I think California style means ‘inadvertant’.
Bruce is pissed that he just threw a tennis tournament, thus earning himself the nickname ‘Mack the Hack’. WTF? That nickname makes no sense to me. Maybe if his name was Bruce McPatman...I digress. He did this on Lila’s instruction (because she wanted access to the Verona Springs Country Club VIP circle) and then afterwards was hustled by Paul. Kung-fu hustled? That would be entertaining. But I think it’s just something else to do with tennis - yawn. I’m a little unpleasantly surprised that Lila feels she needs to brown-nose a girl with a name like Bunny. Should her demand to be a VIP member not be immediately granted because lest-we-forget she is LILA FOWLER?! Bruce does point this out but resigns himself to helping her “because on Planet Lila, that was just the way things were. If Lila wanted it, it was Bruce’s job to see she got it.” They make out, and Bruce internally resolves to stand up to Lila some day.
We’re in Elizabeth’s head. She recounts that, though she ‘didn’t appreciate being assigned squishy society stories’ such as the Verona Springs tennis tournament, she is now full of glee because someone has died. The SV police haven’t confirmed it was murder but Liz’s ‘journalistic radar screams cover-up.’ Too bad that radar was on the fritz when you were dating a certain Mr. White. (In the previous book she spoke to the dead guy’s grandfather, the gardener at the club, who has since ‘retired’. She thinks this is screams foul play. I scream that he has in fact upped sticks and moved to Florida to avoid her annoyingness but that’s just my ‘Liz is irritating’ radar doing the talking.) She also thinks about Tom, who she’s recently broken up with. (He didn’t believe that his recently-discovered biological father was stalking her. His journalistic radar also sucks. Doesn’t he know that Liz is a magnet for this sort of thing?)
She bumps into Bruce and has a chuckle at his expense over the fact that he called the cops on Paul in the last book for supposedly robbing him, though in fact Paul won the money from Bruce in a tennis match (see above mention of hustling). Liz’s radar screams again though when she discovers that Bruce paid Paul by check whereas she saw Paul wave a big wad of cash, which he’d supposedly won from Bruce, at the police. She runs to tell Scott Sinclair, her colleague at the SVU Gazette, about this development. Strangely enough his description is remarkably similar to the description of the twins - shoulder length blonde hair and crystalline blue eyes. A long-lost brother perhaps? But he has the hots for Liz so probably not. (Though they could have double-dated with Jess and Steven)
Scott has an idea to help he and Liz ferret out the story. It involves a van. I don’t care.
Tom is looking at a photo of the victorious Paul in the social section of the local newspaper. It’s indicated to the reader that Paul isn’t much to look at either. And perhaps even a little on the rotund side? GASP. Tom reminds us that he contributed 10 dollars to a collection for a Verona Springs (VS) employee and he wrote buena suerte (good luck) on the bill...a bill which he then saw in Paul’s hand when he was confronted by the police. Wow, Tom has hella good eyesight. He laments over the fact that if Elizabeth was helping him, he’d probably have the case solved by now. Uh, don’t be too sure of that. He then has a little whinge about how he and Liz were magic together in every way and how he wants to get her back.
Enter Dana, Tom’s sort-of girlfriend. Or as I like to call her ‘The Fan of Elizabeth’s Sloppy Seconds’. Basically Dana is hot and a little wild. (Though I’m sure that’s in comparison to Elizabeth. ‘Wild’ in Tom’s book probably means a girl who doesn’t match her barrettes to her outfit) Tom is a little disgusted that Dana has drawn a tattoo on her arm to match her ensemble, something Liz would never do in a million years. Well of course not. It would distract from her sanctimonious expression. Even though he hearts Liz such a lot, his pulse quickens when Dana’s around. And we all know where the blood flow is rushing to. Dana has come to invite Tom to Congressman Krandall’s (Paul’s dad) reception at the club. Tom responds with a wince. Harsh. He feels guilty for using Dana to access the couples-only circle at the club but then feigns interest in her so he can ‘keep her on the string until he gets his story’. I don’t remember Tom being this much of a dickhead. Well not until after Liz dumps him for the last time at least. Anyone noticed that Liz’s longterm boyfriends all fail miserably at life when she breaks up with them? Todd gets involved in sports scandal, drops out of college and becomes a townie who works in a bar. (And shags Dana.) Tom becomes a slutty alcoholic football player. (And shags Dana.)
