Study Guide

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Part Three: Menace to Society

By Maria Semple

Part Three: Menace to Society

  • We kick things off with the Griffin family Christmas card, which is dated Tuesday, December 14.

  • It's a poem in the style of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." We do not approve.

  • She references the whole mudslide debacle, which forced the family to move into "the Westin" for a temporary stay (3.2). According to her, however, the hotel experience has been grand so far.

  • Soo-Lin responds with an email telling Audrey that she's happy everything worked out so great for them given the circumstances.

  • The real reason behind her response, it seems, is to complain about how mean Elgin is being to the Samantha 2 team, and to brag about shooting him down in front of the whole staff.

  • Audrey responds with a confession. The Westin actually sucks. They're having a terrible time. Plz send help.

  • In her response, Soo-Lin ignores the confession, instead gushing about a crazy experience at work earlier that day.

  • To her surprise, Elgin specifically requested to have lunch with her. She was flattered and confused.

  • Even more surprising is that he wanted them to ride bikes somewhere and have a little picnic. Uh-oh. This is sounding an awful lot like a date.

  • They eat next to a fountain. Elgin immediately opens up about how difficult things have been between him and Bernadette lately.

  • Soo-Lin, as a member of the support group "Victims Against Victimhood," knows exactly what Elgin is describing: "emotional abuse" (3.39).

  • She tries to use the group's techniques to help him acknowledge the abuse, but eventually just sits back and lets him open up.

  • Eventually, it comes out that, because Elgin and Bernadette unsubscribed from the Galer Street email list, Elgin has no clue his wife was involved in a mudslide. Soo-Lin fills him in.

  • Soo-Lin closes the email with some gushing words about Elgin. Call us Pythagoras, because we see a love triangle forming.

  • Audrey has an amazing response; she asks Soo-Lin if she thinks Audrey "woke up this morning and drank a big cup of stupid" (3.72). Ah yes, a healthy friendship.

  • She doesn't believe that Elgin didn't know about the incident. Instead, she thinks he's just trying to establish a paper trail in case the Griffins sue him.

  • Afterwards, Audrey shoots a quick email to Gwen Goodyear at Galer Street to confirm whether Elgin is on the school's email list.

  • Taking over as narrator, Bee tells us that it's Kennedy's birthday tonight. Bernadette and Bee are taking her out to dinner to celebrate because Kennedy's mom works late.

  • They go to the Space Needle restaurant, a touristy revolving restaurant situated at the top of Seattle's famous Space Needle observation tower.

  • As is tradition at the restaurant, Kennedy leaves a note announcing her birthday on the revolving window. Apparently, other guests will leave their well-wishes when it reaches their tables.

  • Kennedy and Bee talk about Kennedy's church's "Youth Group," which Bee also attends (3.88).

  • Neither of Bee's parents are religious, so Bee tried to keep it secret at first, but she eventually came clean. She's not even super religious herself. She just likes to watch TV there.

  • The two girls go to the bathroom, and when they return, Elgin is there. He and Bernadette are having an intense argument.

  • Elgin is confronting Bernadette about The Great Blackberry Avalanche. Bernadette tries to defend herself, but hubby dearest ain't hearing it.

  • It's then that Kennedy's birthday card returns. She's excited to look at it, but that excitement gives way to tears when she sees that most people didn't wish her a happy cake day, but instead covered the paper with bible quotes.

  • Elgin storms off, with the rest of the crew following soon after. Bernadette and Bee sleep together in the Petit Trianon that night.

  • On Thursday the 16th, Gwen Goodyear confirms to Audrey that both Elgin and Bernadette unsubscribed from the mailing list long ago. So much for that conspiracy theory.

  • Gwen has something more pressing to discuss, however. She says that it's "imperative" that they have a discussion about Audrey's son, Kyle.

  • In an aside, Bee gives us the reason behind this request; Kyle told a teacher to "sheathe" his... ahem...well, let's just call it his Richard Nixon (3.140).

