Tale of three Romans

Roman Brady, played by Wayne Northrup, was introduced in late 1981 as the detective assigned to protect Marlena.  I watched Wayne Northrup’s version of Roman when I was a child, but I don’t remember him very well. Just about the only thing I remember clearly is that when he and Marlena kissed, he used to grab the back of her head in a way that I felt would pull her hair. Ha ha. In general, it was played as an “opposites attract” type of story, the classy psychiatrist and the rough and tumble cop.

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I also remember that Wayne’s Roman and Bo had a really good, conflicted, adversarial relationship. Drake’s Roman and Bo mostly resolved those differences in the mid-80’s. I loved their dynamic too, but it was friendly rather than prickly.

Roman’s popularity ushered in a new era of male heroes:  the blue collar, rough-around-the-edges alpha male, distinct from the lawyers and doctors like Neil Curtis and Don Craig that had previously dominated the show. After Roman came Bo, Pete Jannings, and Steve Johnson. The show gradually brought on an entire family for Roman. Bo, Kayla, Shawn, Caroline, and Kim soon followed him onscreen. It’s easy to forget now that Roman has faded into such a secondary role, but were it not for Wayne Northrup’s popularity, the Bradys would not be the second major family in Salem. That boggles my mind!

After Roman died in 1984, he came back in 1985 in the form of Drake Hogestyn. This was a very successful recast, from the mystery of “the Pawn,” the exciting reveal that John Black was Roman Brady, and his chemistry with Marlena and his family. Drake, Peter, Mary Beth, and Patsy made a fantastic Brady foursome that in my opinion has never been matched before or since. After Deidre Hall left the show, Drake’s Roman went on to popular pairings with Diana and Isabella.

In 1991, Days brought back Marlena from the dead, followed just a few months later by Wayne Northrup’s Roman. In hindsight, I really wish they had not done this story. Drake was too established as Roman. He had played him for 5-6 years, had recovered his memories of being Roman, and was fully integrated into the Brady clan. To upend all that for what ends up happening (Wayne leaves again in 3 years, John’s past is retconned again and again, Josh Taylor) doesn’t seem worth it to me.

But, since I had never seen the story, I was really curious about how this plot would play out. One thing I really appreciate is that we get to see everyone’s reactions to Roman being alive. Marlena, Shane, Abe, all the Bradys. I know this is standard for soaps at the time, but it’s something that is often sadly lacking nowadays, since things often happen too fast and they don’t milk the drama out of it. The show also drew out the suspense of the final determination of which one of these men was the real Roman, when they sent Kayla off with the tissue samples to DC, only to have her get kidnapped by Cal Winters en route. In the meantime both John and Roman were both terribly hurt by the rest of the family waffling about who the real Roman was.

Here’s a taste, where Roman is re-introduced to the rest of the Bradys:

(Starts around 8:30.)

And then, there is this great scene, probably my favorite in the whole storyline. It is a perfect example of milking the drama of Roman’s return, when Roman finds out that Victor is Bo’s father:

Roman confronts Caroline

First of all, as I pointed out above, Wayne and Peter have a very interesting prickly chemistry. All the progress that Bo made with his brother was actually with an imposter! That plus the fact that they haven’t seen each other in 7 years, and he’s still not 100% sure which man is his brother, makes for a chilly dynamic which I find fascinating. Then, I like how Roman goes to confront Caroline about her affair, which everyone else dealt with years ago. I love when she points that out, that the family has gotten past it and forgiven her. “Oh, so now it’s my turn?” Roman says coldly. Great moment.

The show would never in a million years have the patience or attention to write a scene like this today. Back when Steve came back from the dead in 2006, we on the boards discussed all the things that had changed while he was “dead” — John not being Roman among them! — but the show seldom took the trouble to have him react to them.

