Watching Drake Hogestyn during this time period really reminds me of how much I used to like him. In fact, I would have to say he is my favorite Roman. I didn’t see the drama around Roman I’s return and the reveal that Roman II was actually just memoryless “John Black” after all (though I will get to see some of it on my DVDs, I think), but I’ve never been sure how I feel about that plot twist. On the one hand, it seems crazy after Roman II had recovered his memory and been firmly established. On the other, what a great way to bring back Roman I and give some serious angst to Roman II. But, I have to say, with the benefit of hindsight, knowing what eventually happened—that John’s backstory just became a pastiche of different retcons, that he never recovered his memory, and he lost all his ties to the canvas except Marlena and Belle, that Wayne Northrup didn’t stick around anyway—it’s hard to feel like it was a net positive.
During his time as Roman, Drake had a natural chemistry with his onscreen siblings that I really appreciated. In the section I am watching now, the show uses Roman’s attempts to clear his sister Kayla to create some very believable angst for Isabella and Roman.
Kayla, as we all know, is in prison for Marina’s murder. Roman has been trying to find the real killer, and he has been falling for Marina’s sister Isabella. But, suddenly he finds a piece of evidence that indicates the real killer might be … Isabella. Drake really does a beautiful job showing Roman’s dilemma here. He never questions the fact that he has to free Kayla. But, in execution it’s not that simple. He tries to put some distance between himself and Isabella, but of course she wants to know why. He has to keep putting her off, but he also has to investigate her without tipping his hand. He can’t quite believe that she’s guilty, but he doesn’t trust his own judgment because of what he feels for her. And he wants to investigate her without using her feelings for him to do it, but that turns out not to be so easy either. It all unfolds in a wonderfully complex way.
Here is a great scene where Roman tries to break up with Isabella after he has found out an earring from the crime scene belongs to her. After that, he goes to see Kayla in prison:
Drake does really, really well (almost surprisingly so!) in both of these scenes. He really conveys how torn he is breaking things off with Isabella and how much he hates keeping secrets from her. And the scene with Kayla follows perfectly from that. We can see that Roman is shoring up his resolve the find the real killer by reminding himself who he is trying to save—no matter who gets hurt in the process. It raises the emotional stakes in a wonderful way to see Roman, as he’s talking to Kayla, choking up and almost breaking down, contemplating how much she means to him. And I love that what gets to him is a specific memory of a time Kayla stood by him when they were children, to remind him how much he wants to stand by her now.
Too bad that memory turns out to have been falsely implanted by Stefano … or something. This is a case where I find it’s best to apply my Retcon Wall of Separation. It’s much less frustrating that way.