And we're back again with another delightful instalment of season three Sweet Valley fun. Since some braniac decided that these episodes wouldn't be as self-contained as the first two seasons, here's some catch-up: last week, Jessica met the bastardised TV version of AJ Morgan (played by Power Rangers star Jason David Frank) and discovered that she can't quite wrap him around her little finger like all the other men in Sweet Valley.
Before we get into it, I have something I'd like to share with you to get you into the Jason David Frank spirit. Here's an interview with him in his White Ranger days in one of my favourite childhood magazines, Disney Adventures -- the very same magazine that declares our favourite book series to be 'unkewl' in their coveted Ins & Outs section.(Please don't ask me where I find this stuff.) Super rude, Stonewall Middle School. Also worth noting, JDF mentions in that interview with (presumably) a straight face that he thinks that the Power Rangers movie should win an Oscar, despite the seemingly obvious handicap of it being the damn Power Rangers movie. Now, the original Ninja Turtles movie? That's a horse of a different colour.
Now to this week's episode. And you guys, this episode. How do I even begin to describe this insanely hilarious episode? Let's just say that Jessica becomes a doormat of Elizabeth proportions, Enid becomes a raging lunatic of Todd proportions, and Winston becomes a prankster of season one Bruce Patman proportions. We've got it all here tonight, folks.
We open at the Moon Beach, as per ushe. Winston leaves his "boss" Reggie in charge for about ten seconds while he goes into the back room to get something, which, conveniently, is just enough time for Reggie to fall for some kind of prank involving two guys in jumpsuits taking their payphone. And this being the early nineties, payphones weren't just useless time-warps like they are today. We needed them to return calls when people beeped us. Turns out that the Moon Beach's rival fast food joint we've never heard of before, Mesquite Pete's, has been Punk'ng Winston something fierce. Winston decides that this means war, and if I've learned anything about hospitality rivalries from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (and trust me, I have) it's that this is going to end in a lot of drinking and body paint.
"Fear not, sir. We're clearly professionals."
Lila and Jessica are hanging out at the Wakefield house, discussing Jessica's public humiliation at the hands of AJ last week. Lila's decided that it was so epic, she's going to turn it into a performance art piece involving an egg. (I'm pretty sure this whole egg thing is all just a set-up for a later joke, so just go with it for now.) You know, I thought it would be interesting having story arcs that didn't begin and end all in the one episode, but it's actually pretty irritating that I can no longer just skip the episodes I didn't like and come back to them later. Thankfully, this one's alright, so I shall continue.
AJ's band starts up their terrible rock music again, and Jessica goes over there to give them a piece of her mind. Before she can, she finds a package on her doorstep containing earplugs and a note from AJ saying, "These are for the next time I say something stupid." Wow, AJ. Just wow. Nothing says 'I'm sorry' like a note literally saying, "I'm never going to stop talking shit about you in front of my friends." Lila, too, is less than impressed, saying that earrings would've been far more romantic. Amen, sister-friend.
Common sense always comes from the girl holding an egg.
Jessica hurries right over to her neighbour's garage to thank AJ for giving her tiny bits of rubber to stick in her ears. Ahh, l'amour! AJ comes out in a green shirt and matching hat, which leads me to believe that he's forgotten which TV show he's supposed to be on and thinks he's still the Green Ranger. AJ tells Jess that it's good to see her and all, but he's kind-of practising with the band right now. She offers to stay and watch, but she's brutally rebuffed. Realising that nobody's going to pay any attention to her over here, she storms off in a huff back to her own house and the guest she rudely just left in the kitchen, holding an egg.
"Shit, wrong show. Hold on while I get changed."
Back at the Moon Beach, Reggie has decided to retaliate against Mesquite Pete's burger joint by sending him squid. Lots of squid. Winston's pretty impressed with the boy's Machiavellian scheme, right up until the moment Reggie starts bragging about how it only cost them two hundred dollars. Winston's like, "Wait, our prank is costing us money?" and has to walk away from Reggie before he does something he'll regret. (But I won't.) And may I say, this rivalry is so not the 'Flip! Flip! Flipadelphia!' fun times I had predicted it would be. For shame, Winston.
