May 31, 2016
Summary: Jessica and Mandy are hanging out after school one day when they see an ad in a magazine for a cooking competition sponsored by the Pineapple People. They’re looking for an interesting recipe using their pineapple. Jessica and Mandy start throwing gross stuff in a bowl to make Poisonous Pineapple Salad. They get Steven to taste it, and though he says it’s not bad, there’s no way either girl is going to try it. Jess sends in the recipe, basically as a joke.
Two months later, guess what? Jessica won the competition. The prize is a trip for her and two friends to Hawaii. The caveat is that she has to accept the prize in a certain amount of time, and the only chance she has to go is over Christmas break. The twins are supposed to go skiing with their grandparents, but Jess doesn’t want to go, so here’s the perfect excuse to skip the trip. If I had a nickel for every time I had to choose between skiing and going to Hawaii… She chooses Mandy and Mary as her travel buddies. (She wanted to take Liz, but Liz feels like at least one of them should go see their grandparents. If I were their grandparents, I’d understand and reschedule the ski trip so they could both go to Hawaii, but whatever.)
Of course, the girls are still in middle school, so there’s no way Alice and Ned will let Jess go to Hawaii without a chaperone. Just as she thinks she’ll have to turn down her fabulous grand prize (and accept the consolation, hundreds of cans of pineapple, which Jessica doesn’t even like), a jealous Lila inadvertently comes up with a solution. She complained to her father about not being invited on the trip, so he agreed to take her, Ellen, and Janet to Hawaii. Jessica realizes that Mr. Fowler can chaperone her, Mary, and Mandy as well. So the trip is back on.
The only drawback is that Mr. Fowler will also be bringing his new girlfriend, Bambi. Yes, Bambi. She’s an aspiring actress, which Lila doesn’t find endearing. She hates how much time her father spends with Bambi rather than paying attention to his daughter. Fair enough. But, of course, Bambi is very sweet and doesn’t deserve any of the animosity Lila directs toward her. Lila, sweetie, you’re going to Hawaii with your best friends. Lighten up.
As soon as the girls get to Hawaii, it becomes clear that Mr. Fowler’s chaperoning is pretty much in name only. The only rule he gives the girls is to not spend their money on cheap crap. Bambi promises to keep an eye on the girls, then promptly disappears. The girls all split up to go shopping, go to the beach, etc. Apparently 12-year-old girls are perfectly capable of navigating around Hawaii without any help, even though the only one who’s ever been there before is Lila, and it was just for a long weekend.
Janet runs into a local boy named Kenji, who insists that she’s the reincarnation of the Hawaiian princess Keiko. Janet falls for it, because she doesn’t realize that a Hawaiian princess would most likely not be white. Kenji warns that, according to lore, if Keiko’s reincarnation ever tries to leave Hawaii, the goddess Pele will erupt and cover the island in lava. Fun! Janet tries to find a way out of this mess, but Kenji tells her she’s now cursed for wanting to leave.
The Pineapple People have arranged a tour of their plant for the Unicorns, which sounds like a really exciting way to spend your time in Hawaii. Jessica’s confused because they keep calling her Jessica Wakely. She and Mandy decide that they must have gotten her mixed up with the real competition winner. After all, how could their pineapple disaster beat a delicious pineapple upside-down cake? They don’t bother to wonder how a pineapple upside-down cake could win a contest looking for a unique recipe. Anyway, Jess feels guilty for the rest of the trip, thinking she’s taken someone else’s prize.
Lila finds a ring on the beach and convinces herself that it’s super-fancy and expensive. Janet’s new buddy Kenji meets her and tells her it’s from King Kamehameha’s tomb, and now she’s cursed for wearing it. Kenji sure knows a lot about curses, doesn’t he? Lila spends the rest of the book trying and failing to take the ring off.
Mary and Mandy don’t have much of a plot (though at least they get more to do than Ellen, who’s at her dumbest here), but they overhear Mr. Fowler and Bambi talking and think they’re getting married. Bambi mentions that she’s not sure she’s ready to be a stepmother. Mandy and Mary know that Lila will freak out if she learns her father wants to marry Bambi, so they keep it to themselves.
The girls go on a tour of a volcano, and Lila and Janet think it’s erupting. They think nearby bulldozers are the shaking ground and the sudden extreme heat for lava. The other girls get a good laugh at them. Then they go on a glass-bottom boat tour, and Jessica falls in the water and thinks she’s drowning. The other girls gleefully tell her to put her feet down because the water’s only three feet deep. I love the visual here.
Mary and Mandy tell Ellen, Jess, and Janet about Mr. Fowler’s possible marriage plans, so the girls decide to sneak into Bambi’s room and look for…I don’t know, a piece of paper where she’s written down, “I’m getting married”? There’s some weirdness where they get access to the room by calling the front desk, pretending to be Bambi, and complain that there are no towels. This requires hiding all the towels in the room so the maid doesn’t see them. Once they’re in the room, Bambi almost catches them, but they hide in the bathtub. Bambi wants to take a shower, but there are no towels, of course. The girls hear her on the phone, talking again about getting married and becoming a stepmother.
The girls end up telling Lila about their investigation, so now she’s upset that Mr. Fowler is getting remarried. They all have dinner together, and Janet and Lila’s supposed curses rear their heads again – Janet sits in cole slaw, Lila accidentally lets out a belch, and Jessica falls out of her chair. Everyone else is really amused.
The girls get caught eavesdropping on Bambi and Mr. Fowler, who reveal that Bambi’s auditioning for a role on a soap (Days of Turmoil – Jessica’s favorite), and Mr. Fowler has been helping her with her lines. The role is a woman who’s in love with a guy who has a daughter, so every time Bambi’s said she’s not sure she can be a stepmother, she’s either been in character or is worried about playing a stepmother on TV. Bambi makes it clear that she’s nowhere near ready to marry Mr. Fowler, and isn’t even sure it’ll ever happen. Lila starts to warm up to her.
Kenji and his friend Lono have Jessica believing she’s cursed, too, because of her lies, but they have a solution: She needs to mix up a bunch of ingredients and perform a ritual at midnight. For some reason, she also has to wear her hair in a ponytail. The boys tell Lila that she can only remove her “cursed” ring if she goes to King Kamehameha’s tomb at midnight…though no one who’s ever gone there has come back out. Lila’s willing to risk it.
As both girls are trying to sneak out at midnight, the other girls catch them and everything comes out. They figure out that Kenji and Lono have been messing with them all the whole time. (Also, Lila’s ring comes off with suntan lotion, and the inside shows that it’s from a souvenir shop.) The girls come up with a revenge plan, enlisting Bambi to play Pele and make the boys think they’ve angered her into erupting and burying the island in lava. That’s actually pretty clever. The boys apologize and invite the girls to a luau.
As for Jessica’s “curse,” she didn’t take her grand prize from anyone. She goes to the Pineapple People to confess, and they realize that the memo announcing her the contest winner spelled her name wrong. There’s no Jessica Wakely, and Jess’ recipe did win. All of the recipes were awful, so the Pineapple People went with the most original, just for fun. For Jessica’s honesty, she’s rewarded with 200 cans of pineapple. I only wish we’d wrapped up the book with a scene where Ned and Alice accept dozens of boxes from the Pineapple People and have no idea why.
Thoughts: The Pineapple People expect over a million entires. Uh-huh. They also publish an announcement about Jessica winning in a magazine instead of calling her directly. And they don’t bother to confirm that she’s who she says she is when she calls – she could be any random person. I don’t think this company is run by very smart people.
“Hawaii was nice, but it was no Sweet Valley.” You have GOT to be kidding me.
“Pele! It’s me, Princess Keiko! Mellow out, would you?” Janet’s a mess.
Janet’s suggestions for gifts to appease Pele so she can leave Hawaii: a curling iron and a Johnny Buck cassette. Like I said, a mess.
Bambi wants to play a character named Flame, who’s in love with Caleb Dakota. I love it.
July 27, 2014
Summary: Brandon narrates for us the fact that the gang has now graduated from college. Then he gives us an overview of their summer activities. Donna went to confession to admit she lost her virginity, but kept it quiet from Felice. Valerie got a job (which didn’t last) and put blond streaks in her hair (which did). Steve was hired as KEG’s alumni advisor, but the job didn’t pay much. Kelly moved in with Brandon.