Also, I would say that even back then, this scene is the exception rather than the rule. Roman’s return, after the initial shock, feels mostly like fuel for a triangle with John and Marlena, rather than an exploration of what it would be like to come back and find that someone had been living your life for 6 years and was accepted by all of your family and friends. Generally speaking, the Bradys and Marlena seem more concerned with John’s angst at finding out he’s NOT Roman, than celebrating Roman’s return from his imprisonment. (Or guilt at accepting another man in his stead for so many years.) There was a lot of potential material here that feels glossed over, and signals the show’s investment in Drake over Wayne.

A few years later, after Isabella’s death, the show went with John and Marlena in a big way when they had their famous affair. Roman left town and was later killed offscreen. Then, Roman returned again in 1997, now played by Josh Taylor. His return was dramatic, just when John and Marlena were about to get married. I haven’t seen this storyline, but I did find these return scenes on YouTube:

(This is part 1. It continues through part 6.) Looks like high drama, which I’m sure was fun. I’m not sure, though, why they decided on Josh Taylor as the recast. He already played a perfectly viable character, Chris Kositchek, who was a fine addition to the show — lawyer, bar owner, Kayla’s ex-boyfriend, all around supporting player. I know he is friends with Ken Corday, and that might be part of it — Ken wanted him to have a featured role and meaty material. Josh Taylor probably has the highest job security of anyone on the show! But, to me that means he didn’t need to be pimped into this role — just make the role he already had bigger and better!

I’ve told this story before, but I’ll mention it again. Once, after not watching Days for many years, I turned on the TV and saw Christie Clark and Josh Taylor discussing her upcoming wedding to Austin. I was delighted to see the grown up Christie Clark still playing Carrie, who I remembered playing Carrie as a child, but I was mystified when she called Chris Kositchek “dad.” What plot point had brought that about?

Because the thing is, although Josh Taylor has played the role far longer than either of the other Romans — 19 years (!) to Wayne’s 6 and Drake’s 5 — he will always be “Fauxman” to me. He has never made the role his own. He’s fine as a supporting player, but when the story calls back to Roman’s rich history, Josh Taylor cannot bring the weight and gravitas that the character needs. We saw that just recently, in a major way, with Orpheus’s return. Roman was always his target, his original grudge, the man who changed him from a good man to a bad one obsessed with revenge. Yes, we saw Orpheus battle it out with other people in 1986 and it’s natural he would want revenge on them too, but there is no way that Roman should have been forgotten. At the same time, do I want to see more Josh? No. And that weakens the story, which is a shame.

 

The Phantom of the (Soap) Opera

How cool and spooky is this:

Yolingjohn

That scar is the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen. It mesmerizes me.

Honestly, I’m truly intrigued. They managed to use that anticlimactic story of John’s trip to New Orleans, when he saw his mom and found out his father was dead. I know she sold him out to the bad guys, and that should have been suspenseful. But it all happened so fast, it was over before we had time to care. This time, the appearance of John’s father had time to build — we knew someone was after both John and Eduardo, we found out someone was after the serum, we got a little Marlena kidnapping, a big shootout, and now this.

And really, managing to tie in the Alamain adoption and the Petrov/Stefano pawn connection to actually make a compelling story out of Yet Another Version of John’s Past?

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John and Yo Ling’s scenes were very heavy on the exposition, and I’m not really sure I got it all. But hey, we’ve got a shadowy “Alliance,” a Shane Donovan mention, cryptic Chinese aliases and tattoos, indoctrination of helpless teenage boys, a traitor father who is in desperate need of a blood donor … works for me.

And we’ve got a bunch of awesome Salemites ready to leap into action to find John and rescue him:

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And Steve called John his “partner”! Maybe we’ll finally see the Blackpatch team working together!

I’m liking the Hernandez family dynamics too:

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Eduardo’s heroic actions to save Rafe, coming right on top of the revelation that he was an assassin, instantly complicates their already thorny relationships. Rafe is obviously affected by what Eduardo did (he referred to him as “my father” in this episode, instead of “Eduardo”), and Gabi is obviously upset at the idea that they almost lost him. The scene with Ari and Eduardo and the ring, was really touching.

