The day has arrived

I won’t be able to watch until tonight, but I thought it might be nice for those of you who can watch earlier to have a place to go “squeeee!” Or for those of you who can’t, like me, to talk about how excited we are!

First, let’s take another look at that promo:

Let’s hope that the actual show will be a lot more than this. I’m a little worried that what is in the promo is going to be most of his appearance!

But, never mind – today is not a day for worry! My husband is working from home today, so he offered to live blog for all of us. Considering he knows none of the characters except Steve and Kayla (who he calls “Mick and McKayla,” long story), and he’ll be home with our dog, Buster, this was his rendition of how the live blogging would go:

Mr. Pickford: Some people are talking about some things.

Buster: Do they have food?

Mr. Pickford: Mick and McKayla just came on.

Buster: Do they have food?

See you all tonight!

Promo

Okay, guys, I should seriously NOT POST THIS at a blog called Spoiler Free Days. But this has got me so excited for the fall right now. So, with fair warning that this is very spoilery, take a look at the 50th anniversary promo:

Wheeeeeeeee!

Bad choices

I wasn’t going to do a post on today’s episode (8/26), but my husband took the girls out to a soccer game tonight. I could spend the evening folding laundry, but blogging is more fun!

So here are my disconnected thoughts about today:

Aw, a family scene around Caroline’s bedside. And a Kayla sighting! It sounds like the bicentennial will be fun, everyone dressed up in Victorian costumes. And Aiden dropped another anvil that he is Evil. He’s working for someone, and his job is Hope Brady. Andre? We shall see. I am still finding Aiden so much more interesting now that he is evil. He’s the perfect villain: so sweet, with those beautiful dimples.

Evelistening

Eve is a horrible person, and she got even more horrible today. So why do I like her more than anyone else in this storyline? I think I feel about her the way some people feel about Theresa. She’s so horrible that Kyle, who is a drug dealer, was calling her on her actions. If that doesn’t wake you up, what will? Eve had a great line in her run-in with Paige: “Anger is causing you to make bad choices.” Look in the mirror, sweetheart! Wonderful irony.

I love the idea of Justin and Eve mixing it up. Today’s little tidbit was fantastic. I like Justin, I like Adrienne, but I have always been lukewarm on them as a couple. I think because both of them are so sweet. They need to bump up against someone with more of an edge, like Judi Evans did with Lujack on Guiding Light. Eve has edge to spare! Bonus points for the Sinatra reference in their scene. And Justin would look awesome in a fedora. Get on it, Days wardrobe team!

Speaking of Adrienne, I detected a small bit of chemistry in her scenes with Lucas today. Even though I shipped Lumi only briefly, I always thought Lucas had awesome chemistry with Sami … and no one else. My first episode watching Days again earlier this summer, Lucas and Adrienne were in bed together, and they didn’t work for me at all. But today they did, a little. Not so much in their bungee jumping talk, which I found somewhat forced, but in the very sweet conversation they had after she mentioned Justin. I liked the way he told her he didn’t want her to erase her past, and he knew what divorce was like. They felt like two wounded people, being there for each other. Very sweet.

ChadSerena2

Chad and Serena were fun, and a bit sexy. I think Billy Flynn is one of those actors who has chemistry with everyone. Melissa Archer got to kiss all the sexiest men on the show during her run. Greg Vaughan, Paul Telfer, and now Billy Flynn. Good thing she’s leaving, or she’d be onto Stephen Nichols next.

I almost wanted Serena to go home with Chad, but maybe that was because Abby seemed to be having a wonderful time with Mr. Abs, and poor Chad has no one.

Speaking of Abby and Mr. Abs … I don’t know. What did you all think of that love scene? I give points to the show for trying something different, I suppose. It just felt a little strange, a little out of the blue. And for Abby and Ben? When we’ve been seeing her clearly be in love with Chad for months? I know I was complaining that there didn’t seem to be enough of a focus on the Ben/Abby relationship (mostly, giving Ben a reason to want to marry Abby), but this was … not was I was expecting. Maybe it’s just my supercouple era conditioning. I’m not used to seeing the non-rooting couple enjoy going to bed together. And maybe I’m a little bit more of a Chad fan than a Chabby fan.

