March 1, 2016
SVU #52, Fooling Around: Jess Sure Knows How to Pick ‘Em
Summary: I guess Jessica has the A-plot here. She has a major crush on her art history TA, Tristan, who’s 22 (which means, for once, Jessica’s crush on an older guy isn’t completely inappropriate). Meanwhile, Jess’ friend Alejandro has a crush on her. Love triangle! Well, not really. Jess has no clue that Alejandro likes her, partly because she’s too obsessed with Tristan to notice anyone else. She wants to ask him out, but she’s worried because he’s older and a TA. This is the same person who dated her married professor during her freshman year, right? Alejandro is sad that Jess likes someone else, but still nice enough to suggest that she ask Tristan to tutor her so they can spend time together.
Tristan agrees to the tutoring, though he most likely means it as a euphemism, or at least a jumping-off point for something else. Jessica actually studies so she won’t be totally dumb when she talks to Tristan about art. She’s decided to declare art history as her major, by the way. I don’t know what she plans to do with that degree. Shouldn’t she go into fashion merchandising or something like that? Tristan decides that Jess is really good at analyzing art, though her observations seem pretty basic to me. But I majored in English, so what do I know?
Though the tutoring session goes well, Tristan doesn’t make a move to initiate anything beyond a tutor/tutee relationship. Jessica complains to Alejandro, who points out that he’s probably not allowed to, being Jessica’s TA. Jessica decides that it’s not against the rules for her to ask Tristan out, so she comes up with an excuse to talk to him, then starts kissing him. Well, that was quick.
The new couple goes to an art gallery for their first date, and Tristan shows off a painting he has displayed there. Jessica wants to go to a club, but Tristan thinks they should keep their relationship discreet. Jess finds this romantic, of course. After some sneaking around, Jessica talks to Alejandro again about her clandestine relationship. Her professor overhears and tells her that Tristan is under scrutiny for sexual harassment – he’s pursued six other girls. SIX. Jess, get out of this relationship right now!
Jessica’s professor says that Tristan would threaten to fail the girls if they didn’t date him. As #7, Jess would be a valuable witness at his upcoming hearing. She argues that she was the one who initiated the relationship, and Tristan has never mentioned grades or anything that would give her the idea that there’s a power imbalance there. Her professor points out that, if they were to break up, Tristan could get revenge by failing Jess, and the professor would never know why.
Jess quickly questions Tristan, who claims he dated the six girls but never threatened them. Still, though, he’s going to quit his TA job and leave town. Before the hearing? What a coincidence! So Jess is suddenly single again. And it’s only, like, two weeks into the semester!
Elizabeth is having trouble adjusting to having Sam in the house. He’s really inconsiderate of his housemates, blasting his music, eating everyone else’s food, and taking over the living room. His beer-can collection is still there. Elizabeth cuts her hand on the cans, so Neil takes her to the hospital to get stitches. There, Liz meets med student Finn Robinson and is immediately smitten. Before she leaves, he asks for her phone number so he can check up on her later. Totally normal med-student behavior!
Finn is as smitten as Liz, and as soon as he calls to “check up on her,” he asks her to dinner. He’s from New Orleans, so they go to a Cajun restaurant. Elizabeth thinks this is sophisticated and adult. They run into someone named Stephanie who Finn apparently broke up with not long ago. She’s upset that he’s brought his new girlfriend to the restaurant they liked to go to together. Elizabeth doesn’t think there’s anything weird going on, but if I were her and my new guy had a crazy ex, I might think twice about this new relationship.
Sam is totally jealous of Elizabeth’s new crush but is trying to hide it. Chloe provides a welcome distraction when she starts hanging around the duplex. It starts when her roommate busts her on her fake relationship with Tom. He calls to leave Chloe a message saying he doesn’t want to go on any more dates…and he calls her Cody. Ouch. Chloe zeroes in on Jessica as a potential new friend – she uses Lila as an in, asks for Jessica’s art history notes, and lies that she’s dying to become a Theta. Jess takes the bait and lets Chloe follow her home like a puppy.
As soon as Sam meets Chloe, they hit it off. Liz and Chloe, not so much. She doesn’t like Chloe being around so much and eating the housemates’ food (though Chloe also brings over food, so just eat that, Liz). Even when Jessica’s not around, Chloe starts dropping by to hang out with Sam. She has her sights on him as her new boyfriend, so she can get over the humiliation of the Tom situation. Seems like she could do a lot better.
Todd and Dana have the annoying C-plot. Turns out living on your own in college and having to pay for everything yourself when you don’t have money isn’t as fun as you’d think! And on top of that, Dana’s struggling in her music classes for the first time. She’s being shown up by a freshman! The horror! Everyone knows freshmen are supposed to be failures at everything. So Dana’s classes are rough, money’s tight at home, they keep eating macaroni and cheese because they can’t afford anything else, and Todd won’t cancel the cable so they can save money. Todd must have his ESPN!
But Todd is also smarter than we give him credit for, as he realizes that money can pay for goods and services like his precious sports network and food that doesn’t come in a box. He gets a job at a bar so he can provide for his woman. No, seriously, he feels it’s his responsibility to provide for Dana, like it’s the 1950s and she can’t get a job of her own to help out with the bills. Never mind that Todd’s family is rich, so he could just spend his savings. He doesn’t want to rely on his parents for money. Todd, sweetie, in about five years, you’re going to be wishing you’d taken your parents’ money when you had the chance.
Todd really likes his new job, but Dana isn’t happy about it. He works late hours (no kidding – it’s a bar) and sometimes goes out with his new co-workers after. Dana wants Todd home with her so she can whine about how badly her life is going. Remember that Dana has no friends. This book proves why. The freshman from her music class tried to be nice to her, but Dana was rude, so she’s burning bridges she hasn’t even built yet.
Dana starts thinking of dropping out of school, since the cello was her one true love and now they’re breaking up, or whatever. Todd says she just needs to find a new one true love. After all, he found something he enjoys doing, and now he’s happier. Dana’s like, “Nah, better to just quit altogether.” I hope she at least gets a job. Once Dana’s made up her mind to drop out, she’s suddenly happy, and she goes to Todd’s bar for a visit. She sees him goofing off with a hot bartender and gets jealous. Todd would probably be smart to try to hook up with the bartender. She can’t be as annoying as Dana is.
Nina’s plot in this book is so weak that it’s not even a D-plot. It’s an H-plot. She hates her roommate, who has moved on from trashing the room to trying to perform magic or voodoo or something on her ex-boyfriend’s karma. Nina tries to get a new room, but there’s nothing available. Finally, Elizabeth realizes that there’s room for Nina in the basement of the duplex. I say banish Sam to the basement so the normal people can use the rest of the house, and Liz doesn’t have to see Chloe all the time. Whatever, this should have happened two books ago.
Thoughts: How can Dana and Todd’s utility provider charge for the next month? You can’t charge for something that hasn’t been used yet. Sounds like a scam to me.
Dana complains that no one helps her get her cello out of her car. Hey, princess, if you want to play a big instrument, you’re responsible for it. Either take up the flute or shut up. (I seriously have no patience left for this girl.)
“Not that Chloe’s flaky – she’s just young.” She’s only a year younger than you, Jess. Tone down the condescension.