Finally, the war in a fictitious Southern Californian public school district comes to its inevitable conclusion -- with a good old-fashioned rumble. Before we go any further, some backstory for those who might have not read the first two recaps:
Sweet Valley hates Big Mesa. Big Mesa hates Sweet Valley. Todd Wilkins hates Christian Gorman. Christian Gorman loves Jessica Wakefield. Elizabeth Wakefield claims to love Devon Whitelaw, but really loves Todd Wilkins. Devon Whitelaw hates Todd Wilkins. Devon Whitelaw also hates Christian Gorman. Devon Whitelaw hates everybody, basically. And hellobrisvegas loves loves loves these freakin' episodes.
Also, at some point in the episodes preceding this, Todd yelled. At nobody in particular. I like to think he yelled at life, just to show it he could.
Today's episode begins the day after the last one finished. Elizabeth stops by Todd's locker and asks him how the meeting with Big Mesa went. He lies and says it went fine, and everyone came to a nice little agreement on the whole high school war thing. Wait, wouldn't Liz suspect something, seeing as how none of the guys showed up to her peace party? She decides that Todd's acting completely un-shady, and she'll accept his word at face value. I feel like that's the denial finally taking over.
Some random guy we have never seen before and will never see again (read: not Nameless Jock or Brad Pitt) comes up to Todd and starts yelling excitedly about the upcoming fight. Todd shushes him, hilariously.
Everything Todd does these days is hilarious.
Todd tells the guy that if the girls find out about the fight they organised, it'll ruin their plan. Because chicks can't help but get their gooey, mushy feelings all over everything. They also can't hold their smoke, as I learned from The Breakfast Club. Anyway. In case you didn't hear him in the last episode, or the ten-second 'previously' snippet at the start of this episode, Todd reminds us that the fight is scheduled for "Saturday. Jackson's Wharf. Midnight." Exact same delivery and everything.
At the Wakefield house, Liz is in the kitchen, pouring a glass of water by lamplight. I don't know why there's a lamp on the kitchen counter, right next to the sink. It seems like a very impractical place for a lamp to be, but it's there and it bothers me.
And now it bothers you.
Anyway, there's a knock on the door, and guess who it is? It's creepy stalker Devon Whitelaw. Of course it is. Devon apologises for grabbing Liz's arm the other night, and tries to buy her love with jewellery, which, scoff. Scoff, I say! It's like he thinks he's dating Jessica or something! After Devon's gone, Liz opens the box to reveal the world's tackiest-looking necklace, and yes, I'm including the Heart of the Ocean in that statement.
Billy Zane's 'forgive my abusiveness' offering was at least shaped like a heart, not a dick.
At the Moon Beach, Manny and Winston are talking about how much they can't wait to kill those damn Big Mesans. Only they can wait. Because they don't want to at all. I'm pretty sure Chickenshit Squared over here is supposed to be our comedic storyline, and I am disappoint. There should not be a comedic storyline in this episode. There should be manly fighting, and rumbles, and Toddpunches, and pool pushes, and boyfriend deaths. And that's it. That's all I want. Anyhoo, back to the episode.
Enid rocks up, calls Manny "nummy cakes," and then watches as everyone within earshot throws up their Megaburgers. Apparently Liz told her that the Sweet Valley and Big Mesa boys sorted out their differences like grown-ups, and now Enid's booty embargo is ovah. She actually calls it, "cleaning out my hairbrushes," but come on. Like you've never heard that euphemism before, fellas.
Winston clearly has.
Fans of the original book miniseries, get ready. Jessica and Christian are at the beach -- SURFING. He's teaching her how to SURF. The continuity gods have heard my prayers, and they're answering them, dammit. At this rate, we might even get the fashioning-makeshift-swords-out-of-planks-of-wood thing, but I don't know how many random two-by-fours they'd have on a wharf. (On Saturday. At midnight.) Christian comments that the surf here is awesome, way better than Delaware. Well yeah, I probably could've told you that, Gorman, and I've never been to Sweet Valley or Delaware. The two of them talk about him missing his Delaware friends and his Delaware dad, and I honestly don't believe that this could be anything but foreshadowing. I'm willing to take bets that Christian'll end up in Delaware instead of his proper resting place, at the bottom of Bruce Patman's pool.
