Well, dear readers, this is it. I want to thank everyone who has been following this story, and encouraging me to continue with it. When I started, I had no idea how long and detailed it was going to become! A special thank you to esp13, whose willingness to obsessively analyze clip after clip with me was a tremendous help.
As always, to go back to the beginning, click here: Steve Stalks Kayla
Steve just can’t resist playing puppetmaster in Jack’s life. When Jack refuses to believe that his father is a killer, Steve arranges for Jack to overhear as he needles Harper into confessing. Afterwards, Jack firmly rejects Steve’s overtures of peace. “I don’t want your blessing,” he says, “and I don’t want to be part of your fairy tale happy ending.”
Kayla tells Steve that Jack is never going to grant her the divorce now, but Steve won’t accept that. He pours all his emotion and determination into his signing, thumping his chest and slapping his hands together, as he says, “Don’t you know by now that Jack can’t keep us apart? No one can.” He says that she will be his wife, and jerks her into his arms. Kayla puts her head on his shoulder and closes her eyes. If only she could be so sure.
At first it seems Kayla is right about Jack and the divorce. But Melissa finally tells him that if he can’t let go of Kayla, she’s not going to wait around for him anymore. Unwilling to lose the last person he has left, Jack comes to the loft, lawyer in tow, and brings out the divorce papers for Kayla to sign. And again we glimpse the pain behind Jack’s actions, especially here, when he is admitting defeat. He tells Steve, who is acting as translator, to “just make the sign for patsy and point at me.”
Later that day, Steve tells Kayla he has a surprise for her. He’s nervous and keyed up, and we see why when he unveils the surprise. He’s learned all the signs to the song “The Rose,” and he signs and sings it at the same time. Just as Kayla said to him once, Steve is telling her that she doesn’t need to be perfect, that love isn’t just for “the lucky and the strong”—or people who can hear. When he finishes the song, he asks her to marry him.
Kayla has been watching him with tears standing in her eyes, obviously incredibly touched. When he asks the crucial question, the tears spill over. She shakes her head.
Disbelieving, Steve asks, “Did you just say no?”
Kayla tells him that she loves him more than ever, but “I need to be happy with myself before I can be happy with you.”
Steve is hurt, but he accepts her answer. Kayla tells him she needs to be alone, and then, as he’s leaving, she tries to give him his ring back. I don’t think Kayla really expects Steve to give up on her, but she knows she’s being unfair and he wants the decision to be totally his own.
Steve has been manfully absorbing blow after blow, but at this he explodes. He refuses to take back the ring and in fact practically shoves it back on her finger (so romantic, I love it). “This is your ring,” he says. “This belongs right here on your finger.”
On the pier, Steve is sitting on the stairs playing his harmonica (“The Rose”) when Jack comes upon him. Seeing Steve here, alone, when he expected him to be out celebrating with Kayla, puts Jack in a less acrimonious mood. When Steve mentions that Kayla wanted to be alone tonight, Jack sits down next to him and says, “I guess neither of us Johnson boys was meant to have her.”
Steve doesn’t take offense. He just says quietly that he is going to marry Kayla and make her happy.
Jack nods, and the camera pulls back to show the two of them, side by side. For a moment, they almost look like brothers.
Kayla has a chance to restore her hearing, by undergoing surgery. She is hesitant, because if it is unsuccessful, she says, her last hope will be gone. Steve tells her again it doesn’t matter, they can still have a life together even if she can’t hear.
When Kayla protests that it won’t be a normal life, Steve—making an excellent point—responds, “Kayla, you picked me. Since when do you want a normal life?”
That night, they get a visit from a friend with a baby. Holding the baby, Kayla realizes that if she wants her dream of a life with Steve, a family with Steve, she’ll have to take a risk. She can’t stay in this holding pattern forever.
A hotshot ear specialist mysteriously becomes available to perform the surgery, and Steve finds out that Jack pulled some strings to make it happen. When Steve thanks him, he obviously feels—mixed in with gratitude, awkwardness about expressing it, and his overriding worry about Kayla—proud of Jack, proud that he set his personal feelings aside to help Kayla.
Jack brushes aside Steve’s thanks. He says, “Consider it a wedding present.”
Going into her surgery, Kayla is subdued, almost hopeless. Given the stakes she has set up, it’s no wonder. If the surgery succeeds, she marries Steve and all her dreams come true. If the surgery doesn’t succeed, all bets are off. She’s using the possible get out of jail free card the surgery represents to avoid accepting her life as a deaf person.
