February 9, 2016

SVT #47, Jessica’s New Look: Guys Don’t Make Passes at Girls Who Wear Glasses

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:26 pm by Jenn

That purple outfit isn't a dress. It's two separate pieces. THAT'S what Jessica should be self-conscious about

That purple outfit isn’t a dress. It’s two separate pieces. THAT’S what Jessica should be self-conscious about

Summary: Things are going pretty well for Jessica, at least in the boy department: Bruce, Aaron, and Jake Hamilton want to eat lunch with the Unicorns. After changing her mind about getting chocolate cake (you can’t eat cake in front of boys! Also, cake makes you fat! Boys don’t like fat girls!), Jess gets to spend lunch flirting with Aaron and making the other Unicorns jealous that she has a love interest. They talk about basketball, and Aaron invites Jess to a Lakers game. Jessica is super-excited about her first official non-group date, and the fact that the other Unicorns envy her.

But Jessica’s world is about to come crashing down. She has trouble reading the blackboard at school. She gets headaches when she does her homework. Mr. Bowman thinks she should get her eyes checked – she might need glasses. This, for Jess, is a fate worse than death. Boys won’t pay attention to her if she wears glasses. She’ll be branded a nerd and forced to spend the rest of her life in the library. She decides to tell Mr. Bowman she’ll talk to her parents, then never bring it up.

After school, the twins go for a bike ride, picking a route that takes them by Aaron’s house. Jess sees what she thinks is paper in the street, realizing too late that she’s about to hit a cat. She crashes in Aaron’s yard, thinking she’s humiliated herself in front of her crush. Fortunately, Aaron is a nice guy and likes her so much that he’s worried about her rather than amused.

Mr. Bowman is smart enough not to trust Jess to talk to her parents, so he calls them to say she should get her eyes checked. Jessica brushes off her eye problems, even though she has to admit that her vision is bad enough to make her mistake a cat for paper. She tries to heal herself by eating a lot of carrots over the weekend before her eye appointment. This, of course, doesn’t work.

The twins both go to the eye doctor (even though Elizabeth hasn’t shown any signs of having vision problems), and Jessica is told she’ll need to wear glasses for a few months. Apparently they’ll strengthen the muscles in her eyes and she’ll eventually be fixed. Uh, sure. Jess is mad that Liz doesn’t need glasses. She’s even madder that she can’t get out of looking like a nerd.

Jessica wears her glasses around the house, freaking out that someone might come by and see her. She takes them off at school, so only Elizabeth knows that she has them. Then one night, the Wakefields decide to go to a movie. Jessica panics, knowing she’ll have to wear her glasses in public. Liz reminds her that the theater will be dark. But it’s not too dark for Lila to spot Jessica and see that she’s been nerdified. Jess swears her to secrecy, buying Lila’s silence with a purple outfit she just got. Lila accepts, then starts using the glasses to blackmail Jessica.

Jess continues to avoid wearing her glasses at school and around her friends. Then one night she’s at the skating rink (more on that in the B-plot) when her parents show up. Jessica’s first instinct is to slam into Lois Waller and steal her glasses. Read that again. Jessica’s first impulse when she’s about to get busted is to physically assault an innocent person. She puts on the glasses, telling Aaron she’s just goofing around, and hopes that her parents mistake them for her pair when she skates past them. It doesn’t work.

No longer able to get away with going out in public without her glasses, Jessica decides her best option is to…never go out in public again. Sounds like a winning plan. Elizabeth is sick of Jessica moping and being vain, so she comes up with a plan: She’ll pretend she’s into Aaron so she can take Jessica’s Lakers ticket and go to the game with him. Hopefully, Jess will be so jealous that she chooses looking nerdy over losing out on having a boyfriend. It’s a good effort on Liz’s part, but Jess catches on and pretends she doesn’t care, even when Elizabeth gushes on the phone to Amy about how cute Aaron is.

Plan B: Elizabeth gets her own fake glasses to show Jessica how good they look. Jess agrees that she looks cute in them, but only because they fit Liz’s image, not her own. It’s plan C that really fixes things, though. When Aaron comes to get Jessica for the Lakers game, Elizabeth wears Jess’ glasses and pretends to be her. Aaron loves them on her, convincing the real Jessica that glasses won’t make her seem nerdy. Jessica takes her place for the date, and Aaron is none the wiser.

In the B-plot, Elizabeth has been chosen to write an article for the Sweet Valley Tribune on students who make a difference. The Unicorns are desperate to be featured, despite the fact that they have yet to make a difference and have never even thought about doing something for anyone outside the club. After some horrible brainstorming (one suggestion is to raise money to buy curling irons for the girls’ bathrooms), they settle on holding a skate-a-thon to buy new encyclopedias.

The local rink is currently closed for renovations, but one of the lesser Unicorns has a connection to the owner, and they convince him to reopen a day early for a charity event. The Unicorns do some actual work, planning the whole thing and only employing outside labor (in the form of nerdy Mandy Miller) to hang up posters. Elizabeth and her friends think the whole thing will crash and burn, which is a safe bet. But the whole thing goes off without a hitch. The Unicorns even play a trick on Liz, making her think there are no skates, so everyone will have to pretend to skate. Elizabeth writes her article about the event, and everyone’s happy.

Thoughts: I don’t remember glasses being a big deal in middle school. Same with braces. Jessica probably started a trend anyway, and all the other sixth-graders wound up wanting glasses.

“That doesn’t mean we couldn’t do something charitable just this once, to be sure we’re the focus of Elizabeth’s article.” Lila Fowler in a nutshell.

Ugh, Alice, stop trying to bribe Jessica with clothes to wear her glasses. Be a parent for once.

I do like that Jessica enjoys basketball and doesn’t dumb down her knowledge about it when she’s with Aaron. But that’s pretty much the only non-annoying thing she does in this book.

February 7, 2016

The X-Files 2.13, Irresistible: Give Me a Head With Hair, Long, Beautiful Hair

Posted in TV tagged at 1:53 pm by Jenn

I want a hug from Mulder, too

I want a hug from Mulder, too

Summary: There’s a funeral underway for a young woman named Jennifer, and there’s a creepy-looking guy in attendance. Once the mourners are left, he admires the beauty of the dead woman, then closes her casket. In the morgue, his boss gets a little spooked by the dark, thinking he sees a monster. It’s just the creepy guy! He’s Donnie Pfaster, and he’s been giving Jennifer a little haircut. His boss calls him a freak and fires him.

Sometime later, Mulder and Scully are called to a cemetery by Agent Bocks, who wants them to investigate a grave robbery. Bocks was so shocked when he looked at the grave’s corpse that his first instinct was to call MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network. He thinks the grave was disturbed by aliens, since the body has been mutilated like cattle allegedly are by aliens. Mulder says a human is most likely guilty, probably one who works in a mortuary or cemetery.

Scully’s disturbed, as this is the first time she’s seen a desecrated grave. Mulder educates her on fetishists who like to collect fingernails and hair. That doesn’t help her feel better. She’s surprised that he was so calm when he saw the corpse. Mulder admits that he came in knowing they were probably dealing with a human criminal. He only dragged Scully all the way to Minnesota because he has tickets to a Vikings/Redskins game.

Donnie goes to a frozen-foods company for a job interview, apparently wanting to make a change from his former line of work, cosmetology for dead people. He admires his interviewer’s shade of lipstick and mentions that he’s going back to school to study comparative religions. The interviewer confides that the head of the company likes people as religious as Donnie claims to be, so this could give him an edge.

Mulder gets to see the football game, but only on TV at the FBI field office in Minneapolis. More bodies have been found, and Bocks wants him and Scully to do some actual investigating. Three bodies have now been desecrated in the past two days, with either their hair cut or their fingernails removed. Scully gets so creeped out by the removed nails that she has to leave the room.

Mulder tells Bocks to release a statement about an “escalating fetishist.” Bocks wonders why they should scare everyone if the fetishist goes after corpses. Mulder thinks he’ll start going after the living. Bocks says they’ll get criticized, like his colleagues in Milwaukee who were slammed for not catching a serial killer before he killed so many young boys. He confides that no one believed it could happen. Plus, apparently Minneapolis doesn’t have enough agents to move on this quickly.

Scully’s still shaken but agrees to stick around to help with the investigation. This involves looking into fetishists and writing up a report on their motives. She says it’s sometimes easier to believe in UFOs than in the possibility that a human would scavenge from the dead. While the agents are working, Donnie heads to Minneapolis’ red-light district and picks up a prostitute. He takes her to his apartment and offers to run her a bath, since the place is so cold. He’d also like to wash her hair.

While the prostitute gets ready for her bath, Donnie gets a phone call telling him he’s gotten the job as a delivery man. The prostitute emerges from the bathroom, complaining that the bathwater is freezing. She gets a look at the bedroom, which is full of dead flowers. She suddenly realizes that she’s in a really, really bad situation and tries to run away. Sometime later, her body is found with cut hair, missing fingernails, and some fingers removed. Scully has to steel herself before she takes a look.

