Happy now

So I start my work vacation with the awesome news that Greg Vaughan is returning to Days!

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Here’s a recent picture from Tamara Braun’s instagram that set off some speculation that he was back. “He shaved his beard! He looks like Eric again!” I try not to get my hopes up with vague things like that, but in this case it turns out the speculators were right! He is already filming and will be airing on January 17. Early release for good behavior? Can’t wait to find out!

(Eeeeee! Isn’t he beautiful!)

Anyway, I promised I would post about last week’s Days. I was excited to have Steve and Kayla the focus of the action of the three villains. Steve was in fine form, talking fast and cracking one liners and outsmarting the bad guys.

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I was not as thrilled with Kayla being bound and gagged and having almost no dialogue. It actually perfectly symbolized my fear of how Dena writes for Steve and Kayla: Steve being the center of attention, and Kayla a bystander, sidelined by injury. Last run it was a problem pregnancy, this time recovery from brain surgery. Also, the staging, or rather, not staging — of the climactic moment was bizarre, to say the least. We didn’t even see the shot that downed Steve. And Kayla told Steve that Orpheus said he was leaving her with Steve’s corpse like he was left with his wife’s. There is no way that chilling line should not have played on our screens.

But I will remain hopeful for better things. It’s been too long since Hope and Kayla have shared a scene, and I really enjoyed that. And Kim even sent a cactus. (That Hope didn’t seem to think much of. Hee.) With Joey being the one kidnapped (rather than Kayla), it will hopefully give Kayla a role to play in his rescue. And of course a chance for them to bond as they are doing so, and for the danger to bring them closer together.

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But imagine being Orpheus and carrying off Joey as your prize! That doesn’t make sense. I am a little disappointed that we are getting so little of the villain’s motivations. Orpheus’s reasoning and backstory especially should be explained. Their villainy, and their cooperation, is sketchily drawn at best. “We hate everyone in Salem.” Yes, and? It reminds of Andre/Tony’s reasoning for creating Melaswen. “He’s an enemy of love.”

Okay, it’s not that bad. But a little something more than what we’ve gotten would be nice.

I haven’t talked about Chloe/Deimos/Nicole/Phillip because I find Deimos and Nicole to be a complete headscratcher of a pairing. As a writer, why would you ship off Nicole’s two love interests (my Ericole love is well known, but even Danicole had fans) and pair her with a random new character? Let alone one who kidnapped and tortured Bo. I have nothing against Vincent Irizzarry — I like him, even still! — but Deimos is a train wreck of a character. He’s bad! He’s good! Everyone in town is in love with him! He’s the new patriarch of Salem! He gets more airtime than anyone else! Any one of those things would be enough to earn him with enmity of viewers, and he’s all of them. It pains me not to enjoy watching Nicole, who I have always loved. But between her constant references to Daniel THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE YES WE GET IT and this pairing, I’m hard pressed not to fast forward her scenes.

(But let’s hope Greg’s return changes this! Wheeee!)

But I have to say I kind of like Phillip and Chloe.

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I like the actor who plays Phillip — I know not everyone does — and I am enjoying seeing him get a little bit more airtime (and interacting with someone besides Belle). He was funny joking about Salem being the paternity test switching capital of the world, and the one liner about getting Caroline to do it was hilarious — since she was the one who switched Parker’s test results. More paternity test shenanigans has me rolling my eyes, but I will grudgingly admit it’s a bit of a twist to have the couple involved being the one wanting to switch the results … or however this plays out.

Screenshots Forever_SAFE and LizK❤ SnK

 

 

 

Goodbye my friend

I will be posting about this week’s Days, but for now I wanted to commemorate the fact that I just finished watching my Shayla DVDs. I have been binge watching over the last few weeks and just finished the last scenes this morning. I posted about Steve’s death back in August of 2011 (here , here,  and here), so it’s taken me five years to watch a year and seven months worth of shows. But I’m so glad I did. It’s really fascinating to see Kayla’s character explored apart from Steve, and to see Mary Beth do some different material.

I’ll be doing some more posts on this late 91/early 92 time period. 1990-1992 was a time of upheaval for the show in general. A lot of cast comings and goings, and churning through different writers. But it’s not until 1992 that it really starts to do some damage — it feels a little more like the show today, choppy and inconsistent. But, for all that, one thing they still knew how to do was give a proper exit:

Kayla leaves Salem

I have heard that Mary Beth had to fight for the “Goodbye My Friend” montage, and I’m so glad she did. I teared up at the first scenes and cried through the whole thing.

