don’t have quick fixes in their lives. Steve finally gets the fire lit…just before it starts to rain.
At the Peach Pit, Dylan tells Kelly that Matt and Lauren aren’t as happy as Kelly thinks they are. Lauren has very little time left before her schizophrenia gets bad again. Gina interrupts, then gets mad when Dylan won’t tell her what they were talking about. She whines that Dylan’s everyone’s friend but won’t be her boyfriend. He assures her that he and Kelly aren’t getting back together. Then he lets her drive his new/old car, which she takes off in.
Donna joins David for his broadcast, fielding a question about having to see an ex you still have feelings for. They claim that when a relationship is over, it’s totally over, though sometimes you feel a spark. Off the air, they reminisce about a time on the radio in high school, when Donna hyperventilated and everyone thought they were fooling around in the booth. David decides to give the night a theme: “Can ex-lovers remain friends?”
Steve and Janet check Stewart and Marianne into a motel, though it looks like Janet would rather hand out in the car. She’s mad at Steve for giving up on roughing it. He always takes the easy way out. She wanted to do something away from him, but he arranged the camping trip and involved himself. Janet wonders how she’s supposed to get over him when he’s always around. After she calms down a little, she tells Steve he’s good with the teens. He tells her he’s always around because he likes being with her.
Noah ambushes Donna at the beach apartment so he can retract his confession that he and Gina slept together. She doesn’t believe him. Janet and Steve spend the night together in the car, and like the last time they had sex, she wants to pretend it never happened. Steve, however, thinks they should have a relationship. Stewart and Marianne are on his side about that. Elsewhere, Kelly tries to show Matt some compassion over Lauren’s situation.
Donna finally faces off with Gina, accusing her of misleading Noah on purpose so Donna would get hurt. Gina claims that Noah came on to her the night they took the pictures, but nothing happened. Donna calls her trash and some harsher words. Lauren only has three pills left in her prescription; after that, she’ll have to find another way to get her medication. Matt wants to take her to Venice for a real second honeymoon. I guess his money troubles aren’t so bad anymore.
Dylan and Kelly play Battleship at David and Dylan’s house, reminiscing about their childhood together. He tells her that sometimes he reaches out and grabs whatever – or whoever – he can because he needs something to help him stay grounded. He’s only ever been able to connect with Kelly and Toni. David goes to the beach apartment to tell Donna that he lied when he said exes can be friends. Then they make out. Woo!
Thoughts: Who buys a car for a friend? How did Kelly even afford it? The boutique can’t be doing that well.
Gina’s mental health seems less stable than Lauren’s. Maybe she needs a referral to Lauren’s psychiatrist.
Okay, David and Donna, just get back together already. Make me happy.
June 16, 2015
Summary: I guess East Germany (yes, that’s how old this book is) wants to strengthen relations with the U.S., at least in terms of teen gymnasts, because a group of male gymnasts is coming to Sweet Valley. Everyone is super-excited. The Unicorns may be the most excited, because all they heard is “boys are coming.” One of the gymnasts is supposed to stay with Caroline Pearce’s family, but her mom gets sick, so the Wakefields become host family to a 13-year-old name Christoph. Steven is half joking, half serious when he wonders if Christoph is a spy.
Most of the gymnasts are really nice, and very excited to be in the U.S. for the first time. Christoph doesn’t talk much about life in East Germany; he’d much rather learn about America, with its freedom and opportunities and cheeseburgers. He likes gymnastics but feels a lot of pressure, especially from his father, whose own Olympic dreams were never realized. Christoph and Steven bond over basketball, which I doubt Christoph’s father would approve of.
To Christoph, America is like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. There’s pizza! There are movies! There are more Johnny Buck cassettes than he knew existed! Also, he’s free to play air drums without worrying that his father will see drumming as a waste of time. As much as Christoph likes gymnastics, he’d also like to have other hobbies and not practice all the time.
