Can the leopard change his spots?
If this storyline were a magic 8-ball, it would say “Reply hazy, try again.”
On the plane on the way home from Stockholm, emboldened by their conversations in Stockholm, Kayla gives a sweet, sincere speech: “I’m not saying I could change you or you could change me, but we can change ourselves.” It all sounds so easy. And isn’t it? Steve left the emeralds behind, didn’t he? He silently takes her hand — the closest he can come to agreement.
Then it all unravels. Boom, boom, boom. The pieces fall so perfectly, one after another, for maximum pain and humiliation. Steve falls asleep, Kayla puts on his jacket. Steve sees the customs officials, then turns to see Kayla wearing his jacket. He tries to trade coats. It’s too late. He is detained, questioned, strip searched, down to the removal of his patch. Then Kayla is grabbed and strip searched too. Steve is helpless to prevent any of it, to protect Kayla or keep her out of it.
The icing on the cake: Chris witnesses it all. Because Kayla believed in Steve, she believed in his innocence, she helpfully called Chris, her lawyer friend, to help him out …. and then she finds the emeralds. The undercurrents in the scene with Chris — Kayla shooting daggers with her eyes at Steve, hugging Chris as Steve looks on, them both sourly agreeing to go to Marlena’s party, and the capper … Kayla saying so disdainfully “Oh, I almost forgot … your jacket.” Ouch.
The agonizing dance continues over the next few days. (Honestly, how could I stand to watch this when it first aired?)
Warner shows up making threats, believing he’s been double crossed. Steve has to repeatedly go to Kayla and ask her for the emeralds. But Kayla is so angry that she won’t even admit that she has them. It all ends with Steve being stabbed by Warner and Steve desperately concealing his injury from Kayla, feeding every negative opinion she has about him to get rid of her as quickly as possible.
Then, finally, the turning point:
Kayla comes back. She sees the blood on the snow and follows him, and finds him bleeding on his steps. One of my favorite exchanges:
K: I’m going to help you whether you like it or not.
S: I don’t like it.
It kind of breaks my heart, the way Kayla helps him and enters into his problems, before she ever finds out he didn’t really intend to smuggle the emeralds. The part that always gets me is when she says, “Look, we’re both angry …” she’s obviously trying to calm things down and work through it together. But Steve is too upset to listen.
He lets her have it with both barrels. When he taps his chest and says he’s already dead — we haven’t seen Steve like this for a long time. But it makes sense. This is all an overreaction, an overcorrection. He tried to do something right, and it blew up in his face. This, to him, puts the lie to what Kayla said on the plane, that you can choose who you want to be. He believed her, he bought into her vision of him, and now he’s doubly angry at her: for grabbing the jacket, sure, but mostly for raising his hopes and telling him “everything could be different.” The ultimate con.
He yells at her to get out, and she goes.
One thing he told her is people like her have choices. Unlike him, she can decide how she wants to live. But … maybe Kayla doesn’t have as many choices as he thinks. She comes back, and it’s really a key moment in their relationship. Remember how sure she was in Stockholm, how confident (“I found out I was right”) and compare that to what she says here: “It doesn’t matter what I want… I can’t stay from you.” This is the first time that Kayla’s need for Steve really breaks to the surface. It supersedes everything else — her anger and disappointment, his anger and certainty they don’t belong together, all the crap he just threw at her.
And that breaks through. He understands, because that’s what he feels. Needing her, desiring her, against all logic and reason. And he can’t help but respond to that.
What a kiss! (And, finally!)
Another favorite moment: when she asks what they’re going to do now, and he thinks she means about the emeralds, but it turns out she’s saying she wants to sleep with him. Mr. Sleazeball’s shocked reaction is priceless. Ha!
But what have they gained, really? He’s taken that step forward, but without any belief that anything good will come from it: “There’s no hope for us, you know that.”
She’ll recover her belief in him, that certainty that he’s a good man, and they are, after all, right for each other. But it’s telling that what she says tonight is “I don’t care.”