October 28, 2017

The X-Files 6.9, S.R. 819: Like “The Ring,” But With a Tighter Deadline

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:10 pm by Jenn

Make up your mind – are you supposed to be homeless or Jesus?

Summary: At D.C. General Hospital, a doctor named Cabrera consults with an intern about a patient who has just been transferred to her care. She tells the intern to contact Scully because the patient is going to die. It’s Skinner, and he looks pretty bad, all veiny and weak. He tells Cabrera a name, then flatlines. The intern wants to shock him and revive him, but Cabrera tells him to let Skinner die. Skinner voices over about making choices, or, in his case, not making choices, which is how he’s ended up dead.

24 hours earlier, Skinner’s at a boxing gym, sparring with a guy named Dre, when his vision starts to blur. Dre’s able to get the upper hand (or upper fist, in this case) and win the bout. Skinner loses consciousness, then wakes up in the hospital just after 9:30. He gets a phone call from a robotic voice that informs him, “It’s in you.” He has 24 hours left, and is already dead. Ooh, it’s like The Ring!

A doctor named Plant comes in as the phone call ends, and Skinner tries to shake off the weird call. Plant tells him he’s fine and can leave, though he has a nasty bruise over his ribs. The doctor assures him he’ll live. Instead of going home or going out to live up what may be the last 24 hours of his life, Skinner goes to work, where Mulder’s amusing himself with his favorite office activity, throwing pencils at the ceiling. Skinner decides to lie down to get some rest.

Scully shows up and examines her former boss. Mulder tells her about the phone call, which Skinner thinks was just a prank. Scully guesses that he was poisoned, and whatever he was given didn’t show up on the doctor’s blood tests. Mulder thinks whoever drugged him wanted to see who he would turn to for help. This must have to do with the X-Files. Skinner calls him paranoid.

The agents ask Skinner to walk them through his day. At first he doesn’t remember anything out of the ordinary happening, but then he recalls a man stopping him in the hallway to ask the time. The man grabbed his wrist, which may have allowed him to transfer poison. The agents look at surveillance footage and Scully recognizes the man as Kenneth Orgel, an advisor to a Senate subcommittee on ethics in technology. When he signed in, he stated he was going to see Skinner.

Scully recommends that Skinner go back to the hospital for observation, but Skinner wants to find the man who poisoned him. He and Mulder track Orgel down in Chevy Chase, Maryland, but Orgel claims not to know who Skinner is. He’s acting weird, and Mulder catches on that he’s not home alone. He sends Skinner to the back of the house while he tries to get in the door. Skinner gets in but is overpowered by two armed men who then takes off with Orgel.

Mulder chases them, capturing one while the other gets Orgel into a car and speeds off. Skinner’s still in the house, his health quickly worsening. Mulder’s captive will only speak Arabic, and he has diplomatic papers, so Skinner has to let him go. He decides he needs to stay out of whatever’s going on while Mulder goes to look into the man they just released, Alexander Lazreg, a cultural attaché with the Tunisian mission in D.C.

Scully goes to the hospital to talk to Plant about Skinner. She invites herself to examine his blood samples, which supposedly haven’t been processed, though Scully disagrees. Mulder looks through Orgel’s things and finds a picture of him with Mulder’s senator friend, Matheson. At the hospital, Scully finds carbon in Skinner’s blood, though she and Plant have no idea how that could act as a poison. It’s also multiplying at a fast rate.

Mulder goes to Matheson’s house and shows him the picture. In it, Matheson and Orgel are holding a copy of a Senate resolution, S.R. 819. Matheson says it’s a health-funding bill. Mulder knows it’s connected to Skinner’s approaching death, and he wants to piece together how Orgel and the Tunisian mission are involved. Matheson tells him that the bill provides supplies to the World Health Organization, allowing third-world countries to access medical technology. He doesn’t want to be involved in whatever’s going on, even if someone might be dying. He kicks “Fox” out.

Skinner follows someone to an Embassy Row parking garage as the blood in his veins darkens. The man he followed spots him and fires his gun at him. Skinner’s barely well enough to shoot back, but he loses the shooter in rows of cars that are starting to look blurry to him. The shooter is about to sneak up on Skinner and finish him off when a speeding car plows into the shooter, then drives off. Skinner collapses, unable to see who just saved him from the shooter.

Scully realizes that the carbon is creating a matrix stimulated by blood flow and movement. It’s building valves and dams in the vascular system. Plant says that means it’s building up to a heart attack. The two learn that Skinner was found in the parking garage and is being taken to D.C. General Hospital. He’s send straight to surgery, where Cabrera plans to remove his arms to save his life. Scully and Plant interrupt the procedure and announce that Skinner needs to have a scope inserted instead.

Still in possession of his arms, Skinner is transferred to another room while Scully promises that they’ll help him. The events of the day flash through Skinner’s memory, but he still can’t remember everything that happened to him. At FBI headquarters, Skinner’s secretary catches Mulder searching his office for anything about S.R. 819. There’s a locked drawer, and when Mulder goes to get a letter opener to force it open, he finds a confidential letter that piques his interest.

Mulder joins Scully and Skinner at the hospital, where Scully admits that they still don’t know what’s going on. They can keep lasering Skinner’s arteries open so his blood can circulate, but sooner or later, they’re going to run out of time. They don’t have the technology to fight the toxin. Mulder disagrees, showing her the confidential letter. It’s from Matheson, who was doing a security check for the bill. Skinner was supposed to review it and Orgel’s analysis of the bill.

Scully guesses that this means Orgel poisoned Skinner to cover up his analysis. Mulder tells her that Orgel actually came to tell Skinner about a violation of laws involving the exportation of medical technology. Skinner’s phone rings, and Mulder answers a call from the same robotic voice that spoke to Skinner before. It’s been transmitted via some sort of ’90s text-to-voice technology being used by someone in the hospital hallway.

Mulder spots the messager and chases him to the parking garage, but loses him. He follows a speeding car, but the driver crashes into someone else and runs off. The messager then calls Matheson to warn that there’s a new threat to the bill. Matheson claims not to buy the messager’s threats, but the messager says that Orgel does. He offers to tell Matheson how to find Orgel.

The messager’s crashed car is taken to a garage, and Mulder has things inside it analyzed. The analyst finds hairs from a wig and ’70s-era chemicals on the tires, indicating that it was parked somewhere like a chemical plant. That’s where Matheson goes next, and it’s where Orgel has been strapped to a table to face the same veiny fate as Skinner. The messager looks on as Orgel promises not to expose anyone to the FBI, then starts writhing and yelling in pain. The messager appears to be using his messaging technology to dial up the torture.

Back at the hospital, Scully tells Skinner she has a treatment that might cure him, though it’s pretty radical and might send his body into shock. Skinner apologizes for not joining her and Mulder on their quest for the truth. If he dies now, it’ll be in vain. Scully tries to assure him that his life won’t have amounted to nothing. He regrets playing it safe and never choosing sides or letting Scully and Mulder pull them into their craziness. Scully says he’s been their ally plenty of times, but Skinner wishes he’d been better at it.

Skinner remembers his encounter with Orgel again, then recalls that he saw the messager in the hallway when they met. He was also at the boxing gym and the hospital, and is the driver who ran down the man who was going to shoot Skinner in the garage. Skinner tells Scully to look for him on the surveillance tape.

Mulder gets to the plant and finds Matheson standing over the table Orgel was lying on. Matheson says that Orgel is dead, and he took whatever he knew with him. Mulder demands to know what Skinner was given, but Matheson says he already knows that it’s the same technology S.R. 819 will export. It’s technology the world only thinks is hypothetical – nanotechnology. Mulder says technology can be stopped, but Matheson warns that if the truth is exposed, everyone who knows about it will be killed. He claims he’s a victim fighting for his life, and it’s too late to stop what’s been put into motion.

We’re back to the opening scene of the episode, when Skinner is allowed to flatline and is declared dead at 9:33. But the messager uses his technology to restore Skinner’s heartbeat and revive him. Skinner is briefly able to see his bearded, bewigged savior through the window before he disappears.

Three weeks later, Skinner’s pretty much recovered and is back at work. Mulder and Scully shows him pictures of the messager, but Skinner says he doesn’t recognize him. S.R. 819 has been withdrawn, making Skinner think that the messager got what he wanted. Mulder doesn’t understand why the messager would call to tell him he was being poisoned if he was trying to kill him to keep him from investigating S.R. 819. He even used his own government’s resources and killed one of his own to save Skinner.

Skinner asks if Mulder still thinks this was about the X-Files. Mulder does, and he has an idea who was behind it, but he’ll need Skinner’s authorization to investigate. Skinner declines, reminding Mulder that he works for Kersh now. He declares the matter closed.

As Skinner leaves for the evening, he finds the messager in his car. He’s no longer wearing the wig, and he’s shaved his beard, which means we can all admire his pretty, pretty face: It’s Krycek. He reminds Skinner that he can use his technology anytime he wants to. Skinner asks what this is all about, but Krycek only replies, “All in good time,” then leaves him in peace.

Thoughts: “Guys, I’ve barely been in this season. Can I have my own episode?” “Okay, Mitch, but we’re going to make you look gross.” “I’ll take it.”

Plant and a nurse both make a joke to Skinner about how at least no one bit off his ear. The ’90s were a weird time.

As we learned from Alias, nothing good happens in parking garages.

Having your arteries lasered sounds like such a fun time, doesn’t it?

Krycek saying he can kill Skinner whenever he wants made me think of CSM saying, “I can kill you whenever I please.”

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August 26, 2017

The X-Files, Fight the Future: Bee Movie

Posted in movies tagged , , , , , at 1:13 pm by Jenn

Not the best picture of Mulder and Scully, really

Summary: Mulder and Scully have made it to the big screen! But first, we take a trip to Texas in 35,000 B.C. Two cavemen hear a screeching noise while checking out a cave. One finds another caveman trapped in something that looks like amber, then gets attacked by an alien. The second caveman finds his buddy dead and goes looking for his attacker. He comes across the alien, which attacks him as well. The caveman has a weapon and stabs the alien, which bleeds black oil that infects the caveman.

In the present (judging by the fact that the cavemen didn’t have jean shorts), a kid named Stevie falls into the same cave after digging around in the dirt with some friends. He finds a skull, then sees black oil seeping out of the ground. It crawls up his legs and under his skin. His friends ditch him and run home. Sometime later, firefighters arrive and one goes into the cave to get Stevie. His captain loses contact with him, which can’t be a good sign.

