Episode 174

Greggie is in high spirits, because with Olivia's necklace missing, everybody is going to suspect Cole of having stolen it. Eddie finds a note that Cole has left for Elaine, saying that he's had to leave for a while, but still loves Caitlin. This makes Greggie even more delighted. With Cole leaving town, he should look even more guilty still. Keeping the note, so that neither Elaine nor Caitlin will see it, Greggie spends much of the episode cackling like a nutcase and rubbing his hands together with glee. He tells Spawn that Cole has gone, and leaves Spawn to break the news to Caitlin, knowing that she suspects everybody else of having ulterior motives in wanting rid of Cole. Having spent much of the episode moping around in Cole's bedroom, wondering where he is, Caitlin now looks like a love sick puppy, but Cole seems happy enough. He's in Monte Carlo, in a casino, dressed like a schoolboy at a James Bond convention. Hopefully he's gone in search of Jacques The Improbable Frenchman, who for reasons that remain unfathomable to me, I actually rather like.

In Ludlow, Kansas, as the captions merrily inform us, Meg is spending much of the episode hugging her mother. There's the "I'm home!" hug, the "I'm in the kitchen!" hug, the "You've made me breakfast!" hug, the "Tim's taken my things upstairs!" hug, the "Oh mom, I hate Sunset Beach!" hug, and so it goes on. Anyway, she eventually goes off for a lie down, presumably exhausted after all the hugging, whilst Tim tells Joan that it's all Ben's fault. Joan nods knowingly, apparently not at all upset that Meg has just run off for a lie down, leaving all the fresh-cooked breakfast to ruin on the hob. Meg, meanwhile, has found her wedding dress in the wardrobe, and has daydreams about marrying Ben. After a succession of vows that are enough to leave you retching in the direction of the nearest bucket, Dream Ben calls her Maria, and she runs out into the road, squeaking. Aw, poor Meg. Now stay there, and maybe we'll get lucky with a truck.

And back in Sunset Beach, Annie is in high spirits, for Ben is jogging on the beach, and she plans to intercept him and sweep him off his feet. Somehow, between her walking out of her own door and in through his, he's managed to pack half of Maria's belongings away in boxes, get a removal man to take her bed away, and has got all moody and smashed the famous painting of her. Boy does he move fast. No wonder Annie tells him that he looks tired. He tells her that he plans to get Meg back, and then goes off to spend the rest of the episode standing on the beach, looking moody and stubbly and pretty much like normal really. But with extra sad dreamy bits in his eyes. And a particularly sorrowful bit of sunset. Hang on, sunset? But it was morning just a-- no, never mind.


Episode 175

Oh... go away Cole. Oh yeah, he has. It's just that we have to keep seeing him anyway. Cole spends the entire episode playing roulette, whilst clearly meant to be looking suave. He doesn't. He smirks at some woman on the other side of the table, and yep, that's all he does. Back in Sunset Beach, Caitlin finally looks at the pictures of him kissing lots of women. Impressive private detectives Greggie hires. They manage to take pictures of Cole even before Greggie hired them. Even before Greggie had heard of Cole. Boy do they earn their money. Caitlin also looks at a cutting talking about some shipping heiress being due to marry Cole St John. It was all part of a scam, back in the days when he was Cole The World's Least Convincing Jewel Thief, but she's certain that he's not conning her. Frankly, however, who cares. Greggie does some more gloating, and Elaine worries that she'll never see Cole again. I only wish that we could be that lucky, Elaine.

Back in Kansas, Meg is going through another hugging routine, for daddy Hank The Plank has just made his debut, with the world's least farmerly haircut. I can just see him, hard at work in the fields, tossing that hair back every time there's a gust of wind. Anyway, she gives him the "Daddy!" hug, the "Daddy I'm home!" hug, the "Daddy I'm glad to be home!" hug, the "Daddy, Tim just brought me my backpack!" hug, and so it goes on. Boy does she enjoy her huggles. She wanders around the farm with Tim, and then goes upstairs to find her laptop all set up and waiting for her, which causes her to squeak and give Hank an "Oh! My laptop is already set up!" hug. She talks a bit about Ben, and it transpires that Joan hasn't told Hank that Tim turned out to be a cheat, or that Meg has been having a fling with a moody, sulky murder suspect who lives in a frosted pink concrete bunker on a beach. Odd. I'd have thought it would make great dinner table conversation. Better than "How's the corn growing?", anyway. Meg gives her father another hug, possiby a "Daddy, you're a clueless berk with silly hair, but thankyou for setting my laptop up!" hug. Then she spends the rest of the episode looking at the laptop, wondering whether or not to turn it on.

And back in Sunset Beach, Ben is doing his "Standing On The Beach Looking Pretty" act, before going inside to mope in there instead. He sends E-mails to Meg, hoping that they can be Dorothy and SB again, and start the relationship over from scratch. Annie frets about whether or not she's really rid of Meg, and worries when Ben theorises that there's something weird behind his apparently calling Meg "Maria". He says that whatever happened, he's going to get to the bottom of it. Then he goes back to attempting to send E-mails to Dorothy. Golly it's been an eventful weekend at the beach.


Episode 176

One of those impressively uneventful episodes, for which SB is so famous. Cole spends the entire episode smirking at a woman over a roulette wheel in Monte Carlo. Again. Caitlin spends the entire episode wondering where Cole is. Again. She asks Greggie to find him, which of course Greggie has already done - and Hell's Daddy takes great delight in telling her all the gory details. Caitlin goes off to wander waif-like on the beach, talking to her unborn child and playing with her engagement ring. Still, at least she's not gasping in distress like her mother, who has just been told that the results of her amniocentesis test are in. "Oh don't keep me waiting!" she gasps at poor Tyus. She's desperate to find out who the father of her baby is. Hard luck, ducks. We're still wondering about that one eight years on.

Annie tries to snare Ben by pretending to be his Personal Assistant, but seems to spend most of her time talking to Tim on the phone. Tim is trying to delete Ben's E-mails to Meg before Meg finds them, but can't seem to make it happen. No, well pressing the letter keys doesn't tend to achieve a lot in that kind of an application, Tight Pants. It's 1997, you must have seen a computer before. Eventually he gives up, and leaves Meg alone to read all her old E-mails from Ben, without seeming to realise that she's got new ones to add to the collection. She's kept all the old E-mails, printed off, rolled up, and tied with red ribbon. Bleurgh. Who keeps E-mails like that?! Especially since they weren't supposed to be lovers back then. She reads them aloud, and brother oh brother, no way did Ben write those. Or at least, if he did, he deserves the worst that Derek throws at him. The sun's "kaleidoscopic descents", huh Ben? Whatever.

And Ben mopes, worries about his E-mails and lack thereof, and wears a lot of black - in an "I'm Ben And I'm Moping" kind of way. With extra sulkage. He wonders aloud why he kept calling Meg "Maria", without realising it, which instantly cues a phone call from Rubbish Hypnotist Woman. She's following up on their session. He gazes into space, remembering what his attempts at memory remembering caused him to remember. Aw, poor Ben. Although he can always go and watch some kaleidoscopic descents to cheer himself up.


Episode 177

Michael is about to set out to a school sports banquet affair with Virginia and Jimmy, and wonders aloud to Casey why Vanessa hasn't been in touch. Back at her home, Bubblewrap backyflashes to Virginia warning her off Michael or else. She decides that Michael deserves to know the truth, but needless to say when she gets over there and begins to try to explain, Virginia walks in. Cue "I'm evil and I'll eat you," while she and Vanessa are pointlessly alone for five minutes, switching neatly to "I'm the nicest person in the world," for Casey and Mark's benefit. Yeah yeah yeah. Boring. Eat her or shut up, Virginia. Bubblewrap flounces off, then returns later all dressed up, having decided to cover the sports banquet whatsit affair for her paper. Coo, lucky paper. Enthralling stuff, a school sports banquet thingamajig.

Greggie tells Caitlin that Cole has been seen going into some woman's room in a hotel in Monte Carlo. Sure enough he has, and proceeds to steal Ghastly Fake French Accented Woman's jewellery from her safe, whilst pretending to be getting ready to get into the hot tub with her. Now admittedly I don't have much practical experience of jewel robbery, Cole, but isn't it just ever so slightly blatantly obvious now that it was you who stole that stuff?! Anyway, he swans off back down to the casino and promptly latches onto some other woman at the roulette table. Presumably this is all intended to get him to Jacques and the stolen necklace, but he'll be bloody lucky if he doesn't get arrested first for being a crap thief. Elsewhere in this whole insane bit of plot, Olivia discovers that a really lame plot device screw up has been made, so she can't yet find out who the father of her baby is, and will have to wait two months to do another amniocentesis test. And Caitlin decides that she must get to Cole, but Doctor Tyus, The Miracle Man Of Science, won't let her fly pregnant.

Oh, and Gobby manages to arrange things so that she's talking in close quarters with Thickardo when Paula walks in, back from her month long attachment in some other part of the country. Paula split up with Thickardo, though, so she's got no reason to be jealous. And there's nothing to be jealous of anyway, and... oh, who cares.


Episode 178

Paula, Gobby and Thickardo gaze at each other with varying degrees of shock, horror, guilt, disappointment, anger and satisfaction. Yep, Gobby has set Thickardo up once again, and once again Paula completely refuses to believe the guy she's in love with, and instead believes the deeply annoying nutcase who claims to be her sister. They talk about this in circles for the rest of the episode, and eventually head off on their separate ways, as Gobby giggles to herself about how clever she is, and how Paula and Thickardo will never be happy. At which point Mark turns up, overhears her, realises he's been suckered, and beheads her with a handy night-stick. Or turns up, completely fails to overhear her, and smooches sickeningly. One or the other.

Michael, Virginia and Bubblewrap arrive at The Deep for Jimmy's school football whatsit team dinner thingy, where Virginia and Bubblewrap fight over Michael in front of Jimmy's teacher. They practically grab an arm each and pull. They eat the quickest dinner ever, whilst Annie fights off the loving attentions of hordes of thirteen year-old boys. Jimmy's thirteen?! And there's glaring and posturing, and Virginia telling lies and stuff. Then they go home.

And Ben sulks and Meg mopes, and Ben mopes and Meg sulks. Tim sends Connie, Meg's old best friend around, to make out that she was solely responsible for them doing whatever it was that they were doing on Meg's wedding day. Er... 'cause Tim wasn't really involved at all. He was lying there completely unwillingly. Riiiiight... Meg acts all bitchy, which is a bit mean, as she's forgiven Tim so why not Connie? But who cares anyway. She's home to stay, but is clearly going to spend the rest of her life gazing at her laptop, never checking her E-mails. Vanessa phones her up from The Deep, to tell her that Ben is all sad and broken without her, but when Ben nicks her phone, Meg refuses to speak to him. He wanders away, apparently believing the story that it was actually Bubblewrap's editor at the other end of the phone. Yeah, okay. So the reason you were discussing how "sad and broken Ben is without you" is because Ben recently broke up with your editor? Okay, whatever. Ben mopes off. He's really missing that editor. Golly what a shame.


