When I was a little girl, my brothers and I occasionally played a game on long car rides. It was called “Fortunately Unfortunately,” and involved the simple premise that by taking turns, alternating “fortunate” and “unfortunate” events, you told a long, drawn out story. The only rule was that you couldn’t directly contradict the previous event. So for instance, this little exchange would not be allowed:
Unfortunately, I died.
Fortunately, it didn’t take.
Of course, soap plots themselves are one long game of Fortunately Unfortunately (“I found my long lost brother! Unfortunately, he’s in love with my girlfriend and dying of cancer.”) But the reason I bring this up is that I find I can’t be wholly happy or wholly frustrated with anything on the show right now. In every story, there are bad things that are really bad (unfortunately) and good things that are really good (fortunately).
For example, as you may imagine, Phillip declaring his undying love for Belle to Shawn, Belle, and God pretty much did away with my fantasy that he’s playing her for revenge. And while most of me is screaming with frustration at this waste of Phillip, a small part of me was happy to see Jay Kenneth Johnson in any kind of love scene (see, Days? See how desperate you’ve made me?), and an even bigger part of me was happy to see Belle caught by Hope and given the full FancyJudgmentalFace treatment.
I’ve always said I could like Belle if she were turned into an unapologetic spoiled princess bitch. After today I think I could also like her if she royally screwed up her life and everyone hated her. And then turned into an unapologetic bitch (just can’t let go of that).
(But Shawn? His endless whining about Phillip, his stupidity, his one expression, his monotone, and his obsession with giving Princess Belle everything is tiresome to the extreme. I can’t even enjoy looking at his hot bod anymore because the character annoys me so much. And that’s sad. Get rid of him, please.)
I have been particularly dissatisfied with the EJ/Sami/Lucas dynamic lately. Lucas is back to meaningless posturing, with Sami hardly less so, and EJ back in one-dimensional villain mode. Even though it made me uncomfortable at times, I was more excited about this story when the show seemed to be toying with the idea of Sami having feelings for EJ. All three actors seemed to step up their game, adding interesting layers to the dynamic, which has since disappeared. I love EJ and Sami, and I like Lucas, but if they are not going to go anywhere with this story, please please end it.
All the same, I can’t help being happy at all the anvils that EJ will indeed be father to one of the babies. I’m very glad that I don’t have to look at that pregnancy pad anymore. And Kate, who has been on and off my hate list with her endless torturing of Sami (the Other Vendetta), has grown up quite a bit without losing her edge. I enjoyed her giving advice to EJ that hatred could blind you so you only saw what you wanted to see, and I enjoyed even more her strolling in to see the babies with EJ in tow. It was so hilariously inappropriate.
Overall, I give a thumbs up to the Tyler/Pocket story, though as with most of the stories on the show the drama was sadly undermilked (tee hee, that sounds dirty). The suspected poisoning could have been ramped up into a much more angsty mystery for Steve and Kayla, or for Phillip–or created a longer rift between them. But I thought Mary Beth and Stephen Nichols were terrific in their final scenes on Monday (10/22), especially when Steve was comforting Kayla. It was nice to see him be the strong one again. This baby story brought out the tender side of Steve, too, which was a nice contrast to the slightly unhinged recovering DiMera pawn Steve. Jay Kenneth Johnson played well off of them (especially when he was calling Steve a loose cannon with PTSD). And though that new foster family was a bit deus ex machina, I applaud them for not saddling Phillip with another kid.
Fortunately, I am seeing many improvements at the episode level since the advent of Ed Scott, with better lighting, more cohesiveness, and more linear dramatic logic. Unfortunately, it is at the storyline level that the show desperately needs help. The stories still lack much forward momentum, the general feeling seems to be toward playing it safe, and characters are stuck in their same orbits. I am dying for more suspense, big payoffs, and a new romance. (And bring back Chick!)