We return to our favorite kids just as Cory’s screaming bloody murder because why not? It’s Cory’s turn to scream (NOTE: I originally wrote “Cory’s urn to scream” which…TOO SOON) and Carrie immediately starts screaming too while Cathy tears up the stairs to him with their other siblings in tow. These kids are exhausting. Turns out that Cory is losing his mind because there’s a mouse caught in a mouse trap and he wants Cathy to save because he wants it as a pet. The mouse is trying to chew off its foot, Cory is weeping about how Chris and Cathy kill all the mice and all of his chances for love, and Carrie starts hitting Cathy and shrieking about how the older Cs don’t let Cory have ANYTHING EVER YOU’RE SO MEAN AND AWFUL I KNOW YOU GOT BEATEN IN OUR STEAD AND GAVE US ALL THAT FOOD AND BLOOD BUT CORY WANTS THIS DAMN MOUSE YOU HARPY
Okay, okay, I get that the twins are little kids, and as such won’t have the best grasp of the greater concepts of sacrifice and whatnot, but damn twins, that’s some overreacting. Chris silences everyone with a manly roar (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) and picks up the mouse to try and help it. Much brattiness later (the mouse is still after Chris takes it out of the trap so Carrie hits him, Cory announces that he’s naming the mouse Mickey (what no C) and Chris points out that it might be a girl mouse and Cory is not having that) the mouse lives. I know you’re all super relieved. While this episode of “All Creatures Great and Small” is going on, the Grandmother walks in to bring them their rations. Oooops. A ton of rules are being broken: everyone’s in their PJs, the room’s trashed, Chris is helping Carrie get dressed in the other room, it’s a forbidden mess and everyone freezes. Chris chooses to ignore Olivia entirely and just unpacks the pic-a-nic basket like it’s no thing, while Olivia, rather than freak out on them, just watches. This doesn’t sit well with Cathy, who is rightfully suspicious of any change in Olivia’s behavior. Chris goes up to the attic to find a birdcage for Mickey and it’s only when he returns with it that Olivia speaks, asking what’s up with the mouse. Cathy informs her that Cory has a pet now and Olivia doesn’t even argue, just makes some comment about how a mouse suits them (…okay?) and leaves. It’s like she doesn’t care what they do anymore! It’s like she thinks they’re on their way out or something?
Eventually Cory tames Mickey and they’re BFFs and I guess Mickey didn’t know those two mice that the kids almost ate that time, and having Mickey around even starts to give Cory the slightest bit of independence from Carrie, so it’s all turning out okay! Well we all know that can’t last.
OH MY GOD. The very next chapter begins with Cathy telling us that she and Chris never talk about that night they made out, but that they’re both growing and changing all the more and this one time she totally caught Chris measuring his dick. CHRISTOPHER DOLLANGANGER. CHILDREN LIVE WITH YOU. THEY LIVE WITH YOU IN THE SAME ROOM. THEY ARE NEVER MORE THAN 20 FEET AWAY FROM YOU. LOCK SOME GODDAMN DOORS BEFORE YOU MEASURE YOUR FRAKKING DICK. I want to die. I really do. PLUS he tells Cathy that he’s measuring his penis because he once saw their dad’s and felt inadequate.
I can’t. I CANNOT. Guys. YOU GUYS. Why. No one in this family has boundaries. No one. Look, I don’t know what boys go through with this sort of thing, I freely acknowledge that. But how long has Chris the Elder been dead? Three years, maybe? And when did this comparison happen? Chris has been going around with this penis envy for years and years and feels the need STILL to try and measure up? There is so much to unpack there. He can’t just want to be tall like his dad or something? It has to be penis size? Is he using a ruler? Burn that ruler.
ANY. WAY. This all leads to Cathy realizing how much the twins have failed to grow and she and Chris try to sneak them out onto the rooftop for some sun while the twins are napping. This does not go well. More screaming. When they’re all back indoors Cathy manages to measure the twins’ heights (PLEASE GOD BE USING A DIFFERENT MEASURING TAPE) and to her horror, they’ve only grown two inches in the years since they’ve been there. Now everyone’s in a bad mood, the twins for the whole rooftop thing, Chris and Cathy because the twins are obviously not okay and they all wander downstairs to watch soap operas and eat lukewarm soup.
And then Corrine walks in.