But practice he must, because the gymnasts are in town for exhibitions. Christoph is the best on the team, which ticks off another gymnast named Bruno. Bruno is a jerk. I bet anything he comes from a family of Nazi sympathizers. He threatens to tell Christoph’s parents that he’s having too much fun and not working enough. I’m surprised the twins don’t organize some sort of big prank to teach Bruno a lesson, or how to loosen up. But it’s probably good they don’t, because I bet Bruno knows people who can make them disappear.
Christoph starts hanging out more with the Unicorns, because they need a mascot this week, and what’s cuter than an athlete who knows less than them about something? Bruno runs into them and tells Christoph that that night’s exhibition has been pushed back an hour. Christoph goes a little early to get ready… and learns that Bruno lied. The time was never changed, and now Christoph is late, making his coach angry. Christoph is barred from being in the exhibition, which could spell trouble for the more important exhibition the next night. If his father finds out, Christoph will be in even more trouble.
After a brief discussion with Steven about a ballet dancer who just defected from East Germany to the U.S., Christoph struggles at the next exhibition. He’s worried about how his father will react. Everyone goes to a dance (of course), and the Sweet Valley kids say goodbye to the gymnasts, who will be leaving the next day. The Unicorns give Christoph drumsticks so he can… continue playing air drum, I guess, because I doubt his father will let him have a drumset. Elizabeth sweetly arranges for him to play drums with the band at the dance, which thrills Christoph but makes Bruno glare.
The next morning, when the gymnasts are supposed to leave, Christoph is sick. A doctor – who apparently still makes house calls in 1989 – says that he shouldn’t travel, so he’ll have to spend a couple extra days in Sweet Valley. How conveeeeeeeenient. After a couple days, Elizabeth realizes that Christoph has been faking to avoid going back to East Germany. In fact, he never wants to go back. He wants to defect to the U.S.!
Christoph’s parents call and beg him to come home. Christoph refuses to listen, I guess thinking that a 13-year-old has any say in where he lives. I can’t imagine the U.S. government would have been okay with a kid from a Communist country basically squatting in America. Ned and Alice basically say that the family needs to figure things out by themselves, like, no – tell the kid to get out of your house before he gets you involved in an international incident. If he wants to defect, that’s up to him, but he has to figure out how he’ll survive on his own. Also, if I were Christoph’s parents, I would probably send Bruno to collect him.
Anyway, the twins find out that Christoph’s birthday is approaching, so they throw him a big party with German music, food, and decorations, so he’ll get homesick. It works. I guess his desire to defect wasn’t political, eh? At the end, in a setup for the next book, Elizabeth wins Melody Power concert tickets in the most contrived way possible – a radio station randomly calls the house, and Liz is able to answer a question about Melody Power with Jess’ help. What radio station randomly calls people and asks trivia questions, then gives a 12-year-old concert tickets? Eh, like that’s the least realistic part of this book.
Thoughts: How mad do you think the ghostwriter was when the Berlin Wall came down literally a month after this book came out and immediately rendered it out of date?
Kids reading this book would be really confused about defection and what’s so bad about East Germany. I’m not sure Christoph even gets it – he just wants to stay because he likes America. But I guess a children’s book isn’t really a place for a discussion of the Cold War or Communism.
I’m not sure if this is realistic for the time period, but every gymnast on the team speaks perfect English.
There’s a side horse and a long horse? I thought there was just one horse in men’s gymnastics. Or is one of those supposed to be the vault?
June 14, 2015
Summary: “The following story is inspired by actual documented accounts.” Suuuuuuure it is.
A woman in a nightgown runs through a forest at night. The wind kicks up, there’s a bright light, and a man appears. He approaches her as the light grows brighter. Eight to 12 hours later, the woman’s body is discovered in Oregon’s Collum National Forest. The police don’t find any signs of battery or assault, and they can’t figure out her cause of death. All they find are two raised bumps on her back. When she’s turned over, a detective IDs her as Karen Swenson, a former high school classmate of his son’s.
