Monday 3/1

Ah, the great saga of Rae and Casey. Oh how we love this plotline. Wei Li arrives, in full sneer, and announces that he's set up a meeting between Martial Law and her parents, so that she can mend a few bridges. Bungalow decides that he'd better not go, so that they can talk things out amongst themselves, but Wei Li, wanting to stir, persuades him to go anyway. Everything blows up, and Martial Law's insufferable parents announce that Bungalow, the nicest man ever is a bad influence, and that their daughter did everything she was told before she met him. Now that she thinks for herself, they want nothing more to do with her. Bungalow tries to stop them, but they storm out anyway, and Martial Law cries on a very smug Wei Li's shoulder. That's Wei Li that's smug, not his shoulder. I think.

Elaine is having a pre-trial hearing, and Greggie storms in to run the show. Why he's being allowed to represent her is anybody's guess, as he and his wife were former suspects in the murder, and his wife is the defendant's best friend. But this is Soap Land, so c'est la vie. He gets Thickardo to wax lyrical about Elaine, but then the prosecuting attorney makes him say some nasty things too, and Paula announces that she's moving out. I thought she already had, but apparently not.

And so to the Murky World Of TGO. Ben wanders around his house, hearing his dead wife talking to him again. He goes to the Locked Door upstairs, and hears her calling him from the other side. He's about to open the door when Annie pops up, in the process of moving out. They bond, before Ben heads off to the office. Mark and Smeg are clearing up after the robbery, and Mark does his usual Ben Is Dangerous speech. This time he warns Smeg of the upcoming anniversary of Maria's death, and warns her to stay away from Ben during that time, as he's liable to hurl furniture through windows, apparently. Ben wants Smeg to do some computer work, but he broke the computer during his scuffle with Dimples, so Smeg has to go to his house to use the one there. Alone (or thinking she is) she hovers about outside the Locked Door, until Annie pops up again. (She's clearly in Lurk Mode today). Annie explains that the room beyond the door is Maria's old art studio, and consumed with questions, Smeg creeps back later to gaze at the door again. It's locked, you daft woman! Ben comes home, though, and stares at her from the end of the corridor as she reaches out for the door. Woo. Tinkly Mystery Music.

**********

Tuesday 4/1

Cole has decided that it's time to haul himself out of his sick bed and get back on the trail of the jewels. They're in the evidence room at the police room, so he sets out to get them, with Smurf trying to stop him. "It'll be so dangerous, Cole! You'll be caught!" Why? This is the Sunset Beach police station that we're talking about! It's nice that Smurf has faith in her local force, but even she must have realised that the odds of Dimples being seen (by a policeman, anyway) are very small indeed.

Greggie, meanwhile, has hit upon a fine idea for getting Elaine off scot-free. He's going to find her stolen baby, and get him to plead for his mother's release. Cruella worries and panics and looks guilty as hell, in a display of her usual complete inability to do anything sensible. It's hardly incriminating to tell Greggie that the baby was Cole, you daft woman. And how is Greggie hoping to find the baby anyway?! Unless he's going to bring in Anthony La Paglia, of course.

And TGO blasts Smeg for going near the Locked Door, then chases after her to The Deep to apologise. Annie glowers in a corner as they dance, then she and Tight Pants latch on to each other, and begin some delightful machinations. Aw bless. It's nice to see two devious minds at work. More fun than Smeg, anyway. Later Ben wanders home, to stare broodily at the painting of Maria, before wandering about the house talking to her, and telling her that she isn't going to ruin his life. In the absence of Smeg for company, he goes off to brood and wander some more. Complicated business, this falling in love.

**********

Wednesday 5/1

Somebody save me from Rae and Wei Li... Rae is upset, Wei Li is smug, Rae fails to notice. They hug, Bungalow droops. Eventually Wei Li goes off to meet with Greggie, offering him a buy-in with some Hong Kong media firms. Is this Sunset Beach or Tomorrow Never Dies?! Apparently Wei Li plans to stick around in Sunset Beach for the time being. Oh good.

Paula announces dramatically that she's moving out. Yes dear, so you keep saying. She wants Gobby to come with her, but seeing Thickardo looming nearby, Gobby launches into a big "I'm so trustworthy and nice, really I am" speech, by extolling Thickardo's virtues, as though trying to persuade Paula to stay. Paula won't. Thickardo's crime of being an honest cop is far greater than Elaine's murdering-and-letting-somebody-else-take-the-blame doings.

And speaking of Elaine. Lurking in the police station, Dimples is seen by Bette, who gets highly excited, assumes that he's there to see Elaine, and launches into a wild and delighted spiel about how great it is that he's there to be supportive for his mother. Dimples tries to stammer and protest, but Bette sails on regardless, and eventually Dimples begins to put two and two together. All glowery and confused, he goes down to the (clearly unguarded) prison, and confronts Elaine. She gazes at him adoringly, and he demands answers. She gazes some more. And some more. Obviously she feels that this conversation would be better continued tomorrow.

**********

Thursday 6/1

Paula is leaving. No she isn't. Hang on, yes she is. No! She's staying! She and Thickardo snuggle in bed, and Gobby watches through the window, all glowery. Eventually she walks in on them, apologises really unconvincingly, and then scowls to herself when they say it's okay, as they have the rest of their lives to snuggle.

Greggie plots to send Bubblewrap to work in Hong Kong, on his new Chinese media project. He hopes this will get her out of his hair. Keep out of Greggie's hair, Bubblewrap. That oil could have unpleasant side effects. She looks like she might take up the job offer, as she keeps finding Michael and Vixen Virginia having huggles.

And Dimples and Elaine have a long, long chat, and she tells him all the truth, and he gets all glowery, then all forgivey, then all glowery again. He realises that his grandmother has been lying to him all these years, and that she might have been the mystery woman who contacted Elaine just before Del's death, putting this whole big plot chunk in motion. In order to bring the Deschanel Jewels to light again, one assumes. Anyway, he gets all cross and glowery about his grandmother, and Elaine goes back to staring whimsically into the middle distance, and looking like a saint. That woman is really starting to bug me.

**********

Friday 7/1

Rae and Wei Li, Rae and Wei Li, does anyone care about Rae and Wei Li?! Casey finds that Wei Li has long terms plans in Sunset Beach, but when he tells Martial Law about it, she decides he's horrid, and that she prefers Wei Li instead. Yeah, I can see how the smug smarmy git would be preferable to California's Nicest Man.

Bubblewrap worries about Michael and Virginia. She tells Michael about the Hong Kong job offer, and he's really encouraging. This makes Bubblewrap unhappy, as she would rather he'd objected to her being away for a fortnight. Apparently him being encouraging about her career means he's planning a fortnight of illicit sex with Virginia. Whatever...

But who cares about all of that? Because it's round at Ben's place that the day's interesting plot is exploding in a whirlwind of manic glory. Trapped in another frenetic nightmare, TGO decides it's time for a visit with Maria in the Room With The Locked Door. When he wakes up and tries to go into the room, though, Smeg arrives and browbeats him for half an hour about "opening up" and "letting her in" and "how dare you shut me out again". Eventually he tells her to go away, and then goes back up for a second assault on the psychological barriers surrounding the keyhole of the Locked Door. Whilst he's up there, Smeg's mother Joan arrives, with Tight Pants, who has flown her out to Sunset Beach as a Mother's Day surprise. Things get off to a sparkling start when TGO rounds on Tim; then just as he's managed to calm down a bit, and turn on the charm offensive after introductions from Smeg, in bursts Annie, in the most revealing dress that her wardrobe possesses, and lands a kiss on Ben that lasts throughout a visit to several other plot lines. When she comes up for air, she explains to Smeg's mother that it was just a thankyou, as TGO has got her furniture back from the repossessing people. She then launches into the full story of her father's murder, her arrest and 'suicide attempt', the escape from custody, being not burnt alive, and being sheltered by Ben and Smeg. Specifically Ben, as Tight Pants joyfully points out, bringing up how close TGO came to clobbering him, to make sure he didn't say anything to the police. Yep, it's the first step in Tim and Annie's attempt to break up you know who, and they certainly can't be faulted on their enthusiasm in putting it all together. Joan gapes, Smeg wilts. Ben just looks faintly shellshocked. Then in an attempt to ease the atmosphere, Joan asks about the painting of Maria. Smeg explains who Maria is, and Joan asks how she died. Cue dramatic music, and a haunted, manic look from Ben. Congratulations, Tim and Annie. I like this plan.

**********

Monday 10/1

Greggie is determined that he will find out what happened to Elaine's son, but when she refuses to talk, Paula bulldozes in and lets on that his name is Cole St John, and that he's living in Sunset Beach. Greggie is furious, as he presumably now realises that it's Cole who Caitlin has been seeing just recently. Meanwhile Dimples wants to go back to Europe, and talk to his grandmother about Elaine. He plans to leave with Caitlin, but she's being extraordinarily useless at walking out of her parents' house. Cruella tries to make him leave without Caitlin, by offering him legal ownership of the Deschanel Jewels, but he refuses. Meanwhile, as Caitlin again fails to leave the house, she's confronted by Greggie.

Meanwhile Thickardo is enacting his favourite "handyman scenario" porn film, struggling to fix the air conditioning unit at his house whilst wearing progressively less clothing. He's being assisted on and off by a equally progressively less dressed Gobby, who is in full Seduction Mode. Eventually she goes off for a shower, but - Oops! She's forgotten a towel! I wonder how that happened... She stalks out into the main apartment, wearing nothing but artful water droplets, and walks straight into an endless staring match with Thickardo. You know, for a cop he's got lousy reflexes...

And over at Ben's house, Joan Cummings begins to hear the full story of Maria. TGO tells her that he's suspected of being a killer, and then when he and Annie depart to make lunch (now see, that's the scene that I want to be watching!) Tim sticks the knife in a little further, and twists it energetically. He tells Joan how worried he is, and about how Maria's cop brother doesn't believe Ben's story of what happened on the boat. Eventually, well and truly worried, Joan takes a walk on the beach with Smeg. TGO stands alone on the balcony, and watches them talking. He looks resigned to losing Smeg now, but sadly she's busy telling her mother that she's staying. Oh well. Better luck next time, Annie and Tim...

**********

Tuesday 11/1

Thickardo is still staring at Gobby, but eventually gives up when Paula arrives home, and Gobby has to nip off back to the bathroom. Thickardo and Paula have another abortive make out session, which is interrupted, once again, by Gobby. Everybody tries to pretend that it doesn't matter, and Gobby tries to look as though her satisfaction is really regret. Open your eyes, Paula...

Caitlin is still failing to leave her house, at least without hurling massive hints at everybody that she's running away. She winds up leaving a letter for her father, which he finds. Furious that she wants to get a life at last, he hurtles about the house like a mad thing, before finally phoning up the police to report that his daughter has been kidnapped by Cole St John. Smurf and Dimples attempt to get to the airport, but have to keep running away from stray policemen. Eventually they give up and go back to the grotto, but before they can decide what to do next, Gregory turns up for some serious staring.

And Joan has so far been charmed only by Eddie, with whom she would apparently much prefer her daughter to be in love. I'd prefer it too, Joan. Tight Pants lays into Ben, accusing him of murder, and of being generally Not Very Nice, and Ben has one of his glowering moments. Tight Pants reminds him that it's not so very long ago since he wanted Smeg to go back to Kansas, where she would be much safer without him, and TGO gets all confused and growly. (He's wearing his "There Are Skeletons In My Closet, Oh Yes" T-shirt today). Annie breaks up a fight just as Joan comes back in, and everybody looks hot and bothered. TGO turns up the charm though, and plans to take Joan on a tour of Sunset Beach. For some reason this offer seems to completely dispel all her doubts about him, and she smiles like a kid on holiday. Whatever. In the background, Tim glowers and Annie begins planning again. Just a temporary setback, she decides. Jolly good.

