The One Where Margo Drops The Ball – SVH #100 “The Evil Twin”

29 Dec

Yesterday, someone arrived at this website using the search terms, “Margo’s Carvery”. I kid you not.

Part 1: The Book

This epic Magna Edition marks not only the end of the jungle prom/ dead boyfriend/ doppleganger six-book saga, but heralds the beginning of a new-look Sweet Valley . Gone are our shoulder patting, fluffy-haired, O-mouthed circle covers; moreover, one-book plots starring random misfit characters whom Elizabeth can rescue are a thing of the past. Instead, we have 100-odd books with increasingly ridonkulous plots drawn out over “miniseries”, starring werewolves, monarchs, vampires, and the odd face-transplanter. Liz cheats on Todd at least once per story arc, and Jessica morphs into an even more caricatured version of herself.

Our story begins with the twins fretting in front of their respective mirrors, on the final day of school before another Christmas vacation. There are no mentions of previous “annual” traditions including the Miss Christmastime parade and Handel’s Messiah.

In case you missed the preceding five books, our trusty ghostwriters are here to keep you up to speed. Recently, Jessica and Elizabeth were embroiled in a bitter dispute over who would be queen at the Jungle Prom, an event organised by the precious twinkies themselves. [I would’ve given Maria, or at least Lila the crown, but whatevs.] The rivalry was so fierce that Jessica spiked her twin’s drink with a shot of magic grain flask alcohol, and Elizabeth, true to form, got so smashed that she drove Jessica’s boyfriend into a pole and killed him. After a few nights in jail and a court case in which she was represented by her multi-practicing father, Elizabeth was acquitted when the driver of another car came forward and admitted to drink driving and running her off the road. The Fuck? Jessica, meanwhile, hooked up with douchebag Todd, and the twins still aren’t speaking. Because Elizabeth is an idiot [and Jessica is a wench], she hasn’t figured out about the drink spiking. Recently, Jessica took up with a new man, James, a dirt-bike rider who Margo is paying two grand to spy on the Wakefields.[ My boyfriend wants to know where a 16-year-old girl with no family got that kind of money.  My guess is that the rent at Kelly’s is cheap, and also that she is on a no-food diet to fit in Elizabeth’s sized-six clothes.]

Who is Margo, you ask? I could probably write a thesis on this, but in short, she is a deranged psycho-killer from Long Island, who worked as a nanny in various foster homes before murdering small children and escaping town. I can only assume her murderous ways are the direct result of not being brought up in a nuclear family.

Luckily for Margo, she is identical to Elizabeth and Jessica but with dark hair! [Let’s just pause a moment to let that sink in.]

Amusingly, when the shit hits the fan, nobody accuses Ned or Alice of screwing their clients in Long Island and producing Margo, because lookalikes happen all the time in these books. [Just ask Tricia Martin.]

Anyway, Margo undertakes an all-consuming quest to spy, mimic and eventually become Elizabeth Wakefield, whom she initially spotted in the national papers after the DUI charge. [Slow news day?]

Margs also sends some anonymous Christmas cards to the twins, just for her own amusement, and they are distributed by none other than Ken Matthews, in tights. Christmas or not, Ken dressed as an elf is not something I want to see. Jessica’s reads, [very simply, because it is intended for her]

“Happy Horrordays”

Elizabeth, meanwhile, gets this little pun:

“I’m dreaming of a red Christmas. Wreck the halls with bloody bodies.”

God I love Margo.

Other activities include “rasping” about the Wakefields, taking “deep, ragged breaths”, and drinking beer at The Shady Lady. She even thinks about SEX. Because I love Margo so much, allow me to indulge in one of my favourite moments, where she takes us into her mind to reminisce about all her victims thus far.

First, we learn how she doused the kitchen of her foster home in petrol, and let her sister at the toaster with a knife. Then she escaped, leaving her abusive parents to cop not one, but two murder charges.

After hitch-hiking to Cleveland, she was hired as an au pair by Mr and Mrs Smith, who were alcoholics. They worked as jewellers, which probably answers the question of how Margo later funded her lifestyle in SoCal. It must be, because there are no such things as prostitutes in Sweet Valley.

Anyway, after Margo got the kid, George, to give her the key to the jewellery safe, this happened:

For such a little kid, he had a big mouth, Margo remembered, her mouth twisting into a sneer.  I could never have trusted him to keep quiet about the jewellery. I took him for a swim in the lake in just the nick of time.

Georgie’s big brother Josh is out to avenge the kid’s death by chasing Margo/Marla/Margaret/other pseudonym around the country.

Since then, she has gotten jobs in catering and DAY CARE to further spy on the twins and their friends. She’s also bleached her raven hair blonde and found some blue-green contact lenses – and voila! A new Wakefield! I guess they’re not so special after all, huh.

