July 16, 2019

ER 4.9, Obstruction of Justice: Two Protests With Very Different Results

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 4:54 pm by Jenn

These two really should have ended up together

Summary: Jeanie’s worked her last day at County but is up the next morning to go sign papers. Al is still confident that he’ll find work in Atlanta, though he’d appreciate Jeanie not nagging him about getting a job. Synergix sends some computer equipment over to County so they can work there on a trial basis. Weaver tells Anspaugh that she thinks Jeanie’s rumblings about getting litigious over her termination weren’t serious. The budget will be proof enough that they needed to let people go. Anspaugh praises Weaver for her handling of a difficult situation.

Mark’s hungover from his drunken antics with Cynthia the night before. She’s worn his lingerie gift to work, and she gives him a peep show in the doctors’ lounge. Doug was supposed to be back at work today, but he called to say his car broke down. Carol wants to make it very clear that he called the hospital, not her personally. Mark and Cynthia emerge from the lounge, and Carol and Chuny should probably hose it down before they go in.

Jeanie goes to Doc Magoo’s to meet up with a couple of lawyers Doyle knows. The fact that she’s never been disciplined works in her favor, but I’d say the fact that she performed a procedure she wasn’t supposed to because of her HIV doesn’t. Anyway, Jeanie wants her job back. At County, Carter asks Anna and Randi if he can borrow a dollar to get a soda. I guess he doesn’t have anything in his wallet smaller than a $50. Anna gives him a buck, noting that, according to legend, JFK also never carried cash on him. She lets him keep the change.

Carter’s cousin Chase shows up, calling Carter “Scooter,” which I’m going to need an explanation for. At least Anna now has a nickname to use for her least favorite colleague. Chase needs medical treatment for what he says is a spider bite. West meets Mark, who’s fine with the Synergix partnership because it means less work for him. West shows Weaver a new verbal dictation system that includes a hands-free mic.

Carol finds Cynthia in the restroom and tells her that there can be no more sex in the lounge. Cynthia laughs that off, saying she was just “trying to cheer up three of the Seven Dwarfs: Grumpy, Sleepy, and Doc.” She thinks Carol should be happier about Mark’s happiness. Jeanie shows up for work, saying she’s not going to accept her termination. Yeah, that’s…not how that works, Jeanie.

Carter and Chase chat about how their grandparents want Chase to be the next prominent successor of the family, working with the family company. Carter has no interest in that, and Chase is being overlooked despite already working for the company. Weaver and Carol tend to a man named Mr. Jackson who says he needs pain medication for a sickle cell crisis; someone stole his Percodans. Carol and Weaver think he’s a drug-seeker and won’t give him the dose he says he needs.

Paramedics bring in a mother and daughter hurt in a car accident. The mother is unconscious, and the daughter, Allison, is having trouble speaking. Weaver brings West in to help her with Allison. Benton and Elizabeth come in to replace West, and Benton shows the best bedside manner he’s ever displayed when he tells Allison they won’t let her die. Next door, her mother regains consciousness but soon flatlines. Elizabeth takes Allison to surgery for leg injuries.

Chuny tells Weaver that Jeanie clocked in for work. Carol can’t get anyone on the phone at the clinic Jackson says he usually goes to, which makes his story seem even fishier. He demands Demerol, but Weaver still won’t budge. Then she goes to confront Jeanie. She points out that Jeanie’s off the payroll and is no longer covered by malpractice insurance. Jeanie says she won’t see anymore patients, but she’s not leaving. Weaver threatens to have her forcibly removed from the hospital. Jeanie says Weaver can do what she needs to do, and Jeanie will do the same.

Allison’s mother dies in the ER, and Benton volunteers to take the news up to Allison in the OR. Herb arrives to shadow Mark, who hasn’t told anyone what’s really going on. Herb just wants to do a couple of sutures, nothing big. Mark’s like, “Cool, I can go from one malpractice suit to another!” Chase invites Carter to go to lunch, but Carter declines because he has to work. He explains to Anna that his family thinks he’s just dabbling in medicine and will quit sooner or later.

A screaming woman named Darlene is brought in after apparently being beaten up by her husband. Both spouses are drunk, and the husband, Eddie, says Darlene ran him over with her car. The cops believe him, though Darlene says she was trying to get away from her husband. She knows Billy, the officer who accompanied them in, is just siding with Eddie because they’re buddies. He’s handcuffed Darlene, but Carter makes him remove the cuffs so he can do his job. Billy demands that Carter get Darlene’s blood-alcohol level.

Benton tells Elizabeth that Allison’s leg injury is too bad to be repaired; they need to amputate. Elizabeth wants to do a procedure that she thinks will save the leg. Benton thinks Elizabeth just wants a guinea pig to practice the procedure on. Romano, of course, gets the tiebreaker, and he’s eager to see Elizabeth perform her procedure.

Weaver tells Mark that Jeanie is still fired, no matter what kind of protest she wants to stage. She hasn’t been able to reach Anspaugh. Mark’s happy he doesn’t have to deal with the stuff Weaver does. He gives Herb some scrubs and asks for some details on how, exactly, Herb plans to defend him from the Laws’ lawsuit (…heh). Herb says it doesn’t matter.

Billy urges Eddie to back him in filing charges against Darlene for assault with a deadly weapon. Apparently they’ve tried to press charges against her before, but Eddie always backs down. While Carter and Anna are telling Eddie that he’s not badly injured, Billy tries to force Chuny to draw Darlene’s blood for a blood-alcohol test. Darlene starts declining, so Carter and Anna rush to help her. Carter tells Billy he’ll need to get a warrant before they’ll agree to the blood draw. He knows both his and Darlene’s rights.

Apparently scrubs and a stethoscope are all you need to pass as a doctor, since Malik and Doyle both mistake Herb for one. Doyle thinks he’s from Synergix. It helps that he knows some medical stuff, having hired an ER doctor to teach him some terms and procedures. Mark sends him to the lounge to practice sutures on a pig’s foot.

Doug arrives and the nurses immediately put him to work. Carol runs up to him, eager for a reunion, but has to tone it down when she remembers other people are there. West invites Weaver to a Synergix conference in the Caribbean next week, which is definitely not an excuse for them to be alone in the tropics without anyone knowing that they’re totally sleeping together.

Mark sends Doug to an exam room to examine a patient complaining of insomnia and a loss of appetite. Doug suggests a psych consult, but Mark wants Doug to handle it himself. The patient is really Carol, and Mark wanted to give them some time alone. Cynthia catches them making out, and though Carol is briefly embarrassed about doing the same thing she told Cynthia not to do, she lets it go so she can go back to kissing her secret boyfriend.

Carter asks Mark what he should do if the police want blood from a patient who’s refused to give it. Herb tells him that he’s allowed to side with the patient and decline. He offers a consult if Carter needs one, but Mark pulls him away. Weaver catches Jeanie trying to help Yosh with a patient, and she’s finally fed up. She tells Chuny to call security, like Chuny should be dragged into this. She’s already on the phone, since Anspaugh is calling to summon Jeanie for a meeting.

Darlene’s blood alcohol is .270, but her vomit doesn’t show any pill fragments, so that’s one less thing for Carter and Anna to have to deal with. Billy arrives with the warrant for Darlene’s blood and asks for the stomach contents as well. That’s not on the warrant, so Carter flushes them right in front of Billy. Billy responds by arresting him for destroying evidence. Mark tries to step in, but Carter is nonchalant, knowing he was just protecting his patient’s rights.

Anspaugh, Jeanie, Weaver, and one of Jeanie’s lawyers meet to discuss the possibility that Jeanie was fired for something other than budget cuts. There’s a case for discrimination and a violation of the disciplinary process. Anspaugh determines that Jeanie will drop the matter if she gets her job back. He promises to have a decision today. After Jeanie and her lawyer leave, Weaver tells Anspaugh that if he hires Jeanie back, he’ll be giving in to blackmail. But Anspaugh knows the case could blow up, and he doesn’t want to deal with the bad PR.

Benton assists while Elizabeth and Romano perform her procedure on Allison. Mark asks Cynthia to find him when Rachel is dropped off at the hospital for a dentist’s appointment. Cynthia’s excited to meet her boyfriend’s daughter. Mark tries to call the hospital’s lawyer for Carter, but they’re not quite sure what to do. To add insult to injury, Darlene and Eddie are in the process of making up. “Carter went to jail for this?” Mark asks Anna dryly.

At the police station, Carter tries to name-drop, saying the commissioner is a family friend. The officer booking him is unimpressed. Carter smiles during his mug shot, because he has no idea what he’s doing. Carol asks Doug for advice on handling Jackson; she can’t figure out if he’s a drug-seeker or if he’s actually in pain. Either way, he’s not happy. Doug examines him, talking to him about what might have brought on his crisis. He tells Jackson to trust him, and Doug will trust him in turn. He gets Jackson to visualize a calm place, which helps him relax.

Weaver tells Jeanie that she can have her job back. Jeanie immediately gets back to work, ignoring Weaver when she claims the termination was never about her HIV. In the OR, Allison declines, and Benton tries hard to revive her. Romano decides they can’t take the time to give her CPR; they need to cut open her chest for compressions. Herb asks Mark to let him help reduce a woman’s dislocated elbow. He reminds Mark that they had a deal that would let Herb do actual procedures. Mark gives in, and Herb is thrilled to get to help.

Rachel arrives and immediately makes friends with Cynthia. While Mark’s distracted, Herb helps himself to a patient chart. Mark asks Cynthia to take Rachel to the dentist for her so he can figure out how to help Carter. Mark stops Herb from doing more sutures without supervision, but when they come across a patient in distress, Herb grabs a crash cart and shocks the patient before Mark can react. The patient stabilizes.

Jeanie meets up with Al and gives him the news that she got her job back. But Al has gotten the job he wanted in Atlanta and is eager to move. Jeanie doesn’t want to just walk away from a job she fought for. Al thinks she doesn’t believe in him. Jeanie knows he wants to keep his HIV status quiet in Atlanta, which will make her feel like they’re running away. Al wants a fresh start; Jeanie may have a life in Chicago, but he doesn’t. Jeanie says he doesn’t get what her job means to her.

Because he only committed a misdemeanor, Carter doesn’t have to wait for a fingerprint check, and he can leave lockup as soon as he pays his $100 bond. He tells the cop who booked him to run one of his credit cards. The police station only accepts cash, though, and all Carter has is the change Anna let him keep from her dollar.

