There’s a delicate balancing act to how far you can go tormenting a particular character or couple–either with horrible life events like murder, rape, child kidnapping, etc, (those soap staples), or by having everyone on the show judge him or assume the worst. Some tormenting is great, in fact, it’s necessary to make us root for him or her or them, but if you go over the line it seems sadistic and makes viewers mad (not in a good way).
Sami, for example, looks to be getting it from both sides. She has lately had the life trauma event of being raped by EJ (coerced sex, an indecent proposal, whatever you want to call it, it wasn’t pretty. I’m just going to call it rape here, mostly for convenience). Sami is keeping quiet about it all, the rape, being forced to help EJ get away after he shot John, EJ helping her save Lucas’s life (in exchange for consenting to the sex). Given that Everyone Judges Sami, in some form, is probably going to be part of this storyline, this is my speculation/hope for What Happens When it All Comes Out.
To me the most important thing is that the chorus of responses not be one-note. That is, I want people to respond differently based on how well they know Sami, how well they know EJ, how close they are to the investigation, etc. etc. One thing that bugged me about the “Sami blackmailed Lexie into telling Carrie she will have deformed babies with Austin” reveal is that everyone reacted precisely the same way, like they’d all gotten together and agreed on it beforehand.
The truth will undoubtedly come out at a moment of maximum frustration for the police, when EJ gets off scot free from the charges against him (no doubt because of Lexie’s asinine maneuvering regarding witnessing the shooting). The rape may or may not come out at the same time.
I’m guessing Roman, Bo, and John are apt to be more understanding, given that they know how dangerous EJ is, but also more frustrated that Sami helped him. Kate will almost certainly be in the “Sami’s guilty of any and everything” camp, though it will be complicated by her own relationship with EJ. And I’m guessing that Marlena will be the same clueless hag she always is and be angry that Sami helped John’s shooter get away, gun or no gun, rape or no rape.
The big question is Lucas. No one is in a better position to know that Sami was not sleeping with EJ, that she was afraid of him, that he tried to attack her once before, and that she wanted him to go to jail. On the minus side are Lucas’s insecurities and jealousy of EJ, his trust issues from being cheated on by Carrie, and the weight of history, since Lucas has doubted Sami at every other crucial point in their relationship. All this will be acknowledged, but I’m hoping that Lucas will stand up for Sami at her lowest point, when all seems to go against her. This doesn’t mean that Lucas won’t have a hard time dealing with the fact thatSami and EJ did the deed, coerced or not, especially if a Who’s the Daddy situation is in effect. But I want him to do his damnedest to rise above it, because he knows Sami is worth it. This would do so much to redeem Lucas in the eyes of viewers.
Despite fan support and great chemistry (I’m a fan myself), the Lucas and Sami relationship is extraordinarily fragile. I’m all for a Lumi relationship depicting two flawed individuals trying to grow and making mistakes along the way, but so far all the growing has been on Sami’s side. Lucas’s repeated failure to stand by Sami in any meaningful way is a huge black mark against his character and on their couplehood. We need more than fun banter. I would like to digress here for a moment and draw a parallel between Sami now and Steve circa 1987, during the “summer on the run” storyline. Steve, like Sami, was a good person with a bad past trying to do the right thing. When Steve was set up to shoot Senator Deveraux, everyone assumed the worst. But—here’s the key—Kayla did not. That’s what made the summer on the run so beautiful. Against all logic, way out on a limb, Kayla not only believed in Steve but helped him. The writers still tortured us by painting the evidence against Steve blacker and blacker, like when he pretended to take Kayla hostage in order to ensure she wouldn’t be implicated in aiding a fugitive. But Kayla’s faith in Steve, and the way they worked together to clear him, was the balm that made the whole “everyone judges Steve—again” storyline palatable–more than palatable, wonderful.
So that leads me to my next proposal. How about if Lucas not only believes in Sami—and, again, let’s make it clear it’s difficult for him—but they work together to bring down EJ? I could even see them pretending to break up, so that Sami can go “undercover” to worm her way in to EJ’s trust (although how she would do that without having to sleep with him again might be tricky). I also want to see a scene where Lucas squares off with the Salem PD, and calls them on their utter failure to protect Sami from EJ as they promised.
The only wrinkle, from a writer’s perspective, is the pressure to give “EJami” a whirl because of their chemistry. This might have been possible last fall, to have Sami temporarily with EJ before reuniting with Lucas, but after the rape the die is now cast. You can’t have it both ways anymore. But all is not lost for the EJ/Sami chemistry. EJ is a delicious villian, and needs to stay on the canvas and be given a complex backstory, a tangled-up relationship to his father and brother, and feelings for Sami he doesn’t know what to do with. An EJ/Sami baby, or a plot by Sami to bring EJ down, or both, would give Ali Sweeney and James Scott plenty of wonderful scenes together. It would be EJami, the dark version.
Next time—after three entries devoted the the Sami/Lucas/EJ storyline, I promise I will acknowledge that other things are happening in Salem.