History Lesson

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.

38 thoughts on “History Lesson

  1. Ok, I have become to love the Max and Kayla scenes. Today’s were really the best. Many (ie J/M fans) have said that K&M traveling to see Stefano is a rip off of the J&M trip. Well, if we want to compare, I believe the J&M scene was played for seriousness (though made me laugh hilariously) while the K&M came off much better and had fun with the scenes.

    The history references are really great to read.

    I just wish the ratings would improve so we know that Hogan’s safe and the show can continue to improve which I really believe it will.

  2. Excellent analysis as always marypickford. I love that Hogan is using the shows history so well. I do think that Hogan gets Hope and has basically decided to ignore much of the JERk era and portray Hope as a grown up version of the person she was circa 1986 or so. Hope’s conversation with Billie about learning not to judge to quickly or too harshly I think was a way of saying, this is a new, improved Hope. At least I hope so.

  3. You know, ESP, I LOVED that Hope told Billie if she learned anything from last year was not to be so judgmental. I LOVED THAT!!! I nearly applauded. (I may actually had but only my dog will know for sure!)

  4. I’m hopeful about Hope (groan). We haven’t seen her enough to get a really good sense of what she’s going to be like now. One thing I thought was a missed opportunity was showing a big reunion scene with Bo and Hope. They had some great scenes when they were still semi-estranged, talking about Zack. I remember Hope saying she couldn’t let go of her anger, because as soon as she did, it would sever her last link to Zack. Great stuff. I liked how the reunion was slow at first—not rushed like Sami and Lucas and Steve and Kayla—but then there wasn’t a dramatic hash-it-out scene that I thought was called for.

    Bo needs to get back involved with the get-EJ storyline, stat, and Hope can get drawn in, too. It would be fun to see more Kayla and Hope.

  5. I like that the show has shown hints of dealing with the whole Bo/Chelsea dynamic which never made much sense under JER. Bo’s “instalove” of the suddenly-reappeared swamp fetus always struck me as strange. Biology doesn’t equal devotion, and he and Chelsea never really had enough time to get to know each other and bond before her selfish, reckless actions cost him his son and nearly cost him his marriage.

    So if they’re going to backtrack and have Bo realize that he was overcompensating and trying to force feelings that he didn’t really have just because he thought he should, I’m all for it.

    It’s not that I think he should hate Chelsea. I love Chelsea now and I want her to have her father’s love. But they both need to earn that relationship, with a lot of hard work and soul-searching and time spent together actually getting to know each other. I think that would be a meaty, satisfying emotional story for them that could be one layer of whatever big, plot-driven storyline the character are dealing with at any given time.

    I do agree that Bo and Hope are desperately needed in the EJ storyline, although I’m hoping that the Squire’s involvement in the fire at their house will eventually suck them into his sphere.

  6. Thanks for commenting, Paula! Very insightful. JER had a weird thing about biology trumping all. Remember all the talk about Shawn and his mystical bond with Claire?

    I agree about Bo and Chelsea. Though his turning on her was a bit out of left field, I love the idea of them building a relationship, really earning it. Another thing they could bring out on his side is that he associates her with his own perfidy after Zack’s death—not exactly his finest hour.

    And when he gave her chance after chance back then, she kept betraying him.

  7. ITA too that Bo and Chelsea need to have some sort of storyline where she gets to know her father and vice versa. I love that Chelsea’s Achilles heel is Bo and his love for her (as Willow so expertly hit when they went face to face) and I hope that we see some great moments between them. I think PR and RM have great chemistry too and it’s been awhile since we’ve seen any father/daughter bonding.

  8. I started watching again right around Zack’s death and had this huge WTF moment when Caroline named betrayal as one of the stages of grieving. Definitely not a great time for Bo.

    Was Dr. Kraft’s “Contrary to some opinions, you do have a heart” also a callback? There was the doctor scene in January, but I feel like there was an 80s clip with similar dialogue. Must go watch many clips now to find out.

  9. Kayla, early on, told him she seriously doubted he had a heart (sometime around the whole Cleveland/Dr. Dennison thing). And then later, during Stockholm, take one, he kind of threw that back at her, telling her he didn’t have a heart. Is that what you’re thinking of, lska?

  10. *Sensing discussion of EARLY clips*

    Yes, Kayla did tell Steve she doubted he had a heart, that was after he returned the scarf but before he got beat up by Victor’s goons. It’s a short scene but Kayla’s words really affected him that he became very physical before leaving there (hitting the door jam on the way out).