Oh look, Enid and Elizabeth have come to play. Contain your excitement. Enid's telling Liz about how she's in the middle of organising an ocean swim with sharks for the two of them, because apparently the theme for today's C-plot is 'When Good Girls Try To Be Badasses.' I can't believe Liz would deign to be seen in a C-plot, to be honest. I mean, Elizabeth Wakefield? Relegated to a minor storyline? Someone call Francine! Just then, some extras walk by, discussing tattoos, and Enid thinks that'll be even better than the swimming-with-sharks thing. Liz is uncharacteristically excited about this idea.
Cut straight to Liz and Enid inside a dark, dank tattoo parlour, trying to decide which tattoos they want. Liz wants whichever tattoo will hurt less, so Enid suggests a butterfly. Because everyone knows the butterfly tatts don't require needles. They're licked on by kittens. The burly biker guy next to them shows the girls his butterfly tattoo, and tells them that it hurt even more than the time he tried to jump Snake Canyon on his motorcycle and found out the hard way that there's cactus down there. Random Butterfly Biker, it needs to be said, is truly hilarious to me. I'm not entirely sure why. It must just be the fact that he has an arm full of tatts, and at the very bottom, a freakin' butterfly that was a real owie.
I love everything about this moment.
(Segue: I've been watching an unhealthy amount of Sons of Anarchy of late, and I've decided that a motorcycle club is probably the only place our dear Todd Wilkins can truly live with his crippling rage addiction without it impacting society like it would if he worked at, say, a post office. Just a suggestion, Francine. In case there's a Sweet Valley Confidential 2 in the works and you need to boost sales in the outlaw biker demographic.)
(Segue 2: Sometimes, when I'm at a bookstore, I'll sneak a copy of Sweet Valley Confidential onto the bestsellers shelf. Doing my part, people. Doing my part.)
Winston, meanwhile, is at the Moon Beach, waiting on his zero customers. Some guy comes in and tells him that Mesquite Pete's has this new squid burger that people are absolutely jonesing for, but he's allergic, so I guess it's the sucky ol' Moon Beach for him. He tries to sit down on a stool, but it falls apart. Just another gross-negligence-causing-injury-claim, brought to you by our friends as Mesquite Pete's. Winston is less than amused that 100% of his customers this hour have fallen off shonky stools thanks to the prank war.
At the Wakefield house, Jessica is angrily chopping celery while cursing the day AJ Morgan's parents got drunk off wine coolers in the back of Mr. Morgan's panel van and conceived the little bastard. Lila's all, "Why is he still getting to you?" and Jessica concedes that there's something about him, probably not his hair or fashion sense or general appearance, that's really gotten under her skin. AJ comes around, tells her that the band has a five-minute break, then suggests that they do something. A quickie, most likely. Jessica tells him that he can't just treat her like some groupie skank whenever he has a couple of minutes' worth of time without the band and slams the door in her face. I almost hate to say it, but good for Jessica. You're such a dick, TV!AJ. And when I add the "TV!" prefix, your name has too many capital letters.
Plus, you're dressed like you just broke out of Barwon prison.
As Jessica's slamming the door in AJ's face, Lila's practically doing a cheer. She's so happy with the way her friend stood up for herself, but alas, Jessica is not quite as thrilled. She feels downright low, because, and I quote, "What if he's The One?" Jessica, my darling, I can almost guarantee that he's not. Never mind that you've spent a combined total of three minutes with the guy and in that time, he's treated you like shit every chance he can get. Leave him be, girlfriend.
You'll never believe this, but Elizabeth and Enid? Got the tattoos. Sure, they look like the Crayola-ings of a drunk three-year-old, and I'm not entirely convinced that they won't be revealed as fakies by the end of the episode, but at least they're trying. Plus, the butterfly biker invited them to a rockin' hardcore party of the bad side of town, which I think is where Betsy Martin lived? Anyway, Liz is worried that they'll get gang-raped or murdered or something, but quickly changes her mind because they're badasses, goddamnit! Badasses don't care if parties start at eleven PM! Enid's like, "Hells yeah!" before realising that her tattoo's rubbing off. Wow. It took all of thirty-eight seconds to peel back the velvet curtain on the whole tattoo thing. Somehow the fake tatts make these crazy kids even more endearing to me, though. Best. Liz. Subplot. Ever.
I've seen more hardcore Barbie dolls.
