Steve’s death: Kayla

It’s a cold, dark, rainy Monday here, so here we go …

Steve’s death, Kayla

We start in the blue tunnel: when a teenage Stephanie (played by Stephen’s real life daughter) shows up and tells Steve that she has a boyfriend from the Riverfront who everyone says is bad news. I find this maybe just a little pat and convenient, but what saves it is the small smile that Kayla has on her face as Stephanie describes him; she knows just how Stephanie feels. Steve’s protectiveness and indignation is well played, as is his moment of shock when Stephanie tells him he can’t protect her: he won’t be there.

And this, of course, is what pushes Steve over the edge to fight his way back, out of the tunnel, and wake up. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, as a parent I understand that it’s not just love for your children that could be stronger than death, but the driving need to make sure they are safe. But on the other hand, as an S&K shipper I don’t like the implication that coming back for Kayla isn’t enough. The implication is no doubt unintentional—this is supercouple-era Days, after all!—but it is there.

But, Stephen does away with that implication by the way his eyes go right to Kayla, like she is his lifeline. I love that they gave Steve this hero moment by having him struggle back from death. It also gives Steve to interact with his family, outside the tunnel, before he is killed (again).

Steve’s death 5

I had a hard time deciding what moment I wanted to showcase for Kayla around Steve’s death. Mary Beth is so incredibly excellent all through. But it all comes together in the final moments, when Steve actually dies. When she lays down on his chest and tells him to take his strength from her, it’s perfect because it’s emblematic of their relationship. There has always been a wonderful contradiction inherent in their love story. Steve, so tough on the outside, was emotional, vulnerable, and full of love on the inside. And Kayla, her apparent sweetness and gentleness were wrapped around a core of steel.

But there is more to it than that. When Steve thanks Kayla “for my life,” I love how Mary Beth plays Kayla’s reaction, surprised and a little puzzled. Why should he be thanking her, what has she done to deserve thanks? All through their relationship, Mary Beth never played that Kayla as some kind of saint, taking on a charity case. She was scared and wary of Steve, and attracted to him, and fell in love with him—and through all of it, saw him as her equal. Kayla has always depended on Steve too, and drawn strength from him, and he’s maybe the only one she can truly let her guard down with.

And when we come to the final moment when the camera focuses on Kayla as the doctor is yelling and she’s pleading please don’t do this, please don’t take him, with all of those tears streaming down her face. And I can never watch this without tears streaming down mine as well.




17 thoughts on “Steve’s death: Kayla

  1. The scenes I avoid the most…Steve’s death and the subsequent agony of it all.

    I watched it in real time all those years ago, practically sobbing. I mean, Steve and Kayla were MINE. Heck, they still are. And while I love the other supercouples to some extent, none of their stories had the same impact on me that Steve and Kayla’s did…and this moment…Steve’s death…was unquestionably the most painful.

    Yes, Steve was alive. Yes, he came back. He was reunited with Kayla and Stephanie and they even have another baby–one they can raise together in a way that they were denied with Stephanie.

    But these scenes are still somehow tough to watch. I don’t really know how you do it.

    I’m SOOO glad they returned. Even with the shortcomings in story, because along with those shortcomings were moments of joy and fun and laughter. There was a courage sign. There was an “I love you” in sign. There were yellow roses a few times…and one time those roses were huge! The other time, they were petals…but Steve was prouder than punch of Kayla for “saving Bo” and I loved it. Even in their second run, their conversations had meaning…their issues had some depth. Unlike what I’ve seen in recent days, they didn’t ignore their problems. Well, maybe the Ava one for awhile, but that was rectified.

    Kayla is returning in some capacity and I’m glad. I love Mary Beth. But I want Steve and Kayla’s reunion to remain intact.

    I don’t think they’ll take that from us.

    Thank you for this blog. I appreciate it. I love reading it and the comments that follow it.

    I will always love Steve and Kayla.

  2. It’s interesting that Dream!Stephanie manages in one scene to be more interesting and sympathetic than either of the actual adult Stephanies ever were. I’ll always consider her character a missed opportunity …

    And I love Kayla, because when her man came home to her after 16 years she welcomed him back with open arms and did her best to help him through his mental problems … instead of screeching, whining, complaining constantly he was never there for them and then flaunting other men in his face. Kayla Brady Johnson, I salute you!

  3. Kris, thank you. And I agree that I am so glad they returned. I was disappointed in the stories they got because the potential was so much more. But looking back there were some really nice moments, some great drama and some wonderful romance. And watching Steve’s death (for the first time, for me) was so much easier because I knew they would get their happy ending.

    GnuHopper, I keep hearing about Jennifer and how she is acting. I’m so sorry it is being handled this way! I actually thought at the time that Kayla was presented as being a little too ready to forgive and a little too willing to overlook everything. I was annoyed that both of the triangles Steve and Kayla got in their second run were for Steve, and badly done at that. I thought a “Mr. Simple” triangle could have been really good, where Kayla had someone nice and calm and undemanding, who could be a foil for Steve. But a badly done triangle is badly done both ways.