But even aside from that, we got to see a real departure, unlike today, where someone will have one scene where they say got an offer to go to Timbuktu. Or they just disappear and someone else casually mentions it later. We get to see Kayla get a job offer from LA, and then decide to take it when she loses her job at University hospital and starts to have problems with Shane. We see her family helping her pack. She has a going away party. She visits Steve’s grave.

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Doing the “courage” sign. Sob!

Speaking of those problems with Shane … Patsy Pease had departed the show abruptly just a few months before due to personal issues. So they ended the triangle somewhat suddenly, when Patsy Pease left, and suddenly Kayla and Shane were happy and blissful. Then they had to break them up pretty quickly after that, when they decided not to renew Mary Beth’s contract. Shane had recently paralyzed in an explosion (and that, I think, wasn’t part of Kayla’s exit story, it was happening anyway). So the show went with “Shane is impotent and can’t deal with it, so he pushes Kayla away.” Poor Shane!😀

The Emeralds (2)

Can the leopard change his spots?

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If this storyline were a magic 8-ball, it would say “Reply hazy, try again.”

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On the plane on the way home from Stockholm, emboldened by their conversations in Stockholm, Kayla gives a sweet, sincere speech: “I’m not saying I could change you or you could change me, but we can change ourselves.” It all sounds so easy. And isn’t it? Steve left the emeralds behind, didn’t he? He silently takes her hand — the closest he can come to agreement.

Then it all unravels. Boom, boom, boom.  The pieces fall so perfectly, one after another, for maximum pain and humiliation. Steve falls asleep, Kayla puts on his jacket. Steve sees the customs officials, then turns to see Kayla wearing his jacket. He tries to trade coats. It’s too late. He is detained, questioned, strip searched, down to the removal of his patch. Then Kayla is grabbed and strip searched too. Steve is helpless to prevent any of it, to protect Kayla or keep her out of it.

The icing on the cake: Chris witnesses it all. Because Kayla believed in Steve, she believed in his innocence, she helpfully called Chris, her lawyer friend, to help him out …. and then she finds the emeralds. The undercurrents in the scene with Chris — Kayla shooting daggers with her eyes at Steve, hugging Chris as Steve looks on, them both sourly agreeing to go to Marlena’s party, and the capper … Kayla saying so disdainfully “Oh, I almost forgot … your jacket.” Ouch.

The agonizing dance continues over the next few days. (Honestly, how could I stand to watch this when it first aired?)

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Warner shows up making threats, believing he’s been double crossed. Steve has to repeatedly go to Kayla and ask her for the emeralds. But Kayla is so angry that she won’t even admit that she has them. It all ends with Steve being stabbed by Warner and Steve desperately concealing his injury from Kayla, feeding every negative opinion she has about him to get rid of her as quickly as possible.

Then, finally, the turning point:

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Kayla comes back. She sees the blood on the snow and follows him, and finds him bleeding on his steps. One of my favorite exchanges:

K: I’m going to help you whether you like it or not.

S: I don’t like it.

K: Tough.

It kind of breaks my heart, the way Kayla helps him and enters into his problems, before she ever finds out he didn’t really intend to smuggle the emeralds. The part that always gets me is when she says, “Look, we’re both angry …” she’s obviously trying to calm things down and work through it together. But Steve is too upset to listen.

He lets her have it with both barrels. When he taps his chest and says he’s already dead — we haven’t seen Steve like this for a long time. But it makes sense. This is all an overreaction, an overcorrection. He tried to do something right, and it blew up in his face. This, to him, puts the lie to what Kayla said on the plane, that you can choose who you want to be. He believed her, he bought into her vision of him, and now he’s doubly angry at her: for grabbing the jacket, sure, but mostly for raising his hopes and telling him “everything could be different.” The ultimate con.

He yells at her to get out, and she goes.

One thing he told her is people like her have choices. Unlike him, she can decide how she wants to live. But … maybe Kayla doesn’t have as many choices as he thinks. She comes back, and it’s really a key moment in their relationship. Remember how sure she was in Stockholm, how confident (“I found out I was right”) and compare that to what she says here: “It doesn’t matter what I want… I can’t stay from you.” This is the first time that Kayla’s need for Steve really breaks to the surface. It supersedes everything else — her anger and disappointment, his anger and certainty they don’t belong together, all the crap he just threw at her.

And that breaks through. He understands, because that’s what he feels. Needing her, desiring her, against all logic and reason. And he can’t help but respond to that.

What a kiss! (And, finally!)

Another favorite moment: when she asks what they’re going to do now, and he thinks she means about the emeralds, but it turns out she’s saying she wants to sleep with him. Mr. Sleazeball’s shocked reaction is priceless. Ha!