  11. I believe the Stockholm dialogue snippet went like this:

    Nurse Kayla with the stethoscope: Your heartbeat’s a bit fast.
    Steve: I got no heart, baby.

    But watch the clip, it’s a good one!

    I really like Dr. Kraft, and the way she said that line. It’d be awesome if it was a deliberate reference.

  12. Dr. Kraft is such a good character, and Vernee Watson is playing the heck out of the role. I want her to stay on the show long after Steve needs her. One of my current cdh scenarios (i.e., a scenario that the show will have to rip from my Cold, Dead Hands before I’ll give up on it) is that Dr. Kraft is secretly an ISA operative there to keep an eye on Steve, both to make sure he doesn’t harm Kayla or the Bradys and in hopes that he will be a major asset in whatever case they’re building against EJ and the Dimeras. That way, she could stay on the canvas after this particular part of the story, still snarking with Steve now and then as the storyline permits.

    I know, I know, highly unlikely. That’s why it’s a cdh.

  13. Yes, I thought there was a clip with a stethoscope. I knew someone here could sleuth it out! Deliberate or not, it shows they’re drawing on the same themes as in the early days, which is awesome.

  14. I hope Dr. Kraft does stay on, whether through your cdh (hee!) scenario, which is great, or just to give Marlena some competition in town. I’m sure the mentally ill of Salem would be grateful.

    It’s very nice to see an actress in a minor part with some real acting chops—it’s a pleasure to watch her with SN, and she helps to “ground” some of the loonier looney bin scenes.

    lska, I just watched all those clips for the S&K story analysis I’m doing. Really, that’s the only reason I can provide the OLAB clip number for that scene: Early Clips folder, #111. I’m normally not that obsessed … hee.

  15. I thought that when the day comes for John to wake up (hopefully soon), he can wake up and need some psycho therapy. Since the last time Marlena gave him some and he wound up assuming the role of her second husband, it would make more since to let Dr. Kraft be his therapist.

    And then if he committed to the mental institution, so much the better because then we can say John is stealing Steve’s storyline. *Sorry, but they ask for it*

  16. I also like that the show seems to be working with Bo and Chelsea’s relationship. One of the biggest problems I had with the “Georgia’s alive!” story and the reveal that Chelsea was Georgia (and I had many, many problems with that story), was that Chelsea almost immediately became Bo and Billie’s daughter in every sense – calling them mom and dad, being so emotionally dependent on them, Bo instantly loving her as much as Shawn and Zack, etc. There should have been so much conflict, but it didn’t happen because like mp said, biology trumps all.

    Paula, I love your idea to have Dr. Kraft be an ISA agent. VW is a fantastic actress and I want her to stay on for a good long time. And I’ve been wishing for a big umbrella ISA story for so long…I’m still slightly bitter that tptb didn’t go that route to explain Steve’s missing years and instead chose to make it all a Dimera plot.

    And then if he committed to the mental institution, so much the better because then we can say John is stealing Steve’s storyline.

    *Snerk* What I would love is for John to wake up and remember everything from his past up to the time he first became Stefano’s pawn. He’d want to know where are his wife and kids, and he’d have no memory of Marlena or anyone else in Salem. Now, that probably wouldn’t be a good story, but it would amuse me greatly.

  17. ITA lascuba. While it would not be good for the show necessarily, I admit to having evil visions of John waking up with no memory of Marlena and their “twu wuv.” In fact, I’d love it if the first person he asked for was Diana.

    Kayla could then take the opportunity to comfort Marlena while reminding her that although it was unlikely that he’d ever get his memory back, miracles could happen if J&M’s love was as strong as S&K’s.

    Okay, all of the above was just bad, bad on my part. Maybe I need to schedule some time with Dr. Kraft to deal with my repressed anger.

  18. Actually, having John wake up with no memory would give them somewhere different to go with John and Marlena. Heck, let his first wife be dead to appease the J & M fans, and let Sheffer actually write a love story allowing them to fall back in love from scratch. (You know, the one he didn’t write for Steve and Kayla upon his return from the dead).

    And if they want to make EJ his son by said dead wife, fine and dandy with me.

  19. Let’s see … EJ is really John’s son by his first wife.

    That means EJ is not a Dimera and it also means that presumably Stefano kidnapped him (when John was a pawn) to raise him as a Dimera. That makes EJ just a pawn, too, instead of the head-Dimera-in-training.

    We could keep EJ as a villain, but instead of being evil because “he’s a Dimera” he’s evil because he’s NOT a Dimera and his “father” lied to him and forced him to shoot his real father and take out his kidney.

