If There Be Thorns: A Lifetime Movie Easter Event

You guys. Did you see this? Did you SEE this movie? What a wacky ride this one was.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it much on the blog as of yet, but If There Be Thorns is my least favorite of the Dollanganger series. It’s just so…hard? Much like with My Sweet Audrina, it’s tough to read about drama and mind games when they’re happening to children, and unlike FitA, Bart and Jory don’t even have a support system of each other, much less a makeshift family. Plus, and I’ll be honest here, I just don’t really care that much about Jory and Bart until they’re adults. Neither of them gets a chance to be a real character in PotW, and I’m still much more interested in what Cathy is up to at this point in the series. I mean (SPOILER ALERT) Petals ends with Cathy and Chris deciding to get married and move to California to live a new life, and that’s…well that’s something I am interested in reading about (sorta). How does that mindset work? How much, day to day, do you let yourself remember about the fact that you have a lifetime of history with your husband BECAUSE HE IS YOUR BROTHER?! Like, do you ever mention it? Do you pretend it isn’t so? You have to build up a web of lies to tell everyone outside of your relationship and how much do you let yourself believe too? We get to see some of that—-how the attic is still with them, how very NOT over the trauma and the rage Cathy is, but we see it all filtered through her sons rather than from her point of view and when I first read ITBT, I was disappointed by that. I have to give the book another try, that much is clear.

HOWEVER. This isn’t a recap of ITBT the book, that’s for another day, this is about ITBT the MOVIE, so let’s get into that, shall we? I’m going to focus mainly on the movie, and not but SO much on what the differences are from the book. There are a lot of them, and I feel like summarizing them would just end up recapping the book?  I will say that this movie is primarily Bart’s story, while the book switches from brother to brother (Jory really doesn’t get a whole ton of story in this) and the movie also lacks two things that I bitterly miss from the book. Those precious things are:

1. Corrine’s back-cover-of-the-book wimple (and her swaths of black veiling that she wraps around her face) and

2. The number of times in the book that she stands on a ladder by the fence separating the two properties and JUST STARES AT CATHY FOR HOURS. This is literally a thing that happens. And all Cathy does is go “Um, the neighbor lady is weird”. She’s staring at you from a ladder!!

Hey, people have their hobbies.

You are most assuredly NOT in this movie.

Here we go!
Here we go!

So quick recap: At the end of Petals on the Wind (the movie) Chris & Cathy 2.0 had married, moved to California, and were having happy picnics with their sons and REAL HOMEMADE APPLE PIE.

We've changed somehow.
We’ve changed somehow.

As you can see from the top of his head, PotW Jory was brunet, like his book counterpart, but this time around he’s blonde like his mother and Bart is dark, like Flashback!Malcolm! and also his soul.

This one's a promo pic, I cheated.
This one’s a promo pic, I cheated.

Oh and at the end of PotW, Chris and Cathy are referred to as Dollangangers; while that name is used at one point to mock Chris (by grrrrrrrrr John Amos), their last name this time around is Sheffield, like it is in the book. Everyone is also aged up from the book–Bart is 12 instead of 9, and I’m guessing that makes Jory 16 or 17. I’m fine with this, since Bart’s antics would be even worse from a younger kid and because Jory and Melodie’s extracurricular activities are decidedly for older people.

We start with some shorthand about the Sheffield brothers: Bart is hurled off of the school bus by bullies who call him a weirdo, while Jory strolls off unimpeded (though mocked for his ballet), hand in hand with Melodie, and sternly tells the bullies to knock it off. Um…Jory. HELP YOUR BROTHER. DON’T LET BULLIES THROW HIM OFF OF THE BUS. This is like Siblings 101.

Ladies and gentlemen, Bart Winslow Scott Sheffield.
Ladies and gentlemen, Bart Sheffield.

Jory tells Bart to chin up and heads off down a woodland path with Melodie. Bart trudges home and is promptly dismissed by Christopher, who is on the porch with Emma, the housekeeper, dicussing bills, (the Sheffields are not doing well financially, it seems, AND Chris is keeping Cathy in the dark about it) and then by Cathy, who is in the living room giving a dance lesson to little Cindy. Cindy, just as an FYI, is the child of a friend of the family. Said friend is dying of cancer; Cathy really wants to adopt Cindy (1. because she’ll need a home like the three Cs did, 2. because Cathy really wants a daughter, and 3. because her name starts with C and thems the rules) but Chris is less than enthused about the idea at the moment. Bart is also not a fan, he doesn’t want Cindy there and doesn’t give two figs about her sick mother. Having been passed over by both of his parents, Bart leaves to go out to his treehouse. While Book!Bart mutters several times that he hates bugs (he’s usually spying on people from a bush that is full of bugs when he says this), Movie!Bart is a bug collector, filling his treehouse with some pretty well-organized bug jars and some cheesecake mags.

Pay your bills, guys.
Pay your bills, guys.
And pay attention to your son while you're at it.
And pay attention to your son while you’re at it.