And not just walks in, of course, swans in all Vera Adare, with more exclamation points than me and a fox-fur coat, trilling about how much she MISSED them and how she DREAMED about them and all the PRESENTS she’s brought them and aren’t they so happy to see her?? She even makes extra sure to note that she had to be so so careful buying their presents since it’s so suspicious for her to be buying kids’ presents, right? Right?? Chris is the one who stands up first and tells her that of course they missed her, but she shouldn’t have been gone so long, no matter what was going on with her. Since he’s not fawning over her every word, Corrine immediately knows something’s up and asks if anything went wrong while she was gone. UMMMMM. Chris has had enough of this for ONCE, so he lets her have it. Of course stuff went wrong. They all live in one room! He and Cathy aren’t little kids anymore to be placated with presents! Look how tiny the twins are! On and on until Corrine’s like “But you haven’t stopped loving me, right??” and Chris admits that no, he hasn’t, but come on! He doesn’t want out tomorrow or next month or next year: they all want out TODAY, money or not. Corrine’s reaction is, naturally, to glare at Cathy since everything is a weird competition with these people, and to tell Chris to be quiet since he’s obviously not himself. Cathy starts up then, telling her mother to really look at all of them and see how sick they are. Corrine isn’t here for reality, though, so she lets loose a bit herself, telling them that she’s trying her BEST and giving them EVERYTHING and her dad is literally about to die any SECOND and can’t they all just think about how nice all that money would be??
Cathy wants to give her some more hell and tell her about what Olivia did to them, but Chris glares at her (god damn it) and she stops. Corrine starts crying and laying on the “Ohhh you awful kids” and Chris and Cathy give in and try to console and and hug her, but she pushes them away and tells them all ice queen to open their presents and THEN tell her that she doesn’t love them. Oh shut UP, Corrine. She bought Chris some encyclopedias and while Cathy’s first thought is how much money that cost that they could have been saving to escape, it’s clear that Chris is won over. Corrine doesn’t tell Cathy what her gifts are, nor does she stay to watch them open the stuff up, she marches out with some crap about how she’ll come back when they’re nice to her. She never even touches the twins. Those poor babies immediately come to Cathy, worried that they’re weird and unlovable and to calm them down Cathy pretends to be happy and excited over their presents. They open everything up and at first it’s great: books and puzzles and games and maple-sugar candy, but as things settle down Cathy starts to see the truth of it all. The books are all ones they’ve read already. Chris needs to shave and Cathy needs a bra and there’s nothing like that in there. None of the clothes for the older Cs fit. Cathy loves maple-sugar candy, but she can’t bring herself to eat any. And that’s when Chris starts to make fun of her.
Yeah. He mocks her for being a grump and denying herself the candy, telling her that no matter how upset she gets, they’ll be here till Malcolm dies anyway, and she won’t have had any candy. Eat shit, Christopher. When Cathy tries on all her new dresses and finds that they don’t fit, Chris laughs at her and tells her that she should get a bra and a girdle. SET HIM ON FIRE. Cathy loses it then and screams at him about how sometimes she hates Corrine (only sometimes?) and that she thinks they’d be better off DEAD and then she runs off into the attic and dances some angry ballet. Whatever works, I guess. When the music ends she considers throwing herself out of the window and then they’d all be SORRY, but then she reconsiders that maybe they wouldn’t be, so she scraps that plan. She lays out on the roof for a while (in a tutu, no less) and eventually Chris comes out and lays down with her and tells her to never talk that way again. He has doubts too, he tells her, but they have to keep it together. And that’s when the big realization hits, folks:
“And that’s when it came over me in a cataclysmic flood—I loved Chris, and he was my brother.”
Yup. There it is. She is majorly, totally, butt-crazy in love with Chris*. She wisely doesn’t bring this up, just tells him that maybe it’s time they take a little initiative about their situation. Ten days go by before Corrine comes back and when she does C&C are appropriately apologetic, having realized that they have to keep sweet if they have any real chance of getting out of there. Corrine naturally sweeps it all away once she has her way again and wants them to guess what her super awesome sparkly news is. Malcolm’s dead? Nope. Malcolm’s in the hospital? Nope. And don’t talk like that because Corrine sort of likes him again now. WHAT. Corrine you are bananas crazy. Cathy’s like just tell us then we don’t care. So she tells them and guess what it is! She got married. She married that guy with the sweet ‘stache from the Christmas party (Bart) and omg he’s so AMAZING and we went to EUROPE and I’m sure you’ll all love him and he’ll love you too!
Corrine seems to realize that they’re less than thrilled and she hastens to explain that she still loves their dad, but she was lonely and stuff. Cathy fakes some congrats, which encourages Corrine to tell them all about how Bart never wanted to get married and Malcolm was going to forbid it anyway, but he likes Bart and it all worked out and blah blah blah. Cathy points out that while most of the gifts Corrine brought them were from Europe, the candy was from Vermont, so is Bart from Vermont? Corrine laughs at that (oh that hilarious Vermont?) and says no, but one of his sisters lives there and they visited her, and that he has two other sisters living in the South. In fact, Bart’s from the South, he’s from some little town in South Carolina. Even though she makes sure to mention that he sounds like a Yankee. Whatever, Corrine. She attempts to talk to the twins about their presents, but they don’t know her any more and barely speak. Cathy asks if Bart knows about them. Well obviously not, though she’s totally going to tell him when her father dies, really! Cathy does not think so.