At FBI headquarters in D.C., Agent Dana Scully meets with Section Chief Scott Blevins. Two other men are in the room, one of them smoking a cigarette. Get used to him. Scully explains that she went to medical school but thought she could “distinguish [herself]” at the FBI. She’s asked if she’s familiar with Agent Fox Mulder. She is, but reputation only – that reputation being that he’s “spooky.” Blevins tells her that Mulder’s working on X-Files, cases that involve “unexplained phenomena.” Scully is being reassigned to that section, but is basically being asked to debunk it.
Scully proceeds to Mulder’s office for their historic first meeting (and our first glimpse of Mulder’s “I want to believe” poster). She claims she’s looking forward to working with him. Mulder, however, has already guessed that she’s there to spy on him. He’s read up on her and her undergraduate degree in physics, which won’t exactly apply here. He tells her about Karen Swenson’s death and asks if she can ID the marks on her back. Scully has a few suggestions but is stumped by the substance found on Karen. It’s also been found on other bodies with the same marks.
“Do you believe in the existence of extraterrestrials?” Mulder asks. Scully says no, based on logic. Mulder tells her that Karen’s the fourth person from her graduating class to die mysteriously. Out of logical, scientific explanations, Mulder thinks it makes sense to turn to the supernatural. Scully thinks Karen could have been murdered, and the investigation was botched. “The answers are there. You just have to know where to look,” she says. Mulder’s like, “Yep, that’s my job.”
The two fly to Oregon the next day, as Scully reads about Karen’s autopsy. Unlike the autopsies of her three classmates, hers wasn’t performed by the county medical examiner, Dr. Nemman. The plane experiences some major turbulence and everyone on board freaks out, except Mulder. He just thinks it means they’re in the right place. In the car, Mulder eats sunflower seeds while Scully notes that the case has already been investigated by the FBI. He says the other agents didn’t turn up any evidence.
Mulder’s impressed that Scully has noticed that Karen wasn’t autopsied by Nemman. She wonders if he’s a suspect. Mulder points out that it’s you know, their job to figure that out. He tells her that they’re going to get tissue samples from the other three victims to compare against Karen’s. Suddenly the car radio goes haywire. Mulder pulls over and spraypaints a big X on the pavement. He tells Scully it was “probably nothing.”
As Mulder and Scully arrive at the cemetery to collect samples from the exhumed bodies, Dr. Nemman shows up with a young woman. He makes her stay in the car while he confronts Mulder and Scully for implying that he missed something Karen’s classmates’ examinations. The Nemmans have been out of town, which might explain why he didn’t do Karen’s autopsy. His daughter begs him to let it go.
While the body of Ray Soames, the third victim, is exhumed, Mulder and Scully exposit that he actually admitted to killing the first two victims, but there was no evidence against him. Plus, he was previously treated for schizophrenia. He died after escaping from a psychiatric hospital, and his cause of death was listed as exposure, even though he was only outside for seven hours, and it was July. As Ray’s coffin is extracted, the machinery pulling it up drops it, and the coffin tumbles down a hill, cracking open. Inside is a corpse, but it’s not of someone of Ray’s build.
Mulder and Scully examine the corpse, which Scully quickly determines isn’t human. She thinks it’s a chimp or orangutan. Mulder’s like, “Those are types of aliens, right?” He admits to having the same doubts as Scully – he’s not crazy. Scully continues her examination, typing up her notes later on at a motel. She studies a gray object she found in the corpse’s nose. Mulder stops by to check on her progress and invite her on a run. She says she’s not losing any sleep over the object, which seems to be a lie.
The next day, Mulder and Scully visit the hospital where Ray was treated before his death. His doctor says he couldn’t grasp reality, and had some sort of post-traumatic stress. Some other patients with the same problems were his classmates. Two of those classmates, Billy Miles and Peggy O’Dell, are still in the hospital, having been in treatment for about four years. Scully wants to talk to them, but Billy’s in a persistent vegetative state and can’t talk.