At County, Mark decides that his deal with Herb is too much trouble, so it’s over. When Herb hears that Carter’s in jail, he tells Weaver it’s not a big deal. Then he tells Mark that he’s already taken care of his case – he got a buddy to convince the Laws to drop the charges. The patient Herb saved sings his praises in the hall as Herb leaves, pleased with his exciting day.

Jen shows up to get Rachel, unhappy to learn that Mark sent her off with Cynthia. She’s even less happy when she discovers that the two went to a salon after the dentist, and Cynthia let Rachel dye her hair pink and purple. (Fortunately, it’ll wash out.) Mark pretends he’s not upset, but he does ask for a night off from Cynthia.

Anna objects to letting Carter stay in jail all night when they can easily get a bail bondsman to get him out. She also knows they can’t call his family for help. Mark sends her off to handle things. Doug gives Jackson some medication, and Weaver complains that he helped a drug-seeker get exactly what he wanted. Doug believes Jackson’s story and says he can’t function without pain medication. Weaver says people live in pain but suck it up. Doug thinks she’s suffering the consequences of all the responsibilities she’s taken on.

Cynthia emotionally apologizes to Mark for overstepping her boundaries with Rachel. She thinks Jen hates her now (to be fair, I don’t think there are many people Jen doesn’t hate). Mark tries to comfort her. Carter is left in lockup with a muscled guy who knows he’s a doctor. Despite his angry demeanor, the guy is also in for obstruction of justice. He pulls down his pants, freaking Carter out, but he just wants Carter to examine a bump. Carter’s actually about to when Anna arrives with his bail. He’s so happy to see her that he kisses her.

Anna jokes that this is Carter’s Christmas present. She tells him that Darlene did, in fact, try to kill Eddie, but they’ve made up. Carter laments that he could have had lunch with Chase after all. Anna notes that it’s expensive to have a rich friend. Benton brings Elizabeth some tea as she checks on Allison after surgery. Her leg is still attached, but now she’s in a coma. Elizabeth wonders if she did surgery because of personal reasons, not because it was best for Allison. Benton admits that he also struggles with the balance between helping and being ambitious.

Weaver has to take a break on a bench as she heads home that night. Jeanie thinks Al has already left by the time she gets home, but he’s still around, wanting to see if she’s changed her mind. Jeanie says again that she’s worked too hard to walk away from her job, no matter how she’s been treated there. Al doesn’t want to walk away from their relationship, either. They’ve been together on and off since they were teens. But this is where it ends for them, and it’s the last time we’ll ever see Al.

Thoughts: Jackson is played by Hill Harper.

I’m totally sympathetic to Jeanie, but showing up to your job after you’ve been laid off makes you look crazy.

I’m so disappointed we didn’t get a scene where Millicent got a call about her grandson getting arrested for standing up to the police.

Remember how Anspaugh was painted as tough and tyrannical when he was first introduced? He’s actually very fair and level-headed.

April 13, 2019

The X-Files 9.20, The Truth, Part 2: It’s Still Out There

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:06 pm by Jenn

An almost-happy ending! Except it’s not the ending

Summary: It’s the day after Gibson threw out a bombshell at Mulder’s trial. Mulder meets with the agents (minus Scully, who’s with Gibson) and laments that Gibson exposed himself to the conspirators. But the agents think it was a good move, since some of the judges are leaning in Mulder’s favor. Skinner urges Mulder to testify, but Mulder refuses. Doggett says they’ll take the stand in his place, even if it means risking their jobs. Reyes agrees – they came here to do their job. Mulder says the judges control the game, so Doggett suggests that they ram them with it.

When the trial resumes, Doggett is put on the stand and talks about the super-soldiers. Agent K. doesn’t want more sci-fi in the trial, but Skinner ties the super-soldiers to Knowle. Agent K. objects again, since Doggett wasn’t at the scene when Mulder killed Knowle. Skinner asks how Mulder could have killed him if Knowle is unkillable. Doggett mentions the magnetite; since Mulder didn’t use it on Knowle, Knowle can’t really be dead.

Agent K. starts his cross-examination by praising Doggett’s professional record, which Agent K. isn’t going to question. But can he really back up Mulder in claiming the super-soldiers are aliens? Doggett’s a skeptic, so how can he believe Mulder’s theories? Doggett can’t answer that question.

Reyes is up next, intended to serve as a level-headed witness so Skinner can show that even rational people believe paranormal stuff has happened. Reyes talks about the circumstances of William’s birth and the audience Scully had while delivering him. Agent K. asks why William would be important to aliens. Blah blah, government conspiracy, the world’s worst surrogate program. Agent K.’s like, “Oh, how convenient that the ship where women were experimented on exploded!”

He asks about William, and Reyes testifies that he has telekinetic abilities. Agent K. asks for a demonstration, but of course, William is now living with an anonymous family. “She gave up the miracle child,” Agent K. spits out. Mulder somehow doesn’t scratch his eyes out. After she’s dismissed from the stand, Reyes accuses Agent K. of not caring about William. He’s just happy that Scully gave him up, thereby giving away proof of an alien conspiracy.

Kersh warns Reyes to behave herself, so she turns on him, saying he’s made a mockery of the X-Files agents and their sacrifices. What’s the point of the trial – to destroy Mulder, who seeks the truth, or to destroy the truth so no one can look for it? “Either way, you lose,” Reyes tells Kersh.

Scully has missed the entire day of proceedings, so Doggett and Reyes visit her that night with big news: Knowle’s body may have been found. Scully reminds them that super-soldiers can’t be killed, but the government claims Knowle is really dead. Doggett stays behind with Gibson while Scully and Reyes go to Quantico so Scully can perform the autopsy. The body is burned, so it can’t be ID’d just on sight. Scully asks Reyes to do whatever it takes to get Knowle’s records.

The trial is about to start back up when Scully arrives with what she says is the proof they need to get Mulder exonerated. Her autopsy shows that the body belongs to a man who died of a broken neck; the body was burned post-mortem. Kersh won’t dismiss the trial, telling Scully she’s in contempt of court. She says Kersh is the one in contempt, since he won’t look at evidence that shows Mulder’s innocent.

Kersh argues that Scully didn’t have authorization to do the autopsy, so she should be removed from the courtroom. Mulder defends his girlfriend, which doesn’t help. Kersh throws them both out and adjourns the trial. Later, everyone returns for the verdict, which Kersh claims is fair and impartial. Mulder is declared guilty of first-degree murder.

Mulder’s allowed to say something before his sentence is determined. Instead of yelling, “F&$% ALL Y’ALL” and flipping a table, Mulder congratulates the judges for succeeding where everyone else has failed. They’ve shown that the truth doesn’t matter if there are enough liars to cover it up. True evil isn’t the devil, but humans.

If Mulder’s guilty, it’s because he dared – and still dares – to believe that the truth will out. The truth wants to be known, and eventually, it’ll come to the judges as it’s come to Mulder. He warns that if the judges think they’re really rid of their headache, it’s only because they’ve cut off their own heads.

Scully, Reyes, Doggett, and Gibson are at Scully’s place when the call comes from Skinner – Mulder has been sentenced to death by lethal injection. Scully breaks down. Later that night, as a very much alive Knowle goes to the Marine base where Mulder’s being held, Skinner and Doggett go to Mulder’s cell and tell him they’re getting him out of there.

Knowle discovers Mulder missing and orders the base sealed. This only slows Mulder and his rescuers down a little, and they continue their escape…until they run into Kersh. He knows they can’t make it out the way they’re going, so he takes them out another exit. Reyes is waiting there at a hole in a fence and drives the getaway vehicle.

The group meets up with Scully and Gibson, and Kersh tells Mulder he needs to go to Canada, then leave the continent within 24 hours. Mulder and Scully leave Gibson behind with the other agents and flee. But Mulder heads south instead of north, since he still has some truth to pursue.

Doggett and Reyes take Gibson to the X-Files office, promising to protect him. But the office has been packed up, and Skinner hasn’t been able to ask Kersh who’s responsible. He thinks they’ve been found out for helping Mulder escape. They go to see Kersh, who’s already talking with Toothpick Man. He and Gibson glare at each other for a little while, and Gibson tells Doggett and Reyes that TM knows where Mulder and Scully are going. They’re not going to Canada, and they’re in a lot of danger.

The lovebirds have reached the Texas/New Mexico border, and while Scully sleeps in the car, Mulder gets out for a bathroom break. He gets a visit from the Lone Gunmen, who tell him to turn around. He shouldn’t be risking his and Scully’s lives or happiness. Mulder still wants to find the truth, but the Gunmen say he already knows it. Mulder tells them he wants to know if he can change it. They warn that he’ll just get himself killed.

Scully wakes up and interrupts, and the journey continues. Mulder has changed into jeans and a white T-shirt, and I give my 100% approval. They end up at some Anasazi pueblos, and Mulder explains that he was sent a message from a wise man who lives in the ruins. He thinks they’ll find the truth there.

Doggett and Reyes take a helicopter to the same area as a woman (whose name is never spoken but who is apparently Lana Chee) leads Mulder and Scully to the wise man – CSM. He says that Mulder now knows the truth, though he hasn’t told Scully yet. CSM helped him find it by sending him to Mouth Weather. He mocks that Mulder could have exonerated himself by testifying at his trial. But he’s too afraid to speak the truth.

CSM is hiding out from the aliens, since they fear the magnetite in the area. That’s what brought down the UFO in Roswell. Wise men have been hiding out there for 2,000, watching Native American culture die: “The original shadow government.” Doggett and Reyes land just as Knowle arrives at the pueblos.

CSM is ready to tell Scully everything Mulder is too scared to. Every president since Truman has been spooked by the tale. The Mayans were even scared, which is why their calendar stops on December 22, 2012 – the day of the final alien invasion. Mulder saw that date on the computer at Mount Weather, so he knows the truth the government is trying to keep hidden.

Mulder taunts that CSM is drunk with power, but doesn’t actually have the power to do anything. CSM claims he’s been protecting Mulder for years in anticipation of this moment, when Mulder would be broken and afraid. Now he can die. Outside, military helicopters arrive as Doggett and Reyes face off with Knowle. Their bullets don’t do anything, but the magnetite in the hills does. His body turns gray and flies into a hill.

Mulder and Scully come outside, and Doggett and Reyes warn that the government is coming for them. Doggett wants the lovebirds to come with him and Reyes, but Mulder sends them off. The helicopters now have two cars to track, but they decide to let all the agents go. Then they blast the pueblos with explosives in an attempt to kill CSM. CSM sits quietly and accepts his supposed fate. (Spoiler: Despite being pretty much set on fire, CSM survives.)

