Tag Archives: john pfeifer

SVH #90: Don’t Go Home With John

14 May


Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks


Lila has been seeing more of John Pfeifer around since he broke up with his girlfriend Jennifer Mitchell, and she’s surprised how interested she is in him.  He’s much more serious and intense than the dudes she’s used to dating, but she can’t help but be flattered when he pays attention to her.  They finally go out on a date, and it goes really well, until they go up to Miller’s Point and he won’t stop fooling around when she asks him to.  Things get a little rough, and she finally gets away from him by grabbing his keys, jabbing him in the neck with them, and then throwing them over the edge of the cliff.

Completely traumatized by the assault and near-rape, Lila blows off Jessica when she calls to find out how the date went.  She completely withdraws into herself, vacillating between thinking she should seek help from someplace like Project Youth to thinking everyone will blame her for what happened because she’s known as a flirt.  Jessica notices how drawn and pale Lila looks, and she’s seriously worried, but no matter how much she prods Lila, she can’t get her to tell her what’s wrong.

Lila throws her costume ball the following weekend (after thinking about cancelling it and making a point to uninvite John from attending), and it’s going along fine.  Lila is even having a good time until John shows up with some random sophomore in tow.  When she sees him, she completely loses her shit and screams at him in front of everyone about how he tried to rape her.  He denies it and leaves with his date, but the damage has been done in that the rumors are flowing.

The following week at school, Lila is plagued by rumors doubting her story.  It doesn’t help that John is completely weird and keeps following her around, standing in her way in the cafeteria and generally making a mockery of her pain.  Jessica asks John’s ex-girlfriend Jennifer Mitchell if she can help at all and encourage John to seek help, and she basically tells Jessica that since he never tried to rape her, she doesn’t think he needs counseling.  Okay.

Lila is miserable until a sophomore named Susan Wyman comes to see her at her house and tells her that the same thing happened to her with John just before he went out with Lila.  Like Lila, she was able to get away when another couple showed up at Miller’s Point.  The two devise a plan to get John to go to the Dairi Burger where they can confront him together.  They do, and after his friends hear Susan’s story, too, everyone turns on John.  Vindication, I guess?

The B-Plot involves Jessica worrying about “losing control” when she makes out with Sam.  They never say sex but instead dance around it, and Jessica decides they need to cool things down before one of them lets things get out of hand.  She makes them date in public so they won’t be tempted until Sam finally sits her down and is like, “I love you and this is crazy.  I’m just as responsible as you are in this situation, blah blah blah.”  Whatever.  Then they make out a bunch.

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • After Lila throws John’s keys over the edge of Miller’s Point, he calls her a “little witch.”  If ever there was a time for actual profanity…
  • Lila wears a black Lycra dress with a crushed velvet jacket and pearls for her date with John.
  • Jessica and Sam go as Princess Leia and Han Solo to Lila’s costume ball.  Lila goes as Peter Pan, Enid & Hugh are the body and receiver of a telephone (okay), Elizabeth and Todd are the sun and the moon.  What the hell, guys.
  • The ghostwriter refers to a sitcom as a “situation comedy” at one point, which is…weird?

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Lila had heard of boys acting like this, but she had thought that was only in books and movies.  She had never thought that any boy she knew would behave like, this.  That any boy she went to school with, and talked to, and saw every day–and liked–could scare her so much.” (47)
  • “Just a few days ago Lila had been one of the most attractive girls in Southern California, but now she would have been lucky to come in as a runner-up in a Miss Organic-Egg beauty contest.” (78) LOL WHAT?
  • “‘I mean, I know Lila’s telling the truth, Jessica, but I still have a hard time believing that my friend John did something like that. It’s like Dr. Pfeifer and Mr. Hyde. Anyway, there’s no way of proving what really did go on, is there?'” (112) LIZ IS THE GODDAMN WORST.

A (Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

This is a hard one to snark on, because given the subject matter and the series, it’s done fairly well.  Especially when you consider the fact that it was written in the early 90s.  There are still a couple of things worth mentioning, though.

In the book and in some recaps, incredulity is expressed that a person like John could ever do this to someone.  There’s a lot of, “John is a nice guy, and it doesn’t make sense for him to suddenly do this.”  And while the character development is sudden (which is not unusual for this series–consider Suzanne Devlin, etc.), I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for something like this to happen.  In fact, one could argue that having a character like John–who’s been mild-mannered for the most part, and a “good guy”–helps bring nuance to the issue.  Rapists are not all mustache-twirling devils.  They are people who appear otherwise normal, except for the fact that OH YEAH THEY ARE RAPISTS.

