For those that don’t mind getting a little spoiled for next week:
“Hello, Sweetness. It’s been awhile, huh?”
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?