Someone has been watching their Steve and Kayla DVDs, eh, Hogan?
On Thursday (3/29) this week, we got to hear Steve sing “Fats and Skinny,” a song he once sang for Max when he was in the hospital. We also got to hear Steve stick up for the underdog—which was always his tendency—a fellow mental patient, against the mean and nasty orderly. Steve likened the orderly to his father, the wife abuser. Steve’s father also got a mention during one of Kayla’s EJ confrontations, when she challenged EJ not to grow up to be like his father, just as Steve had grown up not to be like his.
Even Steve’s wonderful nickname for EJ, “Squire Crumpets,” has an analogue in the past: once Steve referred to Gillian Forrester, Shane’s British ISA partner, as “Miss Crumpets.”
When Dr. Kraft mentioned “Stockholm syndrome,” Steve said, “I’ve spent some time there.” Indeed you have, Steve.
Also this week, Kayla and Max talked about how Steve and Kayla were the ones who found Max and Frankie living on the streets and got Kayla’s folks to adopt them. Max told Kayla that she was soft on the outside, tough on the inside, which sums up Kayla perfectly. He seemed to be Hogan’s mouthpiece here, telling viewers, “Listen, I get Kayla now! I’m so sorry about before!”
Moving on to other characters, Belle recently mentioned the purity rings, which she seems to think she’s still wearing, and Mimi, Willow, and Jan—the latter of whom she seems to think was a romantic rival, instead of a criminal who held Shawn hostage and pumped him full of drugs. These references were, however, germane to the discussion they were having, and I appreciated it.
When EJ attacked Sami in her apartment last fall, she not only mentioned her rape by Alan, but she pointed out that he, too, had said she led him on. In January, after John was shot, Sami mentioned that John was the only father she knew for all of her childhood, and she’s ready to make peace with him at last. Last fall during the whole Billie/Steve storyline, Hope mentioned to Billie how Billie befriended her when she was living in Salem as Gina, and that was part of why Hope was trying to be friendly now.
I love this stuff, I really do. The rich history is one of the best things about a long-running soap. Researching it and using it, not just in throwaway lines, but to enrich the relationships on the canvas, is a beautiful, welcome change.
The sad thing is that so much of the more recent history of the show is in the please-let’s-pretend-it-never-happened category. Melaswen? Pit!Sex with Billie and Bo? The Gemini Twins? The embryo switch? No, thanks.
The other problem is with characters who have suffered for years under JER/Langan/Corday. For Hope, which history should Hogan be true to? Shrill, judgmental Hope, the most recent incarnation? The action-heroine she was in the 80’s? Or perhaps the spoiled princess she started out as? Then there’s that Gina storyline. How much should Hogan try to use or explain, and how much should be forgotten or elided? Kayla had only a few months of poor characterization to recover from—and that with very little airtime. Hope has years of out-there plot craziness to use, or not, and years of character assassination to recover from. Should we just forget about most of it? That seems to be what Hogan has done with Bo—he got his balls and his IQ back and seems to be doing very well. I feel confident that Hogan “gets” Kayla, Steve, and Bo. I’m not sure about Hope.
Of course there’s using history, which is wonderful, and there’s recycling history, which is something else again. Sami’s storyline, for one, the always-evil Dimeras, for another. One TWoP poster complained that Steve’s storyline was just Pawn 2.0 wedded to Patch 2.0 and was nothing she hadn’t seen before. And she might have a point. My feeling, though, is that we’ve taken a huge step in the right direction. Hogan seems to actually care enough about his characters to aquaint himself with their history, and to use it as a springboard for future storylines. JER, on the other hand, gave Sami her seven aborted weddings to begin with (okay, he had some help from other writers on that one), made his characters say the same lines day after day after day, and perfected the art of the flashback-to-earlier-in-the-episode. He is the object lesson of that old dictum: those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And repeat it. And repeat it.