July 21, 2015
SVU #40, Private Jessica: Dismissed!
Summary: At the end of the last book, Tom had just suffered a medical crisis. It turns out he’s allergic to myrrh and had a reaction when Tish used it during an aromatherapy session. Where do you even get myrrh? Oh, wait, they’re in New York. You can get anything there. I’m not sure of the point of this development – it doesn’t affect anything in the story, since Elizabeth and Tom weren’t going to have sex anyway. It gets wrapped up quickly and isn’t mentioned again.
Elizabeth continues with her play rehearsals, which are getting worse and worse by the minute because her female lead, Hildy, is insane and Elizabeth has no idea how to actually be a director. The only good thing about the experience is that Liz gets to hang out with mega-hunk movie-star Vince.
Meanwhile, Tom keeps looking for a job. I can’t imagine there are many summer internships that haven’t already been filled. Tom is so desperate for a job that it’s make him dumber; he asks for a job at one shop before even realizing it’s a tattoo parlor. Then he goes to a comic-book store, where the other employees mock his lack of knowledge like they’re on the Internet and he’s a girl. He drops by a public-access production office, but the place is a mess and no one cares about the work. He can’t believe no one thinks this is important. It’s public access, Tom. You’re not going to get any awards there.
Things get even worse for Tom when he starts to see how much time Elizabeth has been spending with Vince. They run into him at a restaurant, and Vince announces that he’s leaving his play because Claire is almost as insane as Hildy. Tom’s annoyed when Vince gives Elizabeth his phone number. But Vince doesn’t quit – a newspaper has mentioned the play, and how Vince will be proving that he’s more than just an action star, so he’s afraid he’ll get criticized if he drops out.
Out on the town again, Tom has a disastrous meeting with an employment agency, then accidentally runs into a PA from a Maury/Jerry Springer/trainwreck-type show called Tease-n-Tell. The PA spills the coffee she was delivering, decides it’s the last straw in her horrible job, and quits. Tom immediately takes her job, even though he’ll be working for a show that’s not exactly the kind of award-winning journalism he was hoping to be a part of. He’s so embarrassed about the job that he doesn’t tell Liz where he’s working, instead saying it’s a “classy cable news magazine currently in development.”
Elizabeth’s male lead, Ken (not Matthews), is also fed up with his job, and he quits the play. For some reason, there’s no understudy and no immediate move to recast. I feel like this whole fellowship is not quite on the up-and-up. Where’s the dramaturg? Who’s actually running things? How does Elizabeth think she can put on a successful performance with only 50% of her cast?
Tom’s show learns of Vince’s appearance in Claire’s play and decides to do a story on it. Tom, despite being a lowly PA, is somehow assigned to take a camera crew to the theater to get some rehearsal footage. I’m not sure when his PA job went from taking coffee orders to doing actual work that will affect a TV show. I assume the ghostwriter doesn’t know what a PA actually does, not to mention a PA who’s only there for the summer and has only been on the job for ten minutes. But it’s just an excuse for Tom to get involved in Elizabeth’s plotline.
Tom takes a crew to the theater, where he tries very, very hard not to let Elizabeth find out what show they’re from. Tom’s embarrassed to have to be around naked people, including Vince, who at least keeps his pants on. I don’t know, I kind of get the impression that Tom isn’t as uncomfortable around half-naked Vince as he lets on. But that would be a whole different book.
Tom realizes that his story about Claire’s play might be bad for his relationship with Elizabeth – I guess because she’s friends with Vince? And Vince might come off looking bad? Or just because he didn’t mention to her that they were going to be there? I don’t know. Tom tries to get the story pulled, which is hilarious, because no TV show is going to cut a segment so some college student doesn’t have a fight with his girlfriend. Especially since the segment is supposedly going to grab big ratings. I’m sure.
Vince finds out about the segment and accuses Liz of selling him out. Meanwhile, Tom quits his job because Tease-n-Tell doesn’t fit with his views on ethics in journalism. Did he think he’d be doing segments on seeing-eye dogs or children running lemonade stands to raise money for cancer research? He’s lucky he didn’t get “I Slept With My Daughter’s Boyfriend – Is He My Baby’s Father? Or Is It One of the Aliens Who Abducted Me Last Week?”