In Roswell, Mulder and Scully check into a motel and mirror one of their first moments together in the X-Files. Mulder repeats what he was supposed to be brainwashed into believing – that he’s guilty and should be punished. When they first met, he tried to convince Scully of the truth, in a motel just like this. Though he succeeded in that, he failed in every other way.

Scully doesn’t agree, adding that Mulder kept the truth from her not because he was broken or afraid, but because he didn’t want to accept it. He says he was afraid the truth would crush Scully’s spirit. Scully says she won’t accept the truth if Mulder won’t. He only fails if he gives up, and she knows he never will. She would do this whole crazy thing all over again.

Mulder points out that the search for the truth hasn’t gotten them to a very good place. Scully repeats that she knows he won’t give up. He’s always said he wants to believe, but in what? If he finally knows the truth, what’s left to believe in? Mulder says he wants to believe that the dead aren’t lost to us: “That they speak to us as part of something greater than us.” If the two of them are powerless now, they can get power when they listen. Scully believes the same thing. He looks at her cross necklace, then gets in bed with her and says, “Maybe there’s hope.”

Thoughts: Say goodbye to Doggett, whose X-Files service has ended. Robert Patrick was a great addition to the cast.

The Marine base has very bad security. A supposedly dead man gets in using his real ID, which doesn’t make anyone suspicious. And Doggett and Skinner just walk in and get Mulder out of his cell. Shouldn’t there be guards with guns or something?

So much New Mexico in the last two episodes. Maybe that’s what inspired Vince Gilligan to set Breaking Bad there.

Here ends the original run of the show. Things are about to get…wildly inconsistent.

April 6, 2019

The X-Files 9.19, The Truth, Part 1: A Guilty Man

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:19 pm by Jenn

Not seen: Skinner looking suuuuuuuper awkward

Summary: A helicopter lands at the Mount Weather Complex in Bluemont, Virginia, and a bunch of people in suits get out. One of them is the long-missing Fox Mulder. That’s right, David Duchovny is finally back! The people get on a bus, which drives underground to some caverns. Once it stops, Mulder runs off to spy on a lab from a catwalk. He gets access to a restricted area of the complex and types something on a computer. “END GAME” comes up on the screen. He enters a code and gets a date: December 22, 2012.

Mulder gulps, but before he can react any further, someone else enters the room. It’s Knowle, and he doesn’t look happy. Well, he never looks happy, but he looks especially serious right now. Mulder ambushes him, but Knowle is super-strong and just picks him up and throws him through a window. Mulder is somehow able to escape with only a couple small cuts on his face.

But as Mulder runs from Knowle, he encounters another enemy: the supposedly dead Krycek. Mulder chooses the enemy he knows and keeps going toward Krycek. He won’t address how he’s alive, but he does tell Mulder that there are others. An alarm sounds and Mulder has to run again. This time Knowle catches him and bends him over the side of a catwalk. Mulder is somehow able to flip Knowle over so he falls onto some sort of electrical thing and gets fried. The good news is Knowle is taken care of. The bad news is that guards are able to capture Mulder.

Sometime later, Mulder’s in a military prison, and a soldier wants to know what he’s thinking. Mulder can’t come up with the right answer. He wants to get out of there (wrong!), and he’s thinking about William and Scully (double wrong!). The soldier demands answers, but Mulder isn’t forthcoming.

After a few days of this, judging by Mulder’s stubble, Mulder asks the soldier what he’s supposed to be thinking. The soldier tells him he’s a guilty man. Mulder agrees, saying he deserves the harshest punishment for his crime. Satisfied that the naked, sleep-deprived Mulder has been successfully brainwashed, the soldier leaves.

Scully and Skinner are allowed to visit Mulder, but his reunion with Scully after months apart isn’t the way she expected. For starters, he calls her Dana. She hugs him, but he doesn’t hug back. He just asks if she’s okay, as if he’s confused about why she would be so emotional right now. Mulder says he’s being treated well, then greets Skinner as Walter. He admits to killing Knowle and going in search of something that didn’t exist. He made a horrible mistake and should be punished.

Skinner reminds Mulder that, no matter what happened, he deserves a lawyer and a fair trial. Mulder doesn’t care about that – he’s a guilty man. When they’re told the visit is over, Mulder just turns away and lets Scully and Skinner leave. Then he starts talking to Krycek, who isn’t really there. Mulder asks why Krycek is helping him, and Krycek says Mulder can’t do this alone.

Scully and Skinner go to the FBI building and fill Doggett and Reyes in on what’s going on. Doggett doesn’t get how Knowle was alive before Mulder killed him. Reyes is like, “Duh, super-soldier.” Doggett points out that, if that’s the case, Mulder couldn’t have killed him. Scully decides her best option is to “beg mercy of the man upstairs.” I don’t think she means God.

Kersh goes to Mulder’s prison, the brig at Quantico, and meets with General Mark Suveg. Kersh wants mercy for Mulder, due to his “good character.” Suveg says this looks bad for the Marines but worse for the FBI. He’ll give Kersh and the FBI a chance to clean up their mess – Mulder will get a fair hearing from his own agency, but in Suveg’s court. Kersh doesn’t think that’s legal. Suveg doesn’t care, as long as Mulder is found guilty. Kersh resists, but Suveg reminds him that there are sources in the government they shouldn’t tick off.

Scully and Skinner return to Mulder’s cell, freaking out when he does a Hannibal Lechter impression. He laughs, admitting that he’s been faking his brainwashing the whole time. Then he makes out with Scully right in front of Skinner. It goes on for a good ten seconds and, uh, was not scripted. Skinner looks hilariously uncomfortable. Mulder tries to greet him warmly, but Skinner wants him to be serious. Mulder knows he’s going to trial and that the government doesn’t care for his side of the story. He also knows Knowle was a super-soldier.

Skinner warns that there are tons of witnesses ready to testify against Mulder and destroy him. Scully promises to get Mulder a good lawyer, but Mulder knows that won’t do anything. He chooses Skinner as his attorney. Please keep in mind that Skinner isn’t a lawyer. Mulder promises that he knows what he’s doing. Doggett and Reyes join the group and announce that the military claims they have Knowle’s body. Apparently he could be killed after all.

The next morning, Scully wakes Mulder with a rare in-person “Mulder, it’s me.” She wants him to confide in her; she thinks they’ll lose the case otherwise. Mulder won’t tell her anything that might put her at risk. Scully’s scared of losing him again after she just got him back, but he promises again that he knows what he’s doing.

Scully cries as she tells Mulder he has no idea what she went through while he was gone. But Skinner already told him that she gave William up. She’s worried that Mulder won’t forgive her, but he knows she did what she had to do. He tells her he was hiding out in New Mexico, just looking for the truth. Scully thinks he found something, but again, Mulder says he can’t tell her what it was. He asks her to trust him, because he knows things it’s better she stays clueless about.

Skinner goes to the courtroom to prepare for the trial. He meets the prosecutor, Agent Kallenbrunner, and I’m not typing that over and over, so he’s Agent K. now. (Not to be confused with Tommy Lee Jones’ character in Men in Black.) A panel of judges enters, including Toothpick Man. Kersh is serving as the judge. Let the bizarre trial begin!

Agent K. has no witnesses to call, but he has the sworn testimonies of all the people who saw Mulder kill Knowle. Skinner asks to have the proceedings dismissed because this isn’t a fair trial. He’s not a lawyer and Kersh isn’t a judge. Kersh shuts him down, then again when Skinner asks for a delay while they try to track down Marita. Skinner grumbles that he’ll call another witness under protest. Kersh tells him there’s no court record, by the way. Mulder’s fine with moving ahead anyway.

Skinner calls Scully as his first witness. She testifies that over her years working with Mulder, she came to believe in his theories about aliens. Agent K. has an understandable objection about what this has to do with Mulder killing Knowle. Skinner’s like, “No, let’s keep talking about meteors and alien viruses.” There are flashbacks, so this is kind of a clip show. Scully says that the government learned about the alien virus in 1947, when a UFO crashed in Roswell. The virus hid underground in black oil, and can communicate with UFOs.

There’s more recapping, and then Agent K. cross-examines by asking Scully for proof of aliens. Can they call one as a witness? Does she have any rocks from Mars? He cuts to the chase: Isn’t it true that Mulder and Scully were lovers, and she got pregnant with his child? Skinner objects, but Agent K. decides he’s done with the witness. Mulder silently indicates to Scully that he still knows what he’s doing.

Spender is called next, and his face is still deformed, so that’s fun. He testifies about CSM’s part in the government conspiracy, but Agent K. and Kersh don’t see the connection to Mulder’s case. Skinner continues, getting Spender to testify that he and Mulder are half brothers, sharing CSM as a father. He adds that CSM had Krycek kill Bill Mulder. Bill always felt ashamed of his decision to give up Samantha to cover up the conspiracy.

Spender confirms that Samantha was sent to California and raised with Spender, but was taken many times for testing. She was part of the conspiracy’s cloning experiment and died in 1987. When Spender started working for the FBI, he didn’t know about CSM’s crimes. CSM tried to kill him, then made him undergo testing like Samantha did.

Agent K. says that Spender must want his father to pay for his crimes. Spender believes CSM is already dead. Agent K. notes that while they were working together at the FBI, Spender wrote reports trashing Mulder. Spenders says he wrote those before he knew the truth about the conspiracy. Agent K. doesn’t think that matters.

In Weed Hope, New Mexico, a teen boy pays a visit to someone in a camper. He has news about Mulder being in trouble. The camper’s owner, Gibson, says he’ll get ready to leave. With the trial over for the day, Scully goes to Mulder’s cell and begs him to take a plea bargain. Mulder refuses, since they’ve worked too hard to expose the truth. In that case, Scully wants him to testify on his own behalf, but he won’t do that either. She reminds him that they’re fighting the fight together.

After Scully leaves, Mulder hears a voice speaking in the dark. It’s Mr. X, and he is TICKED. He reminds Mulder that the men deciding his fate have too much power to be afraid of what he can tell them. Mulder says he refuses to back down. Mr. X. says he’ll need help, then, and gives him a piece of paper with Marita’s address.

At his place with Reyes, Doggett calls around to find out where Knowle’s body is, but he can’t get any cooperation. Reyes sees someone in the yard, so the two agents grab their guns and go to investigate. It’s the kid who visited Gibson, there to tell the agents that he wants to help Mulder.