Anyway Tom thinks about how upset he is that Liz sees him as a creep, which he is not. But then realises that he is - because he’s using Dana, and because he wants to scoop Liz and rub her nose in it. Because he’s nuts about her.
Cut to Elizabeth, who’s sitting in Scott’s taxi yellow convertible and feeling a little scared. Why? Apparently he will drive the van he has borrowed from a friend to VS, leave it in the car park before the reception, cut across the golf course and rendezvous with Elizabeth. That way the less conspicuous van will be there on standby if they wish to tail anyone once the Congressman’s reception is over. Well anything’s less conspicuous than a taxi yellow convertible. (Scott you are a knobjockey). Liz spots Scott emerging from the golf course with a Frisbee which he then gives to a group of kids. Liz remarks that Scott is ‘incredibly good’. Why? Because anyone who saw him would think he was a great guy who gave some little kids back their frisbee, not some shifty character who just snuck off the golf course. Um, unless there are government secrets held at that golf course, I’m sure that nobody gives a shit. But of course Elizabeth acts like he’s Bob Woodward
Jessica and BF Nick Fox are at a grubby diner. Jess is completing her transformation from Jessica Wakefield to Perdita, a classy Argentinean heiress. Oh boy. It’s recapped that she is working undercover with Nick on the murder investigation at VS. Her transformation has involved dying her hair black, wearing fake tan and heavy make-up, and sporting vintage brightly-coloured clothes. Nick didn’t think this would fool anyone (Neither did I. Didn’t Jess dye her hair black in a SVH book?? And people recognised her then) But everyone at VS is so self-absorbed that they don’t notice. Plus her disguise is way better than Nick’s: he cuts his hair. And wears glasses and cologne. Clark Kent, eat your heart out. Nick is glad that Jessica’s having fun working on the case but warns her that the chief might close it if they don’t discover anything. She points out that Liz and Tom wouldn’t be sniffing around if there was nothing going on. Then Nick finds out that Liz has figured out Perdita’s true identity. Needless to say, Nick is pissed that Jess didn’t tell him her cover was blown and tells her her “childish ‘I want’ behaviour” makes it impossible to trust her in a police situation. Of course she shoots herself in the foot by whining his name, in two syllables. Ni-ick goes to the mens room to cool off, thinking that exciting, bright and witty as Jess is, she’s also a loose cannon.Nick wants there to be no more case, cos then Jess won’t be in danger. But then why is Liz investigating??
Lila goes shopping with Denise and Isabella for an outfit to wear to the reception because she doesn’t always trust her own taste. WTF. She then proves her lack of taste by showing interest in a peach linen jacket. Lila, what has become of you? She sees Paul outside the boutique and yells ‘Yoo-hoo’ over at him. What? Lila Fowler would never yell ‘Yoo-hoo’ at anyone. They meet and greet for a moment, and then Paul climbs into a sedan. I think we’re supposed to note this as suspicious. Too bad Scott and Liz aren’t around to pull their frisbee trick.
Jess looks out the diner window and sees Paul emerge from a sedan, approach a parked van and swaps vehicles with the driver. Jess unfortunately can’t read the plates of the vehicles (if only laser-eye Tom were here) but does memorise some important details about the van: the colour and the fact that it has a missing mud flap. Remember this kids. She reports back to Nick but he doesn’t think it means anything, though he praises her instincts. Somewhat condescendingly. Something along the lines of: Don’t worry about the weird behaviour you just saw, let’s focus on what Liz thinks might be going on. Obviously he heard about the bang-up job she did solving that mall robbery back in middle school. Jess promises that she’ll lean on Liz to find out what she’s working on.