Next a team in Hazmat suits shows up and gets the civilians off the scene. They take the boy away in a sealed container, transporting him by helicopter. Some big trucks drive in, and Bronschweig, the man in charge of securing the scene, calls someone to report that the impossible scenario they didn’t bother to plan for now needs some sort of plan.

A week later, an FBI agent named Michaud is helicoptered to a roof near Dallas’ Federal Building, where he instructs other agents to make absolutely sure there’s no explosive device inside. Scully’s also on a building roof, letting Mulder know via phone (“Mulder, it’s me”) that no bomb has been found, despite a threat being called in. She uses, like 100 words to talk about how they need to follow the rules but still might not find a bomb. Anyway, Mulder’s there now, talking about hunches and expecting the unexpected.

Scully warns that Mulder needs to stop thinking unconventionally like he did when they were working X-files. He can’t be looking for things that aren’t there. Mulder jokes that they should call in a bomb threat in Houston so they can go to a game at the Astrodome. Scully tries to open the door letting them off the roof, telling Mulder it’s locked – “so much for anticipating the unforeseen.” She’s just messing with him. “I had you,” she gloats.

In the lobby, Scully continues teasing Mulder, saying she saw panic on his face. He claims she’s never seen him panic. He heads off to buy them sodas from a break room, but the machine doesn’t work. I guess he didn’t anticipate that unforeseen complication either. Mulder sees that the machine is unplugged, which gives him an idea. Unable to get out of the room (the door really is locked), he calls Scully in the lobby and lets her know he found the bomb in the machine.

With just under 14 minutes left on the timer, Mulder tells Scully to evacuate the building. She immediately gives orders to the people workers there, then calls Michaud to tell him he’s looking in the wrong place. Michaud and his agents hurry over to save Mulder (taking their sweet time – the counter’s below five minutes now). Scully calls and Mulder tells her he’s now making his not-panicking panicked face.

Michaud cuts through the door and the agents study the bomb. He says he can defuse it, but he wants everyone to leave. Mulder hesitates to leave him behind, but Scully makes him go with her. Instead of working on the bomb, Michaud sits and watches the timer count down. Mulder realizes that something’s wrong and turns back to the building. Scully insists that he head off to safety with her, and they drive away as the bomb explodes. “Next time, you’re buying,” Mulder tells Scully, because even though a man just died, he wouldn’t be Mulder if he didn’t make jokes.

The agents go back to D.C. and attend a review led by an agent named Cassidy. (Mulder’s late.) She tells them that five people died, including a young boy and three firemen. Mulder’s surprised to hear that the firemen were in the building – the agents were told that the building had been evacuated. Cassidy sends him away so she can question Scully first.

Mulder anxiously eats sunflower seeds until Skinner leaves the review to talk to him. He says Cassidy wants to know why Scully wasn’t in the right building. Mulder says she was with him. Skinner says that the city of Dallas sustained $45 million of damage, then that people are dead, as if the money is the more important thing. There also haven’t been any arrests, so the FBI is being scrutinized. Where did they screw up? Who will they be blaming?

Mulder’s willing to take the blame since he didn’t follow protocol. He feels horrible that he left Michaud alone with the bomb. But Scully also wants to take responsibility. She sends Skinner back into the review, then tells Mulder that the two of them are being given separate assignments. Scully hasn’t made a difference in the FBI, and she’s not going to be happy if she’s transferred to a field office somewhere. She wonders if Mulder’s heart is still in the work.

After the review is over, Mulder goes to a bar and gets hammered. He tells the bartender that he’s in charge of investigating aliens, but no one believes him when he tells them what he’s found out. They think he’s just running around, screaming that the sky is falling, but when it really happens, it’s going to be horrible. The bartender decides it’s time to cut him off. As he leaves, Mulder realizes that a man who was watching him has already left.

He goes to use the bathroom but finds an out-of-order sign on the door, so he does his business in an alley. The man from the bar approaches him and asks if the FBI is accusing him of screwing things up in Dallas. The man, Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil, has been watching Mulder since he started at the FBI. He also knew Bill and says that, back when they worked together, they could have been called “fellow travelers.” Mulder wonders if Kurtzweil is a reporter. Kurtzweil says he’s an OB/GYN and knows something about the bombing that Mulder hasn’t been told.

Mulder says Kurtzweil can talk until Mulder hails a cab. Kurtzweil tells him that Michaud never tried to defuse the bomb. He also knows that the bomb was put in that building, not the Federal Building, because FEMA had a quarantine office there. The four supposed victims, other than Michaud, were dead before the bomb exploded. Mulder scoffs at the idea that Michaud didn’t try to stop the bomb, but Kurtzweil knows that the bomb was detonated so people could hide something – possibly something they couldn’t predict.

Mulder still thinks Kurtzweil is nuts, so he leaves him there on the street outside the bar. He starts to go home, then decides to go to Georgetown to see Scully, even though it’s 3 in the morning. She wonders if he got drunk before or after he decided to come see her. Mulder makes her get dressed so he can take her somewhere.

Back in Texas, the site around the cave has been turned into a research facility. CSM arrives to see what Bronschweig and his team have found. He thinks the fireman’s arrival raised the body temperature of someone already in the cave. That someone is the amberfied caveman, who is basically alive because of the black oil, though he’ll never recover from the infection. CSM wants to use the vaccine/cure on him; if it’s unsuccessful, they’ll burn his body “like the others.”

Mulder takes Scully to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where they’re told they can’t access the morgue. Mulder bluffs their way in, pretending they were summoned by the same general who has declared the morgue off-limits. The agents find the body of one of the firemen, which has something sticky all over it. Scully diagnoses a cellular breakdown of his tissue. She can also see that, despite what they were told, the body hasn’t been autopsied yet, so the report stating his cause of death as injuries from the explosion is false. Scully says she’s not sure anyone could determine a cause of death.

She realizes that there must be some sort of cover-up happening. Mulder says he has a hunch that whatever Scully finds from an autopsy, it won’t be something they can explain. But he’s being blamed for Michaud’s death, so he’d like to know what killed him. He knows Scully would feel the same if she were in his position.

While Scully gets to work, Mulder goes to Kurtzweil’s house, which is being searched by the police. A detective tells Mulder that Kurtzweil is being investigated for child pornography. Mulder finds books on Kurtzweil’s shelf about the apocalypse and tells the police not to bother letting him know if they find the doctor. As Mulder leaves, he spots Kurtzweil, who says the investigation is an attempt to discredit him. He claims that FEMA, which is super-powerful, wouldn’t normally be involved in the investigation of whatever’s going on in Texas. It must be bigger than they’re letting on.

Kurtzweil continues that he and Bill once looked into a case involving biological warfare. He thinks now they’re looking at “a plague to end all plagues.” For 50 years, the government has been working on a planned Armageddon. FEMA will end up in charge. Mulder thinks Kurtzweil is even more paranoid than he is. Kurtzweil warns that if he doesn’t go back to Texas, he’ll be as in the dark as everyone else in the country, and by the time he catches on, it’ll be too late.

Scully autopsies Michaud, finding something crystallized inside his body. She’s able to hide in another room before guards can see her. Mulder calls (“Scully, it’s me”) and she tells him that Michaud was infected with something. He wants them both to go to Texas, though Scully has to go back to the review hearing the next day. As they’re talking, Scully hears the guards approaching and has to hang up so she can hide again.

Mulder goes to Texas alone and learns that FEMA found some bone fragments from an archaeological site. Scully joins her partner and tells him that the infection she found in the fireman’s body could lead to a major health threat. Mulder has Scully look at the bone fragments, even though they weren’t found near the explosion site. Scully’s stunned by what she sees under the microscope.

At the cave site, Bronschweig prepares to administer the vaccine/cure to the amberfied body. However, he realizes that “it’s” left the body, which means it’s gestated. “So much for little green men,” he says. Bronschweig decides to use the vaccine/cure on the now-sentient black oil, which looks like an alien, but it attacks him before he can. Bronschweig begs his crew for help, but they’re not about to let him come out of the cave and risk spreading the infection.

WMM is enjoying tea in England when he gets a phone call alerting him to “a situation.” CSM has arranged a meeting in London, as ordered by someone named Strughold. WMM meets up with the rest of the Syndicate there, and Strughold tells them that they need to reassess their role in colonization. The Elder clarifies: “The virus has mutated.” They’re now dealing with a new alien biological entity.

WMM says this is spontaneous repopulation, not colonization. This means they’ve been used and lied to this whole time. Strughold says they’re going to turn over a body infected by the new entity and tell “them” what the Syndicate has found. WMM thinks this will ruin them, but Strughold says it’ll buy them time to work on the vaccine/cure. CSM reveals that Mulder saw one of the infected bodies, which means someone tipped him off, probably Kurtzweil.

Though Kurtzweil is a kook and no one will believe him, at least according to WMM, the others know that they need to remove him from the equation. They also need to take out Mulder. WMM points out that that will just make him a martyr for his cause. Strughold says that, in that case, they need to take away “what he holds most valuable – that with which he can’t live without” [sic, ugh].

Mulder and Scully go to the cave site, but all traces of the investigation have been removed. Mulder sees that the grass at a nearby playground has recently been laid, and Scully can tell that the equipment is new. Stevie’s friends approach but won’t answer the agents’ questions about the playground or their new bikes. They also don’t believe that Mulder and Scully are FBI agents, since they look like door-to-door salesmen. When Mulder flashes his badge, one of the boys tells him that the crew left an hour ago.

The agents follow their trail, wondering what they’re transporting in their unmarked tanker trucks. They can’t decide which direction the crew went, left or right, so Mulder drives straight onto a dirt road. He boasts that he’s never been wrong in the five years he and Scully have worked together – “not driving, anyway.” The agents end up in the middle of nowhere, and Scully regrets coming to Texas in the first place. She doubts that the crew is hauling a virus in the tanker trucks. Mulder finally tells Scully that the virus might be extraterrestrial.

A train comes by, giving Mulder an idea. Well, really, two ideas, one of which is to follow the train. The end up at a site that looks like the one set up during the cave investigation. Scully wonders why there’s a cornfield around it, since they’re in the desert. They go inside a domed building, which Scully thinks is a venting system on top of a larger facility. There’s humming below them and catwalks above. Someone has definitely figured out they’re there, and the response is to release hundreds of bees.

