August 5, 2014
SVU #21, For the Love of Ryan: Maybe These People Shouldn’t Be Dating Their Co-Workers In the First Place?
Summary: Another summer has rolled around, and this year, the twins plan to do something useful with their time: They’re going to be lifeguards. Apparently there is a Sweet Valley Shore, which is a happening place for celebrities. I think it’s supposed to be like the Hamptons, but less upper-class. Nina worked at the shore the previous summer and has arranged for the twins and Winston to stay in a house with her and two others, Ben and Wendy. They’ll all try to make the lifeguard squad Nina worked on. It seems dangerous to rent a house with people who don’t have a guaranteed paycheck, but when you’re in college, you do wacky things like that.
The head of Sweet Valley Shore’s squad (there are four other squads) is Ryan Taylor, the hottest guy who ever hotted. Jessica is immediately smitten. She’s also super-good at lifeguard stuff. Elizabeth, however, screws up repeatedly and is shocked to discover that not everyone loves her and wants to give her things just because she’s awesome. Ryan doesn’t think she’s good enough for his squad, and Elizabeth has to actually work to prove herself, for once. Winston also sucks, but everyone figured that would happen.
Jessica starts getting to know Ryan, who is nice enough but is very serious about his job and about safety and following the rules. Through conversations he has with Nina, we learn that while he was off-duty the previous summer, a girl drowned, and Ryan blames himself. He thinks that because he’s the boss, all responsibilities fall on him, so all of his lifeguards need to be the best. Fair enough, but he needs to loosen up a little.
Ben also takes an interest in Jessica, but she finds him annoying and tells him she and Ryan are dating so he’ll back off. Except she doesn’t tell anyone else to back up that story, so when Ben brings it up, everyone laughs at her. Ben really is a jerk, by the way; he won’t leave Jessica alone after she asks him to repeatedly, and doesn’t get the hint that she’s really not interested. He’s restraining order material.
Elizabeth continues to make stupid mistakes, and tries to get Nina to defend her to Ryan. Nina won’t, because they’re there to work, not be buddies. I understand Elizabeth’s frustrations with the girl who’s supposed to be her best friend, but I have to side with Nina here. It’s not her fault Liz is screwing up, and she can’t use her friendship with Ryan to get him to go easy on Elizabeth. If Liz can’t do the job, Nina can’t get the rules bent for her. Anyway, Elizabeth gets left behind during a group run, and almost drowns when she goes for a swim. Ryan berates her in front of everyone because no one should go in the water alone. I’m surprised he lets her keep going in the tryout process; I probably would have cut her right then.
Time for a dance! I mean, of course. Nina meets a guy named Paul who’s a thousand times more fun than Bryan (though, let’s be honest, salmonella poisoning is a thousand times more fun than Bryan). Elizabeth stays behind to mope and try to call Tom, who’s in Colorado for the summer, but she can’t reach him. She starts thinking that he’s cheating on her. Ben’s ex-girlfriend, Rachel, who’s on a rival squad, thinks Jessica is interested in Ben and goes psycho on her.
Elizabeth and Ryan run into each other, and she laments that she sucks so badly at lifeguarding. He tells her she’s overthinking everything, and she needs to stop being overconfident. He needs lifeguards who think they’re above making mistakes, because that’ll just make them screw up. Elizabeth cries. Okay, I don’t think she should be a lifeguard. I wouldn’t want my life to depend on this girl.
On the day Ryan will make his final decisions about the squad, Jessica spots someone struggling in the water and saves him. Ryan’s so impressed with her skills and how well she followed protocol that he tells her she doesn’t have to complete the tryout process. It’s nice to see Jessica excel at something important for once. Nina, Ben, and Wendy all make the squad as well, and Elizabeth surprises everyone by getting the last spot. Winston is out, which means he needs to find another job if he wants to stay in the house.
Elizabeth almost gets her butt fired just minutes after being hired, in a really stupid scene. Wendy gets in a fight with a rival squad at a hot dog stand, and they throw condiments at each other. Ryan yells at Liz for not stopping the fight. This is the one time I think he’s too hard on her. She’s not a babysitter, and the other lifeguards are adults – they’re responsible for their own actions. Nina gets on Elizabeth’s case as well, wondering why Liz is so flustered by everything. Liz starts to realize that it’s because she finds Ryan so attractive.
Time for more socializing! Ben helps Jessica get rid of a guy who’s bugging her by pretending to be her boyfriend. Go away, Ben. Elizabeth and Ryan end up in the lifeguard station together, and suddenly they’re both attracted to each other and they kiss. Uh-oh! Jessica goes in to get Ryan to make Rachel leave her alone, and catches her sister kissing her crush. She’s furious, and rightfully so.
Throughout the book, Winston and Wendy have become close friends (but they’re not interested in each other romantically, so Denise has nothing to worry about). She gives him a tour of the shore and points out where all the celebrities live. They also take in a stray dog, which Wendy names Paloma Perro after her favorite singer, Pedro Paloma. (I don’t know why they don’t name the dog Perro Paloma, which makes more sense, but whatever.)
Coincidentally, Pedro has a house at the shore! And when Winston decides to find a way to make money that doesn’t involve lifeguarding, since he’s not sure he’ll make the squad, he decides to conduct celebrity tours. All goes well until his tour group makes a scene at Pedro’s house and the police shut down Winston’s operation. Not realizing that the tour has been canceled, Pedro tracks down Winston and offers him money to stop bringing people by his house. Instead, Winston asks him to ask out Wendy. Pedro resists, so Winston threatens to bring back his tour group. Winston Egbert: blackmailer.
Pedro later calls the house to set up a date with Wendy, and Winston shoots down his suggestions, wanting him to do something memorable. Pedro agrees to dinner and dancing. The date goes really well, at least until Pedro accidentally mentions that Winston got him to ask Wendy out. Wendy won’t listen when Pedro tells her that he really does like her. She’s just furious with Winston for using her.
Now everyone in the house is mad at each other, and Nina comes home to a screaming fight. She awesomely takes charge, getting everyone to shut up and reminding them that they have to work together all summer, so they need to put aside their personal differences. (Nina is fully awesome in this book; I’ve never liked her more.) Except this doesn’t really solve anything, because Jessica’s still going to be mad at Liz for stealing her potential boyfriend. Then the toilet explodes because Winston sucks as a plumber. Womp womp.
Thoughts: This probably makes me sound old and cranky, but they should probably have a rule about lifeguards not dating each other. They don’t need all the drama and distractions while they’re trying to keep people from drowning.
The Sweet Valley Shore is “several hours” from SVU. I don’t understand the geography of this town.
Bryan was supposed to work with the gang, but that makes no sense – we know he only recently learned to swim. No way is he qualified to be a lifeguard.
Winston wears Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. Guys, I finally figured it out. Winston is Pacey Witter.
“Hey, Blondie, how do I start a conversation with you?” Do you think that line has ever worked on anyone? You’re not even trying, Ben.
Not one person mentions that Wendy gave a male dog a female name.
There’s a Hollywood couple named Dan Jamison and Melody Geffin. I assume they have a daughter named Decatur who will be starring in Forty Hues of Beige.
Nina, when Winston struggles during rescue drills: “Come back here and save me.” I love Nina.