Liz and Scott are in his obnoxious car reviewing the case as it stands. A caddy, Dwayne Mendoza, was found in the golf course lake, probably murdered. Another caddy, Brandon Phillips, is being held by police. Dwayne’s uncle, Juan, has disappeared after saying that people are ‘getting away with murder’. Liz bets that means the murderer is still at large...and getting away with it. Oh dear lord. Someone else is missing too: Manuel Coimbra, a busboy. During his absence he has received a voter registration card (been snooping through mail Liz? That’s illegal) which is curious because he was an illegal alien. Plus his name was spelled Manoel on the card. But it’s probably just a typo, nobody spells Manuel with an ‘o’. Remember this. They wonder about Paul’s involvement. Liz suggests he’s running a hustling scam, and they’ve got two stories for the price of one. Scott scratches his stubbly chin and Liz is sent on a Tom-themed nostalgia trip. Liz is worried that Scott is disappointed in her, that she’s not living up to her rep as a crack investigative reporter.
Sorry I had to take a three day break from writing this recap to give me the chance to stop guffawing. And how exactly has she earned such a rep after about three months of university?
Anyway, they arrive at the county records office where Scott opens the door for Liz. The same way Tom used to. He then takes her arm. The same way Tom used to. I want to kill Elizabeth. The same way William White used to.
Liz checks for an address for Manuel Coimbra but the clerk can’t find anything. So they check for Manoel Coimbra’s address - turns out Manoel was a Brazilian native with valid US residency who died in 1991, aged 76. Liz goes outside for a think but feels her brain is gone stale, and she is hence letting the whole medium of print journalism down. Jesus. Scott tells her that he’s secured her a visit with Brandon Phillips, the murder suspect, but they have to go to the reception first. Scott asks if Liz has any conservative clothes. He has come to the right person. Then Scott drapes his arm around her shoulders which she finds repulsive, and annoying seeing as she’s sending him clear ‘don’t touch’ signals. You know what a clear signal would be? Pushing his arm away. Or running him over in his taxi yellow convertible. I do not like Scott. But then again Liz ends up dating him despite these ‘clear’ signals. So maybe he was right to be a bit confused.
Jess is breaking in to the room she shares with Elizabeth. She’s using stealth tactics because she knows that, if spotted, people will wonder what a glamourous Argentinian heiress is doing in the Wakefields’ room. In reality, people would just wonder: ‘What’s up with Jessica’s hair?’ She starts rooting around Liz’s notebooks but is caught redhanded by the Sanctimonious One herself. Liz is angry but Jess points out that it’s selfish of her to let a murderer walk loose just because Liz is mad at an old boyfriend. Jess: 1, Liz: 0. Liz replies that that’s the kind of thing Jess would do, not her. I think you’ll find that is what you’re doing Liz. Jess: 1, Liz:-1 (for being a hypocritical bitch). Jess then implies that Tom is being mature by helping the investigation. But Liz says that Jess doesn’t need her help then! Darn. Jess: 2, Liz: 0
Tom’s at the reception area, and a football analogy is used to explain why he observes his surroundings. And also to remind us of his PAST. I don’t know why he needs to know where the exits are. He’s not Jason Bourne. Plus, he’s outside. He notices that it’s a beautiful day. And I HAVE to quote the following line: “One of those California afternoons that makes lonesome people lonesome enough to cry.” I don’t think I’ve heard the word ‘lonesome’ since I last listened to Elvis music. Tom, you and Elizabeth are a cheese-match made in heaven. Dana appears and starts kissing Tom’s neck. He knows he should be happy with sexy Dana but instead he feels like he’s going to cry, and wonders how he’ll bear being this miserable without Liz for the rest of his life. You won’t bear it Tom; you’ll turn to the demon drink. Then Tom chats with Carlos the headwaiter. Tom hypothesises that Paul is blackmailing the workers who don’t have the right papers and that’s how he ended up with the ‘buena suerte’ ten dollars. Now that’s more along the lines of crack reporting. You don’t need Liz, Tom. Just some balls perhaps.