Also good was the brief scene of the Johnsons at the Brady pub that opened the episode. I particularly liked that Joey wants to confess (very important for us to continue to like him), and that Steve and Kayla both attributed that to what he has in common with Steve. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I believe that Joey was primarily motivated to save his mother when he killed Ava — but it would be so perfect if he were! Then they could call back to Steve’s attempt to kill Duke, back when he was five, in order to protect his mother. I hope this gets a mention sometime during this story.

At any rate, I liked how Kayla ruefully drew the parallel between Steve’s always wanting to protect her, Joey wanting to do the same, and Steve now wanting to protect Joey. She knows how the Johnson men can go way too far with this self-sacrifice thing. Girl, we know how you feel.

Screencaps Forever Safe

 

Chock full

Tuesday’s episode was chock full of characters and incidents. I’m not really complaining about that — but John and Marlena’s story seemed particularly like it needed a little more time and attention devoted to it. We finally (maybe) meet John’s mother? And she turns out to be half his size? Never mind the shrinking birthmark, what about her?

Johnmom

I’m not convinced this is his real mother. She seemed so casual about it all, standing there with him. “How nice of you to come by!” Isn’t this supposed to be the son she hasn’t seen in 50 years?

Regarding Marlena, did I miss a scene where she was trying to find a way to get Eric out of the country? It took all the drama out of it, just having her matter-of-factly report that she changed her mind. Talk about undramatic.

I am rolling my eyes at the idea of Brady inheriting Daniel’s feelings for Nicole, but this scene actually kind of got to me:

Bricole

The story will feel more real if Nicole latches on Brady as a last link to Daniel, and it isn’t just about Brady’s dreams. And they do have a history of turning to each other for comfort and hookups, between relationships.

Anything to get Nicole off the couch and away from mourning the greatest love that ever loved. (WWDD? Really, Days?) Ugh. Though I suppose it’s better than Daniel appearing as a ghost.

Color me intrigued by the developments in Deimos’s story.

Deimos

I’m a little disappointed that he seems to be blackmailing Phillip, instead of Phillip working with him willingly. But I loved the backstory for Victor and Deimos. I thought at first it was a little overly detailed – the seduction of the fiancee, the finding of the body. But then the reveal that Victor was the one fighting with her, and was probably the one who pushed her off that cliff. And he set up Deimos to take the fall? Yowza! No wonder Deimos is out for revenge!

We also had Steve being suspicious of Ava again (hurray), but still willing to look for their “son” (boo). And where has Ava stashed Kayla?

 

 

 

Go to sleep, everybody

It’s the middle of the damn night!

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Gabi, let’s get together! What time is good for you? 2 AM? Great!

Only Andre and Stefano were asleep. Even the butler was awake and fully dressed!

Kayla made me laugh today, when she spoke for all of us and told John that his talk about giving Brady his heart was insane and not helping. THANK YOU KAYLA.

The moment that got to me most was after the decision was made to give Brady the heart. Marlena sort of choked and ran out of the room. No matter how much she loves Brady or is happy for him, the injustice of it would sting. She regained her usual beatific demeanor pretty quickly, but I loved that little moment of losing control.

I also loved Mary Beth’s quiet devastation after Marlena ran out:

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It will be great to see some fallout for her from this. In the end, she took the weight of that moral decision on her shoulders, and let Maggie off the hook.

There were some great moments today. I loved the short scene of Belle at Eric’s bedside, and Phillip coming in and asking her about Brady. Martha did well showing both the anguish for Eric and the happiness for Brady. But this brings me to another complaint. I feel this story has been rushed to the point of absurdity. There is so much more they could have done with the “Sophie’s choice” aspect of this. Marlena, John, and Belle are close to both men, so they should have been the heart of it, instead of Maggie. I thought Suzanne Rogers did great, but I wish we had also spent time with the other three.

There also should have been more medical crisis-type scenes. Instead of Kayla repeatedly saying that a decision needs to be made, we should have seen Brady flatlining. Eric’s crisis was perfectly timed (right after the decision was made for Brady to get the heart), but it was resolved too quickly. Now, Brady’s already got his new heart, with no complications — he’ll probably be fully recovered by Friday. There’s been no more talk about Eric’s drunk driving, so I don’t know who knows about it. Shouldn’t that be a crucial plot point? Aaaaaarrrrrrgh.

