The episode name sounds kind of creepy, though, and at first I was all excited because I thought we were finally getting a serial rapist/murderer/vampire/werewolf in Sweet Valley.
But we’re not. Sorry to disappoint.
Instead, from TV.com: When Jessica learns that famous Sweet Valley artist, Dakota Dancer, is planning to paint Enid for a national exhibition, she schemes to steal Enid's spotlight and take the modeling job for herself. Meanwhile, the students are upset when Principal Cooper pulls down an offending photo of himself off the graffiti wall.
I love the “students are upset” bit. Sweet Valley is truly a place like none other. At my high school, students organized a march to protest the treatment of immigrants. At SVH, students get upset when the principal takes down a picture. Priorities, much?
We start with Jessica looking at some massive poster on the wall and laughing, which is our mildly confusing introduction to the graffiti wall. They don’t really bother to explain what the graffiti wall is until later in the episode, which I found to be both annoying and inconvenient. However, to save you the trouble, I will explain it now. The graffiti wall is basically a huge sheet of poster paper taped to the walls in the hallway, where the students can write/draw/post whatever they want. It’s a huge thing in Sweet Valley, I guess, probably because this was before the age of cell phone madness, in which you can just text incriminating messages to the entire school, instead of taking the time to write them out longhand. But I digress.
Jessica is with Patty and Lila, and they all start to drool over Dakota Dancer, who is not a stripper in Vegas, but apparently the hottest, “brooding artistic type” boy in Sweet Valley. Jess is already scheming to get her claws into him.
As a side note, Dakota is not attractive. He looks more like a creepy, gothic Fabio than a sweet, sensitive artist.
It’s revealed that Patty and Lila don’t think Jess will be able to seduce Dakota, because he’s using Enid as a model for his latest painting. The painting has to be finished in just a few days, and then it’s immediately going on a national tour. I call shenanigans. No way would this painting just be booked for some national tour before anyone has even SEEN it. Right? But without this plot contrivance, there would not be a story, so we’ll just have to accept it and move on. Dakota’s work is going to make Enid famous (really?), and Jessica will not be able to steal him away. I don’t know how these two things are related, but we’re not even two minutes into the show yet, so let’s move along.
Ew… we unfortunately move along to Liz and Todd making out in the hallway. Winston takes a picture. I guess he is the one who is taking pictures and putting them up on the graffiti wall. Right then, Principle Cooper comes up and takes an unflattering picture of himself off the wall, saying that he draws the line at personal attacks. Liz is all OMG WTF FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS. Principle Cooper doesn’t even give half a shit. He walks away, and Liz makes her justice-seeking face.
Okay, seriously. I am all about not censoring and free speech and free press, but putting up pictures of faculty and students with mean comments on the school walls DOES seem kind of cruel. You’d think Liz would be all sympathetic, but not so much. She’s annoying me already.
Cut to the school’s art classroom? I suppose. Dakota is tranced out painting, and Jessica comes in and attempts to pose seductively in the corner. Dakota is annoyed, because Jessica is trying to allure him by saying charming things like, “creative men are so… creative.” She’s a thinker, all right. He finally lets her work with him and asks her to clean his brushes. She does. Way to be strong and empowered, Jess.
Enid comes in, Jess glares angrily, Enid gets uncomfortable. Jessica overhears Enid and Dakota planning to meet and the beach so Dakota can paint Enid. Jess gets all devious looking. Whatever could she be thinking....
No really, if you don’t know what she’s thinking, then stop reading this recap immediately, because I’m offended.
Cut to the local café. For those of you who read the first recap, “Lotion (Jessica’s Song)” is playing in the background. It is just as bad as I imagined. Jessica barges in on Enid studying and says Enid can’t do the painting for Dakota. Jess acts all vague about it, and Enid finally breaks down and asks what's wrong with being Dakota's model. Jessica says that Dakota plans on painting Enid nude. Isn’t that what artists use models for, like… a lot? Isn’t Dakota a teenage boy? I’m not that shocked. Enid, of course, is.