  • Soo-Lin sends another email to Audrey. She opens with a passionate defense of "Elgie" (3.142). Elgie? Soo-Lin is in deep, ya'll.

  • According to her, the two of them were having such a great chat on the shuttle to Microsoft that morning that people around them were making comments.

  • Next comes a letter from Gwen Goodyear that was hand-delivered to Audrey and Warren Griffin at the Westin. That can't be a good sign.

  • The letter states that a student caught with OxyContin claimed that Kyle dealt them the drugs. Goodyear needs to have a meeting ASAP.

  • Audrey responds with pure fury in email form, denying all responsibility on the part of Kyle and making several not-so-veiled legal threats.

  • She follows this with another dollop of rage, this time served to Soo-Lin, whom she accuses of "lauding [her] torturer" (3.168).

  • Soo-Lin defends herself. She doesn't have to hate her boss just 'cause her bestie hates his wife.

  • Audrey responds with more barbs. In defense of Elgin, Soo-Lin forwards Audrey a video of his TEDTalk, one of the most viewed in the organization's history.

  • We don't get to watch the video ourselves, but instead get treated to a live blog of the event from when it was broadcast.

  • After a long and hilarious intro describing the lead-up to the event, the blogger, known as Masked Enzyme, gets into Elgin's performance.

  • It's a rough start for Elgin, who's a nobody at this point. He tries to explain his work merging "mind and computer," which sounds awesome, but technical problems hamper him from moment one (3.190).

  • He grinds it out, eventually wowing the audience with a personalized, voice-activated robot called Samantha. It'll bring you popcorn if you ask for it. What else could you need?

  • Unfortunately, Elgin explains, the Samantha project was canceled. With this failure, Elgin got an interesting idea. What if they got rid of the robot part?

  • That led him to create Samantha 2, a Band-Aid-sized computer that will hook directly up to your brain when placed on your forehead.

  • Elgin shows off its capabilities by turning on and off lights, changing TV channels, even sending an email to Bernadette. All with his thoughts.

  • Elgin closes by announcing that they'll be shipping Samantha 2 in the coming March to Walter Reed, a famous veteran’s hospital, to help wounded veterans recover.

  • Okay, we're officially impressed. So is the crowd, apparently, because they're going wild.

  • Audrey doesn't think it's cool, however. She tells Soo-Lin that she's had enough of her.

  • Meanwhile, Dr. Kurtz finally responds to Elgin's letter.

  • She's skeptical of Elgin and the "extreme action" he's requested for his wife (3.223). She suggests therapy as a better option, but agrees to discuss things further with him.

  • This letter is followed up by a series of IMs sent between Elgin and Soo-Lin during a meeting.

  • Elgin says, like, two sentences, while Soo-Lin babbles on and on with jargon she learned at Victims Against Victimhood. Love, sweet love.

  • On Friday, December 17, Bernadette sends an email to Manjula. It's been a hot second for these two pen pals.

  • Bernadette has figured out a way to get out of the Antarctica trip; she'll just get emergency wisdom teeth surgery on the 23rd, preventing her from traveling for weeks.

  • How completely logical. Bernadette forwards her dentist's information to Manjula and asks her to set everything up, as usual.

  • Our next document doesn't come until Monday, December 20, and it's from a surprising source: the FBI. Uh-oh. What could this be about?

  • Marcus Strang, who works for the "Internet Crime Complaint Center," writes to Elgin that he's been tracking emails between Bernadette and Manjula (3.249).

  • Here's the thing: Manjula is a scammer. In fact, Manjula just sent an email to Bernadette requesting that she sign over the power of attorney while the family is gone. Thankfully, the FBI intercepted the email before it arrived.

  • Strang tells Elgin not to discuss this with Bernadette. He's flying into Seattle today and wants to set up a meeting at noon.

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