Steve & Kayla, Steve Stalks Kayla (1)

Note: this is the first in a series. As I write them I’ll link them together so the story can be read from start to finish.

Bad boy. Good girl. It’s an old cliche, a soap cliche, even a Days cliche. But a soap at its best breathes new life into the old standards, the old archetypes, the recycled plots. And that’s what Days did with Steve and Kayla. They proved that if you do it with conviction, you can make a cliche new again.

This couple was planned. This wasn’t an accidental oops they have chemistry pairing. It’s fascinating to me, knowing this, that they chose to pile so many obstacles in their path before they even meet. In addition to the challenges posed by differences in class, moral code, family, and background, plus the grudge he holds against her brother for putting out his eye, they chose to start this couple off by having Steve scare her out of Cleveland (where she is living) by breaking into her apartment, making threatening phone calls, and generally pretending to be an obsessed stalker. It’s ballsy, to say the least.

It’s suggested that Steve takes the job (it’s all part of Emma Marshall’s evil plan to kidnap Andrew) of scaring Kayla because he hates Bo, her brother. I had never seen the stalking clips until this past summer, and Steve is terrifying. It’s creepy that he calls her “Sweetness” in his first threatening phone call, and when he breaks into her apartment and trashes it, he leaves behind a yellow rose. Steve and Kayla’s special flower! It killed me!

He succeeds in scaring her out of Cleveland, and when she arrives in Salem he immediately starts following her, working for Victor this time (Victor is keeping tabs on Bo). It’s amusing to me that Victor chooses perhaps the most conspicuous man in Salem for a shadowing job. But Steve doesn’t try very hard to stay hidden, and entertains himself by crowding into her personal space and making leering comments. He’s clearly fascinated by her.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but the sexual attraction between them is the leaping off point for their story together. Steve tells Kayla later, “I wanted you from the first moment I saw you,” meaning from inside that closet in Cleveland. It’s why he asks to extend his shadowing job when Victor fires him, because he wants an excuse to stay in her orbit. Less obvious but equally important is Kayla’s sexual attraction to Steve. She must have thought herself crazy (we viewers, naturally, understood) to be attracted to someone so sleazy and so obviously dangerous. There’s a scene where she’s leaving Shenanigans and Steve steps into her path and gives her a hard time. When he brushes past her to go in, her whole body stills, and then she slowly turns to look after him. When he catches her eye, she quickly runs out. She’s afraid of him, but against all reason she’s attracted to him too. It obviously confuses her, but it’s part of what makes her want to look deeper. It’s not just sympathy.

The first hint that Kayla gets that there might be more to Steve than meets the eye is the warehouse accident where he saves Bo’s life. Traits that later become crucial to Steve’s character are first shown here: that he unthinkingly puts himself in danger to save Bo, that he deflects all praise and credit for it, that he doesn’t call attention to his own injury until he collapses, and that when he’s injured his defenses are lowered. He maintains his sleazy-guy persona even as he’s being treated for his concussion, but there’s a small moment as he’s leaving, when he turns to say, “Bye, Kayla,” that the mask slips for a second. It’s the first time he calls her by her name.

After Victor becomes convinced that Steve is jerking him around and not giving him any useful information, he orders him beaten up. Kayla finds him on the pier, takes him to his place, and treats his injuries. She has to remove his patch to do so. And she stays the night with him when it’s apparent that he has no one else.

As all Steve and Kayla fans know, the patch removal scene is indeed crucial. It symbolizes that Kayla will get past his defenses, that she will gaze with acceptance at his pain and the (moral) ugliness it engenders and “not even flinch,” as Steve says. And not only to look, but to try to heal. To Kayla it shows the vulnerability lurking beneath the tough exterior. When he pleads with her not to take the patch off, it’s heartbreaking. This scene deserves to be seen from start to finish, and it always bothers me when it’s chopped up and inserted in clip montages.