Speaking of supercouples, I got some major supercouple feels in the Chad fantasy sequence. That’s my favorite kind of fantasy sequence, when it connects to what is happening in the story. Much better than flashing back to their hookup for the umpteenth time. And Chad was so happy when Abby told him the baby was his! And then the closeup on his face as they came out of the sequence. Heartbreaking. Fantastic.

Only one more episode, and then the Patchman cometh!

The Depths

Let’s wallow, shall we?

This is obviously nothing on the angst we’ll get later, during the Adrienne breakup, the Jack breakup, or Marina, or many other storylines. But it’s painful enough.

I do think it’s interesting, psychologically speaking, that Steve drops the flowers outside Kayla’s door before he goes. Maybe he can’t bear to take them with him, or feels they belong to her, not him. Maybe, subconsciously, he wants her to know he was there, that he didn’t just stand her up. And maybe, just maybe, he even wants her to come after him. (Though if that’s true, his subconscious mind should also have prevented him from kissing a prostitute on his doorstep.)

What I think it particularly well done is that they make this painful for both of them, not just Kayla. Steve goes to the Cheatin’ Heart to drown his sorrows and a woman starts chatting him up. Steve softens a little, listening to her sympathetic banter. Then, when it becomes clear she is a prostitute, just looking for a customer, the look on his face is heartbreaking. When he says “Why not?” and leaves with her anyway, we can see clearly what is in his mind: maybe this is all I deserve.

Then — and we knew this was coming — Kayla finds the flowers, goes to find Steve … and sees him with the prostitute. I can never watch this scene without covering my eyes when Kayla comes upon them. It’s just a horrible, horrible moment. After her excitement and hopefulness earlier, it kills me to have her evening come to this. After that, I appreciate the fact that Steve sends the prostitute away. And I think it’s in keeping with his character, the same person we saw reluctant to fall into bed with Britta, who we see having romantic fantasies about Kayla.

Back at the loft, watching Bo comfort Kayla, when he was the one who ruined her evening, adds insult to injury for me as a viewer. Actually, it kind of makes me want to punch his lights out. But, I have to admit that Bo would not have been able to ruin their evening if Steve hadn’t been susceptible to what Bo told him. This is a dynamic that will play out again and again over the next months. Kayla succeeds in breaking through to Steve, and then something happens that makes him close up and run away again. The pain Kayla feels tonight foreshadows far greater pain to come.

Then the final shot – Steve sitting on his steps, holding the harmonica Kayla gave him. Caught between longing for more, and better, and not being able to accept the comfort of less, and worse.

Chess Pieces

Yesterday’s (8/24) episode was good, though at times I definitely felt the hand of the man behind the curtain, moving the chess pieces around.

This was most noticeable in the Eric/Nicole/Serena scenes, but I won’t comment on them too much. I’ll wait until the plot develops a little bit more. It was great to see Nicole be a little more feisty again, even if a civil suit being brought and resolved over the course of an afternoon was beyond ridiculous. It also makes sense that Eric would argue for forgiveness over revenge for Serena, but I didn’t think it was executed very well. We’ll see what the rest of the week brings for this story.

XanderTheresa

Theresa and Xander were a lot of fun. Here is a scheme that doesn’t feel silly, like her framing of the nanny did. It fits with the character of Theresa as we know her, but it raises the stakes and suggests she might be playing with fire. And Paul Telfer and Jen Lilley had great chemistry! I also loved the little moment when Nicole said to Theresa, “I can see the movie playing in your head.” She knows because she’s been there, she’s indulged in similar schemes, and I love that she has Theresa’s number.

The Chad/Abby/Ben scenes were all excellent. I liked the longer scene of Abby and Ben at breakfast, and Abby’s obvious ambivalence at the idea of getting married right away. Then, when she plunged into the wedding planning, Kate Mansi played Abby as a little bit frenetic and hyper, rattling off her dialogue about who she was going to ask to participate in her wedding. That was really well done.

But the highlight was the scene with Chad and Abby, especially the moment when she told Chad she was pregnant. I was disappointed that the reveal of her pregnancy happened so quickly and with so little fanfare, but there’s no doubt that Billy Flynn rocked Chad’s reaction to the news. He was touched and overwhelmed, and, at first, with that little note of hope that it might be his baby.

