Where would soaps be without the retcon?
This is the act of changing, or reinterpreting, previously-established details in a work of fiction. This differs from continuity errors in that a retcon is generally considered to be deliberate. Any work of fiction with multiple writers coupled with long running characters—comic books, movie franchises, soap operas—is ripe for retcons and continuity problems. Nowadays, Days has to have one of the worst track records regarding retcons, due to a succession of writers who, frankly, just didn’t care. They were happy, nay, eager, to bring multiple characters back from the dead, or change the parentage of babies (or adults, why not?), multiple times. Backstories, of course, are ripe for being rewritten again and again. The character of John Black is one retcon, wrapped in another retcon, inside a bigger retcon. It’s impossible to be a Days viewer these days and not accept retcons—all I ask now is that they at least do something interesting with it—but back in the 80’s I was more of a purist.
What makes a retcon a retcon as opposed to just “filling in backstory” is how much it contradicts what we’ve seen so far. But the line gets blurry very quickly. My general feeling is that retcons that violate lines of dialogue are acceptable, but if they violate whole plotlines or things we saw transpire on screen, they are not. Technically, Steve’s past with Duke and Jo Johnson is a retcon, because at one point, when he’s teasing Bo about being a Kiriakis, he says, “My mother wasn’t married to my father either.” This was obviously before Steve’s backstory was fully fleshed out, but I don’t think anyone would argue that the story of Jo and Duke and Steve’s childhood should have been scrapped in order to preserve the integrity of that one line of dialogue.
On the other hand, the appearance of Drew, Shane’s twin brother, technically was NOT a retcon, because we knew nothing about Shane’s family. But, it stretched our credulity to the max to think that Shane would never mention the fact that he once had a twin. In a similar vein, we have the introduction of Marina, Steve’s back from the dead wife. Marina’s existence doesn’t explicitly violate any previously known version of Steve’s past. They sandwich her into his Merchant Marine days, right before his known history with Bo and Britta. In the standards of today’s Days, this is a very mild retcon, but when this storyline first aired back in 1989, I was utterly unable to get past it. (This might also have had to do with Steve’s interminable secret keeping, but I’ll address that in another post.) Around Steve and Kayla’s wedding Steve has mulitiple lines of dialogue that indicate that he’s never been married before and this is all new to him. Even without that, it seemed strange to think Steve would never happen to mention that he had been married once before.
The other source of my issue is that it jarred my conception of early Steve. As the Marina story unfolds, the show teases us with fauxbacks (TM esp13) of Steve and Marina together that play up the idea that they had a Great Love. It just seemed wrong to me that right before he fell in love with Britta and loved her for seven years, even when he thought she was dead, he also had another Great Love who betrayed him and died. What a coincidence!
I think they could have sold this to me, though, if they had addressed this issue, and given us a reason for the marriage that related to what we already knew about Steve. Maybe Steve was very young, and lonely, after getting out of the orphanage, and latched onto his first crush and built it up into some kind of “great love.” He was leaping at his first chance to have a family. Or she loved him, or was dependent on him in some way, and that made him feel protective of her. Just to give it a little more grounding in the past that we already know about Steve. And they needed to address the silliness of the similarity between the Marina story and the Britta story by having Steve say something like, “And after that, when I met Britta, I thought I was being given a second chance …” and leave it at that.
On a brighter note, Steve is looking a little bit more like his old self after losing the horrible light blonde hair, with roots. I’m still trying to decide if they needed to give him the patch back, or if I would have gotten used to it, in time.
Please don’t hate me. The retcon made me do it.