Episode 179

Caitlin and Olivia bond about their respective babies. Caitlin is worried that her baby won't have a father. Olivia tries to reassure her by insisting that the Richards family en masse will love it always. Yeah, and that's not in any way scary. Caitlin seems happy at the thought, but then she always was an odd little smurf. Later Caitlin goes to Greggie, who shows her some pictures of Cole at The Casino Of No Plot in Monte Carlo. There's some squeaking, sobbing and whatnot at this point, but quite astonishingly fortuitously the sound cut out right about here. Hurrah for the transmission gremlins, huh. Eventually Greggie decides that it's time for Olivia to fake her miscarriage, so that she can take poor bereft Caitlin away and appropriate her baby. And hide her own under a cushion, presumably. Meanwhile Caitlin goes off to whimper on the beach, where she comes face to face with Cole.

Annie battles with Ben's computer, amazed to learn that it's not possible to retrieve a sent E-mail. She gets one of Bette's ex-husbands, a computer expert, to instruct her how to hack into Meg's computer and delete the E-mail. Just the one? Ben wrote loads, each one more icky than the last. Back in Kansas, Meg is still gawping at the laptop and wondering whether or not to check her E-mail. Mind you, I heard what Ben wrote, so I know she's better off if she never gets around to looking. Ugh.

And Ben mooches and mopes, and phones up Joan, and mooches and mopes. Later he meets Vanessa at The JavaWeb, and hears from her how it was Maria's name that he shouted after Meg as she left town. Now completely befuddled he goes back to the hypnotist, who tells him that she tape records all her sessions, so if there's something that she missed it'll be easy to pinpoint. Oops. I now feel very sorry for Annie.


Episode 180

Cole kisses Caitlin, who promptly hauls off and smacks him one in the mouth. Nice punch, Cait. He explains that he had to go away to get the necklace back, in order to prove his innocence. Yeah. Turning up with stolen goods in your possession is always a good way to prove you're not a crook. He gives Olivia the necklace back, although it really is hideous, so goodness knows what she wants with it. Cole and Greggie argue in circles about who is guilty of what, and who set who up to do what, which winds up with Cole accusing Greggie of being evil. Greggie?! Nooooo. Greggie's cool. Well, and possibly faintly psychotic.

Annie successfully deletes all of Ben's E-mails to Meg, so when Meg checks her messages there aren't any. She bursts into tears, and gets comforted by her father. He must be in some other soap as well, as he keeps vanishing from this one. He hugs her, and tries to make her feel better by telling her that Ben obviously doesn't care for her, and never wants to contact her again. Nice one Hank. Tim asks her out on a date and she accepts, before staring at the sunset and saying goodbye to Ben. Meg, honey, that isn't Ben. It's the sun. One's tall and frequently black, the other's round and orange. But never mind.

Ben's hopeless hypnotist puts off listening to the tape in order to pointlessly put him under again. When she learns nothing, she sends him home so that she can listen to the tape alone. She hears Annie's illicit Ben-tampering, though fails to look terribly surprised. Maybe this sort of thing happens a lot to hypnotists. Back at Ben's place, Annie has rigged all the electrics in the house to blow when Ben tries to check his E-mail, which is a clever trick. She's clearly forgotten that he runs a cyber-café, though, and also has a computer in each of about a hundred offices spread around California. She tries to distract him with a massage, but he runs off to check his E-mail elsewhere. When he's gone the hypnotist turns up at his house, and recognises Annie as the "journalist" who was at her office on the day of Ben's first session. She also recognises Annie's voice from the tape. Quick Annie! Bash her over the head and stick her in the cupboard!


Episode 181

Eddie invites Paula to The Deep, and because she wants to forget Thickardo and get on with her life, as she's a brainless idiot who refuses to accept the truth, she accepts. Gobby overhears, and gets one of Thickardo's friends to take him to The Deep that night as well. She's there waiting on the tables, and rankles Thickardo, plies him with Margaritas, and then lights the blue touch-paper and retreats. Thickardo punches Eddie and storms out, and Gobby follows him. He goes back to his place to sulk, but she walks in on him and starts to seduce him. Back at The Deep, Paula worries about Thickardo, and wonders if perhaps she should go to see if he's alright.

Caitlin argues with her mother about how trustworthy Cole is, then when she's sobbing about it on the beach later, she blurts out to Cole that her mother is further along in her pregnancy than she's admitted. Cole decides that he has to find out how far along she is exactly - yeah, 'cause that'll prove who the baby's father is. He breaks into Tyus's office, figures out that "Olivia Cole" miust really be Olivia Richards, puts two and two together to make twelve, in the usual Sunset Beach way, and decides that this is proof he's the father of her baby.

And Annie panics when the hypnotist accuses her of Ben-tampering. She feigns tears, breaks down, and begs the hypnotist to help her tell Ben the truth, then makes them tea and drugs Doctor Whatever Her Name is. Ben comes back rather unexpectedly, so Annie does her damnedest to stuff the poor woman into the closet, before enlisting Bette's help when Ben goes upstairs to have a shower. She phones Bette up, gets her over, has a massive argument about what's going on... and this is quicker than just picking the woman up and carrying her out?! Just how long are Ben's showers, usually?! In between squeaking at each other, fighting with stray tea cups, and throwing bits of semi-dead hypnotist around Ben's hallway, Bette and Annie manage to get overheard. Gosh, I wonder why. They go into Insane Overdrive as Ben begins to come down the stairs.


Episode 182

Vanessa has an entirely pointless argument with Virginia for five minutes, before going off to meet Michael at The Deep. Long journey. It's daylight at the Waffleless Waffle Shop, but it's night at The Deep. Once there she meets with Michael, who's been having a Relationships pep talk from Casey (the only permanently topless lifeguard who can't get anybody to fall in love with him. Not sure he's who I'd turn to for love-stuff advice ). Michael asks Bubblewrap away for a few days, so that they can finally be alone. She's delighted. What's the betting Virginia tries to stuff herself and Jimmy into Michael's suitcase?!

Thickardo and Gobby have sex, which Thickardo greatly regrets. He tells Gobby that he's still in love with Paula, and needs to get back with her, rather than falling into bed with somebody else. Gobby is greatly distressed by this, as her sister-rivalry nuttiness comes to the fore all over again. In a mad storm of tears, she tries to get dressed, cuts herself on the mattress (don't ask) and rips her shirty-dress-flowery-bikini-whatever it is she's wearing. Having heard The Dreadful Tales Of Ricardo from Mark, Gobby's well programmed little robot, Paula wanders off back to his place, only to walk straight into the tattered and torn, obviously upset Gobby - who promptly tells her she's been raped.

And Tim and Meg go on their date, to a bar full of cartoon cowboys, who line-dance to truly appalling music whilst pretending that they're enjoying themselves. Shame that all the ones with dialogue have clearly never danced before. Except Meg, who's extraordinarily good at it. She dreams of dancing with Ben back in Sunset Beach while she's doing it though - and back in Sunset Beach, he's dreaming of her. Yuck. Annie, meanwhile, has finally managed to manhandle the unconscious hypnotist back to her place, where Eddie turns up, and helps her to strip the woman and arrange her in a series of compromising positions with him likewise unattired. Blackmail! Hurrah! Ben wanders from his place to Annie's, certain that something is going on, and wearing a faintly confused expression. Annie looking constantly shell-shocked doesn't help things any. She's got away with it for the time being though. Hooray!


Episode 183

Greggie and Olivia spend ten minutes reviewing the "fake" pregnancy/miscarriage plot for any viewers who have happened to miss the past month of them doing the same. Meanwhile, Cole wonders aloud if Olivia's baby is his, and totally obsesses about it for the rest of the programme. Even Caitlin gets suspicious. Spawn sets out on a plan to find Cole's previous jilted fiancée, from his alleged con-man days, though how a teenage boy is supposed to accomplish this I don't know. And who cares, frankly. And Greggie sets up the miscarriage plot by telling everybody that Olivia's pregnancy is high risk, whilst she gasps and pants behind him, looking like she's already gone into labour, before wailing that she "can't do this". Yeah, right.

Gobby sobs helplessly that she's been raped, and Paula asks her who has hurt her. At this moment, Thickardo appears, having apparently spent all week in the bathroom. Paula asks him if he "did this". Boy, she's one hell of a trusting girlfriend, isn't she. He says yes, and that he's sorry, and she explodes at him about rape, which confuses him, and then enrages him. He yells at Gobby to tell the truth, but Paula pulls her gun on him and tells him to leave her alone. Mental brainless cop with a weird trust problem. There's your advertisement for Gun Control, right there. Eventually she calls the police, tells Thickardo that she trusts him to wait to be arrested, then takes Gobby off to the hospital. Thickardo sits alone in the dark for a while, then gets up and goes off. Hopefully to steal Paula's gun and shoot her and her ghastly sister.

Tim and Meg spend the episode line dancing. Argh. Eventually they go back to Meg's place, where Tim goes upstairs to send a goodbye E-mail to Ben from Meg. Back in Sunset Beach, Ben is in high spirits - it's good for him to be away from Meg! Annie tries desperately to get rid of him before the hypnotist wakes up, but he thinks she's got a man upstairs, and teases her about going up to find out. Bette and Eddie nearly blow everything by bursting in, waving the newly developed photos in the air, then retire outside to giggle in Eddie's car about how funny it all is. Back inside, TGO jokes with poor Annie until she's practically tearing her hair out, then finally agrees to go. Just as he's walking out of the door, though, the hypnotist stumbles downstairs wearing nothing but her undies, looking highly confused and mumbling about "Mr Evans". Oops.


Episode 184

Olivia tells Caitlin and Spawn that she's all confused about the pregnancy, and back-pedals smartly from the previous episode's "I can't do this!" wail. Caitlin looks all knowing, and spends the rest of the episode bonding with her mother over a series of increasingly complex lies. In Greggie's study, meanwhile, Spawn wavers in his dedication to breaking up Caitlin and Cole, until Greggie bribes him with a family heirloom watch that instantly gets Spawn phoning up Cole's last fiancée, whom he has clearly tracked down amazingly fast. He barely left the room for goodness sakes. Oh, and Cole worries about Olivia's baby, and how he has to find out whose it is, then ropes in Bette to set up a meeting so that he can talk to Olivia alone. Give it up, Cole. You are never going to find out who the father is.

Paula wails in the hospital about what has or hasn't happened to Gobby, and Mark turns up trying to find out what's going on. Paula fobs him off with hopeless stories, then tells him about the rape and completely fails to come to Thickardo's defence when he leaps to his own wild conclusions. Thickardo arrives, desperate to talk to Paula, but she won't believe that he's innocent. He's Thickardo for goodness sakes. So long as you're not Ben he's as good as good can be. Grow up you daft woman. She gnashes her teeth a lot and wails, and Mark tries to look tough.

Tim sends his E-mail off to Ben, then spends the rest of the episode trying to bond with Meg. She whimpers and worries and wails at him about what should she do, and who should she do it with, and they talk about Big Bad Ben. This being the same Big Bad Ben who is currently standing in Annie's living room, staring in some considerable confuzzlement at a semi-conscious, semi-dressed hypnotist, who staggers towards him mumbling things about Annie. Eventually she collapses in a chair and passes out, and Ben demands answers. He gets lots, though he doesn't bother believing any. Clearly his favourite is when Annie announces that, spurned by him, she has fallen into the arms of another woman instead. By the look on Ben's face, he likes that idea a lot. Okay, TGO. Concentrate on something else now. Semi-naked hypnotist woman rouses long enough to tell Ben about the post-hypnotic suggestion, before collapsing in a heap again. Ben goes ballistic, blasting his way back next door with Annie in hot pursuit babbling excuses and hoping to avoid a garrotting. Ben tries to get it into her head that tearing his life apart is not the best way to prove that she loves him, but since this is a guy who is arguing that Meg should be in his life, I don't think that his feelings should really be taken into account. An E-mail arrives and he reads it - it's the one that Tim has sent on Meg's behalf. Ben throws his computer out of the window and storms off into the night. Yep, he's gone bonkers again. Just for a change. It was nice that he took his coat with him though. After all, who wants to have their mad brooding insanities ruined by a nasty chill?