Donnie starts work at his new job, delivering food to people’s houses. This gives him access to families with attractive teenage girls, and the bathrooms where they discard hair from their hairbrushes. He learns that one family always leaves their back door open. At the morgue, Scully hesitantly examines the body of the prostitute, voicing over how every body tells a story with a beginning, middle, and end. She thinks the prostitute was killed specifically for her hair and nails.

Bocks brings another prostitute in to view a line-up, but she doesn’t recognize the man who hired her friend. Bocks and Mulder realize that since there was nothing remarkable about Donnie, he’ll be very difficult to find. Mulder thinks they should look into Donnie’s motives for targeting young, beautiful women. Does he hate women? Does it have to do with his mother? He suggests that they contact psychiatric facilities and ask about people who match Donnie’s profile.

Donnie was telling the truth about going back to school, and one of his classes has to do with mythology. As his professor talks about the psychology of fairy tales, Donnie admires the hair and fingernails of one of his classmates. After class, he finds her at her car and asks about their homework. When she tries to leave, he won’t let go of her car door. She’s justifiably creeped out and fights him off, yelling for help.

A phone call wakes Scully from a dream about a body in the morgue not being dead. Mulder’s on the line telling her that their killer might have been arrested. They’re wrong – it’s a guy who was injured by a prostitute – but Donnie’s in a nearby holding cell. Scully decides that she’d be more useful to the investigation if she focused on the bodies. She’d like to take the most recent victim’s body back to D.C. and leave Mulder in Minneapolis. Mulder supports this decision, but he doesn’t want Scully to hide how she really feels about the case.

Donnie tries to strike up a conversation with his fellow arrestee about the people who were questioning him. He learns that the FBI are on his trail, and that the redhead’s name is Scully. Donnie’s classmate drops the charges against him, so he’s free to leave as soon as he talks with a social worker.

In D.C., Scully and a lab tech go over the evidence as she tries to shake off the creepiness of the case. She meets with a therapist who thinks she’s struggling with feeling vulnerable, since she’s usually so strong. The therapist wonders if Scully has a problem trusting her partner. That’s definitely not it – Scully trusts Mulder with her life. She just doesn’t want him to know how much the case is bothering her.

The therapist thinks Scully’s abduction and the death of her father have left her feeling vulnerable. Scully says she knows the world is as dangerous as it’s always been. She’s always feel like she needs to protect people, and now she needs to regain the faith that she can. After the session, Scully returns to the lab, where the tech shows her a fingerprint they found on the prostitute’s nail. A man the tech thinks was Mulder called, and the tech told him Scully would be returning to Minneapolis.

Scully talks to Mulder on the phone and gives him an update on the case. Mulder says he and Bocks didn’t call earlier, but she doesn’t seem to find that suspicious. As she heads back to Minneapolis, a team of FBI agents breaks into Donnie’s apartment, finding hair and the funeral flowers. There’s also a human finger in a box of frozen vegetables. Donnie stakes out the car-rental agency Scully uses when she returns to Minneapolis, so he’s easily able to follow her and force her car off the road. When Mulder and Bocks come to the scene, she’s gone. Donnie takes Scully to an empty house with a for-sale sign in the yard and runs her a bath.

Mulder and Bocks run a paint sample from the car that hit Scully, but it’s one of 60,000 in the area with that shade of paint, so that’s not really helpful. Mulder can’t believe that people videotape police beatings and claim to see Elvis all the time, but not one person saw Scully being forced off the road. He and Bocks go back to Donnie’s profile, trying to figure out where he would take someone he kidnapped. Bocks quips that he would go anywhere but his mother’s since Mulder thought he might hate her. Mulder realizes he may be on to something.

Donnie cuts through the binds he’s put on Scully, who briefly sees him as a demon. He fingers her hair and tells her not to be afraid. He’s run her a bath and is ready to wash her hair. Scully manages to push him into the tub, which gives her a little head start to head for the door. Unfortunately, it’s locked. Also unfortunately, Donnie has a gun. Scully is more resourceful, though, hiding in a closet and using an aerosol can as a weapon. She manages to hold him off until Mulder and a rescue team arrive.

Mulder tells Scully that they’re at Donnie’s mother’s house; a patrolman saw his car outside. She insists that she’s fine, though she’s clearly not. After a whole episode of fighting it, she finally lets herself be vulnerable, crying in Mulder’s arms. Mulder gives the end-of-episode voiceover, talking about how scary it is that a human can be so monstrous. The unremarkable boy next door could grow up to be devilish. The thing you fear in the darkness is as scary as anything in an X-File.

Thoughts: Bocks is played by Bruce Weitz.

Why would Mulder go all the way to Minneapolis for a Vikings/Redskins game when he could just wait for the Vikings to come to D.C.? Oh, right – why does Mulder do anything he does? Because he’s weird.

I like seeing Scully having a human reaction to brutality. It shows that being an agent hasn’t hardened her emotions.

Do you think Skinner ever gets annoyed by the flowery writing in Mulder and Scully’s reports? “Stop talking about humanity and just tell me what happened!”

February 6, 2016

BH90210 10.25, I’m Happy for You…Really: The Best Way to Make Major Life Decisions Is Quickly

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:36 pm by Jenn

David has nice handwriting

David has nice handwriting

Summary: The newly reunited David and Donna leg-wrestle to decide what to do for date night. They’ll probably end up just having sex, which I think means they both win. Noah accidentally interrupts, then quickly leaves. David doesn’t think Noah’s too surprised to see them back together. Donna thinks Camille, who’s been out of town, will be. David accepts the job of breaking the news to her, so when Donna sees Camille the next day, she tries to avoid bringing it up. Camille thinks David’s been trying to reach her because he wants to get back together.

Maddy has a tooth. This is the storyline Steve and Janet have been reduced to. Janet hates that she has to miss time with her daughter since she’s still working. Steve urges her to tell the new management at the paper know that she wants to scale back at work. Kelly and Donna go lingerie shopping and talk about Dylan. Kelly decides to have a talk with him, but Donna says she’ll have to wait; Dylan will be surfing all day.

Noah goes to an AA meeting and talks about how he lost Donna because of his drinking, and drank because he lost her. Ellen overhears and mopes about him talking about his great love for his ex. She decides to go to meetings somewhere else. Steve goes to the Beat to see Janet and realizes that she didn’t talk to her boss, Charles, about working fewer hours. That’s because he offered her a job at a magazine called Nouveau. Steve doesn’t like the idea of them both leaving the Beat. Plus, running a magazine probably wouldn’t require any fewer hours than Janet’s already working.

Noah and Ellen, blah blah. Do I really have to recap them anymore? Does anyone care? Long story short: Ellen has a list of responsibilities in her life, and she wants to keep it simple. I guess Noah’s not on the list. Camille returns to the boutique after seeing David and confronts Donna for not telling her that David didn’t want to get back together. Things get worse for her when Donna notes that working together would be way too awkward, so maybe she should buy Camille out. Camille would rather stay busy, even if it means working with her ex’s new girlfriend.

On the way somewhere with Matt, Kelly hears on the radio that a surfer died at the beach where Dylan was going to surf all day. She gets Matt to take her to the beach, where she thinks she recognizes Dylan’s car. Donna visits David in the radio booth at the After Dark, probably the only interaction they’ll have that night, since he’s working late. She visits with Steve instead, talking about how Donna’s able to balance her work and personal lives while Janet is struggling. Steve urges her to prioritize what she wants to be important.

Kelly and Matt go to the morgue to try to find out if Dylan was the fatality at the beach. Just then, Dylan calls Kelly to report that he went on a no-destination train trip instead of surfing. Kelly’s ticked that he went away without a plan, but relieved that he’s okay. Over at David’s, Noah decides it’s time to move out so he doesn’t have to see Donna and David together. David thinks he’s making a mistake, especially since he’s already isolated himself from the rest of the group so much.

Dylan runs into Matt and Kelly at the Peach Pit, and she admits that she was worried about him. He asks her what she’s doing with her life. Kelly insists that she loves Matt, even though it’s obvious she still loves Dylan. Janet has a hectic day at work and comes home to find a personal photo to use for a story. Steve announces that he misses working at the paper, and he especially misses working with Janet. He’s changed his mind about selling.

Donna goes to David’s house for a date, but Camille’s there, having a tearful conversation with her ex. Donna decides it would be better if she left. Ellen and Noah are at a batting cage. I fall asleep, wake up, get a snack, wash my hair, and come back to find them still talking about nothing. Donna and Kelly mope together at the beach apartment over very different problems: Donna’s having trouble returning to her past, and Kelly’s having trouble moving into the future. Donna’s not sure David sees her as more than a friend anymore, or maybe even a sister.

