Hi all, I’m back! Not sure if anyone out there will still want to follow along with me, but here goes!
So much to catch up on, where to start?
Well, we’ve got a big umbrella story set in an (unnamed)
European north African country that apparently contains only one house and a population of, um, about three: Lawrence Alamain and Lawrence’s dad Leopold, and a henchman named Gregory. When our troupe of heroes arrives — Alice, Bo, Carly, Kayla, Shane, Jennifer, Jack, Julie — the population more than doubles. Oh, and Frankie is there too, I mean … Francois von Leuschner. Turns out he’s actually royalty, and Carly’s brother, and he was just pretending to be a street kid from Salem. It’s best not to think about it too hard. Just put the up the ever-useful Wall of Retcon and move on.
Umbrella stories are always fun, and one of the best things about watching these old storylines is watching Days pull out all the stops for one. Check out this cool intro scene, where we see Lawrence’s mansion for the first time. The music, the location shooting … it added so much to the show. I love it.
The “Road to Hell,” indeed. (And check out Alice coming along for the ride in disguise — priceless!)
Plot-wise, I give the storyline a C-minus, especially after they get to Lawrence’s mansion. There is a lot of ridiculousness, a lot of contrivance. But, I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to the plots of these umbrella stories. Yes, it’s a bonus if the plot is logical and organic to the characters’ issues. But how often can that happen with a story involving so many people? If they can weave in some interesting, atypical character interaction, some good romance, and some angst, I’m happy. In this story, we’ve got a major character’s death (Steve, sob!), problems and angst for a major couple (Jack/Jennifer) and adventure and buildup for a newer couple (Bo/Carly). We’ve got them testing the waters for Shane/Kayla (close your eyes, S&K fans!), we’ve got fun veterans mixing it up with the younger crowd (Alice, Julie), and a delicious new villain. All in all, very good.
So what about that new villain? I never saw him back in the day, so this is my first encounter with Le Lawrence. Rewinding a bit, here is an early scene of Lawrence in action:
(For those who don’t know or don’t remember, Jennifer is pretending to be “Princess Katarina” to protect her friend Carly from having to marry Lawrence. In so doing, she ends up having to marry him herself. Jack doesn’t know that Jen’s friend Carly is Katarina.)
This scene is a perfect example of the funny, zany adventure storyline — yet layered with emotion — that is Jack and Jennifer’s specialty. Their banter is delightful as they argue about whether Jennifer will accept his help or not, especially her look when he says “How stupid do you think I am?” (Hee.) We also have a moment where a more serious emotion breaks through, when Jack grabs her and says what if she gets hurt or “worse” gets married? What will he do then? I love the look that Jennifer gives him, the frustration that he is showing this emotion now, after their breakup, and I love that she calls him on it. Why couldn’t he say this to her when she “was” in love with him?
And even though I generally don’t care for the more slapstick-style humor, some of it here is pretty inspired, I admit: Jack’s outfit, and his “Scandinavian dialect,” and Missy Reeves breaking character a little as she cracks up at it. All wonderful, classic JnJ.
But in the middle of all this, we have Lawrence. What makes him really terrific is how kind he seems for most of it, with just a slight undertone. He is disarmingly sweet when he comments on her “nervous gesture” and how he knows it so well … because he watched her way back when, and memorized every gesture. Wait a minute, that’s not sweet, that’s a stalker. And he sounds sooo reassuring when he says not to worry, the relationship won’t be consummated until their wedding night. But right before he leaves, he says “the kiss can wait … but not for long” (and the music suddenly kicks in, uh-oh) and the undertone becomes overtly ominous. Very scary.
All this, of course, foreshadows the rape. But for right now, what Lawrence, and Michael Sabatino, does is introduce a darker note. This is not a comic villain. That darker tone doesn’t always turn out to be good thing for Jack and Jennifer, as I’ll talk about later. But here, I love the unexpectedness of it, how suddenly, the stakes are much higher, the danger more palpable. That’s the mark of a good villain.
Of course, because Lawrence is young and handsome and this is Days, we know he will get reformed and paired off in the end. But, then we all know how that turns out:
Coming up: some of those interesting character interactions I mentioned, including an outstanding Jack/Kayla scene!