September 1, 2015

SVU #42, Sneaking In: Men Behaving Badly

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

No way is this what Nick is supposed to look like

No way is this what Nick is supposed to look like

Summary: If you remember way back to Good-bye, Elizabeth, Liz has just decided to stay in Sweet Valley instead of following Scott to Denver. She and Tom are now back together. Also, Jessica and Nick are still dating but having some trouble because he doesn’t want to be a cop anymore. Jess thinks he’s boring now that he wants to go to college and become a lawyer. So when Jess meets bad boy Clay DiPalma, she’s more than a little interested.

Isabella also meets Clay, though she’s not interested in him romantically. He flirts with her while she’s helping out with a Theta fundraiser, even after she tells him she has a boyfriend. Said boyfriend, by the way, has suddenly become a huge jerk. He sees Isabella and Clay together and Hulks out, basically accusing her of cheating on him. They make up, because Isabella has more patience than I do, but fight again when Isabella asks Danny to go to a frat party that all the Thetas have to attend. He only agrees to go so he can make sure she doesn’t hook up with any other guys.

Clay also flirts with Jessica, who, unlike Isabella, doesn’t mention that she has a boyfriend. Nick catches them talking and also Hulks out, punching Clay in the face. Now Jessica’s interest in Nick is rekindled – who wouldn’t want to be with a tough guy who punches other men? This is all very Jess/Rory/Dean, only without Nick dropping Jessica at the tail end of a dance marathon.

Clay shows up at the frat party, and since Danny’s being a drag, Isabella’s now interested. Nick tells her and Jessica that Clay is clearly bad news, which just makes Isabella want to get to know him more. She starts dancing with a bunch of guys, so Danny tries to get her to leave, because clearly this kind of behavior means she’s a slut. When Isabella refuses to go, Danny storms off. Isabella starts drinking, then smokes a cigarette with Clay, even though she doesn’t smoke.

This is where things go pear-shaped. Clearly there’s something in the cigarette other than tobacco, because Isabella starts hallucinating. She thinks monsters are after her, so she runs upstairs and jumps off a balcony. This is probably the best anti-drug PSA any Sweet Valley book has ever presented. Jessica and Lila find Isabella unconscious on the lawn and are understandably panicked. They tell Nick that they saw her with Clay, who has since disappeared, and Nick figures out that Clay must have put drugs in the cigarette. Tests confirm that the cigarette was laced with PCP.

Isabella spends the rest of the book unconscious, in danger of slipping into a coma. Danny’s upset, of course – but with Isabella herself, not just with the situation. If she hadn’t been whoring it up and smoking, everything would be fine. At one point he literally says that she got what she deserved. If what she deserved was the realization that she shouldn’t be with a jealous, possessive jerk, then yes, she got what she deserved.

Isabella’s condition starts affecting Danny’s grades, because he’s still doing schoolwork even though his girlfriend is at death’s door. His biochemistry professor is especially unsympathetic. Danny accidentally takes a copy of a big exam coming up, but returns it to her without looking at it, even though it could save his grade. The professor accuses him of stealing the test and threatens to fail him. Danny’s like, “Another thing Isabella screwed up for me.” Hey, Danny? Shut up.

Other people involved in this storyline are focusing less on Isabella’s behavior and more on bringing Clay to justice. Even though he’s technically off the police force, Nick decides to do some investigating on his own. He ties Clay to a big-time drug dealer responsible for all the drugs in Sweet Valley. Jessica pressures him into trying to take down Clay by himself, since the cops at the SVPD aren’t qualified. Shh, Jess. I mean, she’s not wrong, but this is still a bad idea.

Jessica proves to be a pretty good investigator herself, calling a friend who tells her where Clay bought a motorcycle he was talking about at the party. Through the motorcycle shop, Nick gets Clay’s phone number and pretends he wants to buy drugs. To no one’s surprise, Jessica wants to come along on the sting. Also to no one’s surprise, Nick is unable to convince her to stay away, so the two of them head to a run-down house to meet Clay.

Nick goes inside while Jessica listens at a window. Clay, who happens to be high, knows that Nick is a cop. He knocks Nick out, then decides to shoot him. Then he changes his mind and just leaves while Nick goes in and out of consciousness. I guess this is supposed to be a cliffhanger ending?

In other news, Elizabeth and Tom are super-happy to be back together, especially with Scott halfway across the country. Scott keeps trying to contact Liz, though, telling her how great things are in Denver and how she should regret not coming with him. But it turns out that Scott has been expelled from the DCIR for plagiarism, fabricating sources, and altering his transcript. Awesome. Elizabeth is very relieved that she stayed in Sweet Valley.

But there’s trouble in paradise. Tom has a deep, dark secret that makes him feel guilty through the whole book. At the end of the book, Elizabeth learns what it is. She finds a half-empty box of condoms in Tom’s room and realizes that he and Dana must have had sex. Oh, no! Two consenting adults with romantic feelings for each other had protected sex! It’s a scandal!

Thoughts: The title Sneaking In makes no sense. No one sneaks in anywhere.

This book is supposed to take place just a couple weeks after Good-bye, Elizabeth. Does that mean the last five books never happened? Then why did I have to read them?

“I’m used to Danny’s insane jealousy.” Sounds like a healthy relationship to me! Also, since when is Danny insanely jealous? He always seemed pretty normal to me.

Going to a drug deal with only Jessica as backup puts Nick in the running for dumbest cop ever. Which explains why he worked for the SVPD.

I assume Tom wasn’t a virgin before he and Elizabeth started dating, so what does it matter if he slept with Dana? He didn’t cheat on Liz. Why does she care?

August 30, 2015

The X-Files 1.12, Fire: Sideshow Cecil

Posted in TV tagged at 1:31 pm by Jenn

UNCOMFORTABLE

UNCOMFORTABLE

Summary: In Bosham, England – 70 miles from London – a dignified man kisses his wife goodbye, then greats his gardeners. One, Cecil, glares at him. The man, Charles, suddenly catches on fire. Everyone else around jumps to help him, but Cecil just watches his boss burn. In D.C., Mulder and Scully leave a courthouse, surprised to find his car unlocked. “I’m sure I locked it,” he says. “Must be an X-file,” she teases. They find a cassette tape on the dashboard, which explains the unlocked doors.

They play the tape, hearing a woman’s voice telling them about a British Minister of Parliament who received a similar tape six months earlier. When he played it, he armed a device that rigged the car to explode. If only he hadn’t opened the door to try to escape. As Mulder and Scully start to panic, a woman opens the door and taunts Mulder. He tells Scully she’s an old friend. The woman kisses Mulder, so I don’t think “old friend” is the right term.

The woman, Phoebe Green, wants the agents to look into a killer who’s burning his victims alive. Mulder immediately suspects the IRA. Phoebe says that the killer sends love letters to his victims’ wives. He seems to be targeting Sir Malcolm Marsden, and Phoebe would like the FBI’s help. As she leaves, Phoebe addresses Scully for the first time. Scully’s interested to know how close Mulder and Phoebe were in the past. He says that they knew each other in school, and when they got close, he paid the price. “You keep unfolding like a flower,” Scully comments.

Mulder and Phoebe present the case to see an agent named Beatty, who specializes in fire-related cases. He suspects spontaneous combustion. Phoebe tells him that no accelerants or ignition devices have been found. Beatty mentions some arson cases similar to these; rocket fuel may have been involved. Mulder would like to talk about pyrokenetics, but Beatty says that fire usually has a mind of its own.

Marsden’s family is hiding out in Cape Cod, but Cecil’s there, too, so that’s not going to go well. Also, Cecil smokes, so of course he’s a bad guy. Now, though, he’s going by the name Bob and passing himself off as the caretaker. Marsden and his wife are surprised to see a portrait on the staircase of a woman who looks like her. Outside, Cecil is mean to the family’s dog, which has started to dig up the body of the real caretaker.

Mulder tells Scully that he’s dismissing her from the case so she doesn’t have to deal with Phoebe. He admits that he has a fire phobia, stemming from having to spend the night in the rubble of a friend’s burned-down house. He and Scully both know that Phoebe’s using this case to mess with him. But he’s willing to face his demons now.

In Cape Cod, Mrs. Marsden makes tea while Cecil spies on her creepily (okay, “creepily” was a given). He chats with the family’s driver, offering to buy him cough syrup on a trip to town. While in town, Cecil goes to a bar and impresses a woman by using his finger as a lighter. Then he lets his arm catch fire and burns down the bar. Dude, that’s no way to get a date.

