In general, whenever you put together two characters who don’t usually interact, you’ve got my attention before they even open their mouths. I loved seeing Sami having a heart to heart with John, and Hope bonding with Chelsea, and Steve making a deal with EJ.
But these are all major characters, most of them with a big storyline of their own, crossing over to other major characters. There is another type of character, who has nothing but atypical interactions (that is, conversations outside their usual circle), for the simple reason that they don’t have a usual circle. These “floaters” range from legacy characters like Maggie who serve as sounding boards, to Andre Teh Evil who was responsible for everything that went wrong in Salem. In between there are work-related floaters like Lexie the Doctor of Everything—down to being in charge of the file room at the hospital when Chelsea was doing her community service. (Hire that woman some support staff!)
Many characters will go through a floating phase when they are between storylines, being chemistry tested with potential romantic pairings, or just being tried out for leading character status. This is usually temporary, not permanent: they are usually eventually pulled into the loop of their own storyline, or else they fade into “sounding board” territory and/or leave the show. But these phases can be a lot of fun.
All this brings me to my favorite floater: Nicole, played by the delightful Arianne Zucker. She has been a breath of fresh air to the show. I’ll give props to Higley: I think the way Nicole has been reintroduced has been a work of genius. She was introduced with a mini-storyline of her own: she is trying to get a big divorce settlement from Victor. This serves the purpose of giving her her own point of view and a protagonist’s role (compared to, say, Chloe’s reappearance for the Salem High reunion—yawn), but doesn’t make the mistake of putting her at the heart of a major story that could alienate viewers resentful about screentime issues. This little mini-storyline has provided a convenient pretext for her to interact with Victor, Phillip, Chloe, Sami, EJ, John, and Ava, and establish her character as a snarky gold digger with a refreshing tendency to call people on their bullshit.
Now, we have started to see glimmers of vulnerability peeking through the persona. James Scott has that soap actor’s gift—the ability to bring out that little something extra from his co-stars. I noticed the first flash when Nicole told EJ no one had ever loved her unconditionally except her dog. Yesterday’s (6/2) drunk scenes were delightful, when Nicole was obviously enjoying getting EJ to spill his guts, but also seemed sympathetic to the schemer-in-love. She also displayed that vulnerability again when she pointed out that scheming for love had left her where she was: alone.
So, it looks like Nicole might soon be spun into her own storyline as a complication for EJami. I can only hope that doing so won’t take her away from her current role as the floating bad-girl truth teller. But if what has happened to Sami and Chelsea is any indication …