August 19, 2017

The X-Files 5.20, The End: Checkmate?

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:53 pm by Jenn

“I’d rather be watching ‘Bob’s Burgers'”

Summary: There’s a chess tournament going on in Vancouver, and a man from Russia is playing a preteen boy from the U.S. There’s a huge audience, so apparently this is a big deal. (Maybe people in Vancouver need to find more things to do.) The boy hears voices in his head as he plays, apparently the thoughts of all the people in the audience. One voice is particularly loud, and may belong to a man who’s loading a sniper rifle. He takes aim at the boy’s opponent, then the boy. As the boy stands up and makes his last move, declaring checkmate, his opponent is shot.

A couple of men drop onto a mountain in Quebec via parachutes and try to ambush the cabin where CSM has been staying. CSM’s security system warns him and he’s able to shoot one of the men before he can be shot. The other man starts to head into the house but sees CSM’s footprints heading into some nearby woods. After a brief chase, the second gunman stops CSM. He takes off his mask to reveal that he’s Krycek. CSM tells him to go ahead and shoot, but Krycek says he was sent to bring CSM back.

A note reading “you are here” has been placed on the UFO in Mulder’s “I want to believe poster.” Skinner is in the office waiting for Mulder; he claims it’s so they can discuss Mulder’s long-term plans. What does he hope to find? Mulder says whatever he’s looking for is in the X-files, and he’ll know when he finds it. Skinner’s really there to tell Mulder about the assassination of the Russian chess player. The shooter used to work for the NSA. Jeffrey Spender is in charge of the case, having been assigned by someone outside of the bureau, and he wants Mulder to work with him.

Mulder heads to a meeting Spender’s running, with Scully already in attendance. Mulder watches footage of the shooting and announces that the boy, not the Russian, seems to be the target. Another agent in the room agrees with Mulder – she thinks the boy was able to precognitively sense that the shooter was aiming for him. Mulder and the agent exchange a look that lets us know this isn’t the first time they’ve met.

Krycek delivers CSM to WMM, the Elder, and some other Syndicate members. He’s all “rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated; your assassin sucks; I’ll let it go THIS TIME.” The Syndicate tells him about the death of the Russian, mentioning that the boy is “a problem.” CSM asks, not serious, if they want him to kill the boy. They’re horrified by the suggestion and say that CSM knows what they want him to do. They’re sure he shares their intentions.

Mulder and Scully drive somewhere with the agent from the meeting, Diana Fowley. She’s been out of the country for a while and asked to be reassigned so she could attend to some things in the U.S. Scully notes that Fowley’s been in the FBI since 1991, the same time Mulder started working on the X-files. Yeah, that sure is a coincidence, Scully!

The boy is watching The Simpsons when the agents arrive to talk to him. He’s happy to be in a country with good TV; he lives in the Philippines and all they have on TV is Baywatch. The boy, Gibson, is being kept there until his parents come get him. Mulder wants to see if Gibson can beat a chess computer he’s brought, guessing that he can’t. He’s figured out that Gibson’s so good at the game because he can read his opponents’ thoughts. That’s why he knew there was a shooter.

Gibson confirms Mulder’s suspicions by saying that Mulder’s thinking about one of the agents he brought with him. One of them is thinking about him, too. (Yeah, like they both aren’t.) Fowley asks which one, but Gibson says that Mulder doesn’t want him to answer that. Mulder tells Scully that, despite Gibson’s status as a prodigy, he’s not actually that good at chess. Scully disagrees – no one has passed all the rigorous testing required of someone who claims to be psychic. Mulder thinks Gibson’s skills are exactly why he was marked for murder.

Scully notes that people would want to use Gibson’s skills, not eliminate them. His psychic abilities would give them advantages in things like war and business. Fowley points out that he could also reveal lots of secrets that people want to stay hidden. Mulder suggests that they test him and run a brain scan. He tells Fowley that she knows what to do. Scully finally catches on that the two of them know each other.

Mulder goes to see the shooter in jail, but Spender doesn’t want to let them talk. Mulder thinks Spender’s trying to protect something and is sending the agents on a wild goose chase. He’s sure that Gibson is the key to the incident, and the shooter knows why. The shooter, however, isn’t very forthcoming, thanks to Spender’s refusal to give him food or water for the past 16 hours.

Mulder sends Spender to get them while he lists the shooter’s credentials and notes that he also failed to kill Saddam Hussein during a raid on his palace. Mulder threatens to tell Spender that the shooter knows Gibson reads minds. The shooter is still unwilling to help, since he doesn’t think Mulder can get him immunity or placement in the Witness Protection Program. Mulder tells him to think about it, then leaves.

Gibson has undergone the testing at a psychiatric hospital, and he tells Scully he knows that she’s wondering about Fowley. Fowley’s wondering about Scully as well. Gibson goes to his next test, a variation on the Zener cards. He guesses all of them correctly. Fowley tells Scully that she’s seen clairvoyants with more than 90 percent accuracy, but never anything like this. She mentions working with Mulder on cases involving criminal psych patients who may have been misdiagnosed. Scully excuses herself.

In prison, the shooter receives a note reading “you’re a dead man.” It’s written on the inside of a flattened Morley cigarette carton. Scully goes to the Lone Gunmen’s lair and asks them to look at Gibson’s brain scans. She also wants them to tell her about Fowley. They’re familiar with her because she was “Mulder’s chickadee” right after he left the academy. She was there at the inception of the X-files. Byers says he’s always wondered why they split up.

Gibson watches cartoons while Mulder and Fowley discuss his excellent scores on all the tests. Mulder thinks they’re missing something, though. Fowley praises him for figuring out what was going on from the footage from the tournament. Mulder says he’s been working on this kind of stuff for five years. Fowley says she sometimes wonders how things might have turned out if she’s stayed instead of moving to counter-terrorism. She thinks he could have benefited from having a partner who thinks like him, and not a skeptic.

Mulder defends Scully, saying she makes him work for his successes. He’s “done okay” without Fowley. She assures him that she’s on his side. Scully’s about to join them when she sees them having an intimate conversation, so instead she goes to her car to pout. She calls Mulder (“Mulder, it’s me”) and asks him to meet her at the office to go over something she’s found out about Gibson.

As she’s leaving the parking garage, Spender arrives and is quickly summoned to talk to CSM. Spender doesn’t know who CSM works for, which means he’s even more out of his league than anyone thought. CSM tells him he needs to control the board and know who to sacrifice and when. He can’t join up with someone else’s cause – he needs to always pursue his own self-interest. As CSM leaves, Mulder comes into the garage and sees them talking. He’s surprised that CSM isn’t dead after all.

Mulder takes Scully to a meeting in Skinner’s office and urges her to tell him and other agents there about Gibson’s test results. Neurological tests show that Gibson uses an area of his temporal lobe – called the “God nodule” by neuroscientists – that no one else uses. Mulder says that famous scientists like Einstein, Newton, and Stephen Hawking are also believed to use portions of the brain that no one else does. Gibson may be the key to understanding human potential, paranormal phenomenon…and everything in the X-files.

Spender scoffs at the idea that Gibson was a target for murder because of the X-files. Mulder can’t make the connection completely, but he thinks the shooter can. He wants them to offer the shooter immunity so he’ll talk. Scully says they’re trying to quantify proof of everything she and Mulder have been investigating. Fowley argues that they can’t quantify spirituality. The X-files are basically an indulgence; their higher-ups are never going to allow them to offer an immunity deal for this kind of investigation.

Skinner dismisses everyone but Mulder, then warns him that he’s taking a huge risk with his future career. Mulder thinks things will fit together, and he’ll get the answers he’s spent so long looking for. He gets Skinner to talk to the Attorney General, who agrees to offer the shooter immunity. The shooter tells Mulder and Spender that Gibson is a “missing link” – genetic proof that a person can be more human than human. Gibson appears to have genes that indicate he’s part alien.

On a street somewhere, WMM and Krycek confront CSM for failing to do what he was supposed to. CSM says that Mulder going to the Attorney General is just “part of the game.” They’re taking the other side’s pieces one by one; eventually the board will be cleared.

Scully accompanies Gibson to a safehouse, where he enjoys an episode of King of the Hill. (How interesting that everything he watches is on Fox! I wonder why?) Scully asks him how he does what he does. Gibson says it’s like listening to multiple radios. Part of the reason he likes chess is because he only has to listen to one “radio” at a time. Plus, there’s no talking, so no one’s saying one thing and thinking something else. He says that sometimes people worry about what others are thinking, while those others worry about the same thing.

Gibson continues that people make up things to believe, but it’s not real. Some people try to be good while others don’t care, like Scully. He clarifies that he means Scully doesn’t care what people think, “except for her.” Fowley comes by to stay with Gibson so Scully can go home. Gibson announces that he knows people want him dead. Scully promises to protect him. In prison, the shooter gets another cigarette box, but this one has no message. The man delivering the message shoots him.

Back at the safehouse, Fowley awakens from a nap to find Gibson at the window. He tells her there’s a man with a gun outside, but he’s there to kill her, not him. He’s right, and someone shoots Fowley through the window. She’s alive, barely, but a U.S. marshal is dead. Skinner tells Mulder and Scully that the shooter is dead, and they found the blank cigarette note. Gibson’s whereabouts are unknown.

