Admittedly, I haven't read the book on which this pearler of an episode is based, so I'm walking into this a little blind here. This particular ep, I'm sorry to say, is lame with a capital L. It reaches never-before-seen levels of lameness. I cannot believe this shit actually went to air. But if I had to suffer through it, so do you. So sit down and shut up. I mean it.
It's school time. And by that, I don't mean they're in class, or doing some work or actually learning. (Perish the thought.) Lila and Jessica are in the bathroom, reapplying their make-up. And by the looks of them, they've been in there all day doing just that. Jessica's mentioning that she and Elizabeth have entered the Pacific Sun Beach Volleyball Tournament, which I personally am excited about, because they do some volleyballing in the opening credits and it looks like big fun. I want to share that big fun. But alas, Elizabeth walks into the ladies' room and quashes Jessica's (and my) hopes of the big volleyball fun. She's bailing out of what Jessica calls the Babefest of the Year because she...sigh, wait for it...needs to help Todd pick out a wedding present for his cousin. Yeah, I don't know what to make of that myself. Either Todd is the most incompetent fool on the planet, Elizabeth is the most boring person on the planet, or Jessica is the least appealing company on the planet. Actually, I do believe it's a little from all columns. Okay, now I have to say something here. With her shorter-than-average skirt and her rack-magnifying sweater, Elizabeth is looking slightly hotter than Jessica today. Except, of course, for the ponytail. Only nerds have ponytails. And as part of my fun new drinking game, I'm taking a shot for Lila in a mustard-coloured outfit again. Seriously, this is getting ridiculous.
Jessica is waiting for Liz to get home so they can go and see a movie together. Todd and Liz do get home eventually, and Liz explains that after all the wedding present shopping she and Todd went to the movies. Jessica is not happy, and she tells them so. Jess, don't freak out, okay. Just go do something with Liz now. Sure, it's late, but it's not like your parents are ever home or anything. Run wild, girl! Later in bed, Elizabeth is writing in her diary, which (and I'm not sure about this) may or may not be stolen during this episode. She writes about how Todd and Jessica hate each other, and she's all sad and stuff about it, even though there's no actual evidence of the twins even liking each other, or of Jessica ever doing anything to deserve her sister's love or respect. And as if the ponytail wasn't proof enough, the producers of the show have decided to remind us how nerdy and dull Elizabeth is by decorating her room like a motel.
The next day at the Moon Beach, Elizabeth is late for something else, and Jessica mutters to Lila about how Todd's taking up all of Elizabeth's time nowadays, shooting Todd a glare from her booth. Wait just a second, Jessica. If Todd is there hanging out with Winston and some random Asian guy, then obviously he's not the reason she's late. Surely at some point this will dawn on her? Um, no, not exactly. Instead she comes across some girl called Peggy who apparently is madly in love with Todd, and tells her that he and Liz are having problems and to go for it. And by 'got for it', she means to plonk herself down on his lap and make out with him. Well, that's what Peggy thinks, and she does so, just as Elizabeth walks in from wherever she was. (Oracle meeting, probably.)
Elizabeth freaks and runs out, which is probably the correct thing to do, since Todd looks guilty as fuck. Liz runs all the way home, and when Jessica gets there, she tells her that Liz ought to branch out too, and sets her up with some thirtysomething-looking dude called Chris Sanders. She and Chris go out, and they have a mediocre time. And by the way, Chris ain't pretty. I'm sorry, but he's not. I never thought I'd say this, but Liz should just stick with Todd. After all, he does have swoon-worthy Backstreet Boy hair. When Chris drops her at her door afterward the mediocre date, however, he's a little forward. He kisses her, and -- shock horror -- tries to do it again, even though she's so not into it! Oh, God! It's classic Sweet Valley attempted rape, except without the rape part. Look at that, he's trying to hold her hand! Oh God, think of the children! Liz rushes inside so quickly she forgets that she dropped her diary on the sidewalk before. Chris picks it up, puts on his thinking face (and the Oscar goes to...) and gets into his car, taking the secret diary. Some would say stealing it. The secret diary has officially been stolen now, so hopefully this episode is going to pick up.