Cathy and Chris make out in the kitchen as Jory goes looking for Bart in the treehouse. These crazy kids. Finding it unoccupied (and having a good older brother laugh at Bart’s magazines) Jory and his dog Clover (here a German Shepherd rather than a miniature poodle) go on a Bart hunt. Bart jumps out and scares Jory and they have what is basically their last nice brotherly moment of the movie. Jory teases Bart about the magazines, Bart denies they’re his until Jory assures him he won’t tell their parents, and Bart confesses that he got the magazines from the basement of the “Dracula House” next door and the brothers go off to investigate.Said Dracula House is an abandoned mansion that’s next door to their property, and it’s dusty and creepy and full of old furniture and dead crows and men’s magazines. The Brothers Sheffield (I know Jory is a Marquet, but let’s go with it) go inside with Clover and Bart leads Jory into an old parlor, the floor of which is littered with the aforementioned dead crows. As the boys wonder how they died, Clover decides that the time is right to eat one of the crows, and when Bart is shooing him away a fresh murder of (live) crows bursts out of the chimney, causing Bart to fall backwards and stick his arm on a nail.

That's gonna leave a mark!
That’s gonna leave a mark!

Bart angrily yells at Clover to go home (he blames the dog for making him startle the crows, I guess? It’s Bart, his brain doesn’t work like other people’s) and Jory tells him to have Chris take a look at the arm when they get home. Bart refuses, as he doesn’t want their parents to know where they were, and before they can leave they hear someone at the door and…oh hell.

It’s John Amos.

I am here to just be the worst.
I am here to just be the worst.

Don’t get me wrong–Mackenzie Gray is killing it this whole movie, but man oh man do I hate John Amos. He’s an nasty old hypocrite who worships friggin’ Malcolm Foxworth and is creepy and predatory and wrong. He is THE worst and the only reason I’m glad they’re not making Garden of Shadows is because I don’t want to see him anymore after this.

Anyway. John Amos tells the boys that they’re on private property–the house has been sold and they need to leave. That night at dinner, when Bart is less than forthcoming about the results of a test he took, Chris reminds him that they have a “No secrets policy” in their family. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That’s a good one, Christopher! Now ask your stepson-nephew how he did at school today. Bart admits he got a C but pipes up that he’s sure he’d do better if he had a pet python to keep him company! (rather than a pony, as in the book) Cathy sends her sons to help Emma with the dishes while she starts in on Chris about how they need to adopt Cindy. Chris is like, you know they do background checks when you want to adopt a kid, right? And we’re lying about our entire pasts because we’re brother and sister, right? Remember that part? But hey, Cathy’s already thought of that! She’s spoken to Cindy’s mother Melissa and she’s willing to transfer custody of Cindy to the Sheffields in her will. I’m pretty sure they still check you out though? They don’t just hand you little kids. Also…leave dying women alone, Cathy. Chris points out that they already have a ton of expenses, but Cathy, unsurprisingly, is adamant. I dunno guys, you think Chris is going to give in? (SPOILER ALERT: of course he does) Later that night, Bart is in the bathroom checking on his arm (not looking great, pal) when he hears Jory and Melodie sneaking up to the attic. Uh oh. Bart sneaks up after them and spies on them as they make out, but flees before it goes further. Heading back downstairs, he wanders into the hallway and hears something coming from his parents’ room and…

It takes literally two seconds.
Close. Your. Door.


At some point later on (I assume some time has gone by as the house next door has been cleaned up) Bart and Jory go over to try and get a look at whoever has moved into the house. The only resident seems to be a lady dressed all in black, and the boys wonder why she’s going around with her face covered up. Bart leads them closer to get a better look and ooops! they get caught. Jory tries to assure their new neighbor that they weren’t spying (yeah ok) and she invites them in for tea and cookies. Uh oh, I know that voice!

Who could this POSSIBLY be??
Who could this POSSIBLY be??

So yeah, I mean, we all know that’s Corrine so let’s just call her that from the get go. Corrine calls for John Amos to bring tea and cookies in the most HILARIOUS voice I have ever heard and deftly fields Bart’s questions about why she covers her face (because her face shows the ravages of time or some such) and also where she got all her money (from her father, but money isn’t everything, Bart!) while poor Jory tries to hold his brother to some basic semblence of etiquette. John Amos, Corrine explains, used to work for her father, Malcolm. She tells JA to bring over her Polaroid camera, and asks if she can get a picture with the brothers. They’re both pretty weirded out by the request (Bart less so), but get up and stand next to her for the picture. When Corrine sees the finished product, however, she is horrified to see that the painting in the background above is visible in the photo. While she throws the photo away and pulls John Amos aside to yell at him about it, Jory and Bart try to sneak out of the house. She calls them back and asks for a new photo, then starts asking if they want jobs helping her around the house since she just wants to see them in person all the time!!!


Jory can’t, he’s got ballet, and he tells Corrine that they’d have to check with their parents before Bart could help, either. Corrine knows their parents by name, but explains that the realtor told her their names. “And I’m Mrs. Foxworth!:” she tells them, then stares at them pointedly, waiting for a reaction. (means nothing to ’em) The boys leave and she follows them out, calling Bart back to her to ask that he visit her again, alone, because she can tell how special he is and that he needs extra attention. She sure knows how to push them buttons, huh? She’s so old and lonely and all she wants are grandchildren to spoil…why, she’d even buy them a pet snake! Uh oh. Jory calls Bart to him and they leave. Corrine goes back into the house and stares at herself in the mirror.

Oh Corrine, you look fine. So dramatic.
Oh Corrine, you look fine. So dramatic.

Back at home, Bart asks Jory if he ever thinks about his real father. Jory says no, that as far as he’s concerned Chris is his dad and Julian just his biological father. Bart wants to know if Jory remembers his (Bart’s) father at all, but Jory doesn’t–all he remembers is Chris. Cathy, who has been listening at the door (THIS FAMILY) comes in then and Jory leaves. Cathy admits to Bart that she overheard them talking, and assures him that his father was a good man, which is why she named Bart for him. Ah, so Bart knows that Bart is his dad here (in the book, he thinks his father was Paul, since Cathy marries Paul after Bart Sr. dies) but she tells him that Jory was right, and Chris is really his father in a lot of ways. They should leave the past in the past. Okay Cathy, we get it. The next day, Bart goes over to Corrine’s greenhouse, where she, surprise! has bought him a snake AND is wearing a blouse that I need in my life.