Later, at the Oracle office. Liz has written an article headlined, “Cooper, No Principles.” Creative as usual. Of course, Principle Cooper is not happy. The two of them argue. I side with Cooper, because I wouldn’t want MY picture up on their humiliating graffiti wall. Liz sucks.
Cut to Jessica meeting Dakota. She has, of course, scared off Enid, and so Jessica winds up modeling for Dakota instead. She’s wearing a fairly normal black dress, but takes that off ASAP to reveal a leopard print bikini. She looks like a porn star. Dakota is not pleased at Jessica’s modeling abilities and is apparently not turned on by the bikini. We get like, two straight minutes of Jessica writhing around attempting to model for Dakota. It looks like a playboy shoot. Dakota will not let her see the painting... that he apparently finished in a couple of hours. I’m sure it’s marvelous.
There are several pointless scenes at this point that basically serve to remind the audience of everything that has happened so far. This is only ten minutes into the episode, so were they counting on people falling asleep so soon? That just doesn’t look good.
Finally, the art opening, with the unveiling of Dakota’s painting as the main event. Jessica has told all of her friends that she’s the model, and of course “everybody who is anybody” is attending the opening, because that is what cool teenagers do on the weekend. Peruse student art galleries. Not that art galleries are bad, but seriously, this is SVH. It’s been almost three episodes now, and not one mention of a football game. What is the world coming to?
Enid has not bothered to show, but everyone else on Earth has. The painting is unveiled, after some pointless buildup. Dakota makes a speech and credits Jessica. Wait for it though… the painting is of Jessica NAKED. Everyone is shocked (the girls) and thrilled (mostly Bruce). Jessica is practically in tears.
Okay, not that Jessica didn’t for surely have it coming, being a horrible person and all, but still. That’s kind of a shitty thing to do. I know absolutely nothing about art, but shouldn’t artists tell their models if the painting is going to be nude? I mean, maybe it’s not a mandatory thing, but Jessica was wearing a bikini when she was modeling and had no idea that she would be painted without clothes. Any way you cut it, that’s kind of a nasty thing to do to someone.
Oh, and in case you’re curious... no, we do not actually get to see the painting, and Sweet Valley maintains its façade of G-rated innocence.
Again, back at the café, with a bunch of SVH students talking about Jessica’s scandalous modeling job. Bruce says he may start collecting art. Bruce is perverted.
In another corner, Lila and Patty are sitting with Enid. This would never happen, but I can do nothing to change it except sigh quietly, so I’ll just keep recapping. All three of them are gossiping about how Jessica is a total skank-ho. Okay, Enid I can maybe understand, since Jessica kind of screwed her over (although Jess did actually end up saving Enid’s ass, so a little graciousness might be nice). And Patty is some random character who I do not understand. But Lila!? I know that she and Jessica bitch it out basically every book, but as long as they’re not competing with each other, Lila is an awesome friend to Jessica. So I’m pissed. The Lila I know would be cutting the Jessica haters down… definitely not going off on how Jessica is an attention whore. But sadly, we get the latter.
Jessica walks in the café to tons of catcalls, and some great comments from Bruce and his minions. She sits down next to Lila & company, and of course, they don’t believe her when she says she didn’t know the painting would be nude. Lila claims she is Jessica’s best friend, but then proceeds to bitch her out for lying. I hate this pseudo-Lila. Jess runs out in tears, and Elizabeth (who was in the background making sad faces the whole time) follows.
Elizabeth finds Jess sobbing in the car, and Jessica again says she didn’t pose nude. Liz pretends to be totally sympathetic, but instead is all “what did you expect, you’re a total prostitute and everyone knows it.” Nice. Again, I am well aware that Jessica did the whole scheming lying conniving thing to be able to pose for Dakota, but seriously. Not ONE single person is like, “uh, isn’t it kind of messed up that this creepy 16 year old boy is painting nude portraits of UNDERAGE girls without their consent?” Not even the principal? Not even Jessica’s non-existent parents (My Mom would have flipped her shit)? Not even LIZ? Oh, Sweet Valley. This is pathetic.