I’m not too happy with the way Chad’s brainwashing was resolved, either. I feel cheated by this story, especially the perfunctory paternity reveal.

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I did love the sweet scenes between Chad, Abigail, and Thomas, in spite of it all.

ETA: see, Thomas has the right idea:

Thomas

Take note, everybody!

 

 

Days of our Deaths

Well, here we go … more death!

My favorite part of this episode, honest to God, was the intercutting of the phones ringing, and then skipping over the phone calls themselves to show everyone reacting — in slow motion. That gave me chills.

I thought the hospital drama was very well done. A few moments stand out — I loved Kayla in professional mode, but also showing her human reactions in the midst of it all:

DrKayla

If you’re a doctor in Salem, you have to be prepared practice every type of medicine, treat family and friends, and be the bearer of bad tidings for everyone else. And with Daniel’s death, we’ve just cut the number of doctors by a third. So I expect Kayla to be a very busy woman for the foreseeable future.

John watches Theresa at Brady’s bedside:

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This is the kind of drama I love — when the big event ripples out to affect other characters. In this case, John sees Theresa in an unguarded moment, pouring out her love and distress for Brady.

I really liked Marlena’s reactions by Eric’s bedside, especially her shock at hearing Eric was drinking. This is something I hope will be a part of this story — I want to see Eric’s family asking themselves why no one noticed his meltdown.

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Nicole says, “If you’re gone, how can I still hold your hand?” I don’t like Daniel or believe in this great love Nicole had with him, but with that line, Ari got me:

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And it kills me to not only see blood on this beautiful face:

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But also to know that this accident is Eric’s fault, and everyone will (rightly) blame him, especially the woman he loves. And there is no long term redemptive story or love story for me to hang in there for. Ouch.

I knew as soon as they said Daniel was an organ donor that one of the other victims of the accident would be a recipient. I thought maybe they all would, actually. I didn’t anticipate that Maggie would have to choose, which is contrived, of course, but in a soapy way. (Of course Eric and Brady are both compatible, groan.) My issue is more that it is all happening so fast! Shouldn’t we linger a little more, worrying about Eric and Brady and whether they’ll live or die, before moving on to this?

At any rate, I think Maggie will choose Brady, since she is married to his grandfather and she’s always been close to him. But there will be plenty of angst about it, which should be good.

Imagine if it was Nicole who had the choice of which of her exes should get Daniel’s heart — now that would be juicy!

The other story of the day was, of course, Chabby.

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I thought Kate Mansi and Billy Flynn did a fine job, but I can’t get over how poorly this story has been executed. The idea of the story was bad to begin with, but usually Days can win me over with decent execution. I’ve enjoyed the Chad and Belle interaction, but as a Chabby love story? Not good.

In the scenes today, Abby never mentioned the crucial point — that she needs a blood sample from Chad for genetic testing. She just kept saying “Do you really think I’m that pathetic?” and “Our son needs you.” If I had been writing the dialogue, I would have written her as more reserved, saying she needs the blood sample for Thomas and only reluctantly telling him he is the father. She could say proudly that she hopes his feelings about her won’t prevent him from helping a innocent baby. Then we could still see the knowledge rocking Chad, and Abby break a little bit and say, “What’s happened to you?”

And then she should have hightailed it back to the hospital (where her sick baby is!) instead of wandering around staring at stuffed bears in shop windows:

Abbybear

I’m making the bold prediction that Chad is going to show up at the hospital with that bear.

Screenshots Forever SAFE

Surprise

I love that Chad starts out being a badass Dimera:

ChadDimera

Using the power of his family to find Abigail, and then, by the end of the show, he has to betray his family — also to find Abigail!