She basically abandons the veil at this point too.
She basically abandons the veil at this point too.

Bart wants to know why she’d buy him such a present when she doesn’t even know him and Corrine tells him that she’s not a total stranger, that their “lineage is inextricably connected like the rose to the thorn”. Oh just tell the kid you’re his grandmother, Corrine, good lord. “Like the rose to the thorn” oh my GOD. She eventually tells him who she is and shows him some scrapbooks, telling him that Cathy (he only knows that she’s Cathy’s mother at this point) is angry at her, but that family must always stick together and that’s why she came to find him. She tells him not to tell his parents that she’s there, but Bart tells her about the no secrets policy. “How ironic” says Corrine and the rest of the world. Corrine flatters Bart some more and he agrees to keep her secret. As he’s leaving, John Amos calls him over and tells him about his great-grandfather Malcolm, and gives him Malcolm’s journal. John Amos is the president of the Malcolm fanclub. Bart goes home and starts to read the journal, giving us…Malcolm Flashbacks!!!


That’s Malcolm, circa 1943 (which does not make ANY KIND of timeline sense, good lord), trying to resist the lusty ways of evil, evil women. See, lust makes men weak and soft and we see Bart watching Jory with Melodie and Chris with Cathy, all while soaking up Malcolm’s words. Uh oh. At dinner, Madame Marisha calls to talk to Jory and we learn that Chris realllly hates her. Cathy points out that regardless of how they feel, Jory has the right to talk to his grandmother, so Bart wants to know why he can’t talk to HIS. Cathy’s like because she’s in a mental institution and it’s complicated and why doesn’t Bart eat something, he looks pale! Bart says he’s fine and asks to be excused and wow what kind of doctor are you Chris, to not notice that this kid ain’t well? That night, Chris steps out onto the porch to see why Clover is barking and huh, I guess I sort of get my Corrine at the fence scene, but she’s just standing back there, not PEEKING OVER THE TOP ON A LADDER. Chris goes inside looking for Cathy, not seeing her in their room he hears something in the attic. Uh oh. Chris goes upstairs looking for her, and


This is kind of a red alert, Chris. He points out that this kinda looks like the attic at Foxworth (not really? Y’all had a real bedroom) and Cathy angrily says that she’s not their mother. He’s not saying she is, Chris is nice enough to say, but uh…what’s she doing then?? Cathy’s doing it just in case–if someone finds out about them, she can’t stand the thought of someone taking their children, and if they adopt Cindy they’ll need to be ready. Chris is like, adopting Cindy will not help keep our past hidden, but Cathy insists: Cindy is an orphan just like they were and they have to take her. Chris, like we all knew he would, agrees that they’ll adopt her, but assures Cathy that they’re miles away from Foxworth Hall and no one is going to take their kids away. What might, uh, make that more likely is if you didn’t have this conversation WHERE JORY CAN HEAR YOU FROM THE HALL. These people. Chris comes down and looks into Bart’s room and discovers that he’s not there, Jory says he’s not downstairs either. They go searching for him and find him outside and um, yeah that arm isn’t looking great. And I’m not putting a screencap because it makes me wince. But it’s bad, y’all, real bad.

Cut to the hospital, where Bart is having a bad reaction to the antibiotics–turns out he’s allergic to everything. Cathy, naturally, finds a way to blame this on Corrine—-since Cathy isn’t weak and Bart Sr. wasn’t either, then Bart’s health issues must be a way of paying for Corrine’s sins. Is that how genetics work? Chris assures her that’s not true. Oh. Okay. Later, as Cathy cries by Bart’s bedside, Chris gives her the first of what will be quite a few Valiums. Nice, Chris. Real nice. Bart has a nightmare about Malcolm and wakes to find the original Polaroid (the one with the painting in the background) in his hand. Who just lets John Amos walk freely around the hospital??


Later on at home, Chris is greeted by Cathy as he returns from a run and she tells him that Cindy’s mom didn’t make it. So….when’s she getting her hands on this kid?!?!?!?! She hopes that Bart will be okay with the adoption and Chris is sure he’ll adapt. Ehhhhh, I guess maybe? Sure. Let’s go with that.

C&C go to pick up Bart at the hospital, and to say that he’s not exactly 100% back to his old self is possibly an understatement. Cathy (popping those Valiums!) asks how he’s doing and calls him sweetie, Bart snaps back that he’s not sweet because sweet people are kind and kind people are WEAK!! Chris and Cathy exchange looks and ask where he heard that (he says Nowhere, why?) because they, uh, they mean *Cathy* used to know someone who said that. Now…here’s my thing with that. Are we going with the assumption that Malcolm and Olivia just spoke to each other in creepy sayings and Bible quotes all day? Because C&C never met Malcolm, and that DOES sound like something Olivia would’ve said. Thoughts? Cathy runs down a list of things that she and Emma could make Bart for dinner, and Bart’s only response is “I think you talk too much”. HA! Okay, I love Cathy, we all know this, but that’s gold.

Check out Valley of the Dolls over here.
Check out Valley of the Dolls over here.

You gave her those pills, Chris, don’t judge.