And now, the present! Brandon’s desperate for a newspaper job but can’t even get hired to write obituaries. Kelly finds cards from Tracy in one of Brandon’s drawers, and Brandon quickly reminds her that he broke up with Tracy for Kelly, so there’s no reason to be jealous. Kelly points out that he didn’t have to keep mementos. Valerie accidentally adds to the tension by commenting on how pretty Kelly has made the bedroom (which Brandon doesn’t seem to appreciate).
Over at the beach apartment, David and Donna’s honeymoon appears to be over. She wants him to move in, but she wants them to have separate bedrooms. Donna blames it on Felice, saying she doesn’t want to upset her mother. David isn’t willing to be his girlfriend’s roommate – either they live together and share a room, or he lives somewhere else.
At the Walshes’, everyone’s unemployed two months post-graduation, though Val claims to have a new “executive” job. Steve’s still able to pay his rent, though. Valerie perks up when she learns that he has a savings account. Kelly asks Steve to take Erin to her soccer game, like, of all of the people on this show, Steve is the last person I’d think of to be responsible for my little sister.
Donna collects her allowance from her father, who’s mostly recovered from his stroke. He also has a lead on a job as a second assistant stylist. Brandon thinks he and Kelly should go on vacation, but she actually has a job (at some foundation) that starts the next week. Also, they don’t have money, so how would they pay for this vacation? Brandon throws away all his Tracy stuff, then pulls some pictures back out to look at. Kelly catches him.
Steve hangs out at Erin’s soccer game, offering tips to a kid named Zach. His mother, Carly, objects to her child talking to strangers. Steve’s like, “What’s wrong with a kid chatting with a strange man who doesn’t even have a child in this soccer game I’m attending?” He tells Carly that Zach’s father should teach him to stick up for himself. Carly calls Steve a jerk. After she and Zach leave, Erin informs Steve that Zach doesn’t have a father.
Donna is invited to meet with someone about the assistant position. Meanwhile, David works at the After Dark, which is having financial problems. He’s also keeping all his stuff in his office until he figures out where he’s living. Donna suggests that he stay on her parents’ boat if he’s not going to move into the beach apartment. On their way home from the soccer game, Steve encounters Carly having car trouble and offers his help. She’s not interested, though he knows what he’s talking about. Oh, just make out already.
Kelly and Donna go shopping and discuss whether Donna and David should rush into living together. Kelly admits that shacking up with Brandon isn’t as great as she expected. She mentions the Tracy stuff, and Donna laughs at her because she probably has some of Dylan’s stuff lying around. They learn that Valerie’s “executive” job is spritzing perfume at the mall, and Kelly promises not to tell anyone, which means everyone will know in two hours.
Speaking of secrets, David complains to Brandon and Steve about how Donna hasn’t told her parents they had sex. Brandon points out that Donna must already feel guilty for having premarital sex, and she doesn’t want her parents to make her feel any guiltier. David sees Donna stalling as a lack of commitment. Brandon tells him that living with his girlfriend isn’t 100 percent awesome. He thinks he’ll try to smooth things over with Kelly by throwing her a surprise birthday party.
Kelly and Donna pick up Donna’s birth control at a drugstore, and guess who else is there? Felice! Oh, the irony! Kelly quickly covers, saying the pills are hers. Later, Donna goes to her job interview, which is now for a first assistant instead of a second one. She’d be helping out on a swimsuit catalog shoot with a famous photographer…in Honolulu. Donna gets the job easily, but the interviewer feels ill and jets off soon after hiring her.
The guys spend a boring night at the After Dark, thought at least Steve likes the waitresses’ new uniforms (which Donna designed). Valerie shows up and slams David for screwing up an alcohol order, which resulted in a lack of white wine. Steve hits on a waitress who tells him she’s not allowed to date customers. He tells her he’ll talk to David and get him to make an exception.
Valerie apologizes to David, then warns that if he doesn’t ramp things up, the club will go under, and soon. She proposes that she buy back in and they work together the way they used to. David won’t accept if it means hurting his relationship with Donna. Donna arrives and announces that she’s going to Hawaii for a photo shoot. She wants David to come along, and he invites the rest of the gang to come, too. Steve decides to use his “emergency fund” to pay everyone’s way. Val says she’s too busy to go.
But at the house the next day, Valerie ambushes Steve in the shower to ask him to loan her money for the trip. He agrees, as long as they share a room. She insists that they’re not going to hook up again like they did the night of their graduation party (twice), and bargains him down to separate beds in the same room.
Kelly tries to get Brandon to help her pick out wallpaper for their room, getting mad when he tells her he really doesn’t care. He knows she’s really just upset about his Tracy mementos. Valerie pops in to announce that she’s going on the trip, and she super-hopes Kelly can come along. Kelly can’t, so Brandon says he’ll stay home, too. Kelly tells him to go since they clearly need some time apart.
Steve goes out with the waitress, who’s too dumb even for him. Guess who their waitress is? Carly! Steve’s date thinks she’s rude, Carly thinks she’s dumb, and everyone’s right, but Carly’s the only one who gets in trouble. “I think she likes me,” Steve says after Carly dumps a drink in his lap. The day everyone leaves for Hawaii, Brandon still hasn’t 100 percent decided if he’s going. He’s sorry that he’ll have to miss Kelly’s birthday. Kelly encourages him to go, then cries when he leaves.
Thoughts: Yes, friends, we’ve reached the Hilary Swank episodes.
’90s music alert: Foo Fighters’ “Monkey Wrench.”
Poor Erin. Her parents, brother, and sister all ditch her soccer game and send her with her siblings’ friend.
Are the Martins paying the full rent on the three-bedroom beach apartment? Maybe Donna should move into a smaller place?
Steve, trying to guess where Donna’s going: “Borneo?” Brandon: “Burma!” Steve: “Why’d you say that?” Brandon: “I don’t know. I panicked.” Sometimes Brandon makes me laugh (on purpose).
Wish I could just jet off to Hawaii whenever I felt like it. “Oh, you’re going to Hawaii? I think I’ll tag along.” Maybe I just need richer friends.
June 28, 2014
Summary: Bailey’s moving forward with his plan to move in with Annie, while Sarah tries to find another roommate for the house she’s spending the summer in with her friends. A waiter at the Salingers’ restaurant does something nice for her, and Sarah asks Bailey for more information about him. She thinks he might like to stay at the beach house. Bailey’s like, “His name is Eric. He’s probably a jerk.” (No, seriously, this is his response.)
Daphne tries out a tear-away valet outfit on Charlie, who’s disappointed that she didn’t actually get a job as a valet. As Barney Stinson learned, it’s tough dating a stripper. Griffin’s stuck at the guest cottage, with his bum leg, and Julia’s tired of babysitting him but still feels obligated. Charlie and Daphne have dinner with Paul and Kirsten, because that’s not an awkward setup at all. Paul and Kirsten are a little intrigued, but Charlie’s embarrassed.
Claudia and Jamie study together, and he uses 200 words to try to ask her to prom. She thinks he’s asking her to have sex, which she’s definitely not ready for yet – she doesn’t even have her learner’s permit yet. When she realizes what he really wants, she accepts. Annie clears out some closet space for Bailey, though now he’s a little less excited about how many things are changing. To try to make himself more confident, he answers the phone “Annie and Bailey’s residence,” but the caller hangs up.
Griffin races an old woman to the cashier at a grocery store, but loses. He’s rewarded, though, when he’s revealed to be the thousandth customer of the month and gets a trip to L.A. After dinner, Daphne tells Charlie she’s upset that Kirsten and Paul were so fascinated with her life. Charlie points out that if she’s not okay with her job, she can quit. She shoots back that he’s the one who’s ashamed to be dating a stripper. She wishes he’d defended her.
Bailey learns from Eric that Sarah invited him to be her new roommate. Bailey tries to scare him into backing out by telling him that Sarah’s tough to live with. Charlie and Paul go play racquetball together, and seriously, they spend too much time together for people who have been with the same woman. Paul talks about his bachelor party, which featured a stripper; Charlie’s never been to one. Paul assures him that most are tamer than he thinks, and the guys leave the stripper alone.
Bailey picks up Natalie from school, making sure that she’s okay with him moving in. She just wants to make sure he’ll always kiss her good night even though he’ll be staying in the apartment. Nearby, a man watches them from his car. That’s not creepy at all! Griffin tells Julia about his L.A. trip, which will have to take place this weekend if he doesn’t want to have to wait another three months. He’s excited that something good is finally happening. Julia can’t go, though, and doesn’t think Griffin should travel with his injured leg. He’s mad, so she says she’ll try to change her schedule.
