Too Many Doubts
Francine Pascal and Cara Lockwood
(yes. I finally looked 'er up.)
Soooooo... this is going to be awkward. I apologize in advance if I venture into jackass territory, but this installment is... you have to read it to believe it?
Recap: In TSL:1, Bruce is accused of sexual assault and everyone indulges in some unusual flashbacks to Bruce in SVH, particularly the early books, specifically Bruce's attempted fun times with one Elizabeth Wakefield. At the time, Liz was decidedly not herself and was more Jessica with a dash of Margo's sexual appetite than virginal Elizabeth Wakefield. Early!Bruce had the morals of an alley cat (sorry, kitties!) and wasn't above getting Liz drunk in an attempt to see how things would shake out. When he disappears to get more booze, Liz hits her head and is back to normal and no sexy fun times are had.
The series essentially glosses over this for the rest of forever.
But it's pretty much the first thing that comes up when fans discuss Bruce as semi-adult types, possibly due in part to Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl going down a similar route and the parallels between Gossip Girl and SVH were too great to be ignored at the time? Who knows, maybe I just like to draw that particular parallel. In any case, Francine Pascal has made it very clear that her knowledge of the series pretty much craps out before Cara and Steven hook up in the early 20's of the series.
So. Bruce is accused of sexual assault and Liz finds the girl making the accusations and is torn. Bruce's story has a hole you could drive a semi through but not a single person in this series has mentioned the obvious cause: Dude's drink was spiked with something! Instead Liz ignores this possibility (why? Even if I'm wrong, it's on the short list of reasons why someone would black out! Come on, people!) and finds herself believing Robin. Or wanting to believe Robin, because who could possibly lie about something like this? And so believably?
Oh, I don't know, Jessica Wakefield
in the very first book we happen to meet her?
Yeah. Those of you thinking that can join me on my island. Those who didn't think about it but are now? There's the bar. You're gonna friggin' need it.
This is never mentioned and Liz just continues to look like a fool as she waffles between the warring stories. Not because she's unsure of whether Bruce could possibly have done something like this while painfully drunk, but because of the way her thought process is presented. People lie. It's what they do. (See Lila's subplot if you need a refresher course.) I can spin like, four possible scenarios and Liz is supposed to be smart, so... something in the execution here is failing me. I'm not sure if this is faithful to the SVH of old or just a pitfall of the storytelling medium this go round.
I need to stop dancing around this because I haven't even gotten to the actual recap here, have I? Oi.
At the end of TSL:2, Bruce gets drunk and finds out where his accuser is living. In a stunning moment of stupidity, he heads over to Robin's cottage and breaks a window, pounds on the door, and wakes up the whole friggin' neighborhood as he harasses her. The cops are called and he gets hauled off to jail, looking guilty as sin.
Elizabeth is still unsure as to whether she believes the man she claims to love, mostly because there's just enough truth in Robin's story to keep her wondering. Also, in Robin's version, Bruce is bitching about Liz's prowress in bed. Liz is also the one footing the bill for Robin's cottage in SV.
After Bruce gets hauled off to jail, Liz gets a call from Robin, begging her to come over. Remember, at this point Robin doesn't know who Liz really is. Liz goes, horrified that Bruce has actually tried to confront his accuser. If things looked bad for him before, well... they look worse now. What, exactly, did he expect to come of this drunken 2am stop?
Bruce is eventually released and his P.I. informs him that Liz is the person leasing out the cottage he just made a drunken visit to, and things go from bad to truly awkward.
After dismissing Missy (some old friend of the family we've never heard of prior to TSL), Bruce and Liz have it out. Sort of. Liz makes a veiled reference to Bruce's mother (she's dead, remember? So Mommy issues AND dead Mother issues!) and Bruce flips his shit. He flings his glass of scotch at the wall opposite Elizabeth and then turns an appalling shade of red. He grabs her arms and hauls her to her feet, looking ready to shake some sense into her and I'm instantly on the good ship Get The Fuck Out Of Here.
Liz whimpers that he's hurting her and he instantly snaps back into reality, but not before Liz's doubts should have mounted considerably. The relationship has reached its sell-by date and Liz flees.
Like I said. Awkward. You're asking me to believe Bruce is innocent and I'm with you on this. If he's not, then SVC was an even bigger piece of crap than it initially seemed, and that's just simply not possible, so he must be innocent. But to have Bruce cross a line like that and then still expect me to like the guy?
Oh, honey. Honey, no. I get that he's having a shitty life, and I get dead parent issues, I do. I get that the booze in his system is doing him no favors and I get that having Elizabeth, the person he's basically built his happiness for the past three years (and let's be honest, it's been longer than that) on betray his trust so thoroughly has to be physically painful, but there is a line.
And Bruce Patman has already crossed that line once; it's what you're hinging your entire backstory for him on, in fact. Having him cross that next line is not a good idea. It is, in fact, a spectacularly bad idea.
Because you've sunk your battleship, Frannie. Your Bruce/Liz ship was full of "no, no thank you" before, but now we're squarely in "Do.Not.WANT." harbor.
Oh, before I forget: Bruce's mother was apparently bipolar and on meds and no one knew until after her death and... really? Because the Mrs. Patman I remember was simply Old Money Bitchy, not manic. o_O
But we need a plot twist wherein we now wonder if Bruce actually commited this crime he's accused of!