Episode 185

Cole has a disturbing dream about him, Olivia, Caitlin and various pregnancies. I'm sure there's some valid plot-related reason why he's topless, but... no, there isn't, is there. It's gratuitous Cole semi-nakedness, and it should be declared illegal by international treaty. Anyway, Cole wakes up and goes off for huggles on the beach with Caitlin, and lots of declarations of undying love, etc and so forth. Caitlin returns home to be accosted by Cole's ex-fiancée, a woman of peculiar accentage, and a remarkable habit of annoying the hell out of me with very little effort. Oh, and Spawn seems to have a worse haircut than normal.

Annie is still busy with attempts to split up Beg and Men. Bette tries to convince her to give it up as a bad job, saying that Ben doesn't love her, and that this isn't the way to get him to change his mind. Annie is determined, though, and set upon the Course Of Self-Destruction. She sends Meg an E-mail, apparently from Ben, saying that he never really loved her, is still carrying a torch for Maria, and that it's best if they have no further contact. Bette is aghast, but there's still no getting through to Annie.

And Meg sniffles and snuffles at the kitchen table, because of a letter she's got from The Deep. She's upset because she's got a letter and it might be from Ben, and then she's upset because she's got a letter and it's not from Ben. Joan goes all motherly, and talks about dreams and clouds and red convertibles in Paris, and all those other anecdotal snippets that parents in American TV shows always spout whenever there are emotional difficulties on the horizon. Meg decides that it's time to put her cards on the table, and so goes upstairs to send an E-mail to Ben to say that she's realised she still loves him. The E-mail sent by Annie arrives at just this moment, and Meg collapses in tears before sobbing in Tim's arms and declaring that it's all up for her and Ben for all for always. She goes outside to mope, only to see a shiny convertible bouncing its way along the road. It's Ben, wearing the World's Most Dodgy Sweatshirt. And yep, it's Musical Interlude Time. Ugh.


Episode 186

Caitlin talks to Cole's previous fiancée, a woman so massively annoying that it soon becomes clear that Cole didn't leave her as part of any scam. He left her because he didn't want to marry her. Eventually the fiancée leaves, and Greggie manages to hold back his satisfied smirks as Caitlin sobs in his arms about all that she's heard. Eddie phones up at this point to say that Cole is with "some woman" in a motel, and Greggie goes dashing off to see what's going on. Caitlin goes with him. Mucho Caitlin-squeakage. Oh dear, poor girl, hard luck.

Cole spends the episode arguing in the motel room with Olivia, about babies and fathers and fathers and babies. Olivia half-collapses in apparent pain at one point, but manages to look like she's faking it even when she's probably being sincere. They argue for a bit longer. This scene has absolutely no point other than to lead up to Greggie and Caitlin banging on the door and demanding to know what's going on. Olivia squeaks in desperation and clings to Cole, which obviously is the logical response. I mean, it's not like it would be blindingly easy to lie your way out of this situation or anything. Use your brain, Olivia...

And Ben turns up in Kansas to... bloody hell, what is he wearing?! And why isn't his rental car black? I'm disappointed, Ben. Your psychosis is slipping. Meg watches him drive up, and he leaps straight out of the car and sucks her into a kiss that last for about the first ten minutes of the show. Not at all presumptuous or anything, then. Meg begins squeaking, so they seek shelter in her kitchen, which is a good thing as it means we get back to VT. For some reason the Great Outdoors of Kansas is all on grainy film, and it looks like the farm has accidentally wandered in from another show. Meg wants to know why Ben is here, and he reacts with surprise. "Don't you know?" She's supposed to have guessed that you were hypnotised by a nutcase?! Ben explains everything, and Meg looks faintly shell-shocked. Well, you would, really, wouldn't you. They talk about the E-mail supposedly sent by Meg, and realise that Tim must have sent it - just as the man himself walks in. Ben decks him. Tim moans that terrible things will happen to Meg if she stays with Ben. Well, that's true. Happily. Meanwhile, back in Sunset Beach Annie hops on a plane to Kansas, and back in her parent's kitchen Meg worries about what to do next. Well for starters you can leave your #@*$#%* hair alone! Ben announces that he's staying in Kansas to wait for her. Oh goodie.


Episode 187

It's quite astounding just how little can happen in Sunset Beach sometimes. Olivia hides in the bathroom at the motel, and when Cole lets Caitlin and Greggie into the room, they spend the entire episode talking about who is hiding in the bathroom. Caitlin squeaks a lot, Cole would clearly far rather be having the conversation without Greggie smirking in the background, and Olivia gasps and squeaks so loudly that everybody must know by now that it's her in there. Bathrooms have a horrible habit of echoing at the best of times. Eventually, after discussion of the Frightful Fiancée and her Terrible Tales, Caitlin calls somebody to unlock the bathroom door for her, causing Olivia to literally run around in circles gasping. Fortunately everybody on the other side of the door is too busy arguing, or they'd definitely have heard her that time.

Gobby goes to the police station to make a statement about the Rape That Wasn't. Thickardo is already there, completely failing to convince Paula that nothing happened. Paula The Clueless Cop - really, she makes even Thickardo look talented - proves a complete lack of character judgement by yet again refusing to believe her long-term friend, colleague and lover, in favour of the clearly deranged Sister From Hell. Thickardo gets a moment alone with Gobby, and is close to convincing her to tell the truth, when he mentions "all this" being unfair on Paula. Instantly Gobby turns back into the Sibling Rivalry Monster, and shouts about Thickardo having raped her. Thickardo tells her that the truth will out in the end, and Gobby quivers a bit, and looks pathetic.

And at Surf Central Virginia plays the Good Friend To All again, baking chocolate somethings that she throws all over the kitchen "accidentally" when she hears that Michael is planning a weekend away with Vanessa. Cue another threatening encounter with Bubblewrap, that winds up with Vanessa looking like the bad guy when Michael comes back into the room. How many times are they going to play this game?! There's a subplot about Bubblewrap wanting to interview Gobby, and Virginia sobbing about how hard life was in South Central, where people got attacked all the time. She plays the old "Vanessa just doesn't understand how we used to live" card, but Michael doesn't immediately declare his undying love for her, so she winds up muttering alone in the kitchen. For a change. Poor Virginia - she's gamely going mad, but there isn't a decent plot for her or her jealousy for months to come yet. She needs some kind of hobby.


Episode 188

More from the rape case nonsense. Thickardo tries unsuccessfully (again) to (again) convince Paula (again) that he didn't rape Gobby. Paula scowls a lot and pouts a lot and her accent fluctuates a lot, like it usually does when she's being terribly serious. Gobby hears what will happen to Thickardo if he's found guilty, and starts to panic, but still doesn't tell the truth. She tries to make out that she's scared to give evidence because it won't be very nice, and eventually Mark takes her home for a pep talk and a cup of tea. Or possibly a tea talk and a cup of pep, I wasn't really listening by that point.

Olivia does a bunk out of the bathroom window and nips off to see Bette, who is next door listening in on the arguments with some listening device she's presumably borrowed from Eddie, her new best friend. They talk a bit about the plans to split up Caitlin and Cole, and Bette comes up with the Line Of The Week: "Cole's as smart as he is sexy." Boy, that is really not very smart. Back in the motel room, Caitlin wails incessantly, completely refuses to listen to Cole, or to give him the chance to speak to her alone, and generally acts like she's desperate to end the relationship. Cole tries to stop her leaving, but Olivia turns up to collect her, doing her Queen Bitch act, and they swan off together in a lift. Greggie accuses Cole of breaking Caitlin's heart, which is a bit like Jack The Ripper accusing Fred West of being mean to women. And then they stare at each other for a while.

And in "Ludlow, Kansas", as the captions love to keep reminding us, Ben turns up at the farm for another chat with Meg. This time he meets Hank for the first time. Hank The Plank, the farmer with the World's Least Probable Haircut. He does his mid-western drawl a lot, and calls Ben "son", and generally acts just like those guys in weird films, where out-of-towners disappear in small mid-western places where locals all call them "son", before chopping them up and feeding them to the pigs. Or something. Still, this is Hank, so he's not terribly threatening, despite his best efforts to look dangerous with a small hatchet. I can sympathise with his suspicions, in a way. I mean, I wouldn't trust a man wearing that cream sweatshirt, either. Inside the house, meanwhile, Meg is worrying aloud to her mother about whether or not Ben can ever love her, and whether he will ever let her "inside his deepest places." Um... I don't know exactly what Ben's deepest places are, but I can't imagine anybody wanting to get inside them. For starters it's bound to be messy. Anyway, Ben takes her out for a walk, and they talk about being in love, and being from different worlds, and all that sort of thing. Meg is confused, as usual. So's Annie, who has just arrived in town in the back of a chicken truck, all covered with feathers and looking desperate. She wants to make things alright with Ben. Poor dear. Clearly she hasn't seen him in that sweatshirt.


Episode 189

Caitlin is at home, moaning that Cole has betrayed her, despite her having done everything she can to end the relationship on her own. Olivia "comforts" her, whilst acting like a total bitch, even more so since she's the one Cole was with in the motel room. Back at the motel Cole and Greggie argue pointlessly in circles, saying the same things over and over again, until finally Greggie starts talking about "sophisticated, suave jewel thieves". Huh?! This is Cole here. Not Remington Steele. Eventually Greggie swans off, like smugness incarnate, heading back home to find that Olivia has collapsed in a heap. Spawn calls Doctor Tyus, thus confusing Greggie no end when he walks in on Tyus examining Olivia to check on a pregnancy she doesn't have, because of possible difficulties she can't be having, relating to a non-existent medical condition she's faking, in order to obtain a baby that isn't theirs.

Michael and Bubblewrap. Oh dear. They meet on the beach to talk at length about how nothing in the world can prevent them from going to Catalina for the weekend. Yeah, right. Wanna bet?! At Surf Central, Virgina tells Vanessa that she and Michael wiill never make love "while I have anything to say about it". Okay... What are you going to do, Virginia? Hide under their bed? Actually, probably yeah. She and Bubblewrap have their usual arguments, but frankly who cares.

Which takes us back to Kansas, where Ben is still wearing the World's Worst Sweatshirt, and Annie has just arrived in a chicken truck. She and Tim decide to tell the truth in all things, and set out to Meg's house to apologise for everything. Nobody especially wants to listen though, and Ben seems a little confused. "What kind of love is it that makes you want to hurt the person you claim to love?" he asks Annie. Same kind as everybody else has in Sunset Beach, Ben. Haven't you noticed what half your neighbours are up to lately? Annie wanders off to the barn, to take solace in Tim's arms, where Beg and Men eventually find them after a complicated conversation about safe roads and journeys. For some reason Meg looks outraged to see Tim kissing Annie. Why?! It could be argued that you lose all right to complain who somebody is kissing when you yell at them that you never want to see them again. But she gawps in shock anyway, for however long it is until the next episode. Ben smirks though, which is highly tolerant of him. Once your "Tour Of The Farm" reaches the bit where you're being shown what a barn looks like, smirking is usually the last thing on your mind.