Charlie tracks Daphne down at a bachelor party in a bar, where she’s trying to keep a guy’s hands off her. Things get tense, and Charlie steps in to be Daphne’s white knight. The guy’s a jerk and Charlie ends up hitting him, then rushing Daphne out. As Bailey, Annie, and Natalie are being domestic, they get a surprise visit from the man at Natalie’s school. He’s Natalie’s father, Jay.
Daphne blasts Charlie for ruining the bachelor party, which might get her fired. He can’t believe she’s not grateful to him for saving her. He basically orders her to quit stripping. Bailey listens uncomfortably as Sarah gives Eric a tour of their apartment, so apparently Bailey didn’t scare him off. Sarah’s more interested in Jay’s sudden arrival anyway. Griffin and Julia head to L.A., trying to ignore the amorous couple behind them on the plane and the loving gay couple seated next to them.
Claudia’s currently the only happy Salinger, as she looks at prom dresses. Charlie warns her not to let her expectations get too high. At his first prom, his date had an allergic reaction to her corsage and wound up at the hospital. Then he was vomited on and had to pay for his rented tux. Now Claudia isn’t so happy anymore. In L.A., a guy tries to flirt with Julia, but Griffin scares him off. However, the guy’s cheesy lines inspire Julia and Griffin to have some fun mocking him.
Daphne storms into the Salingers’ house to tell Charlie that she’s still mad about him crashing the party, but she’s a little grateful for the way he tried to protect her. However, he needs to back off and let her live in the moment like she always does. Julia and Griffin keep goofing off, pretending to be foreigners who have just met. They even end up kissing.
Bailey sits around all day waiting for Annie to come back from spending time with Jay and Natalie. He can’t believe that she wants to hang out with Jay after she tried so hard to keep him away from their daughter. Annie, however, thinks that since Jay has moved to be closer, has gotten a job, and has been in AA for eight months, he’s a new person.
Bailey thinks Annie will eventually get back together with Jay. He also thinks Jay is just putting on appearances, and reminds Annie of the bad things he’s done in the past. He’s worried that he’ll lose Annie and Natalie. Annie promises that Natalie will stay in Bailey’s life, but she needs to make sure her daughter has what she wants.
Sarah tries to comfort Bailey, but she also needs to know when he’s moving out so Eric can move in. Bailey admits that he’s dealing with things he’s never had to deal with before – divorced exes with custody and child support issues. All he wanted was to move in with Annie, but now he’s on the outside. He’s decided to stay put for now until the Motts sort out their issues.
Kirsten tries to gauge the seriousness of Charlie and Daphne’s relationship, promising that she’s not going to express her opinion about them being together. Charlie tells her that he knows it’s weird, but it works for them. They’re both in between things right now, but they’re both okay with it. In L.A., Julia and Griffin are the closest they’ve been in months to the way their relationship was when they first got married. They don’t want to go home the next day.
Jay shows up at the restaurant to thank Bailey for everything he’s done for Annie and Natalie. But now he wants his family back, so he’d like it if Bailey would go away. He reveals that he never signed the divorce papers. He’s going to ask Annie to take him back. Charlie tracks Daphne down at another party, though this one is a kid’s birthday party, and this time Charlie just wants to know why she hasn’t been in touch. He’s confused as to why she wants space. He bugs her until she reveals that she’s pregnant. Kirsten is going to be so ticked.
Thoughts: As you can see from the picture, Jay is played by John Slattery from Mad Men. That’s right, Roger Sterling was on Party of Five.
Daphne can unsnap her bra with her teeth? I’m pretty sure that’s physically impossible.
Sarah, you don’t want to live with Eric. He has no personality.
’90s music alert: Fastball’s “The Way.”
May 17, 2014
Summary: It’s time for another episode of Griffin and Julia Are Awkward Around Each Other and Should Just Break Up Now. She presents him with Rosalie’s “something’s happening” note***, and he pretends he doesn’t know anything about it. Since he told her he was at the movies, Julia asks what movie he saw. Griffin doesn’t reply. She tells him that the next time he uses a friend as an alibi, he should inform that friend. Griffin admits that he was with Rosalie, but says they’re just friends. Julia notes that he wouldn’t lie about his whereabouts or stay out until 2 a.m. if they were just friends.
The next day, Charlie undergoes tests that will tell him whether or not he’s in remission. It’ll take a couple days for the results to come back, and his doctor tells Bailey and Julia to find a way to get him to relax and distract himself while he waits. While Julia gives Griffin the silent treatment, Sarah tries to convince Bailey that Charlie’s results will be good. Annie visits, on edge because she’s trying not to drink, and Bailey snaps that she can’t rely on him the way she is.
Charlie’s doctor calls to tell him there was an irregularity in his CAT scan, so he’ll mean more tests. He worries that it means he’s not in remission. His doctor says it’s possible but unlikely. Charlie points out that getting cancer at the age of 28 was also unlikely. (Which…no, but okay, Charlie.) Julia hangs out in the house while Griffin hangs out in the “guest cottage”; when he comes inside, she suggests that he move out. FINALLY.
Charlie’s anxious about his test results, so Bailey advises him to get out of the house for a while. Charlie wants more than that. Julia remembers family trips to a cabin in Tahoe, and she, Bailey, and Charlie decide to spend some time there. Claudia declines their invitation, wanting some alone time. She says she’ll ask Kirsten to come stay with her and Owen. Because Kirsten doesn’t have a life or a husband or anything that doesn’t involve the Salingers.
The older Salingers head to the cabin and immediately get into a routine, reminiscing about the time they spent there as kids. Back at the house, Claudia gets an application from a boarding school in Massachusetts and tells Kirsten that she sent for it. At the cabin, Julia and Charlie start a snowball fight with an unsuspecting Bailey. Sarah visits Annie to see how she’s doing with Bailey out of town. She knows what Annie’s going through since she went through it with Bailey. Annie tells Sarah to find someone else to help.
Griffin goes to see Rosalie, reporting that Julia kicked him out. He complains that Julia has misinterpreted what’s going on (she hasn’t) and that she’s done some equally bad things (she hasn’t). “Nothing’s entirely the other person’s fault,” he says, delusional. Rosalie tells him she wants him. The older Salingers read horrible books and decide not to call home to check on their other siblings. Those other siblings are currently playing hide and seek with Kirsten, who wants to know why Claudia’s running away before she knows Charlie’s condition for sure.
Natalie goes to Sarah to report that Annie fell asleep on the floor and can’t be woken up. At the cabin, Bailey and Julia remember the first time Charlie babysat them at the cabin. They had an “indoor laser-beam snowball war.” Charlie doesn’t think that’ll distract him this time around. He confesses that he had to have additional tests done because something was found on his CAT scan. He wishes his life were still simple enough that he could just be afraid of the dark.
Sarah has Natalie make coffee while she soaks Annie in the bathtub to revive her. Kirsten tells Claudia that she needs to talk to a new therapist so she can discuss her fears. Claudia admits that she’s scared about Charlie dying, and she doesn’t want to be okay with it. After her parents died, she tried to get back to her normal life, but she’s not going to pretend she’s okay with losing someone else.
Julia and Bailey are upset that Charlie walked away from his life to come to the cabin and pretend he’s okay. Because neither of them is doing the same thing, of course. Bailey confides that Annie’s drinking again and he feels bad for leaving her while things are so bad. He knows self-preservation is good, but he feels guilty. Before their parents died, Bailey was rebellious; afterward, he turned into an adult overnight. He wishes he could have been someone else so he didn’t feel bad about taking care of himself instead of Annie.
Julia wonders if she would be different, too, if their parents had lived. She feels like she’s in a rush to do everything. Before, she was always looking to the future. Now, she wants everything right away because she doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring. Julia feels like she’s stopped thinking things through. Bailey’s surprised to hear that she regrets getting married so quickly, because Bailey hasn’t been paying attention. She didn’t think what getting married actually meant; she just loved Griffin and accepted his proposal.
Sarah tries to get Annie to promise that she won’t try to drive Natalie anywhere, or try to cook something. Annie says she hates herself for acting this way in front of her daughter, but that just makes her want to drink. She’s not even in good enough shape to get herself to a meeting. Sarah suggests that she try rehab. That would require finding someone to look after Natalie, whose father isn’t in any better shape. Annie blasts Sarah for thinking that everyone can afford the kind of help she needs.