Surf your way outta that, Gorman.
That night, Jessica practically floats into Liz's room and talks about all the fun surfing adventures she and Christian had. Then she finds Devon's crappy phallic apology necklace, and her reaction? "This is supposed to make you forget that he tried to break your arm?" Yes, it's Jessica Wakefield, today's voice of reason, looking at guilt jewellery and not creaming her panties over it. Meanwhile Liz, in the next five seconds, uses the phrases "he didn't try to break my arm" and "you just don't know him like I do" and "maybe he can change." Oh, poor battered Liz. This is just getting sad now. I'd be slightly sadder if the dialogue hadn't come straight from an after-school special, but what can you do? I'm not unconvinced that this show isn't using the old 'thousand moneys with a thousand typewriters' approach to screenwriting.
"If it's not at least 10 carats, he isn't really sorry."
Aww, we're back at school. Disappointing. I just want it to be Saturday. Jackson's Wharf. Midnight. already! Winston and Manny approach the jocks with big fake casts on their arm to try and get out of the fight. Todd takes one look at them and how does he react? With anger and a loud, "What happened to you guys?!" Just like you knew he would.
I know this is how I react when my friends injure themselves.
Then Todd relents and says that if Winston and Manny are hurt, maybe they shouldn't fight. Yeah, maybe. He'll have to think it over, though. Just then, he sees the Return To Drama Department stickers the boys have conveniently left on their casts, and tells them to stop being such spacklers and get themselves to Jackson's Wharf. Saturday. Midnight.
Enid comes by, overhears the 'Saturday night' bit and says to Manny, "You're blowing me off to be with Todd? Manny, that's not just upsetting -- it's weird." Haha. Someone alert Winston.
That night, Liz goes to the Moon Beach to give Devon back his plastic necklace and break up with him. Predictably, he's not too happy about that. He actually says, "When you blew me off in front of the school the other day, I guess I overreacted. That's why I grabbed your arm." A likely story, Devon, except that you grabbed her arm like a day after that happened. Liz wants to believe him, but that's a terrifically shitty excuse, and not even Doormat Liz can swallow it. Devon could probably still call this meeting a win, though, since Liz didn't actively throw that little white box at one of his eyeballs and say, "Thanks a mil for the gumball-machine dick necklace, you total shitsucker."
"Where are the pictures in this book? WHERE ARE THE PICTURES?"
Question: what's better than the recent inclusion of the Jess/Christian surfing subplot? I'll tell you what -- a music montage of the Jess/Christian surfing subplot. A music montage of the Jess/Christian surfing subplot that features a slow-motion snippet of them running along the beach. Hell. To the. Yes! They do other beach-related things too, like bike-riding and frisbee-ing and kissing. So, so much kissing. Kissing everywhere.
Get a room. No, get five rooms.
During yet another necking session in front of a bonfire, one of Christian's buddies from Big Mesa (the one who knocked over Winston's bowl last week) comes by and asks Christian, "You down for tonight?" in the most homoerotic way possible. Jessica, naturally, is confused about what this means. Christian stealthily attempts to get his comrade to STFU in front of his Sweet Valley lady by telling him that "we want to be alone," so his comrade decides to completely kill the mood by saying, "Sweet Valley's going down!" Wow, that's some cold, cold cockblocking there, my friend. Unless he's talking about the two of them and 'Sweet Valley' is what they call Jessica, in which case, he's probably not wrong there.
Enid comes by Casa Wakefield and says to Liz, "I think Manny is cheating on me," without adding, "with Todd." Even though that's totally what she's thinking. Enid cries and says that she just knows Manny's hiding something, and Liz pathetically attempts to make it all about her by saying that Todd's been acting weird too, even though Todd is not her boyfriend anymore. Heavens. Jessica comes home and tells the girls exactly what's going on -- the Sweet Valley/Big Mesa fight is still on, but oh, if only we knew where, when and what time!