But what have they gained, really? He’s taken that step forward, but without any belief that anything good will come from it: “There’s no hope for us, you know that.”

She’ll recover her belief in him, that certainty that he’s a good man, and they are, after all, right for each other. But it’s telling that what she says tonight is “I don’t care.”

Jammies

I have to say I think my favorite part of Steve and Kayla’s Friday scenes was when Steve talked about getting her “jammies.” I know I’m not the only one who thought of this scene:

“The jammies with the little feetsies.” “I hate those pajamas!” Hee!

I really liked that the scenes didn’t immediately resolve their issues. That is what I was most afraid of. Instead it showed a clear step forward without pretending everything was fine. I really liked the line “I have scars that need to heal” … though ideally there would be just a little more specificity regarding what those scars actually are.

In that vein, I did like the moment when Steve decided to take matters into his own hands regarding protecting Kayla from Orpheus, and John was able to stop him and talk him out of it. That was all nicely specific. Kayla overhearing that high-handedness and then listening to his change of mind, led nicely into her asking him to come home with her.  But again it was nice that it was clear this is for reasons of safety, not a sign that all is forgotten and forgiven. Mary Beth’s vulnerable, yet hopeful, look as she asked him to come home with her was heartbreaking.

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And is there anything better than panicked, worried Steve, fussing over Kayla?

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Best line of the day, when Kayla told him to stop worrying: “You might as well tell me to stop breathing.”

When Steve pulled out his gun at the end, did anyone else think it was his harmonica at first? I was so excited! All in all, it was a good episode. It really felt like this was something that was happening to the whole town, and everyone was battening down the hatches. The end of the episode montage, with everyone locking their doors, was really effective. I LOVE end of the episode montages.

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Looking forward to next week!

 

 

 

Glue

The very first scene on my Steve and Kayla DVDs, from June 1986, is a scene at Shenanigans with Abe and Chris. Abe says (paraphrasing), “Are you telling me John Black is Roman? And Kim had her baby? And Bo is Victor’s son?” (Chris’s response: “It’s been quite a week.”) It’s a heavily expository scene, obviously there to catch up any viewers who missed out on May sweeps. And he plays it perfectly, reacting with shock and concern for his friends, and tearing up at the idea Roman is alive after all.

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These scenes are so important to make us feel like these are real people in a real town, reacting to the news and events of each other’s lives. Often characters who seldom get stories of their own can be the glue that ties the stories of other people together, serve as audience surrogates, offer wisdom and advice. Tom and Alice could fill that role when they were alive, and Doug and Julie now. But Abe is perfect in this case. He knows everyone in town from his long history there, and his job as a police officer makes him a natural fit in this role. It’s nice to slow down a bit after the excitement of the last few days, and just breathe a little and show people’s reactions. The big events are exciting, but in order to feel real, we need to see everyone reacting. And if criminals hellbent on revenge are involved, people should be worried and jumpy.

The problem of characters being limited to their bubbles, hardly even aware of what is happening to other people (let alone interacting with them), seems to be something that every new headwriter initially fixes, and then falls lazily back into. I imagine intersecting stories are more difficult to write — though that’s no excuse of course. So I’m not counting on this intersection of stories to last forever, but I intend to enjoy it while it does.

I’ve enjoyed the interrupted Thrady wedding and the criminal breakout for the most part.

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I loooooove seeing Orpheus again. It’s pointless to wish for anything as good as his first run — Stockholm remains a gold standard that will never be matched, in my opinion (unfortunately). But even to hear Marlena reference being kidnapped in Stockholm made shivers run up my spine. And I could listen to George DelHoyo’s voice all day. Such gravitas. And this was a nice example of an Event — something that brings different characters togteher. The wedding and the Orpheus interruption led to Paul’s heroic rush, Sonny worrying about him and talking to Phillip about it, Phillip and Victor’s tender moment, and Eve and Nicole’s somewhat bizarre, but enjoyable, bonding session. Different characters interacting immediately raises my interest level.

Side note: I have only faint hopes that this will be explained or addressed, but let’s talk about the Roman/John issue for a minute. Back in 1986, Orpheus wanted to get revenge on Roman (played by Drake, so John-as-Roman) for killing his wife, Rebecca (accidentally) when Orpheus and Roman were ISA partners in 1979. Last week, Orpheus reiterated that  he wants revenge on Roman first, for his wife — but then other people are on his list for what happened later. Makes sense so far. But then he told John this week he wanted to kill everyone John loves because John killed everyone he loved. So that sounds like John killed Rebecca.