Elizabeth wonders if things would have been different if she’d slept with Tom – he would have been more loyal and not done something to hurt Vince. Honey, no. Tom would still be a doof. The two of them fight, and since Liz can’t get in touch with Jessica (more on that later), she turns to Vince for comfort. They hang out in Central Park and start goofing around, then kiss. Elizabeth realizes she still loves Tom, so she tells Vince they can’t do anything. Vince is like, “Do you have an identical twin I could hook up with instead?” Elizabeth: “Actually….”
Elizabeth and Tom make up, as they always do. And then Hildy quits Elizabeth’s play to take over Vince’s role in Claire’s play, since he decided to quit after all. So now Elizabeth has no cast for her play, which everyone pretty much hated anyway. I’m sure whoever gave her the fellowship really appreciates all of this.
In Florida, Jessica’s facing her boxing match against Pruitt. Even the chance to interview with a top security company doesn’t make her feel much better – she could be covered in bruises by then. Jess at least puts some effort into getting ready for the match, and is smart enough to realize that Harlan is a moron – he thinks Jessica and Pruitt are fighting over him. Wow.
While cleaning up in Pruitt’s office, Jessica finds a key in a drawer and immediately thinks it unlocks something super-important and secret. If she can find it, she can use it to get Pruitt to call off the fight. Okay, Jess. Whatever you say. Jessica’s friends assure her that she’ll be fine, and that they have something in the works, but they won’t tell Jess what it is. She isn’t sure she can trust them.
She’s even less sure when she uses Pruitt’s key to open a file cabinet containing information on all the recruits. With the exception of Jessica, everyone there has a record. Jess is like, “I’m friends with criminals! This is not cool!” I’m curious as to how she thought her partner from the obstacle course in the last book attained her knowledge of how to hotwire a car. Harvard? Pruitt has also circled the names of a few people who showed skills at sharpshooting. Please tell me this program is actually a training ground for spies, and that Jessica’s stumbled across some sort of Manchurian Candidate plot.
At the boxing match, Jessica manages to stay on her feet and avoid getting punched by doing some dance moves. Partway through the match, her friends put lead in her gloves, so when Jessica gets in some good punches, Pruitt goes down. But someone rats out the women, and Jessica and her friends get expelled. They’re lucky they don’t get arrested. There go Jessica’s hopes of being a security guard to the stars. (And there goes Ned and Alice’s tuition money.)
The women head to the airport and wait around to catch flights home. No one seems particularly upset about the discharge, even though I would think the ones with records would have been happy to find a program that could find them jobs. Strangely, all four of the discharged women were on scholarships. Why would the program be so eager to bring in criminals? Ooh, maybe they’re planning a big heist. Before Jessica can give that much thought, she decides to head to New York to hang out with Elizabeth instead of going home to Sweet Valley.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth has learned that Jessica was kicked out, and she’s frantic to get a hold of her sister. Tom offers to fly them both to Florida to pick up Jess. Again, I bet the fellowship people love that Liz is going to skip town while she’s supposed to be working. When Tom and Elizabeth get to the airport, Jessica has just arrived, so the trip to Florida is a moot point. I hope the tickets were refundable.
Vince happens to be at the airport, too, and the second he meets Jessica, they’re into each other. I mean, of course. What is a Wakefield if she’s not adored? So now Vince is going to stay in New York. I bet his agent is really sick of him. He and the fellowship people should get together.
Thoughts: Only Jessica would find a key in a drawer and automatically assume it’s to something super-secret.
Ken quits Elizabeth’s play, and Vince wants to quit Claire’s play. So…why doesn’t Vince do Elizabeth’s play? Is that too easy a solution? Am I missing something?
“Why would they give us all scholarships and then take it all back?” I don’t know about the first part, but as to the second part: Because you committed a crime. No one in on it seems too regretful, either. That’s disturbing.
I keep wanting to spell Pruitt’s name Pruit, because I got used to spelling it that way for Ray on Beverly Hills, 90210. I guess Pruitt’s mama coud afford more than one T.
“Some awesomely cute guy had insisted on giving her his seat in first class.” Jessica is so awesome that strangers just give her stuff. Ugh.