**********

Wednesday 12/1

Greggie menaces Dimples in the grotto, and attemps to tell Caitlin that she's being poisoned into hating her family, by the mad serial heartbreaker of fashionable European resort-goers. Caitlin isn't convinced. Eventually there are scuffles, and Dimples and Smurf dash off. Greggie repeats his telephone call to the police, alleging that his daughter has been kidnapped, and Cole and Caitlin find a big white horse wandering on the beach (don't ask), and go galloping off on it into the sunset.

Elsewhere little is really happening. Gobby dreams of winning Thickardo from Paula, and gets visited by a leering Eddie, who wants to help her in her scheming. Vixen Virginia begins to get increasingly jealous of Bubblewrap, and Michael mopes over losing Bubblewrap to her Hong Kong assignment for a fortnight. Eventually he buys a plane ticket so that he can go with her, just as she (unknown to him) turns down the assignment in a fit of jealousy over potentional Michael and Virginia smoochies whilst she's away.

And Thickardo and Paula bond over dinner, in an attempt to be romantic in a place where Gobby can't suddenly burst in and break it all up, whilst attempting to look apologetic. They talk. And talk. And talk. And no, I'm not trying very hard to be interested.

**********

Thursday 13/1

Cole and Caitlin wander along the beach on their horse, until Cole decides that this is silly, and that they can't hope to escape from the entire Sunset Beach Police Department on horseback. He tells Caitlin that she should go home for now, and he'll go on to Europe alone, and come back for her when he's got everything sorted. She trots off, and he runs straight into Paula, who demonstrates her usual logic by telling him that she'll get him thrown into prison if he tries to run off instead of helping their mother. Yeah Paula. Because he'll be so much help to Elaine if he's locked up. In the end she lets him go, and he heads off out of Sunset Beach, not realising that Caitlin is hiding in the back of his car. Oh how I wish that was the last we saw of the pair of them. Sigh.

Greggie is getting redder and redder and madder and madder, but Thickardo manages to persuade him to drop the kidnapping charge. Greggie does, but only because he has a nice red dossier on Dimples, about all the alleged jewel thefts on the continent. Thickardo realises he'll have to arrest Dimples anyway. Cue sighing and staring, and more dopey saintly looks from Elaine.

And Michael settles himself on the plane to Hong Kong, thinking about the nice surprise he'll be springing on Bubblewrap - just as Bubblewrap turns up at Surf Central planning to surprise him. Bungalow sets her straight and she hurtles off, arriving at the airport just too late to stop the plane. She sighs and moans to the ticket lady about how wonderful Michael is - then realising he got off the plane in time, and is standing listening to her wax lyrical about him, she wallops him with his red rose. They smooch. And chortle. Smortle? Chooch? At any rate it makes them Sunset Beach's sole functional couple. Perhaps they should get an award.

**********

Friday 14/1

Cole buzzes on out of Sunset Beach, happily oblivious to the Smurf crouching down in the back seat. It pops up and greets him, and he glowers at it, and decides to take it back home. Caitlin pouts. Dimples scowls. They get stopped by a policeman for making an illegal U-turn. Call yourself a professional, Cole? Then don't risk everything on a traffic violation, you berk! They dash off before they can be given a ticket, and then get stuck in a deserted house when a massive storm hits.

Michael and Bubblewrap return from their failed attempt to get to Hong Kong, and smooch until Vixen Virginia accidentally walks in them. Michael spends the rest of the episode failing to bond with Jimmy, but does manage to persuade Bubblewrap that her trip to Hong Kong won't mean the end of their relationship. She decides to go, and they smile dopily.

Still, however daft they can be, Michael and Bubblewrap are at least making more of a success of things than anybody else in Sunset Beach. Annie and Tim plot and scheme to break up TGO and Smeg, with Joan caught in the middle like a very confused little praire dog. Annie tells her about the Locked Door, and how the house Ben lives in was designed from the floors on up by Maria. Joan begins to look freaked, and Smeg drags her away to meet everybody at her place, in the obvious hope that some slightly less oddball company will set her mind at rest. Joan loves the happy inhabitants of Surf Central, but gets thoroughly puzzled by who is in love with who, and who isn't. Namely Bungalow and Martial Law, and Michael and Vixen Virginia. Not to mention the non-Surf Centrally swirliness of Ben, Annie, Maria and Smeg, and where exactly the four of them all fit together. I'm sure Annie could come up with a few suggestions there, Joan. Eventually TGO turns up, and gets the third degree from Joan about his past, and his intentions, and what exactly is going on inside the most mixed up head in Sunset Beach. She's not exactly delighted that her daughter has fallen head over heels in love with Mr Stygian Depths. Neither is Annie, who is back in Ben's place with Tim, hunting out the Key To The Locked Door, and planning how best to make sure that Smeg finds it. Annie is in Scheming Mode again. And yay, tis a joy to behold.

**********

Monday 17/1

Cole and Caitlin are still holed up in their deserted house. Caitlin calls Spawn to tell him that she's safe, but Dimples panics about phone taps and over-enthusiastic Gregories. They cuddle, and worry, and worry, and cuddle, and then they decide to leave.

Thickardo and Paula have found Gobby a job at the police station. She's especially excited, as it'll give her a chance to come between them during their working day, as well as in their home. She plays the innocent, though, before 'accidentally' letting slip to Eddie that she was with Thickardo the night that Paula was kidnapped. Eddie is delighted. He's as anxious to break up Paula and Thickardo as is Gobby, and they both think that this is good ammunition.

And Greggie worries about Caitlin, and worries about Caitlin, and worries about Caitlin. And then he worries about Caitlin some more. Olivia worries too. They talk about how much they're worrying. Gregory takes time out to peruse the front cover of the local newspaper, which he's made sure is covered with stories about Dimples and his variety of guilts. Alleged guilts. Whatever. Less concerned with the front cover of the newspaper is Bubblewrap, who has finally agreed to go to Hong Kong to write for the thing. She persuades Michael to stay behind. This is because Vixen Virginia's blinding new wave of jealousy and desire is being interpreted as her actually being no threat at all. Bubblewrap, love, you deserve everything you get.

**********

Tuesday 18/1

Martial Law is browbeating Bungalow about his family again, and complaining because he won't tell her every little detail about his childhood. She gets cross because he fails to understand why she feels she has to know. I don't understand either, Rae. Could it be because you're incredibly nosey?! He eventually tells her that he loves his mummy very much, but that his father is a crooked sod that he doesn't want anything to do with anymore. This pleases Martial Law, and she takes Bungalow upstairs to bed. That was easy. Couldn't you have told her all that three months ago, Case, and saved us all the inbetweens?!

Bubblewrap and Michael, meanwhile, are doing their best to save their "first time" for a "special time", but their attempts to say goodbye are getting increasingly heavy. Virginia manages to walk in at a crucial moment, again, and Bubblewrap scurries off to Hong Kong. Jimmy glowers ferociously, as he's realised that his mother has set her sights on Michael, and he'd rather that she married The Child Catcher.

And so to Ben's place, and Annie's Mad Plans Of One Thousand Ways To Terrify Joan. Today's plan involves inviting the poor woman round to be dumped, unprepared, into an Aunt Bette Encounter. Bette is in fine form, and despite Smeg's attempts to surreptitiously shut her up, launches into a full account of the death of Big Al in the hot tub. Annie manages to use this to emphasise TGO's illegal activities in fugitive harbouring, bad boy dealings, and frequent lying to the police. Joan panics. I'm not sure what Ben's doing at this precise moment, as ever since Aunt Bette hurled herself at him shrieking "Air kisses! Lipstick!" he's been lurking on the balcony. Annie takes Smeg round to his place to get tablecloths and wine, and 'accidentally' knocks the box off Ben's desk, thus showing Smeg where lies the Hidden Key. Little cogs tick into motion in Smeg's brain, and when Annie leaves her alone, she creeps off upstairs and stares at the Locked Door. She looks at the Hidden Key. She looks at the Locked Door. Little chords tinkle. Could it be that Ben has an orchestra hidden in the Locked Room? But no, for Smeg eventually unlocks the door and goes in, and finds, not an orchestra, but a slashed painting and a big red stain on the floor. There are more red stains sprayed all over the walls. Smeg gasps. The music jangles. There's an orchestra hidden somewhere in that room, there must be.

**********

Wednesday 19/1

Cole and Caitlin wind up at a boarding house, where they get a room. Caitlin dispels the landlady's objections with profusely absurd talk of the wedding they've just not had. The landlady melts at the romance of it all, and leaves the pair of them alone with candles, soft music (from Ben's hidden orchestra, presumably) and lots of tasteful slow fades and discreet camera angles. Oh well - at least it should give us some variety now, during Smurf's endless flashbacks to Dimples-sex.

Bungalow and Martial Law, meanwhile, have failed to do anything in the bedroom after all, thanks to a phone call from Wei Li. That'll teach you to leave the answerphone on its speaker setting, Casey. They go back downstairs and talk some more, until Wei Li arrives and talk turns to Rae's annoying parents. Greggie and Cruella have been rather more successful in the bedroom department, though (or living room couch department, as it turns out). You share that house with your children and a housekeeper! Stop having sex on the sofa, damn it! Greggie then goes and yells on the phone about Dimples and Smurf, and about how he's going to find out "everything there is to know" about Cole. Cruella looks worried. Relax woman. I doubt even Greggie's investigators could find that out.

And onward to Ben's, where Smeg is screaming blue murder. She runs out of the Locked Room, screaming; runs down the stairs, screaming; and runs into Ben, screaming. Then she screams for a bit. Everybody comes running to find out what's happened, and she trembles and tries to pretend that nothing's wrong. Smeg, not even Caitlin would believe that, after all that screaming. Eventually she manages to convince them all that she imagined she heard something, before sneaking off upstairs to close up the Locked Room once again, and retrieve the key. Cue a very suspicious looking Ben, doing his "I'm a murderer, oh yes I am" glare again, just to fit nicely with the mood. Joan takes Quivery Meg home, but Meg hasn't had time to return the key. Annie and Tim grin triumphantly, and TGO lurks with intent. Ben, honey, it's no wonder all of Sunset Beach thinks you're a psychopath, if you will keep lurking in dark corners, scowling murderously.

**********

Thursday 20/1

Caitlin and Dimples go in search of Grandmother Deschanel. She awaits them in her house, mysteriously transported to somewhere within half an episode's car journey of Sunset Beach. And what a lovely house it isn't. They talk about Elaine and AJ, and what a wandering, adventure seeking swashbuckler AJ is. He is?! Must have missed that bit. Are we talking about the same AJ here? Because frankly the one who turns up later on in the series is just a bit wet, really. Anyway, Grandmother Deschanel tells Dimples that she took him away from his mother because she missed AJ, and wanted a baby to love instead. Well, that makes it all alright then. Cole tells her about Elaine killing Del, and then tells Smurf that everything is different now. He wants to go back to Sunset Beach.

Where Greggie awaits him, amaking plans, shouting at people down phones, and swearing to destroy Cole and find out all his dirty secrets. You know Greggie, given the way that Cruella twitches every time you mention finding out all Cole's dirty secrets, don't you think it might be worth asking her about some of them?! Greggie goes charging off to tell Elaine the "truth about her son", and they spend the rest of the episode arguing ferociously about whether or not he's a thief and an all round cad. Then they smile at each other, and agree to carry on their lawyer/client relationship. Okay...

