The Wakefields, Enid, Horrible Todd, Billie the Girl Roommate, and Ghostwriters Who Have Never Seen Law and Order
Liz’s trial starts tomorrow (Fastest manslaughter trial ever!), and Ned is still trying to piece together everything that happened the night of the Jungle Prom. I’ll say that again, it’s the day before the trial. Shouldn’t her lawyer have his theory of the crime all sorted by now? He must have had better things to do than prep her defense. Poor Liz. Her father doesn’t love her, and wants to get disbarred for being inept counsel. Does Ned Wakefield even practice this kind of law? I don’t think so. So, to review, Liz’s crack defense team is a contracts lawyer and an eighteen year old boy. If this weren’t Sweet Valley, and she weren’t Elizabeth Wakefield, she’d be so screwed.
At school, Jess insists to her friends that she’s perfectly okay with the trial tomorrow. Justice will be served, Liz will be found guilty, and nothing about it bothers her in the least. That attitude weirds everyone out, and they avoid her. (She does briefly remember the Magical Vodka portion of the evening, but firmly reminds herself that Liz is the one who drove drunk. Liz is the one who killed Sam, not Jess.) She calls Liz a criminal, which makes Todd angry. Jess starts to cry, and says that Todd can’t side with both twins: he has to pick one, and he’s picked her. Todd is like, “Yeah, I guess,” and puts his arm around her. That night, Jess and Todd go dancing at the Beach Disco. Todd miserably feels like they’re dancing on Sam’s grave, being out together romantically the night before Liz’s trial starts, but making out with Jess puts all those thoughts from his mind. He’s such a terrible person.
Things are going well with Steve and Billie the Girl Roommate. Though Steven is almost as dumb as Todd, (“When Steven had made arrangements—all through a series of notes—with his prospective roommate, Billie, naturally he’d assumed ‘Billie’ was a guy.”) they’re getting along wonderfully, and she’s supportive when Ned calls Steve that night to “run some things by [him], get [his] advice.” Steve is like, “I’m just a prelaw undergrad,” but is flattered his dad trusts his judgment. You’ve got to be kidding me. These two couldn’t acquit their way out of a paper bag.
Liz can’t sleep the night before, so she goes downstairs to find her mom. Alice doesn’t hug her or anything; she’s dusting all the books one by one and is like, “You’ll do fine, Liz! Just make sure to eat a good breakfast!” She’s going off the deep end. The next morning, she cooks this psychotically large spread: frittatas and muffins and fresh fruit salad and who knows what else, and talks Steve’s ear off about which tie Ned might wear that day. Steve is freaked out.
Jess doesn’t go to the trial, of course. There are tons of reporters outside with microphones, shouting questions, and Ned has to put his arm around Liz and shove through them. Liz is practically OJ. She’s momentarily happy when she sees that Enid and Todd have come, because she thinks it means Todd has forgiven her, but Todd’s face is blank. Liz then thinks that he just came to see the show, and is miserable, because hearing all about Sam’s death like this will just convince him that he’s better off without her. What is Todd doing there, when he was out late dancing and making out with her twin the night before? I hate him. (You may be amused to know that, when the DA starts questioning Liz, Todd has to clench his fists in his lap to keep from jumping up and punching him. “Who does this bum think he is, talking to Elizabeth like that?” Todd indignantly wonders. HA! Bum! Todd’s internal monologue talks like a Dick Tracy character!)
This has to go in it’s own paragraph: The prosecution calls Elizabeth to the stand.
And then the Wakefields sue the State of California for twenty million dollars for blatantly violating the kid’s fifth amendment rights, and everyone goes home happy.
No, I kid. Actually, Ned gets reported to the Board of Bar Overseers for not objecting when his client is made to testify against herself. He gets disbarred, and the Wakefields lose their split-level ranch and have to move into a two-bedroom apartment next door to Betsy Martin.
No, I kid again. Liz takes the stand and answers the prosecutor’s questions. This is such bullshit. Worst trial ever.
As she answers every question with variations on, “I don’t know. I don’t remember,” Todd comes to a sobering realization: HE IS A TERRIBLE PERSON. He thinks of how betrayed he felt when he saw Liz and Sam hugging and kissing…what? They never kissed. I should know, I read the book! Anyway, Todd is all, “Holy shit, I was so wrapped up in my pain that I never stopped to think about hers! I’ve never helped her, and added to her misery! I should have been there for her, since I love her!” And, most obvious of all, “I shouldn’t be dating Jessica! What on earth was I doing?” What a brain trust. It took him three books to come to that conclusion, people. After the questioning is done, Enid asks if he would go talk to Liz with her. Todd figures that, since he’s such a waste of humanity, he has no right, so he heads back to school. How stupid and dysfunctional.