Adding to the confusion, back in 1986, didn’t we see flashbacks of John-as-Roman hiding the bonds and shooting Orpheus’s wife? Which didn’t even make sense at the time because it was supposed to be happening in 1979? If the show was smart they could fold in the John-isn’t-Roman story into this. Like: Orpheus was in league with Stefano and knew all along that John was brainwashed to think he was Roman, and it was really John that Orpheus was partners with the whole time. That would explain those flashbacks. Orpheus called him Roman in ’86 because he was involved in the long con on John and Marlena. This of course could explain how Marlena ended up with Stefano after being initially kidnapped by Orpheus. A long term Orpheus/Dimera connection could potentially bring Andre and Chad into the story today — if Orpheus was in jail because Stefano set it up for Orpheus to take the fall, the Dimeras could be on his list of targets too.

Okay, moving on. I thought it was smart that the three villains split up and are wreaking havoc separately. Xander’s confrontation with Theresa was good, mostly because of Paul Telfer — I liked using the irony of Xander being sent away for the one thing he hadn’t done, so he was able to kind-of-legitimately claim the moral high ground. I’ll be glad if it gives Nicole something different to do; maybe she’ll even have time to think about how Eric saved her from Xander. It’s all making me miss Greg Vaughan something fierce (fiercer than usual).  And as far as the cliffhanger with Clyde and Kate today — all I can say is, Clyde, don’t play me like that. Less talking, more shooting.

Screenshots Joanie

The Emeralds (1)

Last year I started a rewatch of Steve and Kayla’s first run, and then I let it slip through the cracks. I think now is a perfect time to pick up that thread again. I left them in Stockholm with the omelet dinner and what happened afterwards. My last post was on this adorable scene.

That brings us to one of the best mini-storylines Steve and Kayla ever had, the emeralds storyline. This is similar in structure to the arc of the failed date. The show teases us by inching forward, then slaps us down very painfully, then bounces us back up again to dizzying heights. Ah, I didn’t appreciate the drama of a well done storyline back then. I was too busy being played like a violin as the show jerked my emotions around. (And I mean that in the best way possible.)

This story marks the last time Steve does — well, almost does — something criminal. There will be times that he’ll be suspected of doing something bad (like shooting Harper Deveraux), but this is really the last gasp of “thug” Steve.

One thing that jumped out at me this time is how delicate and complex their dynamic is. We all remember Determined Kayla, but even here, when she was at the height of her confidence, she wasn’t always in pursuit mode. She often took steps back, in large and small ways. And Steve wasn’t always running away — he reached out, he hung around, he kissed her. It’s a delicate dance that shifted the power back and forth and kept things from being too one-sided.

The show was very careful to make it clear that the big step forward in this storyline — that kiss — doesn’t erase their problems. (And oh, to have such clarity about what their issues actually are!) In fact, as we’ll see, their kiss seems to happen almost in spite of themselves, and raises the stakes of their issues without resolving them.

Let’s get started:

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(To view the clips, you have to be part of my Google+ circle! If you haven’t already, go here and leave a comment and I’ll add you!)

This is the “inching forward” part — ah, they really knew how to tantalize us back then. Steve’s monologue at the outset is hilarious. I love that he teases her about her “Sound of Music” wardrobe.  One thing I love about Steve and Kayla is how much they obviously enjoy each other. Sometimes with these “opposite attract” couples it’s not clear that these people would really have anything to say to each other after they get together. That’s not true for these two. There is a sheer enjoyment of each other’s company that goes way beyond chemistry.

Back to the scene. When Steve realizes he’s talking to an empty room, he panics. Kayla shows back up right away, but panic and danger are always a good excuse for a desperate hug: “if anything happened to you …”  (Thanks, Orpheus! Maybe you can work your magic again now!)

When Kayla tells Steve he looks nice, his reaction, his obvious surprise and pleasure, his attempt to deflect — “it’s just a shirt and a pair of pants” — is really kind of heartbreaking. Then — one of the small steps back I was talking about above — she gets shy about her new dress and tells him to “forget it.” In reaction, Steve reaches out — he grabs her as she turns away and says “go put the dress on.”

While Kayla is changing, Steve actually primps a little, and goes the mirror for a Steve-in-the-mirror scene: “you’re good looking, yes you are,” he says. “Keep telling yourself that,” he half-sneers, hitting the mirror, but he laughs and fails to reach his usual levels of self-loathing. He’s too happy for that right now.

She comes out, and there’s so much unresolved sexual tension when he zips up her dress – and the looooong look while he touches her face. As we all scream at the TV “Just kiss her, you fool!”

