The subtitle of the Britta storyline could be “Kayla takes a step back.” And just like they did with Steve’s hookup with Britta, the show gives us multiple reasons why Kayla does so.
It all starts lightly enough. Kayla sees Britta in Steve’s apartment the morning after their hookup, and it is obvious what happened there last night. Her dismay and jealousy are played lightly, almost for comedy — Steve is most unseemly in his delight about it. Later the same day, Steve carries Hope to the Emergency Center when he finds her collapsed on the pier, and Kayla sees him caring for her and speaking tenderly to her. We seem on familiar ground here: Kayla is seeing that softer side of Steve, giving her insight into what he keeps hidden.
But it’s a little bit different, perhaps, to see Steve being a sweetheart to Hope, compared to watching him a be a sweetheart to Max. Especially after seeing him with Britta too. Being Kayla, that is, being forthright, direct, and always ready to challenge someone (especially Steve), she asks him outright, why is he so nice to Hope, and such a jerk to her? That doesn’t go so well:
But still, maybe she’s not ready to give up on him quite yet. In that scene, she sees that he lost his harmonica. She buys him a new one. But when she’s about to give it to him, she sees Steve with Britta for a third time. She goes out with Chris instead, and sees them a fourth time: Steve, Britta, and Bo seemingly out getting drunk together. (Actually, it’s much more complicated than that: Britta drugged Bo to get a picture of his tattoo, and Steve catches them when he goes to her room … because he saw Kayla with Chris! I love the circularity of it all. This is how you use third parties, Days!)
Let’s watch this unfold in these scenes. This is when Kayla first tries to give Steve the harmonica:
Notice how much softer and friendlier she is in that scene (before Britta’s intrusion), compared to this one, a few days later, when he finally gets it:
Kayla obviously feels off-balance explaining why she bought the harmonica, and she knows he’s probably not buying her story about it being “for Max.” I think that makes her feel vulnerable, and makes her a little bit frosty in the scene that follows, when they talk about the family meeting about Max’s school, and Steve obviously feels excluded. I get the feeling she is deliberately refusing to read his signals, to look past his defenses like she usually does. Why should she, if he’s with Britta? Or if he just acts like a jerk most of the time anyway?
All the same, if he is going to meet her halfway, maybe … and that brings us to the second scene in the above clip, which takes place later the same day. They have a very interesting conversation about being scared. I love that Steve can’t believe “Florence Nightingale” is ever scared. He already has a sense of how strong Kayla is. I think when Kayla says she’s scared of the unknown, she’s talking about him, or rather their (potential) relationship. And then Steve’s honest question, what does she do when she’s scared? When she says, first she admits that she’s scared, I think he can’t imagine ever doing that. So again, he retreats behind his sleazy guy act.
Kayla gets mad, but her line, “I thought we were having a normal conversation,” is ironic, given how extremely unusual it is for Steve to have a conversation without defenses — about as abnormal as you can imagine. But Kayla at this time is not in the mood to make allowances.