Todd eats pizza with Jess, but isn’t really in a chatty mood, because of the self-loathing and all. He offers to take her home, and Jess is all, “NO!” She thinks that, if Todd takes her home now, she’ll “lose what fragile hold she had over him. If he’s alone, he’ll just think about Liz
.” She’s crazy, you guys. They drive to the beach, and Todd just stands there. Jess has a sinking realization that he doesn’t want to be with her, and he’s not even trying to pretend anymore. Her sick game is over, and that “makes her want to shake him until all memories of Elizabeth were erased from his brain.” Jess thinks to herself that she and Todd would’ve been together ages ago, if Liz hadn’t stolen him
. For real. If Todd goes back to Liz, Jess will be all alone, left with nothing. She tells Todd that there’s nothing wrong with them being together, that Liz took Sam and left both Jess and Todd, not the other way around, and that nobody’s guilty but Liz. He’s all, “I feel guilty,” but then he makes out with her, so I dunno. He couldn’t have felt too
awful, is all I’m saying. There aren’t many words left for me to describe Todd: I’m running out of synonyms for stupid and horrible.
Billie takes Steve to the Dairi Burger to help distract him, and he confides in her about Alice’s impending nervous breakdown. She promises not to tell anyone, and they share A Moment. Aw! I think they’re falling in love or something! What an unexpected plot development!
Liz cries over all her stuff, because her room at juvie won’t be anywhere near as nice as the one on Calico Drive. Hee. This scene includes the bizarre sentence: “Elizabeth walked slowly around her room, stopping to touch and examine some of her more treasured possessions: a turquoise and silver bracelet Todd had brought back for her from his last article she’d written for The Oracle.” What? I looked at that sentence for about two minutes straight, and…just…what?
Todd goes to Steven’s apartment, because he’s an idiot. He clutches his pearls over Steve having a female roommate, and then lays out the whole situation with Jess and Liz for Steve and asks for advice on getting back with Liz. Steve just stares at him, and then is like, “ARE YOU ON CRACK?” He tells Todd off for being a horrible person, and is like, “You’re treating my little sisters like shit – abandoning the one when she needs you most and using the other while she’s emotionally fragile – and you want my HELP?” It’s pretty awesome. Todd gets all defensive, and Steve, disgusted, tells him that there’s no reason Liz should believe Todd loves her or is sorry for what he’s done, and basically kicks Todd out. Steven might be my favorite character in this miniseries.
Todd goes home and frets about Liz and his conversation with Steven. He wants to get back with Liz, because he loves her so much, even though he’s been acting like a self-absorbed, cheating douchebag. He doesn’t want to call, because she might hang up, so he writes her a letter all about how their estrangement is all his fault, and how very sorry he is, and how her forgiveness is the only thing that can restore his happiness. Todd arranges a secret signal in the letter: he’ll go to the trial every day, and if Liz wears her turquoise bracelet, touches it, looks at him, and blinks, he’ll know it’s okay to go to her. I’m not making that up.
Soccer game. Pam is there, sitting all by herself. Amy and Lila feel bad for her, and think that they never really gave her a chance. Maybe she’s really nice, and she obviously came to SVH for a fresh start. (I bet they wouldn’t be so generous if she were fat or something.) Jess is like, “Why would you want to be her friend? She’s a tramp.” Amy and Lila think Jess is being a bitch, and Jess asks them, “Since when did you join the Girl Scouts?” Amy feels especially guilty: she regrets telling Bruce about Pam’s bad reputation. Enid comes by and asks Jess if she’ll give Liz some homework, and Jess is not gracious about it. Amy and Lila ask Jess about that, and Jess is like, “I hate my whole family. Liz murdered my boyfriend, my dad is throwing his career away on a case he has zero chance of winning, and my mom is going insane. We’re not exactly the Cleavers.” Lila is upset to hear it: “If she can’t count on the stability of the Wakefields, what can she count on?” HA!