Rosalie invites Griffin to stay with her, but he’s afraid of what could happen. Then he talks himself into accepting since Julia had to have known where he would end up when she kicked him out. (I think she expects you to end up in divorce court, Griffin, so do whatever you want. Also, shut up. I’m sick of hearing from you.)
The phone rings at the cabin in the middle of the night, making the Salingers worry that something happened back home. Fortunately, it’s a wrong number. Charlie remembers that the phone always used to ring late at night because their parents always needed to get in touch with each other. After they died, middle-of-the-night phone calls became emergencies. For 24 years, Charlie thought things would always turn out well, but he doesn’t think that way anymore.
The next day, Kirsten tells Claudia that despite her years of graduate work in child psychology, she doesn’t know how to help. She sometimes tries to figure out how she would feel if she had to go through her day knowing Charlie was dead. It’s a way of preparing herself in case it actually happens. But she knows that they won’t really be able to live with that reality unless it happens, so they need to tell themselves he’ll be okay. Claudia doesn’t like dealing in hypotheticals.
As the older Salingers prepare to leave the cabin, Julia tells Bailey that she used to think about how, when she turned 30, she would have lived longer without her parents than with them. After that, anything that happened would be up to her. But why is she waiting until then? Bailey regrets bringing Charlie to the cabin, but he was glad to relive some happy times (though he doesn’t want to return). It was strange to revisit a place they used to enjoy before their lives fell apart. “Once that first bad thing happens,” everything is different.
As soon as he gets home, Bailey goes to Annie’s apartment, promising that he’ll be around from now on. But her apartment’s empty – she went to rehab. Sarah has another surprise for Bailey: They’ll be taking care of Natalie while Annie’s gone. Julia goes to the garage to tell Griffin that she’s not sure what she wants to have happen, but his affair was probably partly her fault. (Um, I’m sorry?) She believes him if he promises he didn’t sleep with Rosalie. She’d like him to come back home.
Charlie meets up with Claudia, Owen, and Kirsten at the house, so they’re all there when they get a message from his doctor. She asks Charlie to call, giving her home phone number. He goes up to his room to be alone when he calls. When his doctor gives him his test results, he starts crying…but out of happiness. He’s in remission.
Thoughts: Doesn’t Annie have a sponsor who can help her?
“Why are you doing this?” Because you cheated, you jerk.
Charlie and Julia throwing snowballs at bailey is the cutest thing I’ve seen on this show in a long time.
“Stop trying to help me! I don’t have the money to be helped!” Shut up, Annie. Sarah’s a saint to put up with you. She doesn’t even like you! Also, now you can never be mean to her again, since she’s taking care of Natalie.
’90s music alert: Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery.”
Test to see if someone has a soul: Play the last scene of this episode. If the person isn’t moved, yell, “What’s wrong with you?” and splash him/or with holy water.
May 11, 2014
Summary: Brandon and Tracy are off to Hong Kong to see Jim and Cindy. Everyone else will be going to a premiere party Valerie’s throwing for Rob at the After Dark. Well, everyone except Kelly, who wants to mope over Brandon taking Tracy to Hong Kong. Clare thinks she needs to move on because “some things aren’t worth saving.” Amen, Clare. Kelly still has her non-engagement ring, by the way, and is wearing it on a chain around her neck.
In Hong Kong, Jim (hey, Jim!) welcomes Brandon and Tracy to “Casa Walsh East.” Cindy’s in London with Brenda, who has mono. Tracy notes that it’s been a long time since the four Walshes were all together. Jim wonders why Brandon never mentioned that he was dating Tracy. Dr. Martin’s about to be released from the hospital; his recovery has been quick, though he hasn’t completely regained the use of his right arm and leg, and still has some short-term memory problems. Felice hasn’t told Donna that her father’s going to a rehab center, not home. Donna’s upset about that.
Over at Rob’s house, he and Valerie are still sleeping in a mattress on the floor of the living room. Seriously, what’s up with that? Alan calls to confirm that Valerie’s bringing Rob to the party. He doesn’t want to go, since Hollywood is full of fake people and blah blah blah, do we really have to put up with this again? Jim asks after Kelly, but Brandon pretends he doesn’t know or care what’s up with her.
Apparently Kelly’s been trying to distract herself by fixing up an old rocking chair. Steve breaks it. This is the wackiness we’ve been given, folks. Clare talks Kelly into going to the party after all. Alan meets Rob and Valerie at the house before the party so Alan can introduce Rob to an aspiring actress named Heather. He wants to pair them up for the party. Rob says he’s going with Valerie, but Alan does his smarmy thing to get Val to back down.
At the Peach Pit, Donna and David look over info about rehab facilities; Donna’s still against them, but David thinks Dr. Martin might benefit from one. He decides to drop the disagreement and look into support groups instead. The Barenaked Ladies play at the premiere party, because it’s the ’90s. Kelly doesn’t have a very good time, but at least she gets to practice rejecting guys. She starts to enjoy herself more when Rob shows up without Valerie.
In Hong Kong, Brandon, Tracy, and Jim go to a market, where Tracy admires a book. The salesman tells them it’s about a prince in love with two princesses on two different shores. He goes back and forth, visiting both, and eventually “drowns in his own indecision.” Valerie gets rid of Heather by sending her off to a fake meeting with Cameron Crowe. Brandon, Tracy, and Jim have lunch and talk about love, blah blah, we know Tracy’s gone after this season, so whatever.
David gets Dr. Martin a bunch of stuff that will help him get around his house better. Donna thinks this will convince Felice not to send him to rehab. David, however, knows that Dr. Martin has big problems to overcome and will need more help. Donna wants to do what she thinks is best for her father rather than worry about making Felice mad. Alcohol has made Kelly’s night a lot better, and she makes up with a guy she rejected earlier.
Valerie and Alan bicker about who has more power in their arrangement. (I’d say Val, since she gets money AND a movie star.) At the hospital, Dr. Martin tells Donna that he’s going to rehab. She thinks he’s just giving in to Felice, but he assures her that’s making the decision for himself. Plus, he doesn’t want Donna to have to take care of him while he’s recovering. Clare notices how much Kelly’s had to drink and tries to get her to go home, but Kelly points out that Clare wanted her to come to the party in the first place.
Rob makes Alan apologize to Valerie for the move with Heather. Alan says that he may be a snake, but at least he’s obvious about it, unlike Val. He outs Valerie for taking money from him to get Rob to do the movie. Valerie says she only did it to make Rob see how sleazy Alan is. Rob sides with her and fires Alan, though he’s not that happy with Val either.
Jim and Brandon talk about various fears (Jim: Hong Kong going Communist; Brandon: graduation), then move on to discussing Tracy. Brandon admits that he doesn’t care about Tracy as much as she cares about him. Jim says it’s obvious that he’s still in love with Kelly. Brandon tells him about how he kept the ring and only returned it a couple weeks ago. So he must be totally over Kelly and not thinking about her at all!
Clare complains to Steve that Kelly’s throwing herself at Pete, the guy she’s been chatting with. She realizes she lost her ring and starts frantically looking for it. For some reason, this turns Pete off. At the hospital, Felice blasts Donna for giving Dr. Martin the option of going home instead of to rehab. After all, Felice, not Donna, is the one who would have to take care of him. Donna assures her mother that she can be strong for Dr. Martin. Felice admits that she’s only as confident as she is because Dr. Martin is always there for her. She’s glad that Donna has her father’s confidence.
The next day, Valerie goes to Rob’s to apologize for the whole mess with Alan. Apparently he’s not that mad at her since he wants her to be his new manager. She isn’t sure, but then she realizes that she gets to boss him around and get 10% of his money, so how can she say no? Tracy buys the book about the two princesses and asks Brandon to assure her that she’s not a placeholder until he finds someone better. He tells her she’s not. Poor, naïve Tracy.
Dr. Martin has decided to go home after all, so Donna and David get the house ready for him. Felice is actually civil toward David when she sees it. At the beach apartment, Steve gently tells Kelly that she needs to let go of Brandon and the ring (which he’s confused about her having in the first place). He advises her to put it away someplace so she won’t see it all the time. She just asks him not to tell Brandon that she has the ring. After Steve leaves, Kelly puts the ring in a keepsake box in her closet, which I don’t think is what Steve meant.
Thoughts: Donna, you’re 22. It’s time to start picking your battles with your mother.
Besides the Barenaked Ladies, the part of this episode that sticks it the most firmly in its time period is the conversation about Hong Kong going to China.
Clare, chill. Kelly’s not “throwing herself” at anyone. She doesn’t need a babysitter.