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It doesn’t happen … but things are going so well, surely it will be soon, very soon …

At dinner, Steve warms up a little and actually manages to give Kayla a compliment. “You look so pretty.” He also accepts one, when Kayla tells him he has “a lot of nice qualities.” Steve aims for a sleazy comeback but trails off. “What, no punchline?” Kayla says, smiling, watching him intently. Barriers are falling all over the place. Then the crucial exchange:

K: Underneath that tough exterior, there’s part of you I always knew was there. Someone who is good, caring, loyal …

S: If you see it, baby … you’re the only one who’s ever believed it.

This is key — he doesn’t believe it. But he’s starting to bask in that belief of hers. Kayla sees that, sees him softening. Maybe it’s enough that she believes? I think they are both toying with the idea that it is. Kayla’s confidence is at an all time high here. Remember she’s only recently decided to openly pursue him. And really, it’s been going rather well. We viewers have been lulled into a false sense of security too.

And that’s when Steve’s old friend comes in with his emeralds.

So their night is busted up. Steve yells at Kayla. She runs away. And he takes the emeralds.

Okay, not good. Now we’re nervous. But, it’s not immediately clear that this is going to be fatal:

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Back at the hotel, they fight it out. We’ve gotten spoiled in Stockholm – even their fights have mostly been productive. Kayla’s mad, but she ends up pressing him again, that (over?)confidence again on full display: “I can make it happen, Steve.” All he has to do is “let it happen.” Steve wavers — saying hoarsely, “How?” — but remembers the emeralds and backs off and pushes her away again. All right, but … he’s done that before. And the next morning he’s happy, teasing and flirtatious, and he orders breakfast for them both — making up for their ruined dinner the night before. Reaching out again! And he’s still got time to change his mind, right?

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Their game of “Ask Me Anything” after breakfast is wonderful. Does it get better than this? More playful sparring, more sexual tension. But under the guise of the game, they both ask what they’ve been dying to know. For Steve, “What do you see in me?” (And oh, his tremor, his look of vulnerability, as he brings out the question!)

For Kayla: “Are things going to be different when we get back to Salem?” Is he going to back away again, as he has so many times before? Is this step forward finally going to stick? Steve hesitates, but then answers. “Oh yeah.” How can he make that promise, look into those eyes, and still smuggle the emeralds?

Answer: he can’t. He leaves the emeralds behind, in his jacket. And we breathe a sigh of relief …

… but then Kayla, helpful Kayla, grabs the jacket on her way out.

And we’re off.

 

No drama

Today’s episode was really frustrating from a storytelling perspective, but I really enjoyed it — some of it anyway — when I was watching it.

Tate’s kidnapping was the only thing on the show in the last few months that was marginally watchable — it involved a lot of players, it developed over time, there were a few twists and turns along the way. So this week Victor and Deimos figure out it was Kate for some bullshit reason, they confront her, she says “whatevs” and that’s it.

So much for that.

The other blink-and-you-miss it storyline wrap-up was Kayla’s hematoma. She collapses, has surgery over the commercial break, and wakes up with no complications. Her family didn’t have time to even hear about it, let alone visit her or express some worry. Steve and Joey got to worry for about two seconds and then it was all over.

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Matching bandages

However, I was intrigued by Kayla’s dialogue, when she said that she hated nagging Steve and Joey, but she feels so powerless she doesn’t know what else to do. And then when she woke up in the hospital and said “Are you sure that’s what you want?” when Steve said she’d be back to her old self. Part of me thinks “Arrgh they are going to make Kayla be the one in the wrong!” but another part is intrigued that they are showing her point of view — her uncertainty and insecurity. It’s too soon to see where they are going with it, but just for today, I liked it. No reason Kayla can’t be the insecure one for once.

And there was an Orpheus, Steve and Kayla flashback! What a treat. I’m so glad Orpheus is targeting them too — hopefully it will put them in the middle of this story. Clyde and Orpheus’s banter was a lot of fun, and I think Xander will be an interesting addition to the mix.

It was also great to see Eve again, but no way should they have had Theresa’s bachelorette party without Anne.

And, finally, you know I’m glad to hear about Eric, but I was honestly baffled by those scenes today. Why introduce the idea the Nicole can’t forgive Eric, unless they are bringing him back? If they were kicking off an Ericole story, I actually love the idea of Nicole not being able to forgive (even if the reason is, cough, Daniel), since what broke them up was Eric not being able to forgive her. But since Eric isn’t coming back (that I know of …), it almost felt like a gratuitous slap. “Okay, I know I’ve got a lot on my plate this first week, wrapping up old stories and kicking off new ones, but what I really want to do is stick it to Ericole fans, one last time.” “Okay, Dena.”