And Thickardo loves Paula, and Paula loves Thickardo, and everything will be happy and merry. Save that Gobby still glowers, and plots very loudly in secret. And surely somebody other than Eddie must have noticed the hateful and jealous stares she throws at Paula every time her back is turned?! Oh yeah, and New Tiff and Mark play frisbee on the beach, and Spawn looks jealous. Then he and New Tiff skip off back home, and Mark looks jealous. Guys, haven't you noticed yet that there's two Tiffs?! You could have one each, you know.

**********

Friday 21/1

Aw. Little baby Dimples pictures. With seventies hair. Anyway, Cole reminisces, whilst swearing eternal damnation upon Grandmother Deschanel, who lurks in the doorway trying her best not to look like a temporary recruit from another daytime soap. Eventually Cole decides that he's going back to Sunset Beach to save his mother. Smurf looks upset, and they talk about Greggie's vengeance and how Dimples will be thrown into prison. No, that won't happen. It's only Eddie who throws people into the cells, and he's been sacked. Anyway, what's the problem? Dimples can have the cell next to his mother, and they can catch up. Grandmother Deschanel announces that he's not going, anyway. She wants to go instead. That way she can put off returning to The Bold And The Beautiful, or wherever it is she's been brought in from for the occasion.

Paula plans a romantic evening with Thickardo, which Gobby cheerfully plans to sabotage. She helps set up the house to look all nice and candley, and then as soon as everything is shipshape, she 'accidentally' lets on that Thickardo was with somebody the night that Paula was kidnapped. Thickardo arrives home. There's lots of collective gasping and widening of eyes.

And Smeg is still being peculiar. She tries to slip into Ben's house to put back the key, but he's there unexpectedly, and she pretends to be looking for a lost sweatshirt instead. She then tries to run off without looking for it. TGO looks politely baffled, and Smeg whimpers, squeaks and plays with her hair. Eventually Ben manages to get her and Joan to the JavaWeb, so that they can have a coffee together, but Smeg just twitches and looks nervous all the way through. Joan tries to find out what's wrong, and makes Smeg twitch all the more. Annie and Tight Pants giggle in a corner, and plot what they'll do with their respective halves of the would-be couple, once they manage to drag them apart from each other, whilst Ben, flummoxed, departs to do his mysterious 'work'. Bank robbing? Running the local brothel? Being a serial killer on the quiet? Who knows. At any rate, he's anxious to get back to it. Smeg scurries off to question Thickardo about his suspicions about Ben, and makes rather too obvious queries about what kind of searches the police made of Casa TGO. Then she departs, a-tremble, to think dark thoughts of Ben. Poor Meg. Her little brain can't cope.

**********

Monday 24/1

Oh dear. Rae is depressed again. Her mother and father have just sent her a cardboard box full of childhood momentoes, which apparently means that they don't want her in their house anymore. Okay. So how do I interpret my parents throwing my stuff out altogether?! Anyway, she mopes and Casey tries to make her feel better, but she winds up going to the medical centre to cry on Wei Li's shoulder. She thinks about hooking up with him instead, in order to make her parents happy. Weirdo.

Elsewhere Thickardo is paddling like mad in a bottomless lake as he tries to tell Paula that he wasn't doing anything incriminating the night that she was kidnapped. Honestly, really, truly. He tells her, with meaningful looks at Gobby, that the woman he was with meant nothing, that nothing happened, and he had no desire for it to. Paula walks out, winding up commiserating with Casey over at The Waffleless Waffle Shop. Who is running the Waffleless Waffles shop at the moment, and failing to make the all-important missing waffles, I don't know, since Elaine is currently being all saintly in jail. But who cares. Paula and Thickardo are reunited, anyway, after more desperate reassurances. Gobby leaves them alone - though she stands outside for the rest of the episode listening in. Paula isn't happy.

And Dimples isn't sure that he wants his manic grandmother to go to Sunset Beach instead of him, as he doesn't believe that she really wants to help Elaine. She says she will, he says she won't, but it looks like she's going anyway. They should all go. That way once the story comes out they can all share the SB jail together, and work out their issues in group therapy. It'd save us several months of plot, anyway.

**********

Tuesday 25/1

Dimples reads letters written by his mother to AJ. He sniffles. Beside him, Caitlin also sniffles. They read about how much Elaine loves her son, and they sniffle. They read about how much she loves AJ, and they sniffle. Eventually they read about Cole's alleged death, and they drown in their own tears. Cole decides he's going back to Sunset Beach, but when Caitlin goes off to check up on Grandmother Deschanel, Dimples decides he's going back alone. It's too dangerous to take Smurf with him. Or something.

Rae, meanwhile, has gone to San Francisco, to talk to her weird parents. Her mother gives her a family heirloom necklace, saying how sorry she is that they're not allowed to talk anymore. They sniffle. Back in Sunset Beach, Bungalow is worrying that Rae is going to cave in and marry Wei Li to get her parents back. Michael tries to make him feel better by saying that Rae doesn't love Wei Li, but since Michael is oblivious to Vixen Virginia's increasing smittenness with him, he's not the best one to judge. Virginia is now hallucinating about him, and wondering if there's any way that she can get him for herself.

Also scheming (as always) is Gobby, who takes advantage of some time alone to pore over her mad scrapbook. Thickardo comes in and finds the scrapbook, including a picture of him and Paula, all torn up. He challenges Gobby, and she tells him that it's her father's scrapbook, telling the lifestory of his beloved estranged daughter. She's just trying to finish it, with clippings from the SB Police Station Press Room. How come everybody in SB has professionally modelled publicity shots of themselves?! Thickardo is suspicious, anyway, but Paula is touched by the gesture. Or possibly is just touched, who knows. Gobby glares at the scrapbook later, and goes all cackly and manic. Fine. Not at all bonkers then.

**********

Wednesday 26/1

Michael and Vixen Virginia decide to go on a picnic, which makes Jimmy go all glowery. He's still convinced that his mother is after Michael - which, of course, she is, though apparently only Jimmy can see it. Mark turns up to accompany them, which makes Michael go all wistful, as he wishes that Jimmy still liked him the way that he now likes Mark. Michael... you killed the kid's father. Really, did you expect him to just forget about that?!

Bette, meanwhile, is being hilariously manic (or Bettishly manic, perhaps. Bettish. That should be a new adverb). Anyway. Her financial advisor has just skipped town with all of her money, leaving her completely destitute. For some reason Eddie is hanging around the house, having lost his apartment along with his job, and Bette is eventually worn down by his frantic begging and yelping, and employs him as a PI to track the guy down. Eddie is delighted, and goes dashing off, barking and chasing his tail. Actually he buys them some wine to celebrate, but since none of them have any money, who knows how he manages it.

And so to the saga of madness and plotting, where Annie and Tim are barely able to keep their hands off each other long enough to put their various plans in motion. Joan is off home, because Hank The Plank, her so far invisible husband, has hurt himself. It was turning out to be an extraordinarily long Mother's Day visit anyway. Mother's Day must have been over a fortnight ago. She and Smeg wander around Ben's house again, as usual without any particular reason to be there, whilst he claims to be off on his way to a meeting in Santa Barbara. Oh yeah? I don't see how business at The Deep or The JavaWeb can possibly lead you to a meeting in Santa Barbara, Ben. It's those hookers again, isn't it. At any rate, he's clearly not on his way to a meeting at all, but is heading off to a costume party dressed as The Blue Buccaneer. Give him a moment and he'll go to fetch his sword. Joan tries to get him to promise that he won't hurt Smeg, but he fades into moody silence and never answers. Can't say I blame him - everybody's so bloody judgemental about his private life! At the airport Meg tries to tell Joan about her suspicions, and presumably what she found in the Locked Room, but the call for boarding comes, and Joan leaves. Smeg sighs. In the end she makes her way to Ben's place for another perusal of the blood stains, just as Ben gets home. Or "The Slasher" as he's now known. Or not.

**********

Thursday 27/1

Cole reads more of the letters that his mother wrote to his father years ago, telling of her pregnancy, the birth of Little Dimples, and his supposed death days later. Realising that his mother didn't abandon him, and that his grandmother appropriated all the letters without AJ ever having seen them, he decides that enough is enough, and that he's going back to Sunset Beach. And does, leaving Caitlin behind listening to Grandmother Deschanel's memories, whilst imagining herself and Cole in the middle of them all. Which isn't nearly as moving as was probably intended.

Gregory and Olivia talk. How Greggie manages to even look at Olivia given what she's wearing, is one of life's great mysteries, but possibly he's colourblind. She looks like a green neon frog at a rave, but he seems to find this attractive, and they begin to get at it (on the bloody sofa again!). He gets a telephone call which sends him rushing out of the house, though, and Cruella realises his sources must have found Cole. She sighs and mopes and worries, partly about Caitlin, but mostly about herself.

And Smeg, trapped in the Locked Room by Ben's sudden arrival home, hears the key turning in the lock, and realises that she's now stuck for real. She tries to get out of the window, but it's locked, and realising that she'll have to come up with some other plan, she wanders around looking at the room in the meantime. She looks at Maria's sketch pad, and reads some of her final diary, all the time wondering if TGO has locked her in. She eventually decides that it must have been Annie, trying to stir things up again. Downstairs Ben broods heavily, captivated as usual by the painting of Maria. Annie tries to sneak in, as part of her plan to break up the unhappy couple, and has to cover fast. Ben just tells her he's busy. He's got "business", apparently. Possibly paperwork, possibly chopping Meg up into little pieces. You can never tell with Ben.

**********

Friday 28/1

In the jail at the police station, Cole has a talk with his mother, explaining that he now knows the truth, and is determined to help her at her hearing. She refuses, saying that he'll be arrested, but he's determined. Which is when Greggie walks in, being as obnoxious as only Greggie can be, and yet still with more charisma than most of the rest of the cast put together. He has Cole arrested. Back at Grandmother Deschanel's, Caitlin begins to worry, and dashes off back to the beach after him, with Grandmother Deschanel hot on her heels.

Panic-stricken that Dimples will tell all, Cruella awakens from maddened daydreams, and rushes off to the police station, where all civilians are allowed all access all of the time. She busts in on Greggie and Cole doing something approaching a macho standoff, and tries to get Greggie to see that he's just pushing Caitlin away. He refuses to understand, and she collapses. Cue more threats, more posturing, and more promises to destroy each other/break each other/end this, that and the other for each other forever, just as Caitlin dashes in.

Locked in her little room, Smeg is busy reading Maria's diary. She can't understand what's happened in the bloodsoaked room if Ben and Maria loved each other as much as the book says. I don't know either, Smeg. Maybe Madwoman Carmen sacrificed something. Downstairs, desperate to get Ben out of the house so that they can fulfil another part of their plan, Tim and Annie are failing dismally. Eventually Ben disappears on some errand, however, and upstairs Smeg hears the door unlock. She dashes off, eventually climbing down some ivy on one wall, but running, seconds later, into Ben. She panics, but goes inside and stalls for thinking time, eventually deciding that Annie is behind everything. When Ben leaves them alone for a few minutes, though, Annie listens to all charges in confusion, and eventually says that she's been with Aunt Bette all evening - which Bette herself then confirms when she turns up too. Why does the entire population of Sunset Beach routinely walk through Ben's house as though they own the place?! That doesn't even happen in the houses of people who actually enjoy the company. Convinced now of Annie's innocence, Smeg's little brain whizzes and whirs. In that case, she decides, it must have been TGO who locked her in the room - so she has to be scared of him after all. She quivers. Ben doesn't much care. He just wants to get back to his brooding.