Mulder and Phoebe go to the hospital, talking about the as-yet-undiscovered customer who caught fire and burned down the bar. They’re at the hospital to visit the woman Cecil was talking to. She’s not very helpful, partly because she doesn’t want her live-in boyfriend to know she was at a bar. Phoebe tries to compliment Mulder’s interviewing skills, but he’s not in the mood for her niceties. She’s upset that he hasn’t forgiven her after ten years (sounds like she cheated on him).

After giving the woman from the bar a little time to think, Mulder asks if she’ll give them some information. All she remembers is that Cecil had an English accent. While the driver struggles with his worsening cough – probably made worse by whatever Cecil gave him in the guise of cough syrup – Scully types up a profile of the killer. She thinks his behavior is compensating for poor social skills.

Cecil shows Marsden’s sons a “magic trick,” making a cigarette disappear and reappear. Scully goes back to Beatty, wondering if the killer could have put rocket fuel into another substance, such as hand cream, to disguise it as an accelerant. Beatty says that even a small amount of rocket fuel would cause temperatures of thousands of degrees, and would still need to be ignited.

Cecil tries (but fails, fortunately) to get Marsden’s sons to smoke. As the family’s driver is sick, Mrs. Marsden asks Cecil to take over his job temporarily. Scully’s profile describes an arsonist who’s obsessed with someone he can’t have. The fires are his way of acting out cowardice or inability to develop a normal relationship. Scully thinks the killer has followed Marsden to the U.S., so she’s checking immigration records.

Mulder tells Phoebe that he feels like the killer is sending a message that he’s “more exotic” than most arsonists. Mulder thinks Marsden should bring in more bodyguards. Phoebe suggests that they cancel their appearance at the party Cecil will be driving them to. Mulder thinks they should use the event as a trap instead. Phoebe tells him that she’s booked a room for him at a hotel, in case he wants to hook up. I mean spend the night! Spend the night! Not necessarily with her, of course.

Scully calls Mulder to pass on information about her profiled suspect, but he’s not interested in her bringing it to Boston in person. He and Phoebe head to the Marsdens’ party, admiring each other in their formalwear. Later, Phoebe flirts her way into a dance with Mulder. Scully arrives a moment later and rolls her eyes. She also notices Cecil watching. Mulder and Phoebe kiss and Scully rolls her eyes again. Fortunately, she has a good excuse to interrupt them: There’s a fire upstairs, where the kids are.

Mulder runs up to face his demons and save the Marsdens’ children. He does neither, instead almost passing out from smoke inhalation and having to be rescued by firefighters. Cecil pulls the kids out and is hailed as a hero. At least Mulder has Scully to tend to him, since Phoebe doesn’t seem to care. Scully takes her partner back to his hotel, where he laments that he panicked and froze when he tried to get to the kids.

Scully’s suspicious of Cecil, but Phoebe arrives to report that he has a clean record. He was supposedly with the kids the whole time. Scully’s surprised to hear that, since she thought she saw him downstairs. Phoebe announces that the Marsdens are returning to England in a few days, and she’ll be heading across the pond, too. So much for a possible Mulder/Phoebe hookup.

Scully tells Mulder that she still suspects Cecil, since he worked as a gardener for two of the murder victims. He was questioned and released by Scotland Yard, but Scully discovered that he actually died in a fire in 1971. Another man with a similar name died in a ritual cult sacrifice in the 1960s. Most recently, Cecil’s name came up on a list of recent immigrants – he arrived in the States two weeks ago. While Mulder runs after Phoebe to warn her, Scully gets a composite sketch and realizes that Cecil is “Bob.”

The Marsdens rush to leave Cape Cod, amusing Cecil. Scully heads to the house, where Mulder, who’s found an accelerant in the garage, tells her that the driver has disappeared. When Scully shows the Marsdens the composite sketch, they tell her the killer isn’t the driver, it’s the caretaker, “Bob” – and he’s upstairs with the children. The agents go looking for the kids but only find the missing driver, who’s been burned beyond recognition. There’s a bottle of cough syrup nearby.

The other adults alert Mulder to a fire in the bedroom, and they stand around like morons while Mulder tries to put it out. But hey, at least he got to face his demons. He thinks the whole house has been rigged to go up. Everyone runs outside, and Mulder goes to look for the kids. He runs into Cecil, who lights a hallway on fire with a snap of his fingers.

Mulder’s trapped by flames as Cecil saunters downstairs, encountering Scully. He taunts that she won’t shoot him, since the spark from her gun firing will blow up the house. Good thing Phoebe’s there to throw accelerant on Cecil. Upstairs, Mulder musters up his courage and rescues the kids. Cecil sets himself ablaze, cackling that they can’t kills him – “you can’t fight fire with fire!” Uh…good one?

Back in D.C. sometime later, Scully asks after Phoebe, but Mulder hasn’t been in touch. She sent another tape, but Mulder isn’t curious enough to listen to this one. Scully writes her report, stating that Cecil is in the hospital, having his massive burns studied because he’s expected to make a full recovery thanks to rapid cell regeneration. Once he’s recovered, he’ll be tried for the death of the real caretaker. In his hyperbaric chamber, Cecil tells a nurse that he’s dying for a cigarette.

Thoughts: Cecil is played by Mark Sheppard, who Supernatural fans would know as Crowley. In this episode, he uses British, Irish, and American accents in this episode; shaves his beard; and wears a jean jacket. It’s supremely weird.

Who makes a kid spend the night in a burned-down houses to scare off looters? If that’s the kind of childhood the Mulders let their kids have, Samantha was the lucky one.

I assume that, when she was tending to Mulder after the fire, Scully found it a medical necessity to take his shirt off? I mean, I would never question her course of treatment. She’s a doctor, after all.

August 29, 2015

BH90210 9.26, That’s the Guy: Kelly Get Your Gun

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:09 pm by Jenn

I found this in the dictionary under "justifiable homicide"

I found this in the dictionary under “justifiable homicide”

Summary: David makes Gina go to the hospital after her collapse at the skating rink. She’s very much against this and glares at everyone involved. At the boutique, Kelly criticizes a customer for wanting to buy a dress that shows a lot of skin. Donna advises her to talk to Matt, who she’s been avoiding since her rape. Donna assures her that Matt’s feelings toward her won’t change after he finds out what happened. As Kelly leaves, Joe shows up to ask Matt to help him bring a case against the police for brutality.

Gina stops by David’s to tell him she has some sort of imbalance and electrolytes issue but is okay. David knows there’s something more going on and encourages her to tell him. She admits that she’s struggled with bulimia for years, stemming from trying to stay in shape for skating. David’s the first person she’s told. He appreciates her honesty. Dylan posts fliers offering $100,000 for information on Kelly’s attack. A homeless woman tells him that she was there and heard Kelly screaming. The woman tried to get help, but no one listened to her. She praises Dylan for what he’s doing.

As another man tears down a flier, Janet reads a rave review of the Beverly Beat to Steve. The two of them celebrate by smashing a solar-powered calculator, since now they can afford batteries. Janet’s ecstatic that Steve turned the tabloid into a profitable paper. He’s throwing a party at the After Dark, featuring Collective Soul. Matt finds Kelly on the beach and tries to find out if her problems are relationship-related. She tells him she was raped, and he assures her that that doesn’t change anything.

Noah also has relationship questions, wanting to know why Donna’s still dragging her feet about moving in together. She won’t give him any straight answers, so he tells her they’re through. Yay, only two years too late! Matt tracks down Dylan to bug him about calling Kelly the night she was raped. He’s also a little annoyed that Kelly told Dylan about her assault, but not Matt. Dylan thinks it was easier for her to talk about a sex crime with someone she’s not having sex with. Dylan gets a call from the flier-ripper-downer, who wants to meet and point Dylan in the right direction.

David asks Gina why she felt the need to start purging again. She says she’s never felt good enough or pretty enough – “not blond enough.” In other words, she was jealous of Kelly. At the beach apartment, Donna’s happy to see Kelly dressed up for a date with Matt. Kelly feels like she can handle things now, thanks to how well Matt reacted. Wayne calls, wanting to go out with Donna. Donna tells Kelly that she and Noah broke up, but she blames the pressure of stepping things up, not Wayne. Kelly encourages her to call Wayne back. Donna notices that she’s taking her gun on her date.

David and Gina set up dominos around the house, as David attempts to distract Gina from her problems. When Dylan comes home, David tells him that Gina’s spending the night, and Dylan needs to leave her alone. Dylan’s annoyed to hear them having fun together. Over at the After Dark, Collective Soul performs. Not one person in the group has an attractive haircut. Matt talks about Joe’s case with Kelly, who doesn’t like that he got a criminal released from jail on a technicality. Janet’s suddenly not so excited about the paper’s successes; she doesn’t want to do this for the rest of her life.

