Study Guide

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Part Four: Invaders

By Maria Semple

Part Four: Invaders

  • On Monday, December 20, a police report is filed by the manager at the Westin against Audrey Griffin for Assault in the Fourth Degree. We're off to a juicy start.

  • Apparently, Audrey complained the previous night about people blaring music next door. When the manager found the room empty, he went off in search of the origin of the noise.

  • The noise (plus the ever-growing stench of marijuana) leads the manager to room 1605. He knocks on the door and whoever's inside turns down the music immediately.

  • Suddenly, Audrey appears, telling the manager that he's knocking on the wrong door. That's Kyle's room. And Kyle is a total sweetheart. Not a drug dealer at all.

  • An argument ensues. The manager tries to open Kyle's door with his master key, which leads Audrey to yank him backwards by his hair. Hence the whole assault thing.

  • When the police arrive, they discover Kyle and a group of "assorted Seattle street youth" with a whole bunch of drug paraphernalia (4.24). No drugs, though.

  • Audrey loses it, lunging at one of Kyle's party pals and shouting at the cops when they try to pull her away. We'll let you guess how well that works out for her.

  • Some time afterward, Audrey sends an email to Soo-Lin, cheerily telling her that she and the kids will be staying with her for a bit. It'll be like a sleepover. Only court-mandated.

  • Elgin sends an email to Soo-Lin too, thanking her for supporting him, especially during his conversation with Agent Strang.

  • Soo-Lin responds with a handwritten note, telling him that they shouldn't talk about Bernadette over electronic media. Who does she think she is, Jane Bond?

  • Elgin fires back a handwritten note of his own, telling her that he's kept Dr. Kurtz updated and is meeting with her tomorrow "to discuss committing Bernadette" (4.44).

  • Finally, Soo-Lin responds to Audrey, telling her that it's not a good time for her to stay over. She offers to help her find another place to crash, however.

  • Too late. Audrey is already there. In her email response, she totally ignores everything that Soo-Lin just wrote, which is hilarious. These two have one healthy friendship.

  • Later, Elgin sends an email to his brother Van requesting that he come to Seattle in two days to help him through a "family emergency" (4.60).

  • They exchange several emails back and forth until Elgin finally convinces him to come by telling him that something is wrong with Bernadette, and that he needs Van to keep Bee distracted.

  • Next comes notes from Dr. Kurtz about her upcoming appointment with Elgin.

  • She describes her initial assessment of Bernadette and her hesitations about committing her.

  • She's still "suspicious" of Elgin (4.78). His resistance to the idea of therapy has always troubled her, and the convenience of these sudden developments is shady.

  • Either way, she's planning to meet him at his office this very evening.

  • Audrey and Soo-Lin exchange a brief series of emails, with Audrey trying to convince Soo-Lin to come home and hang out, and Soo-Lin doing everything she can to avoid it.

  • That night, Bee is surprised to find Elgin home. He's usually still working at this hour. But it's not exactly a happy thing, because it's mega tense between him and Bernadette.

  • Elgin announces that Van is coming into town tomorrow. Both Bee and Bernadette are perplexed.

  • Elgin wants Bee to come with him to the airport, but she doesn't want to go, having already planned "'to see the Rockettes Christmas show'" with Kennedy and her "'Youth Group'" (4.109).

  • It turns out that Elgin isn't even staying for dinner. Although Bee and Bernadette think he's working late, we as readers know that he is, in fact, meeting with Dr. Kurtz about Bernadette.

  • Conveniently, we're presented with Dr. Kurtz's report on the meeting, written the following day. She begins by saying that her opinion of Elgin has completely changed.

  • After reading the FBI files and hearing Elgin's story, Dr. Kurtz concedes that Bernadette is dealing with some serious psychological problems.

  • She still can't say that Bernadette needs to be institutionalized until she meets her, however.

  • She notes how Elgin's admin told her that she booked him a hotel room for the night as Dr. Kurtz was leaving the meeting.

  • Bee and Elgin drive to the airport to pick up Van. They awkwardly talk about her high school plans and she convinces him to let her spend the night at Kennedy's house.