That night, Liz is freaked. She has no idea where her diary is, and tears her perfect room apart looking for it. (Room service will clean it up anyway). This is noteworthy for no other reason except that I needed an excuse to give you the following screencap. It demonstrates how different these twins are, even in their sleepwear. Because we haven't hear enough about how ironic it is that these twin girls are nothing alike. Dig the nightie and sports socks, by the way, Jessica.
The next day, Bruce and Manny are having a snack outside the Sweet Valley Mall. Remember that? It's that place they go to when they're not at the Moon Beach, or at a cool party, or at a school dance. Anyway, Bruce and Manny are joined by Chris Sanders, and he's telling them all the intimate details that never happened on their date. Of course, this being Sweet Valley, we don't get specifics. "Elizabeth was so hot and she couldn't keep her hands off me" is the dirtiest it gets. But it's implied, okay? Bruce is impressed. Manny is doubtful. Todd, who apparently can hear slanderous things about Elizabeth being said from miles away, comes up and warns Chris that it's not a great idea the only way he knows how.
Oh no, watch out Chris! Todd wants to fuck your shit up! There's a Toddpunch on the way, I'm sure of it! But instead Chris smirks and puts all of his secret diary knowledge to good use. He shuts up Toddles by letting him know that Elizabeth told him about an incident that took place on the Fourth of July. (She told him this during a break from their rampant nerdy sex, obviously.) Then he gives us a clue as to what the incident is by saying this (and unfortunately, only this) -- "Let's just say that I wouldn't let a stuck zipper get in my way." Oh. My. God. What does this mean? I have to know what this means! Did he just have a rusty zipper or was there a little There's Something About Mary action to go with it? Either way, one things for sure -- on a Fourth of July not long ago, Todd was taking off his pants in Elizabeth Wakefield's presence. Elizabeth and Todd were disrobing in each others' company! Elizabeth Wakefield! Saint Elizabeth of Sweet Valley and her Trusty Boyfriend Todd were about to do something sexual! I feel dirty. That's information I just can't get my head around. Thank you, stolen secret diary!
Bruce apparently thinks this is as funny as I do, because he laughs and says that it's "classic". Yes, Bruce, that's exactly the word I'd use, thank you. But Chris is quick to put him in his place saying, "It's about as classic as Liz finding your mom in the poolhouse with the cabana boy." Aw, snap! I just like that at one point in her life (between all the holiday pants-removal) Elizabeth was at the Patman mansion and went looking for Bruce in his poolhouse. Elizabeth has to be making this shit up. What follows this revelation is a now-weekly music montage where Chris goes around the mall, telling all of Elizabeth's friends everything he's read about them in her diary. Unfortunately, because of the 'music' part of the music montage, we don't get to hear any more secrets. We just watch as Chris takes an impossible amount of escalator rides, blabbing secrets to everyone, even the random Asian guy, who shakes his head, looking mighty offended. The only other secret we hear is that Lila has a fake Rolex. Okay, now I know that Liz is making this shit up. By the time Elizabeth meets all her friends (and whatever Bruce, Lila and the random Asian guy are to her) for lunch, they get up and walk away, leaving their barely-touched food behind. Everyone except Winston, who gives Elizabeth puppy-dog eyes and says, "I thought I could trust you." It's heartbreaking. He looks so sad. He's even melted my cold, cold heart.
At school the next day, Todd confronts Elizabeth in (where else?) the Oracle office. He tries (and fails in my eyes) to do a Winston and guilt-trip her about telling Chris about the incident which will forever be known as Zippergate. He says, "We swore we'd never tell anybody about that," which makes me want to know what was about to go down that night even more. (Excuse the pun...no, actually don't. It was pretty good.) Elizabeth is a delightful mix of shocked and confused, which she often is, so it's not worth screencapping.
At the Moon Beach (yeah, we're back there again), Jessica joins her friends and the random Asian guy. Apparently she wasn't at the mall with the rest of her friends yesterday. Winston's complaining that Liz told Chris about how he brought his cousin to Homecoming. Yeah, I'd believe that. Bruce tells them that everyone knew that, because there's no mistaking the Egbert profile. He taps Winston on the nose, too, which is think is supposed to be teasing, but ends up looking a little bit gay. It's more of a love-tap. Before my mind gets any more clouded by all the pseudo-homoerotic Bruce/Winston madness, I should continue. Jessica assures everyone that Elizabeth would never tell anybody's secrets. Lila and Bruce tell her that Liz has even spilled secrets about her very own sister -- namely that she once stole a lipstick, Mocha Madness. You have to hand it to Liz, she's detail-oriented something fierce. Jessica is mortified. Now, if I know my Jessica Wakefield (and after all these years, I think I do), I'd think she ought to be pleased that's all Elizabeth wrote about her. Surely she's done worse than steal a lipstick. In fact, I know she has -- the last fourteen episodes of this TV series have been about Jessica cramming in as much sociopathic activity she can in twenty-two minutes. Be thankful, Jessica.
