Study Guide

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Part Five: Dangers Passed

By Maria Semple

Part Five: Dangers Passed

  • Our first document is a note sent from Elgin to Bee on Friday, January 14.

  • By now, Bee is off at Choate. Bernadette is still nowhere to be found.

  • Since he's heading down to D.C. next week, Elgin offers to drop by Choate and take a weekend trip to NYC together.

  • Next is a fax sent from Soo-Lin to Audrey that same day. Soo-Lin starts by saying that she doesn't know where Audrey is; all she's heard is that she's "in the desert at a motel without cell reception or email" (5.9).

  • She updates Audrey (and us) about what's been going on in the last month.

  • Elgie and Bee didn't go to Antarctica after all. A disappearing mama will have that effect.

  • Soo-Lin quotes Shakespeare and talks about how she asked Elgin to "move in" with her, which means these two are officially an item (5.70). Not wasting any time, huh, Elgin?

  • Instead of moving in, Elgin offers to pay for Soo-Lin to move into a bigger place for herself. That's helpful because she quit her job at Microsoft after the recent events.

  • Audrey responds with a fax of her own on Saturday the 15th. She congratulates Soo-Lin for her happiness and doesn't even sound sarcastic. Is this the same Audrey?

  • She's in Utah, where's she claims to have found "serenity" (5.28). Kyle has been enrolled in a wilderness rehab program where he's forced to camp in the wild for a week straight.

  • Audrey has finally come to terms with Kyle's addiction. She's even been attending substance abuse support group meetings herself.

  • Warren has already gone back to Seattle, but Audrey isn't ready yet. She feels like a totally different person than she was before.

  • As evidence of that change, she expresses sincere empathy for Bernadette. Okay, so there was an alien abduction. That's our only explanation.

  • The next day, Soo-Lin sends a frantic response. She reveals that she is writing from an internet cafe in South America and is in the middle of "the most horrific nightmare" (5.39).

  • Bernadette has been found. She somehow ended up on the cruise to Antarctica, and is at this very moment on the return trip through the Drake Passage.

  • Ready for another whopper of a reveal? Soo-Lin is pregnant with Elgin's child. Hence her being extra upset that Bernadette has been found.

  • On Tuesday, January 18, Bruce Jessup from Choate sends a note to Elgin.

  • Jessup says that the staff and students at the school have noticed odd behavior from Bee, including but not limited to watching Josh Groban sing "O Holy Night" on YouTube repeatedly.

  • Yesterday, Jessup noticed Bee receive "a thick manila envelope with no return address [...] postmarked Seattle." A "sheaf of documents" was inside (5.47).

  • Bee was extremely excited, and later explained that she was going to write a book based on the material.

  • A book based on documents? Wait a second…

  • Bee's roommate Sarah snooped around and found confidential FBI files in the document dump. So she ratted her out to Jessup, leading to the letter we're reading.

  • Jessup lists the different things that were in the envelope, and it's clear that he's describing the very documents we've been reading this whole time. This must be the book Bee wrote. Whoa. Meta.

  • Anyway, he gets to the point: it isn't the right time for Bee to attend Choate. He advises Elgin to pick her up as soon as he can.

  • On Wednesday, Soo-Lin sends another fax to Audrey. She starts by apologizing for her insanity in the previous email.

  • Since that message, Soo-Lin and Elgin went down to Ushuaia, Argentina to await the return of Bernadette's boat. Elgin is still furious at Bernadette, according to Soo-Lin.

  • Big surprise: Bernadette is nowhere to be found. Yet the crew has her passport and there's no record of her leaving the ship. She should be here, but...isn't.

  • The captain searches the ship from top to bottom but finds nothing. The only clue is a piece of paper from her room. There's no writing, but rather indentations from writing on a sheet of paper that was on top of it.

  • They return to Seattle the next day with more questions than answers. Plus, there's the whole pregnancy thing to deal with. Yikes.

  • Audrey responds on Thursday, waving off Soo-Lin's apologies and congratulating her about the child. She also worries about Bernadette, which, again, is way out of character for her.

  • The following Tuesday, Soo-Lin responds to Audrey with news of Bee's exit from Choate.