Jess finds Todd’s letter to Liz in the mail, and cracks up about how stupid Todd is. Did he really think she wouldn’t see it? She’s triumphant at outwitting Todd and Liz – They won’t get away with this! – but then feels a stab of pain in her heart. She doesn’t want Todd, she wants Sam. She curls up on the floor in the hallway and sobs.
The next day at court, Liz is still getting hammered by the prosecution. Todd looks at her hopefully as she leaves, but she walks right by. He’s despondent. Serves him right. As Enid leaves, she spots a guy in a college sweatshirt and baseball hat talking to the bailiff, but she doesn’t stop to wonder who he is, because she’s starting to think Liz will be found guilty: after all, she had been driving drunk, and Sam is indeed dead. There’s no question about that.
At SVU, a kid comes up to Steve and expresses his condolences about his crazy mom. The kid asks if Alice is in a hospital. Steven is enraged, and thinks Billie told. He goes home and chews her out, but she insists she didn’t tell anyone and says she’ll move out in the morning. Holy overreaction, Batman! She leaves the room, saying, "It's you who have betrayed me," (HEE!) and Steve cries.
Jess watches Todd at basketball practice, hoping desperately that she can hold on to him. “She needed Todd—she needed his strength. Without it, Jessica knew that she simply might not have the will to go on living out her life.” So she’s suicidal now? I don’t buy it. After practice she asks him out, but he blows her off. She wants to slap Todd as hard as she can, to hurt him for still loving Liz, and Jess lies that Liz isn’t even talking to Enid anymore. She tells Todd that Liz got a mysterious letter the other day – Todd’s face lights up hopefully – and Jess says that Liz read it and tore it up. Jess thinks that she’s “firmly tapping the last nail into the coffin of Todd and Elizabeth’s love,” by saying, “She doesn’t need any of us.”
Liz goes to the beach and considers running away from home, but nixes that idea because she’ll never run away from her guilt over Sam. Then she considers swimming out into the ocean until she gets too tired to go on, and asks out loud, “What’s it like to be dead, Sam?” Creepy! She decides not to kill herself, and goes back home. That was the least convincing bout of suicidal thoughts ever. At home, Alice washes windows and Steve looks miserable while Ned asks Elizabeth, yet again, what happened the night of the prom. Liz still has no idea. Jess creeps downstairs to look in on her family and is disturbed when Ned holds up a blank legal pad and says that’s his whole case, right there. Only Liz can give him the words. He has nothing prepped at all? Liz is so getting a mistrial for legal malpractice.
It finally sinks in to Jess that tomorrow is the last day of the trial. Tomorrow, Liz will be found guilty. And, suddenly, Jess starts to realize what she’s done. She wonders how she can stand it, and almost screams out “her horrible secret.” Her dad sees her looking in and begs her to come in and be with them, as a family. She wants to run to them, but also wants “to run away from them…and away from herself and the awful truth of how Elizabeth came to be drunk and why she had driven off the road the night of the Jungle Prom. The awful truth of who was really responsible for Sam’s death.” So she sits down and confesses everything.
No, of course she doesn’t. She runs away.
The next morning, Ned and the DA are called into the judge’s chambers first thing in the morning and nobody knows why. Steven wore his best suit because he knew his picture would be in the paper, which seems either kind of endearing or slightly crazy. Doesn’t he have bigger things to worry about right now? The kids from school – Winston, Amy, Olivia, Enid, etc. – are there, and Lila talks to Steve. She’s obviously remembering what Grace said to her about how families should stick together when she very sweetly and earnestly tells Steve that she heard from Jess that Alice wasn’t doing well. Lila’s been worried about Alice ever since, and wanted Steve to know that if there was anything his family needed, he should know she and all the kids care very much about the Wakefields and will be there for them. Steve is all, “Jess said my mom wasn’t doing well?” and realizes Jess was the one shooting her mouth off to everyone about Alice going crazy, not Billie. He feels guilty, but relieved.
They say that both sides will rest today, and the judge will give his verdict.
They’re having a bench trial???!!?!?!
My husband (who has been keeping up with this storyline through my recaps) is a trial lawyer, and he just heard me crack up from the other room. When he asked what was so funny, I said, “It’s a bench trial! There’s no jury! Isn't that smart?” He laughed and said, “Almost certainly not. Her dad is screwed. He’s never practicing law again.”