After the patch removal scene, I think the writers decided they had a winner on their hands. But they still took care to go slowly, by involving both Steve and Kayla as secondary players in a larger storyline, Andrew’s kidnapping. I won’t go into all the details here, but Steve realizes what Emma is up to and tries to help. He goes to a great deal of trouble to try to track down the baby himself, but all he succeeds in doing is implicating himself without helping Kim or Shane very much. He refuses to tell all he knows, and he doesn’t point the finger at Emma. Kayla is disgusted with him because she’s sure he’s involved somehow. In retrospect, not being fourteen and blinded by love for Steve, Kayla’s right. But even attempting to help is a step forward for Steve, and his motive of not wanting to be party to a kidnapping is believable, given what we find out later about his childhood.

Go on to part 2: Frankie and Max


20 thoughts on “Steve & Kayla, Steve Stalks Kayla (1)

  1. I always love reading other people’s analyses of S and K. Rock on!

    I think another important early scene for Kayla is finding the photo of Britta that Steve drops on her floor in Cleveland. B/c it gives her a glimpse into him, that there is something he cares about, and you can see in the scene where she gives it back to him at Shenanigan’s that she enjoys having some power over him for once. I think, also, that photo humanizes him for her. The scene with the photo exchange and where he tells her working on the riverfront is going to be dangerous is one of my absolute favorites as you see them each trying to deal with how they are affected by the other person, and each one is trying to take control of the situation.

  2. julianscat, I’m going to have to rewatch that scene. When I saw it (on this re-viewing) I was distracted because I thought it was revealing that Kayla knew who was stalking her all along! I was saying, “But, wait—I thought—New Year’s Eve—” and wasn’t concentrating on the scene. But I’m not one to let continuity get in the way of enjoying good drama, so I’ll take another peek at it. I love watching Kayla turn the tables on Steve.

  3. Outstanding blog. I also enjoy your comments at TWoP and at the boards at Soap Central. You’ve captured the essence of the S&K beginning beautifully.

    When I watch the early S&K stuff, I am always struck by just how sleazy (for lack of a better word) Steve really was to Kayla. But, I’m also struck by how she refused to be intimidated and, more importantly, refused to let that be the only part of him she saw (if that makes any sense).

  4. esp13, thanks. And it does make sense. I remember once they had a nice moment, and she could tell just from the expression on his face that he was about to ruin it by saying something sleazy, and she just reached up and put her finger on his lips. Lovely.

  5. Great stuff. I see no one’s replied in many years. I’ve always been enthralled by the S&K saga, and I’m an unlikely candidate. I’m a 48 year old male (yep, watched the mid 80s eps live in my 20s!), a filmmaker and into sci fi, and Spielberg and Carpenter. I never gave two cruds about any character or storyline besides S&K. Fast forwarded everything! Was otherwise not a soap watcher at all.
    One thing I find interesting is your suggestion that they are no accident. When I watched live and so many things happened to get in their way, I naively assumed that no, they aren’t meant to be together and never will be. Thinks like Chris Kosechek asking her to a baseball game and Steve getting kind of jealous of this “boyfiend”. Naive me thought that yes, she is meant to be with that guy, not Steve. Little did I realize I as a viewer, was being tricked in a way: Steve is the main character of this thing, not Chris. They are destined. By the time Stockholm finally rolled around, I started realizing this is all for a purpose. A super couple in the making. But for a while, even though I was rooting for them, I didn’t realize that the writers had plans for them. I didn’t realize there were going to be a couple.

    • Hello, hello! I wanted to finally respond to some of your comments. I think it’s so intriguing that you were drawn to this story as a guy in your 20s, without ever being soap viewer before.

      And I have to say looking back that I didn’t know either what the plan was, and didn’t realize that Chris and Britta were brought in only to serve this main story. I watched Days from when I was quite young and actually shipped Chris and Kayla #1 back in the day, ha!