  • Uncle Van is exactly what you'd expect from an uncle who lives in Hawaii. Frankly, Bee is a little embarrassed to be seen with him.

  • Next, we read Dr. Kurtz presentation to her supervisors about the intervention plan for Bernadette. They're planning an old school, confrontational approach.

  • That evening, Bee and Kennedy go to the Rockettes show with the Youth Group. The first half is just standard Christmas songs, and both girls wonder why they even came.

  • Then, during the second half, while the room sings "O Holy Night," Bee finds herself getting emotional. She loves how "joyful and unapologetically religious" everyone is (4.227).

  • She visualizes herself as Baby Jesus and her parents as Mary and Joseph. She feels a sense of thankfulness for all the people who helped her survive when she was sick as a baby.

  • Kennedy is weirded out by how Bee is acting, but Bee doesn't care. She feels "so alone in this world, and so loved at the same time" (4.228).

  • The next day is Bee's big performance on World Celebration Day. She slept over at Kennedy's house after the show, so Kennedy's mom drives her to the school for the big day.

  • The performance starts great. All the first-graders are trying their darnedest.

  • Bee is surprised when she looks up and sees her mom in the crowd. Bernadette had promised to come, but Bee didn't expect her to actually show.

  • Eerily, this is the "last time" Bee would see her mom before the disappearance (4.239).

  • On Friday, December 24, Dr. Kurtz submits her resignation from Madrona Hill on account of the "tragic and mysterious events surrounding" Bernadette's intervention (4.241).

  • Wow. We expected things to go badly, but not that badly.

  • We're presented next with Dr. Kurtz's report on the apparently failed intervention.

  • The plan was to confront Bernadette at her wisdom teeth appointment. The dentist was in on it and everything. Before that, everyone was to gather at the family home to finalize the game plan.

  • By "everyone" we mean Elgin, Soo-Lin, Agent Strang, and Doctor Kurtz. It's a real crew.

  • Agent Strang explains that "Manjula" has taken things up a notch and is actually coming to Seattle, presumably to steal everything the family has.

  • This conversation is interrupted by the entrance of Bernadette. She's as confused as you would expect.

  • Up to this point, Dr. Kurtz has been narrating the report herself. Now, she switches to her tape recorder transcript, and presents a dialogue of the ensuing confrontation.

  • Though she's thoroughly confused, Bernadette explains that she canceled her wisdom tooth extraction. She realized it was too crazy even for her.

  • Agent Strang reveals to Bernadette that "Manjula" is, in fact, a Russian mafioso. Bernadette is in "shock" (4.300).

  • Soo-Lin keeps interjecting herself into the conversation, which Bernadette definitely notices. Never try to steal a man from a Fox, girl.

  • Dr. Kurtz clears Soo-Lin and Agent Strang from the room. She tries to get Elgin to express his love for Bernadette, but he just shouts at her, calling her "insane" (4.337).

  • Bernadette cries and apologizes, but Elgin isn't satisfied. He tells her that she won't be coming on the trip. That's when Bernadette realizes Dr. Kurtz is here to bring her to Maradona Hill.

  • With her failures presented to her, Bernadette give up. She excuses herself to go to the bathroom.

  • While she does her thing, Elgin second-guesses himself. Maybe Bernadette isn't actually crazy. Like, she didn't know the blackberries would cause an avalanche.

  • He starts banging on the bathroom door, but no one answers. Uh-oh.

  • They break the door down, but Bernie is nowhere to be found. She couldn't have gotten out through the second-floor window, so she must have snuck out of back door when no one was looking.

  • Dr. Kurtz suggests that she could have gone into the basement, but that seems impossible, as the entire basement is filed with thorny blackberry vines.

  • Suddenly, Elgin appears bearing a weed whacker. He's going in.

  • He doesn't "make it far into the basement before he fell into the blackberry brambles," tearing his eyelid and even scratching his eye (4.427). That'll leave a mark.

  • The police bring in a K9 unit, but Bernadette is nowhere to be found.Ā 

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