Oh, but she's not. She storms into Liz's room, demanding to know what the fuck's up. Also, she reminds Liz that she did NOT steal that Mocha Madness lipstick, offering an explanation you only wish you could hear on Law & Order -- it fell in her purse. You know, I'm not even going to bother touching that one; it's way too easy. (Like Jessica. Yeah, I went there. It was a cheap shot, but I can't help myself.) The twins finally, finally put two and two together and realise that the stolen diary and all the secret-spilling might, just might, be connected. So now what do you do in Sweet Valley when you've got an evildoer who needs to Get Theirs? You hatch a plan. You always hatch a plan. So many plans...Elizabeth's really done a number on this town. (I wonder if she planned the Fourth of July hanky panky as well. If only she thought to bring an oil can like the Tin Man did.)
The next day, at the Moon Beach, Jessica executes her part of the plan. Bruce, Manny and Chris are hanging out in a booth, and my focus immediately goes to Manny and Bruce's plate of fries. It's bigger than last time. Everyone else gets shitty amounts of fries on their plates (Chris has about seven on his), but Bruce and Manny hit the fucking motherload every single time. It must be because Bruce smells like money. To get Bruce and Manny to am-scray, Jessica throws a glass of water on Bruce's pants. Why, you may ask? I have no idea. Just more chance for Bruce to get the crap end of the deal. Anyway, the big plan pretty much involves Jessica turning on her charms and wooing Chris. She brings sexy back (beating Justin Timberlake to it by a good ten years) and tells Chris she wants to make all his dreams come true at the "special place where Liz and I take our special friends." Obviously, Chris knows where it is because Liz tells him everything. And according to him, he and Liz did what the zipper stopped Liz and Todd from doing that Fourth of July, so he's probably already been there. Of course, Chris doesn't know what special place Jessica's talking about because he's a goddamn dirty liar. So he rushes off to his car where he flips through Liz's diary, because apparently he takes it with him wherever he goes. Hmm. But guess who's in the backseat? Why, Winston Egbert, of course! How stealth! Winston takes the diary off him, and suddenly everyone's surrounding the car watching evil Chris with their judging eyes. The girls all stand in front of his car (their tsk-tsk faces on), which to me looks like natural selection begging Chris to do its will.
The gang tells Liz how sorry they are for doubting her, even though technically they never confronted her, and she never offered any explanation for them to doubt. Except Todd. She offered an explanation to Todd. Apologise, Todd. Actually, Todd doesn't apologise, he just stands there like the great big lump of unapologetic useless he is. And I can't help averting my eyes to see if those are the famed Fourth of July pants. The zipper looks okay to me, but I'm not a tailor or anything. The random Asian kid says, "Maybe someday you'll write something about me in there." Um, okay, Random Asian Guy -- maybe when we work out WHO THE FUCK YOU ARE! And why'd you look so upset when Chris was telling you all the secret diary secrets on the escalator if they weren't even about you? Go home, dude.
Oh no, the heartfelt music is swelling. It must be that time of the episode where the twins discuss their feelings in a way that makes that Seventh Heaven family want to throw up. Todd's there too this time, and Jessica admits that she meddled in their relationship a little. They look really surprised for some reason. Why is that? It that not something Jess would do, and has done in the past? Todd's really mad, and looks like he wants to kill her. (Not uncommon.) But then they realise that their twenty-two minutes are nearly up, so instead they all hug. Even Jessica and Todd, who I'm pretty sure will eventually butcher one another in a battle of Kill Bill proportions.
Oh, and by the way, I totally know who that random Asian guy is now. In the next episode (as in, the episode after this one), Winston hosts a Japanese exchange student named Koichi, and that's him. I have no idea why he's in this episode, considering he's not even supposed to be in the country, but whatever. His presence in this episode meant NO PATTY, and that's something I could get used to.