The agents run for it, managing to escape without getting stung. They see lights approaching and realize they’re being pursued by helicopters. They run back through the cornfield, crouching down at one point to avoid detection. They get separated, so Mulder gets to run through the corn, yelling, “SCULLAY!” They both make it out of the cornfield, realizing that the helicopters have disappeared.

Scully makes it back to D.C. for the hearing, where she presents the bone fragments. Meanwhile, Mulder meets with Kurtzweil and tells him about the tanker trucks. Scully tells the hearing panel that Michaud may be involved in whatever’s going on. Mulder tells Kurtzweil about the bees and corn. As Cassidy questions Scully about the investigation, a bee crawls around Scully’s back. She admits that she’s working with Mulder again.

Kurtzweil and Mulder think that the corn is a way of carrying a virus contained in altered pollen. Mulder’s annoyed that Kurtzweil doesn’t have any answers; he doesn’t think Kurtzweil even knew Bill. In fact, he suspects that Kurtzweil has been using Mulder to get information. Kurtzweil points out that Mulder wouldn’t have known where to look without his help. He thinks there’s a reason Mulder and Scully were allowed to leave Texas alive. As Kurtzweil leaves, Mulder realizes that someone was listening to their conversation.

He goes home and looks through a photo album, seeing Kurtzweil in an old picture. Scully arrives and announces that she’s being transferred to Salt Lake City. She’s not willing to make the move, so she’s resigned. Mulder tells her she can’t quit now – they’re close to finding something. Scully asks him not to drag her into something crazy yet again. She’s ready to walk away. Mulder says he needs her, but she disagrees – she’s only ever held him back.

Mulder goes after Scully to argue that she can’t resign with a clear conscience. She reminds him that she was brought in as his partner to debunk his work. Mulder says that she really saved him with her science and reason. “You kept me honest,” he says. “You made me a whole person.” He owes her everything but she owes him nothing. Mulder isn’t sure he wants to move forward alone, or if he can, but he knows that if he quits, the bad guys win.

The two give each other meaningful looks for a while, then hug for an even longer while. She kisses his forehead, and after some more meaningful looking, Mulder moves in for a real kiss. But that STUPID FREAKING BEE interrupts them by stinging Scully. Mulder says it must have gotten in her shirt (unlike him, who won’t get into her shirt for another season or so). Scully immediately starts feeling like something’s wrong; it’s like she’s having an allergic reaction without having a bee allergy.

Mulder calls paramedics and tells them that they may be dealing with a virus. Instead of telling Mulder which hospital Scully’s being taken to, the paramedic driving the ambulance shoots him through the window. Moments later, an ambulance presumably carrying real paramedics arrives. Meanwhile, Scully’s taken to a plane, where CSM is ready to take her somewhere else.

Mulder wakes up in the hospital with the Lone Gunmen standing over him. He calls them the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and Toto. They tell him the bullet only grazed him, but he’s been unconscious for a while. Mulder wants to go look for Scully, but Skinner comes in and stops him, noting that the bad guys will never let him find her. Mulder suggests that he and Byers trade places, which fools the person watching his room, allowing him to leave the hospital undetected.

WMM tracks down Kurtzweil and corners him in the alley behind the bar where he and Mulder keep meeting. When Mulder arrives, he finds only WMM and another Syndicate man in the alley. They tell him that Kurtzweil has already come and gone. WMM invites him into his car so they can discuss a way to save Scully. He gives Mulder a vaccine/cure that he has to administer within 96 hours, and the coordinates where he can find his partner.

WMM admits that the virus is extraterrestrial, and though they don’t know much about it, it was the original inhabitant of the planet. He waxes poetic about a virus being a “colonizing force” that can’t be defeated. It lives underground until it mutates and attacks. Mulder can’t believe that the Syndicate has been working to conceal a virus this whole time. WMM says he has it all backwards – today’s deadliest viruses are “newborns.” The one they’re dealing with now has been around longer than humans.

Aliens sent the viruses here centuries ago, and they’ve been waiting to be awoken. Humans will be the hosts. The vaccine/cure is humanity’s only defense. Bill was one of the people trying to conceal the truth. Without the vaccine/cure, humans will become slaves to aliens. Now the virus is gestating, and it’s time to fight. WMM only wants the truth out now because he wants to protect his family. He knows he’ll be killed for telling Mulder everything.

Mulder asks where Kurtzweil is, but WMM won’t tell him. Mulder demands to be let out of the car, so they take him back to the alley. WMM warns that the Syndicate will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals. They ordered WMM to kill Kurtzweil, and now he’s supposed to kill Mulder. Instead, he kills his driver and tells Mulder to “trust no one.” WMM tells Mulder that the alien colonists don’t know about the vaccine/cure yet. If he can find Scully, he’ll understand how huge the project they’ve been working on for 50 years is. Mulder leaves, and WMM gets back in the car, which immediately explodes.

48 hours later, Mulder’s in Antarctica, on the hunt for Scully. The coordinates WMM gave him have led him to a spot near yet another investigation site. As he’s approaching, he falls through the snow into a tunnel. There’s a hole leading deeper underground that eventually takes Mulder to a cave containing frozen bodies, at least one of which is an alien. CSM arrives at the site and sees that he has a visitor. Mulder goes through a tunnel into a cavern filled with frozen bodies.

Using binoculars, Mulder is able to spot a container he figures is Scully’s. He slips on his way down and almost falls into the bottomless pit that the cavern leads to. He manages to grab on to something and make his way to Scully’s container, but only her cross necklace is inside. He checks out the rows of bodies and finds her frozen. As guards move in to intercept him, Mulder frees Scully from the ice and administers the vaccine/cure. It works immediately, pulling the virus from her into the cave’s weird life-sustaining system, but he can’t finish disconnecting her from the system before the cave starts to quake.

Someone tells CSM that there’s a contaminant in the system. CSM realizes that Mulder has the vaccine/cure. Mulder finishes freeing Scully as the facility’s apparent self-destruct system goes into effect. CSM orders everyone to abandon the facility, predicting that Mulder and Scully won’t make it out alive. Mulder takes his partner back the way he came in as all the frozen bodies start thawing. One of the aliens is really ticked about being trapped in ice.

Scully stops breathing, and Mulder has to put her down to revive her. “I had you big-time,” she teases. The trapped bodies start trying to break free of their frozen prisons, and somehow steam is released. The agents are able to get out just before an alien can get a good hold of Mulder and pull him back inside. They climb back to the surface as the ice around them starts to break and the whole facility collapses in on itself.

The agents can’t outrun the deepening pit, but something rising out of the ground pushes them back up, saving them. It’s a giant UFO. Mulder isn’t sure Scully sees it before it’s gone, but she assures him she saw it. He’s exhausted, so she cradles him in her arms, right at the edge of a gigantic ice canyon.

Back in D.C., Cassidy addresses Scully and Skinner as someone steals the bone fragments. Cassidy says that Scully’s report is implausible, and nothing in it really points to domestic terrorism. The bone fragments end up in a tanker truck supposedly transporting corn oil. The corn in Texas is set on fire. Scully gives Cassidy the bee that stung her and says that she doesn’t think the FBI currently has a devision that’s equipped to continue the investigation.

Mulder reads a news article about the hanta virus being contained in Texas. Scully joins him and he complains that the truth is once again being buried. Scully says she told the whole story, but Mulder knows it won’t make a difference. They’ve been here before, right next to the truth, and once again, they’re being knocked back to the beginning. Scully was right to want to quit. She’d be safer away from him, working as a doctor. Scully refuses, saying her work is with him. There’s a cure for the virus she was exposed to; they could save other people. She takes his hand and repeats what he said about the bad guys winning if she quits now.

In the desert of Tunisia, a helicopter delivers CSM to a cornfield. He tells a man that Mulder has seen more than he should, and now he’s determined to uncover the truth. The other man says that Mulder’s just one man, and “one man alone cannot fight the future.” CSM hands over a note he received, which the other man reads, then drops in the sand. It’s a telegram announcing that the X-files division has been reopened.

Thoughts: This movie features a cavalcade of stars:

  • Kurtzweil is played by the recently deceased Martin Landau.
  • Michaud is played by Terry O’Quinn, in his second role in the series.
  • Cassidy is played by Blythe Danner, who I love, and who should have had a bigger role, and who better be in the Will and Grace revival.
  • Strughold is played by Armin Mueller-Stahl.
  • She’s uncredited, for some reason, but the bartender Mulder mopes to is played by the also recently deceased Glenne Headly.

Once again, thanks, writers, for names like Kurtzweil and Bronschweig that I had to type over and over. We need more Smiths, Lees, and Kims on this show.

Whoever wrote the line “that with which he can’t live without,” your third-grade English teacher is weeping somewhere.

Aww, ‘bye, WMM. You were the only bearable part of the Syndicate.

April 15, 2017

The X-Files 5.2, Redux II: You Gotta Have Faith

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:08 pm by Jenn

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy

Summary: Mulder rushes to the hospital, where Scully has been admitted after collapsing. This hospital is not going to win any awards for helpfulness, as Mulder spends a full minute trying to get Scully’s location. Skinner finally finds him and tells him she’s lost enough blood to put her body into shock. She’s dying. Mulder doesn’t handle that revelation well, as you can expect.

Mulder and Skinner meet with Blevins, who’s not thrilled that now they’ll have to determine the identity of the dead man in Mulder’s apartment. The hospital staff’s unhelpfulness is contagious, and Mulder has caught it. He’s also upset that Skinner made him leave the hospital. Skinner says he didn’t have a choice, and warns that he can always tell the higher-ups that Mulder killed the man in his apartment. He wants to know why Scully lied for her partner. Mulder says there’s a mole, but he doesn’t know who it is. Skinner tells him to remember who his friends are, and who he can trust.

The Syndicate guy called the Elder is watching a science-y panel discussion when CSM rejoins him at the racetrack, confirming that Mulder’s not dead after all. He tells the Elder that Mulder got into the super-top-secret facility, and CSM let him get away. He thinks that what Mulder saw there will only help the Syndicate. Now they can give Mulder the help he needs. In exchange, they’ll get his loyalty.

Mulder returns to the hospital, where Scully’s now awake, but worried that someone will see Mulder and realize he’s alive. She wants to know what’s going on, but Mulder thinks she should focus on other things. Scully thinks Skinner is the FBI mole, and if Mulder testifies before the committee, Skinner will bust him. She volunteers to take the rap for killing Ostelhof, so she can take some of the heat off of her partner.

