July 7, 2015
SVU #39, Elizabeth ♥ New York: Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of
Summary: Tom has landed a great summer internship. Elizabeth was supposed to do an internship for some news show, but it fell through, so she’s stuck working at a bookstore. They’re happy to spend the summer together, as they’ve supposedly planned for a while. Tom is also happy to possibly get some – he thinks this summer is going to be when Liz finally has sex with him. The only person who’s not happy is me, because I have to suffer through another book about Tom.
Elizabeth is a disaster at retail, so it’s good news when she learns that she’s won a fellowship to spend the summer putting on a play in New York. Apparently one of her professors submitted a one-act play she wrote but didn’t tell her about it because it was a long shot. What a surprise that perfect Elizabeth Wakefield beat the odds and came out on top once again!
Elizabeth is uncertain about taking the fellowship, since she’s a journalist, not a playwright. You’d think the fact that someone thought the play was good enough for the fellowship in the first place would be a confidence-booster. She’s also hesitant because she and Tom had planned to spend the summer together, and now she might go to New York. Liz tells Tom about the fellowship, and he immediately starts questioning the logistics: Where will she live? How will she get around? Can she survive a summer in a big, dangerous city, seeing as how she’s just a little girl?
Alice helps out by calling a college friend named Tish to get advice on where Elizabeth can stay. Coincidentally, Tish’s adult daughters are both away for the summer, so there’s plenty of room for Elizabeth to move in. Free housing! Lucky girl. Tom starts worrying about being away from his precious Liz for more than five minutes, so he quits his awesome internship and announces that he’s going to New York with her. That’s not weird at all! Have fun explaining that to future prospective employers, Tom. “I see here that you quit an impressive summer internship after just two days. Why is that?” “Sex.” Tom will also be living at Tish’s. Sigh.
While Tom is so certain that Elizabeth is going to sleep with him, Liz is having mixed feelings. She loves Tom and wants to show that love physically, but she also isn’t sure she’s ready for that next step in their relationship. I can’t tell you how boring it is to read about how they keep almost doing it and then don’t. I really, really couldn’t care less about them.
Anyway, New York. The city is awesome! There are so many people! It’s hot! There’s lots of traffic! People are rude! Liz and Tom meet Tish, who is supremely annoying. She’s every New Age cliché rolled into one, with more added on. If I spent more than five minutes with her, I’d have to leave the room. Elizabeth and Tom go sightseeing, then get all turned on and rush back to the apartment to have sex. Unfortunately, the cab ride home is a little crazy, and Liz accidentally bites Tom’s lip, drawing blood and killing the mood.
Elizabeth starts her actual fellowship, which allows her to cast and produce the play she wrote. The other two fellows are a goth girl named Claire (I can’t believe she doesn’t go by another name, like Raven or Abyssinia or something) and a guy named Gerald who is every pretentious English lit major you will ever meet. They think Elizabeth’s play is stupid – and to be fair, it really, really is. It’s based off a fight she and Tom had in the newsroom. It’s pretty basic for someone who’s supposed to be this spectacular writer, and I have a hard time believing someone thought it was good enough to win a competition.
The dramaturg, Ted, thinks it’s lame, too. He gives Elizabeth a bunch of notes, mostly about how the characters are holding back emotion. Since the characters are based on her and Tom, Liz thinks this means that she and Tom hold back emotion, which is related to their lack of sex. She wonders if they should break up. I think they should, but that’s mostly because I don’t like Tom and don’t want to have to read about him. I guess I’m too partial to get a vote.
Tom looks for a job, but it’s not like a journalism major can just walk into a news studio and start working. Elizabeth takes the wrong subway and ends up at Coney Island, so she calls Tom to come rescue her. Girl, get on another train. You don’t need his help. Tom thinks that since he’s coming to her rescue (and spending a lot of money on a cab to get to her), he should be rewarded. In bed. Shut up, Tom.
Elizabeth has another horrible day, since everyone at the theater thinks she’s lame, and they don’t want her input on their plays. In fact, the only person who’s nice to her is an actor case in Claire’s play. After he gives Liz some encouragement, she realizes that he’s mega-hot movie star Vince Klee. Okay, how many celebrities have the twins met over the years? Vince wants to do some serious theater (he’d probably spell it theatre to make it seem even more serious) because he has a reputation as a mindless action star. Hey, don’t knock it. There’s a lot of money in that.
Liz’s day is looking up, but it comes crashing back down when Ted casts a famous character actress as the lead in her play, without consulting Liz. The actress is annoying and totally wrong for the part. Tom spends the day helping Tish with her aromatherapy business (yes, really), and when Liz comes home, he tries to help her relax using the techniques he’s learned. But when he suggests that they head to the bedroom, she snaps at him. I’m on her side – he needs to read the room and realize she’s not in that kind of mood.
