Off the wagon

Sorry for the long time without a post, everybody. I honestly think now that I would have been better off not watching Days for the last six months of Dena, and started fresh when Ron’s material started. As it was, almost all the characters that were featured heavily under Dena I grew to dislike or (what is almost worse) be bored and impatient with.

But this last couple of weeks  — despite the relative absence of Steve and Kayla, grr — I have finally started to truly enjoy the show and look forward to watching each day. So far I’m excited to see how the double wedding will play out, but let me back up a little and talk about some other stories first.

Let me start with Lucas. I have been off and on over the years with Lucas/Bryan Dattilo, but I think this story has really given him a chance to shine. I particularly like how even though the trigger to his relapse was Adrienne/Bonnie dumping him, the show has made it clear that it is about so much more than that. Kate’s decision to say “I told you so,” fire him, and then try to save him, is unfortunately in character, and it has given Lauren Koslow the best material she’s had in years, too.

It’s an old cliche in soapland that characters will be forgotten for years, and then right before they come back, everyone is talking about them. But when drunk Lucas ran into Gabi and Ari and Gabi made it clear she is going to keep Ari away from him, it gave Lucas another reason to feel he’s losing everything, and it led naturally to thoughts of Will … right before he stumbled into the church to see Will’s widower ready to marry someone else. Genius!

I really, really liked Lucas’s rant to the two prospective married couples. First of all, it drives me crazy when soap writers feel the need to have everyone approve of everyone else. So when Lucas lashed out not just at Sonny but at Chabby as well — his point about the 40% divorce rate was perfect, and he could have added that it’s more like 90% in Salem — it was a refreshing change of pace.

Lucas’s conversation with Will was also surprisingly nuanced. I particularly liked how Lucas kept saying Will was just his own drunk mind talking to him, and Will neatly turned that around to mean that Lucas knew everything Will said was true. Chandler Massey’s mournful demeanor added just the right pathos to the scene, and he and Bryan played off one another perfectly as father and son. I didn’t see all of Chandler’s first run as Will, but it always seemed the show focused more on his relationship with his mother. So this was particularly gratifying.

I supect that Will’s return is going to be just what is needed to jolt me into caring again about Sonny and Paul.

I always thought that the triangle of Will/Sonny/Paul had the potential to be far, far better than it was. A triangle where ALL points of the triangle can be paired with each other should have been a gift to a creative soap writer, but it was hampered by the flat, repetitive writing, Will’s abrupt change of character to “baby Sami,” and Guy Wilson’s acting. Let’s hope Ron has something better in mind.

Compared to Lucas’s abrupt fall off the wagon, Brady’s has been more gradual, but no less serious. I really like that the show had them fall off the wagon together, but then took them in different directions.

I would have liked to see the show connect the dots a little bit more to explain why Brady would suddenly turn to the dark side (lots of angst to mine in Theresa’s departure), but I do love the result. Brady is undoubtedly handsome and charming, but he has always been just kind of there for me as a romantic lead. But give him some alcohol or some cocaine, let him be eaten up with jealousy, and suddenly I’m interested.

I think what Eric Martsolf is particularly good at playing is the strenuous self-deceit that goes into maintaining the false front of an addict; it’s rather like the old saying that the best liars are those who believe their own lies. When he protests that he’s fine, Nicole hanging out with Eric is fine, no, he doesn’t want to drink, everything is FINE — it’s clear that he wants it to be true so much that at that moment, it feels true. And the stress of maintaining that false front makes him lash out all the more behind Nicole’s back.

That brings me to Eric and Nicole. As a shipper of course I am delighted that Ron clearly intends to revisit them one more time — short-lived though it may be. I’ve seen many people pose the question about what that means for Eric after Nicole leaves in November –and it’s a good question! — but at the moment I refuse to think that far ahead.