The doctor explains that Billy and Peggy were both admitted after a car accident. Peggy is confined to a wheelchair but is verbal. However, she throws a fit when Mulder asks her doctor if they can examine her. While helping to restrain her, Mulder sees two marks on her back. Scully accuses Mulder of setting her up – she thinks he knew Peggy would have the marks. She asks what he really thinks is going on. Mulder says he believes the classmates were all abducted. Scully says there’s nothing to support that theory. He replies that she’s only looking for scientific support.
Scully continues that Karen was found in a forest not far from her home, so something may have been going on there. She and Mulder trek out there, and Scully collects a sample (if that’s what you call stuffing a handful of ash in her pocket). She and Mulder get separated, and when she goes looking for him, she sees a light like the one that appeared when Karen died. Just like with Karen, a man appears, but it’s the detective from the scene of Karen’s death. He tells Mulder and Scully that they’re on private property and forces them to leave. As they do, they see that the light is coming from the detective’s truck.
Scully shows Mulder the ash and wonders if the classmates were in a cult. She thinks the detective might know something. They drive back to the motel in the rain, and Mulder notices the hands on his watch spinning around. There’s a flash of light, and then the car loses power. He checks his watch, noticing that they lost nine minutes after the flash. This makes him cheer. They’re right by the X he made on the pavement. Scully tries to remind him that time can’t just disappear. Suddenly the car regains power.
Scully types up a report on her hilariously ’90s computer, stopping when the power at the motel goes out. She goes to take a shower instead, but as she’s undressing, she notices something on her back. She rushes to Mulder’s room and asks him to take a look at what she thinks are the same marks found on the bodies. He assures her that they’re just mosquito bites. Scully’s so relieved that she hugs him.
After she’s calmed down a little, Mulder tells her about his sister’s disappearance when they were children. When he joined the FBI, he read all the unexplained cases he could find, fascinated by them. He’s been trying to get access to classified government information, but someone has been keeping him from it. Mulder’s only been able to continue his work because he’s made connections in Congress.
He admits that he’s not sure if he can trust Scully, since she was sent to spy on him, but she assures him that she’s on his side. They both want answers. Mulder tells Scully that he’s undergone regression hypnosis, and has been taken back to the night of his sister’s disappearance. He remembers a bright light and the inability to get to his sister. He’s sure the government knows what really happened. Mulder’s closer than he’s ever been to the truth. Just then, someone calls to inform him that Peggy is dead.
The scene of the crime is a highway, where Peggy ran into traffic and was hit by a truck. Definitely odd circumstances for someone who supposedly needed a wheelchair to get around. Scully notices that Peggy’s watch stopped at 9:03, the same time her and Mulder’s car lost power. Before she can tell him, Mulder informs her that the autopsy bay was trashed and the corpse from Ray’s coffin was stolen. The agents go back to the motel and find it on fire, which means all their pictures, x-rays, and notes are gone. Suddenly, Nemman’s daughter, Theresa, arrives and begs for protection.
At a diner, Theresa tells Mulder and Scully that in the four years since she graduated, she’s woken up in the forest multiple times with no memory of going there. The same thing happened to her friends, and she’s scared that she’ll end up dead like them. Mulder realizes that Theresa was the one who called to tell him Peggy was dead. Scully guesses that Nemman knows what’s been going on. Theresa says he told her to keep quiet, promising that he could protect her, but she doesn’t think he can. She reveals that she has the same marks as the others.
Scully assures Theresa that she’s not going to die. Theresa’s body objects, and her nose suddenly starts bleeding. Just then, Nemman and the detective, whose name is Miles, arrive to take Theresa. Mulder realizes that the detective is Billy Miles’ father. Scully thinks Miles and Nemman destroyed their evidence and took the corpse in some sort of conspiracy. Mulder wonders what’s in the graves of the other two victims. They go to the cemetery, but the graves are empty.