Anyway, Jessica continues to cry, and Liz continues to be a TOTAL bitch. Seriously. I am awestruck at how awful all of these people are in this episode. Jessica reminds Liz of their sisterly bond, and Liz finally hugs her. Jessica asks Liz to help her destroy the painting. Liz says no. And, moreover – this is great – Liz says she knows EXACTLY how Jessica feels, because as they are twins, Liz is “in that painting, too.” My brain hurts. Liz has somehow taken her sister’s problems and made them all about her. That’s actually more like the Liz I know. But still. Pretty awful.
Luckily, Liz comes up with a plan.
Back to Dakota’s studio/the art classroom. Liz comes in and bitches Dakota out, but it’s kind of forced until Dakota admits that Jessica was totally wearing a bikini, and was not, in fact, nude. As Jessica has stated OVER and OVER. Does anyone think she would really be that upset if she KNEW it was going to be nude? That doesn’t even make sense. This episode is so weird.
But! Liz FINALLY gets it (because she is painfully slow) and Liz now goes off on a huge rant, all “my sister’s virginal reputation! How could you!” etc. Dakota doesn’t care.
And... we cut to the Wakefield’s kitchen (it is NOT Spanish tiled! I am flabbergasted. It’s actually cream and tan colored and fairly boring), only to find out that Liz recorded her conversation with Dakota. The Sweet Valley gang is all there (Winston, Lila, Todd, Enid, Patty) and they finally realize that Jessica, for once, was not lying. Winston hands over the photos he took of the nude Jessica painting (photos? How creepy), and then looks broken-hearted when Jessica makes him hand over the negatives too. These boys are pervy and creeptastic. It reminds me of the boys at my high school, though, so props to whoever wrote the script for nailing exactly how awful high school boys can be.
Cut to some weird outdoor construction area, where apparently Dakota’s painting will be on display for several weeks. There is no roof to this area, so thank goodness it never rains in Sweet Valley. Otherwise Dakota’s painting would be ruined fairly quickly, and we would have no reason for Jessica to be here, attempting to take care of the situation.
Luckily, it doesn’t rain in Sweet Valley, and so Jessica is there, as is Dakota. He is trying to get ready for the second (?) opening. Jessica is all seductive again, saying her sister doesn’t understand true art. She implies she doesn't care about the painting, and is all over Dakota. She’s brought a picnic, and she and Dakota go to the beach.
At the beach, Jessica convinces Dakota to go skinny dipping, and as soon as he takes off his clothes, she is all ready with a crowd of Sweet Valley students, including Winston and his camera. Photos are taken, students laugh, revenge is a dish best served cold, and so on.
Long story short, when confronted with pictures of his nakedness, Dakota paints a bikini over Jessica’s nude portrait so she will not show the world the photos. On the bright side, we finally get to see the painting. It’s heinous. In the painting, Jessica has the worst tan lines ever, and her face looks like she is 80 years old and anorexic. Also, like I said, I know nothing about art, but the perspective (or something) is way awkward and Jessica kind of looks like she’s levitating. THIS was the painting that was supposed to make Dakota world famous? It is atrocious. No freaking way would this ever make it outside the high school, let alone Sweet Valley.
Oh, wait, guys, before the story ends, we totally forgot about the B-plot! Remember the one where Liz in on her freedom of speech crusade? Don’t worry, they shoved it in at the last minute and tied up all the loose ends. Liz sees Principle Cooper when the new version of the painting is revealed. It’s all:
Liz: I was SO wrong.
Cooper: No, I was so wrong.
*insert important lesson on morals and values*
Cooper ends up putting his picture back up on the graffiti wall. Liz smiles, knowing that she was right all along. Jessica gives Dakota the negatives of his naked escapade back, but it’s revealed that she kept a set, just in case. Jessica and Elizabeth embrace. All is well in Sweet Valley. Thank goodness.