Now introducing the greatest storyline of all time

This is another reason I love the Frankie and Max storyline. It marks the very beginning of the Steve/Kayla/Jack triangle:

Joseph Adams (Jack #1) isn’t even a twinkle in the casting director’s eye yet, let alone Matt Ashford, and Billy-Jack is already an important player. We even catch of glimpse of the baby in one of the flashbacks (with, presumably, Harper and Camille!) — so, come to think of it, that baby is actually the first Jack.

Steve has been insisting that if they call Social Services, Frankie and Max will be separated. Kayla doesn’t see how he can be so sure, so he tells her: the same thing happened to him. What this scene does beautifully is show how much Steve trusts Kayla already, as he tells her about the little brother he lost. I love everything about this scene. I love how his pain is obviously still raw, and I imagine this is the first time he has ever opened up to anyone about this. I also love the moment when Kayla reaches out to him tentatively, and he lifts up his arm to ward her off.  He can’t accept sympathy in that moment, without falling completely apart.

But, as wonderful as this is, they don’t try to do too much with it. Kayla doesn’t change her mind about calling Social Services. They keep fighting and working at cross purposes. The best follow-up to this scene — in this storyline — is when Steve pleads with Kayla to help reunite the boys, even if it means breaking the law:

He grabs her and says “Look at me … is this what you want Frankie to turn into?” (And oh, Kayla’s eyes here, looking into his face so searchingly — incredible. This is the first of many times Steve would grab Kayla and demand that she look at him — but she never saw what he expected her to see.)

What he essentially says here is that his life all went wrong from that moment, when he lost his little brother. This is so important for what comes later, when Steve gives up Kayla for Jack. If we don’t believe that this was a pivotal moment, the pivotal moment, in Steve’s life, we don’t believe he would do that. It’s a hard sell, but I absolutely buy it — and it all starts here.

And, I just have to say, it’s nice that baby brother Billy can draw Steve and Kayla a little closer here, given that later he is going to rip them apart. The little baby Steve is talking about with such pain, and Kayla is listening to with such sympathy, is going to rape Kayla.

Frankie and Max

(I have a lot to say about this storyline, so I’m going to spread my discussion of it over several posts.)

It was during the Frankie and Max storyline that I started taping Days and saving it. I guess it’s when I first knew that Steve and Kayla’s story was going to be something I would watch again and again.  For Steve and Kayla, it is genius. It is a way to introduce Steve’s childhood and softer side, both to the viewers and to Kayla. And, it is an organic source of conflict for Steve and Kayla, as they fight over the best way to help the boys.

I actually usually dislike storylines involving children. This is for several reasons. One, it’s rare to find a good child actor on a soap, and the awkward acting takes me out of the story. Two, child-centered stories on soaps usually mean the child is hurt, sick, or kidnapped, and I don’t like to see that in my entertainment. (I get enough of it on the news.) Three, they can often be overly sentimental.

This story doesn’t escape any of these failings. Little Max is no actor (though I do think he has a lot of natural personality, not matched by any of the children who played him later — except maybe Darin Brooks, hee!). However, the show wisely mitigates that by having the child be mute. Brilliant. It’s also mitigated by having Billy Warlock in the role of the troubled teen Frankie. Bad teen actors on soaps are almost as common as bad child actors, and this story wouldn’t work nearly as well without Billy selling us on Frankie’s love for little Max, and his anger and defensiveness — and, deep down, gratitude and hope — at having his life meddled with by Steve and Kayla.

And yes, we’ve got a child in jeopardy – Max nearly drowns, he has burn scars on his arms, he is torn from Frankie’s arms by a social worker, and he runs away from his foster home and is missing for a few days. But none of these things lasts very long, and to me, anyway, don’t feel as sadistic as the events in some children-in-jeopardy storylines. As to being overly sentimental, I think the story avoids this for the most part. The only thing I could have done without is the flashbacks to Steve’s childhood. I’m sorry to say that Aaron Nichols is not the actor his father is (hee), and overall they seem just a little bit too much. I think Stephen conveys the pain of Steve’s childhood much more effectively through his performance, and there is nothing in the flashbacks that I think we can’t do without.

All right, let’s get to it. Remember the last thing that happened is that Kayla decided Steve was guilty of something in Andrew’s kidnapping. So we’re starting at a point of maximum distance:

My favorite moment of this clip is after Steve sends Frankie away — he is so obviously waiting to be thanked by Kayla for rescuing her. Her line, uncharacteristically judgmental for Kayla, is perfect: “He’s just a punk and you know it.” I think what she really means is “you’re just a punk,” and it’s what she’s been trying to convince herself. Steve’s semi-sleazy come-on after that, when he asks her for a kiss, is obviously in reaction, but we see Kayla’s (unwilling) attraction to him in the moment when she reaches up to push his hands away from her face. When her mother comes out, they both jump like teenagers who have been caught.