Mulder announces that he thinks Billy’s responsible for everything. Scully reminds him that Billy’s comatose. Mulder points out that Peggy was in a wheelchair but ran onto the highway. He says that everything that’s happened fits with a case of alien abduction. When time stopped on the road, something took control, leading to Peggy’s death. Scully reveals that Peggy’s watch stopped at 9:03. Mulder thinks the classmates were led to the forest by some force that performed tests on them. Now Billy’s in control. Scully just laughs, because what else can you do?
The agents go back to the hospital, where Billy appears to still be comatose. But Scully finds dirt on his feet, indicating that he went to the forest. She takes a sample, telling Mulder that she’s sure it’s the same as the ash she took from the woods. She’s now sure that Mulder’s right about Billy being a killer, but he reminds her that she needs to get more evidence. They head back to the forest to get another sample of ash.
Detective Miles shows up as well, so the agents run to avoid him. Mulder hears screaming, but Miles stops him from going toward them. Mulder begs him to stop Billy from killing Theresa. Miles runs over to find a conscious Billy with an unconscious Theresa in the middle of swirling wind. Billy picks up Theresa and holds her up, seemingly as an offering to the approaching light. Mulder sees marks on Billy’s back. When the light vanishes, everyone is still present. The marks are gone from Billy’s back. Scully doesn’t know what happened; all she saw was the light. Mulder just tells her it was “incredible.”
At FBI headquarters, Billy gives a statement about how everything started. He and his classmates were celebrating their graduation in the forest when the light appeared. They were taken away for testing. Billy was ordered to collect his classmates for other testing sessions, and something was implanted in his head. But the tests didn’t work, and Billy’s afraid the light will come back. Mulder and Scully listen to the testimony, but the Cigarette Smoking Man leaves.
Blevins asks Scully about her case report, which doesn’t include any logical explanation for what happened. The FBI isn’t sure how to proceed with this sort of situation. Scully hands over the object she took from Ray, which survived because she kept it on her. The material it’s made of was tested and deemed unidentifiable. Blevins asks Scully what Mulder thinks. She replies that Mulder believes humans aren’t alone.
That night, Scully tries to sleep but can’t. Mulder calls to tell her that the paperwork they filed in Oregon is gone, so there’s no case against Billy. Meanwhile, the Cigarette Smoking Man (CSM from here on out) places the object Scully extracted from Ray in a container with other objects. The objects are held in a box, just one in a Pentagon storeroom full of boxes.
Thoughts: I’m super-pumped about recapping this show! More than I should be! Someone give me a tranquilizer!
I’d like to point out that Gillian Anderson was only 24 when the X-Files pilot was filmed, and FOX objected to her casting because she didn’t have a lot of experience. It’s been 23 years, and Anderson is a beloved actress with an Emmy for this show. Don’t you ever hate being wrong, FOX?
Note to actors playing characters who are supposed to be dead: Don’t move.
June 13, 2015
Summary: Dylan surprises Gina at the house of a client (she’s a personal trainer), pretending he needs her because his drug cravings are really bad. He really just wants to have sex. At the Beverly Beat, Steve and David are “interviewing” models so they can publish photos of hot women in the paper. Janet hates the idea before she even finds out what it is.
Gina makes Dylan go for a run so he can fight his cravings in a way that doesn’t involve stripping in a stranger’s house. She takes him to her elementary school and complains about a girl who beat her in a skating competition. She hates coming in second. Noah’s planning an early Valentine’s Day date with Donna at the Bel Age, since he has to work on the actual holiday.
David asks Donna to go to his station manager’s Valentine’s party as his date; since he gives relationship advice, he needs to pretend he’s in an actual relationship. Donna objects, even though Noah did this exact thing with a woman and she was fine with it. Steve tans in the office, for some reason, and while Janet’s putting sunscreen on him, she notices a mole on his back that looks like Al Gore. She suggests that he see a doctor.