Janet’s thought about Steve’s idea not to sell the paper, and she’s decided that they should stick with their current arrangements. He reminds her that she’s going to miss a lot of moments in Maddy’s life if she keeps working so many hours. Her job might be a good fit for her, but Steve and Maddy aren’t benefiting. Camille wants to talk to Donna about her breakup, but Donna can’t be her shoulder to cry on anymore. Camille realizes that they also can’t work together, so she’ll need to accept Donna’s buyout offer.

Kelly wants to talk to Dylan, who can’t find it in himself to be happy for her and Matt. She tells him she can’t have him in her life without imagining losing him, whether it’s to another woman or to addiction. He knows that no matter what they do, they won’t get anywhere beyond friendship. If I have to watch another Ellen/Noah scene, I’m going to take up drinking. To cut to the chase: She’s putting him on her list of things to do. Wait, that sounds weird. Whatever, they can date.

Matt shows up at the beach apartment in shock, having learned that his brother was killed in a car accident. Kelly promises to help him get through his grief. Donna’s not sure David really wants to be a couple again, so she tells him to be straightforward with her. He shows her what he wrote in their high school yearbook about her being in his future. He vowed to get her to marry him someday. Donna’s stunned when David pulls out a ring and proposes. She tells him she needs time to think before she gives an answer.

Thoughts: How are there only two episodes left? How have I watched almost ten entire seasons of this show?

I’m watching The People v. O.J. Simpson and reading The Run of His Life, so when Ellen mentioned Brentwood, I started laughing.

Noah and Ellen are so boring that even hearing Matt and Kelly discuss wedding plans is more interesting.

It’s so obvious that they want to end the series with a wedding – why else have David propose so quickly?

February 2, 2016

SVU Thriller, Loving the Enemy: These Robbers Are Armed, But Not With Intelligence

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:37 pm by Jenn

The Daniel sisters weren't very good at modeling, were they?

The Daniel sisters weren’t very good at modeling, were they?

Summary: This book isn’t as bad as the summary on the back makes it sound. Well, in some ways. The blurb makes it out like Jessica falls in love with a guy holding her hostage. And though she has some sympathy for him and maybe a little crush, it’s not quite that ridiculous.

Jessica, Lila, Denise, and Alex decide to have dinner at the Red Lion Diner. It’s a week before their sophomore year, and not everyone is back on campus yet. They’re staying at the sorority house until their dorms or apartments are ready. (The twins will be living with Neil, so he’s decided to transfer to SVU after all.) On their way inside, Jessica spots Trevor Paley, a guy she had a class with the year before. He’s fighting with another guy, so he’s distracted when Jess says hi to him. She thinks he’s just not interested in her. The nerve!

The girls banter with the waitress, Stella. Picture every diner waitress you’ve ever seen in movies or TV. That’s Stella. While they’re waiting for their food, two masked men burst in with guns and demand money. Everyone gets on the floor and tries to stay calm. Instead of just keeping her mouth shut and getting the money, which is the smart option, Stella has to be sassy about the whole thing. Hey, Stella? Did you see the guns? Yeah. They have ouchy bullets inside. Shut up and give them what they want so you don’t get shot.

Willie, the owner/cook, comes out of the kitchen and tries to intimidate the robbers into leaving. They won’t, so Willie gives Stella the go-ahead to empty the cash register. While the bigger robber is off his guard, thinking things are going his way, Willie swings a baseball bat at him. Unfortunately, gun beats bat, and Willie gets shot in the arm. Stella yells at the robber, like, do you want to get shot, too? Just give him the money!

The second robber yells at the first, upset that their brilliant scheme isn’t going the way they’d planned. I guess he thought that everyone would cooperate and they would get the money without having to hurt anyone. Jessica recognizes the second robber’s voice and realizes it’s Trevor. Through bits of conversation, she figures out that the first robber is his brother, Jason.

Despite the bullet in his shoulder and the fact that he’s about to lose a bunch of money, it’s kind of Willie’s lucky day. One of the diner patrons is a med student named Clark, and Jason allows him to help tend to Willie’s wound. Things go south, though, when Jason realizes that their take for this robbery is just over $175. Well, what did he expect? It’s a diner and no college students have been there all summer. Willie laughs because he’s dealing with idiots. Yeah, but they’re the ones with the guns.

Trevor and Jason start arguing, and three other patrons take advantage of their distraction to try to sneak out the door. Way to secure all the exits, guys! One patron escapes, and Jason shoots another. Trevor wants to minimize the loss of innocent life, so he tries to stop Jason by…shooting him in the arm. This is not a healthy family relationship. Jason threatens to shoot Trevor so they’re even, but he decides he can’t hurt his own brother like that.

While Clark tends to his new patients, Jessica quietly lets Denise know that she knows one of the robbers. Denise smartly tells Jessica to keep it to herself. Jason tells Denise to close all the blinds, and she uses the opportunity to try to negotiate: She’ll do it if he lets the injured hostages go. Nice try, Denise, but I don’t think Jason’s getting enough out of this deal to see it as a good trade.

Denise closes the blinds anyway, then tries again to talk Jason into letting the injured people go. While I admire her for trying, her methods just make Jason mad. The police arrive, having been called by the escapee, so at least now we have a negotiator here who knows what he’s doing. But Alex and Trevor are also on Denise’s side, and eventually wear Jason down. Not only does he let the injured hostages go, but he sends Denise and Alex out with them so he doesn’t have to deal with them anymore. Note to self: If you’re ever taken hostage, just annoy the guy in charge until he releases you. A fool-proof plan!

Thanks to the magic of shifting narrative points of view, we get to find out why the Paley brothers are in this mess. Trevor tells us that Jason has always been a little monster. Recently he racked up some gambling debts and decided to rob the diner so he could pay off a loan shark. Trevor agreed to help because he’s such a good brother. Yeah, listen, I love my brothers, but if they ever tried to get me to commit a crime with them, I would draw the line of sisterly devotion there.

Jessica decides to tell Trevor that she knows who he is, though I’m not sure what she thought this would accomplish. She can’t believe the quiet guy from her class is now holding people hostage. Trevor gets sick of the whole situation and tells Jason he’s done. Jason thinks about killing his brother but doesn’t. Aww, they’re making progress. Their brief standoff allows a couple other hostages to try to escape, but Trevor stops them. So I guess he’s not really done after all.

Since Jason is losing a lot of blood, Trevor decides he needs to get him out of the diner. He takes Jessica with him to check out the back of the building, telling the others that if they try anything, he’ll shoot Jess. Jess starts to warm up to Trevor a little, despite the fact that he just threatened her, but he turns mean again and she realizes he’s still a bad guy. They find a storm drain, and Trevor realizes that he could escape and just leave Jason to deal with the fallout of the hostage situation.

On the outside, Denise and Alex find Elizabeth and tell her what’s going on. The three head back to the diner, where Denise decides they could call Lila’s cell phone to find out what’s going on inside. Alex deems this an okay idea since Lila keeps her phone on vibrate, so Jason and Trevor won’t hear it ringing. But won’t they hear her talking? This is dumb. Also, apparently the police have told everyone outside not to try to communicate with anyone inside, so this is a horrible idea.

The girls call anyway, and are able to speak to Lila for a minute. Elizabeth comes up with an escape plan for her, telling her to climb out through the bathroom window. Jason catches Lila on the phone and takes it away before Lila can even hear the plan. Another hostage, Steve, tries to get Jason to leave Lila alone by basically telling him to pick on someone his own size. The two men fight, and Steve manages to grab Jason’s gun.

Trevor and Jessica return just then, and Trevor threatens to kill Jessica if Steve doesn’t drop the gun. So Jessica’s definitely not in love with him now. Steve tries to shoot Trevor, but Jason jumps in front of his brother, taking another bullet. Steve’s now out of bullets, but Trevor’s more concerned with losing his brother than he is about teaching Steve a lesson. He comes up with a new plan: Let the hostages go, get medical attention for Jason, and run away.

Trevor takes Jessica back to the storm drain and they escape the diner. He asks her to help him hide out, so she takes him to the sorority house. Meanwhile, the other hostages are freed, and everyone learns that Trevor took Jessica with him. The police start looking for him, and it doesn’t take long for them to show up at the sorority house. When she’s recognized as one of the hostages, Jessica lies that she’s Elizabeth. This news reaches the diner, and Elizabeth tells the police that Jess lied.

Everyone heads to Theta house, where Jessica has managed to leave a note on the back of the door in lipstick: “Train.” Trevor’s ingenious new plan is to take a train out of town and, I guess, hope the police don’t bother looking for him anywhere outside of Sweet Valley. The police show up before Trevor can flee, so Trevor threatens to shoot Jessica. She basically talks him out of it, saying she knows he won’t hurt her. Like, he stands there with a gun pointed at her and she just walks away. Weird.

Trevor lowers his gun, but the police shoot him anyway. He and Jason both survive the ordeal, and I guess will get to bond while they’re in prison together. The police are kind of mad that the girls called Lila when they weren’t supposed to, but I guess they can’t do much about it, since it didn’t lead to anyone getting hurt. Anyway, this book had the potential to be good, but ended up being dumb, though not as dumb as it could have been.

