I just finished watching Eric and Nicole’s whole story on YouTube.
(Well, as much as I could. There were some parts I couldn’t find. And, I admit, I skipped some of the elephant stuff. Forgive me if I get anything wrong here!)
The premise of the relationship is genius. These two have a history (when Eric was played by a different actor), and were each other’s first loves. He comes back to town when Nicole is at a low point — only now, he’s a priest. He is genuinely sweet to her when most people in town hate her guts. She gets a job at the church, and Eric ministers to his little lost lamb. She develops a crush on him.
As for how Eric feels for Nicole, that’s a little trickier. Here’s a scene where we start to see he is not as neutral and priestly as he wants to be:
What I love about them is the perfect marrying of opposites. Greg Vaughan’s Eric is intense, idealistic, and a little naive. Nicole is snarky, worldly, twice-divorced, and given to cleavage-baring outfits. (She’s also vulnerable and filled with self-hating doubts.) In heels, she’s a little taller than he is.
I read a comment on a message board recently that Eric is the “girl” in the relationship. This was not intended as a compliment, but this person was onto something. When they start to get together, former priest Eric tells Nicole he wants to follow the church’s teaching on premarital sex. (Her response, referring to their previous relationship: “Aren’t we grandfathered in?”) This leads to some very sweet, very hot scenes where Nicole is trying to seduce him and he’s trying to protect his virtue:
(On a side note, Eric is the only soap character I’ve seen who sounds plausible saying “make love” instead of “have sex.” Last Friday is a perfect example: “What about the fact that we almost made love?” I can’t imagine any other soap male making that sound so natural – and swoonworthy! – exactly what the character would say.)
In another scene, soon after the scene above, Nicole has just gotten very upset, and he tells her earnestly, “Sometimes, your emotions take me by surprise.” This made me laugh, and put me in mind of a Frank Kennedy timidly trying to handle his Scarlett O’Hara:
Sometimes Frank sighed, thinking he had caught a tropic bird, all flame and jewel color, when a wren would have served him just as well. In fact, much better.
(Of course, Eric is much hotter than Frank Kennedy, and I want him to keep his tropic bird, with all her flame and jewel color.)
So they had some good conflict going, with Eric and Nicole trying to navigate the difference between them, not only the sex issue but also not being able to marry in the church (those two divorces). Naturally that was all too subtle for Days, and they had to blow them up over something much bigger – and stupider.
No, I take that back. This was actually a good time to blow them up and introduce a third party or two, when they were still working things out. Nicole’s shredding of the evidence that would reinstate him in the priesthood at least related to the issues they were navigating: Eric’s ambivalence about leaving the priesthood, and Nicole’s history of not trusting a man to love her. When Eric turned into Judgy McJudgerson, at first I could see it. Sometimes people who are intense and naive can become narrow-minded and judgmental. They didn’t execute it well – way too over the top, lasting far too long – but the idea of it could have worked.
But, those third parties – oy. It made no sense to put Nicole with Daniel – aka Judgy Judgerson, the second – after what just happened with Eric. As for Eric, instead of Serena, I think they should have given him his wren. Someone younger, sweet, virginal, a bit prim, and, above all, Catholic. She, unlike Nicole, would be fine waiting for sex until marriage. It’s what she’s always planned to do! Eric would walk her home and kiss her chastely on the cheek in front of her door, and on his way home run into Nicole for one of those “I hate you”/”I want to jump your bones” encounters. (The only thing they did right about the breakup.)
So, good girl versus bad girl. But, Eric would discover that the “bad” girl is a better match for him than the good one. But by the time he realizes it, she’s with someone else, someone who is the exact opposite of Eric. Someone laid-back, fun-loving, maybe a bit of an alpha male.
Then he has to win her back. Sigh. Could have been awesome.
They’ve still got a chance, of course, for the second half of this scenario. I say cautiously — very cautiously — that I’m actually excited for this triangle with Daniel, with Nicole in the middle. They seem to be setting up Daniel as the “safe” choice, the person she thinks she should choose. She pretty much came out and said that today (7/7); that here’s a great guy (at least according to the show!) who loves her and is ready to commit. Why wouldn’t she jump at that?
(The other piece they should include, by the way, is why Nicole doesn’t trust that Eric could be that guy. I really wanted her to mention, in their discussion on Friday, that two weeks ago he was ready to move to Hawaii with Serena. That would suggest she thinks his profession of love — excuse me, “feelings” — was just the near-death experience talking.)
If they do it right, Eric will be the one fighting for her, eating his heart out that she’s with someone else. He does deserve it, after this past year. And she’ll be resisting, insisting she’s happy with Daniel, but we see that if she could just admit it, Eric is the one she truly loves. And then, of course, plenty of soapy situations that keep throwing them together …
You’ve got a second chance, Days. Don’t screw it up again.