Winston and Reggie, meanwhile, are stealing the inflatable waitress that lives outside Mesquite Pete's restaurant, only they can't fit it through the doorway of the Moon Beach. This leads to an awkward close-up of the mascot while Winston and Reggie are making panting noises while Winnie's saying, "Come on, Shred, push harder! Push!" I guess they think that this blow-up madam is just like the ones they can't afford at the Pleasure Chest. Reggie gets stuck in the doorway for like a second, and tells Winston that his life totally flashed before his eyes, and "I've had a good life." No you have not, you hideous waste of oxygen. The two of them stand back and take a look at their handiwork -- a giant, ugly inflatable restaurant mascot squished in the doorframe -- and Winston decides that there's only one thing to do. He grabs something pointy and shivs that bitch. Why does it not surprise me that Winston's seen a lot of Oz?
I probably should've mentioned the commando getup earlier, huh?
Meanwhile, Jessica is resting on her bed in full Disney princess sleepy-time mode -- perfectly made-up, not at all tired or tousled, and dressed in a ridiculous satin gown. Yuh-huh. When I go to bed and I'm wearing matching socks, I consider that a fancy night in, but okay. It's a good thing she's looking so refreshed, considering that lovah-boy AJ is outside, throwing rocks at the window. She goes downstairs to confront him, and he just stands there with some flowers he's most likely picked from her garden and invites her to a party. At first Jessica tells him where to go, but then relents and agrees to come to the party. Jessica, wake up and smell the booty call. You are fast becoming the guy's bitch.
Way to bring the helpless, Princess Peach.
Elizabeth, meanwhile, is taking a power nap before her big party. Enid throws rocks at her window to wake her up, and if I was a lesser person, I'd totally make something lesbionic out of that, but I'm not and I won't. Also, Wakefield parents? You should really lay off the Ambien. Liz comes downstairs and tells Enid that she's really not sure about this party, even though she's already dressed up for it. Enid quotes Thelma and Louise some more and tells Liz to stop being such a pussy and remember that the word of the day is 'badass'. Which, admittedly, isn't an easy thing to be when you're dressed like children's television show presenters.
To gay out or not to gay out?
At the Moon Beach, Mesquite Pete himself stumbles upon the deflated, lifeless remains of Rosie the waitress. He is clearly distressed, and I'm starting to think that Winston and Reggie aren't the only ones who've tried something funny on her. Winston is terrified that he will be the next to die, but Mesquite Pete declares that there's been enough blood (nay, helium) shed in this prank war, and calls a truce. He even gives them their payphone back. Mesquite Pete's employees remove Rosie's corpse while he and Winston awkwardly hug it out. This plotline (and the tattooed biker) actually reminds me a little of the A Kiss Before Dying book, only instead of Christian Gorman's ultimate pool-push death, it's up to poor old Rosie to show these two foes that it shouldn't take tragic, senseless violence to mend bridges and forgive one another their trespasses. That's a message we can all get behind.
Enid and Elizabeth arrive at the party in the Jeep, and Enid...oh, Enid. There's no nice way to say this. Enid is either back on the Mary Jane or has recently contracted some sort of contagious ADHD. She's running around, giggling like an absolute maniac. Oh, and she doesn't put the handbrake on and the Jeep goes rolling down the hill, because "it's more fun that way." Because who doesn't love a little automotive accident during their night on the town? Even the Sons of Anarchy have more vehicular respect.
Jessica and AJ arrive at the party in matching beanies, which means that not only is Jess passively putting up with this guy's crap, she's also attempting to change for him. Jessica makes an ass of herself right off the bat by mistaking the bartender for a performance artist. Oh, and remember how I said there'd be a callback to Lila's egg-heavy performance art piece? That was it. The bartender was making mango egg-whips. I'm sorry if you blinked and missed it.
Jessica, once again showing an uncalled-for amount of midriff.
AJ sits Jess down and tells her why he's been acting like such a Todd lately -- the band only has a year to make it, and "I don't have much time left." You would think he's dying, the way he's going on, but no. His father's making him give up his lifelong dream of being a penniless loser in order and get himself a job and, like, a future or whatever with the Morgan family business. Terrible parenting, I know. Jessica's like, "You poor thing!" and the AJ randomly leaves her to go jam with the band. It's not even his band. It's just a band. Whatever. I hate this bum.
Also, I realised that I've used up all my allotted segues for the recap, but I have to mention that I think this is a disgusting message. Truly. The so-called 'strong-willed' character who generally has no problems being the alpha female of the piece is perfectly fine with a guy telling her that she'll never be as important to him as his terrible music. That's not some conclusion I've just jumped to, either -- those were his actual words. Why do this to AJ, scriptwriters? He was so damn nice in the books.