Mr. X.’s help pans out, and on the second day of the trial, Marita comes to testify. She talks about the Syndicate and their work to develop a vaccine for the alien virus. They used human subjects for testing. Marita eventually turned on the Syndicate, which is why she helped Mulder when he approached her. But the Syndicate used her as a test subject while trying to develop a vaccine to save only themselves. Renegade aliens brought down the conspiracy, and the Syndicate members are all dead (allegedly).

Skinner asks why Marita resisted testifying – she shouldn’t be afraid of anything now, if the conspiracy has been stopped. Skinner thinks it’s still going on, with the super-soldiers, and that Marita knows who they are. As Skinner tries to get her to respond, Krycek appears to Mulder and warns, “They’ll kill her.” Mulder tells Skinner to dismiss Marita, no matter how helpful she might be to his case.

As Marita leaves, Doggett pulls Skinner aside to give him a message. Skinner reveals that there’s a surprise witness. When Gibson enters, Mulder gets agitated, telling Skinner he wants Gibson away from the proceedings for his protection. Skinner says that Gibson’s trying to protect Mulder now.

Gibson testifies that he’s been hiding Mulder in the desert for the past year. Skinner recaps the whole thing about Gibson having weird DNA and being able to read minds. Mulder notes that Gibson is reading Agent K.’s mind right now, as well as the minds of the judges. Even the mind of Toothpick Man…who’s not human. Mulder yells that Toothpick Man is “one of them” and needs to be examined. He’s removed from the courtroom as he shouts that they’re all afraid of the truth. To be continued…

Thoughts: Agent K. is played by Matthew Glave, who also plays Dale on ER.

I would like to never hear the name Knowle Rohrer again, please. How does anyone say it with a straight face?

Mulder doesn’t get a bed in the brig, but he does get unlimited visits from Scully. So that’s nice.

March 26, 2019

ER 3.15, The Long Way Around: It’s the Ewan McGregor Episode!

Posted in TV tagged , at 4:58 pm by Jenn

Someone actually put Ewan McGregor on TV looking like this. And he became famous anyway!

Summary: Carol’s asleep – drink! She wakes up early to a call from her mother, who doesn’t know that Carol’s been suspended from work. She leaves her house, saying hi to her mailman and to a neighborhood kid, Robert. The mailman reminds her that it’s Valentine’s Day. Carol goes to a convenience store run by a Mr. and Mrs. Novotny. As she goes to the back of the store, she hears Mrs. Novotny loudly asking someone to leave. Two men (one of them a pre-fame Ewan McGregor) are robbing her.

A deliveryman named Dave gets too close, so Ewan (whose character’s name is Duncan) points a gun at him. Now everyone in the store knows that there’s an armed robbery in progress. The other robber, James, tells Duncan to make everyone get on the ground while he empties the cash register. Everyone cooperates, and it looks like the robbery will be over shortly, since Duncan and James are happy with what they’re able to steal. But then Mr. Novotny emerges from the back of the store with a gun of his own, and the situation takes a turn for the worst.

Another customer tries to enter the store, and Mr. Novotny yells for him to leave. James fires at the customer, so Mr. Novotny shoots James. Duncan shoots Mr. Novotny a few times, then a coffee pot, for some reason. Duncan looks outside and sees a police car down the street. He and James try to leave through the store’s back door, but Mrs. Novotny is too distraught over her husband’s injuries to give them the key.

Carol notices Robert hiding under a pinball machine as Duncan tells everyone to keep quiet and stay where they are. The customer James shot at must have alerted the police, because they swarm the store. A simple robbery has turned into a hostage situation. Duncan knows he’s in over his head, but James is focused on keeping control of the hostages.

Carol quietly tries to get Robert to move behind some crates before the robbers can see him. She’s too late, and Duncan busts her for talking. He tells Robert to come closer, and when Robert tries to resist, Carol gently tells him it’s okay. The police start trying to communicate outside as James and Duncan tell Mrs. Novotny to stop yelling about her husband’s injuries. Carol offers up her nursing skills, so Duncan sends her to tend to James’ gunshot wound instead.

Duncan turns on another customer, Angie, who’s gone from being scared to being ticked off that her day is starting out like this. Duncan looks around the store, making James worry that he’s going to take off alone. The phone rings, and James decides that they shouldn’t answer it. Duncan checks on Dave and an older man named Mr. Duzak, who thinks Duncan should answer the phone. James asks for a minute to think.

Carol tells him that Mr. Novotny’s bullet may have hit James’ kidney, and he needs more medical care than she can give him. He tells her to use whatever she can find in the store to fix him up. He keeps Robert with him while Carol tells Duncan that James (who happens to be Duncan’s American cousin) will bleed to death if he doesn’t go to a hospital.

The phone finally stops ringing as Carol gathers some supplies and goes back to James at the front of the store. James tells Duncan to barricade the door, as more police are arriving. Duncan makes Dave help him move a shelf, crowing about how America is great because everyone has a job. He asks Angie if she does, and she says she’s a first-grade teacher. He says it’s nice that she can teach kids the right things to do from a young age. Angie sasses that no one got to Duncan early enough to make him a good person.

Carol does what she can for James, then goes to take care of Mr. Novotny. He needs CPR, and Carol asks Mrs. Novotny to help her. James notices that the police are moving their cars around outside, and he wonders why. Carol asks for more help with Mr. Novotny, but James still wants everyone to stay where they are. Carol turns to Duncan instead, telling him that he doesn’t want a death on his hands. Duncan allows Angie to help give Mr. Novotny CPR while Carol and Robert get more supplies.

The phone starts ringing again, and the police use a megaphone to ask for information on what’s going on inside. She uses alcohol and straws to create an airway in Mr. Novotny’s throat. Duncan and James turn on each other, angry that things have gone in this direction. Duncan blames James for the mess, since the robbery was his idea in the first place.

Carol gets Mr. Novotny breathing again, determined to save him no matter how bad things look. Carol asks for an icepick, which Duncan brings over, wanting to do anything he can to keep from being arrested for murder. Carol needs a different kind of straw, and Angie suggests one from a juice box. Carol wants to insert a chest tube, but as a nurse, it’s not something she’s that familiar with. She begs the robbers to let a doctor come in, but James won’t allow it.

Carol and her makeshift staff use tampons, duct tape, and a plastic bag to create a chest tube, but then Mr. Novotny’s pulse stops. Carol tries CPR, still desperate to save him, but Duncan knows it’s too late. Mrs. Novotny puts her hands on top of Carol’s and makes her stop giving chest compressions.

As Dave takes Mr. Novotny’s body to the back of the store, Robert begs to be allowed to use the bathroom before he throws up. Duncan’s sure there’s no way out the back of the store, so he lets Robert go. In the back office, Carol tells Duncan again that they need to take James to the hospital. Duncan knows he’ll end up in jail, but Carol thinks he’ll get a light sentence since he’s never killed anyone before. Duncan asks how she can be so sure of that.

Duncan and Dave leave, and as Carol’s following them out of the office, a guy hiding behind some shelves makes himself known. His name is Javier, and he’s found the back door out of the store, but it’s locked. He also has a bat, which Carol sharply tells him not to use, since it’s no match for James and Duncan’s guns. She tells him to stay put.

James has decided to answer the phone and ask the police for a getaway vehicle. Duncan tells him to ask for medical supplies instead, but James knows a cop would bring them in. He tells Duncan to tie up Dave and to stop letting Carol walk around the store whenever she wants. Duncan says she’s just trying to help people. Carol gives Angie an ice pack, which she needs for the burn she sustained when Duncan shot the coffee pot. She sasses him for it, and James jokes that he should shoot some milk next time.

Duncan says there won’t be a next time – he’s not listening to James anymore. This was supposed to be a simple robbery, and now look where they are. While the cousins fight, Carol quietly asks Mrs. Novotny where the key to the back door is, so she can get it to Javier. It’s under the front counter, and Mrs. Novotny offers to try to get it.

As James notices that Robert is still in the bathroom, a police officer outside asks to speak to one of the hostages. Carol examines Mr. Duzak, who has a wrist injury, and suggests that he drink some alcohol to help with the pain before she fixes it. He declines, as he’s a recovering alcoholic. Mrs. Novotny says she has aspirin behind the front counter, but Duncan sends her to get some from the aisle where it’s sold.

Angie makes another comment about Duncan’s trigger finger, and James starts making jokes about what else Duncan can shoot. Mrs. Novotny shuts him down by reminding him that her husband is now dead because of the cousins. Duncan is clearly affected by this, but he turns on James, pointing out that James is alive because Duncan killed the man who shot him.

Duncan decides to go check on Robert, but Robert won’t respond when Duncan knocks on the bathroom door. Carol gets through to him and promises that the police will eventually get inside and help them. Robert’s worried that Duncan will shoot someone else, but Carol points out that he can’t shoot all the hostages.

On his way back to the others, Duncan goes by Mr. Novotny’s body, taking in what he’s done. He guesses that as a nurse, Carol is used to seeing dead bodies. She says she’s never gotten used to it. Robert comes out of the bathroom, but instead of joining the others, he hides in a freezer case. Duncan pulls him out and makes him play pinball so Duncan can always hear where he is. If he doesn’t hear the machine, he’ll shoot.

The phone is ringing again, and Duncan finally answers it. He requests a getaway vehicle and says that they don’t need medical help, since Carol’s doing fine on her own. Suddenly, he sees that Robert has climbed up on the pinball machine and is trying to escape through the ceiling. Duncan tries to follow but falls on the pinball machine and cuts up his face. Now Carol has another patient to tend to.

Duncan knows Robert is going to go tell the police everything that’s happening inside. Carol tells him that James is the bigger problem right now; she’s not sure how much time he has left before he really needs to go to the hospital. Duncan tells her to shut up, but she tells him not to talk to her like that, since she’s trying to help him. She asks for glue to close his wounds, and Mrs. Novotny says there’s some behind the front counter.

While the rest of the group discusses the possibility of using a boat as a getaway vehicle, Carol is able to get the key to the back door without anyone noticing. She tells Duncan it’s time for him and James to give up. The cousins talk about an island in Scotland where Duncan wants to go, a place where Duncan could have gone instead of America, to get a new start. Carol can relate to his feeling of wanting to do something more with his life.