Dylan drops by the club to ask Matt if he learned anything about Kelly’s rapist from the cops. He objects to the fact that Matt brought Kelly to the club. Matt tells him to stop acting like he knows what Kelly needs better than her own boyfriend does. Donna invites Wayne over and tells him she and Noah are done. She’s inspired by Kelly’s attack to do more interesting things with her life. The two take things to the bedroom, and I’m going to guess that Donna was planning that all along, since there are lit candles in there.

The club is crowded, and when a guy bumps into Kelly, she has a flashback to her attack. She thinks the guy is Joe, but he’s not. Matt realizes that Kelly isn’t doing as well as he’d thought. David and Gina wake up in his bed (fully clothed), and though he’s apologetic for not giving her some space, she’s totally fine with it. In fact, she wants to spend another night there. Meanwhile, Dylan and Matt tend to Kelly at the Walshes’ house.

Donna makes breakfast for Wayne. He reminds her that he’s heading to Mexico for a tournament, and will be traveling all summer. She’d like to tag along, but she has a job and friends in Beverly Hills. She also has an ex-boyfriend, as she remembers when Noah shows up to talk. He’s learned of Kelly’s rape and realized that that’s why Donna’s been so distant. Donna tries to rush him out of the house, asking him to meet her for lunch. Wayne makes his presence known, and suddenly Noah isn’t so interested in fixing things.

Dylan goes to a bar to meet Sean, the guy who claims to have information on Kelly’s rapist. Dylan gives him part of the reward money, promising the rest when the rapist is arrested and convicted. Sean’s tightlipped but tells Dylan to wait around for a while – the guy will show up. Steve meets Kelly to get some advice on what to run as the paper’s lead story the next day. He apologizes for one of the options, which objectifies women. He just wanted to help take Kelly’s mind off of things. Kelly appreciates it.

Sean takes Dylan out to an alley to meet the rapist, but it’s just an excuse to get Dylan alone so Sean and another guy can attack him. Fortunately, Dylan has brought Matt along as backup. That night, Kelly has a nightmare about her assault, and Donna comforts her. Kelly knows she won’t be able to move on until her rapist pays for what he did. Dylan and Gina make awkward small talk, trying to gauge what kind of friendship they have. They get close enough to kiss, wondering what they’re going to do.

Donna visits Noah at the After Dark, telling him that this is the first time her life she doesn’t know what she wants. She loves Noah and wants to work through things. Noah asks if she loves Wayne. Donna replies that she doesn’t even know him. Noah announces that he’s going to find a hot girl in the club, take her home, and then go to Donna’s work and ask her to understand. Janet goes to the office after hours and learns that Steve is letting a rape support group use it for meetings. Janet realizes that she can see herself working at the Beverly Beat for a long time after all.

Kelly counsels Donna on her relationship, reminding her that she loves Noah, and Wayne is never around. But then Wayne shows up, telling Donna that a friend wants his help getting a company off the ground. Now Wayne will be around. In other weird love triangle news, David comes home to find Gina in Dylan’s bed. Matt tells Joe he’ll help him with his case, though he’s not that happy about it. Joe wants to buy his girlfriend a present, so Matt sends him to the boutique. As soon as Kelly and Joe come face to face, they recognize each other. Joe locks the doors and pulls out his knife. But he literally brought a knife to a gunfight. Kelly and her six bullets are the last things he sees.

Thoughts: After all these years, I’m finally down to the last season of this show. There’s light at the end of this tunnel!

I guess a guy like Joe would know what “brutality” is.

This is probably the first time I’ve thought about Collective Soul in years. And now it will be a few more years before I think of them again.

Oh, I see a velvet belly shirt! My eyes! My eyes!

Donna makes pancakes in a pot. That seems time-consuming. You can only make one at a time unless you make them really tiny. Here’s a hint, Donna: The “pan” in “pancake” is for…well, pan. What you should cook them in.

Steve is a doof, but he really can be a good friend.

August 25, 2015

SVT #37, The War Between the Twins: Actually, It’s About Ethics in Journalism

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 6:18 pm by Jenn

Ugh, stonewashed mom jeans

Ugh, stonewashed mom jeans

Summary: At the end of the last book, Jessica was eager to write an article about the Unicorns for the Sixers. Elizabeth decides to humor her and publish it on the front page. The Unicorns are thrilled they’re going to get some publicity, as if everyone in the school doesn’t already know about them. But at the last minute, the Sixers has to include breaking news about a coach’s injury, and Jessica’s article has to be bumped. Elizabeth isn’t able to tell her ahead of time.

The Unicorns are furious with this development, accusing Elizabeth of deliberately messing with them. Then, like a typical child, Jessica announces that the Unicorns will just start their own paper. I mean, how hard can it be? Janet immediately takes control, though she at least tries to form a democracy before becoming the dictator we know she truly is. (In this case, though, it’s a good idea. Someone needs to make decisions.)

The girls write mostly inane articles, including one about an upcoming school dance they’re in charge of organizing. Lila’s supposed to book a band, since she thinks her uncle can use his connections in the music industry to get one. She writes in the article that a special mystery act will perform. The paper is supposed to come out on Tuesday, a day ahead of the Sixers, and will be eight pages, printed in purple paper.

Almost none of that happens. Ellen writes a horrible article about her new purple sweater. Tamara writes two paragraphs on the Unicorns’ history, when she was supposed to write two pages. Mary has to type everything up. No one other than Jessica is interested in actually getting the paper to press. There are only three pages of “news,” so Jessica adds in Unicorn meeting minutes (who’s taking minutes anyway?), claiming that people are always asking what happens at their meetings.

The girls can’t use the ditto machine at school to print the paper on Tuesday. (Were people still using ditto machines in 1990?) This means they don’t get their paper out before the Sixers. Not that it matters, since the paper Lila bought is too dark for black print. Even if they could read it, no one wants a copy. The Sixers figure they’re safe from any kind of meaningful competition. The Unicorns are reading to fold, but Jess isn’t going to let Elizabeth win. Janet lets her take charge, and the girls work toward a second edition.

Jessica announces that the paper will now be four pages, printed on white paper, and called The Middle School News so as not to alienate non-Unicorns. They’ll also include news about more than just themselves. Lila thinks they should print an interview with Donny Diamond, a rock star who’s the girls’ latest obsession. They don’t actually need to talk to him – they can just publish the answers he would give if they were to actually interview him. If anyone asks, they’ll say that Lila’s uncle introduced them to Donny.

This edition of the paper is a success, even though it now costs 15 cents. Everyone’s excited about the Donny “interview” and starts writing in with questions for him. The Unicorns answer them as only preteens can. (Example: Jealousy is good because it means your boyfriend cares.) One letter asks for photo proof that the Unicorns actually met Donny, since the writer doesn’t think they did. Jessica manages to alter a photo they took with Janet’s brother to make it look like they hung out with Donny. The Unicorns think the letter came from the Sixers, who have started to realize that The Middle School News might be a threat.

Lila’s slowly growing more anxious about the school dance, since she hasn’t heard back from her uncle. She admits to Jessica that she hasn’t been able to line up a special guest. She tries to pawn off the problem to Jess, who’s already swamped trying to turn out the paper. Then things get more complicated with gym teacher Ms. Langberg starts asking questions about the Unicorns’ dealings with Donny. Jess keeps up the charade pretty well, but she knows Ms. Langberg’s suspicions aren’t going to just go away.

In the next round of questions for Donny, the girls get an accusation that their picture with him was faked. The writer asks how long they can keep up their ploy before everything comes out. Jessica is sure that Elizabeth is behind the anonymous letters, but Liz is clueless. She has, however, heard rumors that Donny will be performing at the dance. Thanks to Caroline Pearce (of course), the rumors make it to the high school. Everyone is excited for the dance, thinking they’re going to get a private concert from a huge star.

Ms. Langberg tells Jessica and Lila that even she’s heard the rumors. The girls tell her they’re not true, then come clean about all the things they made up for the paper. Ms. Langberg orders them to make a public apology at the dance. She’ll provide a group for the music – her accordionist cousin, Donald Kaminsky, and his Polka Dots. So not only do the Unicorns have to reveal that they fooled everyone, but they have to listen to polka music.

There’s a huge crowd at the dance, all chanting Donny’s name. Jessica and Lila announce that the interviews in the paper were all fake. Everyone’s mad, accusing the girls of lying to get a big crowd at the dance (though, in their defense, the Unicorns never confirmed that Donny would be there). Donald Kaminsky and the Polka Dots come on stage to face a very angry audience. But it’s all okay – Donald is really Donny Diamond in disguise.