Cindy moves in and Bart reacts with less enthusiasm than Cathy might have hoped and leaves to see Corrine. As they dance around Corrine’s living room to Brenda Lee, Bart asks Corrine about the painting from the picture—-why does she have a picture that looks like Chris? Corrine tries to brush it off, saying that lots of people look like other people–some people tell her she looks like Jean Harlow! (ok Corrine), but Bart isn’t deterred. Corrine tries to blame his fever for mixing up his thoughts but Bart wants to know how Corrine knows Chris since Bart’s always been told that Cathy met Chris AFTER she stopped talking to her mother. Bart is near tears, telling Corrine he’ll think she’s a horrible liar if she doesn’t tell him. Did she do something to make C&C hate her? “They don’t hate me, do they??” Corrine has the audacity to ask. She insists that she’s a good person but Bart argues that Chris wouldn’t claim not to know her if she was a good person. Corrine finally comes out with it and admits that Chris is her son.

Hey Corrine, does this remind you of anything?
Hey Corrine, does this remind you of anything?
There it is.
There it is.

Bart is like so wait, if Chris is your SON and my mom is your DAUGHTER, then… and Corrine just makes a face and remarks that it’s one of her failings as a parent. DO. YOU. THINK. She admits that, as a parent, you do feel responsible for these sorts of things, ALTHOUGH YOU AREN’T IN THE LEAST (whahahahahahahahaha) and she didn’t tell Bart so as to protect him, since the knowledge is so awful that it’s why she had her breakdown in the first place. (CORRINE OH MY LORD) She tells him that he can’t tell anyone because it’d ruin his life. Bart agrees, then asks if Corrine knew his real dad.

Oh my god, this DAY.
Oh my god, this DAY.

Corrine pleads a fainting spell to get out of THAT particular kettle of fish, and John Amos hustles in to make her a drink. Bart leaves and Corrine blows up at JA, blaming him for hanging the painting in the first place and getting Bart all confused. Her big plan is to win him over so that he’ll convince his parents to take her back and now John Amos has ruined it!! He tries to apologize and she dismisses him from the room. Their dynamic is soooo weird in this. Like, is John Amos just putting up with her so as to have an in with Bart and try to create Malcolm 2.0? Is he after Corrine’s money? Is he after Corrine? Is he just hanging around because he’s really into being a butler?!?! Towards the end he basically says that of his actions in the movie are to punish sinners and avenge the Foxworth name, but why would he really care? So confusing. Bart, meanwhile, is in the woods with Clover, whom he blames for his hospital stay due to that long-ago scene with the crows. SPOILER ALERT: this doesn’t end well for Clover.

Back at the house, Melodie, Jory, and Chris are playing cards while Cathy is hitting the vino and Bart is glowering in a chair. Melodie talks a little about her college plans and Cathy, maaaaybe a little over-enthusiastically, tries to make Melodie promise that after college she’ll come back to California since she’s “practically family”. Jory laughs that off awkwardly but then they’re all interrupted by Bart, who tells Melodie that she doesn’t want to be part of this family, as their blood is cursed. Chris and Cathy are not NEARLY as concerned as they should be, given the sort of things their son is spouting off. I mean…guys. Where is he learning this stuff? This stuff that’s EXACTLY like what the Grandmother used to say?! BE PARENTS. Also, remember this weirdness, Melodie! Remember it and make good choices later in life!! Later on, Jory confronts Bart about what he said earlier, and Bart tells his brother that if he wants to know what sin Bart is talking about, then go ask their parents! (Also, Bart blames his height and allergies on this horrid cursed sin. Noooo not allergies! We’re a long way from humped backs and hoofed feet, y’all.)

Chris tells Cathy that he thinks Bart needs to see a psychiatrist, so they go have a preliminary meeting with one. She wants to know if there’s any history of abuse or mental illness in the family (Nope! they say, even though they’ve made it part of their official backstory that Cathy’s mom is in an asylum) and when the doctor suggests mapping their genetic history Cathy’s like “His biological father is dead! No history!!” and the doctor lets it go, even though Bart’s mother is sitting right in front of her. Oh brother. This is all kinda filler, anyway. Over at Corrine’s, Bart tries to get her to tell him about his father again, and while Corrine tells him that she knew Bart Sr. long before Cathy did, she still really doesn’t want to talk about it and so has John Amos distract Bart with another gift.

This can only end well.
This can only end well.

Bart and John Amos go to have target practice in the barn and John Amos goes on some more about Malcolm and how Bart is special too and blah blah blah the evils of women and we KNOW all this, so it gets just a little old. But hey, remember how some folks in this family are dancers?

This is about what you're gonna get.
This is about what you’re gonna get.

Like I said before, Jory is basically an afterthought in this movie, so we don’t get a whole lot of any story with him except that he’s not liking the path his brother is taking, and he likes to hook up with Melodie. He declines to do the latter on this day, because he has a feeling that Bart needs him. Jory heads home, where he searches the woods for Bart and instead finds poor dead Clover, wrapped in barbed wire. He finds Bart in the barn practicing with his bow and arrow and Bart explains that his grandmother got them for him. Jory feels like maybe Bart shouldn’t hang out at this house so much and maybe shouldn’t call random ladies Grandmother, but Bart thinks that Jory (who he is hilariously calling “Boy”) can’t see what’s right in front of him. Jory tells Bart that he found Clover, but that if Bart will stay away from Corrine’s house then he won’t tell C&C. Bart denies killing Clover and can’t believe that Jory would lie about him, thinking that Jory just wants Bart sent away like their grandmother was. Bart counters that if Jory tells their parents anything, then he’ll tell them about how Jory and Melodie were “fornicating” in the attic. I…kinda feel like killing a dog is worse than that, Bart. Bart tells Jory that their parents didn’t meet the way that they said they did, which I guess strikes a cord in Jory (I mean, he did overhear that attic convo from earlier) so once home, he sneaks up to the attic while Chris and Cathy are talking downstairs.