Liz is furious at Tom because she thinks he’s helping Nick’s investigation. Furious because she knows the only reason he’s doing it is to get to her, to find out what she knows. What a douche. Scott and Liz are at the police station to interview Brandon Phillips. Scott had informed Brandon that they are attorneys, but of course Liz pisses all over that plan by denying that she’s an attorney, and is flabbergasted that Scott would lie to prison officials.Most likely she presumed that all Scott had to do was drop her name to gain visiting access to the prisoner. Liz decides to nonetheless take advantage of the opportunity to secure information. Oh yeah, and justice. She keeps forgetting that one. Anyway she figures out that Dwayne (the dead guy) discovered that Manuel Coimbra had assumed a dead guy’s identity and the knowledge cost him his life. Who will be killed next? I would never be that melodramatic; that’s what Liz is thinking.
Lila criticises Bruce’s shoes. And his jacket. And accuses him of wearing crummy looking clothes to make her look bad in front of the VIPs. She then shrieks in outrage when she clocks that he’s not wearing the ‘unbelievably expensive Giancarlo Colletta limited-edition platinum-and-gold watch’ she gave him for Christmas. Unfazed by the fact that Lila keeps yelling ‘Take it off! Take it off!’ at him, he says that he’s helping her. Because Bruce looks like an idiot, Paul will look better in comparison. Touché. Lila begins to cry and wail - “You’re so mean!” This makes me a little annoyed with her...until I read her interior monologue:
Lila knew from experience that she could shout at Bruce all day long and get nowhere. It was tears he couldn’t cope with. They were incredibly effective, so she tried to use them sparingly. There was always the danger of dulling the effect through overuse.
Lila, resume your position on the throne once more. I’m sorry I ever doubted you. Bruce makes hasty apologies and luckily just happens to have a nice jacket, shoes and The Watch in the car. She accepts his apology, and fixes her make-up, reaching into her papier maché purse in the shape of a sea-cow. Say what now? Lila? You’re scaring me again. It is limited edition but still. Would the fabulous Fowler heiress sport a purse made from wet toilet paper? She shouts hello to Perdita and then thinks to herself that the Argentinean beauty reminds her of someone...
Tom is mingling with the Congressman and his posse, which he finds dull. So he goes in search of Dana. So he can use her some more. He has to admit that he didn’t listen at all to her cello playing but she says she’ll forgive him in return for one kiss. She leaps on him so passionately that he loses his balance and is forced to lean forward, pressing her against the wall, which only makes her more eager.
Cut to Jessica who lets out a shrill ‘Holy moly!’ at the sight of Tom and Dana’s sexy clinch. Unfortunately she notices, too late, that Lila is within earshot. She tries to amend with a LAME ‘Ai-yai-yai’ (because she is Speedy Gonzalez) but Ms. Fowler can’t be fooled. So Jess runs away and figures that Lila has a short attention span so will probably forget all about this incident. Sure.
Cut to Elizabeth who spots Tom and Dana together and is heartbroken.
Cut to Tom who spots Liz spotting he and Dana. He gets angry at Dana for pouncing on him but then realises he has only himself to blame.
Tom pulls Liz aside for a conversation. He says he needs her. Liz lets out a cry. I imagine it sounds like that of a kestrel. Then Tom leans in to kiss her, saying that they can work things out. Her resolve bends like frail flower stems (Laurie John’s words) and she moves to kiss him back, but is interrupted by Scott. Again.
Tom decides he’s never hated anyone as much as he hates phony Scott. Not even William White? He decides not to let Liz in on what he’s found out because then Scott will know too. His actual words are “I don’t want to let that self-aggrandising truffle pig root out my scoop!” Pure literary excellence.