CSM has grabbed Gibson and taken him to meet WMM. WMM tries to convince Gibson that he has nothing to be afraid of, but Gibson knows he’s a liar like CSM is. WMM tells CSM his work is done, but CSM says it’s just beginning. He hands over the boy, who gets in the car with WMM and Krycek. Krycek offers to kill CSM, but WMM says he’s useful, and Krycek might need him in the future.

As Spender organizes a search for Gibson, Mulder attacks him, demanding to know who Spender really works for. He vows to see Spender prosecuted, warning that his days are numbered. Spender says Mulder’s the one whose days are numbered.

Scully and Skinner talk on the phone about the developments in the case, and how Spender is saying things that make both agents look bad. Scully tells Mulder that Fowley isn’t doing well, and their jobs aren’t lookng much better. The Department of Justice wants the X-files to be closed down. Mulder laments that everything has been part of a strategy he couldn’t see. Scully admits that the bad guys may have finally won.

CSM lights a cigarette in Mulder’s office, then leaves with Samantha’s X-file. On his way out, he runs into Spender, who asks how he got in. CSM says he has access and can give it to Spender. Spender asks who he is. “I’m your father,” CSM replies. (Well, it’s no “Luke, I am your father”). A smoke alarm sounds – Mulder’s office is on fire. When he and Scully go in to check it out, they see that everything has been destroyed, including the “I want to believe” poster.

Thoughts: Gibson looks like a mini-Frohike. I hope that’s on purpose.

I can’t believe I have to put up with this Scully/Fowley jealousy crap. Frigging male showrunners and writers.

Gibson is present for a murder and his parents don’t immediately rush out to get him? Why weren’t they with him anyway? Does he have a guardian? No one seems worried about him. Scully, adopt him, please.

How do you like your new role as Syndicate chauffeur, Krycek? Do you feel like you’ve made good choices to get you to this place?

That’s a wrap on season 5! I’m excited for some fun episodes coming in season 6.

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August 5, 2017

The X-Files 5.18, The Pine Bluff Variant: Lies Within Lies

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:30 pm by Jenn

It’s weird watching a monster have a moral crisis

Summary: Mulder’s out for a run in Folger Park in D.C., as part of some sort of surveillance operation. Scully and Skinner are among the agents keeping their eyes on a man named Jacob Haley, who’s there to meet with someone. Scully sees Haley notice Mulder and warns her partner. Haley then hands an envelope to the person he’s meeting with, who suddenly collapses. Haley calls out for help, then takes off. Mulder runs after him as other agents go to the man who collapsed. Something is eating away his flesh.

The others lose track of Mulder, who doesn’t respond when Scully warns him through an earpiece that Haley is armed. She decides to chase him herself, but when she finds Mulder, she sees him chatting with someone who then drives off. Mulder tells her he lost Haley.

Back at FBI headquarters, Scully watches footage of the surveillance, which seems to show Mulder making contact with Haley. She asks Mulder what really happened. How did 12 agents with eyes on everyone lose Haley?
If Mulder helped him, he was aiding a terrorist. Skinner addresses a joint FBI/CIA taskforce formed to capture Haley, who wants to overthrow the government. His contact from the park, an arms dealer named Cadre, received bearer bonds from Haley, who know has a bunch of weapons.

An agent named Leamus discusses Cadre’s death with Scully – he was killed by a bioweapon that originated in the former Soviet Union. Leamus wonders if this means there’s a toxin in the air at the park. Scully says it’s probably not a problem, and Mulder points out that everyone else at the park is still alive, so Scully must be right.

The agents wonder how Haley was able to escape all the agents watching him. Mulder notes that he has a lot of training. Skinner thinks their next threat is August Bremer, who’s just as dangerous as Haley. Leamus warns everyone to keep the information confidential so the media doesn’t find out about the terrorists they’re pursuing. As the meeting breaks up, Scully tries to approach Mulder, but he ignores her.

In Gables Corner, Ohio, Bremer goes to a small movie theater and buys a ticket for Die Hard With a Vengeance. He asks for fresh popcorn, sending the woman who serves him to a machine in the back. As she works, Bremer puts on gloves and pulls out an aerosol container.

Meanwhile, Scully tails Mulder to the Aaron Burr Motor Court in Angola, Delaware, where he gets a room and accepts a phone call from Haley. Haley accuses Mulder of setting him up, but Mulder claims he was trying to warn Haley about an anonymous tip. Mulder continues that he believes in Haley’s ideals; they’re not as bad as the government’s. He’s risking his job to help Haley, so Haley needs to trust him.

Back in Gables Corner, two teenagers sneak into the movie theater via the back door. They see a gross corpse sitting in one of the seats. In Delaware, Scully demands Mulder’s room number and the name he’s using. “Are you the wife?” the desk clerk asks. “Not even close,” she replies. She heads for Mulder’s room, where he’s getting another call from Haley telling him they’re moving forward as planned. Before Scully can reach him, Mulder leaves in the same car he stopped by at the park.

Scully follows Mulder and his mystery driver, keeping her headlights off so they don’t see her. Another car swerves into her path and cuts her off, making her lose the tail. The car that stopped her is full of men who take her to an office where Skinner and Leamus are waiting to speak to her. They apologize for the way they stopped her, but they think their actions may have saved Mulder’s life.

The men know that Scully’s suspicious that Mulder is betraying his country, but he’s actually on a deep-cover assignment. After he spoke at a UFO conference about his skepticism toward the U.S. government, Haley contacted him, thinking he could be used as a mole. Scully accuses Leamus and Skinner of putting Mulder’s life in danger by not telling her about the assignment. She reminds them that they don’t know anything about the bioweapon. Just then, a man tells the agents that the bioweapon has been used at the Ohio movie theater.

Mulder is taken to a storeroom to meet with Haley. Haley accuses Mulder of setting up surveillance in the park, and has a goon break Mulder’s little finger for not telling the truth. Mulder reminds Haley that he let him go. If he were setting Haley up, he wouldn’t have gotten in the car with his goons, and there would already be agents swarming the storeroom. Haley says there’s a war going on, and Mulder is either on the right side or the wrong side. He holds up an aerosol container and threatens to use it, but Mulder sticks to his claims: He didn’t set Haley up. It must have been one of his own people.

Scully and Skinner go to Ohio to check out the movie theater, which is declared safe. In total, 14 people are dead, and the two teens who snuck in the back are the only survivors. The site is pretty gruesome. Scully notes that, since there were survivors, the toxin probably isn’t airborne, which means everyone who died must have touched something that was infected. She gets an idea when she spots a ticket stub on the floor.

Mulder goes home, where Scully’s waiting for him in the dark. She tells him she knows about his assignment, then takes care of his broken finger. He wonders why the people at the movie theater were killed. Scully thinks he’s being tested. Mulder tells her that Haley let him live because he still needs him. Plus, Haley trusts Bremer even less than he trusts Mulder. The agents don’t realize that Bremer is listening in on their conversation from his car.

Even though it’s the middle of the night, Mulder goes to FBI headquarters, his finger splinted, and meets with Skinner and Leamus. He relays the information that Haley’s group seems to be targeting a bank or armored car next. Leamus is ready with redacted surveillance files to make Haley think Mulder’s telling the truth. Skinner wants to put a tail on Mulder for his next meeting, but Leamus says it’s a bad idea. This means Mulder goes to his next meeting with Haley all alone. “If you don’t hear from me by midnight, feed my fish,” Mulder tells his boss.

Scully meets with a CDC scientist who tells her they found bacteria on Cadre’s bearer bonds, but not on the ticket stub. They still haven’t figured out how the biotoxin was spread at the theater. The bacteria is a strain of especially lethal strep, genetically engineered to survive outside a body. The scientist compares it to scratch-and-sniff technology. He doesn’t think it’s from Russia, since they don’t have this kind of technology.

Mulder takes the redacted surveillance files to Haley, who mutters, “Lies within lies.” He tells Mulder he’s accompanying the group on their next mission. Mulder refuses to put on the hood Haley gives him, but Haley won’t accept that answer. (Mulder, you need to pick your battles with the terrorist, mmkay?)

Scully calls Skinner to fill him in on the bacteria, asking to speak to only him, since Leamus is in the room. She thinks the toxin was created domestically; the Army had a Pine Bluff facility in the ’60s that was working on something similar. She thinks the bioweapons program continued in secret. Mulder could be on a suicide mission. When Skinner gets off the phone, he just tells Leamus that Scully’s concerned for Mulder.

Haley and Mulder join Bremer and the rest of Haley’s group to prepare for whatever terrorist version of Ocean’s 11 they have planned. Bremer asks Mulder if he’s a believer. “I have my beliefs,” Mulder replies. Bremer asks if he’s willing to die for them, and Mulder says he hopes it doesn’t come to that. Bremer gives him a monster mask.

Scully realizes that the bacteria must have been spread through the money at the movie theater. Meanwhile, the terrorists head to a bank in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, disguising themselves with monster masks. They gain entry by hiding out in an armored car, pretending to make a delivery. They give themselves three minutes to get access to the vault. One of the tellers moves to hit a panic button, so Mulder offers to keep an eye on him. One of the terrorists shoots the teller, and Mulder is ordered to finish him off.

Mulder hesitates, but Haley keeps pushing him to act even as the others lose interest when the vault is opened. The terrorists gather a few bags of money and spray the rest with aerosol canisters. Just as Mulder has to make a decision whether or not to shoot an innocent man, a terrorist stops him, saying his weapon is traceable. He shoots the teller himself, then ushers all the terrorists out of the bank.