Maggie and Bill Jr. arrive just then, ending the conversation. Mulder meets Bill Jr. for the first time, and Scully’s brother asks him to keep work out of Scully’s hospital room, so she can “die with dignity.” Go away, Bill. As someone opens a case containing a gun, CSM comes by the hospital and lets Mulder know he knows what he was up to in the super-top-secret facility. He claims that the “cure” Mulder found, which Mulder thinks was just water, is actually crucial to Scully’s survival.

After a chat with CSM, Mulder goes back to the Lone Gunmen and does something science-y, revealing a microchip in the water. He thinks it’s connected to the chip Scully had removed from her neck after her abduction. Skinner and Kritschgau appear before the committee to discuss Ostelhof’s murder, though Kritschgau says he doesn’t know who killed him or how his death is connected to Mulder and Scully. He then reveals that his own son died that morning. Kritschgau has been working for a Congressional lobbying firm called Roush, which no one there has heard of.

Mulder presents the microchip to the Scullys and Scully’s doctor, along with a theory that it could save Scully. She’s the only one who believes it. The doctor says there are no other “conventional” methods of treatment anyway, so Scully figures Mulder’s plan is worth a shot. Speaking of shots, the guy who received the case assembles the gun inside it.

While Scully undergoes her “unconventional” treatment, Mulder and Bill Jr. grumble at each other. Bill asks if this whole “quest” of Mulder’s has been worth it – has he found what he’s been looking for? Mulder says no, but he can sympathize with Bill over having lost loved ones along the way. Bill thinks Mulder’s pretty pathetic for going through all this just to find some “little green aliens.”

CSM calls Mulder to confirm that he found the chip, and do ask if Mulder has decided to trust him yet. Of course he hasn’t. CSM asks to meet him at a diner, showing up with a woman who either is or looks exactly like the Samantha impostor from “Colony” and “End Game.” She says she believed she’d never see Mulder again; “he” always told her that something had happened to him that night. Mulder’s surprised when she says “he,” AKA CSM, is her father.

Samantha tells Mulder that she’s never been able to remember everything that happened, and she’s always been too scared to want to get all of her memories back. As a child, her foster parents took her to meet the man they said was her father. He told her to keep quiet to protect her family. He was the only person she could remember from before the day she disappeared. Later, though, she remembered Mulder and whatever happened when she was taken.

Mulder wants to help Samantha remember, but she declines; she only came to meet him because she was told he’d been looking for her. Mulder starts crying, thinking he’s finally found her after so many years of searching. He tells Samantha that whatever CSM has told her is probably untrue – after all, he’s known where Mulder is for years, so why did he wait so long to bring Samantha to him? Mulder wants to take Samantha to see Teena, but Samantha gets anxious and says she needs time. She doesn’t want to disrupt the life she’s made for herself. She needs to think about it first.

Scully gets her treatment, asking her doctor if he’s ever witnessed a medical miracle first. He’s not sure he has, but he’s seen dramatic recoveries. Even if those were miracles, he doesn’t want to give them that label. Meanwhile, the man with the gun trains it on Mulder as he meets with CSM on a street corner. Mulder wants to know why CSM is helping him. CSM claims he’s ready to offer the truth, but Mulder says he already knows it, thanks to Kritschgau. CSM says Kritschgau’s the liar, and Mulder has only seen pieces of the whole. If Mulder wants more, he’ll have to quit the FBI and work for CSM.

Mulder refuses, noting that CSM hasn’t actually given him anything. He knows CSM killed Bill Mulder and Melissa, and if he kills Scully as well, Mulder will repay the favor. CSM reminds him that he has to testify before the committee soon, and he won’t be protected. His offer is still on the table. The sniper puts his gun away as Mulder heads off alone.

At the hospital, Scully tearfully tells Maggie that she’s sorry she’s pushed away her faith when she could use it most. Why does she still wear her cross necklace if she’s not going to rely on her faith? She regrets shutting down the priest Maggie wanted her to talk to at dinner. Scully’s scans haven’t shown any improvement, and she’s pretty sure she’s not going to make it. The Elder watches a panel discussion on human cloning, spotting Skinner in the background. He calls someone and orders him to fix things – then the Elder will “fix it for good.”

Mulder goes back to the hospital and breaks down next to Scully’s bed as she sleeps. The next morning, he goes to see Blevins, who has the ballistic data proving that Mulder killed Ostelhof. He wants to know if Skinner is the mole Scully was going to name before she collapsed. If Mulder names him, Skinner will face the charges Mulder is now in danger of facing. Mulder just tells Blevins he’ll see him at the hearing.

He goes back to the hospital and tells Scully that when he visited last night, he felt lost. Now he thinks he knows what he needs to do. He won’t be accepting CSM’s deal, and he won’t be naming Skinner as the mole, even if it means ensuring his own protection. He also won’t let Scully take the blame for Ostelhof’s murder. “We all have our faith, and mine is in the truth,” Mulder says. Scully’s family priest arrives, and Scully tells Mulder she’ll pray for him as he leaves.

The committee reconvenes, and Mulder and Skinner join the fun. Mulder gives his own version of Scully’s monologue from the previous committee hearing, about how she was sent to spy on him four years ago. She lied about his death at his request, so he could continue his efforts to uncover the conspiracy. As Mulder rants about the conspirators, the sniper fixes his weapon on CSM.

Father McCue prays over Scully while Mulder tells the committee that Scully is a victim of the conspiracy. The committee just wants to know who shot Ostelhof, but Mulder won’t say until he names the FBI mole…Blevins. Everyone’s shocked, but probably not as shocked as Skinner is. And definitely not as shocked as CSM, who’s just been shot by the sniper. He lies bleeding on the floor, looking at a picture of the Mulder kids, as Blevins is also shot.

Skinner meets up with Mulder at the hospital and announces that CSM is dead. Well, presumably. There was a lot of blood, but no body. (Anyone who’s ever watched a soap opera knows that means nothing.) Mulder admits that he didn’t have any proof that Blevins was the mole, but it turns out he was right. Mulder’s sure that’s being covered up right now. But there’s no time to dwell on that – Scully is officially in remission. As Skinner goes to see her, Mulder cries over the same picture of himself and Samantha that CSM looked at as he (supposedly) died.

Thoughts: I guess self-defense wasn’t a possibility for Ostelhof’s death? This makes no sense.

I wonder if CSM periodically lets himself be spotted with random dark-haired women just to make Mulder think he’s with Samantha. That would be an amusing way to mess with Mulder’s head.

As annoying as Bill Jr. is (be nice to your sister’s friends, dude), at least he’s there for Scully, unlike a certain brother who’s mentioned in the revival but never shows up for anything, INCLUDING HIS MOTHER WHEN SHE’S DYING.

January 21, 2017

The X-Files 4.14, Memento Mori: How to Save a Life

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:10 pm by Jenn

I love this

I love this

Summary: Scully gives us a voiceover about “[feeling] time like a heartbeat” and sharing a burden through words. She wants the person reading her words to know that she feels comfort because she’s receiving understanding. She’s standing in a hospital gown, looking at a scan of her head, which shows a mass right between her eyes. Scully finishes her voiceover by asking forgiveness for not finishing the journey with her audience.

Mulder joins Scully at Holy Cross Memorial Hospital in D.C., where Scully has just received her medical news. She tells him she feels fine, despite the tumor in her brain. He’s the only person she’s called. The tumor is inoperable, and its size and placement make it hard to treat. Mulder refuses to believe that. Scully’s amused that, for once, she believes something he doesn’t – she’s certain that the cancer isn’t going anywhere and will most likely kill her. Mulder still won’t accept this, saying that there have to be people out there who’ve received treatment.

Scully gives the news to Skinner, asking him to keep it quiet. She plans to delay treatment until she and Mulder meet with the MUFON women in Pennsylvania, as Betsy was being treated for the same type of cancer. Scully wants to pursue this as a case rather than a personal matter. But when the agents arrive at Betsy’s house, they learn that she died a few weeks earlier. They’re just in time to see files from Betsy’s computer being downloaded by someone.

The agents trace the hack to a man named Kurt Crawford and go to his apartment. Mulder heads to the back of the building just as someone tries to sneak out. The agents capture Kurt, but the exertion of the chase gives Scully a nosebleed. She tells Mulder again that she’s fine. Kurt tells the agents he was in Betsy’s MUFON group and downloaded her files at her request. He ran because he believes his life is in danger.

Scully wants to question the other MUFON members, but Mulder says they can’t. Kurt confirms that all of the other members have died of brain cancer except one, Penny Northern. Kurt believes the women’s stories about being abducted and developing tumors as a result. Mulder thinks Scully’s in denial about her illness coming from the same circumstances. Scully notes that Penny’s still alive, so there’s nothing definitive about the situation.

Mulder suggests that Scully talk to Penny, but Scully doesn’t see the point. What would they talk about, knowing what it’s like to be dying of cancer? Mulder puts it in FBI terms, pointing out that she’s a witness they need to talk to. So Scully visits Penny in the hospital, surprised that Penny seemed to expect her. Her doctor, Scanlon, thinks he’s found the cause of the cancer, though it’s probably too late to do anything. Scully seems to grasp that it might not be too late for her.

Scully calls Mulder (“Mulder, it’s me”), who’s at Betsy’s with Kurt, looking through her files. Penny and Betsy were both treated for infertility at the same clinic. Scully asks him to come to the hospital with her overnight bag and call her mother. Whatever Mulder found isn’t important right now. “The truth is in me,” she says, and she needs to suspend the investigation and look into what’s happening to her. Mulder immediately heads off, leaving Kurt in Betsy’s apartment. Seconds later, a man enters the apartment with an icepick, and someone ends up as green acid.

Scully spends the night at the hospital, waking to meet Dr. Scanlon, who she first sees as an alien-like being. She’s bracing herself for chemo and radiation, which Scanlon says will make her “feel like dying.” Maggie arrives, and Scully repeats her new mantra, that she’s fine. Maggie’s upset that Scully didn’t tell her about her diagnosis right away. Scully says that she wanted all the answers first, and though she hasn’t found any yet, she has some clarity, as well as a possible way to fight back.

Maggie makes it clear that she doesn’t want to be left out of whatever happens. She cries as she says that Scully was always the strong one. Having lost Melissa, Maggie only has one daughter left. Scully remains stoic as her mother breaks down. She undergoes some scans, voicing over about how cancer “starts as an invader, but soon becomes one with the invaded,” turning a person’s body against itself. You can destroy it, but you risk destroying yourself in the process.

