OPINION: How Annie Got Her Groove Back? Has 90210 Finally Realized How Best To Feature Shenae Grimes?

Remember a few weeks ago, where I spelled out the formula that 90210 seems to follow each season? It went something like this: begin by adding a hand full of new and mostly static characters and overdose us with the exposition on what has taken all of our regular characters from where they were when last we saw them to an entirely different place, then slowly but certainly weave everything together and make magic with the new set up they've created. Well, the weeks of exposition and suffering through new, underdeveloped characters are over and 90210 is sailing onward and upward full steam ahead!

This week was a really big and great week for Annie (Shenae Grimes). Now I know that there is a faction of 90210 fans who want Annie to be the center of the show. And I know from my time watching DEGRASSI that Ms. Grimes has more than enough in her to carry a show-- let's be very honest, DEGRASSI may not be on today if Shenae Grimes wasn't there to carry that show as it transitioned from it's original cast of teens to a new batch of teens. Viewers would have left with their favorite characters in droves if Shenae wasn't acting up on storm on every episode. She has it in her for sure. Agree with me or not, 90210 has by and large failed to play her strengths and feature her properly. Hopefully, this week’s episode marks the beginning of the end of that.

Annie has serious car trouble. You know how when it rains it pours? Well Annie’s car trouble is a monsoon. She needs to pay off a parking ticket, plus a mechanic, and a locksmith. And we know she has money issues already. So naturally she calls up her friend Bree (Cameron Goodman) and asks if she has any upcoming escort jobs. Of course, why didn’t I think of that? Who needs cater waiting or focus groups for a quick paycheck when you can just do a little freelance escorting? Bree sends Annie out on a solo job. When Annie realizes she’s alone for the first time, she tells Patrick, her client (john?) "I don't care how bad I need the money, I'm not this girl." Good girl, Annie Wilson. Of course later, Bree tells her that Patrick really liked her and wants to take her to lunch... and she left her jacket, so she should go back to get it. I’m hoping that nothing bad comes of this.

Meanwhile Liam (Matt Lanter) is approached by a modeling agent and he reluctantly goes out for a modeling gig. Apparently he really needs money for his bar, the Offshore, even though it’s apparently the hottest spot in Beverly Hills. This show is so fast and loose with money. One minute these kids are buying the world, the next they are poor. This show should have rich kids (obvi it’s Beverly Hills!) and kids that aren’t rich, but they shouldn’t have every characters’ personal finances shift drastically each episode. Anyway, Liam goes to a photo shoot. The ad campaign is selling watches, apparently to gay men, because it’s just male models dancing in their underwear around a sports car. Oh yeah, they happen to be wearing watches.

Why do they not seem to know what to do with Liam this season? My advice: think of him as the Dylan McKay of the series, not the Steve Sanders. Matt Lanter is really good looking, so sure he can be a male model, easily. But if this storyline doesn’t go anywhere, I’m going to be very confused as to why the writers are spinning their wheels and wasting Liam. For now, I’ll have faith and assume they are setting us up for a well told Liam story.

Naomi (AnnaLynne McCord) thinks sexy Beverly Hills cowboy Austin (Justin Deeley) has a new girlfriend when she meets the honky tonk girl Sally (guest star Kellie Pickler). Jealous, Naomi? Clearly, she is, even though she knows she loves and wants to be with Max. The grass is always greener...

Everyone’s favorite Indian cancer patient (ok, my favorite Indian cancer patient) Raj (Manish Dayal) hasn't responded well to the chemo he’s been undergoing. His doctor suggests an experimental treatment which is not covered by insurance and is ridiculously expensive. Ivy (Gillian Zinser) decides to fundraise for her hubby by throwing a talent show (reminds me of my own talent show, coming up to fundraise for the fourth season of my websoap EMPIRE. Luckily we aren’t fundraising for life or death and we don’t need to come up with the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Raj and Ivy ostensibly need, but you should still come out and support us in NYC on November 7, details at www.empiretheseries.com, excuse my shameless self-promotion, but come on, if ever there was a contextual tie-in, this was it!)

The top prize at Ivy’s talent show is a trip to a private island. (The EMPIRE talent show doesn’t have a private island retreat, but we will have alums from GUIDING LIGHT and AS THE WORLD TURNS. Okay, I’m done now.) Austin and Sally sign up to perform. Naomi sees them and she’s jealous, natch, so she signs up too. Then she says "I wonder what I'm good at." How very Naomi! This episode was full of hilarious and delicious lines like that.

Dixon (Trisan Wilds) goes on Billy Bush’s radio show and says if you go to Raj's cancer benefit at the Offshore you get free drinks, distressing Liam who was already crying poverty. Adrianna (Jessica Lowndes) is worried about Dixon pushing himself too hard. When she tries to broach the subject with Dixon, he thinks she's jealous. She reminds him that she went down the fame road and lost everything, to which he says "yeah you kind of brought that upon yourself." Way harsh Tai, But also way true.

Leila (Summer Bishil) turns 18. Good, now she can hit the road, in my opinion! But of course her brother, Navid (Michael Steger) still loves her and wants to protect her (gag!). Navid tells her she can't date her dick of a boyfriend Darius (Bug Hall) anymore. Leila responds, "I'm 18 now, Navid, I can legally have sex with whoever I want." I’m sorry, do you need to clean your ears, Leila? He said DATE not HAVE SEX WITH! TMI, Leila! This is your brother. Dang!

