Days takes a simple premise – Kayla asks Steve to the loft for dinner – and turns it into an emotional roller coaster. They tease our hopes up to a maddening pitch and then knock us down to the depths of despair. Then they turn around and bounce us back up again with one of the greatest breakthrough scenes of all time.
I’m going to spread my discussion of this over a couple of posts. Let’s take a look at the setup, when Kayla issues her invitation:
This scene is complicated wonderfully by the presence of Chris. First we see Steve’s jealousy, as Steve looks on while Kayla hugs Chris excitedly over some football tickets. Then, when Kayla actually asks Steve to come to dinner, Steve hedges – not very convincingly – before accepting. (Also, his “I didn’t see you there” after watching her hug Chris is endearingly transparent).
The key part of this scene is Chris’s conversation with Steve afterwards. This is brilliantly written. It’s easier for Steve to fight back against Chris when he accuses him of seeing Kayla as just another notch in his belt, or doing something that will put Kayla in jail. But then Chris says Steve might be a good man underneath the chip on his shoulder, and he’s asking that good man to leave Kayla alone. Now Chris is attacking Steve on his weakest side.
Steve fights that off, too, saying he doesn’t think Kayla would appreciate her friends talking behind her back and trying to run her life. He almost sounds like Kayla there! But as we’ll see, this is mostly bravado. I don’t think we hear Steve talk like that again until the summer on the run.
As we watch them both get ready, and the anticipation builds for them both, I find it very distressing to watch Kayla’s excitement and anticipation, knowing what is going to happen. (And I find Steve’s leather blazer and bolo tie distressing too, but in a different way.)
When I was watching this the first time, as soon as Kayla had the fantasy of what would happen at their date, I suspected that the reality would be much different. But still I hoped. It all ends with a Friday cliffhanger – such a simple thing. Steve is all ready, he has his bouquet of yellow roses, and he hears Chris’s voice in his head, telling him to leave Kayla alone. Will he stay or will he go?
That was looooong weekend to wait through. Then, Bo happens:
This is torture. It kills me that Bo’s lecture to Kayla has a little more weight now, in this situation. She’s all dressed up, her hopes were high, and she has to admit that Steve is late. She fights Bo’s warnings off, but we can see she isn’t as sure of herself as she has been before.
Then, when Bo leaves, he runs into Steve. Oh, he was so close, just outside the door!
In Steve, Bo finds a more receptive audience for his lecture than he did with Kayla. Just like Chris, Bo manages to find the chinks in Steve’s armor. But he’s even more effective then Chris because of the friendship he and Steve shared. He plays on that friendship, on the feelings that Steve still has for Bo. He says he’s not “telling” Steve to stay away from Kayla this time, he’s asking. And if Steve has any decency left, just a little from the old days, he’ll stay away from Kayla. That’s what gets to Steve, not Bo’s threats.
Next: the depths.