The voiceover is a letter written to Mulder in case Scully doesn’t survive. She wants him to know that he should never feel like there was something more he could have done. Though they’ve been working together, “this last distance must necessarily be traveled alone.”

Mulder, having not read the letter yet, is still determined to do something. He goes to the clinic where Betsy and Penny were treated and tries to access some files, but has to hide when he hears someone approaching. It’s Kurt, who survived the icepick assassin after all. Kurt and Mulder are looking for the same thing, so Kurt gets to work hacking the computer with the files they need. Mulder notices a snowglobe of a place called Vegreville, which turns out to be the password.

Back at the hospital, Scully has a nightmare about her head being drilled while she was abducted. Penny comforts her when she wakes up, feeling sick for the first time. Scully remembers hearing Penny’s voice in her dream. Penny says “they” let her sit with Scully during the procedures, though she’s not sure why. Scully doesn’t want to hear about this right now, but Penny thinks it’s important for her to understand what’s happening to her.

Mulder returns to D.C. and asks Skinner to get him a meeting. He has a disk containing a file from the clinic; it has Scully’s name, even though he’s pretty sure Scully’s never undergone treatment for infertility. Since the file is a directory for a mainframe at the Lombard Research Facility, Mulder doesn’t know what it’s about. That’s why he wants to meet with CSM. Skinner warns that if Mulder offers up anything, CSM will “own” him. But Mulder thinks CSM knows what happened to Scully and may know how to save her. “You can’t ask the truth of a man who trades in lies,” Skinner says, refusing the request.

Fortunately, Mulder has the Lone Gunmen to turn to. They decrypt the file, which contains a gene code from her blood post-abduction. The branching in the code can lead to mutation. The Gunmen think someone was doing research to find the cause of the mutation, though Mulder notes that someone could instead be looking for a cure. He invites the Gunmen to come to Lombard with him: “Pick out something black and sexy, and prepare to do some funky poaching.”

Skinner goes to Mulder’s office and finds CSM, who’s surprised that Mulder’s been relegated to the basement. Skinner spits that at least Mulder doesn’t have to “take an elevator up to get to work,” which I think is his way of saying that CSM is from Hell, but…try harder, Skinner. Despite Mulder and Skinner’s agreement to keep Scully’s illness confidential, CSM knows she’s sick. He notes that modern medicine can lead to miracles. Skinner would like for one, so he asks what he needs to do to save Scully. CSM will get back to him. “Which way is the elevator?” he asks pointedly as he leaves.

Mulder and Byers stake out Lombard while Frohike and Langly sneak inside and patch into the facility’s security cameras. Mulder and Byers head in next but immediately hit a roadblock with a security code. While Langly figures it out, Mulder looks at a directory of doctors and sees that Scanlon is on staff there. Langly gets the code, but Mulder sends Byers off on another mission, telling him to contact Scully and get her to stop treatment.

Scully writes to Mulder again, now feeling the effects of her treatment. Penny’s condition has worsened, and Scully dreads going down the same road. She can feel Mulder close, even though he’s not with her. She’s grateful for his work and needs to know he’s out there if she has any hopes of beating the cancer.

The security feed and comms get fuzzy, and Langly and Byers lose contact with Mulder just as Byers sees security guards arriving at the facility. Mulder makes it to a lab, where he’s greeted by a bunch of clones of Kurt. The lab is full of tanks containing more clones. Mulder thinks Kurt was using him, but the clones really want him to help them end the project that created them. Mulder recognizes a clone in a tank as the boy from the farm. Kurt confirms that the adult clones are the end result of the experiment.

Mulder thinks the clones want the developing clones to be destroyed. They say they actually want what Mulder wants. One shows him a storeroom full of ova harvested from abducted women, including Scully. The ova are then used to create clones. Unfortunately, the procedure leaves them barren and gives them cancer. The Kurt clones want to save them, since they’re technically the clones’ mothers.

When Mulder’s comms return, Langly warns that there’s a security breach. In another part of the building, Byers hides from guards. Langly gives Mulder directions to get out of the building, but the Gunmen can’t get the doors open fast enough for him to leave. A guard finds Mulder and fires at him, trying to break through bulletproof glass. The Gunmen manage to get Mulder out just as the shooter breaches the glass.

Mulder goes straight to Scully’s room, which is empty except for her journal. Byers meets up with him and assures him that he reached Scully. She’s sitting with Penny, who’s barely holding on. Scully confirms that Scanlon probably isn’t coming back. Penny tells her to keep looking for answers, and Scully promises not to give up hope. Her stoicism is beginning to falter.

Penny dies, and Scully can no longer keep her emotions hidden. Mulder tells her he read a little of what she wrote to him, but Scully now wants to throw it away. She’s decided not to let the cancer beat her. She’s going to work as long as she can. Mulder is determined to find Scanlon and figure out exactly what happened to Scully and the other women. He knows that Scully will find a way to save herself.

Scully notes that many people live with cancer, and she will, too. She has things to prove to herself and her family, and things to finish. Mulder hugs her, happy to be able to keep working with her. “The truth will save you, Scully,” he tells her. “I think it’ll save both of us.” He kisses her forehead, but only her forehead, because they cut the version where they kiss on the lips. As she goes back to her room, Mulder hides a vial of ova in his pocket.

Mulder calls Skinner to let him know that Scully’s going to keep working. He thanks Skinner for talking him out of meeting with CSM; he’ll just find another way to get the truth. “There’s always another way,” Skinner says. “Yes, I believe there is,” CSM agrees from the other side of Skinner’s desk. “If you’re willing to pay the price.”

Thoughts: Gillian Anderson won an Emmy for this episode.

Way to protect your witness who thinks his life is in danger, guys.

And way to keep your shady doctor’s identity secret, Lombard. Also, did Scully do ANY research before she started treatment with Scanlon?

I finally feel like Skinner is really part of this show. He was pretty ineffectual in the past, but in this episode, we see that he knows exactly what’s going on and is willing to go to great (possibly dangerous) lengths for his agents.

February 23, 2016

SVT #48, Mandy Miller Fights Back: You Can Be Our Friend Now! Assuming You Don’t Die!

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:22 pm by Jenn

Doesn't Mandy look like Leighton Meester?

Doesn’t Mandy look like Leighton Meester?

Summary: Mandy Miller was briefly introduced in the previous book as a Unicorn hanger-on who desperately wants to be liked. The Unicorns take advantage of her kindness and eagerness by letting her run errands for them. This just makes her think they’ll eventually invite her to join the Unicorns. Little does she know that that’s the last thing Queen Janet Howell would consider. She dresses funny (girl likes the thrift stores) and she’s too goofy for the elite princesses of the club.

The Unicorns are appalled when Mandy wears an all-purple outfit to school one day, complete with purple sneakers. Dude, where can I get a pair of those? Since Jessica’s the one Mandy seems to like the most, Janet orders her to tell Mandy that she will never, ever, ever be a Unicorn. Like, ever. Unlike Lila or Ellen, who would be thrilled to have the chance to shut down a lesser girl, Jessica doesn’t relish the task. She relishes it even less when she learns that Mandy agreed to be her partner for a class project, since no one else wanted to work with Jess, what with her reputation for not taking the class seriously.

The class is studying the 1920s, and Mandy suggests that she and Jess do a project about Vaudeville. Mandy’s grandparents were both performers and left the family a bunch of old costumes. The girls decide to put on their own Vaudeville act, which will be submitted to some state-wide contest run by a museum in Hollywood. (This is supposed to be some super-important project, but the history teacher, Mrs. Arnette, has only heard about it recently, and the students don’t have much time to do their projects. This contest doesn’t sound very fair to Sweet Valley.)

Spending time with Mandy helps Jessica understand her better. For instance, she wears clothes from thrift stores because…well, she’s kind of poor. But she doesn’t want to try to look like the Unicorns anyway; she’d rather keep her own style, even if it means she looks a little weird. Jessica reluctantly tells Mandy that the Unicorns don’t want her, which makes Mandy realize that they were just using her to do stuff for them. But she still seems to want to be friends with Jess.

The girls perfect their Vaudeville act and pick out costumes. As they’re playing tug-of-war over a feather boa, Mandy falls and gets a little banged up. She notices that she has a lump under her arm but doesn’t think it’s anything serious. However, she soon develops what she thinks is the flu and has to miss some school (though she and Jessica are able to perform their act in class). Jessica’s worried and even skips hanging out with the Unicorns to check on her new friend. Though Mandy downplays the seriousness of her illness, she’s not well enough to make a video submission of the Vaudeville act, so Elizabeth fills in.

Mrs. Miller calls Jessica a few days later and asks her to come to the house as soon as she can. Jessica’s supposed to have dinner at Lila’s, but she can tell that something serious is going on. Alice and Elizabeth go with her to the Millers’ house, where Mandy informs Jessica that she has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The lump is a cancerous lymph node and will have to be surgically removed. The good news is that there’s a chance that the cancer hasn’t spread and Mandy will make a full recovery.

Jessica is deeply affected by the news, which is pretty amazing for a girl who often doesn’t care about anyone outside her immediate family (if that). Even though people keep assuring her that Mandy’s illness has been caught early and that her chances are good, Jess is terrified that Mandy will die. And even if she doesn’t, she could have to go through chemo and radiation, and there’s a chance she’ll lose her beloved long hair.

As soon as the Unicorns hear about Mandy’s cancer, they send her flowers. Jessica’s surprised at this move, partly because they don’t like Mandy, and partly because they don’t ask Jessica to chip in or sign the card. After Mandy has surgery and learns that the cancer hasn’t spread (but she’ll need radiation and chemo anyway), Jessica gives her the good news that their project won first place in the competition. (Amy and Elizabeth won second place. No one cares.) Part of their prize is getting to perform the act at the Hollywood museum. Mandy can’t do it, so Elizabeth will fill in again.

The Unicorns start visiting Mandy, which bugs Jessica when she comes over. They’ve made no secret of their disinterest in Mandy, but now all of a sudden they want to hang out with her? Jess questions their motives, and they admit that they didn’t invite her to go in on the flowers because they thought things were chilly between Jess and Mandy. After all, Jess was the one who told Mandy she couldn’t be a Unicorn. They didn’t realize that the girls have become friends through their project.