James says that they just came in for money so they could have a better life. Duncan doesn’t care about their intentions – he’s a killer now, and James can’t understand what that feels like. Carol can, though. Duncan doesn’t think the cops will be as forgiving of his actions as Carol thinks, no matter how accidental Mr. Novotny’s death was.

Javier sneaks out of the back room, ready to attack, but James spots him and warns Duncan. Duncan pulls his gun, but Carol jumps in front of Javier. She tells Duncan that if he shoots someone else, this time it won’t be accidental. When Javier admits that there’s a back door, Carol gives Duncan the keys and tells him to make his escape.

Duncan asks Mrs. Novotny where the door leads. There’s a building behind the store, and the door will take him to a fire escape. He tells Carol she’s coming along. Duncan says goodbye to James, promising that he’ll get medical attention soon. Duncan and Carol climb the fire escape and go through someone’s apartment, which Duncan calls “taking the long way around.”

They make it to an alley behind the buildings, and Duncan’s pleased that they’ve gotten away. Carol tells him that when they get to the end of the alley, he needs to let her go. He decides he’d be better off running on his own anyway. A police officer stops them, and Duncan takes off as Carol yells at him not to run. The cop threatens to shoot, and when Duncan doesn’t stop, he gets shot in the back. Carol rushes to try to help him.

She rides with him to the hospital, still trying to give him CPR as he’s taken to the ER. Doug takes over, and Carol tells Duncan to hold on and keeping thinking about all the places he’s been wanting to see. In the next trauma room, Weaver runs James’ trauma, declining to help when Carol asks her to give Duncan a chest tube.

Carol goes back to Duncan for more CPR, continuing to help out with the trauma even after Weaver tries to dismiss her. Things don’t look good, and Carol can tell this is another man she was unable to save. As James goes to surgery, probably on his way to recovery, Duncan’s trauma team reaches 25 minutes since they started working on him. Carol puts her hand on Doug’s like Mrs. Novotny did to her and declares time of death.

Jerry lets her know that most of the other hostages were taken to another hospital, but Angie’s in the ER. She starts crying when she sees Carol, who tries to comfort her. Angie reports that Robert came back down from the ceiling, totally fine. She’s more shaken up than she thought she would be, but she’s happy everyone’s safe. She’s glad Carol was in the store, because no one else there could have done what she did.

Doug checks on Carol, not wanting her to just dismiss his concern and say she’s okay. He tells her everyone was worried when they found out she was in the store. She apologizes for being so assertive during Duncan’s trauma, but Doug only cares that she’s okay. She goes back to Duncan’s trauma room and spends a few moments looking at his body, then gets her things and starts to leave. Weaver goes after her and asks if she needs anything. Carol says she’s fine, and she’s missed being at work because she loves her job. Then she heads home like she’s leaving any other shift she’s ever worked.

Thoughts: Angie is played by Marisol Nichols.

This episode was a big gamble, with Carol being the only known character for so much of it. But it works.

How do all these people know each other’s names? How does Carol know the names of her mailman and the people who run her neighborhood convenience store?

Let’s talk about Ewan McGregor’s hair in this episode. It’s very…not good.

July 4, 2017

SVT #96, Elizabeth the Spy: Elizabeth Commits Perjury, But It’s for a Good Cause, So It’s Okay

Posted in books tagged , , at 5:06 pm by Jenn

Did he stop to pose while he was fleeing the scene of the crime?

Summary: The SVMS girls’ favorite employee at Casey’s is Joe Carrey, a college student who gives them extra ice cream and treats them like regular people instead of little kids. He also likes to give them brainteasers, though Elizabeth might be the only girl who’s actually interested in them. He’s definitely nicer than Jeff Casey, nephew of the owner, who doesn’t care about good customer service and thinks Joe is a nuisance. He’s probably happy when Elizabeth accidentally kicks Joe in the shin, though Joe insists that he’s fine.

That night, Elizabeth is trying to enjoy the latest Amanda Howard mystery when Jessica comes to her, frantic because she’s just started her period and there are no pads in the house. Jess throws on one of Liz’s sweaters and insists that her twin accompany her to the drugstore. She’s embarrassed to have to buy pads (12-year-old me can relate), and I guess she thinks she’ll be less embarrassed if Elizabeth is with her. Or she just plans to make Liz get them and be embarrassed on her own.

While waiting in line to pay, the twins encounter a clown. Jess accidentally kicks him in the shin (what’s with the twins kicking people?), and he throws a fit. He then proceeds to pull out a gun and rob the cashier. After he runs off, the police are called, and the twins give their statements. Jessica is horrified that they were buying pads, and she tries to avoid telling the police why they were at the drugstore.

Joe is arrested for the robbery, since the clown suit was his (he has a side gig performing at parties and daycare centers). Jeff is pleased not to have to work with a criminal anymore, but Elizabeth thinks there was a mistake. No way is a nice guy like Joe actually a criminal. Lila thinks that if he was arrested, he must be guilty. If Lila keeps up that attitude until she’s an adult (and let’s face it, she will), she’ll never have to serve jury duty.

Inspired by her Amanda Howard book, Elizabeth calls the SVPD to try to talk to an officer about Joe’s case. I guess she plans to try to talk him into releasing Joe because he’s too nice to rob anyone. No one wants to talk to a 12-year-old, though, so she doesn’t actually talk to anyone. After talking to Mr. Casey, the owner of the ice cream parlor, who always liked Joe, Liz decides to learn more about the accused criminal. She goes to SVU and chats with a student named Wendy who has known Joe for a few years. She tells Liz that Joe used to run track, but he disappeared for a while, and when he came back, he left the team.

Liz makes Jessica go with her to visit Joe in lockup, because apparently 12-year-olds are allowed to do that in Sweet Valley. Joe doesn’t give Elizabeth anything that can help, so she turns her attention to Jeff, thinking he’s connected to the crime. She stalks him, but he doesn’t do anything suspicious. She goes back to Casey’s with Amy, and Amy accidentally knocks over her ice cream, so Liz goes to get a mop. She sees a set of Joe’s apartment keys there and steals them. Now who’s the criminal, Liz?

Elizabeth goes to Joe’s apartment and has to hide in a closet when a couple of police officers show up. She finds something in the closet that she thinks is a robot leg. The police find the gun from the robbery in Joe’s freezer (which makes me think of this exchange from Veronica Mars), so things are looking pretty bleak for poor Joe. But Liz is still convinced that he’s innocent, and if there’s one thing Elizabeth can do, it’s obsess about something until everyone does the right thing.

Thanks to all the brainteasers she’s been doing and all the Amanda Howard mysteries she’s read, Liz’s brain has started working a little differently. A brainteaser about a woman having a tooth pulled somehow directs her toward what Joe’s been hiding – the “robot leg” in his closet is really a prosthetic leg. She and Wendy do some digging in the library’s newspaper archives and discover that he was injured in a car accident and must have had his leg amputated. This explains why he left the track team, and why he didn’t even blink when Liz kicked him. This means the clown, who did react when Jess kicked him, couldn’t have been Joe.

Elizabeth shares all this with Jessica, but Jess is more worried about public humiliation than an innocent man’s freedom, and she refuses to testify. No way is she going to tell people that she was buying pads! Elizabeth decides to take her place in an after-the-fact twin switch – Jess was wearing her sweater, and no one can tell from surveillance footage which of them is which anyway. So Liz gets on the stand and testifies, pretending to be Jess, which means saintly Elizabeth Wakefield has now committed an actual crime.

But never mind that – Liz’s plan works, and when the jury finds out that Joe has a prosthetic leg and couldn’t have been the clown, they find him not guilty. Sometime later, Jeff is arrested for robbery, having framed Joe to get him out of the way so Mr. Casey wouldn’t leave him the ice cream parlor upon his retirement. Elizabeth tells Jessica that the maxi-pad company wants her to be their spokesperson because she inadvertently gave them such good publicity. I thought she was teasing Jess, but apparently this is for real. Jess could have been on TV if she hadn’t been so worried about embarrassing herself. Ha ha! Also, I hope Liz gives some of the money she gets from the company to Joe.

Thoughts: This book is basically that episode of The Simpsons where Sideshow Bob frames Krusty for robbery. In other words, The Simpsons already did it.

I guess the police in Sweet Valley aren’t familiar with DNA testing, or they would have figured out that a second person’s DNA was on Joe’s clown costume.

Elizabeth: “I wonder who they arrested.” Jessica: “I hope it’s somebody we hate.” Okay, that was funny.

Sweet Valley has a daycare center called the Cute Little Kids Day-Care Center. Way to be creative, ghostwriter.

But it has to be a robot foot, Elizabeth thought. I mean, they don’t make metal chickens nowadays – do they?Actually…

June 13, 2017

SVT Super Edition #6, The Twins Take Paris: What’s French for “These Girls Are Idiots”?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 5:13 pm by Jenn

Ick

Summary: In what’s supposed to be their first trip to France (of many throughout all the Sweet Valley books), the twins have been chosen to spend their spring break in Paris. By the way, they speak, like, ten words of French. They’re annoyed that their phrasebooks don’t include anything helpful. Oh, come on, girls, you don’t think you’ll ever have the opportunity to say “hail to the never-dying ancestors of long ago” or “we are not dead yet”? I mean, I do nothing BUT wish I knew the French for that. Jessica thinks she should write her own phrasebook.

At the last minute, the twins’ host family has to back out, and they’re told they’ll be staying with an older women named Madame du Noir. The host family says a bunch of stuff in their explanatory letter about what Madame du Noir is like, but their English is pretty bad, and the girls aren’t sure what they’re trying to say. They both get an ominous feeling about the change in plans. But whatever, do you want to go to France or not? You do? Then you’re staying with the possibly weird lady.

On the plane, Jessica reads a magazine article about some American girls who went missing in Paris. Before one of them disappeared, she was seen with an older woman who was wearing a polka-dotted scarf. Both twins have dreams about an old woman (Liz’s inspired by the villain in a mystery novel). When they land in Paris and go to meet Madame du Noir, they recognize her black and white polka-dotted scarf. Their host is a murderer!

The girls make one of the dumbest decisions of their lives (and that’s saying a lot) – they get in a cab and flee. While Madame du Noir calls the Wakefields back in Sweet Valley to tell them their foolish daughters have run off alone in Paris, the twins eat pastries and wonder if their host is really a murderer. After all, she may have said threatening things about them in French, but she may not have – Elizabeth can’t be sure. They decide to go to her place to make sure, but they run into her and hear her saying something about cooking the girls for dinner and putting them under glass. They dodge her and run away again.