  4. MBE simply destroys me throughout these scenes. There is no other word for it. It’s raw and painful and tears at your heart and soul. I love the lines about him taking what he needs from her because they are a direct callback to the talk after their yacht wedding. There, she told him she got the courage to speak again from him and he reversed that and said that courage is the courage he got from her. It was all about how they each got what they needed from the other. And these last moments reflect that.

    I also agree about how MBE plays Kayla’s reaction to Steve’s “thank you.” It is very fitting given that Kayla has never, ever, taken credit for changing Steve. She always said back then (and did in their second run too) that she didn’t change him, he just finally let everybody else see what she always saw in him. And I think that makes such a huge difference for the character and their relationship.

    It’s funny, I’m watching the Jack and Jennifer stuff and I actually like most of how Jen has responded. It’s, in many ways, what I wanted for Steve and Kayla with real internal conflicts to work through rather than just forgiving and forgetting like nothing happened. I guess maybe the grass is always greener on the other side of the storyline. 😉

  5. I get what you’re saying, esp. re: Jack and Jennifer in their current story, and if the story hadn’t played out in a similar fashion before, with Jennifer turning to other men when Jack disappointed her, then I would see merit in this storyline for her character, because they would be showing a time when she had had enough and couldn’t take anymore. But since this HAS played out before, with Jennifer always on the search for something else than what she has, it takes away its appeal for me.

    I would rather have Jack see that this is what Jennifer wants and for him to walk away to build a new life without her, accepting what she says, only to have her later question her choice and work to get HIM back…because that story hasn’t been told yet. Well, maybe in their early days…

    Re: Steve and Kayla

    I wouldn’t have minded an alternative for Kayla…a guy who loved and wanted her in Steve’s long absence. A man she was perhaps oblivious to, but who existed. Someone who would try to win her, forcing Steve to step up more in the return…so he would have to do some work to get his life back. That wasn’t the story that was told, but I think it would have been interesting to watch.

    I do love the moments in the second run that we DID get. We didn’t get near enough of them, but at least we got some, and just knowing they’re reunited does give me some comfort. I have my favorites in the second run for sure.

    I know those of you who are Steve and Kayla fans reading here do too.

    Maybe we should list ’em. And hey…do the Jack and Jen fans have favorites from this new return yet? And if so, are they loaded on youtube?

  6. Esp, I haven’t watched any of the Jack and Jen (only one scene), so I’m only going on what I’ve heard from Jack and Jen fans. I have a higher tolerance for triangles than most (my two favorite S&K storyline are the Britta triangle and the Jack triangle!), so I wonder what I would think of this one for Jack and Jen. It is annoying, as Kris points out, that the Jen/somebody/Jack triangle has played out too often on the Jen side. It’s weird how Days seems to settle one side of any couple to have triangles. You’d think they would mix it up for variety if nothing else.

    And you make an excellent point about the scene after the wedding when Steve says that any strength he has to give her, he got from her. I love how they both get strength from each other.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  7. Oh yeah, I know that the current J&J storyline is not going over well with J&J fans for several reasons. And, I’m not saying that it’s perfectly written or that I love everything about it. But, since I missed the years when Jen apparently had this same storyline, it feels new to me, even if it is repetative to everybody else. And, while I don’t love Dr. Dan’s involvement or some of the writing/acting choices by Missy Reeves, I do think the basic storyline is intriguing (in the context of modern days, not classic days). But I’ve been in the minority on that issue for a long time, so I get that most won’t agree with me. 🙂

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and thanks for this blog. It’s definitely one of the things I’m thankful for. 🙂

  8. Good to have another blog entry, mary pickford. The “death” of Steve was so so sad to watch. Great acting, by all. It is sad to think that when they did come back in 2005, the story was so bad, not that i was really watching after jack and jennifer left. the amnesia??? Please. Sad to think that steve and jack did not have the time to reconnect once again as brothers.

    as for the present incarnation of days. All i can say that i am totally disappointed. Previous posters have written on how Jennifer is being written, a strident harpy who jumps on EVERYTHING Jack does or says while doting on the supposed miracle egg baby of Maggie’s, the most perfect Dr.dan. Truthfully at this point, don’t want them to get together, Jack should move on as the Ms. Perfect seems to have. Let karma take its turn as Jack rebuilds his life , with allies and perhaps a new woman not on the canvas at this time and see how Jennifer Rose likes that.