However, I stand by my SVC reasoning. Also, I'm suggesting Bruce take a good, hard look in the mirror and dump the booze. I can only love one billionaire alcoholic at a time and Tony Stark is holding that spot currently.
Anyway. Liz gets found out at work as well and is talked into convincing Robin to give the Tribune an exclusive with the promise her name will be kept out of things. Robin agrees and Liz is once more suspicious of Robin's reaction. What's this noticing of Robin's glassy-eyed stare? Guess we'll wait til next time to find out.
Jessica, you're up! Make me forget about people doing the absolute worst thing possible in their efforts to get what they want!
Jessica's still upset about Todd not taking the news that she and Liam slept together and her lie about it all that well. So... she goes out on another date with Liam. At the newest It-restaurant and as anyone who has ever cracked open a tabloid knows, they sit near a window and pictures are taken and the next week Toddles spies a cover shot of the two kissing and he goes from hoping for a last minute reconciliation to "that bitch."
And also Sarah, the chick who plagiarized many an article and yet Todd still seems to believe it was a one time deal despite the proof to the contrary (Google, goddamit, Todd Wilkins. You are not supposed to be this fucking stupid. That's tv!Todd, not book!Todd. JESUS.) shows up at his place with the sob story that she couldn't afford her rent and her landlord changed the locks and ohboohoo, she's homeless.
Yeah. I'd feel bad for you except I'm not a complete idiot. (Or maybe I am. I've worked myself into a rage how many times and it's not even 9am.)
Naturally she's still living with Toddles when Jessica works up her courage to go win her man back. I'd be more invested in this except I cannot accept Todd being this stupid (Google, man! If you'd paid any attention at all to Jessica's career instead of resenting it* you'd have realized it wasn't just a one time thing. Also, you're allegedly a journalist so, y'know, do some friggin' research.) and no one hitting him upside the head for it. Sigh.
Lila, would you like to push me ever closer to the brink with another installment of The True Housewives of No One Knows How A Reality Show Works?
What's this, Ken's kissing Ashley the blond!Kardashian already? Are you... seriously
? Are you fucking kidding me?
Whatever. Lila's costars have sort of taken sides. On Lila's side, we've got Devone and on the "I'll wait and see" side we've got Marina and no, you don't need to care beyond the brief realization that Lila did the wait-and-see thing more than once in the various SV series. Since Lila's lying about being knocked up just to get Ken back, she's not really invested in anything beyond being the Star of the Show and also getting Ken back.
There's a brief catfight and Ken appears to defend Lila and they sweep up the stairs to get busy in their making up.
Btw, her brilliant plan for getting out of this is to miscarry sometime after she's got Ken back but before she should be showing. Hey, anyone want to guess whether her reunion with Ken gets her preggers thus fucking up her plan spectacularly?
Basically this little subplot is just painful due to the appalling lack of knowledge in the ways of reality show working. Dude, if I can spot the problems, you've got some Serious Issues because I know so very little. Sigh.
Who's next? Oh, yeah. Annie Whitman is allegedly a super awesome criminal defense attorney. Y'know. At 30. I think I choked on my skepticism the last go round so much I didn't mention it. Sorry! Jessica brings her in to defend Bruce and there's an allusion to Annie and Bruce getting together (and I do mean together so that means someone else is buying my Easy Annie Put Out theory) in her Easy days... but she totally likes him and respects him and he'd never do anything like this and hey, is that a romantic subplot I'm smelling brewing on the backburner?
Neeeeeext? Another subplot I blanked on the last go round. Steven and Aaron had a surrogate carry their baby girl, Emma, and no one knows which is the actual father but it's strongly suspected that whether it's actually biologically possibly, Emma has inherited the Jessica Wakefield gene. Aaron seems to be very big on the attachment parenting thing and as such Emma is carried everywhere and Steve is chaffing at this but that's blown off this round because they found a nanny who is cool with Emma being treated like a little purse dog, only... better?
So the nanny takes Emma to the park (all six month old kids love the park!) and they meet up with a blond nanny!Agneta has befriended named Melissa. And in about the time it takes for you to think the words "don't leave the baby alone with her!", Agneta does and Melissa runs away with baby Emma.
But don't worry because the next chapter will tell us that Melissa is actually Linda Carson, the surrogate.
And the chapter after that has Emma returned (how? Where was she found?) because Emma's got the Jessica gene and wailed like a banshee when someone other than her daddies or Agneta held her. Linda can't take the screaming and leaves a note saying so. All's well that ends well in like, ten pages. Wow. That was just... anticlimactic.
Okay, TSL:3, I haven't lost my hope that someone in this godforsaken wasteland is going to do something semi intelligent just once. Hit me with your best shot!
We end this round with Bruce apparently having fled the country after having just had a long couple of paragraphs as to why he would never do such a thing, being the new improved Bruce and all.
Oh. Good. Lord. Are you kidding me?* There's a difference between old fashioned and needing a good swift kick to the crotch, and early!Todd was not so crotch-kick worthy in his thoughts on a woman's "place" in a relationship. In fact, he seemed to actively support Elizabeth's passions. Jealous of other guys, yes. Of her work, no.
If you need me, I'll be slamming my head into the nearest wall since I'm fresh out of scotch.