Ned and Alice book a flight to Paris to find their daughters, dragging Steven along instead of leaving him behind with a family friend or something. Steven couldn’t care less that his sisters are on their own in a strange city; he’d much rather try to sell a bunch of his college T-shirts, which he’s heard are really popular in France. How did he get 86 college shirts in the first place? Those things are expensive! Steven happens to run into a flight attendant from the twins’ flight, and she tells him that they may believe that Madame du Noir is behind the disappearance of all the American girls.

The twins come across a baker whose assistant just quit, leaving him with no help in preparing for a big wedding. The girls offer to help out in exchange for being allowed to sleep in the backroom. The baker soon learns that two 12-year-old girls aren’t the best people to rely on for help with a big project that requires attention to detail and meticulous measurements. While they’re working, the Wakefields meet up with Madame du Noir, who takes them to…the same bakery. Sure. The girls hear her say something about their mother, and they think she’s lying to the baker about being their mom. They run off without realizing that their family is with her.

The twins go to the Louvre, because a) what else do you do in Paris, b) it’s basically the law that you have to go to the Louvre when you’re there, and c) they probably don’t know where else to go. They try calling home but just get the answering machine. Steven goes off alone, thinking he sees the twins, and learns from a Parisian that college shirts aren’t popular anymore. Sacre bleu! A little later, when the Wakefields go looking for the twins at the Louvre, Steven almost gets arrested for saying “j’ai sorry” (“I have sorry” instead of “I am sorry”) to a guard, who thinks he stole a sari from an exhibit. Thanks for tagging along on this trip, Steven.

Apparently security at the Louvre is pretty lax, other than when a 14-year-old boy may have stolen a piece of clothing, so the twins are able to hide under a bed until everyone leaves. When they leave the next day, they encounter an older woman named Madame Renault who has a scarf similar to Madame du Noir’s, only hers is blue with pink dots. The woman invites the twins to her apartment for tea and cookies, telling them how lonely she is. Jess is like, “You have a mustache but I’m hungry, so let’s go.”

Ned and Alice get separated from Steven and Madame du Noir, who run into the baker again. He offers to drive them around and help look for the twins. They happen to pass Madame Renault’s apartment, and Steven happens to see the twins through the window, even though the book makes a big deal out of how fast the baker drives. The three head to the apartment, but again, the twins hear Madame du Noir’s voice and run away. Madame du Noir senses that something weird is going on and calls the police, who suspect that Madame Renault is the serial kidnapper/killer. But Madame Renault escapes and follows the twins to the Eiffel Tower.

While running from Madame du Noir and the cops, the twins realize that Madame Renault is wearing a wig and carrying a knife. Also, she’s not Madame Renault – she’s Monsieur Renault. I guess dressing up as a harmless little old lady was a good way to get young American girls to trust him. Or maybe this is a Norman Bates situation. Either way, the twins realize that they were wrong not to trust Madame du Noir. Plus, they only thought the killer had a black-and-white scarf because the picture they saw of her was in black and white. Okay, I buy Jessica making that mistake but not Elizabeth.

There’s a lot of running around in the tower, which Steven gets stuck on top of, but eventually everything gets worked out and Monsieur Renault is captured. Ned and Alice cancel the rest of the twins’ trip and will have to occupy themselves for the rest of spring break by working in the garden and clearing out the attic. The twins don’t seem to get how serious the situation was, but then again, it’s not like their parents bar them from ever traveling alone again, so maybe no one learned a lesson here.

Thoughts: “She tossed aside From Wimp to Hunk Quarterly, reminding herself to buy Steven a copy for his birthday.” Hee hee.

“They have electricity in France, don’t they?” How did Jessica make it to the sixth grade?

I hope no kids try to read this book to learn about France. All I learned is that it has a lot of traffic and pastries.

If I were Ned and Alice, I would abandon the kids in Paris and go home without them.

February 7, 2017

SVT #81, Robbery at the Mall: Once Again, Elizabeth Does What an Entire Police Department Can’t

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:02 pm by Jenn

Elizabeth looks...weird

Elizabeth looks…weird

Summary: Maria Slater has suddenly become interested in directing (in case her career as an actress never gets back off the ground), so she’s excited when her dad gets a new video camera and lets her have his old one. She’s going to film a performance the Boosters are doing at the mall the next day to generate press for the opening of a new food court. This is a Big Deal, because things in Sweet Valley aren’t exciting enough with random visits from celebrities and people almost dying all the time. I mean, it can’t be too important if the main entertainment is some 12-year-old cheerleaders.

Everything’s going fine at the press event until everyone hears glass being smashed and realizes there’s been a robbery at a jewelry store. Jessica, who was about to jump on top of the Boosters’ pyramid (whatever), gets distracted and crashes. Lila’s angry that Jess wasn’t more professional. She thinks she should have Jessica’s role in the Boosters, and she wants to prove that she’s the better cheerleader.

Elizabeth has more important things to worry about – there’s a mystery afoot. Her parents don’t want her to look into the robbery, since she put herself in danger when she was investigating the charm school. But no way will Elizabeth turn her back on an opportunity to be like Christine Davenport, the heroine of her beloved Amanda Howard mysteries. Why leave the police work to the police when this 12-year-old has everything it takes to catch a robber?

The Boosters gather to watch Maria’s video of their performance (after Lila wins a high-jump competition with Jessica in her bid to prove that she’s a better Booster). The video is a disaster as apparently Maria is incompetent and can’t even figure out where the camera lens is. Jessica and Lila try to brush it off with a fence-walking contest. What is this, Anne of Green Gables? Guys, don’t go on the roof, okay? Anyway, Lila wins again.

While the kids are at school, another store at the mall is robbed. A security guard, MacDuff, gives a TV interview, and since he was present during the first robbery, Amy wonders if he’s pulling an inside job. Meanwhile, Jessica and Lila compete to see who can hold the most grapes in her mouth. Jess wins, but really, aren’t they both losers for this sort of stuff?

Since Elizabeth is writing about the new mall restaurants for the Sixers, she and her friends have a good excuse to keep hanging out at the mall. She and Todd go to a record store and chat with an employee who has a scar on his hand. Liz realizes that he was working elsewhere in the mall the last time she was there. Back in Jess/Lila Land, Lila wins a swimming competition. Their friends are at least entertained by their rivalry.

There’s another robbery, and Todd encourages Liz to go to the mall and investigate. She talks to a cop, offering to give a witness statement since she was at the mall during a previous robbery. She’d love to read the police reports and give her input. Amazingly, the cop doesn’t laugh in her face, but he also doesn’t indulge her fantasy that she’ll write about the robberies for the Sixers and, I don’t know, win a Pulitzer. Elizabeth talks to the employee from the record store instead; he’s now working at a Chinese restaurant.

Lila and Jess’ next competition is hanging upside-down from monkey bars. Jess wins, so she’s only one point behind Lila. They’ll have one more contest, after which Lila thinks she’ll be declared the winner and will get to take Jessica’s place at the top of the pyramid. If Jess wins, there will be a tie-breaker, but Lila clearly doesn’t think that will happen. The girls decide that whoever is the overall winner gets to pick her costume for the food court’s official opening, where the Boosters will be serving hors d’oeuvres. The loser gets last pick.

In a break from all the stealing going on at the mall, Maria’s house is robbed. She’s confused because all the family’s valuables are left alone, but her videotapes are stolen. Liz thinks that someone got a hold of Maria’s address after she gave it to the cop she offered to help. Jessica is on board with Amy’s theory that MacDuff is the robber – since he works at the mall, he would have easy access to all the stores.

Elizabeth realizes that Maria’s tape from the Boosters’ performance might contain evidence. Yeah, everyone reading figured that out, like, 50 pages ago, Liz. Since Maria didn’t keep it with her other tapes, it wasn’t stolen. Liz, Maria, and Amy watch it, and though the quality is horrible, they’re able to make out what looks like a hand taking a necklace. Well, at least it’s more than the police have found. They stake out the mall for a little while and see MacDuff at the Chinese restaurant, off-duty. Not long after, the Chinese restaurant is the next place to be robbed.

Lila and Jessica’s last contest is a bike race through an obstacle course. Jess wins, so the girls need a tiebreaker. They agree to a hot dog-eating contest at the mall. Lila wins, which I find really hard to believe. I can’t see her eating even one hot dog, let alone more than Jessica. But whatever, this means Jess could get stuck with a horrible costume at the opening.

Elizabeth stalks MacDuff, overhearing him on the phone, sounding sketchy. He catches her and she gets in major trouble with her parents. She’s even grounded! Undeterred, she continues her investigation, watching Maria’s tape again. This time Liz is able to see that the hand stealing the necklace has a scar on it. She knows she’s seen that scar before, but because she’s actually a much, much worse detective than she thinks, she doesn’t remember where. She thinks it’s MacDuff’s.

There’s a big party for the food court opening, and Elizabeth convinces Amy and Maria to sneak in with her. They don’t have invitations, but they pretend they were invited to cover the story for the Sixers. The record store/Chinese restaurant/various other stores guy is now working as a coat check. Just seconds after arriving, Elizabeth sees the scar on his hand and realizes she’s been investigating the wrong suspect.

Ironically (I guess), Liz turns to the person she just stopped suspecting to help her capture her new suspect. MacDuff is displeased that she’s still investigating, but he listens when she tells him the guy with the scar is probably the robber. The robber sees them together and figures out he’s busted, so he takes off. Elizabeth chases him, and MacDuff chases her. Jessica sees her sister being pursued by the guy she still thinks is a robber and decides to stop him by jumping out in front of him. Oh, and by the way, she’s dressed as a giant hot dog. The visual from this scene is one of my favorite things from this whole series.

So of course the robber is caught, and Elizabeth is hailed a hero (though Jessica should get half the credit for risking her physical safety). The Wakefields are so proud of their little detective that they give her back some of the privileges they took away when they grounded her. Steven calls bull, as do I, but we shouldn’t expect anything less from Ned and Alice. Maria is still horrible with her video camera, but she’s happy that her video helped catch a criminal. Maybe someone will let her know that the director doesn’t have to handle the camera, so her cinematography skills probably won’t have an effect on her career goals.

Thoughts: “The Valley Mall: An International Dining Extravaganza.” You have seven restaurants, four are American, and the Mexican one is called the Taco Shack. Calm down, Valley Mall.

Elizabeth describes a coconut-orange smoothie as a “platonic experience.” What are you on, Liz?