Thoughts: Trevor: “Nice to meet you, Steve.” Steve: “Don’t talk to me, scumbag. If I didn’t have a gun pointed at my back, you’d be choking on your teeth.” I like you, Steve. Let’s be friends.

“I have a really brilliant and potentially stupid idea.” I like you, too, Denise.

“If you’re ever in a situation like that again, leave it to the professionals.” They never have before; why would they start now?

January 31, 2016

The X-Files 2.12, Aubrey: The Man of Her Dreams

Posted in TV tagged , at 2:17 pm by Jenn

Not a good look for you, John Locke

Not a good look for you, John Locke

Summary: In Aubrey, Missouri, a police officer named B.J. Morrow wants to talk to another officer, Brian Tillman, but he’s too busy for the conversation. Finally, Morrow writes him a note while he’s on the phone, telling him she’s pregnant. Tillman gives her the address of a motel and tells her to meet him there that night so they can talk. When Morrow arrives, she sees a bright light and has a flash of a man burying a body by the side of a road. She digs up the body and finds an FBI badge.

In D.C., Mulder and Scully check out dental records to determine that the body belonged to an FBI agent named Sam Chaney. He and his partner, Ledbetter, disappeared in Aubrey in 1942 while they were investigating a serial killer. Basically, Chaney and Ledbetter were the 1940s Mulder and Scully. Mulder can’t figure out why Morrow was suddenly compelled to drive to a field and dig up a body that had been missing for 50 years. Scully guesses that they’re on their way to Aubrey to find out. Mulder makes the requisite joke about how Morrow’s name is B.J.

Let’s go to Missouri! Mulder and Scully meet with Morrow, who claims that she was in the field at night because her car broke down. Tillman, standing nearby, eavesdrops. Morrow’s story is that she saw a dog digging in the field and went to the motel to use the phone once she saw the body. Tillman cuts in, noting that Mulder and Scully should be more focused on the body than how Morrow came across it. Mulder asks Morrow if she’s ever had any psychic experiences. Tillman has no patience for this and pulls Morrow away.

Scully does her thing at the coroner’s office while Mulder reads Chaney’s journal. He and Ledbetter were investigating a murderer called the Slash Killer who killed women. He hit them over the head, then carved “sister” in their chests and used their blood to paint on the walls. Scully sees that Chaney was clearly hit over the head as well, and that his ribs were cut, possibly with the kind of razor that the killer used to slash his victims.

Mulder hears from a mechanic who reports that Morrow’s car was fine. Scully’s already figured out that Morrow and Tillman are having an affair, and were planning to meet up at the motel. She matches scans of Chaney’s skeleton with those from one of the Slash Killer’s victims to determine whether they were killed by the same person. Morrow comes by, and when she sees Chaney’s skull, she has a flash of his murder. It disturbs her enough to make her run off.

Scully finds Morrow in the bathroom and reveals that she knows about Morrow’s affair with Tillman. She’s also guessed that Morrow is pregnant. Morrow thinks her nightmares are a side effect of the pregnancy; she keeps dreaming about a man in a house, and a lot of blood. She hasn’t decided yet what to do about the baby, but she knows Tillman would be mad if she told anyone. Scully goes back to Mulder and tells him what’s going on.

Mulder finishes the scans and determines that Chaney may have had “sister” carved into him. Looking at the bones, Morrow thinks “brother” is more likely. Tillman arrives and wonders how the group got access to the photos from a recent crime scene. He’s confused them with the ones from Chaney’s death, since they look so similar. He reveals that three days ago, a woman was killed in the same style as the Slash Killer’s victims. Just then, an officer arrives and announces that another victim has been found. Morrow immediately recognizes her as a woman she’s dreamed about.

The agents chat with Morrow in a park, talking about how her maternal instinct is emerging. Her father was a cop, and Morrow always wanted to be one, too. She knows her father would find it ridiculous that she wants to use her dreams to solve a crime. But it’s all they have to go on, so here they are. Morrow describes the dream for the agents; there’s a man with a rash on his face, and a picture of a monument with something circular by it. Mulder thinks it looks like the trylon from the 1939 World’s Fair.

Back at the police station, Morrow looks at some mug shots from the ’40s. Tillman tells her he’ll go with her “for the appointment,” but Morrow isn’t sure that’s what she wants anymore. Tillman’s adamant that they make the decision together. Morrow recognizes the man from her dreams in a mug shot and rushes off. The agents head to Nebraska to see the man, Harry Cokely, who was convicted of rape decades before. He carved “sister” into his victim’s chest.

Scully doesn’t think Cokely’s still killing, since he’s so old. She wonders if Morrow’s just remembering things her cop father talked about when she was a child. The recent killings might have triggered something in her memory and led to a big hunch. Mulder laughs that off, though Scully reminds him that he’s had some extreme hunches of his own. He denies it, but we have video evidence, so nyah.

Cokely is old and uses an oxygen tank, but Scully interrogates him anyway. He claims not to remember attacking and slashing Linda Thibedeaux in 1945. “I’m sure Mrs. Thibedeaux will never forget it,” Scully replies. Cokely claims that he’s recovered from whatever condition led him to attack Linda, and he was nowhere near Aubrey when the most recent victims were killed. He can’t leave the house without his oxygen, so he’s in no condition to kill anyone. Scully decides to end the interrogation. Cokley doesn’t help things by calling her “little sister.”

Morrow dozes at home, dreaming about a 1940s car and a hand holding a razor. When she wakes up, she sees that she’s covered in blood. “Sister” has been carved into her chest. She sees the reflection of a younger version of Cokely in a window, then flashes on someone burying something beneath floorboards. She heads to the location in her dream and starts pulling up floorboards. Someone calls the police, and when Tillman and the agents arrive, she says, “He’s here.” While Tillman takes Morrow to the hospital, Mulder finishes unearthing what she was digging up: bones.

The agents meet up with Morrow at the hospital, and she tells them Cokely hurt her while she was asleep. Mulder’s confused since she says she recognized him from his mug shot. Scully humors her, saying she’ll tell Tillman to question Cokely. Tillman does so, but Cokely insists that he didn’t hurt anyone. However, blood tests show that Cokely’s DNA matches what was found under the most recent murder victim’s fingernails.

Mulder decides that they need to talk to Linda next. She remembers the way the light reflected off the ivory handle of Cokely’s razor. “Someone has to take the blame, little sister, and it isn’t going to be me,” he told her. His defense at his trial was that his father was abusive and punished him for everything that went wrong, since he was the only boy out of six children. Mulder notices a picture of Linda and her husband at the 1939 World’s Fair, right in front of the trylon. Linda says she thinks Cokely was born evil.

Mulder asks if Linda had children. She says no, but Mulder knows that she was admitted to the hospital nine months after her attack. Linda reveals that she had Cokely’s child and placed him for adoption. The agents head back to their motel, having learned that the bones Morrow dug up belonged to Ledbetter. They were under a house Cokely rented in 1942. They were buried with a straight razor, so Scully thinks they have enough to nail Cokely.

Mulder isn’t sure – Morrow saw a younger man in her house. Maybe she was attacked by Cokely’s grandson. After all, he could look just like his grandfather. “I don’t think Mendel had serial killers in mind when he developed his theory of genetics,” Scully remarks. Mulder says he had nightmares as a child and would wake up thinking he was the only person left in the world. Then he would hear his father chewing on sunflower seeds in his study. What if Mulder likes the seeds because he’s genetically predisposed to? What if other traits are passed down through DNA?

Scully points out that things like tastes have to be developed. Mulder says people have genetic memories, which have been studied in twins separated at birth. For example, separated twins may have children with the same names without even knowing it. The conversation takes a new turn when Scully learns that someone tracked down Linda’s son. He was a police officer named Raymond Morrow – B.J.’s father. That makes Morrow Cokely’s granddaughter.

Mulder thinks Morrow has genetically inherited her grandfather’s homicidal tendencies, and she’s committing the new murders. Scully asks him to explain why Morrow herself was slashed. Mulder says it doesn’t matter – they need to make sure Morrow doesn’t go after Linda. This is exactly what happens, as Morrow goes to Linda’s house and starts to attack her grandmother with an iron. Fortunately, Linda slows her down by splashing her with bleach.

Linda also has a gun, which she aims at Morrow as Morrow starts to channel her evil grandfather. Linda quickly recognizes Cokely’s eyes in Morrow. Morrow sees the picture from the World’s Fair and briefly stops advancing on Linda. Linda sees that they both have “sister” on their chests; Cokley has attacked both of them. Linda tells Morrow that she doesn’t know what she’s doing, and Cokely’s the one to blame. Morrow raises a straight razor to finish her off.

The agents reach the house, where Linda tells them that something stopped Morrow from killing her. Scully thinks Morrow’s looking for someone to blame for her pregnancy, which means she’ll go after Tillman next. Mulder disagrees – she’s figured out that Cokely’s her grandfather, and she must blame him for everything. He tries to call Cokely but doesn’t get an answer. As he heads to Cokely’s house, Scully takes Linda to the police station, where Tillman argues that Morrow couldn’t have attacked her. Linda shuts him down.