I love the scene with Steve and Caroline, too. When Steve hears that Kayla has told her mother of his guilt about Andrew, his hurt is unmistakable, and that hurt permeates all that follows. His line, “If there is anything in this world I wouldn’t do, it’s take a kid from its mother,” nicely introduces the facts of his own childhood, which we are to learn about shortly.

Then, when she says, “As a mother, I would do anything to protect my family,” he is so overwhelmed he cannot respond. It’s clear he’s thinking about his own mother, and how she failed to protect him. We won’t learn the details of that until next year (and I doubt the show had fully fleshed it out yet), but his obviously genuine emotion is enough to convince Caroline he is telling the truth. And though Kayla never refers to it directly, I think her mother’s belief factors into her willingness to give Steve another chance.

Jack marries Eve

I admit it, I kind of love Jack and Eve together. I love the way they snark at each other and trade insults.

Here’s the plot:  Nick stipulated in his will that Eve had to marry for “true love” (only on a soap, I swear) in order to collect her inheritance. Meanwhile Lawrence has been angling to take over the Spectator by purchasing Diana’s shares, and Jack needs a lot of cash fast. Eve proposes they team up:

So many great lines here. “Ms. Machiavelli,” “a match made in hell.” If Days ever did gray couples, Jack and Eve could have been fun.

And, while personally I hate the current triangle with JJ, Eve, and Paige – soap triangles with a mother and daughter creep me out — it does tickle my funny bone that Eve married Jack and then, twenty years later, sleeps with his son. I watched some of the Big Reveal this week, when Paige finally finds out the truth. (I haven’t seen too much of Kassie de Paiva but I like her. I hope they give her something better to do soon. Same goes for Casey Moss.)

Eve was also a good foil for Jennifer. When Jennifer got too glittery, Eve was there to rub some sparkles off. The morning after Eve and Jack get married, when Jennifer (not knowing this) runs over to see Jack, she gets an eyeful when she sees them in bed together. While I really do feel bad for Jennifer in this scene, I have to admit this is also satisfying somehow:

Eve is obviously having way too much fun pretending to be the happy bride, and rubbing Jen’s face in it. But it comes from a sympathetic place, because Eve has always felt like something the cat dragged in compared to the town princess – and in fact, the guy she actually likes, Frankie, is still mooning after Jennifer. What also cracks me up here is that Jennifer’s theory, that Eve staged this scene purely to get at Jennifer and make her think Eve and Jack slept together, happens on soaps all the time. And yet it is perfectly ludicrous, which Eve rightly points out. I think the writers were poking a little fun at themselves there.

 

Shayla first kiss

Let’s just plunge right into it, shall we? No more pussyfooting around.

We’ve got two kisses to the talk about here. The first one is Kayla and Marcus. I think the most telling moment is when Marcus talks about family, how tonight (Stephanie’s first birthday party) he felt like he was a part of her family. I think it shows that his longing to have a family of his own, and that his feelings for Kayla are a part of that. And I also think that’s why Kayla kisses him back, maybe she feels a little what Marcus feels, the temptation to stitch a whole family together right away.

This gives fuel to what Shane says next, when he accuses her of using Marcus. It’s a great setup to what comes next.

Now:  Shayla. First of all, I have to say that whatever you think of the storyline, this is well done soapy drama. The dramatic kiss, followed by the even more dramatic interruption.

But, it’s strange, isn’t it? It’s strange for Days in 1991, because it’s not supercouple soap. Shane’s intense emotion and breakthrough-scene type dialogue would fit a supercouple moment, but not with the other half of his original supercouple coming in the door. And if it’s a supercouple story the other way — with Kayla and Shane being the “wrong” couple and Kim being the sympathetic one — then the first half of the scene doesn’t fit.  This leaves us trying to figure out how we are supposed to feel about it.  Are we supposed to be happy or upset that Kim walks in the door?

And that’s just it, what makes this storyline different – it’s a triangle without a clear rootable couple. You don’t watch it as romance, but as family drama. We have three people, all good people trying to do the right thing. Not always succeeding, but genuinely trying to make good choices. And yet, as we’ll see, they manage to create a tangled mess.

Andrew’s kidnapping

Andrew’s kidnapping is one of my favorite mini storylines. I love the densely interwoven plot, which has a geometric precision to it that I particularly admire. I wrote about this once before in a post on Sheri Anderson.

Right now I just want to marvel at how hostile Kayla is toward Steve through most of it. I really enjoy that the show did this. Here’s a taste:

What a slap!

(I also included the deliciously evil Emma in that clip. Jane Windsor and Stephen Nichols are obviously having a lot of fun as two bad guys, polar opposites in every way, trying to outsmart each other.)

I love that Steve’s first attempt to do something actively good backfires and blows up in his face so badly. I also love that Kayla is not wrong, exactly, in blaming him so severely. He did write the note, he doesn’t tell all he knows, he doesn’t rat out Emma.

What she is wrong about is his motives. Steve really does want to help Kayla — and it is about her, nobody else — he just doesn’t have it in him to cooperate with other people at this point. He’s too much of a lone wolf.