Liz and Enid are back in the Jeep, so I guess they managed to catch up to it before it plowed ass-first into someone's shop-front. Nice work, ladies. Two AJ clones adorned in varying degrees of beard and long greasy hair pull up to them, and Liz wisely tells Enid not to look at them. Enid nods and takes this sound advice. Ha ha, no she doesn't. She stares them down and says, "Hey, don't mess with me, man!" despite the fact that they weren't even close to doing anything one would describe as 'messing' with her. They tell her to go back to her little house on the prairie, which I guess are fighting words in this white-bread town, because Enid goes nutso and challenges them to a drag race. Enid, dude, put down the peace pipe. None of what you're doing is necessary.
Like you wouldn't laugh at Enid's hat, given the opportunity.
(Of course, while the guys speed away, the Jeep doesn't move an inch. Because Elizabeth is driving, yo. Even when Liz is being a badass, there's not way she's getting into a chickie run with some random hoodlums. Who is she, Rick Andover?)
After his set with the band, AJ goes to find Jessica again. Guess he has some spare minutes for lovin'. Jessica proclaims that he's the best thing to happen to music and that he can't -- just can't! -- give up his dream for a stable job. It's simply not rock 'n' roll. Jessica asks him to dance, and I think maybe AJ heard 'go to second base', because his hands go straight to the ties holding her shirt in place. Blergh. AJ admits that he's surprised that Jess is still here putting up with his music-before-love bullshit, and she's like, "Duh, what else would I have done?" Hmm, how about you leave that effing party with an ounce or two of respect, Jessica? Good gravy, girl.
"It's not a bikini, but I bet I can still Patman this bitch off. While the mannequin watches."
Elizabeth and Enid finally arrive at the party looking like absolute morons. Seriously. Enid's dressed as a scarecrow tourist, and Liz looks like she got lost on the way to an Austin Powers porno audition. They're just about to get their groove on (read: blowing bubbles and admiring the glitter on the floor) when the cops bust the fuck in there and shut that mother down. 'Cause come on, people. In Sweet Valley, a party like this might as well be midnight at Chateau Marmont. My guess is that Molly Hecht is unconscious in a corner, face-down in a line of blow.
Full disclosure: I rewound their ridiculous dance like eleven times.
Anyway, Enid decides that she has not yet filled her crazy quota for the episode, so she stands on a table and tells the partygoers that they have to fight for their right to party. The cop tells her to cool her jets, then threatens to arrest her and Liz for, um, backtalk, I guess. Liz drags Enid the hell out of there, while the cop busies himself arresting a fairy.
Back in the trusty Jeep, Enid hasn't quite come down from her high yet, and suggests they go shoot bottle rockets someplace. Elizabeth goes on a spiel about how, sure, tonight was super-dooper fun, but they can't be badasses all the time because otherwise it wouldn't be different and exciting. Enid, meanwhile, falls fast asleep. Or passes out. Whichever you think is more plausible. And if I learned anything from Hunter S. Thompson, Enid, it's that you're going to have quite the hangover tomorrow from all that ether you've chugged tonight.
At the Wakefield house, Jessica walks into Liz's room and says, "Did you ever have one of those magical nights that you know you'll never forget?" and Liz dreamily says, "Yeah." Um, Wakefields? Were you watching a different episode than me? Both your nights sucked. Elizabeth ran after her car, was taunted by thugs, and partied hearty for literally fifteen seconds, all while having to put up with Enid's bullshit. Jessica, on the other hand, went to a party she didn't want to be at and sat there while the guy she was there with joined some random band and told her that she will never be as important to him as his music, so don't even bother. If these are the highlights of your lives, Sweet Valleyans, move.
Now hair-brushing -- that's a Liz-approved Saturday night activity.
Oh, and then there's a closing scene in the Moon Beach where Winston is telling the girls about his tense standoff with Mesquite Pete while the two payphone-pilferers steal his milkshake maker. Hi-larious.
So what did we think of this particular episode, 1bruce1-ers? Personally, I found it to be pretty damn entertaining once it got going. There was no Liz relationship drama, no annoying Cheryl and puh-lenty of instances where Enid embarrassed herself publicly, which I feel is something we can all get into.