Once upstairs, he’s just a little taken aback by the beds, but starts going through dresser drawers and boxes. Over at Corrine’s, Bart is still hanging around, not wanting to go home. He tells Corrine that, if she does love him like she says, she’s the only one. Corrine hugs him, but is taken aback when he continues “You and John Amos”.

I AM the best grandma!
I AM the best grandma!

John Amos can’t love him, she explains, he’s just a servant. Again, if they weren’t going to have some reveal that John Amos was Olivia’s cousin or that he and Corrine are married, what’s with all of these reactions from Corrine? Is it just to make her look bad, that she treats a servant this way? She acts like John Amos is basically human garbage which…she’s not entirely wrong? But STILL. (John Amos is a terrible person)

Bart tells Corrine that JA told him that he could be like Malcolm and Corrine is pretty appalled to hear about that. She sends Bart home and goes to yell at John Amos in the barn. John Amos, who is reading the Bible in a hayloft in front of a literal BANK of candles, denies telling Bart about Malcolm, saying that he assumed that Corrine had given Bart the journal. Sneaky! She most certainly did NOT, Corrine yells at him, and demands that John Amos get the journal back. This is the last we hear about this whatsoever. Back in the attic, Jory is breaking open a locked box in his side quest for family secrets. He pulls out an old pair of Cathy’s toe shoes and some letters, finding one that Chris had written to Cathy while they were locked in the attic.

People just leaving evidence all over the place.
People just leaving evidence all over the place.

Sometime later (it’s day, so maybe the next day?) Corrine finally admits to Bart that his father was her husband. Bart: “I don’t understand!”. You have no idea, kid. Corrine explains that Cathy was angry with her, “irrationally so” (CORRINE.) and so seduced Corrine’s husband as revenge. No, she doesn’t know why, any more than she knows why Chris and Cathy hate her so much just because she wants them to lead decent lives! THE AMOUNT OF DENIAL. She tells Bart that all of her pain was worth it since he was the result (which is…almost sweet) and that he’s basically the son she was meant to have! Uh oh. She makes Bart promise that he won’t even leave her like everyone else did. At the ballet studio, Melodie asks Jory if he’s all right and he says he’s just worried about his brother and the crazy things he says. “Like what?” asks Melodie AS IF SHE DIDN’T WITNESS IT FIRST HAND. Melodie encourages Jory to talk to his mom about whatever Bart’s saying. At the house, Cindy is playing in the kiddie pool when Bart comes home and, having not adapted like Chris said he would, he tells her she’s not part of their family and tries to drown her. Jory gets there in time to push him away and save Cindy, and when Chris and Cathy demand to know why Bart would do such a thing, Bart announces that it’s because “Brothers shouldn’t love their sisters!” UH OH. This is red alert time, Chris and Cathy. DO SOMETHING. So Chris locks Bart in the attic.

That’s not what I meant!!!

Granted, it’s just until he calms down, but he still LOCKS THE KID IN AN ATTIC. Of all things! Of ALL POSSIBLE THINGS. As Bart bangs at the door, he calls Chris devil’s spawn and rants about him fornicating with his sister, and Cathy realizes that maybe things are getting out of hand. DO. YOU. THINK. Cathy and Chris have a heated whispery exchange on the stairs, wherein she wants to know how Bart knows (Chris says he doesn’t know, but they’ll get through it, having “been through worse”)

Yet you still don’t close your doors.

(although I kinda think your child finding out about this is worse than your fiancee doing so, but I guess she DID tell the town) and Chris thinks that Bart should go see the shrink again. What if he tells her what he knows? asks Cathy and Chris is like “We’ll say he’s hallucinating” which…do not gaslight your own child, Christopher, come on. Jory, naturally, has overheard all of this and he heads next door for answers. Corrine is waiting for him to tell him the truth about his parents, and while we don’t get his immediate reaction, we do get this:

That's fair.
That’s fair.

AND we see John Amos’ wheelbarrow…full of barbed wire!! Which Jory squeezes his hand on, I’m guessing to help deal with the emotional fallout from “Your parents are siblings”. Bart, meanwhile, is back in the hospital strapped into a bed, telling the doctor that he’s not Bart…he’s Malcolm!!

That lasts about ten seconds, don’t get too excited. The doctor wants to do shock therapy, but C&C refuse, so she agrees to hold Bart for observation and try some medications, but if those don’t work then it’ll have to be shock therapy. This is played so dramatically, like it just might happen!…but it doesn’t.

Chris and Cathy stay the night with Bart at the hospital and the next morning Chris goes home to find Jory sitting solemnly in the living room. Chris not-so-coolly asks if Jory is upset because, oh, maybe Bart said something crazy about the family to him? Did he maybe say anything? Anything crazy? (Chris also pulls this with the psychiatrist, who will only say that Bart “didn’t say anything worth repeating”, so maybe Bart DID say something, but we never find out for sure) Jory’s like, oh what could possibly be wrong? Go next door and ask Grandma. Uh oh. So Chris heads next door, where he is greeted as Dr. Dollanganger by John Amos, who then leads him inside to see Corrine. Corrine, as per usual, is just like “YAY HI I LOVE YOU GIVE ME A HUG!!!”