Episode 190

Caitlin is still moaning and moping and wailing. Elsewhere, Cole discovers Bette in the room next to his at the motel, and tries to grill her about... something. Not sure what. Actually I think the whole point of this scene is so that Eddie finds them together and assumes that they're still having the affair that they were never having in the first place. Back at Casa Richards Olivia is checked over by Tyus, who tells her that there's nothing wrong with the baby, whilst Greggie gets in a tangle about who is faking what, and whether or not the pregnancy is real. Meanwhile, Cole goes back to see Caitlin. She's sprawled on her bed, bawling, having just thrown their engagement ring across the room. Cole picks it up, and promises to tell her the truth about everything.

Virginia does her usual trick of arguing with Vanessa so that somebody comes in and thinks that Bubblewrap is the bad guy. In this case it's Jimmy who comes in. After Vanessa has departed to help Michael pack - you're only going away for the weekend for goodness sakes - Virginia tells Jimmy that Bubblewrap is dangerous, and is threatening to tell the police that Michael killed Jimmy's father. She persuades Jimmy that they must stop Michael going away for the weekend, which Jimmy does. Bubblewrap takes it all with good grace, much to Virginia's annoyance.

And Ben takes Meg dancing to the "Buckaroo", where lots or people pretend to be cowboys, and dance to nightmare-inducing music. Annie and Tim turn up as well, and they all spend the episode dancing disturbingly well. Ben (thankfully now sans the Cream Sweatshirt From Hell) dances like Patrick Swayze gone Western, which is a peculiar kind of revelation, and Annie seems to be confusing line-dancing with pole-dancing. Still, the over-all effect is rather good. Everybody enjoys it a bizarre amount, given that half of them are supposed to be at war with the other half, and Annie soon has a fan club. Sadly it doesn't include Ben, who is still gazing adoringly at Meg. Somebody hypnotise him again. Please.


Episode 191

Heavens above. Endless talk about Caitlin's love life and her baby. Greggie plots to kidnap the baby at birth and tell her that it's dead, if Olivia won't go through with his torturous baby-switching whatsits. His plots inspire some truly awful acting from Olivia, and his wild and furious yellings about the baby and the switching and all the rest of it raise serious questions about Caitlin's hearing. Or about what the walls are made of. Down the corridor, Cole tries to convince Caitlin that he's on the level, but she's still determined to think that he's evil. Oh, whatever. If he had half a brain he'd never have got involved with her in the first place.

And everybody worries about Gobby, though Casey at least takes the time to listen to Thickardo's side of the story. Eventually Gobby goes round to Thickardo's place to tell him that she'd decided not to press charges, though he's not wildly enthusiastic about her offer. Looks like he'd rather it went to trial. I understand that you want to be properly exonerated, Thickardo, but can't you just swallow your pride and save us from a tedious storyline? Gobby runs off to Mark in tears, playing the Oh Poor Gobby card again. Yawn. And Thickardo is arrested, and does a meaningful staring thing with Paula as he's read his rights. Oh, give over already. Somebody just give Gobby a good punch.


Episode 192

Oh Poor Gobby. Oh get stuffed. She rants, she wails, she gnashes her teeth. Oh, evil Ricardo! Casey and Michael hint that they might be taking his side, so she runs off in a tizz, and Mark gets all glowery. Meanwhile Paula tells Elaine that she thinks Thickardo might be guilty. Elaine goes to visit him in prison, hears his side of things, and reveals that she doesn't trust Gobby either. She goes off to visit Greggie, and asks him to take the case. Now see, I like Greggie. When he offers somebody some coffee he actually tips and pours from the jug for a decent length of time. Over at Surf Central they only pour for a fraction of a second, so they must be on some serious coffee rationing scheme there. Mind you, when the camera sneaks behind Elaine, we can see that she's drinking out of an empty cup. Invisible coffee?

Bubblewrap is surprised that Jimmy is now being rude to her, and realises that Virginia is up to something. Like a berk she confronts her about it, so we have our usual weekly exchange of pointless insults. Later Bubblewrap goes to the beach to meet Michael, and tells him that she's going to plan their next trip without telling him anything about it, as a special surprise. And a cunning method of preventing Virginia from interfering. "Two can play at this game, Virginia," she mutters to herself as she walks away. Yeah, but the point is that you play it really badly, Vanessa. And what if Michael tells someone that you're planning a surprise?!

And the Richards. Oh, the Richards. Olivia tries to get Cole to take Caitlin away, to avoid the Machinations Of Gregory, but he won't listen. He doesn't think that running away is the answer. Olivia clearly does, and spends the entire episode wailing to him about it, though she neglects to explain exactly why he should run away. So he doesn't listen. Meanwhile Greggie does his usual manipulations to make his children think he's the Best Dad Ever, and not a mad, manipulative machinator who'd easily put Machiavelli to shame. And yes, I do know that machinator isn't a real word. But it should be. Caitlin sobs in his arms about what a great bloke he is. Well, he's massively more interesting than anybody else that your bit of plot brings you into contact with, Caitlin, but let's not confuse that with loveliness, hey.


Episode 193

Annie and Tim wake up in the back of a truck, covered in straw, smelling of pigs, and suffering the after-effects of last night at the Buckaroo. Annie is sad that her efforts to capture Ben's attention have all been for nothing, though Tim still seems convinced that he's in with a chance with Meg. Annie mopes for a while, before deciding that it's time to cut her losses and head back to Sunset Beach. She feels that she should try living her life without Ben as its single greatest focus. Realising that she will miss Tim far too much to want a protracted farewell, she leaves him at the Buckaroo, and revitalises her spirits by netting herself a driver with a little show of the charms that Ben has decided to turn down. Ben, you're a moron. And yes, that is said with affection. But still...

Elaine encounters Gobby on the beach, and accuses her of lying. Mark overhears and does his usual over-protective act, though it falls on deaf ears. Elaine says that she has never trusted Gobby, and tells them that she has asked Greggie to represent Thickardo. Boggy gobbles at this. Goggy bobbles at this. Whatever. She's worried, anyway. When Greggie goes over to the cop-shop to talk to Thickardo, he questions him for a bit, then agrees to take the case. He gets Thickardo out on bail, and Paula is less than delighted. She seems firmly on Gobby's side. Wazzock.

And Ben harangues Ludlow's local salesmen, trying to get hold of something for Meg. We're not told what at this stage. Back at the farm, Joan tries to convince Meg that Ben is in love with her. Er, with Meg, not with Joan. Though Joan would probably be a better choice. Meg doesn't believe any of it though. "Oh Ben. How can I believe in your love for me?" Oh yuck. Stop talking to yourself in wistful tones and believe the poor sap. Much though it pains me to admit it, he really does seem to love you. He arrives at the farm to prove this with an armful of white roses, apparently what he was badgering the salesmen about earlier - because, as Joan then crows, you "can't get white roses in Kansas at this time of year". What, they don't have Interflora in Kansas? Or greenhouses? Anyway, Meg tells Ben that if he really loves her he'll go back to Sunset Beach without her. She's convinced that it's Maria he really loves. He mumbles and argues and disagrees and growls, and then shouts at her "But you are Maria!" Which isn't entirely what she was hoping to hear.


Episode 194

Well, Channel 5 were having another of their "crap weekend transmissions in Gloucestershire" nights, but I'll do my best. Through a haze of snow, and what appears to be hordes of attacking ghost bees, Caitlin talks to her mother about whether or not Cole can be trusted. The sound cuts out occasionally, but Olivia seems to be flashing back to trying to persuade Cole to take Caitlin away. Caitlin talks about Elaine telling her that she should trust Cole, which makes Olivia suck her cheeks and sulk. Then they both disappear into a mass of grey and white diagonal stripes, so I don't really know what happened after that.

Bubblewrap turns up at Surf Central, looking to enlist Casey in her plan for secret weekend plans with Michael. Michael, meanwhile, is over at the Waffleless Waffle Shop, which is waffleless no longer thanks to Virginia's cooking. So I guess that makes it the Waffleless-No-Longer Waffleless Waffle Shop. Which is going to take quite some typing, so here's hoping that Elaine leaves soon, so I won't have to bother. Virginia flirts outrageously, which Michael doesn't seem to notice. Suddenly Casey rings up, I think to arrange for Michael to go and check up on some cabin he's been watching for a friend, which I guess is Sneaky-On-Behalf-Of Bubblewrap stuff. There's also much wobbling and hissing, which I hope is the transmission problem, rather than Casey himself. And either I'm hearing wrong, or the cabin is in Idlewild. Hmm. Rather too MOR for me. I'd much prefer a cabin in Queen.

And Ben is arguing with Meg over his sudden line that she's Maria. Meg runs off, taking shelter in the barn with Improbably Floppy-Haired Dad, who glowers at Ben and looks all macho. Not that it's easy to look macho with that haircut, and the constant rolling and flickering doesn't help. He lets Ben talk to Meg alone though, after some highly unconvincing attempts to look threatening. Ben explains that Meg is just what he used to think Maria was, until time proved him wrong. So you used to think that Maria was boring and annoying, Ben?! He flickers out of focus and vanishes at this point, but I like to think that the episode ends with him and Hank finally giving into all the glowering, and beating each other up so that the barn collapses on top of them in time-honoured Buster Keaton fashion, but I'm guessing that that's not what happens. I don't think the angry, roller-coasting ghost bees were really in the episode either, but they certainly seemed to be. Maybe they could join in the fight with Hank and Ben.


Episode 195

Okay. Minor problems with the transmission again, but bear with me and I'll do my best. There were a lot of gremlins, some serious picture-rolling, and very little audible dialogue, but using the finest satellite technology, investigative skills gleaned from episodes of CSI, and a little imagination, I'm sure something of use will emerge. So. Cole is about to tell Caitlin who the "other woman" is, but Olivia butts in. She winds up telling Caitlin that it's Bette. Poor Bette. Do a favour for a friend, wind up with everybody in town thinking you've been having an affair with the World's Wettest Jewel Thief. If I was her, I'd use that gossip column to link myself with somebody less pathetic instead.

Virginia is nuts. Officially now. Before she's just been simmering gently, but now her pot has finally boiled over. Realising that Michael and Bubblewrap are off to Secret Shenanigans without her, she figures out where they've gone and sets off in pursuit, anxious to stop them from sleeping together. Either that or she's desperate to save them from the ghost bees. One or the other.

And Ben is apparently suffering from a severe case of motion sickness, resulting from all the spinning he's been doing over the course of this weekend, as he's even more doe-eyed over Meg than usual. Yuck. They have some conversations that are no doubt deeply meaningful and important and loving and all the rest of that stuff, but I can't hear them, so I can't really comment. Unless they actually are just buzzing at each other, and it's not static that I'm hearing at all. Ben goes back to Sunset Beach in the end, all on his lonesome. Aw. Poor Ben. Now hide! Hide quickly, before she leaves Ludlow and comes after you!


Episode 196

Virginia is still nuts. Potentially even more so than usual, actually. Incensed by the idea of Michael and Bubblewrap having a nice time together, she flips out in Virginia Is A Mad Mad Woman Mode, and sets fire to the cabin where they're staying. [Insert lame joke here about Michael and Bubblewrap having been looking for a hot time]. The cabin crackles and sizzles. Virginia's home-made nutty stew bubbles over, develops a life of its own, and takes over her brain from this moment on.

