The One Where Penny Ayala does “Blue Steel” or SVH #89, “Elizabeth Betrayed”

3 Aug

If you think this book is awesome because of the story, think again.

I personally like it for this gem of a Todd moment, when he is giving Olivia Davidson a rap for her environmental poetry:

“That is a great idea,” Todd agreed. “I wish I had some artistic or literary talent. I’d love to do something to help the rain forests!”

Baahaa. Todd is such a greenie in disguise. Helping the rainforest! It reminds me of a Todd quote from way back in SVH #1 “Double Love.”

“Besides,” said Jessica, “Who cares about saving the whales?”

Todd did, but he let the comment slide by.

Oh, Todd.

Let’s turn our attention now to Olivia Davidson, the other unwitting star of this story. Olivia suffers more than ever in this book from what I like to refer to as the “Dawn Phenomenon.” This affliction is generally seen in carefree, hippy individuals and takes its name from Dawn Schafer , who you might remember as the token Californian member of the baby sitter’s club. Girls like Dawn and Olivia Davidson prance around in floral maxi-skirts, wearing records in their hair and making sweeping declarations about organic food and the environment. They are often described as “individuals” who “don’t care what other people think”, but in reality, they do care. Lots. They can be seen spending entire books desperately seeking the attention of older boys, or wishing they were a Wakefield or a McGill. They conform by changing their hair, their clothes and their opinions.

But on to the story.

Olivia is dating a guy called Rod Sullivan, who, like everyone in Sweet Valley, only wants to talk about Elizabeth Wakefield. Olivia bites her tongue and feels pathetic while Rod goes on about Elizabeth’s journalistic genius and how wonderful it is that Liz gets to take over from Penny Ayala as Oracle editor while Penny is away on study leave. It’s really not that big a deal, but Rod, whoever he is, won’t STFU about it. He repeatedly asks Olivia if they can double date with Liz and Todd. So yeah, I can understand Olivia being pissed. But surely someone as individual as herself can pull a nobody like Rod Sullivan into line? No, she decides to pull a Dawn Schafer instead.

Olivia has to make do with editing the school poetry magazine, Visions, which is regarded as the Oracle’s pathetic little brother. She also designs a lovely poster for “Save the Planet Day” and is submitting poems to The Sweet Valley News. So why she needs the approval of Elizabeth Wakefield and Rod fucking Sullivan is beyond me.

In the B-plot, Annie Whitman cracks the shits at Jessica, because Jessica knew about Tony Esteban cheating on Annie, but said nothing. For her negligence, Annie calls her “Judas Wakefield.” Heee. It has kind of a nice ring to it.

Also, Jessica doesn’t want to offend boyfriend Sam Woodruff by telling him how much she hates his dirt bike riding, so she makes up a string of excuses to avoid going to watch him.

Lila gets her hair chemically straightened with purple streaks and Jessica avoids telling her that she looks like something out of “Night of the Living Dead.”

Ned Wakefield buys ugly meerkat statues for his parents and Alice pretends to like them.

….I’m getting the sense that the moral of this story is about honesty, or something.

A nasty illness is circling the school, and has wiped out about 1/3 of the population. We know this because unlikely buddies Todd, Winston and Scott Trost are having lunch together and the entire Oracle team is off sick. Of course, this staff burden puts a heavy weight on the shoulders of Liz, who now has to basically write and edit an entire edition of the Oracle. Deadlines, people! Life is so tough when you’re the only high school student capable of doing anything!

She cons Jess into writing a piece, and Jessica produces a well-received article about telling the truth. Rod, meanwhile, produces an excellent article which Elizabeth notes is, “vaguely like something she’d read before.” Hmm.

Later that week, Rod gets his wish for a double date, and Olivia gets all dolled up in some tie-dyed creation. Instead of complimenting his girlfriend, Rod is all, “doesn’t Liz have a dress like that?” Ass.

It gets better: While Olivia is envying Liz’s casual style of shorts and a sweatshirt, Rod tells Liz she looks like Aphrodite. Would someone kick this guy? Please?

Olivia is miffed, but can’t even stay mad when Rod drops her off. “I guess I’m just tired.” She says. Get mad, Olivia. Get fucking mad. His behaviour is not OK.

Back at school, Jessica’s article is a huge success. She decides to take her own advice and be honest. Which means being kind of a bitch, telling her mother she looks ugly, and criticizing Winston’s “boring” history speech. Lila organises a Total Honesty for Jessica Day so people can give it back. I am still perplexed as to the purpose of this B plot.

Meanwhile – Rod’s behaviour is getting ridiculous. He showers Liz with hugs and compliments, and brings her cookies. Liz really needs to put her foot down, but I guess the attention of her best friend’s bf is okay with her. Bitch.

Rod lies to Olivia and takes Liz to the Dairi Burger to help her with her English essay. Why would the top student of the school need help from a below par English student? This is all so weird!

Olivia catches them, but STILL doesn’t get angry at Elizabeth. Good God.

Elizabeth hands in her essay and Mr Collins asks to meet her IN PRIVATE after class. Woot woo, I think. I need to grow up. Someday.

Collins gives her an F, as her paper has actually been plagiarized from some literary whiz called Archie Fox. Turns out Rod was feeding her stolen ideas to get her in trouble! A betrayal!

Olivia starts ignoring Liz and Rod starts noticing Olivia.

Finally, Jessica intervenes and tells Olivia where to go. Man she rocked in these later books [Sam Woodruff was a good influence, methinks.]

Then Elizabeth discovers that the article Rod “wrote” for the Oracle was also plagiarized – from Thomas Jefferson. Which means Rod is a total evil backstabber, you guys! Rod is named and shamed in front of Collins and Liz’s essay score is upgraded from an F.

I still don’t know how this excuses Liz – it doesn’t change the fact that she copied the essay ideas Rod gave her. I guess Collins has a soft spot for the stand-in Oracle editor. Either that or a hard on.

And as for Rod – there is still no clue as to why he so badly wanted to build up Liz’s ego then bring her down like that. Something so twisted and cruel is surely more deserving of some Margo-esque scenes delving into his psyche. Or at least some rasping. But like all good villains who backstab a Wakefield – he is never heard of again.

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2 Responses to “The One Where Penny Ayala does “Blue Steel” or SVH #89, “Elizabeth Betrayed””

  1. Lindsey August 4, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

    Genius! I love your recaps!

  2. josiejo August 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    I think Penny is doing a magnum. Is Rod in any other books?

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