Chadreactiontopregnancy

I also liked that Chad told Abby about the land in Ireland, and the seeds of conflict that sowed for Chad and Stefano. But here, again, there was a feeling of the chess pieces being moved around. I also don’t think that Abby would blurt out in front of Stefano that she had a paternity test done, though Stefano’s reaction was priceless. It was like, “Damn, I missed a trick.”

They are clearly going to take Ben in a darker direction, and I’m all for it. Ben has reason to be angry. She did lie to him about where she was going, saying it was the hospital when she was really going to see Chad. Ben obviously shouldn’t have put the tracker on her phone to begin with, but I love that they are both wrong. And that was a great shot of Ben sitting in their apartment, backlit, waiting for Abby to come back. Very ominous. Can’t wait to see where this goes.

 

The agony and the ecstasy

Days takes a simple premise – Kayla asks Steve to the loft for dinner – and turns it into an emotional roller coaster. They tease our hopes up to a maddening pitch and then knock us down to the depths of despair. Then they turn around and bounce us back up again with one of the greatest breakthrough scenes of all time.

I’m going to spread my discussion of this over a couple of posts. Let’s take a look at the setup, when Kayla issues her invitation:

This scene is complicated wonderfully by the presence of Chris. First we see Steve’s jealousy, as Steve looks on while Kayla hugs Chris excitedly over some football tickets. Then, when Kayla actually asks Steve to come to dinner, Steve hedges – not very convincingly – before accepting. (Also, his “I didn’t see you there” after watching her hug Chris is endearingly transparent).

The key part of this scene is Chris’s conversation with Steve afterwards. This is brilliantly written. It’s easier for Steve to fight back against Chris when he accuses him of seeing Kayla as just another notch in his belt, or doing something that will put Kayla in jail. But then Chris says Steve might be a good man underneath the chip on his shoulder, and he’s asking that good man to leave Kayla alone. Now Chris is attacking Steve on his weakest side.

Steve fights that off, too, saying he doesn’t think Kayla would appreciate her friends talking behind her back and trying to run her life. He almost sounds like Kayla there! But as we’ll see, this is mostly bravado. I don’t think we hear Steve talk like that again until the summer on the run.

Next, the excitement builds, for Steve and Kayla, and also for us:

I find it very distressing to watch Kayla’s excitement and anticipation, knowing what is going to happen. (And I find Steve’s leather blazer and bolo tie distressing too, but in a different way.)

When I was watching this the first time, as soon as Kayla had the fantasy of what would happen at their date, I suspected that the reality would be much different. But still I hoped. It all ends with a Friday cliffhanger – such a simple thing. Steve is all ready, he has his bouquet of yellow roses, and he hears Chris’s voice in his head, telling him to leave Kayla alone.  Will he stay or will he go?

That was looooong weekend to wait through. Then, Bo happens:

This is torture. It kills me that Bo’s lecture to Kayla has a little more weight now, in this situation. She’s all dressed up, her hopes were high, and she has to admit that Steve is late. She fights Bo’s warnings off, but we can see she isn’t as sure of herself as she has been before.

Then, when Bo leaves, he runs into Steve. Oh, he was so close, just outside the door!

In Steve, Bo finds a more receptive audience for his lecture than he did with Kayla. Just like Chris, Bo manages to find the chinks in Steve’s armor. But he’s even more effective then Chris because of the friendship he and Steve shared. He plays on that friendship, on the feelings that Steve still has for Bo. He says he’s not “telling” Steve to stay away from Kayla this time, he’s asking. And if Steve has any decency left, just a little from the old days, he’ll stay away from Kayla. That’s what gets to Steve, not Bo’s threats.

Next: the depths.

Wishes

For those that don’t mind getting a little spoiled for next week:

“Hello, Sweetness. It’s been awhile, huh?”

Squeeeee!

If you all don’t mind, I’m just going to ramble on a bit about this week, and my wishes for next week and beyond.

This week, there were fewer, longer scenes. According to Jason47, Wednesday and Thursday’s episodes consisted of 29 and 27 scenes (Friday was 33). This is compared to an average of about 45 scenes per episode for the previous month. Such a small thing, but it made a big difference. It allowed for more depth, which was the best thing about this week.

