Does everyone have their popcorn at the ready? Pull up a comfy chair and get yourselves ready for the conclusion of the SWEET VALLEY TERROR miniseries (or I think it’s colloquially known as the Prom Miniseries?), The Evil Twin. There will be at least one murder! But of whom? And will it be the last? Will Elizabeth and Jessica make up before it’s too late? Will Jessica ever tell her sister the truth about the Jungle Prom? Will Sam come back as a ghost? (He won’t.) Will Todd Wilkins ever suck less? (No, he will continue to suck, maybe even at a greater rate than usual.) Will Margo be the craziest of crazypants? The answers to all of these (and to a lot more questions you probably didn’t ask because you’re not as invested in this as I am) coming up. Spoilers to follow…
It is the last day of school before Christmas vacation. This makes zero sense. It was never specified that the masquerade party of mild danger was in fact a Halloween party. I mean, it makes sense that the Sweet Valleyites would just have a random masquerade party for no reason other than it’s Tuesday and many of these high school students have a higher net worth than several small nations. But clearly someone read ‘masquerade party’ and it translated as Halloween, so thus: Christmas!
Margo Last-Name-Still-Unknown is still at large for multiple murders, even if only one person has managed to connect them all, and connect them all to her. That would be Josh Smith, he who has a dumb name and is in possession of a deerstalker cap. It’s not that I want Margo’s killing spree to go completely unchecked, but also I do not want her to lose to this moron. Can you blame me? On the other hand, he’s figured out that there’s a blonde girl identical somehow to Margo, and is doing his best to warn the twins that they’re in danger. By ‘his best’ I mean he doesn’t go to their house or anything like that, just gets himself framed for murder and screams at them while under arrest. But I’m getting to that.
Everyone at SVH is getting holiday candy canes from admirers! Local jocks are dressed up as Santa, because why not. Jessica gets one that reads Happy Horrordays, which, frankly, is uninspired, as far as trite, Christmas-themed threats go. Elizabeth’s is a bit more creative: I’m dreaming of a red Christmas. Wreck the halls with bloody bodies. Which is two different songs, but at least shows imagination. Although it doesn’t make sense to me why Margo would warn Jessica of her existence, even if anonymously. Elizabeth can get a threatening candy cane, Elizabeth can get all kinds of threatening candy canes; Elizabeth’s going to die soon. But if Margo is going to assume Elizabeth’s place forever, maybe she shouldn’t be warning her new twin sister that anything is suspect, even in as dumb a manner as this. Whatever. This is why I’m not a serial killer, I guess.
Also, Elizabeth is apparently a lucid dreamer now? Between her tingling twin sense, and her odd prophetic dreams about Margo, it doesn’t seem fair that she is also able to be aware of her own (non-prophetic) dreams and manipulate them accordingly. Especially not to solve mysteries! Who are you, Elizabeth Wakefield? Are you magic somehow? She’s going back through her dream-slash-recollection of the Jungle Prom (before the car crash, obviously), trying to remember what happened that got her accidentally drunk. Somehow, inexplicably, she’s drawn to the conclusion that Jessica spiked Liz’s punch, and is of course furious. Stealing Todd’s lame handwritten declaration of love and vague apology is an act of spite. Spiking someone’s punch so they’ll make a fool out of themselves and you can become prom queen is malicious. Especially if someone dies! Elizabeth does not go to Jessica with this accusation, however. Maybe because it came to her in a dream. Her theory is actually correct, but being mad at someone for something that happened in a dream is stupid.
Crazy Margo is now so ready for her plan to take place that she’s periodically just showing up at the house in the guise of one of the twins. She’s passed herself off as one Wakefield or another with Todd and Lila (though oddly, not Enid, who sees right through it (though thinks Margo is Jessica portraying Elizabeth)). She has also masterminded an elaborate plot to get the patriarch and matriarch out of the house by setting up ‘an interview’ for a consulting job for Ned in San Francisco. Because the internet exists only in theory right now and all of Margo’s evil is committed on typewriter, Ned does not think to double-check this cover story, especially since it comes with plane tickets. I also find it highly suspect that a law firm would conduct any sort of interview in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but I’m not a lawyer? In any case, I don’t have to tell you that the law firm in question is not holding an interview, because Margo made the whole thing up and also Ned is an idiot. But by that time, it’s too late! The hotel where “Michelle de Voice” theoretically booked Alice and Ned a room does not have a room. Ned and Alice, who are dumb, decide to book a hotel room elsewhere and then make not one but two subsequent visits to this law firm to find out they’ve been bamboozled. Why Ned brings Alice with him to an interview is beyond me.
When they’ve finally figured out they’ve been duped, it’s too late. Their flight home has been grounded by fog. So they get on a train! But then the train is stopped because it might get derailed. So they rent a car to get back to Sweet Valley! But the car sucks. Alice keeps urging this journey home because she has a bad feeling. Whole damn family has premonitions. Yet they all still go ahead with these things they have bad feelings about. You’d think that all of their near brushes with death in the past would’ve taught them how to listen to gut instinct, but no. And you’d think they’d have that gift in the future, but no, they continue to find themselves in stupid situations because no one listens to their gut. You picked a stupid family to want to be adopted into, Margo.