**********

Monday 31/1

Caitlin is furious with Greggie, and refuses ever to speak to him again. They glower, they shout, they make their respective threats, with Cruella trying to play peacemaker. Meanwhile, Dimples is being processed at the police station, because of the assault charges Greggie is trying to bring against him. Paula Of The Fluctuating Accent apologises, and tries to bond with her brother over the fingerprinting kit. Eventually, though, Caitlin's pouting wins through, and Greggie agrees to drop the charges. Smurf is delighted. Paula is delighted. Cruella is delighted. Dimples looks highly suspicious, and I don't blame him. Greggie couldn't look more shifty if he'd been caught red-handed writing "I have dastardly plans for Cole" in his diary.

Martial Law is upset. Oh poor Martial Law. She's torn between Bungalow (otherwise known as the nicest man ever), and Wei Li, who's an annoying git. Eventually, having made a complete hash of her attempt to patch things up with her parents in San Francisco, she tells Casey that she thinks she should have married Wei Li to begin with. Yes, Rae. Marrying the insufferable ego-machine just to stop your parents acting like spoilt children is entirely worthwhile... Casey looks as moody as it's possible to look when you're the nicest man ever. Which isn't really all that moody.

And Jimmy carries on his campaign to be the sulkiest person in the world, which is reasonably understandable given that his father was murdered by his best friend. When Bubblewrap rings up from Hong Kong, he tells her that Michael and Vixen Virginia are off making out somewhere, and then grouses around the apartment, worrying that Michael is going to end up being his step-father. Virginia tries to scold him, but in the process manages to fall off the little step that she's standing on, and for some reason requires being rushed to the medical centre, to be tended to by Ultra Worried Rae. Not sure I'd want her looking after me just at the moment, even if it is the Most Minor Medical Incident Of The Month. "Preoccupied" doesn't even begin to cover it.

**********

Tuesday 1/2

Cole decides that the best thing to do is give his evidence to the judge in private, then skip town with Caitlin. Neither of them trusts Greggie, so clearly their combined brain power is a little more worth having than it was in its separate forms. When Cole tries to set things up, though, the court head persony-type (that's the official term ) calls Greggie to tell him about the Dimpled Request. Greggie glowers and fizzes for a while, then has Cole kidnapped.

At the courtroom, everybody is assembling. Meaning that they're all arriving, not that they're all putting each other together from little kits. Woo. Sunset Beach Meccano! Cole has not yet arrived, and Elaine and Paula worry. Greggie comes in acting all nonchalant, and gets in a huff when he hears that Cole seems to have done a runner. Good old Greggie. It's nearly time to get moving with the hearing, but everybody is more interested in asking what's happened to Cole. Caitlin wants to know too, as she's standing under the pier waiting for him. But he's kinda tied up right now. Ouch. Old joke. Sorry.

And Annie and Tim sizzle in the heat (and in other's heat) on the beach, making their plans and muttering over the sun oil. Tim's hair looks much better with a gale-force-ten beach wind blowing through it. Not that that's at all relevant to the plot, but who cares. Eventually Tim slips away to see what's going on with Smeg back at Surf Central, overhearing her telling Mark that Ben is beginning to scare her. Triumphant, Tim returns to Annie. Meg, meanwhile, has returned to the Locked Room again - clearly she has some manic compulsion where that room is concerned - and winds up reading more of Maria's journal. She reads about secrets, and wonders what secrets Ben and Maria might have had. Eventually she steals an old letter, that also mentions The Secret, and scurries off back home with it. Annie and Tim see her making her escape, looking over her shoulder all the time, and clearly spooked. They whoop in glee. Plan A, or B, or whatever the hell it is that we're on now, is going just fine.

**********

Wednesday 2/2

Elaine's hearing commences. This basically means everybody repeating the story of how and why Del got killed. Yes, we <>>know all this. Save us, please! Everybody bar Greggie worries about Cole, though they needn't worry, as he frees himself with remarkable speed. Sadly he doesn't seem to remember until >after he's knocked out the pilot that he doesn't actually know how to fly. Cue dramatic engine noises, and an alarming tilt to the camera. Back at the courtroom, Grandmother Deschanel is about to tell all - don't bother, please. We already know all! - when Cole bursts in. Everybody looks relieved except Greggie, who glowers. You want to watch that, Greggie. It's a bit of a giveaway.

And Martial Law packs up to go to San Fran for another assault on the parents, this time with Wei Li for company. The inference is that she's not coming back. Casey wanders tragically on the beach for a while, then goes home to find that his mother has moved in. Since she's instantly a more interesting character than poor Rae ever was, he immediately cheers up no end.

**********

Thursday 3/2

Cole and Greggie posture a lot, and exchange pointless threats, before Greggie decides to give his rousing closing address before bringing on his last witness. Not sure why the Prosecuting Attorney didn't object to that, as she'd be well within her rights, but obviously she wants all of this over as quickly as possible too. Dimples takes to the stand, reads lots of bits of letters that we've already heard before, and recounts bits of tale that we've already heard before, and then slinks off, trying to look mean and broody. Leave it to Ben, dear. The judge deliberates briefly, before giving Elaine three years probation, and two hundred hours community service. Everybody celebrates, and Interpol arrests Cole. Caitlin shows the drama queen side that she's inherited from Cruella, and pants that she'll "Never forgive you, Daddy!" Shut up.

Casey's mother is called Alex. She and Casey and Michael have a cheery reunion and some very large sandwiches, before they leave her alone in the house to go and see the end of the trial. Alex looks sad, and makes some serious phonecalls.

And TGO walks broodily around his house, indulging in his second favourite hobby (staring at the door of the Locked Room). Smeg confronts him about it, and they have another yelling match. As per usual this means her becoming highly offended by his refusal to tell her all his intimate secrets. He yells back, and she panics and flees out onto the beach, and into the arms of Mark. She tells him about the Locked Room, and everything that she's found in it, and when Ben goes off to join Annie at Elaine's hearing, the pair of them sneak back in for a look at the blood stains. Tight Pants is hanging about too, up to another stage of The Great Plan. I guess we have to wait until tomorrow to find out what.

**********

Friday 4/2

Cole is taken away by Interpol, with Caitin trying to cling to him. She mobilises the rescue team of Paula and Thickardo, who fail to be of any use whatsoever, but do seem to enjoy having another crisis to deal with. Cole is loaded up on a passenger jet, bound for Europe, promising to Be Back Soon. Left behind, Caitlin swears revenge on her father, who lurks in a dark corridor nearby and smirks contentedly. Cruella worries to herself, but mostly just about herself, as she seems to be suffering from morning sickness. Or whatever-time-of-the-day-it-is sickness, anyway. Times of the day are notoriously difficult to pinpoint in this town.

Casey and Michael throw a party for Elaine, which supposedly half of Sunset Beach is present for, though we only see three people. Everybody spends all their time worrying about Cole, who unsurprisingly hasn't turned up. Alex is sneaking health drinks and medication, and trying to make unconvincing jokes whenever she's caught at it. Congratulations, Alex. You've already had more plot in two episodes than Martial Law had in five months.

And Smeg and Mark arrive in the Locked Room to find it swept up, cleaned up and generally neat and tidy. Smeg begins to tremble. Mark doesn't know what to believe, but eventually they decide upon Annie as the culprit - until she points out that she was at Elaine's hearing, and has only just got back. Smeg now doesn't know what to think. Meanwhile, on his own at the Deep after never having turned up at the hearing, Ben washes copious amounts of blood off his hands, and then sinks down onto the floor. He goes home and growls at Meg when she tries to get an explanation out of him, and Annie points out that tomorrow is the anniversary of Maria's death. Tomorrow is one day when "you really don't want to be around Ben." Meg twitches and looks increasingly afraid, and runs home to Surf Central to whimper at Mark. Left alone, Ben is spending the afternoon (or morning, or whatever time of day it is at his end of town) with his demons. Which he admitted to having yesterday, and I forgot to write about. Yay! Demons! They share a glass of brandy together, and brood en masse. Ben has his Dangerous head on. Even the demons look nervous.

**********

Monday 7/2

The Interpol officers attempt to manhandle Dimples onto an aeroplane, with Caitlin squeaking and protesting all the way. All of a sudden, however, Greggie is there, striding into the midst of it all armed with a Highly Improbable Document, which releases Cole, and sends the Interpol people home empty-handed. Everybody gasps in shock, relief and suspicion, and crowds around either to marvel at Greggie's brilliance, or ponder over his motives. Most of the assembled cast members seem to think that he's up to something. Er... well he is Greggie! Elaine is just happy to have her son back, though, and happily escorts him back to the Waffleless Waffle Shop. Why she takes a cardboard box full of mementoes back with her is anybody's guess. Was she allowed to decorate her cell?!

Paula and Thickardo bond. She's happy, he's happy, they want to get their life back together. So they attempt to have sex. Since this has eluded them since before her kidnap, presumably they think it's important now. Which is probably why it takes them most of the episode. Also not yet managing to do it are Michael and Bubblewrap, reunited as she returns from Hong Kong in a hurry, desperate to surprise Michael. She's the one with the surprise, though, as she finds Vixen Virginia sprawled in Michael's bed. Explanations follow, about the World's Most Improbably Broken Leg. Cue relief, walks on the beach, and sundrenched kissing.

And Caitlin returns, happy and triumphant, to Casa Richards; for celebrations, cuddles and further suspicions about Greggie's motives. All is going well until Olivia gets taken over all dramatic, and faints. Ah. That'll be Trey then.

**********

Tuesday 8/2

Paula and Thickardo didn't make it all the way after all, and as she worries over why she can't do it, Ricardo lets on that he's not feeling up to it either, with tomorrow being the anniversary of Maria's death. Eventually they agree to deal with their various psychological traumas alone, and Paula goes off to visit with her mother. Thickardo prowls off to fight with Ben (see below) and then returns to be glum but oddly chatty in Gobby's arms. Gobby is delighted, as he failed to open up to Paula at all.

Caitlin worries about Cruella, who worries about Dimples, who worries about what Greggie is up to. He lets on to Elaine that he's not sure he can stay in Sunset Beach in the long term, but is happy to hang around for the time being. In the end he goes round to Casa Richards, leading to more of Cruella's interminable flashbacking to her various rounds of Dimples Sex. Greggie attempts to be friendly. Yeah, I'm suspicious too, Cole. ;)

And Ben prowls. And growls. And prowls and growls. He's at The Deep for some reason, although clearly he'd rather be alone. The staff have new uniforms - nice purple instead of lame grey. Still - odd day for a changeover. Anyway, Thickardo comes in, and tries to warn Smeg of The Dangers Of Ben. Yep - the juke box is playing that song again... This time Ben flips, and he and Thickardo have an abortive scuffle. TGO tells Thickardo to leave him alone or arrest him, but Thickardo isn't playing the game. He hammers on about it not being grief that Ben suffers from every year at this time, but guilt. TGO flips and throws everybody out of the club. Smeg hangs around, doing her usual trick of being exactly where Ben doesn't want her to be, and for a while he softens. She plays their ghastly "special song" and they start to dance, then Ben's flashbacks start up again and he flips, telling her to get out. He begins drinking, and storms off upstairs to his office, leaving Meg wondering what to do now.

**********

Wednesday 9/2

Olivia worries over her fainting episode, and also about the morning sickness she's been experiencing recently. A visit from Bette helps her to realise that she's probably pregnant, and she dashes off, in a tizz, to the chemist, returning armed with a home testing kit. Such is its importance, however, that she decides to stand in the lounge and stare at it until the same time tomorrow.

Greggie, meanwhile, visits Surf Central, partly to invite Bubblewrap and Michael to a cocktail party in Bubblewrap's honour, and partly to flirt with Casey's mother. Alex flirts back, and they discuss their various shared whatnots. Greggie is very happy. This is usually cause for concern.