Donna finds the photos Gina and Noah took in the photo booth and confronts them over their closeness. Noah uses the drunk defense, like that makes it okay. At the boutique, Matt ambushes Kelly to tell her that Lauren has schizophrenia and has only recently been able to function. He never expected her to be that way again. He loves both women, and he doesn’t know what to do.
Lauren cooks breakfast for Matt while talking about how great it would be for a bunch of female singers to go on tour together. Matt gives her the good news about the Lilith Fair. Lauren forgets to actually toast the French toast, so she’s not completely recovered. She tells Matt that she lost her wedding ring, but he tells her it was taken from her when she was hospitalized, in case she used the diamond to hurt herself.
Steve sees a dermatologist who basically tells him he’s an idiot for not being more careful with sunscreen. Thanks, Doc! Noah accuses Gina of being happy that Donna’s upset about their pictures. Gina pretends she’s glad that the truth is out, and now she doesn’t have to keep Noah’s secret anymore. You know, that they slept together. (Which didn’t happen, but Noah doesn’t know that because he drank so much that he blacked out.)
Gina tries to spend time with Dylan, but he wants to take a night off so he can sleep. She starts to take off her shirt, asking him to beg her to spend the night with him. They’re in the After Dark parking lot in broad daylight, by the way. Nat, who does not get paid enough to have to deal with these insane people, narrowly misses catching Gina taking her bra off.
Kelly cleans her things out of Matt’s room at the Walshes’ house, asking him to tell her what he wants. He says he wants Lauren to be okay, but he also wants to be with Kelly. Noah brings flowers to the boutique to try to make up with Donna. She tells him she’s going to David’s party whether he likes it or not.
Steve’s potential health crisis has made him realize that he hasn’t done anything with his life. He’s worried that he’s ruined his chances with Janet. Kelly tells Dylan about the Matt situation, and how he said he loved her, but also said he loves Lauren. Dylan can sympathize with Matt for having to move on after losing his wife. Kelly wants Matt back. The next day, Kelly gets Matt’s Valentine’s Day gift, a keychain for the key he was going to give her.
Janet spends the night with Steve, who wants to do something important in case he doesn’t have another chance. She urges him to do something that will last a long time. David and Donna go to the party with the intention of pretending that they met at a poetry meeting and have only been dating for a few months. The station manager’s wife says they seem like they’ve known each other for years. They kiss for a picture, and clearly there are still some feelings there.
Kelly asks Matt to make a decision between her and Lauren already. He can’t. Steve hands out umbrellas as part of his promotion for the Beverly Beat‘s new bathing-suit-photo feature. He instructs everyone to strip and check each other for skin cancer. Janet’s like, “Good job? I guess?” After the party, David and Donna head to the After Dark, where they kiss in his car. They quickly decide they need to be around other people.
Inside, the trio Wild Orchid performs. Donna apologizes to Noah for thinking he’d done something with Gina (which, of course, he thinks he did). Steve’s doctor has the results of his biopsy, but Steve wants to wait until the next day to call him, so he can have what might be his last night of fun. He reminds Janet that she urged him to make something lasting, so how about a baby? “Not right now,” she foreshadows.
Gina and Dylan go out for a nice dinner, but he’d rather have sex than a nice conversation. He gets them kicked out with a loud performance of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Lauren drops by the boutique to ask Kelly to let her have Matt. She’s lost three years of her life, and she has to rely on Kelly to get everything back. Neither woman finds the situation very fair.
Steve gets his results, which are negative. Janet wants to reward him with sex, but he’d rather hang out with the models from the Beverly Beat. Dylan tries to make out with Gina in a park, but a passerby thinks he’s assaulting her. Gina complains that Dylan only treats her as a sex object. If she doesn’t always do what he wants, she comes in second. She just wants to know that he cares about her.
Noah gets Wild Orchid to stay late at the club to play a special set for Donna. They dance, though Donna doesn’t like flaunting their relationship in front of David. Noah wonders why she changed her mind about the photos so easily. Donna, of course, doesn’t tell him that she can relate to being in a situation where you kiss someone you’re not with.