    EJ would be Belle’s brother (ohh, I think my brain just broke a spring on that one).

    We could ease the Dimeras off the canvas and get some new villains who we could do something different with.

    Not to mention the cosmic payback for Marlena.

    ::rubs hands together with glee::

  20. But the timing is way off, since EJ is supposed to be Susan’s son, and John thought he was the father for a while. John’s son by his hypothetical first wife would have to be much older. Eh, never mind. It’s not like this show has ever had any respect for the space-time continuum. Elvis Jr. is supposed to be 10 years old. And any children that John had before he showed up in Salem would be around EJ’s SORASed age so…I’m getting a headache thinking about this.

  21. I know, lascuba—that’s the trouble with such drastic SORASing. Awhile back people were speculating that Chelsea was Steve’s daughter with Billie, not Bo’s, from Steve’s missing years. Of course Chelsea’s age would make a lot more sense that way, but then you have the problem of explaining why Bo and Billie would think she was their stillborn daughter from only seven years before.

    In this case—making EJ John’s son—it wouldn’t be quite so bad, because we’re talking about a different mother, too. They could dance around it more easily, I think (though I’m sure we’d have a fun time snarking about it).

  22. It’s utterly impossible to apply logic to the sort of drastic SORASing that gave us EJ and Chelsea. Therefore, I’ve decided to channel my inner Douglas Adams and accept that there are some things in the soap opera universe that just are because they are. Linear thinking need not apply.

    So, yes, it’s as possible for EJ to be John’s son by his first wife (pre-priesthood) as it is for him to be Susan Banks’s son with Stefano’s little swimmers. Just go with it if it makes for more interesting drama.

  23. I flove the idea of EJ being John’s son either by some long-forgotten first wife, or even by some weird DNA/baby switchamaroo so that EJ is still Susan’s SORASed little boy, but with John as the daddy (I wasn’t watching then, so I don’t know if John and Susan ever did the deed or not).

    If this were the case, and EJ had some reason to believe he might not be a Dimera (but not really knowing the truth), it would explain his obsession with being the perfect Dimera and doing everything for Stefano (overcompensation anyone?). It might also explain his anger/jealousy of John that was expressed the night he shot John. It definitely gives him layers, as well as a path to redemption (i.e. he was brainwashed in his own way).

    Come on Hogan, you can do this!!

  24. Yeah, I wasn’t watching then either, but lascuba says above that John thought he was Elvis jr’s father for awhile.

    Even if they never did the deed, there’s always the sperm Stefano supposedly collects from all his pawns. (Which I don’t want to think about how it is collected).

    I think you’re right, it would be an awesome way to explain his uber-evilness, let him continue to be a villain afterwards but with a more human motive, and pave the way for an eventual redemption.

    I think given the state of our young male leads on the show, we need James Scott in the running as a romantic lead.

  25. “I think given the state of our young male leads on the show, we need James Scott in the running as a romantic lead.”

    This is most definitely true. The young male leads we have now (not counting EJ) are Philip, Shawn, Nick, and Max. Three of those all grew up (so to speak) on the show and are related to most of the young female leads in one way or another. Plus, Max, Shawn, and Nick are all essentially the good guys. Philip has some bad boy-itis, but he still comes off as the spoiled rich kid more than anything. We need EJ as the bad boy to counteract the overwhelming goodness elsewhere.

  26. Wow, I go to bed and ya’ll write an in depth analysis without me. *jealous*

    Hee, Stefano’s sperm collection. I love my schematic on that.

    ITA that EJ is needed to be the villain on the show. Though I absolutely flove the redemption of Chelsea, there goes another “bad” character redeemed and won’t be able to be used except in judgment mistakes. Willow and Phillip are playing on the wrong side of the law but their motivations are easily explained. Victor is back to MIA status so that leaves EJ being the bad guy. I’m all for him remaining evil actually for a long time but I want him to get defeated so he can learn some humility. A villain who is human is far more interesting than one that is incapable of making mistakes.

  27. Oops, I should clarify. John thought EJ was his son because he thought Susan was Kristen. Kristen had been pregnant by John but she miscarried, and she had pregnant Susan made over to look like her and planned to take Susan’s baby once he was born. Nobody knew yet that it was Stefano dressed as Elvis who impregnated her, and I don’t remember why he did that in the first place. John did sleep with Susan- thinking she was Kristen – but she was either pregnant or had already given birth. Kristen and Marlena were locked up in the wine cellar and saw the whole thing through a secret camera. Kristen freaked out, and I think Marlena was actually amused because of how much it pissed off Kristen. Man, I LOVED the Marlena and Kristen rivalry. DH didn’t seem to take herself as seriously as she does now. Good times. I highly recommend watching Kristen/Marlena clips.