Jess is there to hear the verdict, but still not speaking to Liz. The prosecution calls Elizabeth to the stand – FOR THE THIRD TIME IN THIS BOOK – and swears her in – FOR THE THIRD TIME IN THIS BOOK – and then grills her some more about everything she doesn’t remember. How does the DA manage to call a witness, a witness he is not even legally allowed to call, three times in one trial? How? How how how? I would love to know how Ned is planning to keep his law license after this. The judge should be fired too. Anyway, Jess isn’t sure what she wants the verdict to be, and miserably thinks that she should be on trial with Elizabeth. Liz insists she doesn’t know how she got drunk, and says, “Someone must have spiked my drink!” Jess jumps to her feet, about to shout, “NO! YOU CAN’T PROVE IT!” but her mom makes her sit down. Jess agonizes about whether, deep down, Liz knows it was Jess.
When Liz is finally allowed to sit down, Ned calls a surprise witness, pursuant to the conversation earlier in Chambers: Gilbert Harding. He’s the kid Enid saw talking to the bailiff. He spills everything: he’s a student at the community college. The night of the Jungle Prom, his girlfriend had dumped him. He had a few beers and was driving home, angry, a little tipsy, and not paying attention. He came around a bend on the wrong side of the road and sideswiped the Jeep, which Liz had been driving just fine. It’s his fault Sam is dead, and he’s very sorry and ready to take his punishment.
How convenient! Mr. Wakefield’s career is saved! (Oh, and Liz doesn’t have to go to juvie anymore.) The judge gives his verdict on the spot: Liz is not guilty, but because she was driving drunk her license is suspended for a little while. Cross examination? Closing arguments? Who needs ’em! Whew! Glad that’s over!
Jess is beyond relieved: if Liz is not guilty, that means Jess's Magical Vodka didn’t kill Sam after all. Steve, Ned, and Alice all hug Liz, and the four of them leave the courtroom. They blow right past Todd, who I don’t care about because I hate him now, and Jess, which is pretty cold. Even though she’s more hateful than Todd, she’s still a member of the family. Jess is miserable: she’s not a part of her family anymore. She and Todd are isolated together. Jess watches the hope go out of Todd’s eyes as he reluctantly puts his arm around Jess, and they take off together.
Steve awesomely thinks to himself that he’s no better than Todd, refusing to give Billie the benefit of the doubt the same way Todd did to Elizabeth. He resolves to talk to Billie and work things out, because he lurves her. It’s awesome that Steven hates Todd as much as I do right now.
The family has a celebratory dinner for Liz’s acquittal. Alice made salmon because it’s Liz’s favorite, even though Jess hates it. They all keep hugging and kissing and laughing, and are like, “This horrible thing is behind us! We love our family so much! We never could’ve gotten through it if we hadn’t stuck together!” and nobody will even look at Jess because she didn’t stick with them. I feel kind of bad for her. It’s a miracle she’s not suicidal after her family so obviously and thoughtlessly cutting her out like this. Jess feels so guilty about the Magical Vodka she can hardly contain it, and finally screams, “The trial is over but Sam is still dead!” Her dad tries to tell her that he understands how much pain she still feels, and she shrieks that none of them understand, and they only care about Elizabeth, and runs away. And then Ned and Alice get some recommendations for skilled psychologists in their area to help their grieving daughter.
No, of course they don’t. They finish their dinner and go to bed.
All Liz’s friends are thrilled to have her back the next day. She’s throwing herself into work on The Oracle to forget about Todd, who stares at her in the cafeteria. She turns her back to him; it’s just too painful to think about how much she loves him and how much he hates her. She’s so dumb. If he hated her, he wouldn’t be staring.
Steven goes to Billie’s new apartment and apologizes, and she forgives him. I assume she moves back in.
Jess stands on the beach with Todd. He doesn’t want to be there, and she can tell. If he leaves her, she thinks that her life will be dark and cold, so she talks too much: “I never did understand what you saw in Elizabeth. I mean, even before she started wrecking people’s lives and killing people, she wasn’t exactly a prize. Everyone always thought she was so sweet and good, but I knew her—I knew the real Elizabeth. And she’s cold and selfish and conniving. She uses people to get what she wants and then twists it around to make it look like she was doing them a favor. You were just a status symbol to her, a prop. You made her look good, love didn’t have anything to do with it.” I don’t think Liz is the Wakefield twin Jess is talking about right now.