Liz wonders why there'd be a rumble now that they have a truce. Liz, if you're so smart, how come you're so dumb? Jess explains that Devon picked a fight right before their truce was official, like the big jerky jerk he is. Wait, so...the jocks know that this is all Devon's fault, and that Devon's the only one who wants the rivalry, and they still fell for it? Liz must be bottling all of her excess dumb and selling it at school. She thinks now is the time to call the police (just as Book!Liz would have done!) but Jess makes the good point that Todd and Christian were arrested just the other day, so they're probably not jonesing to head back to the pokey. (Maybe Todd.)
Meanwhile, Manny and Winston are sitting in the Moon Beach, lamenting their choices. They can either go to Jackson's Wharf at midnight and get their asses kicked to kingdom come, or they can stay at the diner and be known as the Grand High Pussies of Sweet Valley for the rest of their lives. They agree to go and check it out, and I'm really only including this C-plot because I'm thorough. I'm not interested in your hijinks, Winston and Manny, not today. There's a rumble to be had!
As if to save me from these two, we finally get a rumble-related scene. Todd, the Sweet Valley jocks and Devon have all convened at Jackson's Wharf, so we know it must be midnight and also Saturday. By the way, this wharf looks remarkably like an abandoned warehouse, which leads me to believe that I don't actually know what a wharf is. I always thought it was like a pier, but maybe I'll Google it to be sure. Dammit, now I have homework!
Brad Pitt update: he's decided to don his letterman jacket again after an episode and a half of not wearing it. I like to think it was some sort of protest, only I'm not sure what he was protesting against. (Devon? I'm gonna say it was against Devon.)
Brad Pitt, seen here involuntarily turning away from the Dark Lord.
The Big Mesa guys finally show up at the wharf/wharehouse. (Wharfhouse?) Todd laughs and says that he thought they wouldn't show up, and Christian says, "We'd never miss a chance to trash a bunch of losers from Sweet Valley." He says it unnecessarily slowly, as well. Really, really slowly. And that's some crap trash-talk too, by the way. I think they should've introduced Greg 'Little Windbag' McMullen from the books, because that guy really knew how to fight with his words.
In all the excitement, Christian's M switches to the other side of his jacket.
The guy Devon put in hospital the other week tells him that he picked the wrong guy to mess with, and Devon pushes him backwards in response. The dude totally looks like he's about to crap his pants, and someone tells Devon to chill out. What the hell? It's as thought they're shocked that actual physical violence might take place in this midnight rumble. Devon's former victim responds by pulling a switchblade. Shit just got realsies.
Despite the fact that shit, indeed, just got realsies, we're treated to a Winston/Manny scene. Nooooooo! Anyway, the two of them are heading to the wharf/warehouse when Winston's car breaks down. They decide to rollerblade there instead. Teh comedy is overwhelming.
Back to the switchblade! Devon and Switchblade-Wielder are dancing around each other in the West Side Storiest fashion you've ever seen. Christian's just like, "Fuck this shit," and tackles Switchblade-Wielder. The guy on his own team. I'm just gonna put it out there that nobody should ever try and stop a man who wants to stab Devon Whitelaw, but hey, I'm clearly not one of those monkeys chained to a typewriter.
What happens next is so brilliant, so unexpected, I'm going to let this screencap speak for itself:
Devon Whitelaw, the single most awful person on Sweet Valley High television at the moment, just pulled out Continuity Nod of the Millennium by fashioning a makeshift sword out of a nearby plank of wood! My all-time favourite throwaway line of the entire book series, come to life before my very eyes. Devon, I love you. I hate you, but I love you.
Oh, and now the girls decide to rock up to spoil all our fun. Darn it! Liz comes up to Todd with the world's smarmiest look on her face and dares him to tell her what he's fighting for, because she knows that he has no idea. Come on Liz, using Todd's idiocy against him is just plain mean. Just plain mean. Liz gets the hell on her soapboax and preaches to the crowd that they'll only win tonight by walking away. And Toddles? Does. He walks away from the fight he started. Jeez, Wilkins. Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.