The terrorists burn their masks, and Bremer adds the stolen money to the fire. Mulder realizes that the heist was just a decoy so they could contaminate the rest of the money in the vault. Bremer says they’re done testing Mulder, and he’s been very helpful, but it’s time for him to die. Haley stops Bremer, saying it’s too late to try to protect his secret, since Haley already knows it: Thanks to an alias used in the surveillance files, Haley knows that Bremer’s the mole. In response, Bremer exposes Mulder as a double agent, playing a recording of his conversation with Scully.

Scully finds Skinner and Leamus to tell them they need to get Mulder out of there ASAP. She knows the money is contaminated. Unfortunately, there were a bunch of bank robberies that morning, and the agents don’t know which one Mulder was part of. Scully looks at a few surveillance screens, trying to recognize her disguised partner.

Bremer has Haley and Mulder lined up for execution, but he gives Haley his keys and allows him to leave. Mulder quips his way to the site of his potential death, because he’s certainly not going to start being serious now. He kneels and waits for a bullet to end his life, but when the shot comes, it’s a goon who’s killed. Bremer sends Mulder away, knowing that “they” will kill both of them if he doesn’t leave.

Mulder goes back to the bank, where Scully tells him they’ve already taken care of things. She was able to figure out which bank he went to from the surveillance footage – she saw the splint on his finger. Mulder tells Skinner that Bremer is on their side. But Scully tells him that the biotoxin may have been created by the U.S. government, so the whole operation could have been a setup.

Leamus joins the group to deny that the government would use its own citizens for something like this. Scully thinks he knew what was really going on the whole time. Mulder wants the money to be rechecked – it’s as dirty as Leamus is. Leamus asks what Mulder would want to see happen if he blew the whistle. Wouldn’t he do the same thing Haley’s group wants to do? Mulder says he just wants people to know the truth. Leamus replies that sometimes the government’s job is the keep people from learning the truth.

Meanwhile, Haley’s getaway car doesn’t take him very far – at some point, it pulls off a quiet, secluded road, the horn blaring. Haley’s dead, his head pressed to the horn, his skin being eaten away by the biotoxin. He probably should have made sure he was wearing gloves when he took his keys back from Bremer.

Thoughts: Leamus is played by Sam Anderson, who I’ve seen in a bunch of things but will always think of as Bernard from Lost. Haley is played by the late Daniel von Bargen. The movie theater employee is played by Kate Braidwood, daughter of Tom Braidwood, AKA Frohike.

Angry, broken-fingered, death-threat-shouting Mulder is kind of hot. Okay, I’ll see myself out.

Oh, the Russians don’t have the technology for this kind of biotoxin? Are you sure they’d tell you if they did?

August 20, 2016

The X-Files 3.16, Apocrypha: And That’s Why You Don’t Try to Make a Deal with CSM

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 1:14 pm by Jenn

Oh, no, Krycek's trapped inside a giant Magic 8 Ball!

Oh, no, Krycek’s trapped inside a giant Magic 8 Ball!

Summary: It’s August 19th, 1953, and a sailor is giving a statement in a Naval hospital in Pearl Harbor. He testifies that his submarine was on a suicide mission. He tells some men what Johansen did to the sick sailors, sacrificing their lives. Now we get to see what happened on the side of the door Johansen wasn’t on – one of the sailors’ eyes turned black and he knocked out another man. That man’s eyes leaked oil on the floor and into a drain.

The sailor in the hospital calls the oil “the enemy” and says it’s what killed his fellow sailors and caused everyone’s burns. He thinks they were sent to guard it. After it burned everyone, it “slithered away” into the sea. He says it’s still down there. The Navy will deny it, but he wants to make sure the truth gets out. And he thinks he can trust the men he’s speaking with to make sure that happens. Since one of them is Bill Mulder and the other is smoking a cigarette, he probably can’t.

Now, 40+ years later, Scully goes Northeast Georgetown Medical Center to find out how Skinner is. She wants to start looking for the shooter, but the two agents she speaks with don’t seem to see that as a priority. Skinner wakes up from surgery long enough to tell Scully that the shooter was someone he’s seen before. Meanwhile, Mulder and Krycek land in D.C. and continue their road trip to Krycek’s digital tape. Krycek hands over a key labeled C.I. but won’t tell Mulder what that means.

Scully demands guards outside Skinner’s hospital room, knowing Skinner’s still in danger from the shooter. Also in danger: Mulder and Krycek, who are being followed. The car following them forces them off the highway, knocking out Mulder. Krycek is pulled from the car, but he can’t give the other men the tape they’re after. Mulder wakes up to see a flash of light and hear shouts from the men.

Pendrell summons Scully to an FBI lab to let her know he’s gotten some of the shooter’s hair fibers, so he can run his DNA against other criminals in D.C. Elsewhere, CSM meets with a doctor treating two men for massive radiation burns. The doctor’s never seen anything like this before, but CSM has. He tells the doctor to have the bodies destroyed even though the men are still alive.

Mulder wakes up in a hospital with Scully by his side, because they are married. He fills her in on the developments with Krycek and the flash of light he saw. She tells him about Skinner and shares her theory that his shooter was also Melissa’s killer. The hair fibers do seem to match up. Meanwhile, the Syndicate meets to discuss the possibility that they’ve had an information leak. Their “associate” in D.C. has been asked to join them and explain himself.

Scully visits Skinner and gives him the news that he was shot by the person who killed Melissa. Skinner tells her that he was urged to stop investigating Melissa’s murder, which makes Scully think that the government doesn’t want them to find the killer. Skinner knows where he saw the shooter before – he was in the stairwell with Krycek when Krycek attacked him and stole the digital tape. Skinner warns Scully not to let her anger get out of control. In fact, it might be better if she steps away. But she knows that’s what they want.

Scully tries to go through proper channels to request a search for Krycek. She thinks he’s key to both of the cases she’s dealing with. Mulder gets his hands on Gauthier’s diving suit and a sample of the oil found on it. It’s supposedly just diesel oil, but Mulder’s figured out that it’s what’s infecting people. Of course, he describes it as some sort of alien substance that turns people into killers, so Scully finds it a little unbelievable. Mulder thinks Krycek’s been infected, so they need to find out what the oil wants.

The Lone Gunmen are having a lovely afternoon ice skating…and also keeping an eye on some men in trenchcoats. Frohike retrieves an envelope from a storage locker, and the guys take it to Mulder. Unfortunately, the digital tape that should be in there is gone. That’s because Krycek has it, and he wants to trade it to CSM for something.

Sometime later, CSM goes to New York to meet with the Syndicate; they’re upset that he moved the salvaged UFO without their knowledge. He should have just taken it to Nevada, “like the others.” WMM wants to know why CSM went after Skinner, and why the shooting was so sloppy – there were witnesses, so the shooter’s face is out there. CSM takes no responsibility for the shooter’s screw-ups, but WMM orders him to take responsibility for getting rid of him.

Frohike is able to see indentations from writing on the envelope, and from there Mulder’s able to use a pencil to shade in a New York phone number. He calls it and reaches the Syndicate. Mulder tells WMM that he got the number from Krycek, so WMM asks to meet with him. The FBI finally IDs the shooter, Luis Cardinal, but since he entered the U.S. illegally, there’s no paper trail on him. He’s probably already left the country. The FBI thinks they’ve hit a dead end, but Scully won’t give up.

Mulder heads to Central Park – alone, at night – to meet with WMM, because he’s not as smart as he seems. WMM says he’ll consider handing Krycek over to Mulder if Mulder tells him what he knows. WMM confirms that the aircraft recovered from the ocean was a UFO (a Foo Fighter) shot down by American fighter planes during WWI. No one’s sure what happened to the sub that went down to recover it back in the ’50s. Mulder says he knows what killed the sailors, but he won’t share the info until he gets Krycek.

WMM wonders why Mulder didn’t kill Krycek before, when he had the chance. Mulder says he wants the tape, since Krycek has been selling its secrets. He realizes that WMM doesn’t really know where Krycek is, and was hoping Mulder could give him information. WMM replies that “anyone can be gotten to.” Mulder hurries off to call Scully (“Scully, it’s me”) and warn her that Skinner’s in danger. She heads to his hospital room and discovers that the guards she had posted there are gone – and so is Skinner.

The guards have Skinner in an ambulance, supposedly to transport him to another hospital. Scully hitches a ride with them, which allows her to notice something strange about Skinner’s IV bag. (I don’t think it’s hooked up properly.) She ambushes Cardinal, and a chase ensues through the streets of D.C. Scully finally corners Cardinal, who begs for his life, telling her she really wants Krycek. The police arrive and arrest Cardinal, so that was anticlimactic.

Scully calls Mulder (“Mulder, it’s me”) to let him know he was right to be worried about Skinner – Cardinal was going to kill him. She relays the message that Krycek is going to an abandoned missile site in North Dakota. Mulder asks her to meet him at the airport so they can go to North Dakota together and check out the salvaged UFO.

The two head to Black Crow, North Dakota, and start checking out silos. There are only 200, so I’m sure it won’t take long! They hear someone approaching in the first one they check out, and while they’re hiding, they come across bodies covered in burns. Men in military gear chase them through tunnels, eventually surrounding them just before they can access a door marked 1013 that has a warning about radioactive materials.

The agents are taken outside just as CSM arrives. Mulder demands answers, but CSM claims he doesn’t know what happened to Krycek after his disappearance months earlier. After the agents are gone, CSM and the military go back inside to remove the bodies. CSM smirks at the door to room 1013, behind which Krycek is leaking oil onto a spiral symbol. The symbol absorbs the oil completely.