And Ben. Poor "It's The Anniversary" brain-screwed Ben. He plays with the swing on the beach, and talks to Maria, flashbacking with full broodiness in the process. Annie and Smeg watch him, and Annie warns Smeg to stay away. She reminisces over the Wonderful Days Of Ben And Maria, and eventually winds up crying in Tim's arms. Poor Annie. Ben, meanwhile, spends the rest of the day walking on the pier, being stalked by Smeg. He comes face to face with Thickardo, who accuses him of murder (again) and tells him that Maria had some special news the day she died, that she never got around to telling him. He also says that she phoned him that day, terrified of Ben, before going out on the fatal boat trip. They have proto-scuffles, before Ben storms off. He heads to the Deep, to drink himself into oblivion armed with the full retinue of flashbacks (and demons!), whilst Smeg goes back home. She talks to Mark once again about the Many Dangers Of Ben, whilst Ben remembers happy times and not so happy times. He recalls walking into the Locked Room (before it was the Locked Room) and seeing something terrible in there; and he remembers Maria standing him up on their last date together. Eventually, all alone, he sits in the dark and stares at the door of The Deep - which opens, to reveal a silhouetted woman. Poor Ben's convinced it's Maria. He and his demons gape in grief-stricken shock, as she stands in the doorway looking at him. And the music cuts his brewing insanity in half, just there.

**********

Thursday 10/2

Olivia sits in her bathroom waiting to take the pregnancy test, but is interrupted before she can begin by Greggie, who wants her to come downstairs and join in with his cocktail party. Not feeling that she has much choice, she goes along, and is greeted by most of the rest of those cast members featuring in today's episode. Which makes recapping easier. They mill, they chat, they exchange hastily concocted memories of the last time they met. Eventually Cruella nips off upstairs to take the test, then calmly waits with typical reserve for the results. Or alternatively she goes bananas waiting. Whichever. For reasons that will never be entirely clear, she decides to go away and leave the test whilst it processes itself - and for reasons that will also never be entirely clear, Greggie has bought a pair of earrings for Smurf, which he has left for her in the bathroom. Well, that's certainly the traditional place for leaving gifts. Hence the Christmas Basin tradition I suppose... Anyway, cue misunderstandings, and not seeing of the obvious, and Cruella nearly putting her foot in everything going. Caitlin doesn't see the test. Cruella still doesn't know if she's pregnant (Hint:- she is). Downstairs, Alex goes all wobbly and covers when Michael sees, and everybody else talks to each other. In a cocktail partily way.

And so to Ben, who sits alone in The Deep and drinks himself steadily into a stupor, having his flashbacks and thinking of the past. You know, Ben, all this would be a lot easier if you had the special superpowers here that you have in Starhunter. Anyway, the woman looming in the doorway, that he thought was Maria, turns out of course to be Smeg. She comes in, annoying the hell out of him with her fussing, and he sends her packing in a fit of semi-drunken brooding. The demons chase her out the door, and she winds up back at Surf Central talking to Tim. He sows seeds in her mind with a devious little grin, and so off she goes to TGO's house, to wander once again around the Locked Room. She reads some more of Maria's diary, and finds the dress that Maria is wearing in the self-portrait downstairs. Meg being the interfering nutcase disaster waiting to happen that she is, can't resist, and dresses up. Meanwhile Tim has told one of Ben's employees that there's a woman in Ben's house, so off Steve the never-before-named barman races to interrupt the Broodly One's brooding. TGO goes home, half drunk and thoroughly bedecked with demons, heading upstairs to the open door of the No Longer Locked Room. And the music pre-empts his approaching breakdown once again...

**********

Friday 11/2

Olivia is trying to get the results of her pregnancy test. She pops into the bathroom, she pops out of the bathroom, she pops back in again. Greggie chases her out, she leaps back in... he thinks she's drinking again. I don't what's taking her so long, as she distinctly said it only took five minutes to process the results, and it's been a lot more than five minutes since she took it. But clearly it's not ready yet. Downstairs, Dimples and Smurf worry over Greggie's motives in his earrings gift to Caitlin, and Dimples eventually decides to talk things through with Greggie. Which causes more complications over checking the pregnancy test. Greggie refuses to talk to Cole, and won't leave Cruella alone in the bathroom in case she drinks the contents of her perfume bottles or something, so back they all go to the party. Alex is still trying to stop people from guessing that she's ill, and Michael is trying to get Bubblewrap to leave early so that they can go back to her place for some privacy. Hooray! They've worked out that they can use her place as well! Well done, it's only taken two months. Eventually Olivia manages to sneak away back upstairs, and stares at the pregnancy test. We don't get to see the result. However, since we already know it, that doesn't really matter. You might want to starting knitting in blue, Cruella.

Annie and Tim are holed up in Annie's house, ready for the explosions to start over at Ben's place next door. They flirt. They argue. They wind up kissing. Annie's having fun, and Tim is trying to remain monogamous for his hoped-for imminent reunion with Smeg. Annie doesn't care; she just want Tight Pants Smoochies. Meanwhile everything is so quiet next door, they begin to worry that their plan might come to nothing...

Outside the door of the Not Currently Locked Room, Ben hesitates. His demons egg him on, and his other demons hold him back, but eventually they band together and he goes in. He doesn't see Meg, who's dodged behind a screen, and instead he wanders around the room listening to Maria talk inside his head. He looks at her sketch pads and reminisces, then turns around - and comes face to face with Smeg dressed in Maria's favourite dress. And he flips. She tries to explain herself by insisting that he shouldn't have shut her out and that she has every right to try to find out more about Maria, but unsurprisingly he doesn't understand why this means breaking into the Locked Room, going through Maria's things, and dressing up in her clothes. Meg squeaks and whimpers, but eventually he practically drags her downstairs, takes away her keys, and then throws her out of the house. Hooray! She runs around, trying to get in through the side doors and the beach doors, but he beats her to all of them, and locks her out. Hearing the noises, Annie and Tim sneak out to grin and gloat, and think about phase ninety-three, or whichever the next step will be, but inside Ben is going into meltdown. The psychological fireworks are bursting into all kinds of pretty colours, and his brain has finally tipped over the edge. In Ultimate Brood Mode, he goes back upstairs to the Locked Room, and locks himself inside. Then, pouring paint thinner all over the bed, he lights a match and stares into the flame. All the pretty burning segments of his fractured psyche go up in one almighty conflagration. Which is presumably what's also about to happen to the bed. But that's where we have to leave TGO, and all his many demons, until Channel 5 changes its mind. Which is a shame, because that match is going to be burning Ben's fingers if he holds it much longer.

**********

Episode 116

Olivia clutches her pregnancy test. She talks to it, she sobs to it, she wanders around the house hugging it to her chest. Let's hope she washed it first. She never actually says as much, but the inference is pretty clear that the result is a positive. In an attempt to throw suspicion off secret liaisions with other men, she immediately seduces Greggie, whilst downstairs Caitlin and Cole decide to remain in Sunset Beach. I'm a little bothered by the fact that Olivia can run around her house, have two conversations, plus a confrontation with Cole, and sex with Greggie, all in the time that it takes Thickardo to run up the stairs at Ben's house, but then I guess time always was a bit weird in Sunset Beach. But more of Thickardo and Ben later.

Michael and Bubblewrap drive home. They're desperate to make out, probably because they've been putting it off for the best part of one hundred and fifteen episodes. And that's a long time, even in a town that exists in a weird temporal black hole. Eventually, unable to wait any longer, Michael pays off the chauffeur and prepares to christen the back seat of the limo, but Bubblewrap's telephone rings. It's the Paper. There's a fire at the beach, and they want her to cover the story.

Ah yes. The fire. Otherwise knows as "The Saga Of Ben Evans, His Ever-Lasting Match, And His Asbestos Fingers". After having been standing there in the Newly Re-Locked Room, staring moodily into the past, and clutching a lit match since February 11th, Ben decides to stay that way for a bit longer. Smeg howls at his front door, and Tim and Annie just manage to avoid making out over Annie's novelty plastic champagne glasses. Eventually Tight Pants runs off in the hope of greeting a distraught Smeg over at her place, but she's too busy screaming for Ben - and catching her first glimpse of the flames. Yep, TGO has finally dropped the match, and now stands surrounded by flame, and looking like a sulky fire safety ad. How the flames are showing themselves in the window above the front door is a question for another day, though, since Maria's room is on the other side of the house and overlooks the beach, but then the exteriors and interiors in Ben's house never have matched up. Eventually Smeg goes screaming to Annie for help, and finds Thickardo there in Memories Are Made Of This Mode, lest we forget 'tis The Anniversary. They call for fire engines, they call for Ben, they call for each other, and they eventually break into the house. Don't know what's going on with that potted plant by Ben's front door, but it looks like it might have been built out of pipe cleaners and tissue paper by one of Blue Peter's less practically-minded presenters. Upstairs Ben stares on into the flames, looking all dark and glowery, and not at all bonkers, oh dear me no. Thickardo eventually manages to break open the door of the Locked Room. Flames leap, smoke billows. Everybody shouts and gasps, but the credits steal all the fun. So, no roast haunch of brooding hero until tomorrow night, then.

**********

Episode 117

Paula Of The Fluctating Accent is at the JavaWeb with Gobby, ostensibly helping her to use the internet to find a place to live, but actually moping with Mark certain people and The Anniversary. Gobby lurks with Eddie, who is in Paula Protection Mode again, the state of mind into which he slips every so often, in between lusting after Annie and trying to get Paula killed. Eddie accuses Gobby of trying to hurt Paula by breaking her up with Thickardo, and Gobby does her world famous Most Unconvincing Innocent Act Ever, claiming that the last thing she wants to do is to hurt Paula. Later she remembers that Mark saw her with Thickardo at The Deep, on the night of Paula's kidnap, and figures that he can be the one to drop the ball. All she has to do is set things up.

Michael, Bungalow and Alex are hanging out at Surf Central. Michael has realised that there is something wrong with Alex, and that it is a medical problem. In between deadly attacks of nostalgia, she admits that he's right, and says that she's going to see the doctor tomorrow. He offers to go with her, and she agrees, but she's still keeping everything from Casey.

And so back to the fire. Thickardo breaks down the door (again), and he and his little band of helpers find Ben, standing in the middle of the flames and staring into dreamland. Thickardo grabs the World's Best Fire Extinguisher, which with one tiny squirt obliterates all the massive dancing flames, and leaves the room looking almost unaffected. Ben glowers at the furniture, whilst Thickardo rages at him about what he was trying to do. Thickardo wants Ben alive, for future harrassing and victimisation, but Ben just glowers some more, and says he wanted to burn down Sunset Beach. Smeg sobs, Annie looks faintly guilty at her part in causing all of this, but Thickardo is unaware of anything save Ben. He yells about Maria's death, and about how the only thing that gets him through The Anniversary every year is knowing that it's all much worse for Ben, suffering with his guilt and his ghosts and his demons, and waiting all the time to finally pay for his crimes. Ben takes it all in broodily anguished silence, before suggesting that Thickardo never really knew Maria at all. Thickardo storms out, going downstairs to divert the firemen before warning Meg to stay away from Ben. Tight Pants runs in to make sure that she's okay, and TGO stands around being moody, and watching Tight Pants and Smeg having some mutually supportive huggage. Eventually everybody clears out, and leaves The Prince of Darkness wandering around Maria's studio, talking to her sadly, and muttering (in full "I'm A Murderer, Oh Yes I Am" sinister glower-speak) that Meg had better stay far, far away. For TGO is Dangerous. With a capital Dange. Oh yes.