Mandy is a good little trooper, handling chemo like a champ. She actually thanks Jessica for fighting over the boa with her; if she hadn’t fallen, she wouldn’t have noticed the lump under her arm and gotten it checked out. When Mandy’s hair starts falling out, she tries on some hats. It’s helpful that she has a quirky style already because none of them is really fashionable. Mandy’s mom buys her a wig, but since the family doesn’t have much money, it’s not a very good one. Jess is horrified that Mandy will have to look like Little Orphan Annie for months while her hair grows back.

Never fear, the Unicorns are here! Janet calls a meeting to announce that she thinks Mandy is Unicorn material after all. (Ellen is appalled. Shut up, Ellen.) The girls vote and agree to extend her membership. Jessica tells them that Mandy could really use a wig, and she thinks they should postpone their upcoming party and use the money to get a wig. The other girls agree. (Well, Ellen’s still being stubborn, but everyone just ignores her.)

The Unicorns pick out a nice wig and present it to Mandy along with the invitation to join the club. Mandy loves the wig but isn’t sure about joining. The girls explain that they didn’t think she was Unicorn material, but now that they’ve gotten to know her better, they’ve come to really like her. Plus, Janet wants to make the club more diverse, and what better place to start than a quirky girl who wears a wig? I mean, you’re not going to find much more diversity than that in Sweet Valley. Mandy accepts the invitation, and the Unicorns have their newest member (who, frankly, is too good for them).

Thoughts: Jessica always says the Unicorns are awesome, but she doesn’t get why Mandy wants to join. Shouldn’t she think that every girl in school wants to be in the coolest club around?

You can tell this book is old because Jessica and Mandy’s prize includes a computer for the school. Just one. For all those students.

Amy and Elizabeth win a dictionary. Wow, a whole dictionary?? Amazing!

January 12, 2016

SVT #45, Lucy Takes the Reins: Horses and Seals and Skunks, Oh, My!

Posted in books tagged , , , at 5:22 pm by Jenn

Lucy's cute. So is the horse. Heck, so is Liz

Lucy’s cute. So is the horse. Heck, so is Liz

Summary: In case you’ve forgotten that Elizabeth likes horses, this book serves as your reminder. Elizabeth’s hanging out at Carson Stables again, where Ted is struggling to keep up with payments for Thunder, the horse he bought from Lila. He manages to get an extension until after an upcoming championship competition, where he hopes to win the thousand-dollar prize. Ellen is also entering the competition.

Elizabeth and Ted meet Lucy Benson, a seventh-grader new to Sweet Valley. She loves horses, too, and has been hanging around the stables. She used to have her own horse and participated in competitions. But when Ted offers to let her ride his horse, she makes up an excuse. Later, Ellen challenges Lucy’s supposed riding expertise, but Lucy still won’t get on a horse, even after she tells Elizabeth she wants to.

Eventually, Lucy decides she’s had enough of Ellen’s taunting that she’s not actually good at riding. She takes Thunder for a spin, but when she’s done, she’s shaking. When Elizabeth calls Lucy at home, Mr. Benson thinks Liz is a friend from glee club. Sounds like he has no idea where his daughter has been spending her afternoons.

While practicing for the competition, Ted falls off of Thunder and breaks his leg. There goes his chance to win the $1,000 he needs to keep his horse. Elizabeth and Lucy go to the hospital with him, and a nurse chats with Lucy, making her uneasy. Elizabeth wonders why Lucy’s so uncomfortable with someone being friendly to her.

But there’s no time for that – Ted needs money! Elizabeth thinks Lucy’s good enough to take his place in the competition. Lucy disagrees, and Ellen taunts that she can’t handle the pressure. So Lucy decides she won’t back down after all. Ellen talks to Jessica about Lucy, so when Lucy comes over for dinner, Jess tries to dig up dirt on her. All Jessica learns is that Lucy carries something with her that she claims is aspirin.

In the nurse’s office sometime later, Jessica hears Lucy talking about forgetting her medication. She mentions having had an accident, and her parents subsequently forbidding her from riding her horse. Elizabeth then comes across a story about Lucy falling during a competition. When she asks Lucy about it, Lucy comes clean: She has epilepsy. Her parents panicked over her having a seizure while riding and decided it would be safer for her to quit. Lucy, however, wants to prove that she can still ride (and also that she can beat some girl named Alison, but that’s a much smaller motive).

Ellen wants Lucy out of the way so she can win the competition, so she tries to call the Bensons to tell them how Lucy has been riding again without their permission. They don’t get her call until the competition has already started, so Lucy is able to enter. Her parents arrive while she’s competing and are understandably furious with her. Lucy tells them that she needed to prove that she could do the things she wants despite her epilepsy. After all, her doctor said she could keep riding as long as she takes her medication.

The Bensons calm down, and Lucy’s able to finish the competition. Of course, she wins, and she gives Ted the prize money. Her parents are even willing to consider buying her old horse back. So they all live happily ever after, except Ellen, who falls off her horse when the Boosters arrive to cheer for her during the competition. And I assume Ted never has money problems again.

In the B-plot, Jessica has some close encounters with animals. First, while she’s on a picnic with her family, a skunk gets into the cooler and eats the piece of chocolate cake Jessica wanted. Then, while she’s at the beach with Lila, she finds a baby seal covered in oil from a nearby oil spill. Jessica saves him, sacrificing her outfit, and is rewarded with the attention of a cute guy named Adam.

Jessica starts hanging out with Adam and the environmentalist group he’s part of. Unfortunately, this book does not lead to Jessica joining Greenpeace or leading protests about pollution. She just helps clean up the oil spill and worries a lot about the seal, Whiskers. She does bug her family a little about being a little more ecological, but they don’t really listen. Also, Steven knows her sudden interest in saving the planet mostly stems from a new crush. Anyway, Whiskers winds up okay, and Jessica helps release him back into the wild.

Thoughts: I guess the moral of this book is that it’s okay to disobey your parents if you have a really good reason.

The image of a skunk eating cake has always stuck with me. It sounds adorable.

After Jessica hears Lucy talking to the nurse, she’s all, “I’m a detective.” I love that Jessica considers eavesdropping “detective work.”

Apparently you can enter a riding competition without your parents’ permission. Keep that in mind, kids!

May 3, 2015

BH90210 9.9, The Following Options: Addicted to You

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , at 3:09 pm by Jenn

This seems like reasonable behavior

This seems like reasonable behavior

Summary: Steve and David are in Samantha’s dressing room, having watched a dress rehearsal for her new sitcom. David asks her to do an interview on his radio show. She hesitates to become a spokesperson for “the gay lifestyle,” which is news to David, since he didn’t know she was gay. Steve tells his mother that David just likes her. He hasn’t told anyone about her sexuality, partly to protect her privacy and partly because it makes him uncomfortable.

Matt smokes and creepily hangs out outside the boutique, then pretends he was working. He invites Kelly to drive around and look at Christmas lights with him, but she suddenly gets a call from Jackie telling her that her grandfather’s having trouble breathing. The doctors want to put him on a ventilator. Kelly reminds Jackie that his living will says he doesn’t want his life prolonged. However, when the doctor comes on the line, Kelly authorizes the ventilator.

Dylan goes to a storage facility to fix up and retrieve his car, which he hasn’t seen since the night Toni was killed. Kelly calls Donna from the hospital to report that her grandfather has stabilized since being put on the ventilator. The doctor warns that he could be on it indefinitely, but at least it means he’s still alive. Kelly isn’t sure she made the right decision, since this is how he’ll have to spend the little time he has left.

A teenage girl comes into the boutique, followed by some gangbanger friends. Donna’s fine with them being there, but Gina wants to chase them off. David tells Steve that Samantha’s going to come on his show after all. He thinks Steve should calm down about her sexuality. Steve thinks it’s a phase. David thinks he should be excited about the idea of two women being together. And that’s enough advocacy from David. Steve gets a call from a tabloid asking what it was like growing up with a lesbian mom.

Matt visits Kelly at the hospital, sporting reindeer antlers he won when he beat a kid in pediatrics at tic tac toe. (Adorable.) He runs into a lawyer friend who invites him to join him on a lawsuit. Unfortunately, he’d be defending a tobacco company, and Kelly strongly objects. Dylan takes his car to the After Dark, where Gina’s trying to get Noah to agree to see a movie with her. Dylan tells her to accept her rejection already. The two guys bicker about a belligerent customer. The customer then gets inappropriate with Gina, and Dylan and Noah team up to chase him off.

David makes Dylan walk away, but that only means he’s outside when the customer and his friends start wrecking Dylan’s car. “Only one of us is afraid to die here,” Dylan tells the guy. When Gina arrives and sees the car, Dylan tells her to “get away from her.” He works on the car again at David’s, refusing help from David and Noah. Noah notices a hole in the upholstery, causing Dylan to have a flashback to the night of the shooting. Noah thinks he should stop being a jerk.

A tabloid has published an article about Samantha’s sexuality, and now the co-star playing her husband has dropped a kiss they were supposed to have. However, she’s more upset about the fact that Steve denied to the tabloid that she’s not his mother. He defends the tabloid’s right to pry into her life; after all, she chose to be a celebrity. Samantha points out that she didn’t choose to be gay. She admits that she always had feelings for women but never acted on them. Steve wants her to keep quiet.

Matt joins the tobacco case, which upsets Kelly; she wishes he were just at the hospital to support her. He points out that her grandfather should have known the risks before he started smoking. Kelly notes that Matt recently started smoking again, so he’s defending his own habit. Matt downplays it as just something to do with your hands. Kelly asks if he would help if a client came to him and said he was thinking of killing someone.

One of the gang girls comes back to the boutique, telling Donna she wants a dress for her 15th birthday party. Donna’s nice to her, but Gina’s still suspicious. The dress is too expensive for the girl, who offers to pay for it with the money she’s going to earn from a new after-school job. Donna agrees to let her have the dress if she leaves the name of her employer. Gina warns that Donna will never see the money.

Kelly’s grandfather pulls out his ventilator but is now breathing okay on his own. He’s doing better, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to be okay. Kelly objects to the restraints the doctors have put on him to keep him in bed. He begs Kelly to stop authorizing treatments – he wants to die. Kelly admits to Jackie that she authorized the ventilator because she wanted to keep him around. Jackie assures her that she’s not being selfish. Kelly wants to figure out how to let go.

Dylan shows up for a visit, but Kelly asks him to take her to a park. They talk in vague terms about the possibility of giving her grandfather morphine and ending his life. Dylan knows there are some things that can’t be controlled, but this can. Later, Gina visits Dylan at David’s to thank him for saving her from the customer. He has her pegged as trying to steal Noah from her cousin, which he doesn’t get because…you know, it’s Noah. Even if she gets him, he’s not right for her.