At Cokely’s, the old man discovers that his oxygen tube has been cut, and someone’s in the house. As Mulder arrives, Cokely comes face to face with Morrow. She slashes the razor through the air, calling him “brother.” She tells him he knows the rules: “This doesn’t stop till you’re dead.” When Mulder enters the house, he finds Cokely in bad shape, and Morrow waiting for him, mistaking him for a young Cokely. She puts the razor to his neck, saying that this time he’ll stay dead.

Scully and Tillman arrive in time to stop Morrow, who says she’s not B.J. In the corner, Cokely dies, and Morrow pulls the razor away from Mulder’s neck. Scully’s end-of-episode report tells us that genetic testing has so far been inconclusive. Morrow’s fine now, and they’re trying to find out if the pregnancy triggered her “transformation.” They don’t know yet what the effects might be on her unborn child. Morrow’s locked up, on suicide watch because she keeps trying to kill the baby. Cheery!

Thoughts: In case you couldn’t tell from the picture, Tillman is played by Terry O’Quinn. He’ll be back two more times in the series.

“I’ve had feelings for people I’ve worked with. Interoffice relationships can be complicated.” Oh, just wait, Scully.

Linda still lives in the house where Cokely raped and impregnated her. Holy cow.

Also, did we really need two rape episodes in a row? And I know the next one isn’t much better.

January 30, 2016

BH90210 10.24, Love is Blind: Donna Gets the Best (Fake) Christmas Present Ever

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:25 pm by Jenn

This is the best!

This is the best!

Summary: Donna takes a break from work at the Peach Pit, complaining to David that things are crazy without Camille. Donna gave her the week off so she can recover from her breakup with David. She and David make plans to have dinner and see a movie. A friend of Matt’s has recommended him for a job in Seattle, and Kelly’s nervous that accepting it would lead to big life changes for them. They tell Dylan that they’re getting married in August, but Dylan isn’t that excited for them.

Steve and Janet meet with a guy named Charles who’s interested in buying the Beverly Beat. He offers $750,000, wanting a paper on the West Coast, since his others are on the East Coast. He needs someone to handle the editorial side of things, but nothing else, which means Janet would keep her job, but Steve would have to leave his. Steve’s tempted by the money.

Felice visits Donna at the boutique to announce that she’s selling the Martins’ house. Donna objects to the idea of her mother living in a condo or an apartment. She’s also unhappy at the thought of losing her childhood home. Ellen was supposed to visit her daughter, Caitlin, but her mother canceled the visit. Noah thinks her mother still recognizes that Ellen’s trying to improve her life. He thinks Ellen drinks because she feels guilty for not being a better mom. If she gets better, the guilt will go away.

At the After Dark, Steve and Janet weigh the pros and cons of selling the paper. Pros: more money and more time that Steve gets to spend with Maddy. Con: Steve and Janet won’t work together. She’s proud of the way he’s built up the paper, which has put them in the position to become financially secure. She thinks they should start the process of selling; they can stop it if they decide it’s the wrong move. Steve agrees.

Dylan joins Matt and Kelly at the club, telling them he’ll definitely come to the wedding. He wants to give them their wedding present early – two open-ended plane tickets so Kelly can take a trip around the world like she’s always wanted. She tells Matt that’s not something she wants anymore.

At the beach apartment, Donna tells David that she’s happy that Felice is moving on with her life, but it’s tough for her to say goodbye to the house. It makes her feel like she has to say goodbye to part of her childhood. She has so many memories of her father there. David and Donna reminisce about the Martins’ Christmas trees, which just makes Donna realize that she’ll never spend another Christmas in the house.

The next morning, Steve gets started in his new role as stay-at-home dad, making breakfast and accepting a list of errands from Janet. He feels emasculated, so Janet tells him to speak up if he decides this is a bad arrangement. As if Steve needs permission to complain about something.

David and Donna wake up on the couch together at the beach apartment, having fallen asleep watching TV. He tells her that he decided not to take the job in New York because he realized how much he would be leaving behind in Beverly Hills. They almost kiss, but Donna decides it’s a bad idea. First they need to think about their friendship and how it would be changed with romance. David agrees that they shouldn’t risk it.

Ellen takes Noah to meet her mother (and help convince her that Ellen is making progress in her recovery). He also meets Caitlin, who’s really cute and very excited to play with Noah. At the Peach Pit, Donna tells Kelly about the agreement she and David came to. Dylan joins them, so Donna makes an excuse to give them time alone. Kelly tells Dylan that she doesn’t appreciate his gift, since she sees it as an attempt to remind her that they used to be close.

Steve takes Maddy to David’s house so he can have a break from parenting (and complain about all the work he’s had to do all day). He also wants to pass along the message that Janet found a woman to fix David up with. David isn’t interested but decides to humor the Sanderses.

At home, Kelly pushes Donna to get back together with her ex, not getting why the two of them are so resistant. Donna would rather talk about where Kelly and Dylan stand. Kelly claims that she gave Dylan the marriage ultimatum to push him away. Donna says she really likes Matt and would love to see him and Kelly together, but Kelly won’t be truly happy until she and Dylan straighten things out.

Matt and Kelly go tux shopping, and when he mentions the plane tickets, she tells him she turned them down. Matt thinks that they should “start over,” even if he doesn’t get the job offer. She promises to think about it. David offers to go to the Martins’ house with Donna and help her go through her old things.

Noah goes to Ellen’s mother’s place, having planned to meet Ellen there. Her mother notes that she’s not very reliable, so he shouldn’t expect her to actually show up. Noah wants to know why Ellen’s mother keeps fighting her about Caitlin when she recognizes that Ellen is working to improve her life. Ellen’s mother says that Caitlin needs consistency, and Ellen has never demonstrated that. Noah isn’t the first of Ellen’s boyfriends to come around like this.

David takes Donna to the Martins’ house for the first time since her father died. Inside, Felice, Kelly, Matt, and Dylan are decorating a Christmas tree. David explains that he wanted to give her one last Christmas in the house. Steve comes in from the other room with Maddy, having turned a beer hat into a bottle hat for his daughter. Everyone laughs at him, but it’s not a horrible idea, really.

Matt takes a break with Dylan, saying that he thinks Dylan has kept his mouth shut about Amy partly because he doesn’t want to hurt Kelly and partly because he thinks she and Matt should be together. He assures Dylan that things might get easier for him, since Matt and Kelly may be leaving Beverly Hills. Dylan won’t have to see them together all the time anymore.

The next day, Kelly and Matt check out a possible venue for their wedding reception, but she can see that he’s distant. He admits that he didn’t get the job in Seattle. She tells him that if he had, she would have encouraged him to take it. Matt thinks they should move to Seattle anyway. Kelly resists leaving without having something to move for. She thinks he’s just trying to run away from Dylan. Matt asks her to just do it for him, but Kelly doesn’t like being tested.

Noah meets up with Ellen, who wants to know where he looked for her when she didn’t show up at her mom’s. She knows that he looked for her at bars. Ellen claims that she was late because she was getting Caitlin a coloring book. She was only 15 minutes late, and Noah immediately assumed the worst. Ellen can’t handle more stress in her life when she’s trying to focus on her daughter. She’ll have to leave Noah behind.

The Martins’ house has already sold, and Felice is excited for a new family to enjoy the place. She knows that Dr. Martin would be happy that she and Donna are moving on. Donna wants to feel more comfortable with it. She also wishes she could talk to her father about things like work and Kelly’s upcoming wedding. Felice thinks she could be a good substitute. She offers to fix Donna up with someone, and Donna reluctantly accepts. Felice is sure that she and the guy will hit it off.

Janet comes home from work late to see that everything has gone smoothly with Steve and Maddy, despite all the work Steve had to do. Janet’s sad that she had to be apart from her daughter all day. Donna goes on her fix-up date, which happens to be with David. They say over and over that going from friendship back to a relationship would be a mistake, but their resolve is slipping. They finally kiss.

Dylan summons Kelly to a bridge to ask if she’s leaving Beverly Hills because of him. She swears that if she goes, it won’t have anything to do with him. He reminds her that she tried to get him to commit. He wants to change his decision. Kelly tells him it’s too late and tries to leave. Dylan asks why it’s too late, but she can’t give a good answer.

Thoughts: Jennie Garth directed this episode. Pretend you care.

As someone whose family moved out of their longtime home not that long ago, I feel for Donna. It’s weird thinking of other people living where you grew up.

How does the boutique do such great business when Donna keeps closing it whenever she wants?

Noah, find a new pet project. This one is boring.

Felice wants Donna and David to be together? It’s a fake Christmas miracle!

