Remember how appalling it was when we didn’t see Sami’s family’s reaction to her rape? There was all that buildup of Sami keeping the secret, the wonderful scene where Celeste was the first to find out (I miss you, Boobs of Doom!), the great, great Lumi wedding when Lucas found out—I still love that wedding, even though my opinion of Lucas has changed—and then … nothing. Suddenly everyone knew about it, but no one actually sat down and had a conversation with Sami about it and how she might be feeling. And no one talked about how they might use her testimony to make a case against EJ. The whole thing just crawled away into a corner and died. (Except on message boards, where it is The Issue That Will Never Die.)

This was especially galling because of Sami’s history with her family. It should have been a fabulous payoff for Sami the black sheep to have everyone stand by her—or maybe not! What I imagined, back in January when it became clear that Sami was not going to come forward, was that everyone was going to react differently when the secret came out, and it was going to be this complex, thorny storyline (so shoot me, I’m an optimist). I thought it would happen at a moment of maximum frustration for the police, when EJ got off scott free from the charges against him. (That happened anyway, but no one cared.)

I wanted to see Bo and Roman be compassionate (because they know how evil EJ is) but frustrated with Sami, because if she had come forward earlier they could have built a better case against EJ. Marlena could have been the sweet supportive mother—ha! Who am I kidding? Gun or no gun, rape or no rape, if Sami helped the shooter of her preciousssss get away, Marlena would have no mercy. Kate taking Sami’s side would have been a refreshing twist, though that might have been too much of a leap.

The only reaction besides Lucas’s—which, again, was great—we got to see was Kate’s, and she went from scoffing at the whole idea to almost apologizing to Roman (when she said she “wouldn’t wish that [the rape] on anybody”), to acknowledging that it happened but not seeming to care (when she talked to EJ about it), and now back to questioning that the whole thing even happened. Very schizophrenic. Hmm, that sounds a bit like the show itself on the rape.

Anyway, I think it’s clear that someone else is sailing the ship now, because we’ve seen, in separate scenes, Cordy, Max, Kayla, Chelsea, Crawford Decker, Morgan and the other sorority sisters, and (today) Steve learning about Stephanie’s rape.

Thank you, Days.

Reaction scenes are good, basic, attention-to-detail storytelling. First of all, it’s good exposition to remind viewers who don’t watch every day what’s going on. It breaks up the repetitive-conversation loop that soaps so easily fall into, because characters can react differently to the same news. It allows for atypical interactions and highlights sibling, parental, and friend relationships—always a good thing in my book.

I really enjoy watching Stephen Nichols run through an emotional gamut like he did today, and I thought he did a terrific job. He hit all the emotional beats, from his initial fear that something was terribly wrong, through shock and anger (I loved “He better be dead, because I’m going to kill him”), self-blame for not protecting her, hurt at being excluded, and an almost helpless compassion and pain for her.

When Steve was momentarily upset at being kept in the dark, Mary Beth Evans managed to convey with the single line “I’m sorry” that she was sorry he felt excluded without apologizing for respecting Stephanie’s confidences, and also letting him know with her eyes that this wasn’t about him or her, but about Stephanie. She also added to the scene with her expressions and body language, touching Steve’s face when he talked about protecting Stephanie, and touching his hand while he and Stephanie hugged.

I enjoyed the family dynamic, particularly during the scene with Crawford Decker. When Steve snapped into angry-confrontation mode, it was like welcoming back an old friend. I was waiting for him to grab Crawford by the lapels, hee. I also loved the way both Kayla and Steve protectively stepped forward and stood next to Stephanie, and when Kayla encouraged Stephanie to tell what she knew. You could see that underneath that basic encouragement to tell the truth (so Kayla-like), was the “uh-oh” realization that there was more to this than met the eye.

By the way, the actor playing Crawford is doing very well with a not-much role. He is really selling not only the threatening man on a mission, but the pain that is fueling it. And today when he said that he and his wife were in the minority in their belief that Ford did nothing wrong, he conveyed the impression that deep down, he suspects his son is guilty. Great job.

