Ron’s second week was solid soap. I appreciate how each episode zips along — there is momentum, and energy, and suspense. I appreciate good plotting, and the suspense surrounding Dario’s arrest and attempt at blackmail, plus the multiple-character maneuvering over Theo’s laptop, was particularly well constructed. I am liking Marci Miller and Chabby 3.0 more and more. Friday’s cliffhangers — three of them! — were all terrific and have me looking forward to next week.
But, I need to talk about Tuesday’s Ericole scenes. First, can we take a moment to appreciate Greg Vaughan as one of the best male criers in the business:
I loved that Eric was touchy and angry when Nicole first found the letters, and snapped at her for snooping in his desk. For all that I love Eric’s tortured, against-all-reason love for Nicole, that doesn’t mean I want to see him being a spineless noodle — in fact, the pride and anger makes the suppressed longing all the more appealing.
That’s why I can’t get enthusiastic about Jeneric, even though I get why people would, for the character Eric’s sake — hey, we even saw him smile again on Monday! But Greg Vaughan plays intense, bottled-up emotion so well, and I can’t see a Jeneric relationship being anything but cute. As I said last week about Chad, one of my favorite things about soaps is the intense, tortured loyal man in love. And what could be more tortured than being intensely in love with a woman whose fiancé you killed?
Of course, Days has failed immensely in the characterization of Nicole this past year. She is not naturally a suffering heroine type. Even though Arianne Zucker can do suffering and angst, it is best when it is layered with some zip and some spunk and some snark. Tuesday went a little ways toward repairing the damage done — at least, it fixed the hypocrisy of her withholding forgiveness from Eric when she has been forgiven of at least equal crimes. In fact, I would say the dialogue would have been better if it had emphasized that aspect, rather than how Saint Daniel would want her to forgive.
In the end, perhaps the crucial question is not whether Nicole can forgive Eric but whether the viewers can forgive Nicole. I really have no idea if Ron will go for it with Ericole or how he would even approach it, given that Ari is leaving … but, for me anyway, the heart wants what the heart wants, lol.
Turning to Steve and Kayla — I have mixed feelings. It was a fantastic coincidence that Steve and Kayla’s yacht wedding anniversary happened to fall in Ron’s first full week, and kudos to him and his team for taking advantage of it. Seeing Steve give Kayla a yellow rose, sign “Happy Anniversary, Sweetness,” give her a bracelet with an anchor charm, and then swoop her into a slow dance … well, my Stayla shipper cup runneth over. All this shows a lovely the attention to history (the sign language particularly made me swoon) and besides, it fits with the character of Steve — he was always given to outsized romantic gestures.
I could be churlish and point out that these little details cost a writer nothing and are no substitute for a actual frontburner story, but I won’t do that. Instead I’ll give Ron (or Sheri) full credit for this … and still go on to complain about the Tripp story.
Looking back on it, it is truly pitiful how badly it has been executed. I would just like to point out that even though I would have always been against the idea of ANOTHER Ava-themed story, this one could have been actually good. Imagine if Tripp had come to town as a street kid with a rough, hardscrabble past. He knows Ava is his mother, but he doesn’t know who his father is.
He has some early, negative interaction with Steve — maybe he is caught stealing and Steve catches him. He is arrested and gets community service — he doesn’t know Steve actually helped him by talking down the charges and getting him out of jail time.
Tripp tracks down Angelo, who takes him in and gives him a home (first one he’s had that’s not foster care). Angelo feeds him a lot of lies about how the newspaper stories about his mother are wrong; she was demonized to justify her killer: Steve.
Tripp could also interact with the teens in various ways; for our purposes, he gets to know Joey. Say Tripp truly is bright and has a lot of potential, and he expresses so much interest in medicine that Joey introduces him to Kayla.
In the meantime Steve has caught wind of possible child with Ava, and he is chasing around trying to find him. Kayla goes with him on some of these adventures. She has mixed feelings (which are shown to the audience and respected by Steve) about a child with Ava, but her mentoring of the street kid Tripp helps her reconcile herself to the idea a bit.
Tripp is shown growing close to Kayla, but he keeps his distance from Steve and acts weird when he is mentioned. Kayla and Joey attribute this to Steve catching him stealing. He discreetly quizzes Joey and Kayla about Steve and (in his mind, not openly) makes the most of Steve’s past mistakes to justify thinking Steve is really a bad guy. As time goes on, Tripp is torn between his revenge — that Angelo is egging him on about, and he feels a certain loyalty to him — and his genuine growing interest in being a doctor and his friendship with Joey and Kayla.
It all ends with Tripp kidnapping Steve with the intention of killing him, but he dithers. While Steve is missing, a lead comes through on the investigation that shows Kayla the truth: Tripp is Steve’s son. She runs to Angelo, figures out where Tripp is holding Steve, runs in just as Tripp is about to shoot Steve, shouting “Don’t kill him! He’s your father!”
Okay, I got a bit carried away there. The point is that this story did not have to be inherently bad, and so far Ron doesn’t seem to be fixing it. We don’t even know whether Kayla believes she is being framed or if she really made those mistakes. Tripp’s motivation for targeting Kayla is as weak as before, and he remains unsympathetic because of it. I’m delighted to see Steve finally suspicious of Tripp in Friday’s cliffhanger, but I’m worried about the story just being quickly wrapped up rather than fixed.