Rob, you are RICH! Get some FURNITURE!
How does Brandon not have a post-graduation plan set in stone? Shouldn’t he be courting job offers from five different people?
April 20, 2014
Summary: Brandon, Steve, and Dick play basketball, practicing for a three-on-three tournament. Afterward, Brandon and Tracy smell pot. Two seconds later, Dick is high. Brandon worries that he and Steve will be stoned when it’s time to play in the tournament. Over at the beach apartment, Kelly packs for a weekend at a spa with Clare. She, Brandon, and Valerie roll their eyes over the sweet nothings Clare and Steve say to each other on the phone. Val gets a call from Gigi at Lala magazine, who wants to feature her in an article about cool people in Beverly Hills.
Donna meets David at the After Dark for an awkward conversation about their relationship. He still wants to be with Donna, and insists that nothing happened with Chloe, even though she came on to him. Donna assures David that she still cares about him, but she likes being with Cliff. David thinks she thinks less of him now because he wasn’t around during her hostage crisis. (Neither was Cliff, but whatever.) Nothing gets resolved, and Donna still plans to see Cliff, but David kind of wants her to choose between the two of them.
Valerie meets with Gigi, who wants to “hang with” her that night. She claims that the article she’s writing about Val will boost her coolness. At CU, the tournament begins, so cue the basketball montage. Tracy’s the only person we know in the stands, because she’s not allowed to have a plot that doesn’t revolve around Brandon.
Kelly and Clare check into their spa in Palm Springs and immediately attract the attention of two guys named Roger and Dean. The guys need a creative excuse to talk to them, so they ask if they’re parting of a Ukrainian folkdance troupe also staying there. Kelly and Clare play along with horrible Ukrainian/Russian accents. Clare is now Irina, and Kelly is now Katarina.
Donna meets Cliff at a marina (he’s staying on a friend’s boat while he’s in town) and he mentions that he saw her parents there that morning. He wants to take her sailing. Donna tells him she’s going to try to make things work with David. Cliff thinks that the fact that they met means they should be together, or something. Also, her parents invited them to brunch the next day, so they’ll have to see each other again.
Roger and Dean send Kelly and Clare a dinner invitation; Clare wants to accept but Kelly doesn’t. Clare turns the guys down but for some reason thinks they’re not going to give up. Brandon, Steve, and Dick make it to the semifinals of the tournament and celebrate by letting Tracy cook them dinner. Dick apologizes for making Brandon uncomfortable with his drug use, promising that he doesn’t want to put himself in a bad position in case he risks his plans for grad school.
Roger and Dean track down Kelly and Clare, so that ruse is still going. The guys claim to be software developers, having created both screensavers and the website for Mission: Impossible. Yeah, sure. Some of the real Ukrainian dancers pass by but don’t blow the girls’ covers. Kelly and Clare agree to hang out with the guys the next day.
At the After Dark, Donna tells David that she told Cliff they can’t date anymore, but she has to have brunch with him and her parents the next day. David worries that Felice will throw her support behind Cliff. Brandon, Steve, Dick, and Tracy hang out with some girl Dick can’t stop making out with. Dick’s high, but Brandon’s “tired of being the narc” and decides not to say anything FOR ONCE IN HIS LIFE.
Donna mopes at the Peach Pit, starting to tell Nat about her David problems. Then she spots Cliff and agrees to have coffee with him. Dick scores some heroin, which he’s never used before, and invites Steve to partake. Steve declines, not wanting to have to inject anything, but changes his mind when Dick says they can snort it. He plans to meet Dick later to get his own share. Meanwhile, Valerie arrives with Gigi and an entourage covering the club for the magazine.
Steve goes into the bathroom to get Dick, finding him half-conscious on the floor. Dick says he doesn’t want to die. Steve tells him he won’t, frantically trying to keep him awake. David learns of the overdose and quietly informs Valerie, who slips away from the magazine folks. Cliff gives Dick CPR while Brandon looks on judgmentally and Valerie looks on all, “This is really going to make me look bad in that magazine article.”
Eventually paramedics arrive and take Cliff away. Valerie asks if Gigi’s going to use this little incident in her article, as if Gigi would leave out such a juicy story. Steve tells the police that Dick got the heroin from a dealer at the After Dark, so now Valerie has to answer some questions. She swears that she didn’t know there was any drug-dealing going on at the club, and that it’s never been a problem before.
Brandon tries to hide his judginess while Cliff confides to Donna that despite his attempts at CPR, Dick was already dead when Cliff got to him. David and Cliff get into a petty fight, and Cliff has a hard time not looking smug when the police want to talk to David about his possible connection to the heroin.
In Palm Springs the next morning, Kelly greets Dean and Roger while Clare gets a phone call from Donna telling her that Dick is dead. Donna’s surprised that Steve hasn’t called Clare yet. The guys hear Kelly on the phone, not using her accent, and blast her for her lies. In Beverly Hills, Steve ignores Clare’s phone call and tries to self-medicate with pot. Super Brandon swoops in to save the day.
Donna shows up late for brunch and immediately gets into a fight with Felice over whether David and Valerie were connected to the drugs. Cliff reveals that he got a job in Florida but would like to stay in Beverly Hills if he and Donna are going to be together. Of course, that’s what Felice would like. Valerie and David are released from questioning, and their lawyer doesn’t think they’ll be in any trouble. He advises them to beef up security and make it clear that no drugs are allowed at the club.
While Brandon and Steve go to the tournament to formally forfeit, Donna gets a note from David telling her he loves her. She wants to leave brunch to meet him. Felice objects, but Dr. Martin first says Donna should invite David to join them, then tells her it’s okay for her to leave. Felice tells Cliff to do something about the situation, because she’s awful. Donna tells Cliff to take the job in Florida because she’s going to be with David.
That night, Brandon, Steve, and Tracy arrive at the After Dark to see that people have set up a shrine to Dick outside. Someone put a bong there, so stay classy, Beverly Hills stoners. Steve smashes it and lectures everyone about how drugs are stupid, not cool. (Pretty much his exact words.) He says that he could have died since he was going to use heroin, too.
Steve tells everyone that Dick’s last words were, “I don’t want to die.” He wants everyone to remember Dick as a scholar and an athlete whose life was cut short by drugs. They should remember that he wanted to live. Brandon lets Steve put Dick’s basketball jersey on the shrine because Steve has passed Brandon’s Morals and Ethics 101, and this is his prize.
Thoughts: I know next to nothing about drugs, but I’m pretty sure Dick, who’s smoked pot before, wouldn’t be able to get high from one toke. Actually, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t even gone long enough to light the joint.
Brandon has an actual funny line, after Valerie says that the article is about cool people no one’s heard of: “I’ve heard of you.”
Rule number one of assuming a false identity: Don’t pretend you’re from a foreign country if you don’t speak that country’s language.
Yes, Valerie, you look super-cool dancing in front of a giant peach.
Cliff giving Dick CPR is a nice nod to continuity – he’s a firefighter, so he would know it.
Poor guy, though. Who would choose David over him??
March 11, 2014
Summary: We’re still on this freaking cruise. It’s never going to end, is it?
So anyway, everyone’s mad at everyone else because of all the kissing of other people’s fiancées and the fighting over whether or not people should know about that kissing. As a refresher, Todd and Elizabeth are kind of back together, Tom keeps making out with Nicole (who’s engaged to Jason), Isabella and Danny are fighting, Leonardo is obsessed with Alex, Noah and Gin-Yung are hanging out, Nina keeps spending time with Rich (even though he’s a pretentious and boring egomaniac and she kind of hates him), Lila wants to break up with Bruce, Bryan is a wimp, and Jessica can’t find her mystery savior. Oh, and Winston and Denise are missing.
Jessica’s search for that mystery savior has landed her in jail. She was caught breaking into people’s rooms so she could find the savior’s button, and after Jason’s wedding ring was reported missing, she was accused of stealing it. (Danny still has it. Danny should probably say something.) There’s a great scene where Jessica tries to appeal to the captain and her other jailers, telling them she was breaking and entering for love, and they pretend to humor her and then laugh in her face. Then some guy shows up pretending to be a lawyer and gets Jessica released, but he doesn’t stick around long enough for her to find out who he is.
Everyone else is at a dance (well, of course) and jealous of the new pairings. Tom is especially mad because Elizabeth went back to Todd two seconds after they split up, but dude, you’re the one who kissed someone else. I mean, be mad all you want, but if you can’t keep your lips to yourself, you don’t get a say in what Liz does.