During the 300+ pages of this book, Margo rocks the very foundations of Sweet Valley, fooling pretty much everyone with her impersonations of both twins.

Let’s take a look:

First, she runs into Bruce and Pamela in the library, and because she is bad, she can barely keep her hands off him:

She resisted the urge to let her gaze linger on Bruce’s athletic physique; Elizabeth Wakefield didn’t make eyes at other people’s boyfriends [wanna bet?!] If I ever break up with Todd, Margo speculated, licking her lips, Bruce would be a mighty fine catch.

Hahahahahah. Margo and Bruce….you read it here first.

Next, she turns up in the library to hang with Enid. Margo is certainly getting the raw end of this deal. However, The Drip realizes it is not Elizabeth, and decides it must be Jessica on account of the “souless eyes.”

It looked as if fooling loyal old Enid wasn’t going to be so easy after all…Then Margo’s expression brightened. If I have to, I’ll just kill her, she decided. She’s not the kind of best friend I want, anyhow.

One can only dream….

Fooling Alice is somewhat easier when Margo pops into Calico Drive that afternoon.  Although the real Elizabeth comes home in a different outfit five minutes later, Alice decides not to say anything, because it might upset her. She also decides some time away from her screwed up family will be just what everyone needs. The fuck? This is rather handy, because Margo has organised to send Nalice on a fake business trip to San Fran. Ned, you are a lawyer, not a businessman. I’m not even going to go there.

And then for our classic Margo scene, where she gets stuck into Elizabeth’s secret diary, and is so engrossed in reading about the Jungle Prom nonsense that she is almost sprung. So she hides in the cupboard, while Elizabeth starts raging at Jessica for going through her stuff:

Her palms itching, she fingered a silk scarf she’d picked up from the floor of the closet. I could do it right here, right now. I could just wrap this scarf around her neck and pull it tight – it would only take a minute.

She then escapes down a secret trapdoor to the fucking basement and pulls a Jessica to go shopping with Lila. Margo is on the money, I must say, because hanging out with awesome Lila is her new favourite activity. She seriously picked the wrong twin.

But now for the best impersonation yet: Margo-as-Elizabeth’s date with Todd. She wears a hot little turquoise number [that Margo-as-Jess picked out with Lila] and has to restrain herself from “pouncing on him.” Yes, those are her words. She also majorly drops the ball by suggesting a fricken heavy metal concert and whining about being bossed around at the Oracle.

If you ask me – Penny’s been editor long enough- it’s time someone else had a shot at the top. It’s Elizabeth’s turn! When I become Elizabeth, no more of this staff writer stuff. I want power!

No offence, Margo, but I’d like to hope you could string a few words together. You’ll be writing for The Oracle, after all. And Liz is a straight-A student, if you’ve been reading these books.

Meanwhile, the real Wakefields are becoming increasingly absorbed in themselves, as usual. Jessica is consumed by a rare sense of guilt over the drink spiking, and Elizabeth is cranky about her twin going behind her back with Todd. Furthermore, both twins are rather confused by the other’s moody behaviour, because half the time it’s actually Margo impersonating one or the other. Elizabeth is having car crash nightmares in which Margo actually appears, while Jessica is dating James, the brooding dirt-bike rider.

Although Alice, Enid, Lila, Todd and others are confused by the split personalities taking over the twinkies, conveniently everyone decides not to mention anything. To anyone.

Take Todd, for instance, who thinks the chick in the teal minidress who was all over him was in fact Jessica, and it would be unwise to mention anything to Elizabeth and upset her. Margo, please kill Todd.

Don’t get me wrong, Margo is a smart cookie. But the fact that everyone is weirded out but refusing to bring it up with Liz or Jess is making this completely unbelievable. [Yeah, that’ s the unbelievable bit.]

Also, on a side note – what on earth is Margo going to do when she does kill her? What about when  Jessica brings up some memory that the new Liz doesn’t know about, because she’s Margo. Like, “oh, hey Liz! Remember that time we were seven and we got that rollercoaster in our yard? Or when Betsy Martin gave you that evil mask in the sixth grade and it made you crazy? ” Or what about when those randoms whose lives Elizabeth changed turn up at the door and Margo has no idea who they are? Will she greet Lynne Henry? Or Emily Mayer? What if Margo’s left-handed? Or doesn’t have the birthmark tatooed on her shoulder? Or can’t do arithmetic ? Or has an allergy?

Anyway —

Finally, it’s Christmas Eve! Again! After our new annual tradition of a sunset mass and a roast, we have an awkward family dinner, plus Todd.  Jessica is mad because James is blowing her off, and Steven is filming the woe-begone twins. Everything Steven does creeps me out.