Everyone thinks the Unicorns planned this all along, and that their “confession” was just a joke. Ms. Langberg explains that Donny sent them the anonymous letters to shame them for making money using his name. Jessica and Lila nicely decide to donate the money they made (a whole $45, which isn’t much until you remember that they only charged 15 cents a copy). The Unicorns get their picture taken with Donny for real. Not much of a punishment for lying and fraud, is it?

We end the book with Bruce being a jerk to Lois Waller because she’s heavy. Elizabeth and Amy are there when he challenges Lois to a bike race. But her pedals fall off because Bruce messed with her bike to humiliate her in front of a group of people. Sounds about right. This will lead into the next book.

Thoughts: Lila Fowler has a bedtime? I don’t think so. I also don’t believe she ever walks to school.

“As second-in-command, it was her duty to be loyal.” Jessica’s going to make an A+ trophy wife someday.

“Jessica had suffered enough. Maybe she had even learned a lesson, for once!” Elizabeth, why are you so dumb?

August 23, 2015

The X-Files 1.11, Eve: Experimenting With Eugenics? What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Posted in TV tagged , at 2:23 pm by Jenn

Nothing out of the ordinary here, just a normal little family...

Nothing out of the ordinary here, just a normal little family…

Summary: It’s a quiet morning in Greenwich, Connecticut, and a little girl is standing in a driveway, clutching a stuffed animal. A couple jogging by stops and asks the girl, Teena, where her father is. She tells them that he needed time alone. The jogging husband finds Teena’s father, Joel, sitting on a swing. He’s dead, with two puncture marks on the side of his neck.

In D.C., Scully tells Mulder that Joel died of massive blood loss – he lost four liters. Mulder quips that he was “running on empty.” Scully’s like, “Ha ha ha, his eight-year-old daughter was there, you jerk.” There’s no evidence at the scene. Mulder starts talking about some mutilated cows with the same punctures and blood loss, with no blood found at the scene. Scully notes that those mutilations have been connected to alien abductions. Mulder thinks Teena was abducted when her father was being killed.

The two travel to Greenwich, where Teena’s being kept at a social services hostel until a foster family can be found for her (her mother is also dead). Scully starts the questioning, treating the situation as if it were a human-on-human crime. Mulder takes over, asking about strange sounds. Teena reports seeing red lightning before everything went dark. “The men from the clouds – they were after my dad,” she says. “They wanted to exsanguinate him.”

Scully gets a call and tells Mulder that there was another death. The agents head to Marin County, California, where Doug Reardon was found dead at the exact same time and in the exact same circumstances as Joel. He also had digitalis in his system. Doug’s daughter Cindy was at the house at the time but doesn’t remember anything. Mulder’s sure that Cindy, like Teena, will remember seeing red lightning.

That night, Teena lies away during a thunderstorm. She moves a chair in front of the door and locks the window just before someone tries to get into her room. She hides under the bed, only getting out when she thinks she’s safe. Moments later, there’s a flash of light. A social worker hears Teena scream and runs to her room, but the girl is gone.

Mulder and Scully discuss her disappearance, which Mulder, of course, thinks is an alien abduction. They go to meet Cindy, who looks exactly like Teena. Her mother, Ellen, denies that Cindy was adopted, and was the only child born at the time. Scully shows her a picture of Teena and Joel, telling her that Joel died at the same time Doug did, in the same way. Ellen says that she conceived Cindy through in-vitro fertilization.

Scully tells Mulder that it’s completely possible that two people could look exactly alike. Mulder thinks it’s less likely that the two people would have fathers who died through exsanguination at the same time. Since Teena disappeared, Mulder thinks Cindy will, too, so he wants to keep an eye on the Reardons’ house.

Meanwhile, Scully goes to the Luther Stapes Center to find out more about in-vitro fertilization. The doctor she talks to, Katz, denies any possibility that a patient could receive an embryo from someone other than herself. Scully looks through files and discovers that Teena’s mother also underwent in-vitro fertilization at the Luther Stapes Center, under the supervision of Dr. Sally Kendrick.

Katz isn’t a fan of Kendrick’s, reporting that she was fired for dabbling in eugenics experiments. However, when he requested an investigation, he was denied. Kendrick has since disappeared. Scully takes the information to Mulder, who wonders if Kendrick is trying to erase any evidence that she was experimenting. Scully thinks she’s working with someone else to get revenge on the Luther Stapes Center.

The phone rings, but Scully only hears clicks on the line. Mulder kicks her out, saying he wants to watch a movie. He really goes to meet Deep Throat, who wants to discuss the Litchfield Experiments. In the ’50s, Russians were experimenting with eugenics, trying to create a “superior soldier.” A compound in Litchfield housed a bunch of genetically superior children. The boys were called Adam and the girls were called Eve.

Deep Throat gets the agents access to an institution for the criminally insane, where they meet Eve 6. They recognize her, since she looks just like Dr. Kendrick. She tells them that the Adams and Eves were prone to suicide, so most of them are dead. Eve 7 and Eve 8 escaped. Eve 6 says she’s not Kendrick, but “she is me and I am her, and we are all together.” The Litchfield experimenters test her to see what went wrong, but Eve 6 knows that Kendrick knows exactly what that is.

The clones have heightened skills, like strength and intelligence, but along with them comes heightened psychosis. On her walls are pictures of a dozen Eves, who all look like Cindy and Teena. Mulder summarizes the case: Kendrick used the Luther Stapes Center to continue the Litchfield experiments, cloning herself.

Cindy goes to bed as the agents stake out her house. Mulder and Scully decide that Kendrick is using one of the clones as an accomplice to get the Eves away from their adoptive parents. Cindy spies on them through her bedroom window as Scully wonders if the Eves know what they are. A light shines from Cindy’s closet, and Scully sees someone come out and grab Cindy. The agents circle the house, and someone knocks Scully out.

Mulder catches one of the escaped Eves leaving the house with Cindy, but she’s armed, so he has to give her a head start. Scully calls the police and sends out a team to search for Kendrick and Cindy. Mulder assures Ellen that Kendrick most likely wants to keep Cindy alive. Kendrick takes Cindy to a motel, where Teena is happy to meet her lookalike. In the morning, someone at the motel calls to report guests fitting Kendrick and Cindy’s descriptions.

Kendrick tells the girls her work at the Luther Stapes Center; the psychosis didn’t develop in the clones until they were in their 20s. The girls say they “just knew” about each other, and how to orchestrate their fathers’ deaths. They deny that they were born – “we were created.” Kendrick tells them they need to think of themselves as humans, no matter how special they are. The man who raised her was able to give her treatments to make her normal.

Kendrick starts to shake, and the girls smile evilly. They gave Kendrick a lethal dose of digitalis. “You made us,” they remind her – she should be able to figure out why they did it. The agents arrive at the motel and find Kendrick dead. The girls say that Kendrick and a woman who looked just like her tried to get them all to poison themselves. Mulder thinks they’re dealing with Eve 8 now.

The agents ask to keep the girls with them, wondering how they’ll cope when Teena returns to foster care. After driving for a while, the girls ask to stop to use the bathroom. The agents take them to a café, where Mulder orders sodas (diets for the adults, regulars for the girls). One of the girls sneaks out of the restroom, takes two of the sodas, and puts digitalis in them. Mulder asks her to take a sip to make sure it’s diet, but the girl declines.

The group heads back to the car, but Mulder can’t find his keys. When he goes back in to get them, he finds traces of a green substance on the counter. As soon as he realizes what it is, he races back outside and makes Scully spill her drink. He quietly tells her that the girls poisoned their drinks (though they didn’t drink enough to get the effects).

The girls disappear, so the agents search for them through rows of semi trucks. Their superior intellect isn’t enough to keep them from being found by a seasoned FBI agent. However, the fact that the girls look like…well, girls makes a couple suspicious that they’re being kidnapped. The girls are able to run off again. They hide in a boat while the agents leave, thinking they escaped with a bus full of kids. This time, though, Mulder fools them and captures them.

Mulder and Scully tell Ellen what happened, letting her know that she has the right to find out more. Ellen says that Cindy was never really her daughter. She tears up a family picture and burns it. The Eves are taken to Eve 6’s institution, where they receive a visitor: Eve 8. How did they know Eve 8 would come for them? They “just knew.”

Thoughts: Want to feel old? The twins who played Teena and Cindy are now 31. They’re older than Gillian Anderson was when this episode was filmed.

Probably everyone knows this, but ’90s one-hit-wonder band Eve 6 named themselves after this episode.

Isn’t Mulder’s mother also named Teena, spelled the same way? What’s the show’s interest in that name with that unusual spelling?

It looks like Mulder just keeps a handful of sunflower seeds in his jacket pocket. I feel bad for his dry cleaner.