The steward who turned Jess in for thievery in the first place is after her again, but the mystery “lawyer” trips him and Jessica’s able to hide in a movie theater. Meanwhile, the police arrive and try to arrest Elizabeth for stealing the ring. Of course, they’re not going to fall for the old “it wasn’t me, it was my identical twin!” story. Isabella finds Danny (who’s hiding like a six-year-old afraid of getting in trouble for eating cookies before dinner) and demands that he tell the truth.
So Danny finally comes clean about the “stolen” ring, which puts both twins in the clear. But Jason’s mad that Danny lied to try to stop the wedding, so he fires Danny as his best man…and enlists Tom to take his place. Poor, dumb, naïve Jason has no idea what’s been going on between Tom and Nicole. Oh, and the wedding’s tomorrow, and everyone on the ship is invited.
Jessica’s still hiding in the movie theater through all this, and Nina and Danny wind up there, too. They start talking, and when Nina kisses Danny on the cheek (just as a friend), Jessica misinterprets this as romance. Now she thinks Danny’s a two-timer, and she isn’t sure if she should tell Isabella. Ironically (I guess), in the first book, Isabella insisted that if Danny ever cheated on her, she wouldn’t want to know.
That night, Alex and Isabella wind up in the twins’ room and all four girls cry over their relationship woes. They see Nina and Rich together and think they’re happy, when Nina’s really just faking it. Also not happy: Tom, who’s been kicked out of his and Danny’s room. Todd finds him, they fight, and just when things are about to get sort of interesting, they…stop. And they decide to work together to get Tom and Elizabeth back on track. It involves Todd pushing Tom overboard so Elizabeth will save him. There’s no way this could go wrong!
Everyone goes to the wedding, with Alex throwing Gin-Yung shade for hanging out with Noah, and Danny hiding in the back (Danny hides a lot in this book). Everything goes fine until “if anyone knows why these two shouldn’t be married.” This is when Danny decides it’s finally time to say something to Jason about his fiancée kissing another guy. Jessica shoots him down, accusing him of two-timing Isabella with Nina. Isabella’s madder at Jessica than with Danny.
While Jason’s confronting Danny, Nicole gets super-dramatic and tries to flee in a lifeboat. She winds up in the water, so Danny jumps in so save her. Jason punches Tom, who also goes in the water, but he wanted to be there anyway so Elizabeth would save him, so he just goes with it. But Danny tries to save Tom as well, so Tom has to get rid of him. Elizabeth doesn’t seem to realize (or care?) that Tom’s in the water, so Todd tosses her in after him. Brilliant plan, guys. It doesn’t work, since Tom clearly isn’t drowning, and Elizabeth still doesn’t want to be with him.
Noah’s like, “Well, everyone is has gone insane, so I might as well, too,” and he knocks out Leonardo. Bruce approaches and Noah tells him that Leonardo fell. Alex joins them and the guys stick to their story. And speaking of insane, Jessica decides to recreate her first meeting with her mystery savior by…jumping in the water and pretending she’s drowning again. I’m pretty sure this is certifiable psychopath behavior. Gin-Yung gets a little revenge on Todd by pushing him in the water.
At this point almost everyone’s in or has been in the ocean except Isabella, who agrees to make up with Danny as long as he doesn’t get her dress wet. Jessica doesn’t have any luck fake drowning, but she does finally meet her mystery savior. It’s Randy Mason, Sweet Valley Middle School’s resident nerd. Jessica doesn’t care that he used to be a nerd, or, apparently, that he’s been STALKING HER ALL WEEK. Seriously, this guy is creepy.
Leonardo has decreed that he’s taking Lila back to Italy so she can properly mourn Tisiano. He’s taking Alex there, too, so she can become a model. Bruce isn’t going to let Lila go without a fight, possibly a physical one. Lila, however, is resigned to her fate, especially when she realizes that if the situation were reversed – if she’d died and Tisiano were moving on this quickly, say, with someone like Jessica – she’d be jealous. After all the wedding madness and ocean wackiness, Lila decides she can’t be without Bruce, so they’re back together. And I guess Leonardo regains consciousness with some brain damage, because now he’s okay with them being together, and he’s fine with Alex leaving him and getting back together with Noah. I don’t know.
Bryan is still hanging out with Jean, learning to swim and trying to figure out how to get back to the boat so he can reunite with Nina. He dreams about water-skiing back to the ship, and decides to make that dream come true. Because that’s totally reasonable for someone who only learned to swim two days ago. Bryan takes some skiing lessons (this all happens over less than a day, by the way) and gets a guy to take him on his boat out toward the ship. He shows up while everyone else is falling/getting pushed in the water, but he falls in as well, so Nina has to save him. This is so dumb.
Winston and Denise spend the entire book floating around on a sinking boat, thinking they’re going to die. They wash up on an island and decide to become the new Swiss Family Robinson or something. (I hope there are monkey butlers and chewy, chewy cocoa beans.) Then they’re suddenly both knocked out. It turns out they’re not on a deserted island – they’re on the same island as a resort, and they were knocked out by golf balls. But the good news is they can go home with everyone else. And they didn’t embarrass themselves by falling overboard.
Thoughts: These books would be a lot shorter if they didn’t spend so much time recapping previous books.
Danny describes dating Isabella as “like falling forty floors into a pool of Jell-O with your arms around the person you love most in the world.” Danny, please don’t ever become a writer.
“Jessica instantly loved the bridesmaid dresses, which had a tropical theme. The girls wore brightly colored green, aqua, and pink silk sarong skirts that reached their ankles. Their silk tops were cropped and shoved each girl’s tanned midriff.” I don’t care where you’re getting married – no one’s midriff should be visible.
Nicole’s wedding dress has “tiny seed pearls sewn over every square inch.” That sounds awful.
I’m sure the ship’s captain appreciated everyone jumping in the water. How much do you think that guy hates doing college cruises?
February 25, 2014
Summary: In the aftermath of Tom and Nicole’s kiss, Isabella wants to keep Jason from finding out. Danny, however, is Mr. Ethics and thinks his best friend should know that his fiancée kissed another guy. He also wonders if Isabella would have been able to keep from kissing Tom if she’d been in Nicole’s position. (Remember, Isabella used to have a crush on Tom.) I’m not sure what that has to do with anything, but whatever, Danny’s in a bad mood.
Jessica overhears them talking about the kiss and how Elizabeth saw it, so she heads back to their room. Tom is already there, wanting to explain things to Elizabeth. She wonders if Liz would have kissed Todd if they’d been in Tom and Nicole’s positions. There’s an awful lot of “what if”ing going on. Elizabeth only wishes she could kiss Todd right now and make Tom jealous. All in good time, my dear. Jess wants everyone to shut up about the kiss so Jason and Nicole can get married. That’s our Jessica – she doesn’t care if the bride and groom are happy, as long as they have a wedding.
Danny and Isabella try to spark up some romance between Jason and Nicole, though Isabella doesn’t think Danny’s romantic enough to be able to inspire it in others. Jason’s still into spending more time with his friends than his fiancée anyway. Danny decides that the best course of action is to convince Jason to end the engagement, but without it looking like Danny’s trying to influence the decision. His ideas are all stupid, and even though Jason isn’t that bright, he’s at least bright enough not to listen to Danny.
Meanwhile, Liz is unable to handle being single for five seconds, so when she runs into Todd and Gin-Yung, she immediately latches on to her ex. Poor Gin-Yung. Todd and Liz spend the day together when the ship stops at an island called Juma. Tom hangs out with Nicole, and when Liz sees them, Todd can tell that she’s not over Tom. He’s also still interested in Gin-Yung, so he knows he and Elizabeth shouldn’t try to get things started again.
But then Nicole asks Tom to kiss her again, so she can know if there’s really anything there, and also because Elizabeth is being mean to him, so he deserves something nice. Liz sees them smooching and kisses Todd in retaliation. Gin-Yung sees that, and runs off. She encounters Noah, who’s lost Alex to Leonardo, and the two of them decide to hang out. So at this point, half the couples who came on the cruise together are with someone else.
Isabella and Danny argue about the second Tom/Nicole kiss – literally everyone knows about the two kisses except Jason. Isabella still doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Danny wants to tell Jason, who happens to show up just as they’re talking about him. He thinks Nicole is acting weird because she has cold feet about the wedding. So what better solution than to speed things up and get married tonight? Danny panics and tells him that the ring is gone. Why, it must have been stolen!