Back in D.C., Skinner’s out of the hospital and back to work. Mulder thanks him for keeping up the investigation into Melissa’s murder, but Skinner says he was mistaken about it. Mulder finds Scully at Melissa’s grave, and she repeats what Johansen said about the dead speaking to us from beyond the grave. Maybe that’s what our consciences are.

Scully thought she would feel closure once Cardinal was brought to justice, but now she knows that “no punishment is ever enough.” Mulder tells her that they might have found a different kind of justice – Cardinal is dead. The two discuss Krycek, and whether the Syndicate got to him. Scully wonders if we bury the dead alive, like Johansen said. Well, in Krycek’s case, it sure seems that way, since he’s stuck in a silo, trapped eight stories underground, behind door 1013. See you later, buddy!

Thoughts: The Syndicate’s phone number ends in 1012, not 1013. I feel cheated.

Oh, show. No one in D.C. would say “the D.C. airport.”

I’ve been watching Game of Thrones, so a town called Black Crow makes me giggle. Does Jon Snow live there?

August 13, 2016

The X-Files 3.15, Piper Maru: Drop Dead Red

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

Did you miss me?

Did you miss me?

Summary: The crew on a salvage ship on the Pacific Ocean is preparing to send a diver underwater. They’ve been searching for something for three months, and the diver, Gauthier, confirms that they’ve found the aircraft they’ve been looking for. But moments later, the crew loses contact, so Gauthier can’t let anyone know when he sees a man trapped inside the aircraft, calling for help. The man’s eyes suddenly turn black. When Gauthier is pulled out of the water, his diving suit is covered in something oily. He tells the crew he doesn’t know what happened; he was disoriented. They don’t see his eyes turning black.

At FBI headquarters, Skinner tells Scully that he’s gotten a memo related to Melissa’s murder. Because no progress has been made in five months, the case is being closed. He thinks it’s just because of a lack of investigators, not because of any kind of cover-up. Scully notes that the FBI can piece together crimes when they only have tiny details, but no one can find Melissa’s killer even when they have the murder weapon. She thinks it’s just that no one’s interested in finding the murderer.

Scully keeps the news from Mulder, who wants to discuss the salvage ship, the Piper Maru. He tracked their course to the spot where the Talapus found the sub/UFO and wonders why the crew was there. He can’t ask them, since they’re all being treated for radiation exposure, and the French government is keeping them quiet. Scully laughs a little because Mulder’s so determined to continue working on cases that any other agent would find pointless. If he were dropped in the desert and told the truth was out there, he’d ask for a shovel, or maybe a backhoe.

Since the crew is now in San Diego, that’s where Mulder and Scully go next. They meet Dr. Seizer, who tells them the source of the crew’s exposure hasn’t been determined, and the government won’t release enough information for him to really treat everyone. Scully determines that the exposure was huge enough that the men are suffering close to what people in Hiroshima experienced after we dropped the atomic bomb. Seizer adds that the exposure came from a manmade source – it couldn’t exist anywhere in nature. “Not on this planet,” Mulder mumbles.

Everyone’s semi-comatose except for one who was completely asymptomatic. He left the hospital that morning, but he lives in San Francisco. It’s Gauthier, and he certainly looks completely healthy, if a bit confused by the things in his house. Back in San Diego, Scully tries to get Gauthier’s address while she and Mulder arrive at the Naval yard where the Piper Maru has been docked. They learn that the ship has been tested for radiation but none has been detected.

The agents board the ship and Mulder checks out Gauthier’s diving suit, which is still covered in oil. Mulder touches it with his bare hands, always a great move. Scully studies a dive map, on which is written “Zeus Faber.” Mulder looks for a VCR, since the dive suit has a video camera containing footage of Gauthier’s dive. Scully immediately recognizes the aircraft on the video as a P-51 Mustang. Mulder’s turned on by her knowledge of World War II planes. (Scully got her knowledge from watching her father and brothers put together model planes.) A Mustang is a fighter, so it wouldn’t have been carrying anything, but Scully knows where she can go for more info.

Gauthier searches his house for a letter, finding it just before his wife, Joan, arrives. She’s happy to see him, but he just stares at her. When she realizes he’s trashed the house looking for something, she starts to get concerned. She tries to run, but he grabs her, his eyes turning black. When Joan leaves the house again, her eyes turn black as well. Back in San Diego, Scully visits her father’s old friend, Commander Johansen, at Miramar Naval Air Station. She knows her way around the base, having lived there as a kid. She remembers playing hopscotch there with Melissa.

Meanwhile, Mulder goes to Gauthier’s house and finds the letter crumpled up. On it are the call numbers for the Mustang the crew found. Mulder finds the envelope the letter came in and sees the return address is for J. Kallenchuk Salvage Brokers. He hears someone in the house and finds an oily, barely conscious Gauthier. He doesn’t remember anything that happened after going on the dive. Gauthier’s concerned about Joan, but Mulder wants answers about J. Kallenchuk. Gauthier claims not to recognize the name. Mulder presses the issue, so Gauthier asks to speak to the French consulate.

Commander Johansen doesn’t remember Scully, but he’s happy to talk to her about the Mustang. He quickly determines that the call numbers aren’t accurate for a Mustang. Scully tells him she saw an illustration on the fuselage with the caption “Drop Dead Red.” That doesn’t ring a bell for Johansen, who blames his advanced age and flimsy memory. “Zeus Faber” doesn’t mean anything to him either. Since he’s no help, Scully decides to leave. She reminisces about living on the base and playing a game with the other kids called beckons wanted. As she leaves, she asks Johansen to say hello to his son for her, since they grew up together.

Mulder tracks down J. Kallenchuk’s office, which is being overseen by a woman who definitely has some secrets. First there’s the briefcase she closes before letting Mulder in. Then there’s the gun taped to the bottom of her desk, which she’s more than willing to use on Mulder. The woman, Geraldine, tells Mulder she has no way of contacting Mr. Kallenchuk while he’s out of the country. He leaves, but he’s not naïve enough to believe her. He stakes out the office, sees a bunch of French government officials arrive, and watches Geraldine head out the back door.

On her way off the base, Scully is detained – Johansen wants to talk to her again. He tells her his son died during the Gulf War, but “we bury our dead alive,” so they talk to us every day, begging for meaning. “It’s just the voices of the dead, trying to save us from our own damnation.” He knows all about the Mustang because he was sent to find it when he was an officer on a sub called the Zeus Faber.

Mulder follows Geraldine to the airport and keeps an eye on her while chatting with Scully on the phone (“Mulder, it’s me”). She tells him the Mustang was part of an escort for a plane carrying an atomic bomb. It appears the French military wanted to salvage the bomb, even though it’s been 50 years since it was built. Mulder doesn’t get why Gauthier shows no signs of radiation exposure despite being the one who got close to the plane. The conversation ends when Mulder heads off to get a ticket on a flight to Hong Kong. He doesn’t notice Joan Gauthier watching him.

In D.C., Skinner has a cup of coffee by himself at a restaurant. Some official-looking men enter together but sit at separate tables. One chats with Skinner, who’s justifiably suspicious even before they use his name. The men tell him to follow his orders and leave closed cases alone. After all, the people above him who made the decision to close it must have their reasons. If Skinner doesn’t listen, his career and future could be affected.

Johansen shows Scully a picture of his crew, who all died within months of their mission to find the Mustang and its squadron. They all died of radiation from the same bomb the military wanted to drop on Japan. The captain made them run silent instead of surfacing so the men could get medical treatment. Johansen tried to override the captain’s orders, even more forcefully after a sailor started waving a gun around. Johansen locked all the sick men in together, knowing he was dooming them. By the time they got to Pearl Harbor, all but seven of the 144 men were dead or dying. He never learned what happened.

Mulder corners Geraldine in Hong Kong, revealing that he knows her last name is Kallenchuk. And in fact, her first name isn’t Geraldine, it’s Jeraldine. So I guess there’s no Mr. Kallenchuk after all! Mulder knows she sold the Mustang to the French government, and that someone sold her secrets. Jeraldine won’t give up her sources, calling herself a middle man (or woman). Mulder informs her that her business transactions are killing people, so he’s going to arrest her. She knows he had to give up his gun at the airport, but she doesn’t know that he still has his handcuffs.

Mulder cuffs himself to Jeraldine and drags her to her Hong Kong office. There, he reunites with his old buddy Krycek. (Whichever airport he came through didn’t confiscate his gun.) Krycek pushes Jeraldine out of the room and closes the door on the handcuffs, trapping Jeraldine and Mulder on opposite sides of the door. Just as Mulder determines that Krycek must have sold Jeraldine information, shots ring out and Jeraldine goes down. Krycek goes out the window, leaving Mulder alone in the office to figure out how to free himself from the woman on the other side of the door.

French officials sneak down the hallway as Mulder manages to get himself out of his cuffs an escape. Before the officials can run after him, Joan appears. She starts glowing and temporarily blinds all the men. In D.C., Skinner goes back to the restaurant he was in before. A man complains to a waitress about the payphone being out of order; he’s going to miss a call, which will cost him time and money. Skinner steps in to defuse the situation, and the man shoots him. Poor Skinner.