    I like EJ as the villain, but he’s everywhere, and it’s getting hold.I wish Victor was around more. We really do need young male lead as well. The ones we have aren’t getting the job done.

  28. I wouldn’t mind EJ being everywhere in everything (because dude…JAMES SCOTT!) but I agree he needs to have some losses, and soon. Like, Steve overcoming the programming would work, because it’s unlikely to land him in jail or anything. I mean, really—what kind of witness would Steve be against him in a court of law, anyway? “Well, he tortured me and controlled me with a Tarot card and made me go get my good friend John Black from the hospital where he’s in a coma so a hack black market organ broker could rip out his kidney and give it to EJ’s old man, Stefano. Who most people think is dead, I know, but trust me, he’s alive, because my wife flew to Italy and disguised herself as a nun to take a picture of his surgical scars (Prosecution exhibit #1). Did I mention she’s a doctor and I managed to save John’s life by getting her to take out his kidney because I knew the hack doctor guy wouldn’t give a rip if he lived or died? Anyway…well, yes, I did spend some weeks in the State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, which really has shoddy security if you ask me…”

  29. LMAO, Paula. The thing is, given everybody else’s history in Salem, he’d still probably be the most credible witness available. Except maybe for Kayla who’d only have to explain that she removed John’s kidney ’cause her husband asked her to and then got the pictures of Stefano on her cell phone (while dressed as a nun) after her brother, Father Maximus, took a gun from a goon by distracting him with magic flowers.

    And yes, I agree that EJ needs a defeat or two. Anything to wipe the smug grin of omnipotent satisfaction he’s been carrying around lately.

  30. Oh, yea that reminds me ESP. I had forgotten. What is the point of Kayla’s picture? I was so distracted by wanting her to pull the plug I forgotten how that is “proof”? Did she take a picture of a scar or something?

    Now what would have been awesome is if Max had knocked out the guard (I guess by doing a magic hat trick) and he and Kayla “stole” Stefano’s body to make up for John’s kidney being stolen. They could have brought it back to Salem and when EJ demanded it back Kayla could simply ask for the kidney in return.

  31. I haven’t figured out how the picture of Stefano’s scar is the concrete “proof” that Kayla thinks it is. It’s nice circumstantial evidence, but it doesn’t “prove” that Steffy has John’s kidney or the EJ had anything to do with it. So, I wish that they’d stop talking having the evidence to put EJ away — ’cause they don’t.

  32. ” … and the prosecution rests.”

    I dearly wish some people on the show would do some reading on police procedure, legal procedure—heck, just watch a few Law & Order episodes! Right now it’s like they don’t even care. Same thing with medical stuff. At least try, jeez.

    lascuba, that is so perfectly … soapy. Hee!

  33. You know what’s funny to me? everything Ok, but seriously, there has been more of an investigation into the small fire and break in into Bo’s house then John’s shooting or kidneynapping. Or into the disappearance of Lexie and Tek for that matter since she was the wife of the police commissioner and he was a cop.

  34. Tripp, you forget that Lexie is/was a CHEATING WHORE! and therefore no effort should be made to search for her or her lover.

    Seriously, the lack of any investigation into John’s shooting and kidneynapping and Lexie’s disappearance has been bothering me.

  35. Really–poor Chelsea’s terrified she’s going to jail because someone found her hairbrush AT HER FATHER’S HOUSE. Meanwhile, EJ’s going around town dropping clues like stink bombs at a boy’s camp, and the police are quaking in their cubicles for fear he might sue them again.

    No wonder Kayla, in her talk with Marlena, dismissed the Salem PD as go-to guys to stop EJ.

  36. Well, I like to think that Roman and Bo are hard at work on the kidneynapping and Lexie’s disappearance off-camera [/fanwank].

    Or, alternatively, since Abe seems convinced she ran away with Tek, maybe he’s convinced the rest of the police force of that too.

    It always seems like only good guys go to trial on Days. Bad guys are either killed, or nothing touches them.

  37. You know, it wouldn’t take much to show that the SPD was working on any of these cases. Just mention it offhandedly in passing.

    I try not to snark too much (b/c I’m sure writing for soaps is not as easy as it might seem) but that one seems a bit like a no-brainer.

    Except, this is the soap that is giving us Shawn and Belle’s Dumb Adventure, so. . .

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