So Tom goes out drinking, encounters a sexist jerk trying to get a woman drunk so he can sleep with her, and realizes that he’s been going about this sex thing all wrong. He goes home and makes up with Elizabeth, who lets him sleep in her bed (all clothes on). The next day, he wakes up with a rash. I hope it’s scabies. Elizabeth goes to rehearsal and finally stands up for herself, telling Ted and Hildy that her play will be performed as written. Apparently Ted was pushing her to try to get her to be more confident and assertive. Then Liz is scandalized because Claire wants her actors to perform nude. Who cares? That’s not Liz’s problem.
Lest we forget about the other Wakefield twin, Jessica gets to have an adventure this summer, too. Her friends all have fabulous summers lined up, but Jessica’s plans haven’t been solidified yet. She tells everyone she’s going to a summer program at the Sweet Valley Police Academy, even though she hasn’t been accepted yet. She’s sure she will, especially after she stops a purse-snatcher from stealing Lila’s bag. But Jessica’s wrong – the academy program is full, so we’re spared the ridiculousness that would be Jessica learning to be a police officer.
Instead, we get a different kind of ridiculousness. Someone submitted Jessica’s name for a special training program for security personnel, and she’s been offered a spot in their Florida session, plus some money. Jessica immediately deposits the money, then tells her parents about the offer. Ned and Alice are somehow surprised that their daughter acted impulsively and made a decision that might not be able to be reversed. Jess drags Liz into it, saying that if Liz gets to go to New York, she should get to go to Florida. Never mind that Ned and Alice are the ones financing most of these adventures. They investigate to make sure this training program is legit, and when they confirm that it is, they let Jessica go.
The first person Jess meets is a guy named Harlan, who’s also flying to Florida from California. Jess thinks her summer will be awesome if there’s a hot guy to flirt with. If she weren’t so boy crazy, she’d realize that Harlan is kind of a jerk. Then again, if Jessica were smarter about any number of things, she’d realize that this summer program isn’t going to be the way she expects. She thinks it’ll be glamorous, teaching her martial arts and how to protect hot movie stars from stalkers. Instead, it’s basically boot camp.
It takes about two seconds for Jessica to get on the bad side of one Sergeant Pruitt, who thinks she’s a princess cheerleader girly-girl who’s in way over her head. I picture Pruitt as Kate Mulgrew (in Orange is the New Black, not Star Trek). She picks on Jessica for everything under the sun, which at first makes Jess want to quit, but then motivates her to shine. She and her partner totally kill an obstacle course, scaring off a snake with a makeshift blowtorch Jessica makes using hairspray and a lighter. Pruitt sabotages the truck they’re supposed to drive, but Jessica’s partner hotwires it to save the day.
Unable to rag on Jessica after she did so well in the competition, Pruitt gives her kitchen duty for “fraternizing” with Harlan. Never mind that all the others were talking to each other, too. Some of the other women are given KP duty, too, and at first Jessica’s worried because she thinks they don’t like her. They assure her that they do, and that everyone hates Pruitt, which allows them all to bond.
Pruitt gives Jessica and her new friends overnight guard duty after they failed to complete a bunch of laps she made them do. She also threatens to have a guy working in the gym discharged; I think the ghostwriter keeps confusing this program for the military. After catching Jessica trash-talking her, Pruitt suggests that they settle their differences in the boxing ring. Jessica is dumb enough to agree, despite not having any boxing experience. Oh, and Pruitt is a Golden Gloves champ. Good job, Jess! Let’s see her try to get out of this one.
Thoughts: Whenever I see a phrase like the title of this book – “X ♥ Y” – I think of Jack saying, “I do not heart prison anymore” on Will and Grace. And now you will, too.
“They’d been planning to spend the summer together for months.” That’s impossible – Tom and Elizabeth just got back together two books ago. Does continuity mean nothing in this series?? Oh, and Nick doesn’t seem to exist.
“‘Liz, please, just remember how much I’ll miss you if you go. That’s all I ask.’ Did that sound too manipulative? Tom wondered.” Yes, it does. Stop that.
Tish wears “a green crocheted vest with floor-length fringe over a flowing, diaphanous purple-and-gold blouse and a black peasant skirt.” She also wears “several crystals” as necklaces. I cannot deal with this woman.
Jessica, singing: “Summerti-i-ime, and the living’s easy / The fish are – something…and it’s OK to wear white shoes!” I’ll admit I laughed at that.
Tom runs into a friend in New York who makes $60,000 a year and can afford a penthouse on the Upper East Side. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha no.
“Doesn’t she realize everything I went through to be with her? You’d think she would want to do something for me!” Is Tom a meninist? Discuss.