Scully comes home to a phone call about Skinner’s shooting and quickly heads to the hospital to see him. Back in Hong Kong, Krycek (looking hotter than usual in a black jacket) is about to get a ticket to Washington when Mulder attacks him. He wants to shoot Krycek for killing Bill, but Krycek says it wasn’t him. Mulder demands the tape Krycek supposedly stole, and which Krycek claims is in a locker in D.C. If Mulder wants it, he’ll have to go with Krycek to get it. Yay, road trip! Mulder allows Krycek to get cleaned up in the restroom, which is where Joan finds him. When Krycek emerges, his eyes turn black. To be continued!

Thoughts: Piper Maru is the name of Gillian Anderson’s daughter. If you’d like to feel old, she was about one at the time of this episode and is now in her 20s.

One of the sailors in Johansen’s flashback is played by Michael Bublé.

I would watch a spin-off of Jeraldine being an awesome businesswoman.

This episode teaches us the Portuguese for “suck it,” which Skinner’s shooter says after the shooting: “chupa dura.” Who says TV isn’t educational?

June 28, 2016

SVT #56, The Wakefields Strike It Rich: Why Don’t My Relatives Ever Want to Give Me Money for No Reason?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 4:56 pm by Jenn

This is so dorky, it almost comes all the way back around to cool

This is so dorky, it almost comes all the way back around to cool

Summary: The twins and Steven are hanging out with their friends after school, not wanting to go home because they know their parents will ask them to clean the house again. Jessica only has 50 cents on her and has to ask to borrow $2 from Lila to cover her sundae at Casey’s. Only $2.50 for a sundae? I miss the ’90s. Lila gives her a hard time because Jess never has any money and always asks her rich BFF for a loan. Well, Lila, you can stop giving her money any time. Let her learn to make sure she has enough before she tries to buy something.

Aunt Helen is in Sweet Valley for a visit, and she’s brought a big surprise: She wants to give each of the Wakefield kids $100. The kids are amazed, having never had that much money before. Jessica immediately boasts about her new riches to her friends, then buys them all ice cream at Casey’s. The girls next go to a Claire’s-type store, and Jess treats them to bracelets, posters, shirts, and other things preteen girls spend their babysitting money on. After just a couple days, she’s down to just $15. That’s pretty impressive. When her friends want to go back to the mall, Jess comes up with excuses not to go, which makes Lila realize she’s out of money.

The next time Jess goes shopping with her friends, she keeps her money to herself. Her friends are a little miffed, but really, if you can’t afford a $4 necklace, KIMBERLY, that’s your own problem. Jessica pretends that she enjoyed being so generous with her money, since Lila never is. What’s nice is that the Unicorns get her some earrings to thank her for spending her money on them, so they’re not completely selfish. Then they all go to Casey’s again, and Jessica’s back to having no money, so she has to borrow another $2 from Lila. Heh.

Elizabeth, our more responsible twin, first decides to put at least some of Aunt Helen’s money toward a new camera. Then she does exactly what I would do with $100 – she goes to the bookstore. She gets the new Amanda Howard and learns that Ms. Howard herself will be at the store the next day and can sign it.

But reading a mystery puts Elizabeth in investigator mode, and she starts to think there’s something fishy about the circumstances of Aunt Helen’s presents and the fact that she has a broken arm but won’t tell anyone what happened. Liz overhears Helen talking to Ned about a court case and possibly being sued. She gets a super-special delivery but won’t open the envelope in front of anyone. Chatting with Amanda Howard makes Liz think there’s a mystery to be solved, since there are mysteries all around us.

Liz gets more suspicious when she catches Aunt Helen crying. Helen says she’s just upset about the death of her favorite soap character. She was present when another character was killed for witnessing a crime, and the gangsters killed her to keep her quiet. What’s funny is that Elizabeth says the character might not really be dead, since presumed-dead soap characters often come back, but Aunt Helen – who’s watched the show for 20 years – says the character must be dead because they just had her funeral. Helen. Sweetie. No.

Anyway, Liz consults with Amy, who thinks Helen is a spy. Okay, Amy. Liz gets Amy to snoop through Helen’s things, but she doesn’t find any clues. The girls find a picture of a man in Helen’s purse and wonder if he’s threatening her. After watching a movie about a mob hit, Liz and Amy think Helen is being targeted by gangsters. Freaking A, girls. They rush home to protect Helen, because if mobsters are afraid of anyone, it’s 12-year-old girls. (Not that the mob exists. It doesn’t. Tony Soprano was in waste management and had no other sources of income.)

Now that Elizabeth is flinging around wild accusations, Helen decides to just explain what really happened. She broke her arm in a car accident and has been having trouble getting her insurance company to pay up. They claim that she hasn’t paid them, and she’s worried about having to go to court to prove that she did. The man in the picture is her boyfriend. There’s no real explanation of why Helen suddenly handed out $300, though. Liz is like, “Whatever, I’m still going to say I solved a mystery.”

Steven has a big crush on a new girl, Jill Hale. Jill clearly doesn’t like him like that, and seems to prefer Steven’s best friend, Joe Howell (Janet’s older brother). Awww, Joe and Jill even have the same initials. It’s like they’re meant to be. Steven’s annoyed that Jill pays more attention to Joe when they’re all together, so he decides to ask Jill out on a date for some one-on-one time. He really wants to wow her, so he buys her gold earrings (which, by the way, can’t be returned).

Jessica takes an interest in her brother’s love life, giving him advice and a magazine article with ideas on what to do on his date with Jill. Steven finally calls Jill to actually ask her on the date. Her response: “[long pause] I guess that would be okay.” Awww, true love. Steven treats the whole thing like they’re going to prom – he gets Jill a corsage, finds a fancy French restaurant for them to go to, and even puts on a tie. If he had enough money, he’d probably rent a limo, but he goes with a cab instead.

The date is…not great. Jill puts forth a good effort, acting really nice even though she clearly doesn’t want to be more than friends with Steven, but he has a miserable time. First, she makes him dance. Then he worries about money. Then he discovers that Jill has the same earrings he bought her, and is even wearing them on the date.

Is if that weren’t bad enough, the bill is $50 (which is pretty low for what’s supposed to be such an elegant place), and Steven only has $45 with him. He would have had $10 more but Jessica asked for a fee for helping him get ready for the date. Steven has to ask Jill for some money, which is pretty embarrassing, and has to get a ride home from her father, since he doesn’t have cab fare anymore, which is even more embarrassing. I don’t think Jill will be going out with him again.

Thoughts: “If the girl who had written this article had liked it enough to call it a ‘dream date,’ wouldn’t Jill?” Yes, Steven. All girls like all the same exact things.

Aunt Helen: (visits family, keeps secrets, gives the kids money). Amy: “She’s a spy!” Try again, Ames.

Elizabeth is okay with searching Helen’s room and suitcase, but not her purse. Why draw the line there?

Jill: “I love dancing. Of course, my favorite kind is square dancing.” Yes, of course. That’s a really sophisticated girl you like there, Steven.

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!

December 29, 2015

SVT #44, Amy Moves In: Things We Lost in the Fire

Posted in books tagged , , , at 3:24 pm by Jenn

Jessica's not wearing purple! SHUN HER!

Jessica’s not wearing purple! SHUN HER!

Summary: Elizabeth and Amy are working on a school project about endangered species. Amy invites Liz to spend the night, but Alice wants the family to go out to dinner, so Liz has to turn down the invitation. Jessica’s happy about this, since she feels like she and her twin haven’t spent much time together recently. I’m surprised Jess wants to spend time with Elizabeth instead of her own, super-cool, classy, non-boring friends.

The next day, Amy isn’t in school. Caroline Pearce fulfills her only role in this series by telling Liz that Amy’s house burned down, and when Amy jumped out a window to escape, she broke her leg. Elizabeth soon learns that there are numerous rumors going around about exactly how badly Amy was injured; they range from a broken ankle to multiple broken limbs that will require weeks of hospitalization. Elizabeth realizes that if she’d spent the night, she would have had to escape the fire, too. That would definitely freak me out.

Elizabeth walks home with Sophia, and they see that Amy’s house is pretty much just a pile of bricks now. That would freak me out, too. Liz is terrified that something horrible happened to Amy. But when she gets home, Amy’s there, with a broken arm (just one). She clarifies that the fire wasn’t too horrible yet while she and her parents were still in the house, so she wasn’t in that much danger. Her parents are staying with a family member while they look for a new house, but the Wakefields agreed to let Amy stay with them so she can be with a friend. P.S. Amy broke her arm when she tripped over an untied shoelace coming down the stairs. Not funny, but also funny.

The Unicorns are supposedly worried about Amy, but really just want to hear the real dirt on what happened. Jessica’s honored to be the first to find out what really happened. But she doesn’t, really, because Amy adds a few artistic flourishes to her story. Then some Unicorns come over, and the story begins to take on a life of its own. The smoke in the house was so thick that Amy could barely breathe! She was taken to the hospital in an ambulance with a police escort! She has the worst broken arm the ER doctor has ever seen! The Unicorns all buy it and pour on the sympathy.

Amy hangs out with the twins for the rest of the night, and then Elizabeth hears Amy crying herself to sleep. Aww, Amy. It’s hard not to feel sorry for her in this book. Jessica, however, is annoyed that Elizabeth and Amy are so tight, which leaves her on the outside. So Jess starts getting more involved in tending to Amy, doing her hair and arranging for her to ride to school in Lila’s dad’s new car. Elizabeth is suddenly the odd girl out.