January 26, 2016

SVT #46, Mademoiselle Jessica: Pardon My French

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 5:17 pm by Jenn

Yeah, sure. I bet this happened

Yeah, sure. I bet this happened

Summary: We all know Lila Fowler can be a snobby little braggart, but she’s been worse than usual recently. She got to spend the weekend in Hawaii, and she won’t shut up about it. (A weekend? That seems like a waste.) She also has skybox tickets to see Dynamo, a band everyone loves. Jessica’s fed up with Lila’s boasting, but she doesn’t have anything she can brag about to one-up her.

While reading Teenager Magazine, Jessica learns about a contest for “French-oriented” families. Entrants write about their families for a chance to win a week in France. Jessica starts writing about her family, though she includes more fiction than fact. For instance, the Wakefields like to speak French at home. Alice is a ballet dancer who cooks gourmet French meals. Ned is a painter and restores furniture in his spare time. Steven plays trombone in a jazz ensemble. (In actuality, Steven has begun taking trombone lessons but is awful.) Elizabeth’s so awesome that she doesn’t need any embellishment.

Jessica can’t read the fine print on the entry form – it’s too small – but even she knows the family isn’t really eligible for the contest. She decides filling out the form is just for fun, and she won’t send it in. But Alice sees the form and asks Elizabeth to mail it, thinking Jessica was going to but forgot. When Jess learns that Liz sent in the entry, she decides her odds of winning are slim anyway, so it’s not a big deal.

Of course, Jessica becomes a finalist in the contest, and a woman from the magazine, Ms. Harris, sets up a meeting with the Wakefields. For once in her life, Jessica tells the truth, confessing to her family that she accidentally entered the competition. She figures they can just play the parts she wrote for them and try to fool Ms. Harris. Plus, they still have a shot at the trip to France. No harm, no foul.

Ned is reluctant, but Alice gets excited about the possibility of going to France, so she tells Jessica they’re in. As soon as Jess leaves the room, Alice tells the rest of the family that she wants to teach Jessica a lesson about exaggeration. They’ll play along but really ham it up at dinner with Ms. Harris. Then I guess Jessica will never tell a lie again. Brilliant plan!

Through the book, Brooke is being courted by the Unicorns, and she’s too nice to tell them she’s not interested in joining. They want to give her an induction task, and Jessica decides to have her pose as a French maid during the big dinner with Ms. Harris. Brooke agrees to participate because she knows Jess needs help (and also because Liz tells her what’s really going on and she thinks it’ll be fun).

With Brooke’s knowledge of France, from spending time there with her mother, the Wakefields are on their way to seeming like they know what they’re doing. Brooke gives them clothes to wear, pretending they’re the hottest fashions in Paris. She makes Jessica wear magenta, orange, and green together. Jessica’s so excited about the dinner that she cleans the whole house.

Now for the sabotage. Alice gets Steven to undo all of Jessica’s tidying so Ms. Harris walks into a pigsty. Dinner is nouilles au fromage, which is just French for macaroni and cheese. Steven is a bratty teen all through the meal, then plays his trombone horribly upstairs. Ned shows off his latest painting, which is just a bunch of paint splotches. Dessert is supposed to be a flambé, but Alice just sets jelly donuts on fire. Brooke, using the name Brookette, helps serve, then gets to enjoy the festivities. Lucky girl.

Jessica finally calls a halt to everything when Alice announces she’s going to perform a dance for Ms. Harris. She comes clean about everything and learns that her family turned things around on her to teach her a lesson. Fortunately, Ms. Harris was warned ahead of time, so she doesn’t think the family’s insane. She lectures Jessica on reading the fine print before entering a contest; if she had, she would have realized that she needed to be enrolled in a French class to enter. This makes Alice wonder if Jess needs glasses, since she says the print was too small.

So Jessica doesn’t win the trip to France (she gets the consolation prize, French-language tapes – ha!), but she does get the last laugh. Lila and Ellen were supposed to show up during dinner to make sure Brooke was completing her task, but they never made it, so no one knows about Jessica’s embarrassment. Alice has been working on a project for the lead singer of Dynamo, and she’s given front-row seats to a concert. She gets Courteney Coxed and brought on stage (as if). Lila’s skybox seats suck, so Jessica finally has something better than her best friend.

Thoughts: I’m going to need an explanation of what a “French-oriented family” is. “Oriented” is so vague.

Lila’s getting a sauna. What does a 12-year-old need with a sauna?

We know that Alice and the twins do the bulk of the cooking in the Wakefield house, and Ned says in this book that he and Steven will do the after-dinner clean-up “for a change.” So Ned and Steve don’t cook or do dishes? This is the ’90s, not the ’50s, right?

January 24, 2016

The X-Files 2.11, Excelsis Dei: Magic Mushrooms, Indeed

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:27 pm by Jenn

"So...come here often?"

“So…come here often?”

Summary: At the Excelsis Dei Convalescent Home in Worcester, Massachusetts, two members of the night staff tell a nurse about a resident who died that afternoon. The nurse catches two residents watching a boxing match on TV and banters with them for a while. One of them is handsy, so she straps him to the bed. Then she knocks an orderly, Gung, for not enforcing the no-TV-after-9:00 rule. The orderly says that a doctor claimed the residents were getting better.

The nurse changes the dead resident’s bedding, getting spooked when the door suddenly closes. The door then locks itself, and the bed moves to block the door. The nurse is unable to move it back. Suddenly she’s thrown on the bed and an unseen force straps her down. She screams for help but no one hears her. So…this isn’t going to be a light, funny episode, then?

For once, Scully gets the case information first, viewing video footage of the nurse’s injuries. When Mulder finds her in front of a TV, he tells her that whatever tape she found in the VCR isn’t his. She replies that she put it in a drawer with a bunch of other tapes that probably aren’t his either. She explains the case to him: The nurse, Michelle Charters, says she was raped by an invisible spirit being. Shockingly, no one believes her.

Mulder says this isn’t the first time something like this has been described, but it’s possible Michelle just blocked out the identity of her attacker. Scully says that Michelle claims she knows who the spirit is, and she’s filing a lawsuit. The agents meet with her, and she tells them her attacker was the grabby resident, Hal Arden. From tending to him for years, she knows enough about his body to recognize it, even invisible. Scully notes that they’ll need physical evidence to build a case against Arden. Michelle doesn’t have any, and she’s sure she didn’t just repress her memories.

The agents talk to Arden, who laughs off the idea of someone his age raping someone. He’s annoyed that the “sex harassment fad” has prevented him from expressing his feelings about women. Would Scully be offended if he hit on her? After a pause, Arden apologizes to Mulder for moving in on his territory. He adds that he heard that Michelle was attacked by a ghost, and since he’s not a ghost, it couldn’t have been him.

Mulder thinks this case is going to turn out to be a waste of time. Scully, however, knows something happened to Michelle. Arden’s roommate seems to agree. The agents next talk to an administrative woman, Mrs. Dawson, who says Arden is well-liked at the facility. Arden’s roommate, Stan, warns Arden to be careful and not say anything or he’ll ruin things for everyone. He doesn’t want to have to die there. He takes a pill, saying he knows where “he” keeps them. Arden wants one, but Stan says he can’t handle another. Arden threatens to tattle on him.

Scully gets a look at Michelle’s file, which shows that she’s made requests for leave in the past, citing job-related stress. Mulder starts to ask Mrs. Dawson if she thinks Michelle staged her attack. Before Mrs. Dawson can answer, an orderly comes in to announce that Arden is choking. Stan is unsympathetic, saying he told Arden he couldn’t handle any more. Scully tends to Arden, determining that his problem is really heart-related.

Arden doesn’t make it, and his doctor, Grago, is sad – he was making progress on an experimental Alzheimer’s drug. In fact, many residents at the home have made progress. Gee, I wonder if that’s important? Scully asks to speak to other patients in the test group. Michelle’s back at work, and she’s outside watching as Arden’s body is taken away in an ambulance. Gung is also watching, and he tells Stan to stop taking Arden’s pills. Gung has already given him enough.

The agents observe another patient in the test group, Leo, who his friend Dorothy describes as a brilliant artist. She wants to stay with him instead of going to dinner, saying Leo hasn’t finished his drawing of a field yet. Scully thinks the Alzheimer’s drug could be a huge medical breakthrough, but Mulder doesn’t see the importance. Scully finally realizes that there could be a connection between the drugs and Michelle’s attack. One of the side effects could be schizophrenic-like behavior.

Scully’s next suggestion is an environmental cause. There could be a fungus or other contaminant that causes violent behavior. Maybe they just haven’t heard about that violence in other residents. Mulder thinks that Michelle made up the story so she could leave a job she hates. Scully points out that she was pretty seriously injured for an incident he thinks she made up.

Dorothy refuses to eat her dinner, and Leo is too worried about her to eat. He pleads with Gung to give them more of something. Gung says no, but Leo tells Dorothy that he thinks Stan has some hidden away. Stan’s daughter is there to help him move in with her, but a year after asking for this to happen, now he doesn’t want to leave.