Steve is frustrated and hurt by Kayla’s attitude—but it just makes him more determined than ever. It’s really beautiful to watch Steve rise to the occasion here. There’s a symmetry that goes all the way back to where they started, when Kayla had to work so hard to get Steve into a relationship with her. Back then, she had all the faith, she did all the work. The least little discouragement made him run away so she had to start all over again.
Now, he’s the one who believes, he’s the one with all the faith. The good girl who never caused trouble for anyone, the strong one who was willing to fight on behalf of everyone else, now has someone fighting for her. Kayla always believed that if she could just break down Steve’s defenses, she would find the perfect man for her underneath. She was right. He is her biggest defender, her champion, someone who will always put her first—even if he has to fight her, now, to do it.
While Kayla is in her surgery, under the anesthetic, she has a dream. In it, she talks to a man, dressed all in white (who looks just like Steve, only without a patch). She expresses all her doubts to him, telling that it doesn’t matter what Steve says, her deafness is too much stress to put on a relationship.
The man points out a few home truths—he tells Kayla that she showed Steve what unconditional love is like. Why can’t she accept the same from him?
And finally, Kayla realizes—as she puts it to him later—that life with Steve, with or without sound, is better than life without him. When she wakes up in her hospital room after the surgery, and sees Steve next to her, she smiles at him with none of the hesitation she has recently shown. She’s happy, and confident in that happiness. When he sees her awake, Steve takes out the engagement ring. “No pressure,” he says. “I just like to see you wearing it.”
Kayla signs, her heart in her eyes, “Ask me again.”
Then it’s all happiness, all the time, as they tell everyone the news and start making wedding plans. They are out walking on the pier when Steve dangles a surprise in front of Kayla’s face: it’s her necklace, Jo’s necklace, the one he took from her so many months ago. Now he can finally give it back to her. “It’s yours,” he says.
They also prove that they can, indeed, work through any problems created by Kayla’s deafness when Marcus and Vanessa drag them to (separate) pre-wedding events. When Kayla realizes she will have to go somewhere without Steve to translate for her, she hangs back. Steve is understanding, but he doesn’t let his protectiveness get in the way of encouraging her to go. She decides to take the plunge, and Vanessa brings her to a surprise bridal shower. When Kayla arrives, all her friends and family sign in unison, “We love you, Kayla!” (This is the total extent of sign language learned by anyone besides Kim and Steve).
Back at the loft, Kayla’s ear begins ringing and hurting, and she’s worried it will interfere with their wedding plans for the next day. But this is just a prelude to getting her hearing back. She still can’t speak, which frustrates her, but with some help from Steve and Mike, she decides to be happy with what she has gained.
After dinner, Kayla tells Steve there’s something she wants to do. She turns on the stereo—“Lady in Red.” Now she can hear the music again, and she wants to dance with him. They kiss and turn in slow circles around the room, until Kayla pulls him down onto the couch to make out for a little while. (It is delightful to see Kayla’s characteristic sexual forthrightness again.) Then she kicks him out.
At the door, Steve starts to sign that he loves her, than stops, laughing at himself, when he realizes he doesn’t have to. “I love you,” he says.
Kayla signs, “It’s nice to hear that.”
The next day is the wedding. Kayla thinks they are getting married at the Brady fish market, but Steve has a surprise in store for her. Kayla has always dreamed of getting married on a boat, and Steve pulls out all the stops to make her dream come true. On the morning of the wedding, looking extremely hot in a white blazer and jeans, Steve sneaks into the sleeping Kayla’s bedroom to leave a toy boat on the bed next to her.
That’s only the beginning. This is a day nearly two years in the making, and the wedding unfolds like a fantasy from start to finish. They are both so happy, over the moon, in fact. Their friends and family are all there. The sun is shining, the water sparkling. The boat is resplendent in white tulle and yellow roses. The bride’s sleeves are bigger than her head, but she looks gorgeous anyway. The groom is wearing a bolo tie, but somehow it is perfectly appropriate. When Kayla gets her voice back just in time to say her vows, it seems a natural part of the magic of the day.
The bride and groom sail off from the reception in a gondola, and spend their wedding night on a private jet headed for a honeymoon in the Orient. The next morning, as the sun comes up, Kayla kisses Steve awake. “How do you like waking up to a wife?” she asks.
“I like waking up to my wife,” he says, kissing her and pulling her into his arms.
They are still flying high (literally), but this moment brings us down to earth a little bit. It reminds us of the most important thing: that Mr. and Mrs. Johnson are waking up together for the first time. The boat, the gondola, the private jet, the whole fantasy wedding—all of it is just icing. They have each other, and nothing else matters.
And so the thug and the good girl became man and wife, and lived happily ever after.
Well … sort of. This is Salem, after all.
screencap courtesy nicholsevansfan.com