Had you asked me last month what I thought of the Steve brainwashing story, I would have said it was similar in quality to the amnesia/Billie storyline: wonderful moments here and there but not adding up to much. Well, I’m starting to rethink that. That’s not to say I am not brimming over with suggestions of how this storyline could have been more complex, more dramatic, better integrated with the other storylines going on… but I’m not rewriting here. I’m imagining this same story, not rewritten but compressed a little.
Those of you who follow my blog know that I started out with high hopes regarding this storyline. Stephen Nichols and Mary Beth Evans are so great with the angst and suffering I was really looking forward to seeing them play it. Looking back I see it was more than just general optimism that made me feel that way.
Honestly, I’d forgotten how good this story was when it started. Remember all the soapy goodness in December and January? Here are the scenes that stand out in my mind (in what I hope is the correct order):
Steve smashing Maggie’s Santa clock right after Nick repaired it. (I loved Blake Berris in that scene, too.)
Steve freaking out at the CPS worker’s office, and having a heart-to-heart with Bo afterwards.
Steve smashing up his hotel room, then looking in the mirror and saying, “Something’s not right with you, boy.”
Steve and EJ in Mexico. Just thinking about those scenes makes me whimper.
Sexy Steve in jail in the orange jumpsuit. Kayla saying, “Sign the form … maybe you’ll get lucky.” And that fabulous kiss through the bars.
Steve in the hospital with the doctor: “Imagine something pleasurable.” (devilish look at Kayla) “Yeah, I got it.”
Kayla slapping EJ!
The scenes on John and Marlena’s sheets. “I let a girl named Kayla love me.” Kayla’s freak out.
The kidneynapping. Sue me, I floved that part. I especially remember the way Steve played automoton pawn!Steve, angry fighting-the-brainwashing Steve, and bewildered, buried real!Steve.
Kayla’s crisis of conscience, betraying Steve by locking him up for his own good.
And most crucially, in between these moments Steve and Kayla were interacting with their castmates (helping Shawn and Belle, confiding in Bo, slapping EJ) and working through their problems together—even when Steve was keeping his episodes secret from Kayla.
Decidedly the weakest, and the longest, part of the storyline was Steve-in-the-hospital. But if the stall hadn’t happened, if we’d gone quickly from being him being committed, to just one escape (but which one to choose? I guess I have to go for sweet tender hospital visit, though I hate to lose Ninja!Marlena), to a quick alienate-Stephanie scene. Then back to real time for Adrienne’s return and the escape from the hospital, the scene on the hotel room floor, the kidnapping by EJ, and then the island/plane scenes with Bo, culminating in that awesome, awesome deprogramming scene.
(Come to think of it, Steve and Kayla’s other major storyline, the Billie triangle, also got caught in a stall, for the writing change. ::shakes fist at the sky::)
So now what? I’d like to see Steve and Kayla integrated with the rest of the cast. I’d like to see Kayla be a doctor. I’d like to see Steve’s recovered memories help in the battle with the DiMeras. Perhaps Steve could go undercover as a pawn (though it might be too late for that). I’d like to see him be hero!Steve again. Above all I’m excited to see the real Steve and the real Kayla together, on screen.
I’ll forgive Hogan for the stall because I get the sense that was out of his control. Indisputably, he should have used that time to establish Steve’s motivations and POV, to show Kayla’s self-doubt, to show what the DiMeras wanted from him. It would have enriched the storyline immensely (and made it a lot easier to watch). But somehow I am much more invested in their happiness now, because of all that happened, than I was back in December. And that, to me, makes it worth it.