The ghost bees invade Sunset Beach. They buzz, they hum. They flicker and rattle chains. They perform their poltergeist duties with aplomb, and generally make a noise, get in the way, and move the furniture around with menaces. There may be something going on behind them, but if there is, it involves mad dancing shadows and diagonal stripes. Shadow puppeteers with hideous wallpaper? It's possible. For some reason there seems to be a serious snowstorm going on, too, which has got to be fairly rare in California. Perhaps some of the shadow puppeteers are meteorologists at weekends?

And Meg decides that she doesn't want to stay in "Ludlow, Kansas" without Ben, and gives up and goes back to Sunset Beach. Aw. Shame. Sadly this means we're saying goodbye to Joan and Hank Of The Unlikely Hair, at least for the time being. And I never did get my Hank And Ben Fisticuffs. Oh well, there's always another day. And possibly the gremlins will have put the plug back into Channel 5's aerial by then. It makes recapping a whole lot easier when you can see what it is that you're supposed to be reporting on.


Episode 197

Caitlin argues with Cole yet again about whether or not she can trust him. He asks her to listen, and she screeches that all she's done is listen to him. Huh? 'Listen' in what sense, exactly? 'Listen' as in, 'Refusing to listen and generally acting like a total moron', apparently. Eventually she tells him that it's all over forever, right before she walks in on a carefully engineered conversation between Greggie and Eddie, talking about how Cole may still be a thief. She runs off to ransack Cole's bedroom, and finds a safe deposit key. Meanwhile, Olivia and Bette make fairly unfathomable plans concerning the Mad Plans Of Greggie, and Greggie sets everything up for Olivia to go to a special pregnancy clinic, where hopefully nobody will notice that she isn't actually pregnant. Even though she is.

Michael and Vanessa attempt to smooch, but a power outage during a thunderstorm freaks out Bubblewrap, so Michael goes outside to fiddle with the electricity supply in the soaking wet. Great plan. Meanwhile, courtesy of Virginia, the bedroom catches fire. Bubblewrap tries to fight the flames with a small dishcloth, despite the presence of a fire extinguisher. Fortunately Michael does at least have part of a brain cell, and attempts to do the job properly, before an old lamp explodes a bit, and sets everything off again. He goes to look for a hose, and tells Vanessa to call the fire brigade. Despite speaking on a mobile, she chooses to put in the call whilst standing right beside the fire. I think somebody needs to do the Basic Fire Skills course again.

And Ben and Meg decide to start again from scratch, and so proceed to ask each other dim questions about Kansas. They bond over Chinese food, and it's all excruciating. The bonding, not the food - Ben at least seems to be enjoying that, although Meg never takes a bite. Probably because she's trying to eat rice with a pair of chopsticks, for which Ben eventually commends her on her tenacity. Tenacity? I was thinking more along the lines of 'stupidity' myself. They agree to take it all easy, and Meg goes away looking dreamy. Urgh. Maybe she'll fall in the sea on her way home.


Episode 198

Thickardo wants to take a lie detector test, to prove that he didn't rape Gobby, but Greggie convinces him that it's up to Gobby to be taking tests like that. He goes to meet with her, and attempts to convince her that the test would be a good way for her to pull out of the prosecution without losing face. Gobby panics at the idea of facing Greggie in court, and his suggestion that they can end all of this out of court obviously appeals to her. She agrees to take the test.

Cole turns up at the Richards' place looking for Caitlin, but she's gone off to empty his safe deposit box. Either she's planning to convince the bank that she's John Robie, or safe deposit vaults are really easy to con your way into. She goes in under the pretence that she's taking something out of her own box, but surely that's only going to work if the second key held by the bank is the same for all the boxes? Which doesn't sound very secure. Anyway, she empties the box. Back at the house, Cole speaks to Spawn, trying to make him see that he's being played for a fool by his father, and that Tiffany's departure was probably down to his parents as well. Later Spawn confronts Greggie about this, whilst Caitlin confronts Cole round at his place with the contents of his safe deposit box. She's not a happy bunny. Neither's he now.

And Vanessa and Michael return from the cabin, apologising profusely to Casey, and to Casey's friend over the telephone. Casey's friend isn't insured, so Bubblewrap makes plans to pay for lots of wood, and get Michael to rebuild bits of cabin. Virginia sits in the corner and smirks like a mad woman. Vanessa can't understand how the window came to be open to blow the candle over, when she knows that she closed it, and she remembers feeling like she was being watched whilst at the cabin. She suspects Virginia, but Virginia has an alibi in her old South Central neighbour, Mrs Jones.


Episode 199

Vanessa goes around to visit Mrs Jones, and check up on Virginia's alibi. Mrs Jones says that Virginia sat up with her all last night, as she's been sick. Bubblewrap frowns and scowls and tries to work out how Virginia could be going marauding around the countryside setting fire to holiday homes if she was sitting in South Central at the time, and she's clearly not entirely convinced by the alibi. She's got nothing to go on at the moment though, even if Mrs Jones has quite clearly told her several times that she was asleep all the damn time, so Virginia could have been doing anything. Virginia sits at home and smirks in satisfaction at having got away with all. Mad as a bucket of weasels...

Greggie slides out of Spawn's accusations about Tiffany's departure, and Spawn believes everything that his parents say, as usual. Meanwhile, Cole thinks that he's convinced Caitlin to go away with him for a while, to give him a second chance. Delighted with this, Olivia gives Cole some going away money, so that they can get set up somewhere together far out of Gregory's reach. Caitlin has no intention of going away, though, and instead plans to go to the clinic with her mother, thereby neatly playing into Greggie's hands. Not playing into Greggie's hands, however, is Gobby, who has successfully convinced the lie detector test that's she's telling the truth, thanks to some long buried memories of an apparent actual rape. This turns Paula into a vengeful harpy, and makes Thickardo desperate. Sunset Beach is clearly the one place in the whole of the world where polygraph tests are taken to be foolproof.

And Ben and Meg meet for an elaborate breakfast that Meg then announces she can't eat, as she's got a meeting with Greggie. Should have turned up earlier then, shouldn't you. They go off for respective Greggie Meetings, where Meg is immediately offered the job of Executive Assistant at the Liberty Corporation, her relevant experience being waiting on tables and pouring drinks. Wish I could get a job that easily. Ben and Greggie are awaiting the arrival of a mystery new partner in the Liberty Corporation, who has turned up out of the blue. "I hope it's somebody that we can all work with," says Greggie. Needless to say, it's Annie, who sweeps into the room with a cheerful smirk, leaving Meg looking like a startled owl. There's lots of staring. Presumably they'll get around to actually saying something next week.


Episode 200

Cole packs excitedly for his planned departure from Sunset Beach with Caitlin. Elaine comes in and realises that he's going, but can't quite understand why he feels that he has to. Back at the Richards' house, Olivia is desperately trying to convince Caitlin to go away with Cole rather than with her to the clinic. Explaining why might be a good plan, Olivia. She won't explain why, though, and Caitlin cannot be convinced. Eventually Olivia asks Bette to warn Cole, and he dashes around to the Richards' house to speak to Caitlin. He bangs on the front door, but they won't let him in. Berk. Why doesn't he just go around to the permanently open French windows, where he usually gets in?!

Vanessa and Michael try to smooch in the JavaWeb, since their attempt at privacy got all burnt up. Virginia comes in, doing her usual "I'm The Nicest Woman In The World, And Not At All As Mad As A Bucket of Weasels" Act, which, as usual, only Bubblewrap sees through. She's there on a mission today, though, and gets Jimmy to help her look Vanessa up on the Web. She's got dastardly plans in mind, and since in Sunset Beach you can do anything on the Internet, she's probably got some new grand scheme already well underway.

And Annie sashays in to Greggie's office, bitching splendidly to everybody, annoying Greggie, making Meg pout, and making Ben even more brooding and taciturn than usual. She explains that she has found a codicil to her father's will, which was mysteriously delivered to her in the post. It grants her his share of the Liberty Corporation stock, and she's not eager to be a silent partner. She bitches to Meg a bit more, and then a bit more, and then when Meg asks to be left alone with her for a while, she bitches a bit more. Well, it's always worth seeing. Eventually she sashays off again, and Ben starts Meg off on her new career by having her go for a walk with him on the beach. So, not only does she get a grand corporate job just because she's dating the boss's best friend, but she also gets to not do any work. Great. Why can't I live in Sunset Beach?!


Episode 201

Cole bangs on the door of the Richards' house, whilst Olivia and Caitlin nip out the back and drive off together. Greggie and Spawn hide behind a secret door in Greggie's office, so that when Cole eventually gets in, he can't find anybody, and disappears off somewhere else. Meanwhile Caitlin and Olivia head off to the clinic, bonding with small talk about pregnancies and whatnot. Olivia stops the car so that she can call Bette and try to work out some way of getting Caitlin to go away with Cole, instead of going to the clinic. While they're talking, Cole dashes in to Bette's house and grabs the phone, but Olivia just hangs up. But you wanted him to... oh, never mind. Back at the house, Greggie calls in Eddie, asking him to investigate Annie because of her new interest in the Liberty Corporation. Eddie refuses, saying that Annie has been messed around enough. Er, yeah. By you. Greggie points this out, and Eddie comments that maybe he could have treated her better. Eddie, you tried to murder her. And you tried to have her killed in jail. And you nearly got her raped by a psycho prison guard. Come on, this isn't exactly model behaviour, even in Sunset Beach. He does sort of make amends by warning Annie, though, and suggesting that she keep an eye on Greggie. Clearly she likes this idea very much indeed.

At Surf Central, Gobby can't understand why her polygraph test showed that she was telling the truth about being raped, given that Thickardo didn't actually rape her. Well, you know, that could be because at no point did the questioner actually mention Thickardo. "Were you raped by an authority figure that you trusted" is hardly specific, is it. Thickardo goes to talk to her, and she begins to relent, not wanting to go to trial in the slightest. Mark turns up though, and she immediately switches to her Oh Poor Me, Isn't Thickardo Scary act. Yawn.

And Annie is at home, gloating about her stocks and shares, when Uncle Charlie arrives. Uncle Charlie was Bette's third husband, apparently, and reminds me of Chris Sarandon for some bizarre reason. So he's cool, obviously. He tells Annie that there's an addendum to the codicil - if she's not married by June of next year, she'll lose all of her shares. Annie is furious, and decides that she's going to find a way around this. Charlie isn't hopeful that there is one. Bette turns up. She has no purpose to the plot, other than to crawl all over Charlie and ruffle his hair, which leaves him looking like an easily embarrassed Catholic priest who's taken a wrong turning and ended up in a brothel. Poor Charlie. Harassing him and getting him flustered is clearly a favourite hobby of Bette's, though.


Episode 202

Virginia and Bubblewrap do their usual glaring thing, and mutter about the mythical South Central newspaper article that Vanessa has supposedly been writing since the series began. Virginia goes off and breaks into Bubblewrap's house, searching for who knows what. It's Bubblewrap's own stupid fault, though. Why do people on TV always hide a spare house key in a damn silly place?

