Back when I was watching the show in 1989, I would occasionally tune out for few weeks and then tune back in again without feeling like I missed much. One day in June I watched the show and saw Steve looking something like this:
Then, a few weeks later, I tuned back in and saw this:
You may imagine my surprise.
At the time, I was not against the idea of Steve losing his patch—at least in theory. I thought it was probably a pain for Stephen Nichols to wear, and I also thought that it may have outlived its usefulness as a prop. But when I saw how different—and frankly, how horrible (sorry, Stephen!)—he looked, I immediately wanted it back. He just didn’t look like Steve anymore. Of course, that is rather the point of the storyline, because Steve goes undercover as “Daniel Lucas,” and has to disguise himself from people who knew him as Steve. And maybe they thought it would be better for us fans if Steve looked totally different, instead of the patch being the only thing missing. All I know is, at the time, I was so traumatized that I tuned out again and didn’t tune back in until the fall.
So the scenes surrounding the eye surgery were all totally new to me this time around. I must say, it might have been abrupt, but they did a really nice job with it.
As Steve contemplates going undercover, the show can finally acknowledge how ridiculous Steve-in-disguise has always been, as he puts on his enormous sunglasses at the beginning of this scene. Then I love the way Kayla says hesitantly, “You have a unique look …”, obviously not wanting to mention the patch outright. It’s still a touchy subject, even after all this time. She also looks almost panicked at the idea of Steve losing the patch and assuming a new identity, almost more than the situation warrants. The show seems to be playing around with the idea that Steve won’t be Steve anymore after the surgery. What is Patch without his patch?
Instead of being excited about having two eyes again at last, Steve looks uncomfortable talking about it at all. He keeps saying, “I don’t care what I look like.” And there’s a flicker of insecurity when Kayla says she doesn’t care, either, when he asks, “Are you sure?” They’re almost talking like he’s going to look worse, not better (Which is exactly what happened, but I digress …) When he snaps at Kayla at the end of this scene, saying irritably, “I’m getting a new face out of it, aren’t I?” he seems to be saying, “I should be happy about this, but somehow I’m not.”
And now for the surgery itself:
I love the moment on the operating table when Kayla sees that Steve is holding the patch in his hand. It’s a callback to the patch removal scene, as she slowly uncurls his hand and takes it from him. He looks at her almost pleadingly, as Kayla reassures him. It’s like the patch is a security blanket, or a piece of his identity, and he’s afraid to give it up. It’s a beautiful moment.
After the surgery, I love the way Kayla is holding the patch herself now, looking at it contemplatively. When Steve wakes up from the anesthetic, she gently places it in the red box where he keeps his most treasured things, and goes to him.
But about the actual Daniel Lucas storyline—let’s just say the less said, the better.