Mulder and Scully talk to the daughter, Laura, who says she was told years ago that her father needed round-the-clock care. He used to suffer from dementia, but now he’s completely changed. Stan’s too angry to talk to his daughter about his treatment. Meanwhile, Stan runs away from his room. An orderly chases him to the roof, where an invisible force tries to shove him off. He manages to hold on to the edge, and Mulder hears him yelling for help and tries to save him. He doesn’t succeed.

Grago learns of the orderly’s death the next morning and rushes to the home. Mulder thinks Stan might have had something to do with both deaths. Grago says that he has a hip disorder that would have prevented him from going up to the roof. Mulder suggests that he had help. Gung is in the room, and he should really work on not drawing any attention to himself. Michelle reminds Mrs. Dawson that she warned that something weird was going on. Now two people are dead and an orderly is missing.

Scully and Mrs. Dawson hear Dorothy down the hall, telling someone to go away. When they get to her room, she tells them there are a bunch of people in her room and she can’t get rid of them. There’s no one there, at least that Scully and Mrs. Dawson can see. Mrs. Dawson says she’s just suffering from dementia. In fact, Dorothy is seeing ghosts, who follow Scully when she leaves.

Mulder gets Arden’s toxicology reports, which show that he may have been poisoned. Scully says that that could have caused hallucinations, which could be to blame for Dorothy’s recent panic. Michelle summons the agents and Grago to a room where Leo has painted a huge mural of spirits on the walls. Mulder quickly asks to speak to Gung. He searches the basement for Gung, finding a locked room full of mushrooms. They’re being fertilized by the body of the missing orderly.

Gung is questioned, and he swears that he didn’t kill the orderly. He was giving small amounts of the mushrooms to the residents to make them feel better. The mushrooms come from his home country, and have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. He felt that he needed to take care of the residents this way because, unlike in his country, the elderly in America are sent away. He also argues that the residents are mistreated by the orderlies.

Mulder asks straight out who killed the orderly and buried him under the mushrooms. Gung says that the spirits in the home are angry and have been awakened. They’re getting revenge for their mistreatment. He explains that he turns the mushrooms into a powder so the residents (so we can assume that the powder is then put into capsules). Mulder and Scully follow Gung to his room, where he discovers that all of his remaining pills have been taken.

Mulder thinks the mushrooms have been helping the patients improve, rather than Grago’s experimental drug. Scully doesn’t think they’re that powerful. Mulder points out that for centuries, shamans have used mushrooms to “gain interest to the spirit world.” Scully thinks the shamans were just dreaming and interpreted the dreams however they wanted. Mulder notes that, whatever the cause, something weird has been going on.

Laura catches Stan taking a pill, but before she can find out what it is, she’s distracted by Dorothy yelling at ghosts again. She tells Laura to run while she can. Dorothy hears Leo calling her from his room, but when she arrives, she finds Michelle being dragged off by the ghosts. Mulder and Scully hear Dorothy screaming and run to help Michelle. She and Mulder are locked in the bathroom together as the pipes all burst.

Mulder yells for Scully to get the water shut off in the building. She runs off to find Gung to do it while Mulder tries to keep a barely conscious Michelle from drowning. He’s unable to pull up a drain, and Gung is unable to turn the valve to shut off the water. Laura summons Scully to Stan’s room, where he’s about to face the same fate as Arden. Scully sends Grago to Stan with atropine, which makes the ghosts disappear.

The water in the bathroom eventually breaks the door down, so Mulder and Michelle are saved (but that’s going to be annoying to clean up). Stan’s alive, and Dorothy says the ghosts are gone. The next day, things at the home go back to normal, now under investigation by the Massachusetts Department of Health. Grago is replaced, and the experimental drug trials are ended. Gung is in danger of being deported back to Malaysia. Michelle’s lawsuit will be settled out of court. All the Alzheimer’s patients have deteriorated.

Thoughts: Dorothy is played by the late, great Frances Bay.

Yes, Mulder, a woman faked being raped so she could leave her job. Go sit in the corner and let Scully handle this. Though Scully thinks that “schizophrenic-like” behavior = violence, so maybe this is a case for people who have a better understanding of these kinds of situations.

I had to laugh at Arden saying that 74 is too old to be very active. 74 is the new 54, buddy.

Scully, re: mushrooms: “They taste good on hamburgers but they don’t raise the dead.” Then my love of mushrooms over all these years has been horribly misguided.

January 23, 2016

BH90210 10.23, And Don’t Forget to Give Me Back My Black T-Shirt: Mitch, Please

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 1:02 pm by Jenn

Pretty!

Pretty!

Summary: Donna’s on another date with Mitch, who almost has her website ready to go. She’s nervous since time is running out, but he knows what he’s doing. He gives her an electronic planner with two more dates already scheduled. At the beach apartment, Kelly tells Matt that her father’s coming to town and wants to have dinner with them. Matt’s a little nervous about undergoing scrutiny from his future father-in-law, so Kelly reminds him that Bill is an ex-con and a horrible father, so the bar’s pretty low. Of course, she doesn’t know that Matt isn’t that great of a guy either.

Steve checks out the Internet, wishing that he and Janet were making money from Internet stocks. He contemplates investing in Donna’s website, but Janet says they can’t afford it. They can’t risk a bad investment now that they have a child. The photo shoot for Donna’s website is delayed because the model’s late, so she’s nervous again. Dylan completes the process of becoming an LLC, then cautions his accountant (or whoever the guy is) not to pursue Camille.

With the model nowhere in sight and time running out, Dylan suggests that Camille do the job. Donna agrees, but David reminds his girlfriend that she’s a businesswoman, not “eye candy.” Camille says that since she’s a businesswoman, she’s making a business decision and modeling the clothes. Meanwhile, there’s a launch party scheduled for the next night at the After Dark, and Noah’s excited about it. He wishes he had a big investment with money coming to him. Steve does, too. Ellen calls Noah to ask for help – she’s in jail.

At home, Donna complains to Kelly about how annoying David was during the photo shoot. She laughs over how Mitch likes to schedule everything. Kelly notes that Donna always gets critical of the person she’s dating, then starts thinking about David. To absolutely no one’s surprise, Bill calls to cancel dinner with Kelly and Matt. Dylan runs into Janet and Maddy at the Peach Pit and mentions that Steve just wired $10,000 into his account to invest in Donna’s website. Janet pretends she was aware of this.

Matt meets with a guy named Tom who got his business card at the desert party. As Kelly arrives, Tom tells Matt he’ll say hi to Amy for him. Kelly laments the fact that she once again got her hopes up about her father and has again been disappointed. She thanks Matt for never disappointing her. Oh, Kelly. Then she asks who Amy is. Matt says Dylan hooked up with her in the desert. Oh, Matt.

Noah takes Ellen to his place and asks why she was found passed out in her car. She admits that she was behind on her rent, so she moved into her car. She was too embarrassed to ask Noah for help. When her car wouldn’t start, she fell off the wagon. Noah encourages her to go back to AA, but Ellen thinks finding a job is a bigger priority. At the Peach Pit, Mitch tries to sync his schedule with Donna’s, but she misses having a relationship with spontaneity. She thinks they should stick to business. He can’t really object, but he tells her he doesn’t give up that easily.

Kelly tries to ask Dylan about Amy, but Matt interrupts and drags his fiancée away before Dylan can say anything incriminating. Steve gets home from some kind of alien-encounter convention and gets an earful from Janet about investing in the website behind her back. He argues that he was within his rights because he invested his own money, left to him by his grandfather. Janet’s even madder now that she knows her husband had a bunch of money she didn’t know about.

Noah takes Ellen to an AA meeting, but she doesn’t think it will help her, so she leaves. Donna and Camille look over Camille’s photos, which turned out great. David’s less than enthusiastic, hurting Camille’s feelings. She doesn’t get why he seems to get more upset the better things get for them. Noah goes to the meeting on his own, expressing his gratitude that he has so much support from the other members. Ellen comes back at the end, so…yay? I really couldn’t care less about her.

The launch party kicks off at the After Dark, and Donna’s nervous again, this time about seeing the site for the first time. Matt asks Dylan what he and Kelly were discussing earlier, warning him not to tell Kelly anything about the trip. Camille worries that David’s bad mood is her fault, but Donna assures her that things will be okay. With just a few seconds to go before the website launches, Dylan and Donna take the stage. Steve accesses the site (using a search engine, the dork), but it declares that access is denied “until Donna Martin goes on another date with Mitch Field.”

The next day, Donna goes to confront Mitch, who says his stunt was just a “romantic plea.” He asks for another chance because they’re totally meant for each other. Donna tells him that his action was cruel, not romantic – and also illegal. Mitch maintains that she’s the one for him, like, dude, you couldn’t be any creepier right now. She tells him it’s not too late to do the right thing.

Steve now regrets making his investment. Janet’s just glad he didn’t use any of her money. He tells her that his grandfather wanted him to do something special with the money, and this is the first thing Steve has considered worthy. Janet worries that Steve isn’t committed to their family or doesn’t trust her if he’s going to keep secrets about money. Steve doesn’t think money’s that important, which Janet says is part of the problem.