  9. Marypickford, your blog rules. In case you didn’t know.

    “There has always been a wonderful contradiction inherent in their love story. Steve, so tough on the outside, was emotional, vulnerable, and full of love on the inside. And Kayla, her apparent sweetness and gentleness were wrapped around a core of steel.” Yes! This is what I’ve been thinking, and you expressed it so well here. Shoot, Steve’s death is so darn beautiful, I sometimes wonder if they should have left it there. But then I’m glad they didn’t, even though their second run was disappointing. There are so many things they could have done so much better. As a Jack fan, the failure to capitalize on Steve and Jack more than they did is sad to me. However, at least Steve and Kayla got to be reunited. As a Jack and Jennifer lover, right now I’m a bit envious. (I’m still hoping my boy and my girl will walk off into the sunset together eventually, but it’d be nice if the show didn’t get me hating the girl before we get there.) Though Kayla is returning, and I’m looking forward to it, but I also worry about what will happen.

    Re: Jack and Jennifer. It’s not that I completely disagree with Esp, but the problem is that the show seems to want me to buy that Jennifer’s love for Daniel actually rivals her love for Jack. That was not the way to play it. Let her be angry with Jack or too afraid of being hurt again to go back there, but don’t try to tell me the pathetic excuse for a love story that Daniel and Jennifer have had can create the kind of love that can contend with what Jennifer feels for Jack. Sure, I kind of want her to be initially with Daniel for the Jack and Jennifer angst, but give more depth and more realistic reasons behind her staying with Daniel. And for the love, having her date both guys? Also, I can’t spin her into not looking straight shallow when she can’t keep her lips off Daniel and tells him how she wished she could have spent Thanksgiving with him (thus ripping away what little nice family stuff we’d gotten with Jennifer/Jack/Abby) while Jack suffers in the next scene. Also, I am annoyed with the one sided and skewed picture the show has presented regarding Jack and Jennifer and their problems. I do have hope that the ruination of Jennifer is leading to some good story involving a mighty fall for Jennifer and to her finally having to fight for Jack again, but there is a problem with Jennifer not showing the necessary subtext. On the bright side, I’m loving Jack. So far, I think these writers are doing much better by him than the writers of the second run did.

  10. Thank you, Angie. 🙂

    A good triangle is a soap opera Holy Grail. As I said above, my favorite storylines for Steve and Kayla were both triangles—the short Britta/Steve/Kayla triangle and the behemoth Steve/Kayla/Jack triangle. But bad triangles are so frequent, and soaps get lazy. In my opinion, in a good triangle the writers and actors all know who the rooting couple is. There can be angst and uncertainty aplenty, of course. But it’s important to keep the thread going so that we see that Jennifer (in this case) truly loves Jack but is angry at him, or scared of being hurt, or looking for the “easier” relationship. There’s a line you have to walk between making the third point on the triangle a credible threat and yet not losing the rootability of the endgame relationship. It’s tough to do and it’s easy to do badly.

    Not everyone agrees with me that a good triangle knows who the endgame is, though. I can see that in theory, but in practice I can’t think of a good triangle where I could see the person in the middle ending up with either person.

    • Marypickford, I completely agree with you regarding triangles. There always are, I’m sure, a few fans out there who want the non-rooting couple, but I think it’s better practice to keep the fans more united on which is the rooting couple. Days‘ current fan base war mentality is, I think, foolish. The show didn’t tick off and alienate half of the fans when Jack kidnapped Jennifer from her wedding to Emilio—people didn’t feel robbed of Emilio/Jennifer. I really can’t imagine anyone was hoping Kayla would actually get over Steve and want Jack. We didn’t need to be unsure which option the central character actually loved in order to be drawn in. In fact, I’m less drawn in when I’m unsure; I find myself not liking the central figure when I don’t know where his/her heart actually is, because he/she appears fickle. Watching Days when I was a kid, back in J&J’s heyday, I gleefully waited for each new bit of angst, because I knew there’d be payoff. Now, I watch warily, and it often feels like masochism. Truthfully, I almost wish I didn’t love Jack so darn much or that they’d never brought Jennifer back in the first place, because then I’d just be able to quit watching. If I were coming in with no history, Daniel and Jennifer would not have been strong enough to make me care about them, and the show is failing to show me that Jennifer’s heart is really with Jack either, so I don’t think I’d be interested in this triangle. I might be interested in Jack’s PTSD story, but not the triangle.

  11. after watching the juxtaposition of the heart-breaking scenes of jack, finally telling marlena of the truth about the torture and the death of his friend and fellow hostage in horrific detail, we are “treated” with scenes of jennifer all lovey dovey with her latest love biscuit.. can the writer be making us want to dislike jennifer, even more??? i have posted on another websites that i think that it is time to get off the j/j bandwagon, can we ever believe it , when she says that it is jACK THAT SHE REALLY REALLY WANTS??? Sorry for the capitals, but i feel that there is no rooting value for this last supercouple of days.. sad but true

  12. mary pickford…wishing you a happy new year in 2012.. much health, happiness and family time because in the end that is what matters most.

    hoping to see a new blog from you in the new year…it has been a while… since i have been home for christmas break iI have watched some episode which left me disinheartened.. maybe the best way to remember the magic of jack and jennifer was in 2006, when the beloved alice was there to wish them Godspeed.. and to disregard what has been on our tv screens this past year

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