But worry not – Jessica is a Wakefield, a being NO SANE MAN CAN RESIST so of course our friend James has fallen madly in love with her. Turns out he is only ditching her to protect her from Margo. He finally calls her, and asks her to meet him at the marina, where he plans on declaring his love for her and asking her to elope. James, take the money. Either outcome will not be worth it, trust me. Luckily, Margo tapped the call, and when “Jessica” turns up on the pier and James spills the beans, Margo is there to push him to his death. Serves him right. Because Margo is a genius, she also tricked Josh into turning up at the marina, and he is now the prime murder suspect, in the clink at Sweet Valley jail.

The ensuing chapters consist of Josh plotting Margo’s demise from his cell, the twins being hostile and plagued by guilt, grief [temporarily] and nightmares. Margo does A LOT of rasping. We lose track of where Jess and Liz begin and where Margo ends.

Finally, it’s NYE and Lila is throwing the bash of the century, with some terrific outfits aplomb. [I will be recapping these in a separate “Evil Twin Outfit Recap” next week.]

Margo-as-Jess has worked her magic, and picked out a sexy fuschia dress and some rhinestone barettes for Liz to wear. She then gets her glittering knife nice and shiny for the big moment.

Todd, the dumbass, is the one who realizes that he’s dealing with a doppleganger. Margo punches him out. Yes, the 16-year-old-girl punches out the star basketballer. Go Margs!

It’s Margo who drops the ball though, faltering in the pool house just as her blade is slicing the air. She decides to stop a moment [six pages worth], to explain herself to Elizabeth and why this blessed Wakefield life is rightfully hers. Just kill her, dammit.

Jessica arrives in the nick of time, and is faced with the choice – which Elizabeth does she kill? Margo messes up big time, and turns the knife on Elizabeth, so now we all know who’s who.

While all this is going on it’s countdown time, of course, so all the guests are occupied and there’s an odd sense that time is running out! But then – trusty detective Josh appears, after escaping jail by faking appendicitis. Once again, the LAPD have failed us, and it’s been up to a bunch of 16-year-olds to save Sweet Valley.  Then as midnight strikes, Josh gets one up on Margo in the ultimate pool push, where she goes through the Fowler’s glass barricade and falls several feet:

There was a sickening thud and the scream was cut short. Looking down over the patio, Josh saw Margo lying motionless on her back. A large, triangular fragment of glass protruded from her throat; blood pulsed from the wound, mingling with the rain on the pavement. Her mouth was still stretched wide in a soundless scream and her eyes were open, but the horrible face was lifeless. Margo was dead.

Todd miraculously wakes up! Nalice appear! What ho! Elizabeth suddenly realizes Jessica spiked her drink! And forgives her! Which is handy, because we needed a resolution, stat, so the miniseries could end and the twins, who are technically criminals, can close the door on this little chapter.

But if you thought that was it for everyone’s favourite villain – get “Return of the Evil Twin” off ebay. [Cutting off the blood supply to Margo’s brain wasn’t enough, apparently.]

There was a time when read this book and hide under the covers, terrified. Now, I’m in stitches every page, especially when Margo licks her chops and thinks about giving it up for Bruce.

Happy New Year!

4 Responses to “The One Where Margo Drops The Ball – SVH #100 “The Evil Twin””

  1. Daniella December 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    “Also, on a side note – what on earth is Margo going to do when she does kill her? ”

    That has ALWAYS been a wonder to me, each time I read this book. And what about logistics – won’t her bleached hair eventually grow dark roots? Won’t she have to take out the blue-green contacts sometime? Does she even know her own birthday?

    This book is such pure joy, it makes up for the horrid-ness that is the mini-series leading up to this. Teenagers don’t go on public criminal trials, even if they are Elizabeth Wakefield. Daycares do background checks. And so many other things that are so wrong, I can totally overlook, for the genius of this book.

    Also. I have always found it amusing that when Margo is playing Jessica, no one gets odd feelings about her, but when she’s playing St. Liz, people get creeped out. Hahahaha!

  2. Totally Sweet Valley December 30, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    Awesome recap- just makes me want this one even more…I never read this and still havent managed to get a copy 😦 Doubly-can’t wait for Return of the Evil Twin! lol.


  1. The Evil Twin: A Sweet Valley High Costume Celebration « WHAT WINSTON SAW - January 5, 2011

    […] I can’t really imagine Jessica being too modest to get around in this. Then again, given the shit that went down in this book, a minor outfit inconsistency probably isn’t our greatest […]

  2. Sweet Valley High: The Conspiracy Theories « WHAT WINSTON SAW - February 26, 2011

    […] and chopped her hair off. She moved in with Todd and had her way with Bruce – which is just what Margo wanted . She even tossed Enid the Drip over for Maria Slater, and the following year hooked up with an […]

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