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Episode 118

Olivia is trying to get her head around the fact that she's pregnant, when in runs Spike with the pregnancy test box in his mouth. She chases him around the living room, but Greggie comes in before she can recover the evidence. Happily for Olivia, Bette arrives at just the right moment to help deflect attention. Greggie departs to visit Elaine, and Olivia and Bette confer (at high speed, with extra-enthusiastic mania). Bette persuades Olivia that she has to go to a doctor to be sure about the diagnosis, and offers to come along for moral support. Olivia reacts with horror, emphasising the need for subtlety, before turning up to her appointment dressed like Mrs Unsubtle on one of her less subtle days. She has a large neon sign on her head reading "I am in disguise". Still, she seems to be enjoying the crisis.

Alex and Michael go off to her hospital appointment, trying to keep everything a secret from everybody else. They see Miracle Man Tyus Robinson! Hooray! He tells Alex that she has a stage four cancer, and that there is little chance of recovery. She does her public service bit by telling Michael that she ignored the symptoms, didn't listen to her body, and missed the chance for it to be treated at an earlier stage. Miracle Man tells her to get her affairs in order, but Michael refuses to believe that it's all true.

And Elaine offers Cole and Smurf her spare room, whilst Greggie makes his eyes go all glittery, and plots evil deeds to split the pair of them up. Meanwhile, outside Meg wanders dejectedly on the beach, Tight Pants tries to cheer her up, and Mark worries about how she is. Annie worries about Ben, and in a little scene near the end, Ben stands alone on the veranda and broods. And hey, newsflash - Ben is Stubble Boy. So he does need to shave! Which means that Derek really must have been shaving him in the warehouse all those weeks. Answers on a postcard as to why he'd have bothered...

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Episode 119

Olivia fantasises about having a baby, before being interrupted by Miracle Man Tyus, who wants to do some blood tests. She's desperate to have the results straight away, but has to wait two hours, which naturally means lots of squeaking and fluttering around the telephone once she gets home. Greggie catches her at it, and picks up the phone when it rings. Olivia, being a Grade A berk, has given the hospital a false name - "Mrs Cole" - and Greggie is less than impressed when he hears that name on the phone.

Wei Li has given Casey back Rae's keys, with the news that they're now married. Casey mopes on the beach, and mopes on his surfboard, and bonds with Michael on the sand. Alex watches and worries, unsure how she can tell Casey about her illness, and worried about how he's going to deal with losing Rae. Hey, if she was dim enough to marry Wei Li, the smarmiest git in California, then she's not worth moping over. But they all mope anyway. They're good at that.

Smeg is also moping on the beach, unsurprisingly over Ben. Tight Pants tries to tell her that TGO is a lunatic, and dangerous, etc and so forth, but she stands up for him, saying that "He's no more crazy than anybody else in Sunset Beach." Um... yes he is, Smeg. Nobody else in Sunset Beach talks to dead women in their heads, and sets their houses on fire! Eventually Tim goes back to mope with Annie, and they carry on their hobby of nearly making out with each other, whilst plotting the next stage of their offensive. Meg goes round to take Maria's dress back to Ben, who glowers impressively at her, and looks all cut up and sad. Which is quite an achievement, really, all at once. She tells him that she did what she did because she "needed to understand Maria". Well gosh, that makes perfect sense! Weirdo. Ben goes off to wander on the beach, yelling at the pier and generally being considerably more crazy than anybody else in Sunset Beach. Whilst he's gone Smeg sneaks back up to the Locked Room (because she's totally learned from her experiences ) and steals Maria's journal. When TGO comes back the house is empty, and he glowers at the painting, and goes back to muttering at dead people. Whilst being all stubbly. And not at all crazy, oh no.

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Episode 120

Olivia's bizarre insistence on the World's Silliest Alias causes all kinds of trouble when Miracle Man Tyus tries to give her test results to Caitlin by mistake. They sort it all out eventually though, and Olivia hears that she really is pregnant. Cruella, dear, why the hassle? The rest of us could have told you that weeks ago. She huffs and puffs and worries, whilst Caitlin decides that she ought to live with her parents instead of with Dimples, in case her mother starts drinking again - on the grounds that she's 'acting weird'. Smurf, acting weird is practically a pre-requisite of life in Sunset Beach. Don't be obtuse. Dimples, in a rare display of brain power, worries that Cruella isn't returning to the bottle at all, but that Greggie is merely trying to ruin Caitlin's love life. Naturally Smurf doesn't listen.

Alex decides to throw the mother of all beach parties, as a farewell to the old days. She doesn't know how to tell Casey that she may be dying, especially now that it's all over for him and Rae. Given the volume at which she and Michael keep discussing it all, though, it's not going to be a secret for long.

Meg tries to read Maria's journal on the beach, which is the natural place to try to secretly read a secret book. Tim and Mark both interrupt her, to separately warn her of the myriad Dangers Of Ben. She squeaks a lot, and insists that his outbreak of pyromania was her fault, but no one's listening. Meanwhile Annie tries to get Ben to talk to her, but he's relishing his current role of Stubbly Glowery Even More Damaged Than Usual Guy, and refuses to play ball. Eventually he throws her out, choosing to have a conversation with the painting of Maria instead, whilst downing half the whisky in Southern California. He does manage to go for a wander on the beach, though, where he accidentally encounters Smeg. They talk until Tim sees them, and in a fit of Smeg-protective rage, runs up and decks TGO. Meg and Annie squeak in outrage, TGO has a momentary Dangerous Moment; then telling Meg to stay away from him, slopes off back to his house. For some reason he's taken time out from his Psycho-Brooding to have flashy highlights put in his fringe. Either that or his hair gel is melting in the sun. Kinda suits him, anyway.

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Episode 121

Olivia tries to ask Greggie if he'd like another baby, but he just laughs and asks her what she's getting at. She panics, and Bette turning up and being characteristically loose-lipped about everything doesn't help. The two of them try to discuss the pregnancy and the baby's paternity - in secret - whilst in the same room as Greggie, Caitlin, Cole and Elaine, which deserves an award both for courage and insanity. There's lots of staring and breathlessness, none of which is at all suspicious. Oh no.

Thickardo, Paula and Gobby. Oh joy. Thickardo and Paula have the day off. They're going out. Paula has her Mad Ralph Myers tattoo removed, and decides to have a romantic evening home with Thickardo instead. Gobby hides her explanatory note, and Thickardo winds up at the Deep, where Gobby also lurks, trying to convince Mark that Thickardo is a two-timer who is stalking her. Somebody just punch her, for goodness sakes. Mark worries about Gobby and Paula, Paula acts like a drip, and I actually feel sorry for Thickardo, so the women in his life really must be terrible. Mark takes time out to discuss the Dangers Of Ben and the massive Threat To Meg with Thickardo, though, so it's not all Gobby Weirdness. They're both Very Worried, but clearly couldn't be bothered to actually do anything. Which is nice.

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Episode 122

Olivia and Bette (in fetching lime green faux tiger skin) are discussing the pregnancy in full Breathless Mode. Olivia has decided that she wants the baby if it's Greggie, but that if it isn't she shouldn't keep it, so Bette sends her off for a paternity test. Miracle Man Tyus says that it's too early to do the test, though, and it may be too late to make the decision later. Olivia therefore decides to end the pregnancy. And then decides not to, and then decides to, and then... and on until the show ends. Greggie, meanwhile, is worried about her, and presses Bette (unsuccessfully) for information. Realising that he's not going to get anything out of her, he asks her all manner of questions about TGO and his fire instead. He seems very interested in all the details.

Thickardo and Paula hook up at the Deep, and go off home together looking all loving. Gobby glowers and frowns and mutters, but nobody notices that she's mad, and she ends up dancing with Mark. He seems smitten, which in turn makes Tiff glower and frown. Nobody notices that either. Back at Thickardo's house, Inspector Clueless hallucinates about Paula finally wanting to go to bed with him again, but she's more interested in pizza.

And in TGO Land, things are darker and glowerier and broodier and stubblier than ever. He sits, he stares, he glowers, he broods. Oh, and we have our first little flashback where Maria calls him "English". Annie presses him about why he was trying to burn the bed, but he refuses to tell her. She's beginning to suspect that everything was not rosy at the end for TGO and Dumbo, and decides that she's going to have to get Maria's journal back from Smeg, to read it again herself. Tim refuses to help, though, as he's too busy winning Smeg back - largely with helium balloons and some seriously energetic stalking. Ben watches some of Tim's Smeg-wooing (whilst glowering and brooding), then slopes off to glower and brood some more. Oh yeah, and a headless somebody dressed very like Greggie wanders through the Locked Room, examining the bed and a wedding photograph, whilst accompanied by some Mysterious Music. Not sure if it was Greggie, though, since right after that he didn't seem to know anything much about the fire. First appearance of Derek?

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Episode 123

Olivia has decided to tell Greggie all. She explains that she's pregnant, but isn't sure who the father is. With hilariously copious tears streaming down his face, Greggie assures her that it'll all be okay, and that he'll love her for ever and ever - until it turns out that Olivia's just dreaming.

Olivia has decided to tell Greggie all. She explains that she's pregnant, but isn't sure who the father is. Greggie explodes, screams blue murder, threatens to throw her out of the house, and then storms out himself - until it turns out that Olivia's just dreaming.

Olivia has decided to tell Greggie all... Yes, you get the picture. She doesn't actually get around to telling him anything for real this week, though. She just gives up and goes to bed, for some reason in Caitlin's room. After having said goodnight to Caitlin, and apparently returned to his own place, Dimples sneaks back into the house, strips, and climbs into bed alongside Olivia. How he manages not to tell that it's Olivia is beyond me, but then this is Dimples we're talking about. He hasn't worked out what shirt buttons are for, yet, so we can't expect too much from him.

And elsewhere, Alex collapses, causing Casey to finally find out the truth about her illness. Miracle Man Tyus looks after the case, in between sorting out Olivia's pregnancy worries. That man needs an assistant. Meanwhile Tim and Smeg get closer again, and Annie steals Maria's journal from Meg, in an attempt to find out what was going on between Maria and TGO during the last days of Maria's life. Or, rather, she ransacks Meg's room, plays with her cheerleading pom-poms, giggles at Baby Smeg photos, and finds the journal just as Meg gets home. If we're lucky she'll murder Meg to cover her mad, journal-stealing escape; but somehow I very much doubt it.

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Episode 124

Absolutely vintage episode! :) But to get the less interesting stuff out of the way first - Casey tries to share meaningful moments with his mother in between visits from Miracle Man Tyus. Later he and Michael watch as she wanders around the maternity ward, and croons embarrassing songs to a terminally ill baby. The baby is polite enough not to cry. But none of that is remotely interesting compared to the main events of the day. Over at Casa Richards, Dimples finally realises that he's in bed with Olivia, just as Caitlin comes into the room. Olivia dives overboard, and shelters beside the bed, in mute horror as Caitlin begins to make love to Cole. He desperately tries to slow things down, since Olivia is hiding about a foot away from the bit of him that Caitlin is aiming for, when everything is interrupted by Greggie. Cole dives overboard, stark naked, and lands on top of Olivia, and the pair of them shelter together beside the bed whilst Greggie and Caitlin talk. Caitlin is playing muscial chairs with Greggie in an attempt to stop him going around the far side of the bed, and eventually manages to get him out of the room. Cole sneaks back into bed, only to be deluged by Caitlin's best seduction techniques once again. He eventually coaxes her under the bedclothes (yuck) so that a panicstricken Olivia can flee the scene. She runs back to Greggie, and they talk about whether or not she's drunk. No Greggie, she's just wishing she was.