Cole confronts Greggie, and they have fisticuffs. Greggie lets on that he knows about Caitlin's pregnancy, and claims that he knows everything. Cole makes a big deal about knowing something that Greggie doesn't know, but he's not going to say anything about him and Olivia, so he might just as well shut up. They fight a bit more. Upstairs, Spawn finally gets suspicious and goes through Greggie's files. He finds that Olivia wrote a cheque for Tiff, which was never cashed, and figures out that Tiff was forced to leave Sunset Beach. "Even though she meant everything to me!" Yeah, but you never even noticed that her head had changed. He follows Cole after the fight, and offers to help him find Caitlin, so they bug Greggie's office. Spawn hears Greggie's plan to have Caitlin's baby taken, and have her told that it's dead.

Annie decides that it's All Attention On Greggie Time. She patches him up after his fight, and then goes off to chat with Tim, who has just arrived back in Sunset Beach. She wants to use him as her secret weapon to Greggiedom. Silly silly silly Annie! If you have to marry somebody, why not make it the guy you can hardly keep your hands off, and who is available? And who likes you? A lot? Rather than the married guy who thinks you're a pain in the butt? Tim, meanwhile, is anxious to make amends with Meg, who's more interested in the three hundredweight of white roses that Ben has just decided to have the JavaWeb redecorated with. Because she's in there. Doing research for Greggie. Nowhere at the offices of Sunset Beach's biggest business has internet access?! Ben whisks her away for a ride on a gondola that he's had built, or shipped over from Venice, or something. There's lots of goofy grinning, and even some babbling. Yeuch. Silent sulky Ben back please. Now.


Episode 203

Michael and Vanessa make out, until Michael remembers that he has to go help Casey build things that got burnt up in the fire. Just as well, really, as Virginia is spying on them and their proto-lovemaking - and talking to herself in the process, which amazingly they don't hear. After Michael has gone, Bubblewrap gets a call from a friend, who has found out that somebody borrowed Virginia's old neighbour's car on the night of the fire, and got stopped by the police near to the cabin. Virginia listens to all of this whilst cuddling a letter opener in a suitably threatening manner. She decides not to stab Bubblewrap to death with a blunt poky thing today, though, and nips off home when Vanessa goes for a shower.

Cole bursts in on Spawn, and realises that he's heard something. Spawn won't tell him anything yet, though, possibly worried about what he'll do. He persuades Cole just to help him find Caitlin, so Cole races off to ask a series of people where she is, coming up with a grand total of nothing. Meanwhile Olivia experiences labour pains, and worries for her baby. Caitlin is anxious to rush her to the clinic, and Olivia is anxious to foil Greggie's plan. She calls Bette, only for Cole to intercept the call and threaten to tell Greggie everything if she doesn't tell him where Caitlin is. Meanwhile Spawn manages to track down some contact details, and phones up Caitlin. He tells her what Greggie and Olivia have been planning for her baby.

Ben and Meg have a trip on the gondola. They chat, they grin, they mutter. Ben quotes poetry. The funny noise in the background is the gondolier throwing up. Meg gushes that Ben is wonderful, and Ben tells her that he will make all her dreams come true. Yeah, Ben. Provided all her dreams involve kidnappings, murders and evil doubles. Later on they drink coffee and iced water at a café that's been invented just for the episode. Coffee and iced water? Why not just drink iced coffee?! Meg mentions her mother's old ambition to drive through Paris in a red convertible, so Ben tells Meg to meet him in twenty minutes, turning up in a red convertible and planning to drive her past a model Eiffel Tower. Sunset Beach is a great town; not only do you never have to go to work, but you can go to a store, borrow, buy or steal a red convertible, and drive it away in under twenty minutes. Beg and Men grin at each other a lot, and drive off pretending to be Meg's mother. There's a reason for that, I'm sure. Probably.


Episode 204

Annie prowls the rooms of the Liberty Corporation, trying to be a high-powered businesswoman. She runs into Thickardo, who is trying to contact Greggie, anxious to take a polygraph test of his own to counteract Gobby's. Greggie is with Eddie, trying to uncover details of Gobby's life pre-Beach in an attempt to discredit her as a witness. He agrees to the polygraph test, but doesn't like the idea. Meanwhile Eddie tries to talk some sense into Gobby, and Mark does his usual Hovering Bodyguard act.

Spawn tells Caitlin everything over the phone, and plays her a recording of the conversation he overheard Greggie having about the plan for Caitlin's baby. Meanwhile Bette tells Cole where Olivia and Caitlin are, to stop him from racing off and telling all to Greggie. Cole dashes off to try to catch up with Caitlin, and Caitlin explodes into fits of rage and tears, and hurtles out of the hotel with Olivia in close, sobbing pursuit. They leap into Olivia's car, still sobbing, and race off together at top, sobbing speed. It's daylight when they do this, but suddenly it's pitch black and the middle of the night, and they're hurtling along the road sobbing and wailing and panting and gasping and shrieking and generally being Olivia and Caitlin, but with the volume and heavy breathing turned up to eleven. I don't know what Caitlin thinks she's doing with the steering wheel, but either she really doesn't have a clue, or they're driving up the world's most eccentric stretch of road. Racing towards them, Cole is suddenly dazzled by a set of headlights, and watches in horror as the oncoming car crashes off the road.

Ben drives Meg around lots of deserted roads, talking about how happy he wants to make her, before finally she remembers that she has to go to work. He gives her the car, which it turns out that he hasn't just borrowed or rented, but has bought (or possibly stolen, since that's the only way he could have got it so quickly) especially for her. She gushes about how romantic he is, then races to phone her mother up and tell her how romantic he is as well. I think you're confusing "romantic" with "rich", Meg. I know they both begin with the same letter, but they're not quite the same thing. Meg goes to finish off her research for Greggie, though this time she manages to use a computer at the Liberty Corporation to do it, and the first thing she calls up on the Internet is the old newspaper story of Maria's death at sea. Obsessive much. They all go off for a business meeting, where Greggie decides that when they build the hotel resort that they appear to be planning to build, they should privatise the beach. Ben disagrees, and the tiebreaker vote is Annie's. She decides to spin the choosing out until the next episode, as she's dramatic that way.


Episode 205

Thickardo takes the test, though it can't do much for his pulse rate when Paula comes and gazes at him through the window halfway through. Surely even in Sunset Beach that's not allowed?! He gets the result back, and needless to say it's "inconclusive". Well, it would be, wouldn't it. Greggie glowers about how he should never have taken it in the first place, Paula leaps to yet more conclusions about his guilt, and Greggie decides to redouble efforts to investigate Gobby. Thickardo gnashes his teeth and wrings his hands about Paula's refusal to believe him. Give it up, Thickardo. She really isn't worth the effort.

Cole recognises Olivia's car, and goes dashing to the rescue. Olivia is wearing her seat-belt (odd, she wasn't before the crash), so she's still in the car, though trapped by a broken door. Caitlin has been thrown clear, and is dazed and confused some distance away. Cole checks her out, then goes to rescue Olivia when it looks as though the car is going to fall over a cliff that's suddenly appeared. He kicks open the broken door, then picks Olivia up by her injured arm, and drags her away to safety over the polystyrene rocks. Meanwhile Caitlin decides that a good plan would be to go over to the car and lean against it, despite having been the first one to notice that it was about to fall over the cliff. It wobbles. She squeaks a lot, but completely fails to get out of the way. The car falls, and explodes for no sensible reason, as cars are given to doing in TV Land. Cole rushes over, but Caitlin has disappeared, if not quite in a puff of a smoke. He's managed to be artfully daubed with dirt and oil, though I'm not quite sure how. But admittedly we're probably not supposed to wonder.

And Ben gets bored waiting for Annie to spin out her decision to the bitter end, and gives up and takes Meg home. Annie turns her seduction levels up to full, talking Greggie into taking her out to dinner to "discuss" things further. He agrees, much to her unbridled delight. Meanwhile Ben takes Meg back to his place, where he's had a French chef installed for the evening to continue the allegedly romantic theme of earlier. He's also had some French dresses sent over for Meg to try on. Whilst Meg is off badgering the chef about when he'll be finished (she's clearly never heard what chefs do to people who try things like that), a delivery comes from the offices at the Liberty Corporation. It's all the research Meg was doing earlier - or, more accurately, all the research that she wasn't doing earlier - which somebody has kindly printed off for her. Ben flicks through it while he waits for her to finish being garrotted by the chef, only to find out that the first item in the folder is the newspaper story of Maria's death. He glowers and curses Maria. It's hardly her fault, Ben. He gazes moodily into the middle distance again, as is traditional in matters of his psyche, and thinks brooding thoughts. Whilst the chef cooks Meg in a risotto, presumably. Yummy.


Episode 206

The recap shows us Caitlin leaning on the car again, just as it disappears over the edge of the cliff. She goes with it, and Cole searches for her desperately until Olivia, in pain and worried about her baby, calls him back. He rings for the paramedics, then goes off looking for Caitlin again, leaping over polystyrene rocks with complete disregard for the naff thudding sound that they make. Eventually he steps on the wrong piece of plywood and it breaks, toppling him down the cliff. The paramedics find him, fish him out, and take him and Olivia off to the hospital, where Cole recovers instantly, and spends the rest of the episode prowling the corridor, artfully decorated in streaks of blood, looking for Olivia. Nobody else seems remotely bothered about Caitlin, which seems like good sense to me.

Eddie warns Bette that Greggie may have unpleasant plans for Annie, so they both go dashing off to the motel to warn her, with Bette climbing in through the bathroom window just as Annie goes in there to wash red wine out of her dress. They talk about Greggie for a massively long time, leaving Greggie wondering if the bathroom is some kind of portal to another dimension. Eventually Annie fights off the deluge of well-meaning aunt, and goes back to finish talking with Greggie. They burble to each other for the rest of the episode.

And Ben gazes moodily at the newspaper piece about Maria, before burning it on the fire and telling her she's not going to ruin his life again. Meg returns apparently unscathed from her tussles in the kitchen with the chef, and they talk about nothing, and have prolonged huggles, until Meg decides it's time to go home. She doesn't want to take things too fast. Yeah, you should always walk out on the guy who is finally opening up after years of being sealed up inside his own head. Nice move, Meg.


Episode 207

Gregory and Annie are still in the middle of their conversation about beach rights and Liberty Corporation shares, until Greggie gets all dewy-eyed with memories about Del. Annie shows that she has some knowledge of legal matters, and he realises that she might be some use after all. They half-flirt, until they both decide that it's not what they want. Phew. It's one thing seducing a guy, Annie, but it's quite another seducing a guy who's just been talking about his happy friendship with your father. It's treading into creepy territory. Finally Annie leaves, and Greggie goes off to see if Olivia has called him at all. He gets the message about the car crash and goes hurtling off to the hospital, only to get half a jumbled story from a doctor with all the bedside manner of Freddy Krueger. Greggie assumes from the information he gets that Olivia is dead, and mopes sadly on the floor beside the coffee machine, before going in to speak to Caitlin. He's delighted to discover that Olivia is still alive, but then begins to realise what this must mean for Caitlin. They're all awfully eager to write her off, which is mildly premature. As they speak she's being found by a strange mute mountain man, with a pocketful of rosary beads, who picks her up and carries her away.

Michael is off to the cabin to finish some repairs, but he's worried about his car, which has a flat battery. Virginia stows away in it with a basket of food that she's prepared in about twenty seconds flat, unless the Surf Central kitchen is in a different time zone. Wouldn't be surprised. She pops up at the cabin, after making sure that the car won't start, and settles down to seduce Michael over special sandwiches and a flask of coffee. Meanwhile Vanessa realises that they're both missing, and that Michael is long overdue, and gets Casey to drive her over to the cabin.