At school, Amy’s fake fire story spreads, and Liz starts to catch on. Amy would rather have attention than be honest, so she doesn’t care about facts. In addition, she feels guilty – she thinks the fire is her fault. She scooped some ashes out of the fireplace to start a new fire, and she’s afraid that there was a live ember in the old ashes.

Back at home, Elizabeth tells Alice that Amy’s acting a little weird. Alice is like, “Well, her house just burned down and she lost all her stuff. Do you think that might have something to do with it?” She thinks Liz should just be a good friend, and things will work themselves out. Instead, Elizabeth tells Amy that they should get started on redoing their science project, since they lost it in the fire. With Jessica’s urging, Amy keeps putting off the project. I would think she could get an extension due to psychological trauma, but whatever. Amy’s much more interested in letting Jessica give her a makeover.

Elizabeth becomes more and more of a fifth wheel while Jessica and Amy bond. She’s so distraught that she sleeps with an old stuffed koala for comfort. With her new look, Amy is suddenly acceptable to the Unicorns, so she starts hanging out with them. Sophia and Julie make some snarky comments about the new friendship arrangements, guessing that the Unicorns will drop Amy as soon as they lose interest in her trauma.

For now, though, Liz isn’t very happy with the way things are. Amy’s now actively a jerk to her. They get into a fight about how Elizabeth only hopes Amy’s parents find a new hours because it means she’ll move out. Well, can you blame her, Amy? To win some points with the Unicorns, Amy tells them that Liz sleeps with her stuffed koala. The Unicorns spread the news, and suddenly everyone in school is calling Elizabeth “Baby Bear.” Um, okay. I bet half of them still sleep with stuffed animals, too.

Liz easily figures out that Amy spilled her secret, and the two start screaming at each other in Mr. Bowman’s classroom. After Amy leaves, Elizabeth sees the story she wrote for the Sixers about the fire. Only it’s the fake story she’s been telling everyone, not what really happened. Liz isn’t sure what to do about it. At home, she tries to make up with Amy, but Amy’s done with her and has decided to sleep in Jessica’s room from now on. Liz should be happy about that. By the way, Jess is upset about the “Baby Bear” thing because it makes her look bad. Shut up, Jess.

Elizabeth talks to Alice about what’s been going on. Alice doesn’t really know how to help, but she at least feels bad and tries to cheer her up. Alice gets a B- in parenting in this book. Elizabeth tries to be nicer to Amy, but she still can’t get Amy to work on their science project, so she decides to do her own. I can’t blame her for that. Amy hangs out with the Unicorns, who have all sorts of opinions about the new clothes she should buy. Amy stands up to them, which kind of surprises me, and it’s clear that her new friendships aren’t very steady.

Liz turns in her science project, telling the teacher that she and Amy decided to work separately. The teacher thinks Amy’s will be ready by the deadline, the next day. Amy’s too upset to ask for an extension. Then her mother tells her that they’re awaiting a report from the insurance company, and will soon know what caused the fire. Amy’s terrified that she’ll be blamed, and the family won’t get the insurance money. Amy doesn’t seem to understand what an accident is.

Amy goes to Elizabeth to let out all of her problems. Elizabeth tells her she still has time to rewrite her article, telling the truth about the fire. Liz will also help her with her science project. Liz is the best friend Amy will ever have, and she kind of doesn’t deserve her, but considering what Amy’s been through, we’ll let it slide. Amy also confesses that she thinks she might have started the fire.

Since this is Sweet Valley, everything works out. Amy finishes her science project and gets an A on an oral quiz. Mr. Bowman likes Amy’s new Sixers story. And the fire was caused by faulty wiring, so Amy’s off the hook. Also, the Suttons find a new house just a block from the Wakefields. And presumably the Unicorns go back to barely giving Amy the time of day, but you can’t have everything.

Thoughts: Mary loans Amy her favorite teddy bear because she’s the best person in any Sweet Valley series.

Elizabeth tells Alice that kids are calling her “Baby Bear,” and Alice basically says, “There are worse things they could call you.” Not the point, but thanks.

Julie and Sophia have kind of turned into a fun Greek chorus. Too bad Julie’s always so boring.

“I figure I don’t have to apologize to the Unicorns for lying because I told them what they wanted to hear.” That may be the most High School Amy thing that Middle School Amy has ever said.

December 26, 2015

BH90210 10.19, I Will Be Your Father Figure: Rumors of Jack’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 1:22 pm by Jenn

These two should probably have a chaperone at all times

These two should probably have a chaperone at all times

Summary: Donna has taken Noah to the hospital, where she calls David to tell him that Noah was injured. David doesn’t think she should take him back to the beach apartment after he broke in to bug her. Donna ignores him, telling Kelly that she’s volunteering them to take care of Noah for the next few days. Kelly wonders how Donna and Noah are supposed to move on from their breakup if he’s staying with them. Donna promises that nothing’s going to happen.

Later, Kelly goes to the Beverly Royale, where Dylan tells her that he’s been calling people from the passenger manifest to see if anyone remembers “Eddie Waitkus.” He’s starting to think that someone wants to keep them apart. Kelly suggests going back to Christine, but Dylan doesn’t think they’ll be helpful. Her next suggestion is that Dylan call the airline and talk to some of the flight crew.

Donna plays nurse for Noah, telling him that Matt feels bad for giving him a concussion. Noah apologizes for breaking in, admitting that he doesn’t even remember why he came over. Donna tells him he needs to go back to AA. This is his last chance with her – if he screws up again, he’s on his own. Over at the Walsh house, Ryan comes home from college for a visit, meeting Janet and Maddy for the first time. Steve’s maturity level immediately drops ten years, and the brothers make plans to party.

With no job, Kelly can’t figure out what to do with herself. Matt suggests that she think about opening up her own firm, but why would anyone hire a firm run by someone with no experience? They discuss Dylan and the possible return of Jack, and Matt offers to help them investigate. Camille complains about David’s table-clearing methods, then notes that David and Donna (who keeps calling to tell David about horror movies on TV) are kind of like an old married couple. (Seriously, Camille.)

Kelly, Matt, and Dylan ask around at the airport, using various cover stories for why they need to contact “Eddie Waitkus.” A flight attendant takes pity on Dylan when he says he’ll lose his job if he can’t follow up on a business deal with “Eddie.” She tells him that she heard “Eddie” say he lives right outside Phoenix. Time for a road trip!

At the Walsh house, Steve and Ryan are sacked out after a night of partying. Janet wakes Steve up for a meeting with the Sasquatch Watch Group (say that five times past). She’s unhappy to see that Ryan accidentally broke off the tail of the carousel horse. She tells Steve to stop showing off for his brother, since he’s probably egging Ryan on to be a troublemaker. Steve has always had someone to reel him back in – first Brandon, now Janet – and Steve needs to be that person for Ryan.

Noah cleaned the beach apartment, which is nice of him. He tells Donna that when he was kidnapped and thought he might die, he thought about her. He wishes he could do a lot of things differently, especially when it comes to the end of their relationship. He kisses her, but Donna knows getting back together is a bad move. She’s spent the past few weeks getting over their breakup while Noah partied. Now that he’s sobered up, he’s just starting to feel the grief. He agrees and decides to leave.

In Tolleson, Arizona, Kelly goes to a cable company and pretends to be related to Jack to get his address. Dylan complains to Matt about Jack never turning to him for help. After all, Dylan had all of Jack’s money. Kelly’s successful in getting the address, so keep in mind if you’re ever in Tolleson that privacy may be an issue.

David and Camille go out to dinner, and she admits that she realized today that she’s stolen everything Donna had. Well, okay, just her store (which she’s temporarily running) and her ex (not that she stole David). Camille’s having trouble accepting that Donna is so much a part of David’s life. She finds it a little strange to be dating a guy whose best friend is a woman, as well as his ex. David tries to make things up to her by ignoring a call from Donna.

Back in Tolleson, Dylan and Kelly sit outside Jack’s house while Matt hangs out at their hotel by himself. Jack arrives home, and Kelly urges Dylan to go to him. While Dylan’s hesitating, a woman and a young boy come out of the house to greet their husband/father. “There’s no place for me here,” Dylan tells Kelly.

The next day, David goes to see Donna at the store, apologizing for making Camille late for work, but not for ignoring her call. Donna wants to talk about what happened with Noah, which just makes David want to say he told her so. Donna would like to learn how to set boundaries. (Why start now?) David tells her that they need to ease off on their constant phone calls now that he has a girlfriend. Donna realizes he’s right.

Matt heads back to Beverly Hills on his own, warning Dylan that Jack might get spooked and run if he finds out they’ve been in town, asking questions. Kelly still wants Dylan to see his father, but Dylan thinks Jack’s life is better now than it used to be. He urges Kelly to go back to California with Matt.

At the After Dark, Janet accompanies Steve and Ryan on a night out, though Ryan isn’t thrilled to hang out with settled-down parents. He mentions a class he took, and Janet encourages him to talk more about college. Ryan begs off, preferring to hit on someone at the club. Dylan goes back to Jack’s house and watches him through the window for, like, ten minutes.

Donna shows up at the After Dark, inspiring David to declare that the theme of the next night’s broadcast will be relationships, limits, and friendships with people you used to date, or something like that. Noah’s working at the bar, and he admits to Donna that he wants to drink but isn’t going to. Well, he’s certainly working in the right place for avoiding alcohol!