No hugs!
No hugs!

And she’s just really hoping that Chris will forgive her. She knows that Cathy won’t, but Chris always loved her more than Cathy did, so what do you say, son??? She claims again that she just wanted her family back, but Chris points out that now that Bart and Jory know the truth, Corrine has ruined everything, which doesn’t really point to her wanting some loving reconciliation. Corrine: “Well, if your family loves you based on a lie, then they don’t really love you at all!”

Oh brother.

She says that she’s changed, and she wants to raise Bart and Jory and give them a normal life! Chris is like, does any of any of this seem the slightest bit normal? He tells her to stay away or he’ll have her locked up and, I quote: “I’m a doctor, I have those powers!” Hahahahaha! Corrine points out that once the truth is known, he’ll lose everything, including his special doctor powers.

Then…I guess it’s later and Cathy’s dance recital is coming up and everyone seems pretty calm about how their kids know that they’re siblings and everything? This scene is weird. So Cathy has FINALLY learned that they don’t have any money. Chris tells her not to worry herself, but she’s confused as to how a doctor who makes good money is having financial trouble? and Chris just tells her not to worry about it and goes inside? Is…what? I guess we’re supposed to figure, especially given Chris’ earlier itemizing of their house and Emma and whatnot, that Cathy is a spendthrift, but the way he dodges her questions is so suspicious and we’re not given any sort of answers!! And there’s only half an hour left!

John Amos comes to visit Bart in the hospital because it has NO visiting rules whatsoever, and blah blah blah sin, blah blah blah Malcolm, blah blah blah pretend to be okay until the time is right. CAN WE GET ON WITH THIS. So I guess Jory told Melodie? And she’s understandably a little wigged out and runs off in tears and…okay. So that happened. HALF AN HOUR LEFT. It’s the night of Cathy’s recital and Bart seems to be doing much better—-he’s told the doctor that “Malcolm is gone” and everyone is acting like things are hunky dory. And so they are! Until Corrine lurks in the back of Cathy’s recital, causing her daughter to fall off the stage in shock when she sees her mother’s reflection in the mirror, and Cathy hurts her knee. We hear later from Jory that Cathy won’t ever dance again, but she’s in denial about it (she’ll have too much to do anyway! gotta spend so much time with her kids! I AM COMPLETELY OKAY WITH WHAT’S HAPPENED!), and popping those pills!

Cathy: dealing well.
Cathy: dealing well.

And then because we needed something else to go on right now, Madame Marisha shows up. She’s snotty and awful and calls Emma “Amy”, and we learn that she’s there to take over Cathy’s dance classes and make sure that Jory gets the best training! Great. Chris is less than thrilled to see her, and we learn it’s because she’s effectively blackmailing him–a few years back she came to him and told him that she knew the truth about him and Cathy, and he’s been sending her money ever since. So is THAT where the money’s been going? Dang, Chris, how much did you get taken for? Also…OF COURSE she knows about him and Cathy! I know that the backstory from the Petals movie is different than the book (where she’s known them since they were teenagers) but even in PotW (movie) it seemed like Cathy had been in her class for years, so she must have met Chris before Julian came into the picture and I hardly think Julian would’ve kept his mouth shut about his suspicions about C&C. Oh whatever, it’s barely a plot. She threatens to take Jory away for about ten seconds and obviously that doesn’t happen.

This is how Cathy feels about Marisha showing up.
This is how Cathy feels about Madame showing up.

Learning about Madame’s blackmail does have one good outcome, though. It brings out the Cathy we all know and love! Chris has to go to the hospital, so Cathy goes inside, dumps her pills, and tells Madame to get the hell out of her house.

Here we go.
Here we go.

Madame’s all, I know what it’s like to be protective of one’s son, but this is for the best because look at what your lifestyle has done to your other son, who is nuts! Bart, who is listening from the other room, doesn’t take too well to being called nuts and storms out into the night. Cathy tells Madame she’s not afraid of her OR of what she might do–she doesn’t give a damn anymore, and she takes off on her crutches after Bart. Yay! It’s not quite my beloved drama queen Cathy, but I’ll take it. Bart goes to the barn to talk to John Amos, who finally drops the bomb that if Bart is tired of sin and hypocrisy, then Corrine maybe isn’t the best person to hang out with either. He tells him about Corrine sleeping with her uncle (half-uncle, please) and that’s how Chris and Cathy came to be. (also Cory and Carrie! Poor Cory and Carrie.) Poor Bart is like, so we’re paying for THEIR sins? It’s their sins now? Okay. This lil’guy.

Cathy enters the house looking for Bart and discovers this gem up on a wall and realizes, FINALLY, what she’s dealing with here.

Chris Senior-free, I see.

Back at the house, Jory is trying to call Melodie, but she won’t talk to him, and he turns around to see Madame and her earrings waiting to tell him about Chris and Cathy. When he tells her that he knows, she tells him that they’re sick, and that she and Jory could leave tomorrow for New York and never look back. Oh my god, do you think he—-no. No. He doesn’t.

I just wanted you guys to see this earring/kimono combo.
I just wanted you guys to see this earring/kimono combo.

