Baby blues

In the middle of some not-so-good stuff, I really like this arc regarding whether Kayla can keep Stephanie with her in prison. It’s full of angst and suffering, but somehow it’s the good kind.

There are a lot of great moments in this arc: Kayla’s initial desperate urgency to keep Stephanie with her at all costs, Steve’s invocation of his own childhood and his resulting certainty that a baby’s proper place is with her mother, Kayla turning to Jo for advice.

But I think this scene is one of the best:

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I love how Mary Beth plays Kayla’s joy at hearing she will be able to keep Stephanie with her, and then her smile immediately fading as she looks at Steve and realizes what this means for him.

Stephen and Mary Beth play off one another perfectly as they struggle to say goodbye. Steve’s reassurances that he’s going to get Kayla out of jail take on a new urgency. He’s been saying that all along, but here he seems to be saying it because he couldn’t bear to say goodbye otherwise. For Kayla, she’s been worrying about Stephanie so much it’s almost a shock to have to suddenly say goodbye to Steve. And Mary Beth plays Kayla’s distress so well, but also a tinge of guilt and worry, knowing she’s taking Stephanie away from her father. (It’s amazing how well they do with the baby crying through the whole scene. I think it adds to the angst of the whole thing.)

The scene ends perfectly, with Steve alone, holding the baby’s ID bracelet. It emphasizes that even with the outcome they were hoping for, there really is no good option.

After Kayla gets to prison, she begins to doubt whether this is the right choice after all. Kayla doesn’t get to keep Stephanie with her in her cell; the baby spends most of her time in the jail nursery. Then the other inmates set a fire in the jail somewhere, and Kayla doesn’t know whether Stephanie is in danger or not.

This leads her to make a heartbreaking decision:

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I just really enjoy (in a masochistic way, of course) watching the process Kayla goes through, from her desperate insistence on keeping Stephanie with her (it’s her first thought after she gets convicted) to her determination to give her up. Here she actually has to convince Steve to take Stephanie home, and we see both the horrible pain it causes her and her growing conviction that it is the right thing.* The moment when Kayla gives Steve to Stephanie and says goodbye is incredibly painful and moving. It’s a much more powerful moment, too, than it would have been if the social worker had simply denied Kayla’s request to keep Stephanie. By having Kayla choose to do this, to put her daughter’s needs first, no matter what cost to herself, it makes it more about Kayla and who she is, instead of just a generic “heroine suffers” moment.

(For Steve, seeing Kayla go through this gives him some insight into Jo’s decision from so long ago, and paves the way for a wonderful upcoming scene with Steve and Jo, which I will post soon.)

The pair of scenes that close off this arc emphasize that cost, and how alone Kayla is, as we see her wondering how she is going to make it without Stephanie. And then a note of hope, showing Steve with the baby (and that adorable yellow-rose baby rattle) vowing to get her mother home soon.

*Of course, after all this agonizing about what’s best for Stephanie and where she will be safest, Stephanie ends up being kidnapped. D’oh!

4 thoughts on “Baby blues

  1. I never saw these scenes! Soapy gut wrenching at it’s best. And SN and MBE just rock the scenes. The baby being fussy in the first scene was so perfect and SN and MBE seemed to play off of it beautifully.

    I can’t wait for you to post the scene with Steve and Jo now that Steve has been on the other end of a mother “giving her baby up” for the baby’s sake.

  2. Hey, I’m glad I could introduce you to some new quality S&K scenes. This whole time period isn’t great, but there are some wonderful moments.

    I’ll get that Jo/Steve scene up soon—it’s a good one.

  3. This is by far my favorite arc in the trial/conviction/imprisonment storyline. I love that we see Kayla being a bit selfish and irrational. It’s understandable because of everything that is going on, but it’s still a little wrong. Allowing Kayla to be a little selfish or irrational once in a while is what kept the character from ever being too perfect.

    In any case, I just love the emotional journey she takes throughout this section. She wants and needs Stephanie with her no matter what. I love that Steve buries his own hurt at losing his daughter to support Kayla. It’s unselfish, but not naively so. It fits with his own history. And I’m glad that we see Kayla recognizing Steve’s sacrifice. I also love the little moment where she seeks reassurance from him that if the social worker doesn’t let her keep Stephanie, he’ll take her home and take care of her. So much history buried in that little moment.

    And the scene were Kayla sends Stephanie home with Steve is one of my very favorite MBE moments. She’s trying so hard to be strong, but all of the fear and hurt are just pouring through. But it’s all so much more meaningful because Kayla has made this choice rather than having the choice made for her. The ending with Steve and the baby and the rattle is heartbreakingly perfect.

  4. Esp, I love that Kayla gets to be a little irrational too. It makes perfect sense that as a mother of an infant, her first thought is to keep the baby with her, no matter what. I love her gradual realization that it might not be the best thing. It works perfectly.

    And I love how Steve supports her at every turn, in both decisions that she makes. That conversation you mention is great, when Kayla is fretting before they find out the social worker’s decision, and she asks him what he’ll do if the social worker denies their request. I love how calmly Steve reassures her that he’ll take the baby home and take care of her the best he can. I love how Kayla immediately calms down after that. This whole arc says so much about their relationship, their history.

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