The other thing that really, really bothered me about this one was Liz.  It’s already well-established that she’s the fucking worst, but there’s something about her treatment of this issue that really stuck in my craw.  There’s the quote I linked to above, but there are other moments in the book, where Liz says things like, “I’d like Lila to know I support her, even though I’ve had to be polite to John,” where I just sort of rolled my eyes.  There’s so much self-righteousness there.  I don’t know.  My feelings are complicated about a stupid, poorly-written character, but they’re still my feelings.


SVH #52: White Lies

10 Jun

Estimated Elapsed Time: 3 weeks


John Pfeifer is upset about the fact that his friend Jennifer Mitchell is dating high-school dropout and all-around douche canoe Rick Andover.  The fact that John is in love with Jennifer comes into play here as well.  Anyway, Elizabeth notices that he’s distracted and moody, and when she presses him, he tells her how worried about Jennifer he is.  He thinks she’s planning to run away to New York City with Rick, and he wants to stop her.  Liz and John follow Rick to Mellow Music one night and see him rob the store.  They call the owner, who calls the police, and Rick is arrested.

Jennifer finds out about Rick’s arrest and is pretty upset.  She refuses to believe that Rick would do anything as pedestrian as robbing a store, and she convinces herself that her father overheard a phone conversation with Rick and framed him for the robbery as a result.  She decides that she hates her father and cries a lot, and when he ends up sick in the hospital, she refuses to go see him.

John is distraught and blames himself for being the reason that Jennifer is so angry with her father.  This plot makes absolutely no sense.  He confides in Elizabeth, who urges him to come clean with Jennifer.  It takes a really long time, but he finally does, and Jennifer FREAKS THE FUCK OUT and pretty much blames him for being the reason her dad needs bypass surgery.  What?  Liz drives her to the hospital, but Jennifer’s dad is already in surgery.  There’s a lot of crying.

Jennifer’s dad comes out of the surgery just fine, but Jennifer is still really pissed at John.  Liz goes back to the hospital and pretends that some flowers and a card are from John.  Jennifer almost throws them out, but then doesn’t.  Liz convinces Jennifer to talk to John.  The two make up, and I think we’re supposed to believe that they start dating.  This part is unclear, as there is absolutely no chemistry between the two characters.

The B-Plot: Jessica and A.J. are having some troubles making their relationship work.  Jessica wants to go to Dana’s party, but A.J. had made plans for them to have dinner at his family’s house.  She wheedles him into agreeing with her at every turn, about the most mundane, stereotypical things.  Liz shakes her head disapprovingly whenever she thinks about how different Jessica and A.J. are, but she keeps her mouth shut about it.  Jessica denies that there’s anything wrong with her relationship with A.J.  Is…is this really a plot?

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Pushing herself up off the bed, Jessica sauntered over to the mirror and critically examined her face.  ‘My theory about men is that you have to make them do what you want,’ she explained.” (46)
  • “Not having an older sibling to turn to for advice and friendship had to be a lonely way to grow up, she thought, especially for an underprivileged child.” (110)  [Blogger’s Note: Man, FUCK YOU, Elizabeth!]

Trivia/Fun Facts:

  • Elizabeth’s idea of a perfect Friday night in is reading Hemingway’s short stories while drinking a cup of cocoa.  I’m a total bibliphile, and even I want to shake her for that one.
  • Rick Andover steals a Fender Stratocaster and a bunch of money from the music store
  • The fact that Elizabeth is learning to play the recorder is mentioned in this book, a rare moment of continuity from books 46 and 47

(Totally Unqualified) Critical Analysis:

What I’m realizing, you guys, is that the books about tertiary characters are not very compelling for me.  I much prefer the books that focus solely on the twins themselves.  That being said, getting through these books about characters like Jennifer are made worse by the fact that we’ll never see these characters again (except for a cameo at the Dairi Burger or something).  This book is particularly awful for two reasons: Jennifer is an incredibly annoying character; and John Pfeifer’s personality will change so drastically from this book to one about 40 books from now that it’s hard to take it seriously.

Throughout much of the book, Jennifer complains about the fact that her parents treat her like a baby.  The problem is, she acts like a total diaper baby.  She snaps at her parents and bursts into tears at the slightest provocation.  She lies and refuses to see reason about Rick, about her father, and about John.  While we’re supposed to believe that her delusions about Rick come from naivete and blind infatuation, so little time or care is given to the storyline that it’s hard to care.  It’s like the ghostwriter didn’t care about it at all.  If the author doesn’t care about a plot point, how can the reader be expected to?

We’ll deal with John later.

Next up: Kristin Thompson is a star tennis player.  We’re supposed to care.