And Meg sits alone in the Java Web, trying to compose an E-mail to Ben, before Vanessa persuades her that she's a berk for pushing Ben away just as they're starting to get close. Meg spends much of the episode reminiscing about the long day of allegedly romantic adventures that she's just had with Ben, and decides that Bubblewrap is right. Taking the bull by the horns, or the Ben by the collar, or something, she goes running over to The Deep, and throws herself into his arms. They kiss. And kiss. And continue doing so at least until the beginning of the following episode. I guess they both have gills or something.


Episode 208

Greggie battles manfully against some truly appalling acting from Olivia, before finally breaking under the strain of all her squeaking. He hurls himself at Cole, and they bounce each other off the hospital equipment for a while, until Olivia's insane squeaking becomes too much to bear and they break off the fight. They both blame each other for Caitlin's 'death', and eventually the hospital security people arrive to take Cole away. Yes, it's always a good plan to manhandle the patient who's just fallen off a cliff. Greggie tries to get his head around the idea of Caitlin being dead, and Olivia finally tells him that she's pregnant. In reception, meanwhile, the police are arriving to arrest Cole, for... I don't know what for. I'm sure there's something. And I'm sure there's a good reason why it's his sister who's come to arrest him, too, rather than some officer who has no emotional involvement. While Cole gets carted away, and Greggie and Olivia are practically planning Caitlin's funeral already, she's being carried around the countryside by her mountain man. It's all a bit Tarzan, really, but sadly he shows no sign of swinging on a nice liana, or wrestling any passing lions. Maybe in the next episode.

Michael and Virginia enjoy their picnic in the cabin, getting closer and closer, as Virginia plans some kind of romantic coup d'état. Bubblewrap arrives in the nick of time, though, and Virginia growls and spits flame behind everybody's backs. In a moment alone, Bubblewrap tells Virginia that she knows it was her who started the fire, and that she'd better back off or the story will get out. Virginia duly backs off, but smirks and growls as Michael and Vanessa prepare to leave together, and mutters that Vanessa has just made a very big mistake.

And Ben and Meg, despite seeming to get more screen time than anybody else, just spend the entire episode kissing, and recapping their story line so far. Eventually they go back to Ben's place, where in the midst of a fit of canoodling and poetical ramblings, Ben produces the most fabulously ugly engagement ring, and asks Meg to marry him. She gapes at him, in one of those endlessly protracted moments, with an expression of shock and horror that will almost certainly turn out to have nothing whatsoever to do with her eventual response. Boy, that really is an ugly ring.


Episode 209

Greggie talks happily about the baby that he and Olivia are expecting, and then sobs about Caitlin, and then raves about Cole. Meanwhile Olivia sobs and trembles and gets progressively more high-pitched, whilst waving her hands around like a policeman controlling traffic. When Greggie's voice catches it could be him fighting off tears, or it could be him fighting back the giggles, in the face of a full-blown Olivia Hysteria Attack. Eventually Spawn comes in, having heard the news, and blames Greggie for Caitlin's death. Greggie blames him, for telling Caitlin the truth. Then he blames Cole, then he blames Spawn again, and pretty much blames everybody else in Sunset Beach as well, up to and including all the tourists. Spawn tells him and Olivia that he knows all about their plotting and planning, and how they got rid of Tiffany, and then storms off leaving Olivia gasping and squeaking all over again. Greggie flips, and calls in Eddie. He wants Cole killed. About sixteen members of the hospital staff must have overheard him, though, so goodness knows there's not going to be any getting away with it afterwards. And Olivia squeaks some more, just for good measure. So does Caitlin. Tarzan doesn't, but he does give Caitlin a scarf. Aw. That'll be useful against all those serious internal injuries.

Spawn runs out of the hospital room and collides with Bette, who has also heard the news. She's a mess, and is very supportive towards poor Spawn, who has managed to lose his entire family in the space of one night. Mind you, he has picked up a cool new wardrobe and haircut in the same night, so it's not all bad. Spawn decides that he's going to help Cole, and goes off to the jail. Elaine has been trying to get Cole out on bail, but it's taking a long time to work everything through the system. Spawn tells him that he'll help, and that they'll find Caitlin together. Cole's going crazy, though, worrying about Caitlin, since nobody else seems at all inclined to bother looking. That's because she's Caitlin, Cole. Mind you, she does manage to make up for the last however many months of squeaking and general annoyance, by being surprisingly effective in pleading for the life of her baby. Before squeaking again. Oh well, can't have everything.

And Ben tries to forestall Meg's objections to marriage by telling her that she's broken through his defences, and that nobody else has ever managed to do that. She points out that Maria did, but he tells her that Maria betrayed him, and made his defences higher than ever. They huggle some more, and she tells him that she'd love to marry him, yadda yadda yadda, and he promises no more secrets. Yeah, right. So you're about to tell her all about Derek, then?! They hug, and he does one of his dangerous looks over her shoulder. For he is Ben, and he may still be a murderer, lest we have forgotten. Finally they give up with the talking, and Ben carries Meg upstairs. Yuck. Try not to go calling her Maria this time, yeah?!


Episode 210

Greggie demands the phone number of a hitman from Eddie, who tries to dissuade him from the path of Cole Killage. Greggie won't listen to reason, so Eddie goes off to look up contract killers in the Yellow Pages. Meanwhile Olivia is in bad shape, and the baby is not doing well. Miracle Man Of Science Doctor Tyus offers to operate to alleviate the baby's stress, but warns that this could cause premature labour. If this happens the baby will need a blood transfusion, and Tyus expects the father will be the best match. Cue gnashing of teeth, and worrying about fathers and who they are.

Spawn meanwhile has decided to break Cole out of prison, and enlists Bette's help. Realising that this may be the baby's best chance, she agrees - and the rescue turns out to be the easiest one ever. Sunset Beach's jail has no security, no guards, and nobody to watch the security cameras, which Bette walks right up to, and pushes out of the way. Certainly nobody bothers frisking Spawn to remove the set of lockpicks that he merrily hands over to the prisoner. Cole walks on out 'disguised' as Spawn (he's borrowed his jacket), and Spawn stays in the cell 'disguised' as Cole (he lies down). Well, that'll fool everybody. And does. Cole is worried about Caitlin (at this point floating in Shiny Glowing White Land with an angelic nun), but agrees to donate blood first, in case the baby is his.

And Ben and Meg have hilarious sex in short snippets set to awful music, before talking about their future. "Let's not have a long engagement," says Ben. Ha. If only you knew, dear. Joyfully, they have gone back to the Ben May Be A Killer Routine, so cue lots of weird, dark looks. When they've finally finished smooching, Meg goes in search of one of Ben's shirts to wear, so that she can go downstairs for some unfathomable reason. Equally unfathomable is why she doesn't just put her own clothes on, since they're right beside the bed. Inside the Endless Closet From Hell - just how many identical pairs of shoes does Ben own?! And why does he keep his shirts on a shelf eight feet above the ground?! - she finds a secret compartment which, being Meg, she immediately empties and pries through. She finds a box - and in it are the slashed, blood-stained sheets and blood-stained scissors that she once saw decorating Maria's old studio, before it was cleaned up. Gasping like Olivia Mk II she scurries off and, squeaking desperately, runs into Ben. Aw, poor dear. Her little brain is malfunctioning again.


Episode 211

Bette hides Cole away at the hospital, but he won't stay put, and scurries away to seek out Olivia. Meanwhile Eddie turns up with a telephone number. Greggie calls it, and tells Dodgy Man With Shiny Ring that he's to kill the sole prisoner in the Sunset Beach jail. The hitman then proves the complete lack of security in the police station by walking right in there, dressed as a policeman, without anybody wondering who the hell he is. He sets about killing Spawn, whilst Greggie thinks happy thoughts about being Cole-free from now on. So it's a bit of a shock when they come face to face in the blood-doning room.

Caitlin is still floating in Shiny White Land. She has her baby with her, born and healthy, but the floaty white angelic nun asks for it, and then taking it, disappears. Caitlin wakes up in bed in some kind of Catholicky place, watched over by Tarzan and a nun. She asks about her baby, and dreams about showing him to Cole, but the nun doesn't tell her anything. Caitlin sees the shiny floaty nun again, and tries to go with her, but can't.

And Meg squeaks and worries and fears for her life, as Ben looks suitably dodgy. Meg tries to come up with excuses to leave, but Ben wants her to stay the whole night. They talk about the future, and about living together, and Ben apologies for the mess that the place is in. He says that Annie tried to clear up a bit when she was his personal assistant, and Meg gapes, deciding that it must have been Annie who planted the sheets and the scissors in the closet. Ben elaborates, saying that Annie didn't think Meg would ever be coming back to the Beach. Relaxing again, Meg tries to tell Ben about Annie's latest dastardly joke, and when he won't listen, decides to show him. When he goes for some champagne, she fetches out the box, then realises what he said - Annie thought that Meg wouldn't be coming back. So why would she plant the sheets and scissors? Fully back in Ben Is Scary Mode, Meg squeaks a bit more, and panics. So the soppiness is over, and it's business as usual then. Jolly good.


Episode 212

Greggie and Cole grapple round the blood-doning equipment, and Greggie demands to know what Cole is doing free. Eventually Cole tells him, and the penny drops. Greggie has sent a hitman to kill Spawn. He looks grey and runs out. Nobody bothers to stop him from going straight on into the jail, and apparently he's got his own cell door key as well. Spawn is motionless in the bed, where Dodgy Man With Shiny Ring dumped him after demonstrating Throttling 101. Greggie sobs, and hugs his comatose son, only for Spawn to rouse suddenly. At some point during the struggle Spawn dropped his wallet, which the hitman managed to read the contents of. Apparently. For he is Dodgy Man With Shiny Ring And Telescopic Eyes. Anyway, he realised he wasn't throttling Cole Deschanel, so gave up and went away. Apparently. Spawn realises what's been happening and rounds on his father, telling him exactly what he thinks of people who hire dodgy men with shiny jewellery and amazing powers of sight in order to assassinate wayward sons posing as alleged former jewel thieves. Paula comes in at this point, apparently deciding that it's about time somebody at the police station did some work. She's rather confused that Cole's cell appears to be full of everybody save Cole, at which point a call comes over her radio. A security guard at the hospital, who has attacked Cole for no readily apparent reason, has sounded the alarm. Cole is speeding out of town in Bette's car, with police cars in hot pursuit. Greggie demands that Paula goes and gets Cole back. She pouts. Spawn glowers. Cole goes Vrooooom! Gosh it's exciting.

Caitlin lies in her bed at the Wherever It Is Place with the nun in it. The exteriors look just like the exterior shots that they later used for Antonio's Mission. The nun and Tarzan worry over Caitlin, before finally she recovers a little, and is properly conscious again. She asks for her baby, and then remembers the glowing white nun, and realises that she's no longer pregnant. She's lost her baby, and of course is inconsolable. The nun tries to do what she can.