The look that quashed a hundred punches.
Jess tries to guilt-trip Christian the same way, but before she can, Devon looks at the makeshift sword in his hand, thinks, "Hey, I'm not using this," and decides to rectify that by smashing some random guy in the neck with it. Everyone starts fighting while the girls just stand there in the middle like morons. And you guys, this fight is terrible. They've used this weird stilted time-lapse visual effect to try and mask the fact that nobody's punches are actually connecting, and it's all kinds of nauseating.
Suddenly, a Big Mesa guy barrels straight into Jessica, and she falls to the floor, somehow unconscious. Oh noes! Since a Wakefield has been hurt, everybody sort-of stops their respective tussles and crowds around her. The only person who doesn't seem to care is Devon, and that's because he's too busy fighting someone for his makeshift sword.
Todd suggests they take Jess to the hospital, and so Christian picks her up and I guess carries her there on foot? That's certainly what it looks like. The rest of the guys take off too, except for Devon, who stands in the empty wharfhouse, clutching his makeshift sword and looking like the saddest person on earth. Despite the fact that her unconscious sister is on her way to hospital aboard the Christianbulance, Liz has time to hang back and give him a judgemental look.
Oh, and that's when Winston and Todd rollerblade in. This show has no concept of timing or mood whatsoever.
Back at school on Monday, Todd comes up to Liz and asks her how Jess is. He can't just ask Jess himself, you see, because their characters hate one another with absolutely no exceptions. Liz tells him that Jess had a concussion, and then changes the subject pretty quickly because nobody freakin' likes Jessica on this show. She tells him how proud she is that he walked away from the fight and he concedes, "It took me a while, but I finally realised you were right." You can actually see how much it pains poor Toddles to say that.
Todd Wilkins, clearly meaning what he says here.
There's another quick scene where Manny and Winston are all bruised and battered because they stacked it on their rollerblades at some point. They're regaling the ladies of Sweet Valley with some made-up bullshit about how their got their injuries in the big rumble, and then Enid salts Manny's game by ordering him to walk her to class. Winston is left with the groupies, which is ironic, as he's the least likely person to know what to do with them.
Jessica and Christian are at the beach, despite the fact that the fight is over, and why isn't Christian dead? This is not okay. You redeemed yourselves so, so much by including the makeshift sword thing, thousand monkeys with typewriters, but now you're back to letting me down. Christian tells Jessica that the meanie-pie principal of Big Mesa blamed him for the fight and expelled him, so now he's headed on back to Delaware. Which is super contrived, if you think about it. Brad Pitt initiated the fight, Devon confirmed it, Todd organised it, and then when he bitched out, Devon took the reins back and attacked a guy with a plank of wood. This is really everybody's fault but Christian's. He just kind of showed up places when asked to.
Jess reminds Christian that that's the least fair thing ever, but Christian's really not putting up too much of a fight. (Pun not intended, but appreciated in hindsight.) He tells her that he might maybe someday might come back possibly maybe, and they nuzzle on their beach blanket, unhappily. Aww. Although if he's leaving anyway, why not kill him off? Didn't we already head down this avenue with Sam Woodruff?
Pictured: unhappy nuzzling.
There are a lot of transitional shots of the beach that finish with Jessica reading a letter from Christian. It's one of those sappy 'I'll never forget you' letters that I'd like to think ended with the words, 'but I'll try to get over you by getting under as many Delaware honeys as I can.' And they all lived happily ever after...except for said Delaware honeys, who really ought to start running now.
Since that's kind-of a downer ending, I choose to leave you with a screencap from the fun surfing montage instead. It's from the scene where Jess and Christian appear behind their surfboards and give each other the most ridiculously cheesy sitcom grins I think I've ever seen.
"We need to decide if we want to be Bradys or Partridges, sweetie."