David interrupts the conversation to make sure no one’s going back to anyone’s old ways. He asks Donna if she wants to get something to eat at the Peach Pit, and she teases that she can’t because she’s supposed to be working on her boundaries. David calls Camille to tell her his plans, saying he’s just trying to keep Donna and Noah apart. Camille tells him to do whatever and she’ll see him later.

Kelly and Matt return to Beverly Hills, and she shares that she’s going to start her own PR firm after all. Dylan arrives shortly after, having finally stopped staring at Jack through the window. Kelly tells him that it’s Jack’s loss if he doesn’t want Dylan in his life. Dylan admits that he never approached his father. He knows talking to Jack won’t change anything. All of his problems stem from his father’s death; he doesn’t know who he is without that fact. Kelly points out that Jack’s not dead. Dylan replies that, as far as he’s concerned, that’s not true.

Noah’s back at David’s house, which is super-awkward. David advises him to give Donna some space so she can keep moving forward from their breakup. Noah points out that Donna came to the After Dark to see him, but she spent the evening with David. He’s the one who can’t get over Donna. At the boutique, Donna apologizes to Camille for monopolizing David’s time. She likes Camille and David together, which Camille appreciates. She wants Donna to approve of them before they continue with their relationship.

Ryan spent the night out, and Steve’s worried, since Ryan doesn’t have a history of making great decisions. Ryan finally makes it home, unhappy that Steve and Janet are acting like his parents. He points out that Steve acted out all the time and was always bailed out by Rush. Steve says Ryan doesn’t need help like he did, since he’s smart.

Ryan admits that he hated being smart in high school, so when he got to college, he acted like Steve. Now he’s on academic probation and won’t be able to get into med school. He’s dropped out of college. Steve tells Janet that they’re not having any more kids. Dylan mopes in his hotel room with a drink, trying to ignore whoever’s knocking on his door. He finally opens it to find Jack on the other side.

Thoughts: Tori Spelling directed this episode. So has every cast member directed one now?

One of the flight attendants Dylan questions is played by Eva Longoria in her first TV appearance. Fun fact #1: Vanessa Marcil was once engaged to Eva’s ex-husband. Fun fact #2: Eva’s second TV appearance was as a Vanessa lookalike on General Hospital, where she met said ex-husband.

How has Ryan never met Janet or Maddy? Also, how in the world did he get into Amherst? Since when is he smart??

Yeah, I’m sure a flight attendant would remember details about a random guy on a flight a week earlier, let alone his full name, especially without seeing a picture to jog her memory.

You’d think a guy hiding from the mob would be more wary of random cars parked outside his house. Of course, Jack also didn’t bother to keep his face off of TV, so I don’t know what I expected.

September 6, 2015

The X-Files 1.13, Beyond the Sea: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 2:18 pm by Jenn

“I cut up my favorite shirt for this bit! I hope it turns out to be worth it!”

Summary: Scully’s parents are over, and her father wonders if she’s going to leave her Christmas tree up all year. Scully says yes, since her father always made them take it down right away when she was a kid. As the family says goodbye (Scully calls her father Ahab and he calls her Starbuck), Scully’s mother gives her husband a prompting look. He asks his daughter how work is, and when she says it’s fine, he doesn’t follow up.

That night, Scully falls asleep on the couch, waking up to see her father sitting in the living room with her. He says something but Scully can’t hear it. She looks away, and when she looks back at where he was sitting, he’s not there. Moments later, Maggie calls to tell Scully that her father has died. He had a massive coronary an hour earlier. Scully looks across the room to the empty chair her father was just occupying.

At Jackson University in Raleigh, North Carolina, a couple makes out in a car. Someone with a flashlight interrupts, ordering them out of the car. Only the guy gets out, and he refuses to show any ID until the man with the flashlight shows some. Instead, the man hits him. Back in D.C., Mulder’s surprised to see Scully at work. He asks how she is, calling her Dana. She insists that she’s fine.

Mulder fills her in on the abductions of the couple, Elizabeth and James. They disappeared exactly one year after a couple at Duke University disappeared. Those two were found a week later, dead after being tortured. Mulder thinks they’re dealing with a serial kidnapper/killer. If so, they have five days to find Elizabeth and James.

There’s the added wrinkle of Luther Lee Boggs, a death-row inmate put away by Mulder. He claims to have information about the abductions. He’s set to be executed in just days but thinks he should have his sentence reduced because he’s been helpful, and because he possesses unique talents: He acquired his information on the kidnappings through “psychic transmissions.”

Scully notes that Mulder sounds skeptical, for once. He tells her that Boggs has done this before; he was supposed to be executed once before but used his “skills” to get a stay. Mulder thinks he’s pulling the same scam again. But Boggs fits the profile of a serial killer, and appears to kill because he likes it. Now Boggs wants to talk to Mulder, thinking Mulder can understand who he is.

Scully wants to come along to the meeting, even though her father’s funeral is that day. Mulder advises her to take some time off, but Scully wants to work. He tells her he’s sorry for her loss, then leaves her behind. Scully’s tempted to look at a file marked “visionary encounters w/ the dead,” but decides not to open it.

“Beyond the Sea” plays at Bill Scully’s funeral, which takes place at the edge of…the Potomac, I guess. Someone scatters his ashes from a boat. Maggie tells Scully that “Beyond the Sea” was playing when her husband returned from sea and immediately proposed to her. Scully wants to know if her father was proud even though she joined the FBI instead of practicing medicine. “He was your father,” Maggie replies.

In North Carolina, Mulder and Scully meet with Boggs, who mumbles about all souls being connected. Mulder thinks he sees himself as their conduit. Boggs tells them that “from here, we can return to the past; we can see the present; we can know the future.” Mulder asks where, exactly, he is. Boggs refers to himself in the third person, saying that he needs to be “made redemptive for his transgressions.” Mulder’s like, “Yeah, that’s why you’re being executed.”

Boggs wants to trade his life for Elizabeth and James’. First Mulder wants proof that he can do what he claims: “Don’t get me wrong – I want to believe.” He gives Boggs a piece of cloth from an evidence bag, and Boggs uses it to relay the message that James is tied up with twine in a dark place, possibly a cellar or condemned warehouse. A stone angel is nearby, and possibly a waterfall. Once Boggs is done relaying the message, Mulder reveals that the cloth is from his own shirt and has nothing to do with Elizabeth or James.

Scully packs up to leave but stops when Boggs starts singing “Beyond the Sea.” When she looks at him, she sees her father. When he turns back into Boggs, he asks, “Did you get my message, Starbuck?” Scully runs out but tells Mulder that nothing happened. Mulder thinks the case is closed and Boggs is a fraud. He may have something to do with the kidnappings, but his fraud has been exposed, so he’s out of luck. Boggs is taken back to his cell, still singing “Beyond the Sea.”

Scully heads to her hotel, remembering the things Boggs said about James’ location. She spots a hotel called the Niagara and remembers that Boggs mentioned a waterfall. Across the street is a stone angel. Scully drives into the parking lot, seeing a sign on a warehouse door marking it condemned. After a brief look around, she finds a hole in the floor, blood, and a charm from a charm bracelet.

Mulder meets up with Scully in her hotel room, where she’s been sitting across from an empty chair. He tells her that police have ID’d the charm as Elizabeth’s. Mulder met with Boggs again, but he just “channeled” spirits for a while. Mulder eventually asked him to channel Jimi Hendrix so he could hear “All Along the Watchtower.” Scully blurts out that she lied to the police about how she found the warehouse. She said she’d noticed something suspicious there, but she really followed Boggs’ landmarks.

Mulder blasts her for listening to Boggs – he could have been setting her up for a trap. Scully says she lied on her report because she thought it made more sense than what really happened. Mulder says she just didn’t want to admit that she believed someone like Boggs, which is something he would do, but she wouldn’t. Scully says she just wanted to open herself up to “extreme possibilities.”

Mulder questions the timing, guessing that it has to do with Scully’s father. He knows that Bill never completely approved of Scully’s job at the FBI. He thinks she should back off the case because her judgment is clouded. Scully says she loves the job. “You love your father,” Mulder replies. She should only open herself up to extreme possibilities when they’re the truth. He continues that Boggs is way ahead of them, so they have to be careful.

The next morning, Mulder shows Scully a story he got a newspaper to print about Elizabeth and James being found safe. Boggs gets to use the phone today, and Mulder hopes he’ll call his accomplice. Instead, Boggs calls Mulder. He asks why Mulder doesn’t believe him but Scully does. Mulder replies that Scully believes that Boggs has Elizabeth and James. Scully insists that they keep talking to Boggs; he’s their only lead.

Boggs tells the agents that he knows who has James and Elizabeth but doesn’t know his name. He only sees a man in his 20s with a skull earring. He’s whipping Elizabeth with a wire. Boggs directs the agents to a boathouse, then warns Mulder not to go near the wooden cross. Blood will be spilled there.

In the boathouse, the kidnapper hears a rescue team coming and runs. Scully tends to Elizabeth as Mulder goes looking for James and the kidnapper. The kidnapper shoots him from a boat and takes off. When Scully arrives to help Mulder, she sees two wooden slats on the pier forming a cross. Mulder’s rushed to the hospital with a leg injury.

Elizabeth looks through mugshots, finally identifying the kidnapper as Lucas Henry. Scully learns that Henry witnessed a car accident in which his mother and high school sweetheart died. The seventh anniversary of the accident is approaching. Scully thinks he relives it every year, which is weird because no one’s mom is being kidnapped, but whatever. Henry is believed to have worked with Boggs on past crimes.