UGH now for the stupidest scene. So Chris and Cathy are in the attic reading some 19th-century romance novel together and it has some symbolic unhappy ending, which Cathy hates. She also hates how idealistic and mushy the characters were and that Chris assumes that a woman wrote it because men think women only write romantic garbage. Chris gets all don’t ask me about how men act! I am alone with my feelings! How do I become a man? And who cares. Then they check each other out a bit and then Cathy decides that what Chris needs to feel like a man is…a haircut! Kay. And so she gives him a haircut (THRILLING) and it’s a Prince Valiant bowl cut, for the love of god. After she’s done Chris starts teasing her about cutting off all of HER hair and starts chasing her around with scissors (SMART LIKE A DOCTOR) and surprise! they trip and fall and he cuts her with them. Luckily it’s not a puncture, and Chris cleans it up and bandages it. Okay good. So now go downstairs, you two. Chris feels guilty and starts to cry, so Cathy holds his face to her chest. Go. Downstairs. They decide to lay on the attic floor in some sunbeams instead. Argh. Some inappropriate touching happens, but when Cathy starts babbling about the book they read and sex and stuff Chris comes to his senses and tells her that brothers don’t think of their sisters as girls, pretty or not. YES GOOD. They go downstairs, thank god.
FINALLY these children decide they need an escape plan that doesn’t involve the roof. What they need is a copy of their room key, and they determine that stealing Corrine’s will be easiest since she doesn’t like pockets on her clothes and leaves the key all over. Corrine is coming by two or three times a month now, still basically ignoring the twins and bringing everyone clothes that don’t fit. When Cathy mentions that they’ve all been getting sick lately, headaches and stomach cramps, she tells them to keep the food in the attic where it’ll stay cold and suck it up. She tells them about cruises and shopping trips to New York City because she is the worst character in fiction and while Cathy keeps her babbling along Chris steals her key and makes a mold of it in a bar of soap. YES. Forward momentum! He later makes a wooden replica of the key and there is much rejoicing. Though they don’t leave immediately because Chris knows that they’re going to need money to get anywhere, so what they need to do is start stealing it from their mother since she’s terrible with money. He starts sneaking into the swan room and finding all manner of tens and twenties all over the place because Corrine is just terrible. It’s taking a toll on what faith in Corrine he has left though, since sneaking into her room means seeing all of the expensive clothing and jewelry she has. Chris tells Cathy to come with him the next time and she realizes that she can since the twins sleep all the time now and won’t wake up and freak out that the older kids are gone. That’s so sad. So sneak down to Corrine’s room they do.
Naturally once they’re there Cathy can’t help but go through Corrine’s closets and she realizes how much Chris kept back from his descriptions after the Christmas party. Cathy decides to have a little fun with the whole experience and puts on some of Corrine’s stockings and a bra and a fancy black dress, then she goes to town with makeup and perfume. She comes out to show Chris, making a real reveal of it and he tells her she looks like a prostitute. Fun times. Cathy’s like “whatever” and goes to take it all off and we find out she’s wearing seventeen bracelets, twenty-six rings, a tiara, three necklaces, and giant dangling diamond earrings. What kind of prostitutes has Chris seen? She puts everything back, though she does steal a plain bra for herself. Throughout all of this, Chris has been looking for money, and figuring that he’s done this enough to not need help, Cathy turns her attention to the bedside table drawers. It’s all night cream and paperback books at first, then she finds a big hardcover called How to Create Your Own Needlework Designs. Cathy is interested in this so she flips it open and welp, it’s a sex book. Full-page pictures, nice instructive text, the whole deal. Cathy just pages through it in shock until Chris comes up to see what her deal is and then he has to flip through it page by page too. What a bonding moment. Eventually they realize they need to get out of there, so they put the book away and sneak their way back to their room, where they get ready for bed in an awkward silence and eventually manage to go to sleep.
Well that was wordy, huh? Coming up: The END we have reached the END! That just brings me closer to Petals, which I love so dear. But before then a whole lot of sad unfortunate stuff happens, because this book has one hell of a conclusion.
The new movie is on TV tonight! I’m hoping that it’s available online shortly thereafter so that I can make screencaps and have a recap up with a quickness, so fingers crossed that Lifetime has my back in this. Why wouldn’t they, right? So look for that and the final FitA recap here soon!
*oh my god I’m so sorry Cher