And Meg is being greatly pathetic. She dreams of Ben, and hears a woman screaming, though she doesn't bother doing anything to help out. Eventually, still in her dream, she wanders to Maria's studio where she finds Ben covered in blood and holding the bloodied scissors. Murderous Ben tells her that everything is alright and they can be married now. Meg wakes up and tries to use the phone, only to overhear Ben talking to somebody at the office about Greggie having cancelled the meeting they had scheduled for the morning. Ben tells whoever it is that he doesn't know where Meg is, causing Meg to squeak in suspicion over this lie. It's called being a gentleman, you dimwit. Eventually she goes downstairs, where she finds that Ben has gone in search of breakfast. She tries to slip out whilst he's away, but duffs it and meets him at the door. Trying to leave on the pretext of having to go to work fails as well, since Greggie has cancelled their meeting that morning, and she has no reason to go. Joan calls, and Meg tells her about the engagement, before letting Ben carry her upstairs again. What about breakfast?! He's being all nice, so she decides that the sheets and scissors must have been planted by Annie after all. Do make your mind up, Meg.


Episode 213

Weird episode. Nothing happening and everything happening, and some unsettlingly good acting. Basically Cole spends the entire episode driving very fast, and dodging some Keystone Kops. Paula decides to go to his rescue, so spends ages talking to her mother about it, by which time Cole must be halfway to the East coast. Thickardo offers to help, and he and Paula instantly catch up with the lead Cole Chasers, and spend the rest of the episode zipping about on the freeway looking earnest.

Caitlin spend the entire episode sobbing, though she does a very good job of it. That is the sum total of her plot, though - that and arguing with the nun about whether or not life is fair. Caitlin is worried that Cole will be angry with her for the loss of the baby; though personally, if I were Cole, I'd be more inclined to be angry with her for pretending to still be pregnant, and then stealing her brother and passing him off as her own child - but then happily I'm not Cole.

And Greggie prowls the jail, and the hospital, and anywhere else where he can find the right kind of dramatic space, running his hands through his hair and getting increasingly agitated. He's still determined to kill Cole, he's furious with everybody, blaming everybody for everything, getting progressively more bonkers, and currently rivalling Derek for the Most Deranged Resident Of Sunset Beach Ever Award. He watches a television newscast about the car chase, recognises the car that Cole is driving, and in a ferocious rage, sacks Bette for being a traitor. Spawn tries for a reconciliation with his mother, but she won't let Greggie take all the blame for the nuttiness, so the reconciliation lasts barely ninety seconds. Olivia tries to tell Spawn that Greggie loves them all, but Spawn isn't convinced - and as Greggie comes in looking increasingly batty, tells her about Dodgy Man With Shiny Ring. There's lots of dramatic staring, and Greggie's last milligram of sanity appears to evaporate completely. Oh well, he wasn't using it anyway.


Episode 214

Cole is still driving at speed along some road, pursued by two hundred policemen and Paula. She and he talk on their mobiles whilst speeding along, which is perfectly sensible I'm sure. Spawn yells at his parents about hitmen, then goes dashing off to try to help Cole. The chase has by now been going on for at least four hours, so unless they've been driving around in circles all this time, I can't see that he's going to be much use - but he wants to do "what Caitlin would have done." Squeak? Caitlin is at present telling everything to a highly sceptical nun, who is disturbingly familiar, and worryingly unconcerned about her patient's tales of evil parents and baby-napping plottage. Not that Spawn knows all this, as he hurtles off in his supersonic sports car, instantaneously catching up with Cole. They chat on their mobiles, whilst driving on the wrong side of the road and steering one-handed. Always a good idea. When the road narrows, Spawn spins his car and sends everybody else flying off the road, letting Cole go off alone. Well, except for the two helicopters, one of which is still broadcasting his every move to every home in America.

Tim sits alone, mourning Caitlin. Annie fails to cheer him up, though she does say some nice things, in between the silliness. "I've never seen you this upset before." Probably because you've never seen him mourn the death of a friend before, Annie. Anyway, she goes running off to tell Ben about Caitlin - or, rather, to fail to tell him, because he tells her about his engagement first - and Meg arrives in her stead, to discuss Maria's studio. Tim tells her that he did nothing to it, and is remarkably civil, given her astoundingly bad timing and complete lack of tact, especially when she further interrupts his grieving to tell him about her upcoming wedding. She eventually leaves him alone, and he wilts.

And Mark turns up at Ben's house to be told the news of the engagement. He's delighted - "Nothing could keep me away!" he chirrups, in response to his invitation to the wedding. Except death by boat hook of course. Left alone with Meg, though, he realises that she is still worried about something. She doesn't tell him what was in the box that she found in Ben's closet, but she does say that she's found something that has worried her greatly. He persuades her to ask Tim and Annie about it, rather than going nuts on her own, which she attempts to do, leaving poor Ben at home alone without a clue about her madcap worries. She goes off to accost Tim (see above), then turns up at Annie's right after Annie has heard from Ben about the engagement. She's busy hurling ornaments about her house in a fit of rage, so possibly we'll get lucky and she'll do the same to Smeg. That might even make up for five axing the show.


Episode 215

Cole hurtles away thanks to Spawn's distraction, whilst Spawn himself gets arrested. So does Thickardo for some reason. Greggie bails Spawn out, before going off to set the hitman on Cole again, guessing that Cole is heading for the crash site. Annie stops by the hospital, apparently to give her sympathies to Olivia, but really to begin driving a wedge between her and Greggie. Meanwhile Caitlin sobs her little heart out at the mission, and Cole shakes off the helicopters to go scrambling about on hillsides, shouting "Caitlin!" a lot.

Bubblewrap gets the last few details from her pet policeman about how he stopped Virginia on the night of the cabin fire, then confronts Virginia with the evidence she's gathered. She already did this last week, though, so I don't know what she's expecting to hear different this time. Virginia sobs and bursts out all about Vanessa's accusations when Michael comes in, so presumably she's got another plan up her sleeves. Or something.

And Annie tells Meg for the nine hundredth time that she had nothing to do with whatever Meg found in the studio. Meg goes back to gaze at the scissors and sheets again, for whatever reason. Maybe she thinks it'll all have turned into a toasted sandwich maker and a large loaf of bread since she last looked. This time she finds a second box behind the first, but before she can see what's in it, Ben comes along. Meg just hides the scissors in time, then grins her way through the news of Caitlin's demise, happily chirruping that she's already heard it all from Tim. Ben takes her for a walk on the beach, completely oblivious to the fact that he's escorting a fruitcake. Push her off the pier, Ben. We've only got two more episodes before the axe, so we're fast running out of opportunities for Megicide. And let's face it, it needs doing.


Episode 216

Annie is still at the hospital, talking to Olivia. She's caught between trying to work on splitting up Olivia and Greggie (presumably having decided that Greggie is the best candidate for the marriage her father demanded in the codicil to his will), and being genuinely sorry for everything that's happened. Or what everybody thinks has happened, anyway. Eventually Greggie comes in and sends her away, but the damage has been done, and Olivia doesn't want him to stay with her in the room. She's upset that he didn't tell her about Annie having shares in the Liberty Corporation, although quite when he's supposed to have done that in between her crashing and nearly dying and being operated on, I don't know. Bette drops by, and hears all about Annie's visit. She later tries to warn Annie not to get in Greggie's way, but Annie is desperate to keep her father's shares.

Virginia admits to having been on the road near the cabin on the night of the fire, and Vanessa crows with glee. Daft woman. Talk about counting your chickens before they're hatched. Virginia says that she had to go out to fill a prescription for her friend Mrs Jones, so manages to come out of the whole episode looking even more like an angel than ever, and leaving Bubblewrap looking increasingly jealous and deranged. Michael refuses to listen to Bubblewrap's side of things, and fails to see the sparks of insanity in Virginia's eyes, and they argue, and Vanessa walks out, and who the hell cares. Just get an interesting plot already.

And Cole wanders around the hillside, spying clues to lead him to Caitlin. He sees a footprint that he decides must mean that somebody has taken Caitlin away. Yeah... That or it belongs to one of the paramedics or search-and-rescue people who were swarming around the place last night. He follows the non-existent trail, and the hitman follows him - dressed head to toe in black, so obviously he's well camouflaged on the bright green and yellow sunny hillside. He takes a few pot-shots at Cole, misses completely, and they tussle. And tussle and tussle and tussle, until the end of the episode. Woo, look at them go.


Episode 217

Caitlin sits in what she repeatedly says is a "beautiful garden", but which is really a chunk of wood masquerading as concrete, with a few potted plants dotted around it. It's not even really outside, Caitlin! Open your eyes! She's writing a letter to Cole, telling him that their baby is dead. Presumably fairly nearby, Cole and the hitman struggle, and in the most daft move ever, the hitman falls off the cliff and dies. Cole goes back to looking for Caitlin, and later develops a severe case of delayed stabbing syndrome, collapsing with a hole in his leg a good twenty minutes after the knife fell off the cliff along with its owner. Liberally doused in blood, he staggers his way along his little trail, and staggers into the mission just as Caitlin and her pet nun go inside. He collapses, and the wooden garden goes "thunk".

Greggie is in his office, working. He's in a foul mood, and is channelling all of his energies into his work. Ben comes in and tries to talk to him, and they swap stories of lost loved ones, self-blame, and working too hard to compensate. It's a nice little scene, and I'm glad we got another bit of Ben'n'Greg before the axe falls. Thickardo comes in, wanting to discuss his case with Greggie, and he and Ben have a bit of a confrontation. Ben is sympathetic, and points out that it's never nice to be accused of a crime you haven't committed. Super Cop doesn't seem to see the parallel. When Ben has gone, Thickardo asks Greggie if he wants to ease up on things because of Caitlin's death, but Greggie says that he's fighting fit and ready to lash out at something. Gobby won't know what hit her.

Gobby, meanwhile, is at an impromptu party for Meg over at Surf Central. They're all celebrating the engagement, though Meg is jumpy as hell, and now suffering from an acute case of scissorphobia. Mark sees that something is wrong, and tries to talk to her about it, but she fobs him off with talk of pre-wedding nerves. He clearly doesn't believe her, though it's the same excuse he gives Ben later, when TGO drops by and tries to ask him if he's noticed anything wrong with Meg. Meg, meanwhile, is a woman with a mission. Apparently as frustrated as everybody else with whatever the hell is going on between Michael and Vanessa, she drags the latter away from further conflict, and over to the Liberty Corporation to help do a little research. And this is where things get a little unstuck for me, because the Beach has suddenly grown a big building with Liberty Corporation written on the side. Now I know that Ben has had a lot on his mind, with Annie's 'death' and the anniversary of Maria's death, and everything else that's had him such a raving loony so far this series, but surely Vanessa of all people remembers that the Liberty Corporation is the name of the company that she, Ben and assorted residents of Surf Central found out was behind the whole business with the Mysterious News Story Bad Guys, and the infamous (for a few episodes about a year ago) Mysterious Source's Daughter's Mysteriously Absent Father, the impossibly sinister Jo-Jo. After all, that is the only bit of plot that Bubblewrap has ever had. But apparently she's forgotten, anyway, and follows Meg into the building to help her go through all newspapers ever to find out stuff about Maria's death. Meg then settles down in Greggie's office, with a notebook open in front of her, and Maria's Death written on it in big letters, and starts to read though the newspapers. At which point Ben comes in and advances with obvious menace.

Well, with a big grin actually, but I wanted to end things on a dramatic note.


Episode Guide Part One

Episode Guide Part Two

Episode Guide Part Three

Episode Guide Part Four

Beach Goers' Guide

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