  • Since she's been back, Bee refuses to be near her dad, and instead spends all her time working on her book.

  • Soo-Lin includes the captain's report from the cruise, as well as "a letter from the cruise company" regarding Bernadette's disappearance (5.106).

  • The letter, from Elijah Harmsen, the president of the cruise company, apologies for the incident, but promises to provide as detailed information as possible.

  • Using evidence from Bernadette's ID card, which kept track of her movements throughout the ship, the company claims to have been able to create a definitive account of what happened.

  • She spends a lot of time drinking "Pink Penguin drinks" at the bar, whatever those are (5.121).

  • A forensic analyst was able to analyze the pen indentations from the paper and come to some conclusions. Bernadette wrote a three-page note, and due to the signature "Love, Mom," they believe it was written to Bee.

  • They're able to recover some phrases, too: "Audrey Griffin is the devil," "Audrey Griffin is an angel." etc. (5.134-135). Y'know, sane people stuff.

  • Clearly, the implication is that Bernadette wasn't in a right state of mind, and is somehow responsible for what happened to her. Which is to say, they think she fell off the boat.

  • That same day, Audrey sends her husband a fax, urgently asking him to check if they've received any letters, emails, or faxes from Bernadette. Huh?

  • She fills Warren (and us) in on what happened. While Soo-Lin was staying with her, Audrey found out about both the FBI investigation and the psychological intervention.

  • Instead of being happy that her sworn enemy is on the verge of defeat, however, she felt shaken.

  • Not only does she not want Bernadette locked up in an institution, but she feels guilty because her lies are responsible for creating the impression that Bernadette is insane.

  • Suddenly, inspiration strikes. She copies all of Soo-Lin's documents, gathers her own correspondence, and creates a chronological timeline of the past month.

  • Kyle even helps her hack into Soo-Lin's emails. Audrey's getting receipts, ya'll.

  • Audrey tries to stop the invention, documents in hand, but it's too late. It's already going down. She sneaks into their yard through a hole in the fence.

  • She sees Bernadette go into the bathroom. Grabbing a fallen ladder, Audrey climbs up and taps on the window.

  • After some confusion, Bernadette follows Audrey down the ladder and back to her house, where Audrey shows her the full dossier, including the article about her architectural career.

  • Bernadette is thankful but upset with herself. She admits to Audrey that she would have given Manjula the power of attorney if she had asked.

  • After getting a change of clothes, Bernadette requests that Audrey send the documents to Bee. Audrey agrees. So that explains it.

  • As for where Bernadette is now, Audrey has no clue.

  • That being said, she doesn't buy that Bernadette fell off the ship. She suspects that Bernadette was trying to contact her so she could send a message to Bee.

  • Warren responds that he doesn't see anything, but that he's proud of her. Awww.

  • On Friday, Soo-Lin writes a fax to Audrey with the news that she's been "TORCHed" (5.200). Sounds painful.

  • TORCH is in fact an acronym for "Time-Out Reality Check." It's a term from her Victims Against Victimhood support group that describes how one must account for their own part in the cycle of abuse.

  • So Soo-Lin is TORCHing herself over her relationship with Elgin, which in hindsight she realizes was completely driven by her own desire for him.

  • Looking back, Soo-Lin reexamines a moment of seeming sexual tension between them at a hotel which she now realizes was just him being sleepy.

  • The following night was the one and only time they slept together. Soo-Lin describes it as "awkward" and says that "Elgin obviously wanted to get it over with" (5.250).

  • On Wednesday, Soo-Lin sends an email announcing that she's been TORCHed again. Apparently, her description of events was too soaked with self-pity.

  • The previous night, while Elgin was over at Soo-Lin's for his weekly dinner, Bee burst in with the captain's report, shouting that Soo-Lin and Elgin want her mom dead.

  • Bee also calls Soo-Lin "Yoko Ono," which is more than a little problematic. Not a good look, girl.

  • Later that night, Elgin apologizes to Soo-Lin over Bee's outburst.

  • He also reveals that he and Bee are going on a trip to Antarctica in two days to get "closure," as Bee explained it to him (5.284).

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