Janet picks a costume that consists of “a pair of short denim overalls, a red-checked blouse, and a blond wig with two braids.” I call bull again.

Elizabeth has black velvet leggings. WHAT?

This week in Adventures in Out-of-Context Passages: “‘Stop!’ the hot dog shouted with Jessica’s voice.”

October 11, 2016

SVT #67, Jessica the Thief: American Swiper

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 4:54 pm by Jenn

I probably would have worn Jessica's skirt when I was her age

I probably would have worn Jessica’s skirt when I was her age

Summary: Veronica Brooks is settling in at SVMS, and she wants to become a Unicorn. Elizabeth is the only person who thinks Veronica is bad news. This is even after Veronica threatened to get even with Jessica at the end of the last book. The Unicorns haven’t yet invited Veronica to join them, possibly because right now they’re more interested in their newest accessories. Lila just got a Watchman (a watch/TV combo) and Ellen’s been allowed to wear her mother’s expensive hoop earrings to school.

At lunch, Ellen takes off her earrings (they’re heavy) and leaves them at the table while a bunch of the Unicorns go get cookies. Jessica and Veronica hang behind a little. When everyone gets back to the table, the earrings are missing. Then, at Boosters practice (which Veronica hangs around, since Bruce is also in the gym), Janet’s hairbrush and Lila’s newest Teenager magazine disappear. Veronica wonders if the same person took the magazine, hairbrush, and earrings. Jessica thinks the girls are all just bad at keeping track of their stuff.

Some of the girls chat about the disappearances in the bathroom, nicknaming the thief the Sweet Valley Swiper. Jessica admires Mandy’s new hat, which she got from a thrift store. By the way, everyone used to see Mandy’s style as low-class, but now she’s considered quirky and unique. She accidentally leaves the hat in the bathroom, and when she goes back to get it…well, of course it’s gone. The Sweet Valley Swiper strikes again!

Elizabeth fancies herself a detective, so she takes an interest in the case. She figures that since the hat was taken from the girls’ bathroom, the thief is probably a girl. Well, yeah – a guy probably isn’t going to steal earrings and a brush. Next, Mandy’s jacket vanishes. Ellen thinks her deodorant was also stolen, which leads to a lot of jokes about how she smells. There’s a pattern emerging beyond girls having their things taken – they’re all things Jessica has admired. Also, only the Unicorns have been victims of the thefts.

The pattern breaks when Veronica reports her notebook missing. The girls finally tell the principal, Mr. Clark, who promises to get the teachers to keep their eyes out. Elizabeth and Amy apparently solved mysteries together as kids, calling themselves the Snoopers, and they consider getting back together for one last case. How is this situation different from the other times they’ve teamed up to solve mysteries?

Lila gets her Watchman taken away in class, and when she goes to get it back from the teacher, it’s gone. I’m impressed that the thief was able to grab it without the teacher seeing. Later, Lila gets a note telling her she can find the Watchman in Jessica’s locker. Indeed, that’s where it is, though Jess has no idea how it got there. Half the Unicorns turn on her, thinking she’s the swiper. They want to oust her from the Unicorns and replace her with Veronica.

Even Elizabeth isn’t sure about her sister’s innocence. After all, Jessica borrowed her sweatshirt and lost it…or did she steal it? But Elizabeth thinks that Occam’s Razor is bull: The simplest explanation is that Jess is the thief, but that’s too easy. She’s probably being framed. Liz decides to focus on the note Lila got about the Watchman’s location, but she’s already thrown it out. Elizabeth recruits Amy to help her dig through the trash at school, which means Amy is a much better friend to Liz than I could ever be. Too bad they don’t find the note. Right now the only thing going in Jess’ favor is the fact that Aaron doesn’t think she’s the swiper.

Elizabeth sees the Unicorns hanging out with Veronica and thinks she’s cracked the case. She comes up with a multi-step plan to catch the swiper. First, Jessica pretends to be sick so she can stay home from school. Elizabeth goes to school as her twin, saying Liz is the one who’s sick. She chats with Veronica, telling her that Mandy still believes in Jessica’s innocence. The only thing that could make her turn on Jess is if her favorite rhinestone pin disappeared.

Guess what disappears not long after? Like Lila, Mandy gets a note telling her Jess took the pin. But Elizabeth announces that she’s not Jess, and that Jess isn’t even at school today, so there’s no way she could have taken the pin. Mandy calls Alice to confirm that Liz is who she says she is, getting confirmation when Jessica can’t spell “thief.” But even with Jess out of school, the pin is in her locker.

Elizabeth tells Mandy and Lila that she’s figured it out: Veronica is the thief. She framed Jessica to get her kicked out of the Unicorns. While Amy goes to get Mr. Clark, Elizabeth and Mandy stage a fight so Veronica will overhear. Veronica thinks Mandy’s mad at “Jessica” for stealing her pin, but the girls point out that they never mentioned a pin being missing. Mandy even says it’s not gone.

Elizabeth notes that only the thief would know it was missing. Veronica tries to blame Jessica, but Liz tells her that Jess isn’t at school. Mr. Clark checks Veronica’s locker, where all the missing things have been stashed. Jessica’s name is cleared, and Veronica’s suspended. Jess figures out that Veronica got her locker combination from a book she borrowed from Jess. The Unicorns, amazingly, feel horrible about the way they treated Jess, and they bring her ice cream as a peace offering. Also, Jess finds Elizabeth’s missing sweatshirt, proving once and for all that she may be a thoughtless sister, but she’s not a thief.

The B-plot is kind of entertaining. Steven and Joe take tests to see if they qualify for MEGA (the Mentally Gifted Association), the Sweet Valley-verse’s version (say that five times fast) of MENSA. Steven’s mailed results say he’s in the 99th percentile, the “genius intelligence quoshent [sic].” Steven thinks this is awesome, not just because it means he’s super-smart but also because Jess told him she would never tease him again if he got a genius score on the test.

Suddenly Steven has a new hobby: being an intellectual. He gets interested in tort law, chess, opera, and a Jeopardy-style TV show called Q&A. Even the twins are impressed with his ability to answer all the questions correctly. He gets Joe to watch a documentary about the mating habits of porcupines. Everyone finds him insufferable now, since he just wants to talk about high-brow things, and doesn’t even want to play basketball anymore.

On her day home “sick,” Jessica helps clean Steven’s room and does some detective work of her own. She finds a list of answers (or questions, I guess) from the episode of Q&A they watched, and realizes that he cheated – they watched a taped episode that Steven had already seen. Along with some other evidence proving that Steven isn’t, in fact, a genius, Jess is able to bust her brother.

Steven admits that he was playing a joke on Joe; he knew Joe made up the test results. Messing with the twins was just a bonus for Steven. Now he wants the girls to help him get payback. A bunch of the Wakefield kids’ friends come over, and Janet tells Jessica that Joe made up the test results to mess with Steven. Jessica pretends that Steven has no idea. Then Steven announces that his genius IQ makes him too smart for high school, so he’s going to drop out and try to get into Harvard. Joe tries to pretend that the test results were a mistake (there’s a guy out there named Steven Wokefield who doesn’t know he’s a genius), but Steven comes clean. Everyone’s amused by the whole thing.

Thoughts: A watch that you can watch TV on is so ahead of its time.

“When a crime seems too easy to solve, there’s probably a good reason.” And maybe the reason is that the criminal was too dumb to avoid getting caught.

Rick Hunter thought Jessica was too much of a klutz to be a thief. I don’t get that logic. She would have dropped the things she tried to steal? She would have tripped while taking them? Please explain yourself, Rick.

July 26, 2016

SVT #58, Elizabeth and the Orphans: Like Party of Five, Except I Like These People

Posted in books tagged , , , at 4:39 pm by Jenn

Sansa Stark and Kirk Cameron are sad

Sansa Stark and Kirk Cameron are sad

Summary: The twins’ social studies class has been given a new project: Pair with another classmate to interview and write about each other’s families. Jessica is paired with Lila, which makes her happy since Lila only has one family member to interview. Elizabeth is paired with a girl named Melissa McCormick, who’s shy but nice. Elizabeth is happy to have a chance to get to know Melissa better. Melissa, however, is worried about having to reveal that her father abandoned the family years ago and has no contact with her or her brother Andy, a senior at SVH.

But Melissa has bigger things to worry about: A long-time heart problem has landed her mother in the hospital. Melissa and Andy are pulled out of school to see her, and minutes later, she’s dead. What a fun book! Andy decides that no one can find out that their father is out of the picture, because he and Melissa could be sent to separate foster homes. They lie to a social worker and their neighbors, saying their father is traveling but will be home soon. The social worker allows the kids to stay with the neighbors until Mr. McCormick gets back.

This works for a week. Andy even gets a guy named Sam to pretend to be Mr. McCormick and talk to the neighbors on the phone. This is, at best, a short-term solution, because I think the neighbors will notice when a few weeks pass and they don’t see any fathers at the house. Plus, the neighbors are heading off on a long European vacation soon, so Andy and Melissa can only stay with them for a few days. But the adults all fall for the ploy, so the McCormicks are in the clear for now.

Lest any impressionable preteens reading this book think the kids are living the dream, we learn that reality makes the situation pretty bleak. Though the house is paid for (which makes no sense to me; Melissa says they’ve moved around a lot because her mother was always looking for better work, so why buy a house when you might not stay in that town?), the kids still have to deal with things like utility bills. Andy decides to get an after-school job, but he refuses to let Melissa get one. He wants her to focus on school instead.

This seems like a fine solution until Andy realizes that two people can’t live on money from a part-time job. He quits the basketball team so he can work longer hours. Melissa’s finding it harder and harder to keep up the lies she and Andy have told people about their dad, and she finally tells Elizabeth the truth – they don’t know where he is or how to reach him, and she and Andy are living on their own. Elizabeth agrees not to tell anyone, though she knows this is a Bad Situation for grownups to take care of.

Liz helps Melissa clean up around the house, and they find a bunch of letters Mr. McCormick sent Mrs. McCormick over the years. Even though he left the family and doesn’t keep in touch with his kids, he clearly loves them and has sent money to help take care of them. Hey, if they move around so much, how does he know where they are? Wait, this book doesn’t care about being realistic. Never mind. Andy worries that Elizabeth will spill the secret and he and Melissa will be separated.