Kelly tries to guilt Matt about smoking, noting that her grandfather could still have a number of years left if he’d never started smoking. The doctor wants to put in a feeding tube, since he’s not eating. Jackie objects, and Matt says it’s his choice. Kelly thinks it’s time to stop pursuing aggressive treatment. Jackie agrees and asks if they can take her father home so he doesn’t have to spend his last days in the hospital.

Gina interrupts Donna and Noah’s dinner at the boutique to ask about Dylan. Donna tells her and Noah about Toni and the mob hit. Noah feels like an idiot for pointing out bullet holes in the upholstery. Samantha accuses Steve of being embarrassed by the stories circulating about her sexuality. She reveals that she was fired from her show: “Who wants a homosexual in their living room? Not you.” Steve asks why she got married and adopted a kid when she knew she was gay. Samantha says that being his mother was the best job she ever had, and the only decision she was ever 100% sure of.

Gina moves on to asking Donna about Dylan and Kelly’s past relationship. Donna basically tells her to back off. The gang girl, Sonia, comes back with her friends to return the dress, which she’s cut so she doesn’t have to pay for it. Gina shows Donna her “I told you so” face. Kelly tells Dylan that her grandfather’s going home the next day to die. She told herself she only wanted to see Dylan because they’re old friends, but it’s more like he’s become an addiction. They kiss.

The next morning, Noah arrives as Dylan’s waking up from a nightmare about Toni’s death. Noah can sympathize about Dylan’s nightmares because he had some after his girlfriend died, and then again after his father died. Dylan doesn’t want to be his new BFF. He decides to sell the car. Kelly and Jackie go see Grandpa, who’s chatting with Matt. He says he’s quit smoking again, this time for good. He wants to celebrate Kelly’s grandfather’s release from the hospital with her, but Kelly’s now doubting their connection. He knows it’s because of Dylan, and hopes she changes her mind.

Sonia promises to pay Donna back for the dress, promising that her friends made her ruin the dress. Sonia admits that she skipped her own party because her friends would have kicked her out of the gang. They want her to do a drug run; if she doesn’t and she gets kicked out of the gang, she’ll become a target. She talks about how horrible her neighborhood is and how joining the gang wasn’t something she could control. A girl got in trouble because of her, so now she owns them.

Grandpa’s supposed to go to hospice, but instead, Jackie and Kelly take him to Jackie and Mel’s. The family wants him to get the most out of his last days. They start opening Christmas presents, so…sorry, Mel and Erin. Steve asks Samantha to the After Dark, encouraging her to do the interview with David. He wants her to be proud of who she is, because he’s proud of her. David’s thrilled to do the interview, introducing Samantha as “the mom you wish you had.”

Dylan’s upset after selling the car, and Gina asks if he’s ready to let go of something that meant so much to him. Guys, I don’t think she’s talking about the car. She tries to invite him to hang out, but he wants to be alone while he burns Toni’s mob money and buys heroin. Oh, Dylan. If Kelly didn’t like Matt smoking cigarettes, she’s definitely not going to like this.

Thoughts: “Get your facts straight – I’m adopted.” That doesn’t mean Samantha didn’t raise you. Shut up, Steve.

Samantha wonders if she should have been the kind of mother who volunteered with a Girl Scout troop. Steve: “They wouldn’t want you.” Bite me, Steve. Where’s Janet to yell at him?

Yes, Donna’s exactly the sort of person who would be able to help someone get out of a gang. Come on, show. This is dumb.

Steve: “That’s my mom. She’s gay.” Noah: “Cool.” Matt: “Cool mom.” Awesome.

April 26, 2015

BH90210 9.8, I’m Back Because: Dylan to the Rescue

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 3:09 pm by Jenn

"You like girls? But...you're a girl!"

“You like girls? But…you’re a girl!”

Summary: David broadcasts from the After Dark, reporting that Dylan’s back. Apparently he hasn’t explained why he came back, but some fun rumors are swirling, like the one that Dylan’s smuggling diamonds. He and Kelly are at the club, and she asks what’s going on with him, but Dylan enjoys being mysterious. Gina urges Donna to keep her distance from Noah until she’s gotten past everything that’s happened with them. Then she tells Noah to keep up his romantic gestures.

Outside the club, Matt confides in Steve that he doesn’t want to go in because Kelly’s there with Dylan. He asks for details on their past, and Steve admits that they always thought they were soulmates, even after she got together with Brandon. Denise’s parents follow through on their threats and have David arrested for statutory rape in front of all of his friends.

Dylan bails David out of jail, then goes to West Beverly to talk to Denise. Mrs. Teasley stops him but allows Dylan to act as a go-between, since David isn’t allowed to talk to Denise. She tells him there’s nothing she can do. Dylan advises David to lawyer up. Janet meets Samantha, who has been busy since we last saw her – she has a new sitcom and is apparently dating her co-star. She’s unhappy with Steve’s new tabloid format, which makes him dig into celebrities’ privacy.

Gina goes with Noah to buy Donna some jewelry, reminding him that Donna’s spoiled and always gets what she wants. Kelly and Matt go to a hospital with Jackie to see Kelly’s grandfather, who doesn’t want treatment for his emphysema. Steve and Janet discuss Samantha, who has never been lucky in love; Janet hopes her new relationship, however unconventional, will be the one that lasts. Steve meets Barry, the co-star, who’s not much older than Steve himself.

Jackie chats with Matt, who’s a little antsy about not having a lot of clients right now. Kelly and Jackie discuss Jackie’s father; Jackie wants him to have surgery to prolong his life, but Kelly supports his decision to stop fighting. Jackie currently has her father’s power of attorney, and is supposed to pull the plug when the time comes, but she won’t do it.

Dylan arrives, wanting to take Kelly off for a drive, but she tells him he can’t just reappear in his life and act like things are the way they always were. She also has a family crisis to deal with. Matt scoffs at Dylan for seemingly not caring about the crisis. Dylan notes that Kelly has a lot of support for her problems – he came by to help her forget them. The next day, Matt deposes Denise, but she storms out. David begs her to just tell the truth.

Gina eavesdrops while Donna and Noah have a nowhere discussion about their relationship. Noah feels like he’s on probation, and would prefer to date someone who isn’t so spoiled. Donna objects to that word. Gina’s all, “I can’t believe he called you that!” Dylan tries to buck up David, who’s worried about how the whole case is affecting Denise. Dylan has no sympathy for her. David asks Dylan what he’s been up to the past three years, wondering if he still thinks about Toni. What a dumb question.

Steve complains to Janet that Samantha’s selfish – she’s dating Barry without worrying about how it will look to other people. Samantha points out that older men date younger women all the time, “but when an older woman is paired with a younger man, all hell breaks loose!” If she’s happy, Steve shouldn’t care who she’s with. He wonders what would happen if he disapproved of what makes Samantha happy. Samantha spits that no one has the right to judge her.

Kelly laments to Donna that her mother is trying to keep her from telling her grandfather that she won’t fulfill his wishes. Donna changes the subject to ask if Kelly would rather be with Matt or Dylan (who happens to be at the boutique). Kelly insists that there’s nothing going on with her and Dylan. Dylan asks Kelly what happened with Brandon; she makes it sound like they never got past being best friends. Dylan thinks she missed what they used to have. Kelly admits to being shaken by his return: “I hadn’t planned on it.”

Noah has plans with Donna, but Gina thinks he should move on to someone whose standards aren’t so impossible. Matt gets evicted from his apartment for not paying rent for six weeks. Kelly visits her grandfather, who wants her opinion on his decision not to have surgery. She tells him he needs to decide what’s best for himself. Then she tells him what Jackie said about not fulfilling his wishes. Dylan wonders if Matt is the right lawyer for David, who wants Dylan to admit that Kelly’s the reason he came back.

Matt asks Steve to put him on retainer in case the Beat needs legal representation, but Steve turns him down. Mrs. Teasley shows up to see what kind of person David is. She tells Dylan that Denise’s parents are pretty neglectful. Steve complains to David about Samantha dating someone so young, just before Barry himself shows up with a woman who’s definitely not Samantha. Steve may not like the guy, but he’s not going to stand by while he cheats on Samantha. A punch is thrown.

Gina thinks Donna’s letting Noah off too easy, especially after she’s been turning down all of his peace offerings. Donna thinks he’s proven that he’s the man she needs. Noah leaves a message that he’ll have to miss his date with Donna since he’s stuck at the club, dealing with the aftermath of Steve and Barry’s fight. Gina deletes it before Donna can hear it, then leaves.

Desperate for work, Matt turns himself into an ambulance-chaser. Kelly comes by to talk about her grandfather; she feels like she betrayed Jackie, but Matt reminds her that a living will is a legal document, and Jackie was going to violate it. He turns the conversation to Dylan, promising that he’s not going to get in the middle if Kelly needs to work through things with him. He’s not stepping aside, though – he’s willing to wait.

Noah arrives late for his date with Donna, confused as to why she’s upset, since he thinks she got his message. Dylan goes to see Denise’s parents, warning that kids whose parents ignore them tend to act out. After all, he knows from experience. He blames Denise’s parents for the whole mess and asks them to back off for Denise and David’s sakes. The Beat is being sued for libel, so now Steve is willing to hire Matt. He’ll also let Matt move into the Walshes’ house.

Samantha comes by to blast Steve for his fight with Barry. She reveals that they’re not dating, though she is seeing someone – someone named Linda. For the first time in his life, Steve is speechless. Donna deletes all of Noah’s messages begging to talk to her, still thinking he didn’t leave the original message about missing the date. Then she takes a message from Gina’s agent, learning that the spokesperson job Gina says she was offered isn’t real. Gina’s all, “Everyone around me has everything! I have nothing! Feel bad for me! But don’t pity me!”

Kelly’s grandfather understands why Jackie was going to defy his wishes, but he wants someone else to have his power of attorney – Kelly. Makes sense. Denise tells David that she won’t testify, and the DA agreed to drop the charges against him. Also, her parents are going to be more involved in her life, like, she’s already 17. It’s a little late now. David’s so grateful to Dylan that he invites him to move in.

Kelly calls Dylan to take him up on his offer to help her forget her problems. Gina eavesdrops on Noah and Donna again as he tells Donna he wants to earn back her trust. She agrees to give him another chance. Kelly asks Dylan again why he came back, but instead he tells her that he left Brenda two years ago. He traveled for a while, trying to forget his life, and decided to come back to Beverly Hills because it’s his home and he missed his friends, especially Kelly.