August 22, 2015

BH90210 9.25, Agony: Kelly’s Horrible Life Gets Worse

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

Sorry, Matt

Sorry, Matt

Summary: Kelly goes to the hospital after her assault and speaks with a nurse and a police officer. Dylan goes to the beach apartment looking for her, worried since she never turned up to meet him. Gina refuses to relay any messages. Kelly is subjected to a lot of questions and given the phone number for RAINN’s crisis hotline. The nurse apparently confided that she was also raped in the past, and when Kelly asks, she admits that her assailant was never caught.

Noah is still hoping to move in with Donna, so I guess he didn’t hear her in the last episode when she said she didn’t want to live together. She tells him she feels like they’re moving too fast. Noah points out that they’ve been dating for a year and a half. If Donna doesn’t want to live together, they should break up. Kelly comes home, having been at the hospital all night, but doesn’t tell Donna what happened. The first thing she does is take a shower.

Gina has the chance to join some skating tour, and David would actually miss her if she left. Janet tells Steve about a friend of hers who just won an Obie for a play he wrote. A man putting together a photo anthology wants to use one of Steve’s pictures from the Beverly Beat. Kelly continues being distant with Donna, who’s clueless. Dylan, however, immediately notices that something is off about her. She tells him what kept her from meeting him the night before.

Matt takes on a new client, Joe, who was arrested for burglary. He has no idea that Joe is Kelly’s rapist. Dylan takes Kelly to his and David’s place, asking David to keep quiet about her presence. David asks if Dylan would be okay if he went out with Gina. After, all if Kelly’s there, Dylan must be moving on. Dylan tells him to do whatever he wants, but suggests that he hold off for a little while.

Instead, David meets Vanessa Marcil’s skating double Gina at a rink and asks her to dinner, pretending he just wants her to teach him about skating. Gina wants to go, though she’s not sure where Dylan fits in. David tells her that Dylan’s totally fine with it. In that case, Gina’s definitely on board.

Donna goes to Kelly for advice, confiding that she wants to sleep with Wayne. She’s used to only having sex with guys she’s in serious relationships with. She wants to know if casual sex is “wrong.” Kelly replies that there’s no such thing as casual sex. Then she announces that she’s having the locks changed because her purse was stolen. Dylan overhears and urges Kelly to tell people what happened.

Matt meets with Joe, who claims he didn’t rob anyone. He just traded crack for the stereo he’s accused of stealing. That’s totally okay, then, right? Dylan goes with Kelly to look at mugshots of sex offenders, since the police don’t have any leads yet. Steve takes pictures in a sewer, telling Janet about Jackson Pollack and muses and stuff. Janet, you don’t have to go everywhere with him, you know.

David and Gina stop by his place after dinner, and of course Dylan’s there, and of course it’s awkward. Gina spots Kelly and tells Dylan that the two of them deserve each other. Kelly asks Dylan to take her home. There, Donna’s on the phone with Wayne; they’re playing that game where you make a list of things to take on a trip. Is this supposed to be foreplay? Noah tries to call but Donna ignores him.

Kelly’s jumpy when she hears scratching at the door, but it’s just Matt trying to fit his key in the new lock. When he kisses her, she tells him she’s not in the mood for intimacy. Matt’s mad about the various things she’s said happened the night before; he thinks she was really with Dylan and doesn’t want him to know. Kelly asks him to leave.

In the morning, Matt confronts Dylan, who won’t confirm or deny whether he and Kelly were together. All he says is that he was tempted to use, so he called a friend. Matt warns him not to take advantage of her. At the boutique, a customer makes Kelly uncomfortable, so she tells him they’re closing. Then she calls RAINN’s hotline for comfort.

Matt takes Steve to the site of Joe’s alleged burglary, because I guess a random guy’s photos of a crime scene are admissible in court. Steve doesn’t really know anything about cameras, by the way. Matt wants to prove that the police didn’t have cause to follow Joe, and that they searched his apartment without a court order. Steve is smarter about surveillance than he is about photos, as he points out that there’s a security camera on the scene.

Donna and Wayne hang out, and though she’s a little nervous about having casual sex, she’s mostly ready for it. He tells her to get ready faster, since he’ll be leaving the country next week for a tournament. Then he asks her to come along. Now Donna’s not ready for casual sex after all. At the Peach Pit, Gina snipes at Dylan about Kelly. He tells her he’s doing Gina a favor by pushing her away: “I’m poison. People around me die.” After he leaves, she goes to the bathroom to purge.

Donna finds Kelly distressed at the beach apartment, and Kelly finally tells her about her assault. Her attacker threatened to kill her, and she feels like he did, in a way. The next day, Donna asks Wayne for some time to figure out what she wants to do. The tape from the security camera proves that the police followed Joe and accused him of stealing a stereo they never even saw. Matt’s able to get Joe released.

Noah wants to talk to Donna about living arrangements, but she wants to focus on Kelly right now. Despite his success getting Joe cleared, Matt knows he’s guilty. Joe will be putting in some time at Matt’s office to pay his bill. Dylan relays a message to Kelly that the police still haven’t found her rapist; her description isn’t consistent enough for them to find a suspect. Matt apologizes to them for accusing them of keeping secrets.

Steve shows his pictures to the guy putting together the anthology, but he’s not interested anymore. Janet tries to encourage Steve to stick to his newfound hobby, since Pollock wasn’t appreciated at first either. Steve admits that the photo that got the guy’s attention in the first place was a fluke – he dropped the camera and it went off by itself. Janet admires him for working so hard. She wants to keep one of the pictures he took of her, even though she doesn’t like being photographed.

Dylan goes to Gina’s tryout, but David asks him to leave. When Gina’s name is called for her turn, she doesn’t appear. David goes looking for her, and another competitor tells him that Gina threw up and fainted in the bathroom. Noah wants to see Donna, who tells him she’s not free but won’t explain why. Kelly’s upset that the odds of her rapist being found are getting smaller and smaller. At her request, Dylan brings her a gun to help her feel safer.

Thoughts: The girl at the rink who talks to David is played by Keiko Agena (Lane from Gilmore Girls).

’90s music alert: “Save Tonight” by Eagle Eye Cherry.

Jennie Garth is good in this episode, but I wish she’d find a way to telegraph anxiety other than running her hands through her hair.

Hi, Noah. Why are you on this show?

August 18, 2015

SVU Thriller, Don’t Answer the Phone: Sweet Valley Is Still the Murder Capital of the World

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 8:15 pm by Jenn

I thought Enid decided against plastic surgery at that death spa

I thought Enid decided against plastic surgery at that death spa

Summary: Good news, people who have been dying for an Alex book – your day has come. Alex is still dating Noah, though things aren’t going very well for them. She has a habit of being late to meet him, and he blames her tendency to spend too much time with her sorority. He doesn’t like the person she’s become. Alex, however, likes who she is. She hated herself as Enid, but in college, she’s been able to reinvent herself. She’s the person she always wanted to be, especially since she’s quit drinking.

Alex still works at the SVU substance-abuse helpline, which is how she met Noah. She’s able to use her own experience abusing alcohol to connect with the callers. She takes a call from a guy calling himself Rodin, after the sculptor, and helps him stay strong while he tries to lay off the booze. Then she meets Rodin face-to-face in art class. He’s a guy named Luke who’s in love with her, even though they’ve never spoken.

After another big fight with Noah, Alex goes to the helpline hoping to put in some extra hours. She meets Fred, the new supervisor, who’s a huge jerk. He wants to schedule everyone’s time (even though they’re all volunteers) and dictate how they speak to callers. Alex talks back to him, which is partly awesome and partly dumb, because you don’t want to tick off someone who has that much power over you. But I guess it’s just another example of the kind of person Alex is now compared to who she was as timid, always-follows-the-rules Enid.

Alex takes a call from someone she thinks is pulling a frat prank. He guesses what she’s wearing and calls her “baby” and is generally someone you wouldn’t want to talk to. She tries to brush off the incident. However, she can’t brush off Fred, who’s mad that she’s listed as Enid in his files but uses the name Alexandra. Apparently this is a big deal to people, which I don’t get. It’s like using a nickname.

Another call comes from the creepy guy, who tells Alex that she’s supposed to be his. She’s still not sure this isn’t a prank, but she’s definitely freaked out, as she should be. As he calls more frequently (and accidentally IDs himself as Travis, though it’s not clear if that’s his real name), Alex considers calling the police, but she’s incredibly mistaken about the helpline’s confidentiality policy. She’s been told that under no circumstances is she allowed to tell anyone what someone has told her on the phone. Alex, dear, this doesn’t count. A guy threatening you is no longer subject to confidentiality. Your personal safety is not more important than his anonymity.