David checks on Donna at the boutique, comforting her when she says she feels responsible for everyone losing out. He tells her he hasn’t smoothed things over with Camille yet. The website’s now up and running, though, so Mitch came to his senses. Camille wants to have lunch with David, but he says he’s busy. This relationship doesn’t seem to be going anywhere good. In other romantic news, Noah and Ellen have another fight when she objects to him talking about AA all the time.

The gang goes to the After Dark again, and Kelly bugs Dylan about Amy some more. Matt lies that they met her at a gas station, and Dylan flirted and gave her a ride on his bike. Dylan changes the subject to the website, leading Kelly to leave and call Donna to congratulate her. Matt tells Dylan that he’s going to keep lying to Kelly about Amy; Kelly’s too important to lose. If Dylan’s waiting around for Matt to ruin everything, he shouldn’t get too comfortable. Dylan remarks that he underestimated Matt. “It’s the sweater vests,” Matt replies.

Ellen comes crawling back to Noah after their latest fight and asks him to come somewhere with her. Janet and Steve fight some more, and he tells her that he takes his responsibility to care for the family seriously. The secret money was a safety net in case he screwed up and needed to save them. Janet reminds him that they promised to stick by each other for better or for worse. They don’t need to keep secrets from each other.

Donna gushes to a distracted David that someone in New Mexico bought one of her skirts. She knows things between him and Camille are bad, and she encourages him to fix things before he loses a great relationship. David implies that he’s ready to lose it. Ellen takes Noah to a playground and points out a six-year-old girl, her daughter. Ellen’s mother is raising the girl until Ellen gets her life together, which is taking longer than expected. The girl is the result of a drunken one-night stand. Her father’s out of the picture, and the girl thinks Ellen is gone all the time because she’s a flight attendant.

Camille goes to David’s, where they kind of make up, but not completely. He thinks she deserves better, so they’re over. At the beach apartment, Kelly tries on Jackie’s wedding dress, since Jackie wants her to wear it for her own wedding. (Donna’s working on designs for a new one, though.) Dylan shows up and notes that this is the second time he’s seen Kelly in a dress for a wedding to someone else. He tells her she looks beautiful, then finds a reason to leave.

Thoughts: The internet! Electronic schedulers! This show is full of cutting-edge technology!

Donna, your top at the party is not a shirt – it’s a handkerchief. As someone who’s supposed to know about fashion, you should be able to tell the difference.

Seriously, if you lifted Noah and Ellen’s scenes out of the show, the plot wouldn’t be affected at all.

I like the wedding dress above, but I can’t imagine Jackie wearing it.

‘Bye, Camille! You weren’t so bad. You just weren’t Donna.

January 19, 2016

SVU #50, Summer of Love: Crazy Ex-Boyfriend

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 5:21 pm by Jenn

Whichever twin that is, I like her bathing suit

Whichever twin that is, I like her bathing suit

Summary: We’re at the final book of this endless road-trip trilogy. Jessica’s back with her team, and everyone’s about to depart Tennessee for Georgia. Jessica and Neil aren’t speaking, Sam and Elizabeth are still going back and forth between speaking and not speaking, and Tom and Todd still hate each other even though they have something in common. They both want Sam to stay away from Elizabeth, though for different reasons: Todd because Sam is a jerk, and Tom because he wants Liz back.

They’re both a little happy when Sam, taking part in a tobacco-spitting contest, spits on Elizabeth. Then Liz gets too close to the side of a mountain and almost falls to her death. That would have made this book a lot more enjoyable. Sam saves her, because Sam always saves Elizabeth, no matter what. I hope the girl never gets a paper cut, because she’s going to have someone hovering over her with a giant Band-Aid. They kiss, so now Elizabeth is back on Team Sam Is Awesome.

Their RV runs out of gas (which I find very surprising – wouldn’t Liz be overly attentive to things like that?), so Sam and Liz walk to get more in the middle of the night. Sam is suddenly a sensitive poetry lover. Whatever.

The teams arrive in Savannah, Georgia, where they’ll be doing a Civil War reenactment with paint guns. That actually sounds kind of fun. The term “reenactment” isn’t quite accurate, though; they just shoot each other while wearing Civil War-era clothes. Still, it’s something college students would love. Tom wants to take Elizabeth prisoner and impress her with his soldier skills. Shut up, Tom. The teams get to practice shooting, and Neil shoots Jessica in the head, which is hilarious. Neil is now my favorite character.

In the reenactment, Elizabeth turns kind of aggressive, eager to do a good job. I like this side of her. However, her energy gets the better of her and she trips and falls. Sam thinks she’s been shot, so he rushes over to save her. From what, I’m not sure. Tom notices. Then Elizabeth gets shot for real and eliminated from the game. It would have been better if Tom had shot Sam. Jessica, meanwhile, goes after Alison, which makes total sense. Then she shoots Neil, which doesn’t. He’s on your team, Jess!

After the challenge, Sam and Josh (whose only purpose in this trilogy is to be even more obnoxious and sexist than Sam, thereby making him look more appealing) talk about Angelina, the girl Sam’s planning to meet up with in Florida after the competition is over. Todd overhears them, so now he hates Sam even more for being a womanizing skeeze. Tom’s like, “See? SEE?”

The teams have some downtime in their next city, Palm Beach, Florida, so Elizabeth, Charlie, and Ruby do some bonding at an amateur racetrack. Nothing important happens, but I thought it was nice that they had some fun together while the rest of the challenge participants were busy being angsty. Jessica goes shopping, but she doesn’t want Neil to get anything cooler than her, so she buys everything he looks at. Never mind that she doesn’t have any money, or that the stuff he buys is ugly. I imagine he’s trolling her, but it’s never clarified. So Jess winds up with stuff like purple boots she can’t afford.

The teams take prop planes to Key West, which only serves to put them in a slightly dangerous situation so Sam and Elizabeth can cling to each other. Jessica and Neil do, too, but there’s no chance of them having a romantic relationship, so it’s not as important, I guess. In Key West, the teams learn that their final challenge is to ride bikes up to a cliff overlooking the ocean and then jump off. Excuse me? Does that sound really unsafe to anyone else? Also, I would imagine that Charlie would need to disclose her pregnancy to whoever’s in charge of this show, because if anything went wrong, she could sue.

Tom’s ready to get Elizabeth away from Sam for good, so he wants to work with Todd on a plan. I think at this point, Todd’s willing to go along so Tom will leave him alone. At the same time, Sam has decided to get with Angelina, so he’s done with Liz. The only people who are really happy are Neil and Jessica, who work things out. He thought she was being cold to him because she’s homophobic, but he realizes that she’s just upset that he rejected her, since no guy has ever turned her down before. Jessica confirms this, expressing confusion over why she would hate him for being gay.

Sam finally realizes that Josh is a jerk and tells him off. Of course, Sam’s the one who’s been trying to make out with Elizabeth for eight weeks while supposedly having a girlfriend, so he’s not much better. Sam decides he’s done with Angelina. When a bunch of the racers go snorkeling, he tries to catch up to Liz, but Tom and Todd block him like they’re playing basketball and Elizabeth is Lebron James. (Does that work? I don’t do sports metaphors.) At this point, if I were Sam, I’d give up on Liz, because who wants to date a girl with insane ex-boyfriends? Elizabeth finds out what they’re up to and is very unhappy about it.

Scott (Charlie’s boyfriend) has caught up with the challengers by this point, and will be hanging out with them until the finish line. He doesn’t think Charlie should go snorkeling, because he doesn’t know if it’s safe for a pregnant woman to go swimming. Scott, you make me sad. He seems a little more concerned with this than he does with Charlie planning to jump off a cliff. Whatever, no one cares about this D-plot.

On cliff-jumping day, everything goes pretty much fine. Jessica gets a flat tire, so she rides on Neil’s bike, which apparently is a no-no. Her team technically wins the challenge, but since she broke a rule, they get disqualified. In the end, neither twin’s team wins the competition. They get some money, though, so that’s nice.

At the show’s after-party, Tom randomly realizes that it’s time for him to move on from Elizabeth. Good luck, buddy. Todd has already moved on and is looking forward to seeing Dana again. Neil tells Jessica that he might not have the money to go back to Stanford, so he’s considering transferring to SVU. Jessica’s thrilled. Neil has gained so much courage from the competition that he comes out on TV. Awwww. P.S. Sam and Elizabeth make out, but I really don’t care.

Thoughts: “It’s like one of those things you read about that happens to strangers but never to anyone you know.” Poor Ruby has never met a pregnant person.

Elizabeth offers to buy Ruby and Charlie drinks, by which I assume she means lemonade, because no way would she purchase alcohol (and she’s not 21 anyway).

“You’re just really chapped because Elizabeth is such a cold fish.” What decade is Josh from?

Jessica is exactly the kind of girl to wind up with a gay best friend, so I’m only surprised it took so long for her to find one.

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