Todd recoils from her, disgusted by what she’s saying, and Jess leans in even further, crazying, “Wasn’t the night of the Jungle Prom great? That was the night it really started for us: King and Queen!” He’s all, “Bitch, you are insane,” and she’s like, “No I’m not!” He goes, “That’s the night Sam died,” and Jess starts to cry, insisting, “No!” and trying to kiss him. She is sick.
Liz is in the backyard when she hears Jess come in, and goes inside to talk to her. She tries, “Did you have a nice time?” and Jess icily replies, “I was with Todd. We had a nice time,” even though she terrified him with her sociopathy. Liz stammers that she’s glad, and doesn’t care about that as long as Jess will talk to her again. Jess grins creepily at her and goes upstairs to bed. Liz is bereft; she recognizes that Jess is completely different now, and thinks that Liz turning Jess into this terrible new person is even worse than killing Sam. Mr. and Mrs. Woodruff would probably disagree.
She’s on her way, you guys! An old man sits on the bus next to her, and she tells him an hilarious invented life story: she’s on her way to CA to find her birth mother. Her mom was a pregnant teenager, abandoned by the boy she loved. She left Margo on the steps of a church on Christmas Eve, and Margo was adopted by a wonderful family, but always wondered about where she came from. Every year, the church got a small donation from someone in California – a pittance, really, but obviously very important to the person who sent it – and one year the church secretary decided to track down the donor, and found it was Margo’s birth mother. She’d started a new life in California, but always sent her small donation, hoping it would somehow find its way to Margo and help her. The old man cries at this moving, not at all obviously fake story, and gives Margo five dollars. Margo thinks he was cheap; her story was worth at least twenty. Hee.
Then, at a rest stop, she gets out and flips through some magazines. She yells psychotically at the kid behind the counter, but then catches herself and sweetly apologizes, feeding him some sob story about a dead grandma and even mustering up a tear or two. He gives her free candy and a magazine. She flips through the newspapers, looking for any mention of Dead Nina, her foster sister she burned alive, or Dead Georgie, the kid she nannied and drowned, or the Dead Old Lady from the train station, whose head she bashed in, or the stolen jewelry from Mrs. Rossi-turned-Smith. There’s nothing in the papers about any of it! There’s no one Margo can’t fool! She got away with it! She is invincible! Awesome! She pets Elizabeth’s face on that Sweet Valley newspaper she stole from the Dead Old Lady and thinks about how they look exactly alike (except for Margo’s dark hair, of course). Once Margo gets to Sweet Valley, she’ll be perfect, just like Elizabeth. When she gets to Sweet Valley, the fun will really start.
And she’s not lying, people. It will be really, really fun.
Margo is so happy to finally be in LA, a ticket to Sweet Valley in her pocket. She orders a hamburger at the train station, and is at first flattered when a guy stares at her. Then she looks closer and realizes that it’s Josh Smith, Georgie’s older brother. She’s scared, but so is he: she crazies that she can smell his fear. He confronts her all, “I’m turning you over to the police. You killed Nina and Georgie, Michelle. You’re a sick girl.” How did he find out about Nina, but not know that her name is actually Margo? He grabs her, and Margo makes like a damsel in distress. A bunch of guys in the diner grab Josh, thinking he’s attacking Margo, and Margo slips out and gets on a train to San Diego, hoping to throw Josh off the Sweet Valley trail. No police follow her onto the train, and she laughs crazily, making everyone turn and stare at her. She realizes she has to learn from Josh’s mistake, and never let emotion get in the way of her mission. Then she takes out that newspaper and pets Liz’s face some more.
Margo finally gets to Sweet Valley after her San Diego detour. It was worth it; no cops followed her. She wanders around the mall, and sees Pam, Lila, and Amy coming out of Casey’s Ice Cream Parlor. She thinks happily that, soon, Lila and Pam will be her friends, but that Amy is a little too pretty and will have to go. HAHAHAHAHA!
Margo sits in her new rented room in Sweet Valley and combs the papers. No mention of her at all. Josh was lying; the police aren’t after her! She does find that Liz has been acquitted, and is happy. She’s even more thrilled when she sees a mention of Jess in the article: Margo has always wanted a twin sister! Margo tries on her new blonde wig and plans to buy some turquoise contacts (the color of the Pacific Ocean, natch) tomorrow. She grins happily and thinks, “I am Elizabeth Wakefield, and I have a twin sister! Watch out Sweet Valley!” Indeed!