Later that night, at the beach apartment, Gina and Noah taunt each other, and she continues to claim that they almost hooked up. Meanwhile, David mopes alone at the After Dark, broadcasting his thoughts about Valentine’s Day on the radio. The holiday is nice for declaring your love, but for single people, it’s a reminder of what you don’t have. At the Walshes’, Kelly tells Matt that she’s taking herself out of the competition. Lauren wins, and Kelly comes in a distant second.
Thoughts: Wild Orchid contains two people from one of my favorite childhood shows, Kids Incorporated. Oh, and one of them is Fergie.
’90s music alert: Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy.”
Janet needs a Steve-tervention. She deserves better.
Call me crazy, but maybe Gina would stop feeling like Dylan only sees her as a sex object if she did anything other than just have sex with him? Like, don’t take off your shirt in a parking lot and invite him to bed if you want to do something else?
June 11, 2015
Summary: Everything looks fine with the baby Kirsten’s supposedly pregnant with despite not showing. The doctor casually tells her and Charlie that they’re having a boy, thinking they wanted to know. They’re happy with the news. At home, Kirsten shows Owen the sonogram, and he asks if he can name the baby. Charlie’s on board, though Kirsten’s hesitant. Owen knows it would be a big deal to give the baby a meaningful name, like Charlie did with Diana.
Downtown, Claudia tells Bailey that she’s decided to go to Juilliard. He tells her he’ll be just a train ride away, in Pennsylvania. Unlike her brother and sister, Julia wants to make a big deal out of her announcement that she’s moving across the country. Justin thinks she’s going overboard. No one cares what you think, Justin. Julia wants to announce her plans at a family dinner, hoping everyone will be as excited as she is.
The Salingers, plus Kirsten and Justin, gather for dinner at the restaurant. Bailey hijacks Julia’s big night to tell her that he’s going to Pennsylvania; everyone else already knows. Julia blurts out that she was planning to move, too. Claudia realizes that everyone’s leaving, revealing that she’s going to Juilliard. Owen just wants to know who’s staying with him and Charlie while everyone else goes to the East Coast.
Back at the house, Julia tells Bailey her worries about how the family will stay a family when everyone’s scattered. Bailey thinks Julia will have other opportunities, but he has to take advantage of what he has right now because it won’t come back. Julia tells him that she already said yes to the internship. Bailey complains that he’s always the one who backs down, but this time, he won’t. Who says anyone has to back down? What is wrong with this family??
Charlie can’t believe he spent so much time thinking about what would happen after Bailey left when now everything is going to be different. After their parents died, Charlie resisted being a family guy, and now he’s the only one who’s left. Because…living in different geographic areas means you’re not a family? Whatever, I only have to care about this for another half hour.
Everyone spends the night moping, and the next day, Justin jabs at Bailey that he got what he wanted. Julia turned down the internship so Bailey can go to Pennsylvania. WHY? WHY?? These people are insane. Justin tells Bailey that Julia’s plans are about more than just her career. They’re both moving to D.C., partly so Julia can be her own person and make decisions for herself. Holy cow, did I just side with Justin on something?
Owen tells Charlie that he’s picked a name for the baby. It’s in honor of someone who means a lot to him, and who he looks up to and owes a lot to. The name is Stewie, after a kid he knows. Stewie’s really good at soccer and flicking boogers. That’s quite a legacy to look up to, unborn baby boy Salinger. Charlie wonders exactly how Owen is indebted to the kid.
Claudia’s decided not to go to Juilliard, because Bailey is a big baby and is the only one who’s allowed to get what he wants. She wants to pay Bailey back for how much he’s taken care of her over the past six years. Her older siblings stayed to keep the family together, so now she wants to repay the favor.
Now Bailey’s playing martyr, telling Charlie that he’s not going to go to Pennsylvania. If he goes, Julia and Claudia won’t, and he doesn’t want them to give up what they want. Plus, the guilt would be too much for him to handle if he left. Charlie thinks there could be another solution, but Bailey’s already resigned to giving up his dream so his sisters can be happy. “It’s not okay, it’s just how it is,” he says. I roll my eyes.