I said that the upshot of the patch removal scenes is that Kayla starts to trust Steve, a little. Now this arc is about whether Kayla can trust Steve. She seems to decide that she can’t:

This scene is a simpler version of the confrontation they have when Kayla thinks Steve killed Britta. We see how important it is to Steve that she believe him, but ironically, the very intensity of that desire makes him more violent, more thuggish, more untrustworthy. I also think that Kayla’s own feelings of responsibility – her job with Dr. Dennison, fouling up the adoption transfer in the park, not noticing Andrew on the plane — make her blame Steve more than she otherwise would.

(And, I have to point out how Sheri Anderson was already weaving into the next story — actually, two stories from now — by having Britta witness this little scene. Great closing shot of the two women, Kayla in the foreground and Britta in the back.)

There are moments in the story that show Kayla isn’t able to completely dismiss him. First, the fact that she passes on his tip about Dr. Dennison, even though she thinks it is a sick joke. She tells Shane, after Steve is arrested, that she has doubts about his involvement. And in this scene, too, she says she was starting to believe he had some good in him – and though she puts it in past tense, it shows the seed was planted.

ETA: It’s interesting to watch this in light of the later reveal on New Year’s Eve, when Kayla finally finds out that it was Steve who scared her out of Cleveland, and that he was doing it working for Emma. There’s no doubt Steve believes in his own innocence here, but it’s also true that he did, in fact, help Emma kidnap Andrew — albeit unknowingly. It’s also interesting how shocked Kayla is on New Year’s Eve, given how certain she seems of his guilt in this scene.

 

 

Karcus

I’ve seen some Steve and Kayla fans say that they wish Kayla had gotten together with Marcus instead of Shane. Personally, I think the main appeal of this pairing would be the couple name:  Karcus!

It’s no surprise that Marcus falls in love with Kayla. We saw how much he idealized the love that Steve and Kayla shared, how he always compared his own relationships to theirs and found them lacking. It was easy to see how he could go from “I want what Steve had with Kayla,” to “I want Kayla.”

We also saw that, after Steve’s death, Kayla depended on Marcus, leaned on him, needed him — more so than Shane. As he fell for her, she seemed to deliberately close her eyes to his feelings. I think she needed him so much she didn’t want to face how he felt, because that would mean she would have to pull back. (Shane called her on this several times.)

Later, as she began to fall for Shane, she seemed to regret that she didn’t fall for Marcus instead. This scene is actually a little bit later in our timeline, but it’s the scene where Mary Beth plays that note of regret most strongly:

She is obviously thinking that here is this great guy, so considerate and such a good friend; why didn’t I fall in love with him?

As to why the show didn’t pair them together, I think that there wasn’t enough drama there. Yes, it would be an interracial relationship, but I don’t think that would be enough. They were already very close, too close for there to be a journey to come together.

I also think it would have been too much about Steve, too much Marcus taking Steve’s place. Kayla later has a very interesting conversation with Shane (which I will do a post on later), where she says she didn’t think she could ever be with anyone because she will always love Steve — that it wouldn’t be fair to that person, to make them second best. One of the things Marcus always said was how much he wanted a Great Love. Kayla knows she could never give him that.

Impressions

I had a week off from work, so I decided to watch some modern Days.

I guess last week was the big Event week with Kristen’s return and subsequent “death” — ha! — and Teresa’s baby, but I missed all that. This week was dull, dull, dull.

Will is going to write a story on Clyde. Then he isn’t. Then he is! Wow! I’m on the edge of my seat!

But, that story did allow for the highlight of the week. When Clyde came over to threaten Will about the article, check out this awesome reaction shot:

Screenshorwillariana

Get that girl a Daytime Emmy.

The story that worked for me the most was Justin, Adrienne, and Lucas. Wally Kurth is looking mighty good:

justin

I think the basic setup of the story is realistic and fairly organic. Justin was always a ladies’ man, so it makes sense that he would have an affair while being separated from Adrienne for an extended period. And it makes sense that Adrienne would finally retaliate.

Speaking of Lucas, I was mildly intrigued by the idea of him taking the Dimera job and going after Kate. It’s high time Lucas finally took some revenge against her for the way she’s always interfering in his life. Let’s hope he doesn’t forget about it next week like he usually does.

Nicole, in my opinion one of the best characters on the show, mostly because of Arianne Zucker, was stuck talking out loud to herself all week. I remember that from James E. Reilly’s Days. She also was wearing an extremely ugly dress:

Nicole tries to get to the bottom of Serena's secret - and sacrifices Daniel's feelings in the process.

Wish I had some more nice things to say. I think they’ve got a decent cast. I’ve always liked Nicole, Brady, Eric, and Sonny. Teresa, JJ, Xander, and Aiden seem promising. (But get rid of Serena. Ugh.)  Then you’ve got your stalwarts like Victor, Hope, Justin, and Adrienne, of course.  Put these actors together with some of the other returning characters, give them some decent stories …

… fingers crossed?