Lila finally locates Jess in the ladies room and forces her to come clean. Lila asks Jess if the investigation will affect she and Bruce becoming VIPS. When Jess replies no, Lila stops caring. It obviously can’t be that important then. But she makes Jess promise to tell her everything when it’s over. Jess says she will as long as it’s not classified, to which Lila replies: “Stop showing off and acting important.” Jess is all ‘look who’s talking’ and then Lila says: ‘Well, I am important. So why shouldn’t I show off ?’ Yesss!
Anderson (one of the snobs) is mocking Bruce again, and Bruce fights the urge to...imitate him. Wow. He really has lost his edge. Not even the desire to clock him with a Trusty Toddpunch? Bunny, Paul’s fiancé, begins to laugh like a donkey. Bruce wishes to be shot in the head by a sniper. Congressman Krandall steps up to the podium to make a speech i.e. squeeze the crowd for contributions, which Bruce finds very low-rent.Bruce declares loudly that he will not contribute.
Tom finds this amusing, thinking ‘Go Bruce!’ Then Tom discovers, by means of Lila and Bruce’s argument, that Bruce paid Paul with a check! A check! Not cash! So where did Paul’s big wad of cash come from??? Tom rushes off to find Carlos but can’t, so he tries to quiz a busboy. The busboy only speaks Spanish! Tom says D’oh because he took French in high school. So he rushes off once more to find someone to translate - a certain Argentinean heiress. Hee.
Jess, meanwhile, is trying to signal Nick across the room to dutifully let him know that Lila has figured her out. But Tom drags her off. Once Jess figures out what he wants her for, she panics, naturally, and thinks about how annoyed Nick will be. Anyway, Jess, the D-grade Spanish student, begins to try to bluff her way through a translation but is saved by Carlos’ sudden, and angry, appearance. Carlos motions for the busboy to get lost, and then tells Tom that it’s dangerous for him to ask questions, that he should go home and not come back. Then he leaves.
This next bit is my fave part in the whole book so I’m going to type it in as written:
Tom stared at the door, the muscles in his jaw working. “I don’t get it,” he muttered to himself. “Was he warning me? Or threatening me?”
“Oh good,” Jessica said, exhaling in relief. “I didn’t get it either. I thought I was just being dense.”
And of course Jessica’s cover is blown once more. Hee. Naturally she tries to pretend this hasn’t just happened and adopts her phoney Spanish accent again, but Tom is no fool. (In this situation anyway.) She then proceeds to let slip that she is at VS with Nick because they’re working undercover. Tom starts to quiz her on their investigation, but she says he has to spill some info first. To which he responds: It doesn’t work that way. So she thinks ‘screw you Tom’ and cha-cha-cha’s away, thinking that she has to tell Nick the investigation has officially tanked.
Lila is angry at Bruce for humiliating her - she will not tolerate a cheapskate. Bruce is offended by this allegation. Why he just spent buckets of money on a Sat-Nav system. Lila decides not to cry as she’s already used up today’s tear quotient but is seething that Jess will spend the next 5 (not 37?) years bragging about her undercover work and Lila will have nothing to brag about. So she dumps Bruce and says she’ll hook up with Paul to gain access to the VIP circle. Bruce is, naturally, horrified. Doesn’t she remember that Paul is chubby?
Now their investigation is over, Nick wants to take Jess to dinner and hear about her clean pure life where nobody gets hurt or robbed or dies. Um, she hasn’t told him anything about her life has she? Because all of those things have happened. Several times. But then they find out that a red cargo van (just like the one Jess saw Paul driving!) was found abandoned with about forty people, who had paid to get over the Mexican border, locked inside. They talk to a patient who was told that if he could get to VS, he would be given papers and a job by someone named Wil E. Coyote.
Tom decides to follow Nick’s car to find out what’s going on.
And Liz and Scott decide to follow Tom.
Bruce is angry with Lila for being disloyal. And he resolves to do something about it. He chuckles in an evil fashion.
Nick and Jess take a turn down Reservoir Road, a 4 mile twisty stretch with no lighting. They stop, Jess dons some sneakers and she and Nick go in search of the abandoned van. Of course they become distracted by the moonlight and start to make out. Then Nick hears something. Dun, dun, DUN!
