Well, I have now recovered sufficiently from the quivering puddle of goo I become after getting all the way through Steve’s death (sob!). I think I’m finally ready to blog about it, so here we go!
First of all, I just have to say how impressed I am at how well the whole thing is handled, plot-wise. Nowadays they would toss Steve down the Salem Stairs of Death and call it a day. Here, they do an excellent job folding his death into an umbrella story, and then gathering all his family and friends around in the hospital and sending him off in grand old soapy style. (There’s so much to talk about, I’m going to split it up over a number of different blog posts.)
They also do something quite ingenious, before we even get to the accident itself. Steve and Kayla start planning a trip around the world, setting up a Bo-and-Hope style sendoff. This ups the ante and the angst factor when Steve decides to stick around for “one last case” and it turns out, indeed, to be his last case. They were so close to their happy ending. But it also allows everyone on the show (and in the audience) one big happy goodbye, before the sturm und drang of the accident and his death.
Here’s an example of the kind of scene I mean:
This is just a very cute scene. Some of it sounds ad libbed to me, like Steve’s comment that he always wanted to be a “one-eyed actor” and Kayla saying, “Westerns!” Hee. Steve’s line about “I’m going to die one happy dude” is heartbreaking, of course, but also a tiny bit consoling. He did die a happy man—and after the life he led, before he met Kayla, that is no small miracle.
For Kayla, no such consoling thoughts exist. So we have to take our comfort from other things. And here’s one thing: Steve’s death gives Mary Beth Evans the chance for an acting tour de force. Let me fast forward for a moment and give you a little tease, in a scene that bookends the scene above very nicely:
Isn’t Mary Beth incredible? The contrast between the Kayla on the tape and the Kayla watching the tape is so stark—complete happiness versus complete devastation. I love her anger at Shane and how she goes to leave the room when he wants to watch this—it’s a way of showing how fresh her pain still is. But then she stops by the door after all. She can’t help watching. The camerawork is perfect, just stays right on her face as she contemplates everything she has lost. Her facial expressions are perfect. Listening to Steve’s lines about having more children, her expression just breaks my heart—she’s thinking of what will never happen.
(And all I can say is THANK GOD for the 2000’s return and little Joe. I wasn’t in favor of a baby story for Steve and Kayla when they came back; I thought it would take them out of having an active role on the show. But I have to admit, sometimes it was knowing that they got back together and got their happy ending—complete with baby makes three—was all that was getting me through this!)