Scully confronts Boggs for setting a trap for Mulder because Mulder put him away. She yells that if Mulder dies, she’ll make sure she’s the one to throw the switch and execute Boggs. Boggs calls her Dana, and when she turns back around, she sees Mulder. “You’re the one who believed me,” he says. She covers her ears, insisting that she doesn’t believe Boggs. He wonders if she believes herself.

He “channels” Scully to tell her about a time when she was 14 and snuck a cigarette, trying to keep her parents from finding out. Boggs knows what Scully wants and who she wants to talk to. She might as well just ask. Scully admits that she’ll believe Boggs if he lets her talk to “him.” Boggs channels Bill and calls her Starbuck, but Boggs stops the conversation, demanding a deal first. Going back to the chair is the last thing he wants.

The last time Boggs was scheduled to be executed, a priest read him Scripture about how you must love in order to gain eternal life. Boggs saw his dead family (who he killed) in his cell as he ate his last meal. The rest of his victims lined the hallway as he was led to the chair. All of his victims’ fear entered him and made himself feel like he’d already been killed. When he sat in the chair, all their souls entered him.

Scully says that Boggs may be headed for a bad place, but Bill isn’t there, and Mulder won’t be. Boggs continues to refuse to give her what she wants until he’s gotten a deal. Scully says she doesn’t believe him. Boggs calls her a liar, then reminds her that he either knows how to find James and Henry or he can channel someone who can tell him. Either way, he’s Scully’s only hope.

Scully meets with the prison warden, who refuses to cut any deal with a convicted murderer who seems to still be committing crimes. Scully then visits Mulder in the hospital, lamenting that they’re running out of time. He warns her not to believe Boggs; he’d love to get revenge on Scully for what Mulder did to him. Scully thinks there might be another explanation. Mulder tells her again not to play Boggs’ game. He might be targeting Scully as his final victim.

But Scully goes back to Boggs, telling him he got his deal. He tells her that James and Henry are in a condemned factory, the Blue Devil Brewery. Scully doesn’t buy it, and Boggs tells her he knows she lied about the deal. As she leaves, he tells her, “Avoid the devil. Don’t follow Henry to the devil. Leave that to me.”

James and Henry are, in fact, in a condemned building, and just as Henry is about to finish James off, Scully arrives with another rescue team. She shoots Henry when he won’t drop his weapon, then chases him through the building. She finds him near a painting of a blue devil and stops. Good thing, too, because the floor gives out and Henry falls to his death.

Scully visits Boggs one more time, telling him that she believes that if he’d been involved in the kidnapping, Henry would have known not to go near the blue devil. Boggs’ information saved both James and Scully. Boggs tells her that if she comes to his execution that night, he’ll give her Bill’s final message.

Boggs has his last meal, seeing the ghosts of his family. His other victims’ ghosts again line the hallway as he’s led to the chair. The only person not present is Scully, who’s with Mulder. She’s realized that if Boggs knew they were partners, he could have gotten any information he wanted on Scully. “Dana,” Mulder says, “after all you’ve seen, after all the evidence, why can’t you believe?” Scully admits that she’s afraid to. Mulder notes that she couldn’t face the fear even if it meant knowing what her father wanted to say. Scully replies that she does know: “He was my father.”

Thoughts: I imagine that when this episode aired, the FOX execs who’s protested Gillian Anderson’s casting felt a little embarrassed.

It’s hard to pick my favorite part of this episode, because the whole thing is excellent, but it might be the fact that when Boggs “channels” for the first time, Scully and Mulder just stare at him like they see this all the time and he’s not particularly impressive.

Scully asking her mother if her father was proud of her made me think of Cole’s mother asking him if she makes her own mother proud in The Sixth Sense. (If you’ve never seen that scene, grab some Kleenex first.)

Stone angels? Doctor Who fans just shuddered.

September 1, 2015

SVU #42, Sneaking In: Men Behaving Badly

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 5:17 pm by Jenn

No way is this what Nick is supposed to look like

No way is this what Nick is supposed to look like

Summary: If you remember way back to Good-bye, Elizabeth, Liz has just decided to stay in Sweet Valley instead of following Scott to Denver. She and Tom are now back together. Also, Jessica and Nick are still dating but having some trouble because he doesn’t want to be a cop anymore. Jess thinks he’s boring now that he wants to go to college and become a lawyer. So when Jess meets bad boy Clay DiPalma, she’s more than a little interested.

Isabella also meets Clay, though she’s not interested in him romantically. He flirts with her while she’s helping out with a Theta fundraiser, even after she tells him she has a boyfriend. Said boyfriend, by the way, has suddenly become a huge jerk. He sees Isabella and Clay together and Hulks out, basically accusing her of cheating on him. They make up, because Isabella has more patience than I do, but fight again when Isabella asks Danny to go to a frat party that all the Thetas have to attend. He only agrees to go so he can make sure she doesn’t hook up with any other guys.

Clay also flirts with Jessica, who, unlike Isabella, doesn’t mention that she has a boyfriend. Nick catches them talking and also Hulks out, punching Clay in the face. Now Jessica’s interest in Nick is rekindled – who wouldn’t want to be with a tough guy who punches other men? This is all very Jess/Rory/Dean, only without Nick dropping Jessica at the tail end of a dance marathon.

Clay shows up at the frat party, and since Danny’s being a drag, Isabella’s now interested. Nick tells her and Jessica that Clay is clearly bad news, which just makes Isabella want to get to know him more. She starts dancing with a bunch of guys, so Danny tries to get her to leave, because clearly this kind of behavior means she’s a slut. When Isabella refuses to go, Danny storms off. Isabella starts drinking, then smokes a cigarette with Clay, even though she doesn’t smoke.

This is where things go pear-shaped. Clearly there’s something in the cigarette other than tobacco, because Isabella starts hallucinating. She thinks monsters are after her, so she runs upstairs and jumps off a balcony. This is probably the best anti-drug PSA any Sweet Valley book has ever presented. Jessica and Lila find Isabella unconscious on the lawn and are understandably panicked. They tell Nick that they saw her with Clay, who has since disappeared, and Nick figures out that Clay must have put drugs in the cigarette. Tests confirm that the cigarette was laced with PCP.

Isabella spends the rest of the book unconscious, in danger of slipping into a coma. Danny’s upset, of course – but with Isabella herself, not just with the situation. If she hadn’t been whoring it up and smoking, everything would be fine. At one point he literally says that she got what she deserved. If what she deserved was the realization that she shouldn’t be with a jealous, possessive jerk, then yes, she got what she deserved.

Isabella’s condition starts affecting Danny’s grades, because he’s still doing schoolwork even though his girlfriend is at death’s door. His biochemistry professor is especially unsympathetic. Danny accidentally takes a copy of a big exam coming up, but returns it to her without looking at it, even though it could save his grade. The professor accuses him of stealing the test and threatens to fail him. Danny’s like, “Another thing Isabella screwed up for me.” Hey, Danny? Shut up.

Other people involved in this storyline are focusing less on Isabella’s behavior and more on bringing Clay to justice. Even though he’s technically off the police force, Nick decides to do some investigating on his own. He ties Clay to a big-time drug dealer responsible for all the drugs in Sweet Valley. Jessica pressures him into trying to take down Clay by himself, since the cops at the SVPD aren’t qualified. Shh, Jess. I mean, she’s not wrong, but this is still a bad idea.

Jessica proves to be a pretty good investigator herself, calling a friend who tells her where Clay bought a motorcycle he was talking about at the party. Through the motorcycle shop, Nick gets Clay’s phone number and pretends he wants to buy drugs. To no one’s surprise, Jessica wants to come along on the sting. Also to no one’s surprise, Nick is unable to convince her to stay away, so the two of them head to a run-down house to meet Clay.

Nick goes inside while Jessica listens at a window. Clay, who happens to be high, knows that Nick is a cop. He knocks Nick out, then decides to shoot him. Then he changes his mind and just leaves while Nick goes in and out of consciousness. I guess this is supposed to be a cliffhanger ending?

In other news, Elizabeth and Tom are super-happy to be back together, especially with Scott halfway across the country. Scott keeps trying to contact Liz, though, telling her how great things are in Denver and how she should regret not coming with him. But it turns out that Scott has been expelled from the DCIR for plagiarism, fabricating sources, and altering his transcript. Awesome. Elizabeth is very relieved that she stayed in Sweet Valley.

But there’s trouble in paradise. Tom has a deep, dark secret that makes him feel guilty through the whole book. At the end of the book, Elizabeth learns what it is. She finds a half-empty box of condoms in Tom’s room and realizes that he and Dana must have had sex. Oh, no! Two consenting adults with romantic feelings for each other had protected sex! It’s a scandal!

Thoughts: The title Sneaking In makes no sense. No one sneaks in anywhere.

This book is supposed to take place just a couple weeks after Good-bye, Elizabeth. Does that mean the last five books never happened? Then why did I have to read them?

“I’m used to Danny’s insane jealousy.” Sounds like a healthy relationship to me! Also, since when is Danny insanely jealous? He always seemed pretty normal to me.

Going to a drug deal with only Jessica as backup puts Nick in the running for dumbest cop ever. Which explains why he worked for the SVPD.

I assume Tom wasn’t a virgin before he and Elizabeth started dating, so what does it matter if he slept with Dana? He didn’t cheat on Liz. Why does she care?

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