Lila is flirting with Paul. Then Bruce appears and starts spouting off about how the club is involved in extortion and blackmail. Carlos clutches his pearls in panic. But Bruce is only talking about how Paul hustled him and stole his girlfriend. Carlos relaxes. Lila is humiliated. But she also finds it exciting that she inspired so much rage in him. She hopes that Paul and Bruce are going to start fighting over her because that would be talked about for years! But Paul gets Carlos to kick Bruce out, much to Lila’s disgust. Bruce leaves, taking the tennis trophy with him, saying that he intends to throw it in the reservoir. Lila ends up falling in the pool.
Nick thinks they’re being followed. Then they find the van. And, what d’ya know, it is the van Jess saw this morning! But then Nick pulls her to the ground and points his gun at a tree, shouting ‘Freeze!’ Dun, dun, DUN!
It’s only Tom. Nick is suspicious - is Tom part of the crime ring? Tom admits he came in search of his story. Nick has had it with sanctimonious reporters who feel their stories are more important than police investigations, so he decides to prove a point by arresting Tom. Tom tries to strike a deal with Nick. This does not please Nick, so he starts kicking the van because he’s not supposed to kick Tom. This annoys Jess, so she and Nick start arguing.
But...what’s this? Another rustle in the bushes? Nick pulls everyone to the ground and points his gun at the trees once again. Dun, Dun, Dun! (I’m overusing these, aren’t I?)
It’s only Scott and Liz. Tom says ‘Thank goodness’ which made me giggle. Nick asks Liz to share what she knows. She refuses. So he arrests her. He just has to think of something to charge them all with. But...suddenly Jess tells her BF that she’s heard yet another rustle. Someone’s coming. They’ll have to hide in the van because Nick can’t protect everyone by himself. So everyone climbs in...and Jess locks them inside. Nick is not pleased. Jess says they need to be taught a lesson - they have to work together. Nick can’t believe he thought Jess was a professional. We can’t either, Nick. But still. She’s a genius.
Liz is first to step up and admit that Jess is right (I’d record that if I were you, Jess) and that they’ve all been letting competition get in the way of what’s important. So she tells Nick and Tom what she’s discovered.
Meanwhile, Jess is having a giggle to herself and is pleased that, as she’s not a real cop, she doesn’t have to follow any rules which might prevent her from trapping people in a steel deathbox. Suddenly she gets grabbed from behind. Oh noes! She recognises her attacker’s voice - it’s Paul Krandall!!! He ties her wrists together and shoves her into the passenger legspace of the truck’s cab. She feels she may have made a tiny boo-boo by locking the gang in the van. She tries to leap to her feet to do something to help them but conks her head on the dashboard and is knocked out. D’oh. (Don’t worry Jess, Nancy Drew got knocked out all the time and she was just fine. It was never self-inflicted...but never mind)
Cut back to the gang in the van - They doubt that Paul is smart enough to be Wil E. Coyote so maybe it’s his dad, the Congressman! Just then, they feel the van begin to move. Jess can’t drive a cargo van! Who’s out there??? Dun, dun, wheeze, DUN!!!
Jess wakes up, all disoriented. She realises that the ropes, which are tied around her Perdita-bracelets, are very tight. But the bracelets - tight they are not. Stupid Paul. She opens the van door and jumps out. She makes her way to the road. What’s this? An approaching vehicle? It’s 1Bruce1!!! Bruce still thinks she’s Perdita. She says no Bruce, I’m Jessica. Well Jess, he replies, why are you dressed up like Perdita? I think Jess starts to wish he had been shot by that sniper. Jess tells him to follow the van but they’ll have to switch off the lights.How lucky that Bruce bought that top of the range Sat-Nav device.