  6. Cool, I wasn’t really aware that they actually had the old Kosichek/Kayla in any great detail. Was Josh Taylor playing Chris? That would be interesting to see. I’ve often wondered if Josh felt slided/jealous. He’d been on for years, and here comes this complete unknown Nichols, expecting to be on briefly and then die, and he comes and takes Kayla for one of the world’s greatest soap storylines/couples ever. Gotta wonder. Or maybe he was just fine making a nice soap salary, and of course had the success of the Valerie show. Wow I just looked him up…71 years old??? Amazing how time flies.

    Anyway, yeah like I said, I guess I’m not the typical soap watcher. What happened was, I had two friends in college who were hooked on DOOL. Totally hooked. They tried to get me to watch. I was under the impression that soaps are full of rich miserable people you can’t relate to in any way. Who cares about their dreary stupid lives? NO IDEA poor and middle class characters like Steve existed, and lived in some dingy studio apartment under a restaurant. So once I kept watching with those guys (who were into Bo and Hope mostly, as well as Liz Chandler), I started realizing how truly hilarious and talented SN was as an actor. He was everything I never expected a freakin soap opera to have. It wasn’t that long (5 years) since Escape From New York and my friend kept saying, look this guy has to be influenced by Snake Plissken. True or not, I believed it. But as soon as the angst started with S&K, I quickly became hooked and had to see where the next scene/day would take them. Not only that, I related strongly to the character. I felt the way he did, behaved like him in some ways. Had a chip on my shoulder from being “burned” like Steve. Even ended up with a relationship in real life with a conservative “good girl” while I had long hair and partied a lot. Had a bit of a storybook romance, married her in ’96 and still together. So I just thought he was the coolest character ever…and lets be honest. I had the hots for Kayla too. The way she looked in Stockholm during that truth or dare scene…to die for. She looked awesome.

    So as a fully heterosexual male, and a filmmaker my whole life, I so appreciated not only the great actors that they are (SN and MBE), but their chemistry and how important it is in storytelling. That, and the writing. Great writing from ’86 to ’90 (ish). BTW check out my short film Crazy Joe when you have 20 minutes to spare:

    • I love it! I was a big fan of Liz back in her heyday. I actually missed Bo and Hope. I grew up watching Days, but took a break for two years and came back in the summer of 1986. Kayla’s arrival in Salem was the first thing I saw. I missed the stalking scenes.

      And it’s true that Days used to be about rich, or at least upper middle class, people in the beginning. Lots of doctors and lawyers. It was really Roman Brady that started the focus on a more working class character, and then the whole Brady family coming along. Pete Jannings was probably the first lower-class character to become a major player, and then Steve!

      I do feel a bit sorry for Josh Taylor. The pairing with the first Kayla was really the only coupling that clicked for him in all the years on the show. And for me, anyway, even though he has now played Roman for the longest time of the three Romans, he is my least favorite.

      I will check out your film. 🙂

  7. Days of our lives was big at colleges and a few guys watched for the Steve factor! I even had an old boyfriend call me “Sweetness” and that gave him up as a Steve and Kayla Days watcher (but unlike Steve stayed a jerk, ha ha!)

  8. Mary, I finally had the time to read your full blog of S&K’s early days.. WOW! Thank you so much for all of your hard work with this. I didn’t see early S&K so never knew of S’s sleazy days. Which, I’m glad b/c I’m not sure I would’ve loved him as much back then… I started watching probably about the time Adrienne showed up from what I can remember (around 11 y/o??) I did see all of the S/K/J story line. High school approached and stopped watching as much, so that’s why I didn’t know S had “died”. Finally broke down and watched some of the death scenes. There was a reason I hadn’t watched those and I shouldn’t have. It took me almost 2 days to get over that. I also happened to catch a clip you’d made of MBE’s final scene of her first run. Those 2 things combined made for a really bad couple of nights. I read an article that S wanted to leave Days, but what about MBE? Did she leave the first time at her choosing? I’m assuming so only b/c after Days fired them both at the 2nd run, I couldn’t imagine her going back for a 3rd round. Just making assumptions. I got off track… Just wanted to let you know how great your synopsis is. I love how you’re able to put into words exactly what I’m thinking but am too inarticulate to communicate. You do it in such a great way…. one point you mention you wanted to “throttle Jo” I had the exact same thought just b/f I came to your words and almost spewed my drink everywhere laughing. Looking forward to more of your posts. THANK YOU for all of your hard work