Jessica is desperate to find the mystery man who saved her when she fell overboard, but she’s going about it in a very weird way. She still has his button, so she pulls a kind of Cinderella by breaking into people’s rooms and trying to find the shirt it goes with. So okay, it’s a Cinderella if Prince Charming were a criminal.
A steward catches her in the middle of a search and offers to keep quiet for a bribe, but Jessica’s too dumb to understand that she can just pay him off. During a dance that night (because of course there’s a dance), the ship’s captain finds Jessica and demands Jason’s ring. He knows from the steward that Jess has been breaking into people’s rooms, and since the ring was reported stolen, Jessica must have taken it. Oops!
Remember how the last book ended with a cliffhanger, with someone arriving in a helicopter and Lila thinking it was Tisiano? It wasn’t. It was his brother, Leonardo. He thinks Lila’s being disrespectful to Tisiano’s memory by going on a cruise so soon after his death. (Fair enough.) Lila decides he’s right and she needs to end things with Bruce. They start spending time apart, but then there’s some weirdness with a glass fish they both want to buy. He buys it and gives it to her, saying it’s like a pre-engagement present, but she tells him she can’t be with him.
In case you care about Alex (doubtful), she and Noah are starting to realize that they might not be as compatible as they thought. She’s still very concerned about being seen as her high school self, and he’s concerned that she’s a narcissist. While they’re on the outs, Alex meets Leonardo and they hit it off. He’s a real smooth talker. He happens to have a modeling agency, and he thinks she could do well in Milan. Um…what? Suddenly Alex has a new life goal.
Hateful Bryan is stuck on an island, but the good news is it’s the same place where Denise and Winston are stuck. They decide that they can take a boat to Juma, then wait for the cruise ship to make a stop there. But Bryan is a wimp and won’t get in a small boat. Juma has an airport, so Winston and Denise agree to take a boat there, then…send a helicopter for Bryan? Because that’s reasonable? Anyway, while they’re on their way to Juma, Bryan gets pickpocketed. He’s stuck in a foreign country with no money. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
Bryan meets a guy named Jean who works as a fisherman while preparing to apply to college in Miami. Jean agrees to help Bryan learn to swim if Bryan will help him fish and write his college application essay. In addition, Bryan gets a place to stay and free food. Unfortunately, he may have to stay there forever, because Winston and Denise are on the wrong island. There’s no airport, and the ship isn’t going to be making a stop there. Denise and Winston eventually take another boat to the right island, but the engine dies. Then Winston drops his paddle in the water. Winston, you had one job.
Rich is still into Nina, who realizes that he’s a horrible bore. She’d rather be with Bryan. Let that sink in. She’d rather be with Bryan.
Thoughts: “The only adults in sight were gorgeously weathered Captain Avedon and his uniformed crew.” First of all, “gorgeously weathered”? Second of all, college students are adults. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.
“She dreamed of the day when Tom would pick up his morning paper and see that she’d won the Nobel Prize – on that day he’d finally understand the magnitude of his mistake. ‘Elizabeth,’ he would whisper as Nicole or her successor looked on through a mist of tears.” I assume she would be getting this Nobel Prize in the field of drama queenery?
“Do you know it’s impossible to say ‘toy boat’ five times fast without getting tongue-tied? Go ahead, try it.” Guys, Winston is my dad.
The ship shows the movie A Night to Remember, which is about the Titanic. Holy crap!
The ship also has a mini-golf course, but wouldn’t that be difficult? Wouldn’t your ball roll all over the place if the water were choppy?
A snorkeling guide has the motto “We’ll teach you how to snorkel even if you’re a New York’l.” I’m embarrassed that I laughed at that.
February 11, 2014
Summary: In He’s Watching You, Elizabeth learned that William had left all of his money to her. At the beginning of College Cruise, she’s decided not to accept it. The money comes from a psychopath who almost killed her, and she doesn’t feel right taking it. Fair enough. Also, Elizabeth has been thinking a lot about ethical issues lately. Danny’s taking a class about ethics and has gotten everyone into playing a game called Scruples, where you talk about ethical dilemmas. (These people are so boring.) Basically, it establishes that Danny is super-ethical, but the rest of the group is a little looser with what’s wrong and what’s right.
Anyway, spring break is approaching, but no one has any solidified plans yet. Some of the couples want to spend it together, and in Noah’s case, he’s worried that Alex will go home to Sweet Valley and hook up with some hunk who was in love with her in high school. Little does Noah know that no one like that exists. Nina wants to spend the break with Bryan, but he’s in manifesto-writing mode for the BSU. (Spoiler alert: Bryan is super-annoying in this book, and I kept hoping he would get eaten by a shark. Second spoiler alert: He doesn’t.)
Danny learns that his high school best friend, Jason, is getting married…really soon…to someone Danny’s never even met. Clearly Danny and Jason are really close. The wedding will be on a cruise ship, the SS Homecoming Queen, on a trip only for college students. I bet the crew on that cruise hates every minute of it. Danny’s invited to be Jason’s best man, but Danny doesn’t have the money for the cruise. This is why destination weddings are a bad idea for 19-year-olds.
Elizabeth accepts the money from William’s will after all, but makes a bunch of charitable donations, which is nice of her. Then she gets the idea to share the rest with her friends in some big, splashy way. She and Bruce both end up at a travel agency; he wants to take Lila on a trip to get her mind off of her dead husband. Elizabeth sees an ad for the cruise on the SS Homecoming Queen, which seems like a great idea to her. She invites all her friends over – Jessica, Tom, Danny, Isabella, Alex, Noah, Winston, Denise, Nina, Bryan, and Todd – and tells them she’s paying for them all to go on the cruise over spring break. Everyone’s in (though Bryan will have to miss some BSU thing).
Arrangements are quickly made, and Elizabeth puts together rooming assignments. But things at the travel agency get screwed up and she’s summoned at the last minute to redo them. She has a class so she sends Tom instead. He’s thinking that the cruise might be the right time for him and Elizabeth to finally get intimate, so he puts them in a room together.
Everyone heads to Miami to get on the ship for the Caribbean. Elizabeth discovers her rooming assignment and she’s not happy. She reasonably tells Tom that when she’s ready to have sex, she’ll let him know. To his credit, he shuts up and redoes the assignments. But he does start to realize that Elizabeth makes a lot of decisions for them. This becomes a theme in the book.
The group finally meets Danny’s friend Jason and his fiancée Nicole. It turns out that Tom already knows Nicole – they went out the summer between high school and college. She met Jason and ditched Tom without any explanation. The two of them decide not to tell anyone that they know each other, since they’ve already acted like they just met, and it’s too late to come clean. Why did they pretend not to know each other at all? This is dumb. It’s all a setup for Elizabeth and Tom to have problems.
See, Jessica’s feeling down because her marriage failed and her last boyfriend turned out to be a rapist. So Elizabeth feels like she needs to spend a lot of time with her, which means no alone time for her and Tom. So Tom ends up spending time with Nicole instead. Jason’s off with all his buddies, not paying attention to what Nicole’s doing.
Tom and Nicole almost kiss, but get interrupted. Then Tom and Elizabeth make up. But later, they have another fight, and Tom calls Elizabeth a control freak. He tells her no one’s having fun and it’s her fault. He ends up alone with Nicole again, and this time they do kiss. But who’s watching? Elizabeth and Danny. Dun dun DUN!
Jessica’s mystery admirer is still on the canvas – in fact, he’s followed the group on the cruise. She should definitely find this creepy, but since he’s sending her flowers and stuff, she doesn’t. She manages to fall overboard (that’s our Jess) and is rescued by an unknown man, who she figures is her admirer. All she has to go on is a button she pulled from his coat.
Bryan’s vacation doesn’t get off to a good start. Winston accidentally bumps him into the water and he has to be rescued (Bryan can’t swim). The ship’s doctor, Rich, flirts with Nina while tending to Bryan. Winston worries that Bryan will get revenge, but Denise says he won’t get violent since Nina won’t let him. (Heh.) Later, Winston accidentally hits Bryan in the head with a shuffleboard disk. Then he throws up on Bryan. I laugh and laugh because Bryan won’t stop complaining about how cruises are for upper-class people, and how everything is about race, and how he doesn’t want to and doesn’t know how to do any of the activities Nina wants to do. DUMP HIM, NINA. DO IT NOW.