Jessica’s boyfriend James was, as you may or may not recall, hired by Margo to date Jessica and learn everything there was to know about the Wakefields. But he fell in love for real! Which is why he decides he has to tell Jessica everything. Margo threatens him that if he tells Jessica anything, everyone’s gonna die. So he breaks up with Jessica instead and she spirals into depression. Finally James decides he has to at the very least warn her that Margo is nuts before he skips town, so he calls Jess and sets up a clandestine meeting on the pier. Unbeknownst to either of them, Margo is just now spending all of her free time lurking in the Wakefield homestead and heard the entire conversation. Jessica, filled with Bad Feelings, begs Todd and Elizabeth (who is still not speaking to Jess) to take her to the pier, but they get there just in time to see a figure in a baseball cap shove poor James through the rotted wooden railing at the pier, so he may plummet to his death on the jagged rocks below. Todd, in a burst of Todd rage, goes after the be-capped figure, and it turns out to be amateur sleuth Josh Smith, lured there by Margo so she could take advantage of the pouring rain to frame him for murder. The cops throw Josh in the slammer, but not before he gets the chance to rant and rave like a crazy person at Todd, trying to warn him of the imminent danger facing the twins. I told you he sucked at this.
James is super dead, by the way. Jessica is not mentally well after this, as one can imagine. She does not go to the funeral. (Not her fault; James didn’t have a last name, so how would she know where to go?)
Margo is extra pleased with herself for getting Josh out of her way by setting him up for James’s murder. The Wakefield parentals are out of the way, Josh is out of the way, and Margo is now all set to go through with her final plan, to kill Elizabeth Wakefield at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, and start the new year as a new person. Part of her plan also involves being Elizabeth around Jess, being Jessica around Liz, being Jessica around Lila, and buying ‘daring’ fuchsia dresses for her and Liz to wear. Of course, it is not the sort of dress anyone thinks Liz would actually wear. Margo’s plan to become Elizabeth also involves her becoming a more promiscuous version of Elizabeth.
Incidentally, Margo’s plan so far has to been lurk at the Wakefield house and pretend to be Liz every time Alice and Ned call. So Steven, Elizabeth, and Jessica all think their folks are just having a second honeymoon of sorts and suspect nothing. Also: gross. Margo finally cuts the phone line, which should have been her plan all along, because none of these people have cell phones anyway, so it doesn’t matter.
Lila’s big NYE bash rolls around. Jessica is dreading this party but goes anyway. Todd and Elizabeth dance. Jessica does not dance, because everyone she’s dated in the past six months has died. Margo slides effortlessly through the event, luring Todd away for some happy make out time. She is much more aggressive than Elizabeth has ever been, so Todd suspects something is Up. I was going to make a joke about his penis, but I’m trying to be classy. Besides, I’m pretty sure Todd never thinks about his penis. He only thinks about Justice or something. He refuses to make out with Margo-Liz, so she clocks him with a statuette (this party’s at the Fowler mansion, I’m pretty sure there are just statuettes in every room). Margo then pretends to be Jess, saying she needs to confess something, so she can lure Elizabeth out to the pool house for Murder O’Clock. Elizabeth decides now is a good a time as any to hear Jessica’s drastic confession of being an awful human, and goes along with this ruse.
Steven Wakefield (and girlfriend Billie) discovers that A, accused psychopath Josh Smith has escaped from prison, and B, the phone line is cut, so he C, has A Bad Feeling and is rushing to the Fowler mansion. Jessica has A Bad Feeling and is rushing to the pool house, because she caught a glimpse of blond hair and a fuchsia dress out the window. Everyone deserves to die for making me have to spell fuchsia repeatedly.
Elizabeth, with a “glittering” butcher knife arcing towards her chest and/or her jugular, forgives Jessica at the last minute in absentia for something that is again, not an actual confession and a conclusion she drew based on a dream. Jessica rushes to the pool house just in time to jump in front of the blade and gets her arm sliced open for the effort. She wrests the knife free, but then is confronted with two identical blond girls, both claiming to be the identical twin with whom Jessica has shared a bathroom for the past sixteen years. She can’t tell the difference!
Dammit, Jess. Yes, Margo has spent weeks impersonating Liz and has it down enough to confuse a couple of people, including the twins’ own mother, but if Todd has the power to listen to his justice-penis telling him it’s not the real Liz, then Jessica should know better. Maybe if we all close our eyes and wish really, really hard, a bolt of lightning from this thunderstorm of convenience will strike the pool house and set it instantly aflame, killing all three dimpled girls and saving everyone a lot of trouble.
Nope, my book still ends the same. You guys didn’t wish hard enough.
Todd struggles himself back to blurry consciousness (I didn’t wish hard enough, either), and meets up with Steven and Billie just in time to run into Crazy Josh (who is not crazy but comes across as crazy, what with the nonsensical ranting about identicals, and also that whole thing where he escaped from prison), who manages to convince them that he is not the killer. They get to the pool house just as Margo has gotten her knife back and is back in stabbing mode, but then Josh tackles Margo through the large window, some glass winds up in her neck, and she’s dead. Everyone wins! Except for Margo, of course. And James. And the cater-waiter she ran over, the old lady she strangled, wee Georgie, poor Josh Smith’s mom who is probably out of a job now because of the stolen Victorian jewelry, and little crispy Nina. And Sam, of course. And me, because everything is going to get back to the Sweet Valley version of normal, eventually, and no one will have suffered any consequences for their actions beyond being mildly socially ostracized.