Let’s take John and Marlena first. I have never really liked them that much since the 80’s, but I feel like they belong on the show. They have a presence and importance, all the more impressive since neither of them is related to a core family. Their breakup over this past year or so, by all accounts, was pitifully handled, not helped by the fact that they rarely appeared in scenes together after it. This week was obviously meant to repair the damage done, and I think they succeeded. From my point of view, what I appreciated most was the attention to each of their points of view, and the way they didn’t pretend all of their problems were resolved over the course of one conversation.

Next, Hope and Aiden. HigGriff have managed to do in three days what TomSell wasn’t able to do for months: make me care about this couple. Not to ship them, but to be invested in what Aiden might be up to, and what might be in store for Hope. Daniel Cosgrove apparently said he was “thrown under the bus” by the new writers, but I think he was about 1000% more interesting this week, both as an actor and as a character. What is Aiden up to with Clyde? What did he find out about him? In deceiving Hope, is he protecting her or aiming to hurt her? Will Clyde find out something about Aiden’s past? What will it be?

More importantly, I was blown away by Hope’s monologue about trust. She talked about how Bo’s abandonment made it difficult for her to trust again, and how much she appreciated Aiden sharing his deepest secret with her (Chase being responsible for his wife’s death). Kristian was really amazing in that scene, showing Hope’s vulnerability, and it raised the stakes for the secrets Aiden is keeping. Daniel Cosgrove was awesome too with his ambivalent expression. Was it just guilt, or something more sinister?

The reason I appreciated this speech of Hope’s so much is that it shows HigGriff are capable of doing what is so invaluable to me as a viewer: showing depth and layers to character’s motivation (or even showing motivation at all!). This is what makes me hopeful, going into next week when the characters I care about will be on. (Incidentally, I hope it isn’t a sign for the future that the same three stories were on three days in a row. I like it when airtime is more balanced.)

I’m going to talk a little bit about the preview now, so if you don’t want to be spoiled (and not just for Steve’s return), stop reading here. :)

For Steve and Kayla, I will just reiterate the hopes I’ve had all along: that they won’t just be slapped together, that Steve will have to work to get her back. I’d love it if he had a rival, but it doesn’t look like that will happen. Based on the dirty look she was giving him over Joey’s shoulder, I don’t think Kayla is welcoming him with open arms, and that is an excellent sign. But I want to see some layers to her anger, I want to see her point of view, as well as Steve’s. I hope they give him a good reason for being gone, but I hope it won’t justify him so completely that Kayla looks bad for being angry with him.

Oh, I can’t wait to see Steve and Kayla interacting together again on my screen!

Next, the other part of the preview: Serena’s death. Eric clearly discovers her body, but it looks like Chad will be the one suspected of her murder. I did not see that coming!

(I was tickled that in the preview, my three favorite guys were the ones featured. Add Bo in there, and I’ll be a happy viewer.)

This could be really good. Eric will obviously be very distressed at Serena’s death, which I hope will lead to some reflections about their relationship. I don’t want to see him blaming himself for being angry and breaking up with her, but I would like to see him reflect on why he got involved with her in the first place. I’m still hoping for some payoff for how angry and unforgiving he was towards Nicole last year, and Eric pondering how and why he got mixed up with Serena would lead nicely into that.

I hope his distress, too, will arouse Nicole’s protective instincts. And here again I hope the new team’s attention to character motivation will be applied to Nicole. I’ve been theorizing/fanwanking like crazy as to why she is so committed to Daniel and how she thinks she feels about Eric. Now I hope the show will take up the slack. And ideally, this business with Serena will put a crack in her denial.

A good triangle is a holy grail for soaps. As I’ve said before, it’s a delicate balance to show the one in middle longing for one person, while giving us a good reason to stay with the other. They have the makings of two great ones right now, with Ericole/Daniel and Chabby/Ben. With Nicole, we aren’t seeing much longing, though we are seeing lots of good reasons to stay with the “wrong” man. With Abby, they are doing a great job with the angsty longing, but they are maybe just a little bit neglectful of why Ben is a good choice, or why he wants to marry her. I know she thinks he’s a good man and the father of her baby, but I’d like a little more than that.

And I’m excited to see that Chad is going to be going through some serious trouble with this Serena business. I wonder what he says that makes her slap him? Those should be some fun scenes! Billy Flynn is going to be awesome. And will Abby believe in his innocence, or will this drive her away from him?

Can’t wait!