Last year I started a rewatch of Steve and Kayla’s first run, and then I let it slip through the cracks. I think now is a perfect time to pick up that thread again. I left them in Stockholm with the omelet dinner and what happened afterwards. My last post was on this adorable scene.
That brings us to one of the best mini-storylines Steve and Kayla ever had, the emeralds storyline. This is similar in structure to the arc of the failed date. The show teases us by inching forward, then slaps us down very painfully, then bounces us back up again to dizzying heights. Ah, I didn’t appreciate the drama of a well done storyline back then. I was too busy being played like a violin as the show jerked my emotions around. (And I mean that in the best way possible.)
This story marks the last time Steve does — well, almost does — something criminal. There will be times that he’ll be suspected of doing something bad (like shooting Harper Deveraux), but this is really the last gasp of “thug” Steve.
One thing that jumped out at me this time is how delicate and complex their dynamic is. We all remember Determined Kayla, but even here, when she was at the height of her confidence, she wasn’t always in pursuit mode. She often took steps back, in large and small ways. And Steve wasn’t always running away — he reached out, he hung around, he kissed her. It’s a delicate dance that shifted the power back and forth and kept things from being too one-sided.
The show was very careful to make it clear that the big step forward in this storyline — that kiss — doesn’t erase their problems. (And oh, to have such clarity about what their issues actually are!) In fact, as we’ll see, their kiss seems to happen almost in spite of themselves, and raises the stakes of their issues without resolving them.
Let’s get started:
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This is the “inching forward” part — ah, they really knew how to tantalize us back then. Steve’s monologue at the outset is hilarious. I love that he teases her about her “Sound of Music” wardrobe. One thing I love about Steve and Kayla is how much they obviously enjoy each other. Sometimes with these “opposite attract” couples it’s not clear that these people would really have anything to say to each other after they get together. That’s not true for these two. There is a sheer enjoyment of each other’s company that goes way beyond chemistry.
Back to the scene. When Steve realizes he’s talking to an empty room, he panics. Kayla shows back up right away, but panic and danger are always a good excuse for a desperate hug: “if anything happened to you …” (Thanks, Orpheus! Maybe you can work your magic again now!)
When Kayla tells Steve he looks nice, his reaction, his obvious surprise and pleasure, his attempt to deflect — “it’s just a shirt and a pair of pants” — is really kind of heartbreaking. Then — one of the small steps back I was talking about above — she gets shy about her new dress and tells him to “forget it.” In reaction, Steve reaches out — he grabs her as she turns away and says “go put the dress on.”
While Kayla is changing, Steve actually primps a little, and goes the mirror for a Steve-in-the-mirror scene: “you’re good looking, yes you are,” he says. “Keep telling yourself that,” he half-sneers, hitting the mirror, but he laughs and fails to reach his usual levels of self-loathing. He’s too happy for that right now.
She comes out, and there’s so much unresolved sexual tension when he zips up her dress – and the looooong look while he touches her face. As we all scream at the TV “Just kiss her, you fool!”
It doesn’t happen … but things are going so well, surely it will be soon, very soon …
At dinner, Steve warms up a little and actually manages to give Kayla a compliment. “You look so pretty.” He also accepts one, when Kayla tells him he has “a lot of nice qualities.” Steve aims for a sleazy comeback but trails off. “What, no punchline?” Kayla says, smiling, watching him intently. Barriers are falling all over the place. Then the crucial exchange:
K: Underneath that tough exterior, there’s part of you I always knew was there. Someone who is good, caring, loyal …
S: If you see it, baby … you’re the only one who’s ever believed it.
This is key — he doesn’t believe it. But he’s starting to bask in that belief of hers. Kayla sees that, sees him softening. Maybe it’s enough that she believes? I think they are both toying with the idea that it is. Kayla’s confidence is at an all time high here. Remember she’s only recently decided to openly pursue him. And really, it’s been going rather well. We viewers have been lulled into a false sense of security too.
And that’s when Steve’s old friend comes in with his emeralds.
So their night is busted up. Steve yells at Kayla. She runs away. And he takes the emeralds.
Okay, not good. Now we’re nervous. But, it’s not immediately clear that this is going to be fatal:
Back at the hotel, they fight it out. We’ve gotten spoiled in Stockholm – even their fights have mostly been productive. Kayla’s mad, but she ends up pressing him again, that (over?)confidence again on full display: “I can make it happen, Steve.” All he has to do is “let it happen.” Steve wavers — saying hoarsely, “How?” — but remembers the emeralds and backs off and pushes her away again. All right, but … he’s done that before. And the next morning he’s happy, teasing and flirtatious, and he orders breakfast for them both — making up for their ruined dinner the night before. Reaching out again! And he’s still got time to change his mind, right?
Their game of “Ask Me Anything” after breakfast is wonderful. Does it get better than this? More playful sparring, more sexual tension. But under the guise of the game, they both ask what they’ve been dying to know. For Steve, “What do you see in me?” (And oh, his tremor, his look of vulnerability, as he brings out the question!)
For Kayla: “Are things going to be different when we get back to Salem?” Is he going to back away again, as he has so many times before? Is this step forward finally going to stick? Steve hesitates, but then answers. “Oh yeah.” How can he make that promise, look into those eyes, and still smuggle the emeralds?
Answer: he can’t. He leaves the emeralds behind, in his jacket. And we breathe a sigh of relief …
… but then Kayla, helpful Kayla, grabs the jacket on her way out.
And we’re off.