Here’s where things really start going off the rails. The caller goes to the sorority house and murders someone he thinks is Jessica. It’s actually a pledge named Susan, Alex’s “little sister,” who had borrowed Jessica’s sweater. She was also wearing a pair of Lila’s earrings, which the killer rips out of her ears (ow) and later puts in Alex’s room. Alex thinks the killer is targeting her friends, so she breaks up with Noah to protect him. She should really break up with him because he’s a jerk and thinks she’s psychologically screwed up because she has two personalities, Enid and Alex. Shut it, Noah.

Alex decides to sculpt a limestone memorial for Susan (just go with it), and the extra hours in the art classroom have her getting to know Luke better. They have a lot in common, between their love of art and their experiences with drinking. Alex is late to her next shift at the helpline, where Fred is upset that a girl who used to have a drinking problem is now giving advice to people with substance-abuse issues. Apparently Fred doesn’t know that tons of recovering addicts work in these kinds of positions. Fred asks Alex out, which is really weird, but she tells him off.

Not long after, Alex gets a call from Travis and starts thinking he’s Fred. She finally decides to call the police. She has to make the call from her dorm, since the phones at the helpline don’t make outgoing calls (what?), but in her room, she finds Fred’s body. Minutes later, Noah arrives, claiming he found Alex’s keys (which went missing days earlier). Alex now thinks Noah’s the killer. After all, he’s been showing his temper more and more, he’s been verging on violence, and he had access to Alex’s room to leave the earrings and Fred’s body.

Alex tries to distract herself by working on the memorial sculpture and hanging out with Luke. The two of them kiss, and Alex thinks she’s made a great new love connection. After she leaves the classroom, Travis calls a nearby pay phone (sure, of course). He announces that he’s behind her and grabs her. He’s wearing a ski mask, so Alex can’t see his face. She asks if he’s Noah, then Luke. But Travis has already kidnapped Noah, tying him to a chair, and there’s what looks like a body in the classroom, which Travis says is Luke. With Fred dead, Alex has no other suspects.

Travis decides that he’ll give Noah one chance to save his own life. If he can correctly answer a question, he’ll be allowed to live. The question is: If Enid had a sorority party the same night she needed to study for a test, what would she do? Noah says that she would put in an appearance at the party, then go home and study. Alex is thrilled because that’s exactly what she would do – her boyfriend knows her after all! But Travis says that’s the wrong answer. He wanted to know what Enid would do, not Alex. Semantics!

Alex tries steering into the crazy, as I call it – telling Travis she wants to be with him, and that she’s Enid and not Alex anymore. Travis still wants to kill Noah, so Alex begs him to just let Noah go. Noah promises to leave them alone and let them ride off into the sunset together. Fortunately, Travis is so far gone that he falls for it, and Alex manages to overpower him. The memorial statue falls on him, and just before he dies, he seems to become sane again. Alex unmasks him and realizes that he’s Luke; there’s no body in the classroom. So I guess he had multiple personalities? I don’t know. Alex and Noah are back together and everything’s good again. No one mentions the irony of a person being killed by a memorial.

Thoughts: Noah calls Alex’s sorority house a “Victorian house of ill manners.” Shut up, Noah.

I think Trina’s supposed to be annoying, but I like her. She’s the smartest person in the book.

How does Luke know random pay phone numbers? I mean, I know that’s a strange thing for me to fixate on, but I still want to know the answer.

August 16, 2015

The X-Files 1.10, Fallen Angel: Mad Max

Posted in TV tagged , at 2:19 pm by Jenn

This is normal. Completely normal

This is normal. Completely normal

Summary: There are flames in the woods of Townsend, Wisconsin, but the sheriff’s deputy who arrives on the scene is unable to radio the fire department. Meanwhile, the U.S. Space Surveillance Center in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, spots something in the sky. It was first spotted near Connecticut, but now it’s over Townsend. A higher-up announces that it was a meteor, and definitely not anything top-secret. The higher-up makes a call, confirming a “fallen angel,” and mobilizes Operation Falcon. In Townsend, Deputy Wright sees a bright light and disappears.

Townsend’s residents are evacuated, and the official story is that a train crashed and spilled toxic cargo. Mulder knows better, flashing back to a conversation with Deep Throat, who told him about Operation Falcon. Commander Calvin Henderson is in charge of a mission to retrieve the pieces of a crashed aircraft. Deep Throat warns that Mulder only has a couple days to get on top of things before it’s all swept under the rug.

Now in Townsend, Mulder goes to the woods and finds an area marked off by lasers. There are military personnel all over the place, but they think they’re participating in a drill. Mulder hides on the underside of a Jeep to sneak into the operation’s headquarters. Once darkness falls, Mulder goes to the crash site and takes some pictures. He’s caught by a soldier who knocks him out, but his camera keeps taking photos.

Mulder is taken to Henderson, who warns that Mulder violated a federal quarantine. He claims that they’re trying to protect the environment. Mulder needs to forget that he saw anything. Yeah, that’s not going to happen. He’s taken to a holding cell, where he meets another captive, Max Fenig. He’s with NICAP, the National Investigative Committee of Aerial Phenomenon. Basically, he’s a conspiracy theorist, and a slightly nuttier version of Mulder.

The two men spend the night in their cells, and in the morning, Mulder’s there alone. Scully arrives to retrieve her partner, very much unamused. She yells at Mulder for ignoring protocol like he always does. She confirms that there was no toxic spill, but there was a downed jet carrying a nuclear warhead. Scully believes this cover story because it came from someone with a high classification. Mulder thinks the operation is overkill. Plus, there’s no way the pilot could have survived, as the higher-ups claim.

The air inside the laser fence starts moving around, and something escapes the area. Meanwhile, Scully takes Mulder to his motel, even though she’s supposed to take him back to D.C. for an Office of Professional Responsibility hearing. His room has been trashed, and someone’s still there. The agents enter the bathroom, where a pair of flailing legs is trying to escape through the window. The legs belong to Max, who admits that NICAP has been following Mulder for years through his travel expenses. Mulder’s surprised that anyone was paying attention to his work.

Max takes the agents to his trailer, which is basically Mulder’s alien-themed dream home. The men talk about crop circles while Scully snoops, seeing that Max is on medication. Max has tapped into a lot of communications, and he has a recording of Wright’s call in the woods. After his encounter with the light, someone called for medical aid.

The agents next go to a high school serving as the evacuation center so they can talk to Wright’s wife. She complains that the government won’t release her husband’s body. Scully tells her that’s illegal; she deserves to know the truth. “I can’t afford the truth,” Mrs. Wright says. She needs her husband’s pension. Suddenly the lights go out. Back at Operation Falcon headquarters, they’ve picked up a high-frequency signal. A team is sent out to “search and destroy.” After, like, five minutes (seriously, it takes forever), a bright light flashes and there’s screaming.

Mulder and Scully go to the hospital to talk to Dr. Oppenheim, the doctor who was on duty when Wright was brought in. He won’t talk, so Mulder guesses that the government is blackmailing him to keep quiet. Oppenheim confirms that Wright came in with firefighters, all of them dead from fifth- and sixth-degree burns. The bodies were all taken away before Oppenheim could examine them. Mulder wonders if the burns could have been caused by ionizing radiation.

Scully entertains this idea, but notes that the radiation could have come from exposure to the supposed nuclear warhead. Mulder thinks they’re dealing with a close-encounter situation. Scully reminds him that he needs to go back to D.C. for his hearing. Suddenly the men from the search team are brought in, burned. Henderson walks in after them, giving Mulder a long look.

Mulder badgers Henderson about chasing after a being that reacts like a cornered animal. Henderson tries to get rid of the agents, but Oppenheim demands that Scully be allowed to stay. Mulder is kicked out, so he goes back to Max’s trailer, where he finds Max having a seizure. Once it ends, Max is surprised to learn what happened, since his medication has kept his epilepsy at bay for seven years.

Max tells Mulder that his seizures started when he was a kid. His doctors thought they were the result of a head injury, though Max doesn’t remember hitting his head. He used to wake up in strange places with no memory of arriving there. As Max goes to bed, Mulder sees a strange mark behind his ear. He goes back to his motel and looks up other instances of small scars behind people’s ears.

Scully returns in the morning, telling Mulder that all the burned men except two died. He shows her pictures of two women with no connection to each other who disappeared, then returned with the mark behind their ears. Scully thinks he’s crazy for thinking that Max was abducted. She reports that the medication he takes for epilepsy is also used to treat schizophrenia. Mulder tells her that Max isn’t the one who thinks he was abducted.