So there’s a little too much backstory about Navid, his sister, her boyfriend, their evil uncle Amal (Anthony Azizi) and his stolen car ring. You don’t need to know the details. Only that Navid is messed up in his uncle’s illegal shenanigans and Silver (Jessica Stroup) has left him because of this. Being a good man, and wanting to repair the one real super couple of the show, Navid tells his uncle to shove it and he tells Silver he’s gotten himself uninvolved in his uncle’s shady business. Yay!

Naomi and Max (Josh Zuckerman) show Raj the act they’ve put together for the talent show and he says, "well it's official, I'm definitely going to die." If this act is supposed to save his life, he's definitely right. He gives them a little encouragement, "win or lose, I really appreciate what you're doing. It's just it's probably gonna be a lose." When he leaves Max tells Naomi, "don't listen to him, he's got cancer." I told you this episode was loaded with one-liners! Naomi and Max go back to the drawing board. Naomi wants to win badly. She refuses to lose to Sally, but she won't tell Max that that’s why she’s being so competitive.

So the time finally arrives for the talent show! Max finds out Sally is Naomi's big competition and he sees her with Austin and realizes why Naomi wants to win so badly. Poor Max! When Sally sings, Naomi sees how good she is. She makes some phone calls and spices up the lame magic act she and Max had prepared. It works! They win! And naturally Naomi goes straight to Austin and Sally to gloat. Max can’t take it anymore. He says he can't pretend he doesn't care that she's into someone else and he breaks up with her. Sad!

Patrick wants to take Annie for a helicopter ride. "My mom always told me not to get in a helicopter with a stranger." I would love to see Annie in a relationship with an older man and maybe Patrick is that man. I mean she must have daddy issues from Harry up and leaving. And Annie's mature so it could actually work. Things move pretty fast between Annie and Patrick, and he tells her she makes him feel alive. There is actually some chemistry even though I’m not really sure about this Patrick guy yet. They kiss. She wants to take it further but he stops her. Can we say, twist? He better not be setting her up with some backwards psychology crap!

Adrianna finds Dixon before he's due to perform. He’s messed up and his nose is bleeding. The crowd really wants Dixon, but Adrianna decides she has to go on for him. Ironically, Aid’s nemesis Silver is forced to introduce her. As Adrianna takes the stage, someone yells "did you steal this one too?" But Adrianna stays calm and of course she ends up winning over the crowd. Oh 90210, can you really be resurrecting the Adrianna Tate-Duncan I once loved? The Adrianna Tate-Duncan I thought was gone forever?

Okay, so we start to learn how actually crazy and dangerous Uncle Amal is. When he tells Navid he should reconsider his decision, Navid says do what you want to me, and Amal says, "you are family, I would never hurt family but she is not family." Meaning he's coming after Silver. Evil!

Annie goes to Patrick and they make love. She tells him there is no money involved, she likes him. Damn! I like a wild, assertive Annie. I totally dig it. But I hope this guy is sincere, which what are the chances of that? 1 in a million probably. But wouldn’t this be a new storyline we’ve never seen before if these two actually do fall in love? “How’d you meet?” “Oh Annie was my escort!” “Oh how lovely, Burt, don’t you think that’s lovely?” “Hmm, oh yes, dear.” “Burt and I just met through some mutual friends, like everybody else!”

After Annie and Patrick do it, Navid shows up at the police station and turns himself in for his involvement in Amal’s car thievery. I literally thought the show was over. I mean, Annie hooking it with this guy and Navid turning himself in to save Silver is a pretty great cliffhanger, right? Well, apparently not good enough, because the show still had ten minutes left!

Naomi gives Austin the tickets she won to the island, telling him Max broke up with her so he can take his girlfriend. Austin tells Naomi that Sally is his cousin. I think this was pretty explicit to the audience, but it was news to Naomi.

At the police station, Navid realizes he has no proof against his uncle. There's a very beautiful detective who wants Navid to earn Amal's trust and work with him again to build a case against him. But she warns Navid that if Amal's really as dangerous as Navid says he is, no one can know what he’s up to. Not even Silver. Dun, dun, dun!! I mean this is really laying the ground work for some serious drama, and I’m thrilled about it, but I still think Navid showing up at the police station saying he’s turning himself in is a better cliffhanger and this would make for a good setup at the start of an episode.

Patrick made a sizable donation to Raj's cause which I guess put them over the top to reaching the goal for his treatment. So I guess there was a monetary exchange as a result of Annie making love with him after all.

Liam's chest ends up on a billboard and Aid tells Dixon he has a drug problem and he needs help. Yeah Annie hooking up with Patrick and Navid turning himself in would have been a better ending, all the rest of this stuff could have started next week’s episode! But whatever, it was still a good episode.

The Dixon/Adrianna connection has a lot of possibility and could breath some much needed new life into two characters who could use a good story. Annie’s story this week was great and is a full of potential in the coming episodes. I’m excited to see where the Navid/Silver/Amal stuff goes, they really need some good mystery/action/melodrama storyline playing out so hopefully this one won’t disappoint. And as much as I love Naomi with Max, I feel like they are telling an honest love triangle with Naomi, Max, and Austin, so I’m not going to get too depressed that Max left her this week. Besides... there’s always next week.

Greg Turner contributes primetime reviews for We Love Soaps. Along with Brian Hewson, Greg is the creator, writer, and producer of the web soap, EMPIRE, which can be found atwww.empiretheseries.com. Greg loves soaps.

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