Bruce asks Jess if Paul will get jail time for his hustling. Jess says probably, because he might have killed someone. Bruce is aghast and 1Bruce1 screeches to a halt. Did he, Bruce asks, kill someone who beat him at tennis? No, Bruce. Bruce decides that it’s not the best idea to head to a dead-end location near a reservoir where a killer is waiting. Jess disagrees. Bruce wishes Lila had some sane friends. He says they have to go back to get help, but Jess takes the keys from the ignition and throws them away. Now they have to go on foot. Bruce wonders how Nick puts up with Jess, and if Jess’ string of boyfriends have their own support group. He thinks they should. I reluctantly agree. He starts to appreciate that Lila never wants to make him chase murderers. He tells Jess that he’s not going with her; he’ll wait for help. She says she needs back up. He gives her a tennis racket. (Maybe he thought she said backhand???)
The van gang are getting worried, realising that they’re probably at the reservoir. A good place to dump a van, Nick remarks. Thanks for the mood uplift there, Fox. Nick asks the others if anyone knows where they are - they say no. Nick is not pleased. Then Tom asks him and he replies ‘Jessica’. Scott, heartlessly, comments ‘Big help now’, implying he thinks that Jessica is sleeping with the fishes. Liz cries. So does Nick, a little. But Tom points out that Jess is wily (but not a coyote) and there’s no way she could be dead without Liz knowing about it. They have psychic twin powers, remember??
Chapter 17: Jess notices her head is bleeding. She’s also thwacking bushes with the tennis racket and calling herself Indiana Joanie. I think she might be concussed. She wishes she’d let Bruce go for help. Just then...there’s a rustle in the bushes. Someone grabs her ankle and drags her from another bush, where she has decided to hide. Dun, dun, dun!
The van gang are waiting calmly for the driver to open the door. Liz stares meaningfully at Tom and her eyes fill with tears of regret. She wants to tell him how she feels. They hug and she begins to say something...but the van door screeches open.
Tom now has a reason to live - Liz loves him! The driver is wearing a mask and holding a gun. Liz realises it’s Paul so he removes the mask. They’re relieved he doesn’t know where Jess is. Paul is not so amused when he discovers they think he’s too dumb to be Wil E. Coyote. Liz asks herself: WWNDD? (What Would Nancy Drew Do?) And the answer? Get the bad guy to start monologuing! Paul admits that he never meant to kill Dwayne - he didn’t know he couldn’t swim. They just wanted to scare him. And they sent Manuel back to Mexico because he was wigging out.
Then Wil E. Coyote turns up. And Tom has a D’oh moment. Paul had access to voting records because of his dad’s position. But who had access to willing workers who could be used as human cargo?? The headwaiter at a country club, that’s who. Paul tells Carlos that he waited for Bruce to turn up but he’s apparently lost his nerve so they might as well start killing. Elizabeth will go first. I would prob pick her too. But Tom dives in the way of the bullet. Luckily Carlos has grabbed Paul’s arm, meaning the bullet is fired towards the sky.
Carlos asks Paul where the immigrants are. When he finds out that Paul abandoned the van, because they arrived ahead of schedule, he is tres pissed off and tells Paul he has gone too far. Tom realises that Carlos helped beat Dwayne up but wasn’t around when Paul pushed him in the water. He’s not a murderer; he can make a choice not to become one. Paul says ‘Nu-uh’ Carlos must take half of the blame cos they’re partners. Just then a voice says: ‘It doesn’t work that way’ and Tom sees a huge rabbit jump out of the bushes and hit Paul with a tennis racket. Oh no wait, not a rabbit. It’s Jessica. I understand that mistake. I always get Jess and Bugs Bunny confused. Tom sees his opportunity and dives at Paul, hitting him low just as Liz hits him high. Don’t see how that was necessary. Surely a massive ex-footballer hurtling towards him would put the shits up Paul sufficiently? And what does the size-six Liz weigh now that she’s lost her freshman 15? Not much, I imagine. Tom disturbs Jess and Nick making out to request Nick’s handcuffs, but he notices that Carlos is pointing the gun at him. Dun, dun, dun!