Tight Pants feigns dastardly knee pains to stop Smeg from finding Annie in her bedroom, and then tries to seduce Meg on the sofa. She's softening, when in walks Mark. Tim slopes off, leaving Meg to tell Mark all about reading Maria's secret journal. Weirdly enough he's not totally freaked out by her obvious stalker tendencies, and offers to read it with her. She's prevented from finding out that it's missing, though, by the telephone ringing. It's Michael, telling them that he and Casey are at the hospital with Alex. For no apparent reason whatsoever, this makes Mark and Smeg rush off, eager to share in the hospital angst. Annie, meanwhile, hurtles off to secretly read Maria's secret journal in her jacuzzi, which as we've already seen is clearly visible from Ben's house. Although as it happens he's not really in the mood for watching anything that isn't a dead woman just now. Annie reads excitedly, having highly charged dreams of Ben, only to be interrupted by Tim, who manages to fall into the jacuzzi alongside her. He then has to strip (of course) and the pair of them spend the rest of the episode trying to avoid having sex. Whilst reading the journal. And not drowning it or them in the jacuzzi. Eventually Annie decides that she's going to make some "additions" to the text, and she and Tim attempt to do an evil chuckle. Whilst desperately trying to avoid having sex.

And Ben. Yes, well. Ben is lying on his settee, having a conversation with Maria, who for once is present in the flesh (or hallucinatory equivalent, at any rate). She takes off her dress (there's something in the water in SB today - everybody's at it!) and in the middle of trying to seduce him, morphs into Meg. Argh! Naked Meg?! At this time of night?! Gee, thanks TGO. Give me nightmares why don't you. Eventually Ben abandons that particular line of thought (thankyou) and tries to phone Meg up. He bails, leaving her thinking she has a nuisance caller, then rips up her photo, and resumes his plan to drink Southern California's entire supply of whisky. Poor Ben. If any more of his psyche crumbles, he's going to be making Derek look sane.

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Episode 125

Olivia has her abortion planned for the afternoon, but is desperate to bring it forward to the morning. She phones up the hospital to arrange it, deflecting Greggie at every turn, then nearly loses the plot when Bette turns up and comes within a gnat's whisker of blowing the gaffe. After she finally escapes, the telephone rings and Caitlin answers. It's the hospital ringing to reschedule Olivia's appointment. Caitlin hears all about the abortion plans, then races off to the hospital to confront her mother.

Alex wants to leave hospital, but Miracle Man Tyus wants her to stay. She and Casey exchange meaningful words and meaningful looks and meaningful silences, etc and so forth, till Casey and Michael eventually decide to break her out. Not before Casey has to go and comfort Meg though. Why Casey is comforting Meg is anybody's guess - why Meg is even at the hospital in the first place is anybody's guess. Anyway, Alex's plight leaves her sobbing, and Casey has to make her feel better. She manages to take time out to ramble on about the journal to Mark, though, so that the writers can get in their by now traditional line about how dangerous Ben is. Woo he's so dangerous.

And at present drunk. Yep, Ben is still busy in his plan to deprive the rest of the West Coast of its alcohol supply. He glowers in silence, dividing his attention between the painting of Maria and the ripped up photo of Meg, until Greggie turns up. Greggie is worried about Ben, and tries to tell him to get over Maria and get on with his life. He might have an Agenda of course, being Greggie, but he seems genuine enough. Later he wanders off to meet Annie, and tells her that she has to help Ben recover. Meg is just "a passing fad." Yeah Greggie! Annie and Ben "belong together." Yeah Greggie!" Annie glows with delight, although Greggie, bless him, still manages to look as if he's up to something. Greggie could look like he had a sneaky and dangerous agenda in eating a piece of toast. Annie is happy anyway, as she has successfully forged some exciting new pages of Maria's journal, which paint Ben to be, not only Dangerous, but also a raving psychopath. On an absolute high, Annie goes off to put the journal back in Meg's room, but just like last time Meg seems about to discover her. Maybe this time Annie will bludgeon her to death with the cheerleading pom-poms. You never know your luck. Well okay, yes you do.

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Episode 126

South Bay General Hospital proves its complete lack of security by telling Caitlin exactly where the mother she can't prove her relationship to (because of the rubbish alias) is currently waiting; scantily-clad, and in a room that appears to be incapable of shutting properly. See, it's things like this that allow mad identical twin brothers to sneak into wards and do switching acts. Anyway, Caitlin sobs and pleads, Olivia gasps and pants. Caitlin twigs that it might not be Greggie's baby, but Olivia denies this. Meanwhile, increasingly worried about where both women have vanished to, Greggie and Cole decamp to the hospital to investigate. Greggie is allowed to go charging around all of the exam rooms, bursting in (do none of these doors lock?! Heaven knows what examinations are being carried out in some of them!) until he finds Olivia. She immediately assumes he knows why she's there, but doesn't get the chance to dig herself in any deeper, as they decide that the best course of action for now is just to stare at each other until the next episode.

Smeg is distracted from finding Annie in her room by the return of Casey and Michael with Alex. They decide to have a party, so Annie is able to escape during the early preparations. Michael doesn't think that the party should go ahead, but Casey wants his mother to be happy. Don't even think of inviting Ben, Meg. He needs to be saved from all that saccharine. It's potentially lethal to Brits.

And Tim delivers some papers to TGO from Greggie, and they have a little confrontation on the doorstep. Or rather, Tim does. Ben is mostly still in Victim Mode, and just accepting all the insinuations. Later he goes for a run on the beach and meets Annie, who has decided to tone down the vamp act a little, and try to ensnare him just by being his friend. Well, that and rewriting his wife's diary so that Meg The Crazed Stalker will think he's even more crazed than she is. Which is pretty crazed. Further down the beach, Meg reads some of the doctored pages, and begins to look creeped out. When Ben runs by he sees her, and imagines running over and sweeping her off her feet. Well, actually more like crouching down and kissing her in a seriously uncomfortable position, and then turning into part of the opening titles sequence, which is a scary point for any relationship to reach. When he does actually go over, though, she's still freaked out from the diary, and doesn't look likely to be doing any iconic image snuggling any time soon. Which is a relief, quite frankly.

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Episode 127

Greggie seems extremely supportive of Olivia, and she's delighted, until she realises that he doesn't know why she's at the hospital. She tells him that she's in for an ulcer, whilst outside Cole goes through the records to find out why she's really there. Greggie is relieved, as he thought it might be something serious, but Caitlin is horrified when she finds out that Olivia didn't tell Greggie the truth. She tries to persuade her mother to change her mind about the abortion, and says that Greggie has a right to know - not realising that he's standing in the doorway.

At Surf Central the plans for the party are in full swing. Elaine turns up, and Alex wants to know all about what it's like for her having her son back. How would she know?! Cole has spent all his time with the Richards family so far. Mark invites Gobby to the party, which pleases her as it gives her the chance to make annoying eyes at Thickardo all the time; and everybody dances to the usual SB appalling music. I never thought the music in The Deep would sound good... Eventually Tim finds Meg on the beach and brings her along too, and they seem to be enjoying their time together. Alex is in a lot of pain, though, and she and Casey hide it from the others.

And Ben and Meg talk on the beach; or rather, Meg talks at Ben, and he looks wistful. Either it's a "She understands me, I wish we could be together" moment, or he's wishing he'd never walked over to her and started the bloody conversation in the first place. I'm guessing the former, but wishing the latter. They start to kiss, but Ben's head is suddenly full of storms and waves and drowning Marias, and he breaks off. Telling Meg she should leave, he heads away across the beach. Okay, how come Ben left his house on that jog by running off to the right, and has come home from the left? Did his morning jog constitute running the entire coastline of America?! Because if so I think it should be a different morning by now. Unless he's using his Starhunter superpowers, of course. And for that matter, why is it morning, when at the other end of the beach there's an evening party?! No, never mind. Where was I? Oh yes. A little later on, Annie is proto-flirting with Tim when Ben walks in on them. They do a quick switch to Tim demanding rent money with menaces, then when he's gone (to do his Smeg Salvage act, and take her to the weirdly evening party in a different SB timezone) Annie turns the charm offensive on TGO. At first she kisses him without any reciprocation, then when she tells him that she will help him to forget, he starts to kiss back. Happily it's Meg that he's trying to forget, in which case hooray for smoochy amnesia. By the look of it they're going to be holding that kiss until late Friday night, so he should have forgotten a lot by then. Nice one Annie.

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Episode 128

At the hospital. Still. "Daddy deserves to know the truth!" squeaks Caitlin, which of course causes Greggie to demand to know what the truth is. Caitlin, who seconds before has been all righteous and demanding, squeaks something about ulcers. Olivia gasps her relief, then begs to Greggie that he go away and let her get on with things. Caitlin promises that she will stay with her mother until it's all over, and then promptly leaves. She goes off to pout at Cole in the corridor, and mutter about secrets. He tries to talk to Olivia himself, which, in a rare event for Sunset Beach, is a roundabout conversation that goes absolutely nowhere. Later Caitlin goes back in to her mother - bursts in, I should say, like everybody else in the hospital does, without knocking. Fortunately her mother has finished getting dressed, because that's not something I want to see at a quarter past four in the morning. Olivia gasps that she couldn't go through with the abortion, and the pair of them squeak and gasp until Greggie arrives, all emotional (see below), and desperate to have Oh-livia safe at home.

And the party is still in full swing. Or about as "swing" as it's ever going to get. Mark claims to be a genius DJ, and to always know exactly what music his audience wants to hear. Mark, honey, either your vibes are seriously crossed, or the residents of Sunset Beach have all suffered blunt head trauma recently, because there is no way that they want to hear that music. Meg is dancing with Tim, and hallucinating all the while about Ben. In her dreams he appears to her as a chatty, emotionally available, well adjusted bloke dressed in bright blue, so clearly Meg has been watching a different Ben to me just lately. Eventually Mark and Tim get her to admit that she has a Ben Addiction. Yeah. I know a few other people who suffer from that condition. She decides that she will go right now and resign from her job. 'Cause that'll help. Oh, and Gabi tells her that the best thing to do is avoid licking Ben in future. Or something. I think she also said to avoid poking him too. Elsewhere at the party, Greggie is summoned by Alex to look over her will. She tells him about her condition, and he's easily the most upset about it yet. Which may just be because he's the best actor to have been informed about it yet, but I also suspect that he carries a bit of a torch for her. Anyway, hence the running back to the hospital and getting all snuggly with Oh-livia.

And Ben is still kissing Annie. That's stubbly, dressed-in-black, seriously batty Ben, not cheery, Meg-infected, dressed-in-blue Ben. They tumble about the scenery, getting ready to do some serious Wes'n'Lilahing, before Annie breaks off for a bit of psychoanalysis. With extra panting. She figures TGO is just doing this to help get over Maria and Meg, but decides that she doesn't care. Apparently she's another one with a Ben Addiction. Maybe somebody should have this guy declared a danger to public health. They go back to the furious kissing and the bouncing off the furniture, which is where Meg finds them, on her mission to quit her job. She gapes. Aw shucks, poor Meg. And zoom in on the Meg Sorrow. Doesn't she have weird eyebrows?

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Episode 129

Alex is thinking about being ill, and about leaving Casey, and Casey is thinking about Alex being ill, and Michael is wandering about looking wistful. So business as usual then. Alex writes a letter to Casey about being very proud of him, etc and so forth, and all the other stuff that parents only ever say on TV, preferably with syrupy incidental music to help the process along. Casey, however, has been doing some research on the Net, and has decided that it's too soon to give up. He and Alex therefore agree to travel the globe searching out possible cures. They leave immediately, seen off by a tearful Michael and a lot of mutual hugging. So bye bye to Alex, then, as I don't think we ever see her again. If Casey had known that his Sunset Beachy future involved Sara Cummings, he might have stayed away as well.

