Well, I have to give Ron credit. He took a shit story, and with a lot of help from Mary Beth and Stephen, managed to spin a little bit of gold from it.
There’s still a lot of problems with the story, mostly centered around Tripp’s problematic characterization, but let’s start with the awesome Mary Beth Evans. No one cries like she can!
It’s a testament to both the writing and Mary Beth that during Wednesday’s scenes I was passionately rooting for Joey to change his mind and stay, because in general, this is the opposite of what I want. I think James Lastovic started out promising (and his blue eyes are a perfect mirror of Mary Beth’s), but he has sadly sunk in further and further as an actor during his time on the show. Also … I know it’s shallow, but I seriously cannot get over his hair. He looks like a member of Ratt.
More importantly, the character was severely damaged when Dena turned him into a killer. I genuinely think the only way to salvage the character is to send him off to prison, and bring him back in a year with a recast and a reboot, hopefully with some interesting layers.
It was so gratifying to hear Kayla’s point of view articulated at last. I was impressed with how Ron artfully reinvented Kayla’s previous cheerful welcoming of Tripp, by having her say “How could I say no? You put me in an impossible situation.” I also loved when she pointed out that Steve has a history of making unilateral decisions.
The dialogue in the Joey/Kayla scene was also excellent. When Kayla attributed his desire to turn himself in to a desire to earn Steve’s respect, I loved how he said it was not because of Steve, but because of HER and the values she raised him with. It was a perfect way to reconcile her (and the viewers) to his decision, because it paid tribute the one constant relationship in his life which has been too often overlooked.
I cannot say often enough how refreshing it is to see Kayla be able to be angry and to blame Steve, even to the point of being unfair. I was seeing some arguing on Twitter this week about who’s right, who’s wrong, and “team Kayla” and “team Steve.” I don’t care about that. Drama, the best drama, is when you can see both sides, sympathize with both of their pain. Layers, what are they?
The weak link in all of this is still Tripp. I hope Ron can save him because I know he’s still on the show, but at the moment I can’t stand the character. It think it might have been a mistake to go for the big dramatic showdown with the scalpel — I suspect that Ron wanted to give Tripp something in the ballpark of Joey’s bad acts, in order to put him on roughly equal footing with Joey. That solves some issues — it gave Tripp a reason to tell Joey not to confess, it gives Kayla a solid reason to say “If our son is going to prison, your son should too!” — but it creates new ones. I’m not going to forget the image of Tripp holding a knife to Kayla’s throat anytime soon, and I think Steve seems a little too willing to let bygones be bygones.
(Look at the framing of this shot — Steve watching Kayla and Joey leave, with Tripp lurking in the background. Perfect.)
But, these past two weeks have been damn good soap, so let us hope for better things. I’d like to see Steve think he can move past it and be there for his son “because that’s what parents do,” but with Joey gone and Kayla traumatized and angry, he’ll find it more difficult than he imagines. Stephen could really sell that kind of angst.
Screencaps Joanie (except the Ratt one 🙂 )