I will say that I like Shelley Hennig a lot but I’d like to see her vary the way she plays emotional scenes, instead of going for the big cry every time. It can be far more powerful to hold it in, and I think that would have been perfect for this scene, since they were in a public place. I do think Shelley is improving and does very well in lighter moments. I particularly like her cast chemistry—with her parents, with Chelsea, and with Max.

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am really enjoying this whole storyline. My favorite thing about it currently is the Chelsea/Stephanie conflict. Female friendships are seldom featured on Days, and female friendships in conflict are featured even less often. I love conflicts where we can see both sides, and the show has done a good job with the reasons Stephanie wants to keep quiet and the reasons Chelsea wants to come forward. Rachel Melvin is doing an outstanding job with Chelsea’s moral dilemma, like yesterday when Nick and Bo were both encouraging her to do what she wants to do anyway—but swore to the other girls she wouldn’t. The references to Zack’s death have been well-played. It still creeps me out to remember Ford’s “ghost” telling Chelsea “They say it gets easier the second time,” and yesterday when Bo told her he thought she learned from her mistakes after she tried to cover up Zack’s death and let someone else (Billie) take the blame.

And what a cliffhanger today when Chelsea stepped into the pub and announced that Ford is dead! I’m getting more and more hopeful for an actual, decent payoff to this story. Oh, please, please, please, please?


5 thoughts on “Reactions

  1. Wow, have you already seen today’s show. Hee, go check your email then.

    Anyway, I know exactly what you mean about reactions. I wrote something up about this a while ago on my blog, one of the reasons I came back to soaps is because their writing is supposed to be all about the revelation. My pet peeves in prime time for years has been them skipping reactions (Nick on CSI gets kidnapped but when the commercials end, all his fellow coworkers already know for example). I realize they have a limited time to tell a story, but it tends to look like they don’t have faith in their actors when they keep skipping such moments.

    So you’re right, Days has really improved when it comes to showing reactions to revelations. Hopefully the trend will continue.

  2. I remember your blog entry about reaction scenes. I just can’t understand why any soap would skip over them, because it seems to me that filling time would be a constant challenge.

  3. I agree with you about Shelley Hennig. I’ve been a fan of hers, but she definitely needs to mix it up a little in the heavier scenes. I don’t think the writing has done her any favors, because it has been one of these scenes after another for the last month. But a more experienced actress would probably have made more out of it. I especially thought holding back a little in the scene with Max would have upped the tension in their relationship.

    I’m glad we’re getting the reaction scenes, but I can’t help comparing them to the ones in the Kayla rape story. They all seemed more necessary. She told Marcus because he saw the bruises, and it added tension when she didn’t tell Steve right away. She told Steve, which gave us those great emotional moments. She told Jo because Jo needed to know why Steve and Jack had been fighting before he fell off the roof. And she told Roman because she was finally ready to press charges. (Did I get them all?) I would have liked this last scene better if it had come about more naturally. Maybe Stephanie would realize she had to tell her father because it was all about to come out anyway, rather walking into the pub and bursting into tears, and having Kayla make the decision for her.

    Stephen Nichols continues to amaze. IMO, he saved some thin material here. I would really love to see another S&K scene hashing this all out. (I hope I didn’t just jinx it!)

  4. I couldn’t help comparing the Stephanie rape reveal(s) to Kayla’s, also, lska—especially since I had just watched it. MBE was fabulous with all of them, particularly the one with Steve. She had this detached, matter of fact tone to her voice, with all the horror and pain underneath it.

    I know what you mean that the Kayla rape reveals were all done for different reasons, which added variety to the scenes. (You got them all except the one with Abe at the hospital!)

    I think, though, that the show did drop the ball to some degree with Kayla’s rape. I was bothered that Adrienne was so willing to be all buddy-buddy with Jack when they were looking for Billy together, and that she seemed so happy at the idea of having him for a brother. I would think Adrienne of all people would be ambivalent at best at welcoming a rapist into the family.

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