Thoughts: Oh, Dylan, I love you, but don’t tell Denise it’s her fault if David goes to jail. Yeah, she lied, but David was the one who slept with a minor, and her parents were the ones who pressed charges. Don’t make her feel bad for her parents being the way they are.

Gina, why do you have a sweater tied around your neck while you’re wearing a dress? Are you trying to start a trend?

I can’t think of anything else to say because I’m mesmerized by Vanessa Marcil’s pretty, pretty hair.

December 9, 2014

SVU #28, Elizabeth’s Heartbreak: Yes, Gin-Yung’s Terminal Illness Is All About Liz

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 8:16 pm by Jenn

Elizabeth, wait, like, a week and you'll have him all to yourself

Elizabeth, wait, like, a week and you’ll have him all to yourself

Summary: Elizabeth and Todd are back together, yay! Liz + Todd 4-EVA!!!!!1!1 (Ugh, I feel dirty.) They’re super-happy and stuff. Little do they know that Gin-Yung has returned from London and wants to see Todd. However, she doesn’t call him or go see him. Elizabeth thinks she sees Gin-Yung on campus, but since she’s supposed to still be in London, Elizabeth just tells herself it’s someone else. Gin-Yung spends most of the book getting bugged by her sister Kim to tell Todd what’s really going on. The ghostwriter really piles on the “what’s wrong with Gin-Yung?” mystery for the reader.

Todd, Elizabeth, Tom, and Tom’s new girlfriend Dana all end up at a recital together. They make civil, mature conversation and agree to have coffee together sometime. Ha ha, not on your life. Tom throws his new relationship in Elizabeth’s face, and she ends up in tears. She decides to focus on Todd and forget about both Tom and Gin-Yung. That’s not so easy, though, as Gin-Yung soon visits Todd and tells him she’s done with London. Now Todd has to decide if he wants to stick it out with Gin-Yung or ditch her for Elizabeth.

Todd tells Liz that Gin-Yung is back and he’s not sure who he wants to be with. Clearly he loves Liz more, but he feels bad about dumping Gin-Yung. Later, Jessica runs into Gin-Yung and tells her that Todd and Elizabeth were doing great, but Todd might leave his one true love for a girl he feels he’s obligated to stay with. Gin-Yung decides to let Todd off the hook so he can be happy. She tells him she fell in love with a guy she met in England, so Todd is free to see anyone he wants. Todd’s like, “Well, that was easy and in no way suspicious!”

But Todd and Elizabeth’s happiness is short-lived. Todd goes to Gin-Yung’s place to return some of her things, and he can immediately see that something’s wrong. She’s sick, and while he’s there she passes out and starts convulsing. He rushes her to the hospital, where Gin-Yung’s family reveals to him and Elizabeth that Gin-Yung has an inoperable brain tumor. She came back from London to say goodbye to her family before she dies.

Over in Theta world, Alison informs the sisters that a singer named Bobby Hornet (if that’s not his real name, it’s a horrible stage name) is putting together a charity swimsuit calendar. Nothing says “let’s raise money for the homeless” like a thong bikini. Bobby’s coming to town and wants a Theta in the calendar. Alison, of course, volunteers as tribute, then learns that a bunch of other girls would love the opportunity, including Jessica, also of course. The girls are told that they can go to a music store the next day to meet Bobby, and he can choose who should be in the calendar.

Jessica’s only hesitation about being in the calendar is that Nick might not like it. Jessica, hon? He doesn’t have to like it. You do you. Anyway, he thinks it’s an awesome idea, because he’s more interested in seeing his girlfriend in a bikini than he is in worrying that other men will see his girlfriend in a bikini.

Jessica goes to the music store in a trench coat, goes up a flight of stairs, drops the coat, and makes a grand entrance in just a red string bikini. Suddenly Bobby’s all, “Alison who?” Someone puts on the “Hallelujah Chorus.” That’s so dumb. Anyway, Bobby tells Jessica the calendar shoot is hers, then asks her to dinner to solidify the agreement. Jessica worries a tiny bit about going out with a guy who’s not Nick, but there’s no way she’s going to jeopardize her spot in the calendar.

On their date, the couple is followed by paparazzi, and Jessica freaks out about being seen with a guy who’s not her boyfriend. Amazingly enough, Nick drives by the restaurant and sees Jessica just as she’s trying to leave Bobby, who’s kind of creepy. Jessica goes to the police station to apologize to Nick, telling him that she thought she had to go out with Bobby to get in the calendar, but if Nick wants, she’ll drop the whole thing. He forgives her, because Jessica is just that charming.

Jessica gets the spot in the calendar despite her disastrous date with Bobby. He tells her that his brother is one of Nick’s co-workers, and that Nick came to visit him. We don’t find out what Nick said, but I’m guessing it was along the lines of, “After this photo shoot, don’t come within 100 feet of my girlfriend ever again.” And then Alison winds up getting a date with Bobby, so I guess she’s okay with not being in the calendar.

Tom has been dating Dana but keeps thinking about Elizabeth. Basically, he slowly becomes obsessed with Dana, first as a distraction from Elizabeth, then because he actually likes her. His father, George, wonders what happened to Elizabeth, but Tom wants to banish all mentions of her and tells George to stop asking about her. Tom spends the whole book trying not to think about Elizabeth, but at the end, he finds a bunch of pictures that George has had taken of Elizabeth. Finally, Tom gets that Elizabeth’s accusations about George might not have been lies after all. Ruh-roh for George….

Thoughts: “And would [Nick] even allow her to pose with sexy Bobby Hornet in the first place?” Excuse me? “Allow”? Not to mention that Jessica has never asked permission to do anything in her life.

In the last book we had a Dash; in this one we have a Dub. People in Sweet Valley have weird names.

Winston to Todd: “You’re depressed because you have two girls in love with you?” Also, his wallet’s too small for his 50s and his diamond shoes are too tight.

Gin-Yung wears a “one-piece pantsuit.” What would that even look like?

October 7, 2014

SVT #18, Center of Attention: The C Word

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 6:16 pm by Jenn

I just don't think Steven would put up with this

I just don’t think Steven would put up with this

Summary: Alice has been sick for a few days, and though she keeps insisting it’s not that serious, the twins are worried. Jessica tries to put it out of her mind so she can focus on auditions for the middle school’s production of Carnival. She’s desperate to play the lead, Lily, and needs to work on her singing so she can beat Dana Larson for the part. Kerry Glenn briefly makes Jessica panic by telling her that when her mother got sick with the same symptoms Alice has, she turned out to be pregnant. I’m surprised Jess doesn’t want a little brother or sister to boss around and dress up like a doll. But anyway, Alice isn’t pregnant, just sick.

In fact, Alice is so sick that she stays home instead of accompanying Ned on a business trip. She even has blood tests done. When she gets a call from her doctor, Jessica listens in and hears that there’s something abnormal in the results. Jessica quickly tells Elizabeth and Steven, and they all ask their mother what’s going on. Alice admits that she needs to have a lump on her neck biopsied – it might just be a swollen lymph node, but it could be something else.

Jessica takes charge of the family, assigning chores to her brother and sister, and appointing herself Alice’s caregiver. I’m not surprised that Elizabeth just goes along to avoid an argument, but I am surprised that Steven doesn’t protest. Jessica gets all the credit for being such a big help. But it might not matter anyway: Alice’s test results are inconclusive, and she could have anything from a virus to the dreaded C word.

Of course, Jessica immediately jumps to the worst-case scenario and starts panicking that her mother’s going to die of cancer. She can’t focus on anything else, even her potential starring role in Carnival. This means that when Caroline Pearce calls to talk to Elizabeth, Jessica makes the rookie mistake of mentioning that Alice is desperately sick. To no one’s surprise, the news spreads around school, and suddenly everyone is feeling sorry for the Wakefield twins, with their possibly dying mother.

Elizabeth isn’t happy about this turn of events, but Jessica loves that everyone’s so interested in her. Yes, it only took a potentially fatal illness for Jess to gain the popularity she so desperately craves. What does that tell you about our resident evil twin? Jessica considers giving up being in Carnival, in case it takes her away from the last precious moments her mother has on Earth, but Alice loves the musical and encourages Jessica to try out. Jess figures that playing the lead could give her mother her last earthly happiness. Then she steals money from the family’s emergency stash so she can order a pizza.

Jessica “bravely” forges ahead with her audition plans, telling the Unicorns that she will proudly martyr herself to star in a musical. The words “my mother’s dying wish is to see me on stage” are implied. After a day of crying and worrying about Alice’s test results, the twins get the news that she just has a virus. Too bad – dying would have been the most interesting thing Alice could do in this series.

Jess heads to the auditions, where Dana tells her that she’s going to drop out so Jessica can be the star. I guess Dana was a shoo-in and no one else was going to audition for the lead. The role is automatically Jessica’s, and she decides not to say anything about Alice’s health, so people will continue to give her things she hasn’t earned. Jessica would rather star in a musical than celebrate her mother’s good health with her friends. I don’t think that’s news.

Ned comes home from his trip, and the family spends the weekend together, swimming in their pool. Dana, Brooke, and the barely mentioned Sandra Ferris drop by the house to spend time with Jessica, who tries to shoo them away so they don’t find out that Alice is not only dying but is actually goofing off with the rest of the family. Just as Jessica’s conscience is about to get the better of her, Elizabeth shows up and pretty much blows her story. Jess pretends she was just about to give her friends the good news that Alice will be okay. She also decides to give up the role of Lily to Dana.

Elizabeth and Steven punish Jessica for her behavior by making her do their chores. Jessica also gets in trouble for stealing money to buy pizza (though she tells Ned she was going to buy Alice flowers – yes, she covers for a lie with another lie). Dana gets the role of Lily, but Jessica gets another role in the musical, plus the sweater she’s been wanting the whole book. Consequences for bad actions? Jessica doesn’t know what you mean by that.

Thoughts: Yeah, you probably shouldn’t tell people (especially kids) you might have cancer when you don’t know for sure. Nothing good can come of that.

“Winston was a tall, quiet boy.” I believe that’s the first and last time Winston’s ever been described as quiet.

So there’s no possibility that someone other than Jessica or Dana could get the lead? Like, say, an eighth-grader? Does Dana still have to audition? If I were one of the other girls who wanted to be in the show, I’d be ticked.

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