I love props on soaps. I love seeing the villain holding up the key/prism/folder full of bonds and gloating, “Mine, all mine!” Or the hero investigating a murder, holding up a single earring and musing, “If I find the partner to this it tell me everything I need to know.” I love old diaries locked up in safes embedded in a hole in the middle of the forest in Italy, or a piece of jewelery that demonstrates that your romantic rival is your long lost brother.
Sometimes these props don’t end up making much sense—for example, I’ve been watching all this stuff recently with Isabella’s mother’s diary. Isabella and Roman are convinced that a 20+ year old diary is a clue in Marina’s murder—tell me how, please. But I still kind of love it anyway. Even though the diary’s use as a clue to Marina’s murder is poorly explained, its use as something that brings Roman and Isabella closer together is impeccable.
Maybe it’s just because I know their story so well, but I think Steve and Kayla got more cool props than other characters did. I’ve been racking my brain, but other than the diary I just mentioned, all I can come up with is that cameo for Kim and Shane. (But there must be others, so if you can think of any, please let me know.) I wrote about this once before, but Steve and Kayla had so many props that served multiple functions in the plot—with Jo’s necklace that Steve gave to Kayla as I think the all-time champion. First its use as a wonderful Christmas gift when they were just starting to date, then the clue to Adrienne’s identity for Kayla, then something that Steve had to ask her to return (in the most cruel way possible) when he was afraid Jack would see its resemblance to his “mother”s ring. Then I loved that the show remembered to show Steve giving it back right before their wedding. That’s a lot of work for one prop.
But there were so many others: the patch, the dagger tattoo, the polaroid picture of Kayla, the harmonica, the cookbook Kayla gave to Steve, Steve’s red keepsake box, Billy’s baby picture, the engagement ring Steve wore around his neck, the rose he gave to Jack and Kayla for a wedding present, the ID bracelet and locket Steve gave to Kayla after Stephanie was born.
And here’s another one: Steve’s toy train.
We first started seeing the train when we started seeing flashbacks of Steve’s childhood—the treasured toy of a child who didn’t have much. Then, when Adrienne was just a mysterious woman with an unknown connection to Steve, she broke into his apartment and took the train. It’s not 100% clear to me in retrospect why Adrienne did this, but at the time it was confirmation that her connection to him had something to do with his childhood. When Steve retaliated by breaking into her apartment and taking it back, Kayla caught him and demanded to know why he was breaking into poor little Adrienne’s apartment.
After that the train would pop up here and there during the Jack is Billy storyline. Steve would take it out, along with Billy’s picture, to shore up his resolve at what he was doing for his brother. As a relic from his childhood of which nothing else remained, the train came to be a poignant symbol of everything he lost.
And then there’s this:
As far as using props, and using history goes, it doesn’t get any better than this. It’s wonderful to see Steve bring out a symbol of everything he lost and turn it into a symbol of his promise that Stephanie is not going to lose all of that. (Of course this is putting aside that Steve misses Stephanie’s entire childhood.) It’s also a nice moment of closure for Kayla too to witness this moment. It goes back to their conversations during the Benjy storyline, when Steve wasn’t sure about having children. Kayla reassured him then that he would be a wonderful father, and here she’s seeing a confirmation of that faith. By giving Stephanie the train, and talking about what it meant to him when he had nobody, the implication is that being a father to Stephanie will help Steve redeem his bad childhood. It provides a wonderful moment of closure for a character who was haunted by so many demons.