With fifteen minutes to go, Corrine and Cathy finally confront each other. Corrine just wants to make amends and Cathy is not having it, telling her mother to leave her children alone and that she wishes Corrine’d died in the asylum. Corrine also totally neglects to mention that Cory and Carrie ever existed. Cathy’s like, “Um, I don’t want your love? Go away??” and yanks all of Corrine’s necklaces off. Wooo! Corrine cries about how she just always seems to make the worst decisions! Waaah! and Cathy points out that Corrine LOCKED THEM IN AN ATTIC and is presently ruining their lives, and therefore doesn’t get the right to beg forgiveness. Corrine: “Did I damage you so deeply that you can never heal, Cathy?”



She asks if Cathy really loves her brother and Cathy says yes, and that Corrine made her love him. Oooof, that’s loaded. But before we can really start to unpack it, John Amos knocks Cathy out with a poker. And then, when Corrine freaks out, he knocks her out too and tells Bart to watch them while he goes to get the wheelbarrow to take them to the barn. In the barn, Corrine wakes up and confronts John Amos, who, apparently has just had about enough of working for this family of sinners, watching the once-great Foxworth name go downhill and take his with it. Corrine is all “Well you’re just the butler, so it’s not really YOUR family” (hahahaha) and he expresses disappointment that Corrine, instead of abandoning her sinful children, had the audacity to want them back.

But I like her.
But I like her!

He calls them all tainted Devil’s spawn and Corrine says he sounds crazy like her crazy mother. John Amos’ response is a sarcastic “Really.” so I’m wondering if they ARE trying to imply that he’s Olivia’s cousin in this continuity? Oh who knows. He locks Corrine and Cathy in a stall and announces his intention to light the whole place on fire. Bart, who is behind him with his bow and arrow, protests this course of action, telling John Amos that he’s just a false prophet. JA warns Bart to beware or he’ll “end up like his damn dog!” so I’m guessing that’s Lifetime’s way of assuring us that Bart didn’t kill Clover so that he’s not but SO evil next time around. Eh, I’ll take it. Bart tries to shoot John Amos, but misses, and escapes him after a scuffle. After Bart runs away, John Amos bids farewell to Corrine and lights a fire.

Back at the house, Jory has packed a suitcase and OH MY GOD THERE ARE NINE MORE MINUTES, GET OVER TO THE OTHER HOUSE. YOU’RE NOT LEAVING AND NO ONE BELIEVES THAT YOU ARE. Chris promises to get all of the secrets out in the open if Jory will just stay, but he leaves in horror when Jory tells him that Cathy went next door. Corrine wakes Cathy up as the fire gets bigger and bigger, and takes the chance to apologize and to tell Cathy how much she’s loved her and all four of them (Yay! Carrie and Cory existed!) and that if she could take it all back, she would. Does Cathy forgive her?? I’ll note that Cathy doesn’t actually SAY anything to her mother, but she does embrace her, and that seems to be enough for Corrine.


As Chris runs up, Bart races out to meet him and to tell him that his mother and grandmother are trapped in the barn and the pair go inside to try and help them. Chris sends Bart back outside (he hides inside the barn instead) and tries to locate Cathy and Corrine. When he breaks his way into the stall, Corrine tells him to take Cathy out first, which he does. While he’s outside, Bart runs into the stall to try and help Corrine. She tells him to leave her, but he helps her up when they’re suddenly accosted by John Amos, who yells at Bart that he can just stay and die too. JA and Bart fight when! suddenly!

Get it, Corrine.
Dang, Corrine.

His last words? “Woman, you are the gateway to my Hell.” WE GET IT. Corrine screams at Bart to go as a beam falls down on her and John Amos. Bart runs outside and tells Chris to go back in after Corrine. Jory, having seen the smoke, also runs up. Chris is about to go back inside, but the fire blows up, and he has to stay put to keep Bart from running in. Cathy must be having major flashbacks right about now. Bart cries that they can’t just let her burn, but there’s no chance for anyone to get inside before they hear Corrine screaming and Cathy and Chris realize it’s all over.

Morning has broken and the paramedics and fire department are there, when Madame comes running up calling for Jory. She must sleep HARD to miss that kind of fire. Chris tries to get her to leave, but Jory says he’s got it and steps up to talk to her. She tells him that this family is nuts and that he needs to come with her, but he tells her “Enough!” and what’s possibly the best summation of the entire series: “They might be crazy, but they’re my family!”. Well said. He also tells her that if she even thinks about saying anything about his parents, then he’ll never speak to her again.

Just give in to the hug, Bart.


We cut to an unspecified amount of time later. Jory has a new puppy, and has reunited with Melodie; Bart feeds his snake a mouse while Cindy watches, but assures her that the animals are just playing instead of telling the truth to freak her out; Emma takes Cindy to the park, and Chris and Cathy muse about their wonderful family and make out over an apple pie because apparently that’s our recurring theme. So everything’s perfect, right?

What? What is it, Jory?
What? What is it, Jory?
Oh hell.
Oh hell.


Ooh nelly. That was a ride. Overall, I enjoyed it. ITBT isn’t my favorite book of the series, so I wasn’t as invested as I was with PotW, and while I know there were many, many deviations from the text, I think they did a fairly decent job at covering the big points while leaving some elements behind. I feel like most of Jory’s story was almost an afterthought, we don’t get nearly enough reaction from him regarding the truth about his parents, and while I think it’s understandable that he’d tell Melodie since he’s likely scared and isolated and horrified, but we don’t get ANY motivation, just suddenly he’s told her and she runs away. There weren’t NEARLY enough Cathy histrionics. I know I said I wouldn’t get TOO into the differences from the book, but Chris discovers the beds up in the attic when he’s followed ballet music up there and finds Cathy dancing (and dusting!) and when he calls her out on them, she LOSES it. I could’ve used some of that. The John Amos stuff is almost too much for me in the book, so I’m not surprised that it was too much for me here too, I just found it redundant after a while.