At the Deep, Mark is overrun by customers, and bemoans the impending loss of Meg from the workforce. He takes on Gobby for the night, hoping that Ben will make the position permanent (always supposing he ever extricates himself from Severe Emotional Trauma Land). Gobby is still plotting to break up Thickardo and Paula (yawn), but takes time out to chat to Eddie. Yay, Eddie! Where have you been?! Investigating Bette's crooked financial advisor, apparently. He's found the advisor, but the money is gone. Bette, however, has Plans - involving old favours and a steely glint in the eyes. Be afraid. Oh, and Meg isn't at work because she's crying in the kitchen (which isn't a Simon And Garfunkel song, but should have been), about Ben. "What is it about me that makes men do these things to me?!" Oh, I don't know, Meg. The fact that you're a crazed stalker and obvious nutcase? And do what things to you, exactly? You and Ben are not a couple. He has not two-timed you. He's told you to get lost more times than I can count. And what the hell is going on with your eyebrows?!

And Ben sees Meg watching him kissing Annie, and breaks off when she runs away. Annie theorises that he only kissed her in the first place in the hope tht Meg would see (not sure why he was trying to get you upstairs yesterday, then). She tries to get him to talk to her about Maria, and what happened to make him so determined to scare Meg away, but he's sinking back into unresponsiveness, and just apologises for kissing her, and for being her friend, and for ever having involved her in his life in the first place. She still tries to get him to open up, certain that Maria is the root of all the trouble, but he tells her that it's more than that, and that anyone who gets close to him is in danger. He storms out, leaving Annie plotting anew, and goes home to fragment further. Megs stops by to tell him it's all over, which doesn't make much sense. What's all over?! There's nothing to be over! She quits her job, and he mumbles vaguely until she goes away. He then gets beset straight away by another attack of his demons, who seem to have formed an orchestra. They play "Ben Is Dangerous" music, and "Approaching Catastrophe" music, whilst Ben paces, growls at Maria, and then kicks over her painting. The demons and their orchestra tootle dramatically. Doesn't look like Ben's in a musical mood, though. He should be; he's finally got shot of Meg.

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Episode 130

Olivia tosses and turns in the grip of yet another nightmare about who the father of her baby is. Scarily, the baby she has in her dream is a dead ringer for Benjy. Three years younger, admittedly, but still Benjy. Anyway, Greggie brings her breakfast in bed, and is all nice and understanding about her "ulcer operation", then tells her about Alex. You know, he's still the only member of the cast who really seems genuinely sad about that. Olivia certainly isn't. Eventually he heads on out for a breakast appointment, to reappear in a couple of paragraphs' time. Meanwhile Bette turns up, and spends the next ten minutes wildly embarrassing Olivia and Cole with thinly veiled references to baby-making, and a near hysterical performance apparently designed to blackmail Olivia into getting her a job with Greggie's firm. Good old Bette.

Smeg jogs on the beach. Or "stumbles", which would be closer to the truth. She meets Mark, and tells him of her woes. He's understanding. She meets Tim, and tells him of her woes. He's understanding. She sees TGO... but TGO has more brain than Mark and Tim put together, and jogs on by. Smeg does her best not to whimper, but decides that it's for the best, as it's "all over now". She still hasn't explained to me exactly what is over, since there was nothing going on in the first place; but such is life inside Meg's head.

And Annie can't pay her restaurant bill (why somebody with no money would go to a swanky restaurant for breakfast in the first place is beyond me, but hey, she's Annie ). She flirts with Greggie, who has arrived for his breakfast meeting, and he pays her bill whilst telling her that, if she wants to help TGO, she should forget about trying to find out what went on between him and Maria at the end. Greggie mentions "something" that he saw in Ben that day, and hints that Annie might be taking a big risk unleashing that again, if she investigates the past. She should instead try to bring TGO into the present. At which point Greggie's breakfast date arrives; impressively changed, showered and brushed up after his brooding run on the beach (man that was quick!). It's Ben, dressed in black and looking all glowery and brooding. Just for a change. He broods over to the table, broods into a chair, and when Annie has gone, broodingly pays her rent for the month. He does actually smile about that for a moment, and then broodingly demands to know why he and his brooding past were the topic of Greggie and Annie's conversation. Greggie tells TGO how he cares about him (aw...) and Ben broods for a bit about that. Eventually, in between the glittering eyes, the half smiles, the meaningful brooding and the constant flirting (sorry, but these two are still a more convincing couple than Ben and Meg ever will be) Greggie offers Ben a risky business deal. He's mixed up in a property partnership with some dishearteningly straightlaced types, and needs another glittery-eyed, brooding maverick to keep him company. Ben doesn't even stop to think, but leaps in with both feet. Greggie grins like a shark (but a glittery-eyed, flirtatious shark, in a nice suit) and they shake hands. What this is leading to, who knows. I just like Beggie and Gren scenes.

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Episode 131

Paula's tattoo-removal scar has gone. Paula is happy! Paula whirls and twirls and grins like a maniac, until Gobby comes in and makes her miserable again. Why are the members of the SBPD so stupid?! She's a psycho-maniac who wants to make you miserable, Paula... Anyway, Paula mopes off to her mother to get cheered up, then slopes off to Thickardo to start having sex with him again. Thickardo doesn't seem very happy about it, which is odd given the number of times he's tried to initiate this very plotline himself over the last few months. Maybe the the Macho Competition with Eddie earlier on in the Waffleless Waffle Shop has tired him out too much. Poor dear.

Meanwhile, life is happy in Surf Central. Mark is given the go ahead to rent out Rae/Alex's room to Gobby, and Michael is going to move into Casey's room whilst Bungalow is off scouring the world for Magic Mother Medicine, so that Vixen Virgina can have his apartment. Bubblewrap mopes and looks wistful, as she alone can see that Vixen Virgina fancies Michael, but since this new arrangement stops them from sleeping together in the same room, you'd think she'd be happy about it. Casey phones up from Oslo with positive news about Alex, and Mark skips off to tell Gobby about her new room - and her new job at the The Deep. Gobby is almost too busy scheming to be happy, though, and rubs her hands together with glee at some new plot to involve poor Eddie in her Paula Bashing. "Paula must know about me and Ricardo! Paula must suffer! Paula must die!" Yeah, whatever Gobby. Just go take a lie down.

And Caitlin and Cole. Oh dear. Cole has taken to heart Caitlin's admiration of his once allegedly dangerous lifestyle. I really am not buying the fact that his lifestyle was ever dangerous. He sucks at buckle swashing. But anyway. He sets up a secret "romantic" dinner in the wine cellar of The Deep, and when she manages to get in there without anybody seeing her, declares her a super graduate of the Cole St John School Of Cat Burglars. Huh? She snuck past Mark. Mark. Whilst he was looking in the opposite direction. If that's what it takes to be a master cat burglar, no wonder Cole The World's Noisiest Thief is considered such an expert. And if this is the sort of "danger" that Cole's life used to involve, then that explains a lot. Quick! Quick! Mark might find us eating in the wine cellar! What peril! Anyway, they talk about how much more fun it is to be married and settled down than to be travelling the world seeing beautiful sights and being a jewel thief. Yeah, okay Cole. You go on believing that. You know, it bugs me that this doesn't bug me. I hate it whenever Remington Steele talks about settling down with Laura, and not being a jewel thief anymore, and I growl at the mere suggestion that Max settles down with Salma Hayek at the end of After The Sunset, and gives up being a jewel thief. (Anyone with a brain would take Salma Hayek and the jewels. Why choose?!) But in this case, the sooner Cole settles down with Caitlin, the better off we'll all be. This is either because he's a crap thief and his jewel-related plots are awful, or because I just subconsciously want Pierce Brosnan to be an outlaw... And I'm not going to analyse that any more. Anyway, Cole and Caitlin talk lots. And it's all very sweet, I'm sure.

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Episode 132

Cole and Caitlin finish their creepy dinner at The Deep, and talk about jewel robberies. Caitlin is all doe-eyed with how exciting it all must be, so Cole agrees to hide his briefcase (why does he have a briefcase?!) in her parent's bedroom for her to steal. She gets all bouncy at the very idea of it, and starts getting hot under the collar planning her reward for success. Back at Casa Richards, in a bit of plot that in no way makes the denouement of Caitlin's robbery dare seem obvious, Olivia has just taken delivery of her legacy from Dead Boy Del - the Deschanel Jewels. She sticks them under her bed, as you do, and needless to say Caitlin walks off with them. Greggie finds Cole's briefcase, and thinking he's being all responsible, and helping Olivia by hiding her jewels away safely, he put them in the safe. The World's Flimsiest Safe. It's sweet the big show he makes of unlocking the thing, when it's quite clear he just needs to breathe on it to make the door fold in half. Meanwhile, Cailtin and Cole discover she's half-inched the jewels, and goggle at them in confusion. It's more than their poor little brains can comprehend.

Thickardo and Paula are attempting to have sex. Again. Ever since Gobby arrived on the show they've been trying and failing to have sex. Most people don't find it this difficult. The trick, Paula, is to ignore the annoying younger sister phoning you up halfway through and demanding to speak to you. Anyway, Gobby has decided that today is the day when Paula will find out about the night she was abducted - in other words, that Gobby and Thickardo were together that night. Together in the loosest sense, that is, since nothing happened bar some rather pained chatting. Eddie lurks in a corner of The Deep, illustrating theories on The Psyche Of Gobby with some cherries and olives on sticks. He winds up eating Paula. Not sure if that ties in at all with Gobby's theory the other week on Meg not being allowed to nibble Ben anymore. I had no idea there was so much cannibalism involved in relationships. Anyway, Gobby has everything planned carefully. She makes a big song and dance out of telling Paula that she has found a job at The Deep and won't be working at the police station anymore, then runs off. Such is the drama he has just witnessed (but not heard), that Eddie believes Gobby has told Paula about her non-existent fling with Thickardo. So he goes over and tries to make Paula feel better about it. Oh Eddie. Can we say "Hook, line and sinker"?!

And over at The Deep, Meg turns up to clean out her locker. Yep, she wants to avoid Ben, so she goes to his workplace, in work hours... never mind. Ben has clearly been busy brooding in his office, but he comes out to make a hopeless attempt to mend bridges with Smeg. They wind up in his office, where Ben tries to ask her to stay working for him, but fails spectactularly, and ends up just giving her her final pay cheque instead. They hum and haw, and Ben tries to speak and fails, and Smeg gets annoyed with him for not being chatty. He's Ben, Meg. Just put up with him the way he is, okay? Quit trying to change him. Anyway, horrified at the thought of Ben and Meg being alone together (no more so than I am), Annie bursts in demanding hugs from Ben. She has heard that Olivia now has the Deschanel Jewels, and she needs consoling. Meg walks out in a huff, and Ben hugs Annie for a while, then sighs sorrowfully to himself. Meanwhile Meg goes home to read more of Maria's diary. Why, if you don't want anything more to do with Ben? Just put the bloody thing back! Scary stalker woman... Anyway, the diary talks of Ben being mad and bad and thoroughly dangerous, and Meg worries and squeaks and fantasises about it all. Then she falls asleep and has one of Ben's Drowning Maria Nightmares. Aw. How sweet. They're catching. Back at The Deep, Ben stares moodily at a newspaper cutting about Maria's death, which he apparently keeps with him at all times. Okay... That's not at all weird... "Nobody will ever know what happened that night," he growls to himself. Yep, he's going all batty again, bless him. It must be a month with a vowel in it...

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Episode Guide Part Two

Episode Guide - Part Four

Episode Guide Part Five

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