    • Wow, thank you, thank you! I am so glad you enjoyed this recap/analysis. I did work really hard on it. 🙂

      She was let go at the end of her first run — her contract wasn’t renewed. I’ve heard her say she thought of Days as her home and she didn’t want to leave, she was committed to the character of Kayla, even without Steve. But after she was let go she enjoyed her time on GH and ATWT.

      I do think their second run ended on a bad note. Stephen was unhappy and made some critical comments about TPTB. I’m glad that they were able to come back, and at least last November they were very happy. I am curious how they will talk about the show now when I see them this fall!

      • Yes, I’m super curious too. From what I can tell, and as you’ve said before, SN & MBE seem to really care about these characters and want to see them through, but whether the powers that be at Days allow for that??? IDK and it scares me a bit. (on a side note, what is TPTB??? and let’s hope that, if SN isn’t too unhappy, he keeps his mouth shout this time 🙂 )
        So, I’ll miss S&K until the bacteria-infested olympics are over and I’ll miss your posts too… I’ve thought of trying to watch what happened after Steve remembers from the 2nd run, but not sure I can take it. From comments of others I’ve seen around the web, their story line wasn’t pleasant to endure. Also, I heard that just one day, they were no longer on, no goodbye story or anything. I can’t believe they were treated that way. But, most likely I’ll just watch some random clips from youtube like I’ve been doing.. 2 weeks is a long time.

        Hope you have a fantastic/safe trip.

      • How disappointing to know that MBE was let go at the end of her first run. After all she brought to the show I guess it doesn’t matter if you’re not part of a Supercouple.

        I watched one of her interviews from her blog recently where she mentioned she wasn’t very happy her first 3 yrs on GH. It sounded like it was more that it wasn’t Days which just felt like home to her. It sounded like she felt the same about her time on ATWT. IIRC , she mentions she missed NY the most and not exactly the show.

  9. Hi, apologies in advance for any mistakes – I just started with S&K, coming from J&J , without previous knowledge on either of the characters.

    1. I was surprised to learn that Steve and Kayla story was planned ( vs Jack and Jennifer’s which was not) since both stories gave quite the opposite feeling.

    Steve was an obnoxious, sleazy lowlife who wears a pinky ring, but doesn’t own any shirts. Yet he is street smart and quite charismatic.
    Kayla is a darling. she is optimistic, beautiful person inside and out.

    I was surprised that the writers intently wrote a love story that begins with a stalker who terrorize b his leading lady – and enjoy it, and keep harassing her even when she treats his injuries. Till he finally tick her off and she give him a (well deserved) big slap.
    But after all, it seems she is still very attracted to him.
    It bothers me that the writers were sending A VERY problematic message out there.
    I could only hope the writers today are now responsible…

    2. It felt strange to recognize current Roman as Kayla’s old flame.

    3. Regarding ME suffering in her first 3 years, Matthew Ashford, who joined GH in 95, also didn’t enjoyed it much, he stated “This was a terrible time for the show” noting the late John Bernadino and Rosalind Cash. I’m sure the atmosphere on set was not easy even before that.

    • Rereading my own comment, I also apologize for my spelling, sentences structure and all my other grammar related issues.
      Posting comments very late at night isn’t always a great idea, but it is the only time I got…

    • I agree it doesn’t send the best message and I don’t think a show would do it today. The stalking scenes are something else, given they knew where they were going, it’s an interesting — maybe reckless — choice. But they really do a good job making it all develop slooowly from this first point so that I think they really do earn it.

      I think your assessment of their early characters is spot on and I think you will be interested to see how it plays out.

      I always see current Roman as “Chris.” He’ll never be Roman to me, LOL.

      No worries on the typos. 🙂

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