And Malcolm was not some youngish endeavoring business man in 1943, he had already had a stroke (I believe?), as this was after Chris Sr. and Corrine had run away together. 1943. Honestly.

I still can’t quite believe we’ve gotten as many movies as we have! And still one more in this series to come! I have to be grateful for that, honestly. These are just so much fun. I still really like Movie!Christopher, I liked his edge of exasperation at times, I mean, I love Cathy too, but she’s exhausting. He maybe should’ve rethought the Valium, though.

What did y’all think about the movie? I know there were a lot of mixed feelings on Twitter and Facebook, so I’m interested in hearing all the sides. Am I wrong about this book? Should I give it another shot? (Other than re-reading it to recap, of course!) Next up: Seeds of Yesterday!!




7 Comments Add yours

  1. Tashina says:

    I do feel like there should have been a mention of Bart’s nerve disorder. I mean, he’s barely flinching when he pulls that nail out of his arm and if you don’t know he’s got that issue, you’d be wondering how he could even get up. And how he could bear moving the arm at all, especially as it gets worse. Bart’s inability to feel was a pretty big and important part of his character, he didn’t feel close to his family because all those soft, sweet things you do with babies and children didn’t get through to him. He was isolated in his own body which allowed the room for his views to become so easily skewed.

    1. Megan says:

      I agree! I feel like they went for such a generic “evil kid” vibe with Bart, but then didn’t go all the way with it? I mean, I don’t want him to be evil, and I understand that he has his redemption in the next book so it has to wait, but still. It was a little all over the place.

  2. Regina Tomorrow says:

    Enjoyed the recap and once again you and I agree: If There Be Thorns isn’t my favorite book in the series either. Mostly since the reader gets split narration from Jory and Bart (plus prologue/epilogue from Cathy) and since I find Bart insufferable in the book it was a chore slogging through his chapters. I reread the entire series last year and I still have the same reaction to ITBT the book. So I was interested to see how the movie would adapt the story and I was pleasantly surprised. I felt that there was an overall dark, almost unsettling at times, tone to this movie that gave it a bit more of the gothic vibe that the book presented. Did you watch an extended version? Because there are a few scenes that you described in your recap that I don’t recall seeing. Such as Jory finding the letters and Melodie running off in tears. The reason I asked is because there was a thread on IMDB that talked about there being an extended version on iTunes that wasn’t the TV edit.

    Random thoughts/questions I had while watching the movie:

    –John Amos was really well cast since I found him really creepy and sinister. But I still wonder, are he and movie FITA John supposed to be the same guy (as they are in the books?) Because it doesn’t seem that way in the movie adaptations.

    –What the hell happened to Marisha’s British accent from PotW? I know that they are played by different actresses in both movies, but come on, continuity people! I know that’s kind of a goofy nitpick, but still.

    –Was it just me or did Chris look a LOT older than Cathy in this film? I mean he’s only supposed to be a couple of years older than Cathy. Plus they have Heather Graham reprising her role as Corinne and they didn’t age her all that much making it a bit weird to see her alongside Jason Lewis (who she is close in age to in real life) in their one scene together, and we’re supposed to believe that she’s his MOM. Weird.

    –Why the name change for Cindy’s birth mom? In the movie it’s Melissa, but in the book it’s Nicole.

    –The Malcolm flashbacks were a bit strange, especially the timeline, which you mentioned. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to have a younger Malcolm creeping on Alicia instead of checking out some random maid? But maybe since they aren’t planning on adapting Garden of Shadows the screenwriter(s) thought it would be too confusing to the casual viewer.

    –Really liked the ending and how it shows that Bart is still screwed up which foreshadows his state of mind and behavior in Seeds of Yesterday.

    I saw some clips from Seeds of Yesterday on Lifetime’s website as well as YouTube and it looks…interesting. There are some plot choices/changes that surprised me. If you haven’t seen the clips already then you should check them out. I’m definitely tuning in on Sunday to see how it all plays out for the “final” chapter. Can’t wait to read your recap for that one!

  3. Ah, If There Be Thorns. I have to say I’m really annoyed at Melodie – I mean, yeah, Jory’s family are weird as hell, but Chris isn’t even his biological father, so it’s not even like Melodie has to worry about him being inbred or something…

    I’ve got to compare this to a character on Bates Motel who gets similar news about her love interest and is like, well, y’know, all right then. 😛 (no spoilers for looky-loos)

  4. kilzmarie says:

    I hated these films I could not get behind Heather Graham as Corrine. I thought ITbT and SoY had such potential but the fact they didn’t really capture the isolation of Bart. Also no mention of Apple by far the most disturbing part of the book and the decision to change Clover from a dog that a boy could easily over power to a German Shepherd and no mention of the kitten on Corrine’s removes the whole is he torturing animals and killing them because he’s jealous of them getting affection thing and made him more palatable. I think the whole series was cleaned up for lifetime and that by doing so it lost what makes VC Andrews so compelling to read. IMHO the original 87 FitA movie had a much better cast and feel to it. I wish they could have kept it as dark I’m am a bit concerned for their adaptation of My sweet Audrina because it has to be dark and disorienting to give it the gothic feel.

    1. walkerboh61 says:

      I figured it was John doing the things to the animals, but written in a way it could be read as either because Bart IS disturbed… but it may have been part of John’s process to manipulate Bart.

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