Tom is very courageous and keeps walking towards Carlos, urging him to hand over the gun. Carlos cocks the revolver, which makes a loud clicking noise. Tom almost pees his pants but doesn’t lose his resolve. Carlos does - he drops the gun and runs away, but is thwarted by another mystery figure who emerges from the bushes and knocks him out with a trophy! It’s Bruce! Yay! And then Lila arrives in her car! It’s inexplicable, but still - yay! Liz starts to cry. She and Tom hug, and she tells him never to do anything stupid and dangerous again. He can’t promise that because he doesn’t want her to ever get hurt. They’re just about to kiss...when they are interrupted, this time by Jessica. Then a police chopper shows up. If Lila can drive down there, surely the police could?? Tom tries not to cry as the moment with Liz is lost.
Cut to a little later...
Liz thinks that something has changed inside Jessica.
Lila tells Bruce that she no longer wants to become a VIP circle member, which he is pleased about. She had no idea he was so brave, dynamic and forceful. And can’t believe that he would leave his precious 1Bruce1 unattended. He can’t really believe it either. They make out.
Liz and Scott are watching Tom’s story on TV. It’s good. During the break, footage is shown of old Tom and Liz clips...because they’re the only reporters on campus apparently. One clip is of them running toward a fire. Another Alice and Ned failing: they never taught the twins that fire is bad. Liz feels weird about not sharing the moment with Tom. Then Scott leans in to kiss her. She sighs and thinks to herself that they should get it over with and then she can remind him that she’s not interested. Hmmm, are these your clear ‘don’t touch’ signals Liz?? Because they’re decidedly flawed. Scott expects her to recoil and push him away as she has done so many other times before. Wow, he’s a persistent fellow. I’ll say that for him. Is he not worried that he’s strayed into sexual harrassment territory? Anyway Liz enjoys making out with him, much to her surprise. But then he says that he’s leaving to go the Denver Centre of Investigative Reporting. Which is in Denver. He thinks she should apply too. She couldn’t possibly leave SVU. Or Tom. But maybe she should? (I’m sure Jess is delighted that she wasn’t considered at all.)
Jessica is chatting with Izzy, Lila and Denise about what has happened. Lila is disgusted that Denise dug a newspaper out of the recycling bin to read Liz’s story. “It was a used newspaper. Who knows where that thing has been?” Jess is really proud of Liz, who’s story has taken up the entire issue of the paper. Eh? But she’s also thinking about the people for whom justice has been done, including the guy at the hospital who has turned out to be...Manuel Coimbra!! (real name: Pedro)
Liz’s phone, meanwhile, has been ringing off the hook all morning with congratulatory phonecalls. Ick. Brandon Phillips drops by with a gift - a dictionary. Liz tells him, truthfully, that she loves dictionaries. Ick. He thanks Elizabeth for finding out the truth. She smugly thinks to herself - yes, I did find out the truth, and the truth set Brandon free. There are no words. She thinks about the scholarship to Denver some more.
Tom reads Liz’s story and is blown away. He laughs that she’s managed to scoop him by including a letter from Juan Mendoza who was on holiday all along. (Ha! I was right) Tom realises that Carlos was a decent guy who got caught up in something that got out of control. Tom resolves to visit Carlos in jail. I’m guessing that doesn’t happen. But I haven’t read book no.36 so maybe I’m wrong. (Doubtful!). He sees Elizabeth walking across campus with an envelope (ooh!) and decides to go talk to her.
Nick and Jess are in a diner, being all loved up. Jess tells Nick that she wants to leave SVU and go to police academy. Funnily enough, Nick wants to quit the force and go to college to be a pre-law student. They’re both stumped.
Liz and Tom praise each other’s work. He remarks wistfully that it’s different working alone, that it’s nice having someone to help. Liz takes offence. Bet Tom’s wishing he’d gone to see Carlos instead. Tom leaves. Liz thinks that maybe it is time to leave SVU and starts to cry. Taking one last look at Tom’s back, hoping for some kind of sign (him approaching you was one, idiot!) she mails her application to DCIR.