Another “meteor” is sighted over Townsend as Max gets a visit from the thing that escaped the lasers. (I don’t know technical terms here.) Max’s ears start bleeding and he wakes up. Mulder and Scully head over to see him, but his trailer is empty. Scully finds blood on his pillow. The agents hear on his surveillance that a trespasser has been spotted somewhere. Scully reminds Mulder of his hearing, but he’s sure that Henderson is going after Max.

Indeed, Operation Falcon tracks Max to a waterfront, and Henderson orders men to “take him with extreme caution.” When Scully and Mulder arrive, they find the men dead. Max is cowering in an old building, scratching at his scar and babbling that “they’re” coming for him. As more men from Operation Falcon arrive, they take Scully into custody, then prepare to swarm the building. A soldier using heat vision spots three creatures in the building.

Mulder tries to get Max to leave with him, but they’re interrupted by the…thingy. There’s a bright light, and Mulder is thrown across the room. He finds Max suspended in the air, caught in a beam of light. The light goes even brighter, and suddenly Mulder’s the only person left in the building. As the soldiers enter the building, Mulder finds Max’s NICAP cap. (Heh.) He tells Henderson that “they” got to Max first.

In D.C., Scully is questioned for Mulder’s hearing. She thinks he should be judged by different criteria than other agents. The man in charge of the hearing doesn’t care what she thinks. Mulder’s sure he’ll be ousted from the FBI, and he doesn’t blame Scully for telling the truth about his actions. As he enters the hearing room, Scully reads a newspaper article reporting that the “toxic cleanup” in Townsend was a success.

Mulder fights the hearing committee over their claims of what happened in Townsend. He’s sure that Max was abducted and everyone knows it. The head of the hearing tells him that Max’s body was found in a cargo container a few hours after he disappears. Mulder announces that too many people know what’s really going on; the government will never able to cover everything up.

Later, the head of the hearing meets Deep Throat to slam him for countermanding the committee’s recommendation to can Mulder. Deep Throat says they have a dilemma because of Mulder’s passions. His insubordination is a small price to pay for making sure Mulder’s safe from coming in contact with the wrong people. After all, they need to keep their friends close and their enemies closer.

Thoughts: It looks like Max was a prototype for the Lone Gunmen.

Hey, Operation Falcon, can you “search and destroy” a little faster? People’s lives are in danger, and the show is only an hour long.

I need the show to give things names so I don’t have to say “thingy.”

August 15, 2015

BH90210 9.24, Dog’s Best Friend: Practically Perfect in Every Way

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

"I heard you haven't had enough tragedies in your life. Let me add one"

“I heard you haven’t had enough tragedies in your life. Let me add one”

Summary: Gina dances with some guy at the After Dark while Dylan tries to get David on board for a road trip. Gina ends the conversation by making David dance with her. Noah asks about all the time Donna’s been spending with Wayne. Kelly tries to get him to stop worrying by telling him that Wayne’s gay. David tells Gina that her plan to make Dylan jealous isn’t working; he’s not paying attention to her. Kelly tries to talk to her, but Gina’s not in the mood.

Matt shows Noah an environmental impact report that Hunter Oil commissioned two years earlier. He was entering into a partnership with another company, and their joint project was making people sick. Matt and Noah fight, and Noah says that as bad as his father was, he wouldn’t knowingly hurt people. Matt encourages him to read the report and see if he changes his mind.

The Beverly Beat has been using a computer program, the Love Fisher, to set people up with their perfect matches. Though it’s been successful, Janet isn’t sold on “perfect” matches. But when Steve leaves the office, she tries out the program herself. Matt’s so busy at work that Kelly pitches in to help with some administrative tasks. Gina’s having a problem with a tooth, so Kelly gives her Mel’s number. Gina’s like, “Thanks, but I still hate you.”

Wayne visits Donna at the boutique, noting that they haven’t seen each other for a few days. She tells him they should probably keep that up. Noah asked her to move in, but her crush on Wayne is making her question whether that’s a good idea. At the Peach Pit, Noah meets with Adam, one of father’s former colleagues, to talk about the impact report. Adam admits that Mr. Hunter knew about the information in the report, and that his company might be making people sick.

David and Dylan take a trip to Vegas, where they catch the attention of some women in a bar. Dylan wants to spend time with them, even after David reminds him that he’s supposed to be with Gina. Janet goes out with a guy she met through the Love Fisher. It turns out they went to the same college and have a lot in common. One of those things is that they’re both in relationships already. The guy thinks he and Janet are perfect for each other.

Mel examines Gina, noting the lack of enamel on her teeth and asking how long she’s been bulimic. He wants her to see an internist to make sure she’s okay. Gina insists she’s fine, but Mel warns that her heart could give out at any moment. Dylan spent the night with Mary, one of the women from the bar, as David learns in the morning. Dylan asks David to play along with his story that he might be back in town in a few weeks.

Janet admits to Steve that she went out with a guy she met through the Love Fisher. It was “by-the-numbers perfect,” but also boring. Janet doesn’t want to be with someone who’s just like her. She’s happy with the person she’s already found. Steve decides to try the Love Fisher himself. Gina obsessively calls Dylan, who doesn’t answer. Kelly tries to patch things up with her, but when Gina makes it clear that she’s not ready to forgive her, Kelly suggests that Gina move out. Gina’s bad week is getting worse, so it’s time to binge.

Noah’s found a place for him and Donna to live, but she thinks he’s pushing things. He tells her to figure out what she wants, kind of implying that if they don’t take this next step, things will change. Dylan packs up to leave Vegas, telling David that Mary was a little too inquisitive after they slept together. David’s like, “Darn women, always wanting to get to know the men they have sex with.” Dylan lets Mary continue to think that he’ll be back to see her in a few weeks.

Noah tells Matt to go ahead and use the impact report against his father. If he was willing to let people get sick so he could make money, Mr. Hunter deserves whatever comes next. Donna’s decided to look at the house with Noah, but first she and Steve commiserate over making big steps in their relationships. Steve decides he’d rather be with Janet than find his perfect match, but when he sees a picture of Lilly, the match the Love Fisher picks for him, he calls her. Donna tells Steve she’s calling Noah, but she phones Wayne instead.

David and Dylan return to Beverly Hills, where David blasts Dylan for leading Mary on and cheating on Gina. Dylan doesn’t appreciate his input. Mary calls to give David a message for Dylan – she’s coming to L.A. to visit a friend, and she wants to get together with Dylan. David tells her that’s a great idea. Donna tells Noah that she doesn’t want to move in together. He declines to hear her explanation. Then he finds something interesting in his father’s things.

Janet surprises Steve at the After Dark, where he’s waiting for Lilly. He introduces Janet as a co-worker, so that’s a problem. Janet quickly figures out that they were matched on the Love Fisher. Noah confronts Adam with what he found in his father’s belongings – a memo from Mr. Hunter telling Adam to kill the project that was hurting people. The partners went ahead with the project and blamed Mr. Hunter when they got sued. Noah knows his father was a good guy after all.

Donna has dinner with Wayne, agreeing with him that they’re too young to settle down. They should date around until they find their perfect matches. No one should stay in a relationship just because they’re afraid of the consequences of it ending. Donna convinces herself that it’s okay to make out with Wayne because if she’s meant to be with Noah, they’ll wind up together. Gina goes to make up with Dylan, but Mary’s arrival ruins things for them yet again. At least now Dylan doesn’t have to figure out how to get rid of Mary.

Later, Dylan confronts David for letting Mary believe something could happen (though that’s what Dylan did first). Dylan thinks David wants Gina for himself. Gina hears him yelling that David’s free to take her. Steve apologizes to Janet, but she knows they tried to the Love Fisher for the same reason. They decide to get rid of it…until Steve discovers that he hit the wrong keys, and Lilly was actually his perfect opposite. His perfect match could still be out there. But he chooses Janet anyway.

Matt assures Noah that Mr. Hunter’s name will be cleared, thanks to his memo. Kelly’s happy that things worked out. They’re also working out for her and Matt. In fact, things are pretty perfect right now. (Way to jinx it, Kel.) Gina puts off a binge to fight with Dylan some more. He tells her he cares about her, but she’d be better off with someone else. Gina doesn’t like that he sleeps around instead of facing his problems. She stomps off and purges.

At the boutique, Donna tells Wayne that she wants to let Noah know that they’ve been seeing each other. She should probably do that instead of kissing Wayne out in the open where anyone can see them. Dylan calls Kelly from a coffee shop, asking her to come talk him out of getting high. Someone follows her from her car, pulls her into an alley, and rapes her at knifepoint.