It comes to a boiling point when Bryan sits on Winston’s hat, which is decorated with old, rusty fishhooks. When he goes looking for Rich, he finds him flirting with Nina again. Bryan decides he’s done with the cruise and is going home. Yay! We all win! I only wish Danny had said something to him about all his “black men don’t do __” stuff. In fact, sometimes I forget that Danny’s black because he doesn’t remind us every two pages. I mean, he stops a pickpocketer in St. Lucia and doesn’t say, “You don’t have to call me a hero. Black men don’t like labels like ‘hero,'” or, “This is all indicative of your culture and your class warfare and racism and 25 other hot-button words I use to make myself look oppressed.”
Todd is having a rough time. He’s thinking about leaving school since he has no friends and can’t play basketball until next year. Also, Elizabeth is with another guy, but I’m sure that has nothing to do with Todd’s decision. He’s been emotional lately, and going on a cruise as a single guy surrounded by couples and people hooking up doesn’t help.
But things are about to start looking up for our violent friend. There are a number of SVU students on the ship, and one of them, a girl named Gin-Yung Suh, recognizes him from the basketball team. She’s a sportswriter for SVU’s paper and has been following Todd’s career (or lack of one, since his suspension). The two of them immediately click. No more mopey Todd!
Even though they’re barely mentioned in the middle section of the book, Bruce and Lila are also on the cruise. They’re being all sweet and couply with each other, though Lila’s still struggling to move past her grief over Tisiano. Just as she realizes that she and Bruce are more compatible than she and Tisiano were, a helicopter arrives on the ship (…wait, what?) and out pops Tisiano. Wait, WHAT?
In doofus news, Winston and Denise miss the boat back to the ship and are stranded in St. Lucia. Womp-womp.
Thoughts: Hearing Noah describe Alex as “colorful” is weird.
“Sometimes Bryan went days without complimenting her. And she was a very good-looking girl.” I think the ghostwriter has confused Nina with Jessica. I don’t see Nina as the type to demand postive comments about her appearance.
Bryan: “Exercise is an elitist preoccupation.” Well, then enjoy being 400 pounds.
Woman at the travel agency to Tom: “Do you know how to use a mouse?” HA. I think pretty much everyone knew how to use a mouse by 1995.
“You must have studied swimming for many years.” How, exactly, does one study swimming?
Gin-Yung is into sports because her grandfather learned English by reading the sports pages, then read them to her when she was growing up. I love that.
Winston eats four lobsters in one sitting. NOT POSSIBLE.
December 28, 2013
Summary: It’s time for spring break, and Sarah’s headed to Vail with her parents. Bailey’s bummed to be left behind in San Francisco with nothing to do. Julia and Griffin leave their spring-break destination up to chance, randomly picking Carson City, Nevada on a map. Grace and Charlie are supposed to do a TV news spot about her campaign, but she’s not feeling well, so she leaves him to field questions, as her “campaign manager.”
Ross has jury duty during spring break, which means he can’t go to L.A. with Claudia for an elite performance. Charlie also can’t go, and Julia’s already taken off. Claudia remembers that Joe and Franny live in L.A., so she suggests that she stay with them. Bailey pops up, and since he doesn’t have anything else to do, he offers to go with Claudia. He promises that Charlie can trust him since he has so much to prove right now. Meanwhile, Julia and Griffin have motorcycle trouble in Nevada.
Charlie thinks Grace has the flu, but the combination of a late period and three mornings of feeling sick make her think it’s something very different. On their flight to L.A., Bailey struggles not to order a drink. When they arrive, Claudia jumps right into rehearsals; she’s a featured soloist with a chamber orchestra. Bailey’s boredom and simple presence annoy Claudia, so she tells him to go sightsee.
Julia and Griffin return to San Francisco to get the motorcycle fixed, thinking that would be faster than doing it in the small town where they broke down. Unfortunately, the shop where they take the bike is days away from closing up. Julia’s eager to get back on the road, while Griffin enjoys talking bikes with the shop owner. In L.A., Bailey tries to call Sarah to keep himself distracted, but she’s out actually doing stuff, like he should be.
He also can’t reach Charlie, who’s with Grace at a doctor’s office to see if she’s pregnant. (The home test she took was inconclusive.) Charlie wants to think ahead in case there’s going to be a baby, but Grace can only focus on what it would mean for her potential political career. Having an abortion or being a single mother would lose her voters. Charlie suggests that they get married, which is apparently his solution for everything. Grace is too stunned to respond.
Bailey is late picking Claudia up for dinner, so she’s left alone at the auditorium. Julia’s still excited about the motorcycle trip, and tells Griffin it was fate that they had to turn back because otherwise they would have gotten caught in a huge rainstorm. Griffin thinks it’s also fate that they went to the bike shop because he wants to buy it. Joe and Franny show up at Bailey’s hotel room, where he’s clearly drunk. He finally realizes that he forgot to get Claudia, but Joe’s not going to let him go anywhere. Bailey asks him not to tell Claudia that he fell off the wagon.
Joe and Franny retrieve Claudia for dinner and an overnight at their house. She quickly gets suspicious and figures out that Bailey drank. Julia reads up on running a business, mostly to make Griffin realize how bad he would be at it. (Julia, however, seems to understand all of it.) Grace is thrilled not to be pregnant, and Charlie should be, too, because now he isn’t tied to that horrible woman for 18 years.
Claudia has the hotel room cleared of alcohol and ensures that the minibar won’t be restocked while they’re there. She wants to skip the reception for her performance since there will be alcohol. Bailey says he’ll drop her off and leave, but Claudia notes that he can just go somewhere else to get drunk. He tells her that people slip up all the time; at least he’s admitting it. He’s spent the past two weeks wanting to drink to make things better, but now he knows that won’t happen. Maybe he needed to slip up to really get sober.
Julia wants to go somewhere else for what’s left of spring break, so she’s going to head off on her own. Griffin’s too busy with his new shop to care. She gets mad that his taking on a new project ruins their plans to…I don’t know, spend the next year slacking off together? Griffin notes that she’s always pushing him to want more than just her, and now he does. Charlie finally gets around to asking what he should have when he and Grace first got serious: Does she want kids? She doesn’t.
Claudia’s performance goes great, but afterward she goes back to glaring at Bailey. She wants to go back to the time when he worried about her instead of the other way around. The performance was a huge deal to her, and it made her feel alone. She knows she can’t rely on Bailey anymore. He basically tells her that she can’t change what’s happening, and she needs to grow up and maybe help him out for once.
Instead of going off on a solo road trip, Julia ends up at the restaurant, moping. She asks Charlie if he thinks she’s selfish, since she’s upset about the bike shop ruining her and Griffin’s plans. She thought they wanted the same things, but now he wants something else. Charlie advises her to decide what she wants more: Griffin or the things she planned on. If it’s something they can work out, then they should work it out. Nice advice, Charlie – now take it yourself.
Claudia and Joe return to the hotel after a day out together, discussing Walter Alcott and Bailey’s ditching of AA. Joe tells Bailey that he thought he would die young and alone, but he wound up finding Franny. He thinks God was looking out for him. Bailey needs to find something to believe in other than himself. Bailey disagrees, saying that no one’s looking out for people. Joe says someone was looking out for him, and also for Nick when he got sober. Bailey won’t accept that it was God.
Joe continues that part of Nick is in Bailey, which has to mean something. He went to the intervention and revealed that Nick was an alcoholic because he wanted to give Bailey hope. Nick stopped drinking, so Bailey can, too. Claudia agrees that Bailey might have inherited the good parts of Nick on top of his alcoholism. Bailey wonders what this has to do with God. Joe says again that part of Nick is inside Bailey; he didn’t disappear. That means someone’s looking out for them. Bailey can feel his father anytime he struggles to stay sober. He’s not alone.
Julia goes back to the bike shop, telling Griffin she didn’t want to go on the trip without him. She admits that she’s frustrated because she feels like the only one who doesn’t know what she wants. On their way home from the airport, Bailey and Claudia’s cab pauses outside an AA meeting place. Bailey decides to attend, and Claudia tells him she’ll wait up for him.
Thoughts: ’90s music alert: “Every Day is a Winding Road” by Sheryl Crow. Very appropriate for the scene where Julia and Griffin pick their road-trip destination.
Ross probably could have gotten out of jury duty. Some judges will let you go if you have a vacation planned and have already bought plane tickets, especially if Ross was the only person who could have gone with Claudia.
Griffin, if the bike shop was doing so much business, why was it closing? And why was it worth only $10,000?
I appreciate seeing a woman on TV who doesn’t want kids, since that’s pretty rare, but why did it have to be someone so annoying?