The story is moving quickly, by necessity, but so far logically. The show has taken advantage of the fact that Nicole has hated Eric for so long, TOO LONG, to slyly suggest that finally forgiving him has been like a dam bursting. This round of the Bricole relationship, as with all things Dena, has been poorly explained, but I’m willing to squint my eyes a little and say that both Nicole and Brady got involved with the other as a safe harbor. Brady, burned by Theresa who (he thinks) abandoned him, and Nicole after making the colossal mistake of getting involved with Deimos. I could take it one step further (and maybe get into fanwanking territory) and say that she secretly longed for Eric who has rescued her so often in the past, but since she told herself she hated him, she got involved with the one person who is as close to Eric as possible without actually being him.

At any rate, I like how the show has taken Nicole’s gratitude to Brady for helping her when she was at her lowest, and given it a twist by having Brady threaten a judge for her, and then make sure she knows it. It makes that gratitude a little bit manipulated, and stands in contrast to Eric’s selflessness and integrity in regards to the hearing (when he testified on her behalf) and her job at the Horton Center. The scenes at the Horton Center have been a delightful callback to their work together at the rectory … which would not be complete without hot fantasy or two. Yowza! Go Eric!

I really look forward to seeing how Nicole reacts to learning that Brady tried to get Eric to fire her, which she surely will, and the real reason Eric hightailed it back to the farmhouse. And given that he knows she killed Deimos, and Eric doesn’t,  I see that coming back to bite her … and possibly be the seeds for her departure.

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6 thoughts on “Off the wagon

  1. I am always behind on viewing so I can’t comment specifically on a lot of what is happening but I agree with you about Brady. I have always found him so bland and I tend to get more invested in his story when he is spiraling out of control but it is always short lived.

    I wasn’t an Ericole fan before and I am still not. Something is just missing for me. It feels empty. Maybe it’s because Nicole is leaving but I almost get the feeling that Eric is leaving too.

    Bryan Datillo is doing some amazing work.

    All in all I have started to enjoy a lot of what I am seeing but I am really going to need more Steve and Kayla if I am going to remain invested in this show!

    • Steve and Kayla’s absence is really disappointing. They got some great material out of Joe’s departure, but the Tripp angle was the weakest, and that’s what we’re stuck with. I really, really wish that they hadn’t gone for that big confrontation where Tripp held a knife to Kayla’s neck. That image is burned on my brain and it should be on Steve’s too. Ugh.

      Brady has lacked a coherent identity but this could really be a good direction to take him, that would make a good use of his history with women and the fact that he readily takes advice from Victor. On Friday it was interesting how he equated himself and Deimos. Hope they really have him embrace the dark side.

    • I really want to see that too! I really like what they’ve done with Lucas so far, and I’m glad he’s front and center with Will’s return. I think we’ll get some good scenes of him with Sami.

  2. I am strictly a S & K fan—they are the only reason I DVR the show. I must say that I am extremely disappointed in the absence of S & K —— 4 episodes in 6 weeks. Ron stated he would focus on veterans—he is clearly not. Some person at Days stated, I paraphrase –“We have so many people—we can’t have everyone on all the time “. So how are they going to fix this? Looks like their solution is to bring on more characters & make the canvas more crowded. It’s sad & the future doesn’t look any brighter. I really hope Kayla does talk to Steve about how he never really “handled” Tripp like he said he would—–but it looks like Ron wants us all to forget about it….just like Steve has. 😦 The recaps I read make this whole Bonnie thing look really asinine & all of Salem looking like buffoons. The Abby & Chad show gets old—-they are not super couple material. Oh..and this whole commissioner debate—-seriously ? 😮

    • It really bugs me that no one but Kayla has a problem with Tripp. Ron screwed that up, big time. I want to like the kid and Lucas Adams can act, but right now I can’t stand to look at him.

      I wish Raines had stuck around as commissioner. He was a good actor and it was so refreshing to have a “by the book” guy to contrast with our Salemites who run the police force as a way to cover up for their family members misdeeds. Hope as commissioner is kind of a joke.

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