Thoughts: Okay, so Kelly gets abandoned by her father, has a mother who’s an addict, develops an eating disorder, is burned in a fire, gets addicted to cocaine, gets pregnant and miscarries, is shot, gets amnesia, and now gets raped. She has to be in the top ten most tragic TV characters.

Mary is played by Bonnie Somerville.

’90s music alert: “Smile,” by Vitamin C, and “Baby One More Time” by one Miss Britney Spears.

David, jealous over Dylan’s magnetic pull with women: “I don’t know how you do it.” Step 1: Don’t wear shirts with flamingos on them. Do you hear me, Silver?

I blinked and suddenly I’m just two episodes from the end of the season.

August 11, 2015

SVT #36, Mary is Missing: Gone Girl

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 6:15 pm by Jenn

What are they even looking at?

What are they even looking at?

Summary: Mary is, indeed, missing. She hasn’t been in school, she’s missed Unicorn meetings and get-togethers, and the Unicorns can’t get in touch with her to find out how much money they have in their treasury. When Jessica calls Mary’s mother, Mrs. Wallace just says she’s not available. Since Mary’s been having a lot of issues with her mom, the twins wonder if she ran away from home.

Amy’s next to get involved, going to Mary’s house to retrieve something. Lila and Ellen tell her what Jessica learned from Mrs. Wallace. Steven relays a phone message to the twins, telling them some girl called a few days ago, talking about money. They wonder if Mary took the Unicorn treasury and split town with it. (The treasury supposedly has around $50 in it, which wouldn’t get her far, but to a 12-year-old, that’s a pretty good amount of money.)

Jessica’s able to get Mrs. Wallace to let her into Mary’s room, where she snoops to find clues. I guess she thinks Mary left a note behind saying, “Yes, I took the money and jetted. I’m going to buy ten pairs of purple jellies!” Jessica sees that there are clothes everywhere, even though Mary is usually very neat. It looks like she was packing to leave quickly. But her favorite teddy bear, Max, is still there – Jess doesn’t think Mary would have left without him.

The strange disappearance of a friend doesn’t stop Jessica and Elizabeth from spending some time shopping. While at the mall, they find a newspaper with words cut out of it. Elizabeth Sherlocks the paper until she realizes that the missing words spell “YOUR DAUGHTER IS SAFE WILL BE IN TOUCH SOON DON’T CALL POLICE.” I guess whoever made the cuts didn’t take any punctuation. The girls think the cutter is a kidnapper and used the paper to write a ransom note. Specifically, the think the cutter kidnapped Mary.

The twins bring Amy in to brainstorm possibilities of what happened to Mary. Amy reports that she saw Mrs. Wallace withdrawing money at the bank. Well, that’s damning evidence if I ever heard it. Amy thinks Mary was taken by Annie DeSalvo, the same woman who took her from her mother when she was little, screwing up her entire life.

The girls call the police, speaking with the officer who helped them get back the scrapbook in Jessica on Stage, which is some nice continuity. The officer calls Mrs. Wallace, then reports back to the girls that she said everything’s fine, so they don’t need to worry. Yeah, like the girls buy that. They think Mrs. Wallace lied to the police because, after all, the kidnapper told her not to get them involved. Clearly, Annie kidnapped Mary again, and the girls will have to rescue her.

Elizabeth and Amy want to wait a little while before they make any more moves, so Jessica pulls in Lila and Ellen to team up with her. The three of them hang out outside Mary’s house, trying to listen to Mrs. Wallace’s phone conversations through the window. They hear her telling someone that she’s bringing them “small stuff” that isn’t “marked.” She doesn’t have all of it but is working on getting it together. Sounds like a money drop!

Then the girls see Mrs. Wallace leaving the house with a suitcase, some of Mary’s clothes, and Max. The girls figure that Mrs. Wallace put the money in the suitcase and is delivering some of Mary’s things to her so she can have them while she waits for her mother to get the rest of the money. They try to follow Mrs. Wallace, but they lose her.

Elizabeth and Amy go to the library, where Liz hears someone tearing paper. She loses track of the woman who did the tearing, but finds the newspaper she left behind – it’s an L.A. paper from a week ago. Matching up what was torn out with the full version on microfilm, Elizabeth and Amy see that the woman took an article about the kidnapping of a girl about their age. They figure that the woman is the kidnapper, though they don’t bother coming up with a reason the woman would want the article.

Putting together everything that’s happened, Elizabeth wonders if Mary called the twins not to talk about the Unicorn treasury but to mention the ransom money. She reasons that Mary was unable to get in touch with her mother, so her second best option was calling 12-year-old girls who would be no help. Sure, why not?

At school, a teacher overhears the Unicorns talking about Mary. She tells them that Mary’s in Mexico for a few days; the school okayed the trip because Mary’s social studies class is studying Mexico. The Unicorns think she’s lying. Later, Amy and Elizabeth are at the grocery store when they see the woman from the library. They follow her to a house, deciding that this is Annie and this is where she’s keeping Mary.

Elizabeth and Amy regroup with Jessica, Lila, and Ellen, and they all go to the house together. They spot a basement window they could get through to enter the house and rescue Mary. You may be asking yourself, “Why don’t they call the police?” Congratulations – you are smarter than a Wakefield. The girls can see a light in an upstairs window, and it looks like there’s someone in the house along with the woman. The girls decide to come back the next day.

They head over after dinner the next night, with only two hours before the twins have to be home. Jessica and Lila are late showing up because Lila was on the phone, flirting with Bruce. Then her shoe broke and she made Jessica go back to the house with her. As the kidnapper leaves, Amy and Ellen trade barbs; Ellen and Lila don’t like that Amy’s involved, and vice versa. Amy keeps taunting that Ellen’s too chicken to participate in the rescue mission. Eventually Ellen disappears, and the girls realize she’s heading into the house on her own.

Amy follows Ellen into the house, but it’s dark, so they can’t find each other. Then the kidnapper returns unexpectedly, so Amy has to hide. When Lila and Jessica arrive, Lila finally decides that it’s time to get the police involved. This is easily the most reasonable Lila has ever been. Amy makes it upstairs, looking for Mary. She finds Ellen just as the kidnapper comes upstairs. Amy’s able to hide in a closet, but Ellen is, of course, Ellen, and just stands there like a deer in the headlights.

When the kidnapper spots her, Ellen tries to make a break for the window. Um…good plan? You’re on the second floor, Einstein. The kidnapper tries to grab her, they wrestle a bit, and Ellen accidentally breaks a lamp, the room’s only light source. Amy just hears her screaming. The other girls hear her from outside and rush into the house. When they get upstairs, Ellen’s fine, and Amy is casually sitting on top of the unconscious kidnapper, who Amy knocked out with a chair leg. Between this and calling Ellen a chicken, Amy is easily the MVP of this book.

The girls remember the reason for the rescue mission and go back to rescuing Mary. But she’s not Mary – she’s Becky, a girl from L.A. And the kidnapper isn’t Annie. So the girls stumbled across a kidnapping after following clues they thought pointed to a different kidnapping. Only in Sweet Valley, right?

The police arrive, along with reporters, and the girls are declared heroes. Ellen suddenly loves Amy, who saved her from the kidnapper. Sadly, I don’t think this lasts beyond the book, but it’s pretty funny to see Ellen wanting to invite Amy to Unicorn stuff, when absolutely no one else, including Amy, would be on board with that.

Then the mystery of the book is solved very anticlimactically. Mary was in Mexico, just as the teacher said; she went on a trip with her former foster parents. She had to get ready quickly, which is why her room was a mess. She called Jessica to tell her about the treasury money, but Steven is a dolt and didn’t understand her. Mrs. Wallace was taking some of Mary’s old clothes to a church bazaar, and she took Max to get cleaned. And I guess she was at the bank to…I don’t know…get ice cream? Pet puppies? Certainly not withdraw a normal amount of money for normal purposes.

There’s also some stuff in the book about how the Unicorns are mad that the Sixers (the sixth-graders’ newspaper) doesn’t mention them more often. Elizabeth and Amy are like, “Do something interesting and then we’ll talk.” Liz finally tells Jessica that she can write an article, but she’ll have to figure out how to fit in stuff about every Unicorn who’s thrown a fit about the lack of publicity. This is all a buildup to the next book.

Thoughts: Everything in this book could have been avoided if Mrs. Wallace had just told Jessica what was going on. Thanks a lot, Mary’s mom!

This book is so ridiculous that it almost comes back around to reasonable. I wonder how the girls’ parents reacted when they found out what their kids had been up to.

Elizabeth: “Things like this just don’t happen in real life!” Jessica: “Yes, they do!” Further proof that Jessica doesn’t operate within the bounds of reality.

12-year-old Lila knows the word “reconnaissance.” Mm-hm, sure.

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