Andy skips school to work, so the principal announces she’s going to call his father. Andy enlists Sam again to pretend to be Mr. McCormick, and the principal is completely fooled. At first Sam says he’s doing this as a favor to Andy, but then he says he’ll find a way for Andy to repay him. Andy admits to Melissa that Sam wants him to do something illegal. Melissa tries not to worry too much, since Andy’s generally a good guy.

Not long after, Melissa’s home alone when she sees a couple of people breaking into the neighbor’s house. She calls the police, who easily nab the robbers. Unfortunately, one of them is Andy. Sam blackmailed him into breaking in, threatening to tell social services the truth if Andy didn’t do it. The McCormicks’ worst fears are realized, and they’re sent to separate foster homes. Elizabeth tells Ned what’s been going on, and he’s nice enough to pay Andy’s bail and work on his case.

Now that she’s broken her promise to keep Andy and Melissa’s secret, Liz figures she might as well keep meddling. She finds the last return address Mr. McCormick wrote from and sends a letter to it. It’s a motel in Texas, and he was there a year ago, but somehow, her letter gets to Mr. McCormick. (The details are never mentioned. I assume the ghostwriter didn’t plan to think them up.) Mr. McCormick comes to Sweet Valley and reunites with his kids, who are suddenly forgiving of him for not talking to them in years. Andy doesn’t go to jail, so that’s good. I hope Mr. McCormick has enough money for his legal fees.

In the dumb B-plot, Jessica’s mad at Steven for some reason she doesn’t even remember, and she WILL NOT SHUT UP about how annoying he is. She’s especially mad that he keeps hogging the phone, so she makes a phone schedule, giving him slots in the middle of the night. Ned and Alice can’t be bothered to parent their kids, as usual, and leave them to work things out themselves, which really means they just ignore all the fighting. Jessica also creates a jerk-o-meter to keep track of how annoying Steven is, but I’m not sure what happens when he gets more than a certain number of points.

Just as Jessica’s only a few seconds away from splitting the house down the middle with masking tape, Melissa’s home situation makes her realize how dumb she’s being. She’s grateful that her family is so normal (relatively speaking) and drops her vendetta against Steven. She also admits that she can’t remember how their battle started. Thanks for wasting my time, B-plot!

Thoughts: Dear whoever named this book: They’re not orphans.

Lila is really nice to Melissa, since they’re both motherless, so someone should probably check on her and make sure she’s feeling okay.

Sam’s watch has diamonds on it. I’m afraid to ask how he got it or why hangs out with teenagers.

“They had another big electricity bill and he was hoping his overtime pay would be enough to cover it.” Either the McCormicks’ electricity bills aren’t really that big or supermarket jobs pay a lot in overtime.

“Maybe if I’d been a better friend, none of this would have happened.” IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, LIZ.

February 2, 2016

SVU Thriller, Loving the Enemy: These Robbers Are Armed, But Not With Intelligence

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:37 pm by Jenn

The Daniel sisters weren't very good at modeling, were they?

The Daniel sisters weren’t very good at modeling, were they?

Summary: This book isn’t as bad as the summary on the back makes it sound. Well, in some ways. The blurb makes it out like Jessica falls in love with a guy holding her hostage. And though she has some sympathy for him and maybe a little crush, it’s not quite that ridiculous.

Jessica, Lila, Denise, and Alex decide to have dinner at the Red Lion Diner. It’s a week before their sophomore year, and not everyone is back on campus yet. They’re staying at the sorority house until their dorms or apartments are ready. (The twins will be living with Neil, so he’s decided to transfer to SVU after all.) On their way inside, Jessica spots Trevor Paley, a guy she had a class with the year before. He’s fighting with another guy, so he’s distracted when Jess says hi to him. She thinks he’s just not interested in her. The nerve!

The girls banter with the waitress, Stella. Picture every diner waitress you’ve ever seen in movies or TV. That’s Stella. While they’re waiting for their food, two masked men burst in with guns and demand money. Everyone gets on the floor and tries to stay calm. Instead of just keeping her mouth shut and getting the money, which is the smart option, Stella has to be sassy about the whole thing. Hey, Stella? Did you see the guns? Yeah. They have ouchy bullets inside. Shut up and give them what they want so you don’t get shot.

Willie, the owner/cook, comes out of the kitchen and tries to intimidate the robbers into leaving. They won’t, so Willie gives Stella the go-ahead to empty the cash register. While the bigger robber is off his guard, thinking things are going his way, Willie swings a baseball bat at him. Unfortunately, gun beats bat, and Willie gets shot in the arm. Stella yells at the robber, like, do you want to get shot, too? Just give him the money!

The second robber yells at the first, upset that their brilliant scheme isn’t going the way they’d planned. I guess he thought that everyone would cooperate and they would get the money without having to hurt anyone. Jessica recognizes the second robber’s voice and realizes it’s Trevor. Through bits of conversation, she figures out that the first robber is his brother, Jason.

Despite the bullet in his shoulder and the fact that he’s about to lose a bunch of money, it’s kind of Willie’s lucky day. One of the diner patrons is a med student named Clark, and Jason allows him to help tend to Willie’s wound. Things go south, though, when Jason realizes that their take for this robbery is just over $175. Well, what did he expect? It’s a diner and no college students have been there all summer. Willie laughs because he’s dealing with idiots. Yeah, but they’re the ones with the guns.

Trevor and Jason start arguing, and three other patrons take advantage of their distraction to try to sneak out the door. Way to secure all the exits, guys! One patron escapes, and Jason shoots another. Trevor wants to minimize the loss of innocent life, so he tries to stop Jason by…shooting him in the arm. This is not a healthy family relationship. Jason threatens to shoot Trevor so they’re even, but he decides he can’t hurt his own brother like that.

While Clark tends to his new patients, Jessica quietly lets Denise know that she knows one of the robbers. Denise smartly tells Jessica to keep it to herself. Jason tells Denise to close all the blinds, and she uses the opportunity to try to negotiate: She’ll do it if he lets the injured hostages go. Nice try, Denise, but I don’t think Jason’s getting enough out of this deal to see it as a good trade.

Denise closes the blinds anyway, then tries again to talk Jason into letting the injured people go. While I admire her for trying, her methods just make Jason mad. The police arrive, having been called by the escapee, so at least now we have a negotiator here who knows what he’s doing. But Alex and Trevor are also on Denise’s side, and eventually wear Jason down. Not only does he let the injured hostages go, but he sends Denise and Alex out with them so he doesn’t have to deal with them anymore. Note to self: If you’re ever taken hostage, just annoy the guy in charge until he releases you. A fool-proof plan!

Thanks to the magic of shifting narrative points of view, we get to find out why the Paley brothers are in this mess. Trevor tells us that Jason has always been a little monster. Recently he racked up some gambling debts and decided to rob the diner so he could pay off a loan shark. Trevor agreed to help because he’s such a good brother. Yeah, listen, I love my brothers, but if they ever tried to get me to commit a crime with them, I would draw the line of sisterly devotion there.

Jessica decides to tell Trevor that she knows who he is, though I’m not sure what she thought this would accomplish. She can’t believe the quiet guy from her class is now holding people hostage. Trevor gets sick of the whole situation and tells Jason he’s done. Jason thinks about killing his brother but doesn’t. Aww, they’re making progress. Their brief standoff allows a couple other hostages to try to escape, but Trevor stops them. So I guess he’s not really done after all.

Since Jason is losing a lot of blood, Trevor decides he needs to get him out of the diner. He takes Jessica with him to check out the back of the building, telling the others that if they try anything, he’ll shoot Jess. Jess starts to warm up to Trevor a little, despite the fact that he just threatened her, but he turns mean again and she realizes he’s still a bad guy. They find a storm drain, and Trevor realizes that he could escape and just leave Jason to deal with the fallout of the hostage situation.

On the outside, Denise and Alex find Elizabeth and tell her what’s going on. The three head back to the diner, where Denise decides they could call Lila’s cell phone to find out what’s going on inside. Alex deems this an okay idea since Lila keeps her phone on vibrate, so Jason and Trevor won’t hear it ringing. But won’t they hear her talking? This is dumb. Also, apparently the police have told everyone outside not to try to communicate with anyone inside, so this is a horrible idea.

The girls call anyway, and are able to speak to Lila for a minute. Elizabeth comes up with an escape plan for her, telling her to climb out through the bathroom window. Jason catches Lila on the phone and takes it away before Lila can even hear the plan. Another hostage, Steve, tries to get Jason to leave Lila alone by basically telling him to pick on someone his own size. The two men fight, and Steve manages to grab Jason’s gun.

Trevor and Jessica return just then, and Trevor threatens to kill Jessica if Steve doesn’t drop the gun. So Jessica’s definitely not in love with him now. Steve tries to shoot Trevor, but Jason jumps in front of his brother, taking another bullet. Steve’s now out of bullets, but Trevor’s more concerned with losing his brother than he is about teaching Steve a lesson. He comes up with a new plan: Let the hostages go, get medical attention for Jason, and run away.

Trevor takes Jessica back to the storm drain and they escape the diner. He asks her to help him hide out, so she takes him to the sorority house. Meanwhile, the other hostages are freed, and everyone learns that Trevor took Jessica with him. The police start looking for him, and it doesn’t take long for them to show up at the sorority house. When she’s recognized as one of the hostages, Jessica lies that she’s Elizabeth. This news reaches the diner, and Elizabeth tells the police that Jess lied.

Everyone heads to Theta house, where Jessica has managed to leave a note on the back of the door in lipstick: “Train.” Trevor’s ingenious new plan is to take a train out of town and, I guess, hope the police don’t bother looking for him anywhere outside of Sweet Valley. The police show up before Trevor can flee, so Trevor threatens to shoot Jessica. She basically talks him out of it, saying she knows he won’t hurt her. Like, he stands there with a gun pointed at her and she just walks away. Weird.

Trevor lowers his gun, but the police shoot him anyway. He and Jason both survive the ordeal, and I guess will get to bond while they’re in prison together. The police are kind of mad that the girls called Lila when they weren’t supposed to, but I guess they can’t do much about it, since it didn’t lead to anyone getting hurt. Anyway, this book had the potential to be good, but ended up being dumb, though not as dumb as it could have been.

Thoughts: Trevor: “Nice to meet you, Steve.” Steve: “Don’t talk to me, scumbag. If I didn’t have a gun pointed at my back, you’d be choking on your teeth.” I like you, Steve. Let’s be friends.

“I have a really brilliant and potentially stupid idea.” I like you, too, Denise.

“If you’re ever in a situation like that again, leave it to the professionals.” They never have before; why would they start now?

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