At the house, Charlie calls a family meeting and tells everyone that for years he’s always tried to think about what their parents would do. He thinks they would tell their children to do what they want to do. Charlie notes that if their parents were alive, all of the kids would have split up long ago. The family has stayed together longer than most because of their parents’ deaths. Now they need to be okay with taking care of themselves.
Bailey’s reluctant, since things work so well when they’re close to each other. Charlie asks if they plan to live around each other forever. When their parents died, the kids clung to each other, but now six years have gone by. They want each other to be happy, which means they did something right. They have to trust that they’ll still be a family when they’re not right next to each other. If the Salingers could survive everything they’ve gone through, they can handle some distance.
Charlie leaves, and the other Salingers discuss keeping in touch and coming home for special occasions. Kirsten and Charlie pack up their place, talking about how different it’ll be to live in the Salingers’ house again. Charlie isn’t looking forward to raising little kids in a house with a lot of stairs. Kirsten reminds him how happy the family was living there. She notes that the others are going to new places, but Charlie’s going somewhere he knows. Charlie says he’ll always think of it as his father’s house, not his own.
Charlie’s solution is to sell the house, an idea that stuns Bailey. Julia isn’t sure about selling the home they shared with their parents. She needs a place that she knows everyone will come back to together. Charlie wants to start his own traditions. Also, the house is pretty expensive. The money from the sale will benefit everyone.
Griffin learns of the sale from Julia and sees it as the push he needs to find a new place to work. He’s not sure why he’s stayed so long anyway; it’s weird to work where you used to live with your ex-wife. Plus, he has a girlfriend, and it seems they’re getting pretty serious. He and Julia muse about having kids in the future, but not with each other. Julia thinks their kids will be friends.
A nice couple with young kids checks out the house while the Salingers consider whether or not to sell to them. Claudia’s the first to say that she thinks things will be okay. They still have the restaurant, and plenty of other mementos and memories of their family. “I’ve had 17 years here. That’s enough.” The couple wants to make an offer on the house, and the Salingers accept.
The siblings, Kirsten, and Diana spend one last night in the house. They tease Charlie and Kirsten about having to name the baby Stewie. Everyone separates to have memories in different rooms. Kirsten remembers her and Charlie’s first engagement. Claudia remembers putting up her living-room tent for the first time. Julia remembers teaching Charlie to dance in the kitchen. Griffin comes in and Julia gives him glasses they got for their wedding, so he can toast good things with his girlfriend.
In the backyard, Charlie remembers a late-night project/singalong with Bailey and Julia. In Owen’s room, Bailey remembers tending to his brother when he was a baby. He tells Owen stories about his babyhood, when they shared a room. Charlie and Kirsten spend their last night in their old room, reminiscing about the first time they had sex in his parents’ bedroom. Julia and Claudia share a room for the last time, not wanting to sleep because they’ll miss their last hours together.
In the morning, Bailey, Julia, and Justin decide to turn their drive to the East Coast into a road trip. Kirsten feels the baby move for the first time, and everyone gathers to celebrate. Charlie suggests that they let Owen name the baby Stewie, but give him the middle name Nicholas and call him Nick. Nice compromise.
As the furniture is taken from the bedroom, Kirsten notices the kids’ height charts on a doorframe. Julia remarks on how fast they grew. Claudia spots a mark for their father, and notes that Charlie’s taller than him. Everyone shares a nice last moment together, and then they’re out of our lives, FINALLY.
Thoughts: Letting a child name a baby is so, so risky. Always retain veto power.
Heh, even the show can’t explain why Griffin’s still hanging around the Salingers.
Wow, this show was a lot more boring than I remembered. Thanks for reading my recaps! I promise that the next show will be a lot more interesting.
P.S. This was my 1,000th post!