I’m sure that there were people screaming about John and Marlena not being at Bo’s party (and I think it’s a little strange myself), but I really enjoyed their scenes with Chad. (Also, Marlena’s line, when she said they had to think like Sami: “God help us.” Hee!) I love that they picked up the thread of Marlena hypnotizing Chad and believing in him. And they are killing me — in a good way — drawing out Chad’s search for Abby! It’s such a perfect tease to have his memories trickling back. Today, he remembers their brutal fight, and hears himself say that Ben “should be in jail,” but doesn’t know the reason why.

I also like that Abby, even while in labor — poor Abby! — isn’t just helplessly sitting by. The drama with the phone today — picking it up, but not being able to call anyone — was another a perfect tease.

I don’t see how the midwife makes it out of there alive.

I knew that Kayla would pull away from Steve, and say “this was a mistake,” and she did. But she knows he has breached the wall she has put up, and she isn’t sure how she feels about that:

Kaylaeyes2

I love that they are giving us some happy moments for Bo, and I think the happiness-to-angst ratio at the party was well-balanced. But I have to say WTF? to whoever chose the flashbacks, one of them jumping the water during the Cruise of Deception and one of Bo rescuing Shawn? The dialogue was better, though — Roman’s speech, Shawn’s comment that when he was young he thought every kid has had his life saved by his father more than once. I also appreciated the phone call to Chelsea – that’s the kind of thing that often gets missed. What really melted my heart, though, was Bo’s speech about hearing their voices while he was being held captive, winding up with the “well named” Hope, and Hope coming in to hear him:

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Kayla in the background, her heart breaking because she knows the truth … ANGST

And squee! at three of my favorite characters sharing the screen together. Eric might be a drunk (I’m not sure yet), but he found time between the wedding (which was LAST NIGHT) and today to get a haircut …

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(Are we worried about Jeneric yet?)

And finally, I have to post this shot, of Steve announcing his vagabond days are over:

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Their faces say it all. Love it!

Hypnotizing

Those blue eyes! Billy Flynn would only have to bat them at me and I would fall into a trance, no problem.

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I am seriously loving these hypnosis scenes. In fact, Chad’s whole storyline is a marvel of a great, soapy storytelling. Yes, there have been some beats missing in the murder storyline as a whole — we should have seen Abby with JJ, we should see more of the people actually affected by Serena and Paige’s death. But, when it comes to Chad, the show is playing it like a boss. We’ve got his contentious relationship with his father, leaving him vulnerable at a time when he could sorely use the Dimera pull behind him. We’ve got his worries about turning into Stefano, and how that makes him think he might be guilty now. And we’ve got his star-crossed love, and the woman he loves who believes him in him when he doesn’t even believe in himself.

So that’s angsty, persecuted Chad. Now we’re getting smart, starting to fight back Chad. I love how Abby’s faith in him is waking up his fighting spirit. And, I love how that is bringing him to Marlena, and then to Kayla, for help. The hypnosis scenes had me on the edge of my seat. Did anyone else moan, “Marlena, noooo!” when she stopped his story and brought him out of his trance? With Kayla, I loved how he and Kayla traded snarky remarks before she helped him with the drug information he wanted. (Kayla: Let me tell you about this thing called Google …)

And then, Chad remembered seeing Clyde that night! Can’t wait to see where this goes.

Speaking of Clyde …. he comes to Marlena’s office, smiles, gives her money, and talks about how happy he is — and it scares the pants off me. I liked how Marlena stayed calm and even gave it right back, when she warned him that elation can be a misleading emotion, and signal the beginning of a downward spiral (probably some foreshadowing there!)

I was intrigued by his statement that everything he touches “turns to gold” lately. I had a thought that maybe it’s Clyde that Aiden owes his money to? That would put Aiden between Stefano on one side and Clyde on the other — surely an ant between two giants.

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John and Steve … I loved watching them pool their contacts and leads, trying to trace Bo’s movements. Serious Stockholm flashbacks! But about 100% less grabbing each other by the lapels, hee! It was also nice to hear them talk about their problems with their women disapproving of their adventures and ISA work. A nice “boy talk” counterpoint to the “girl talk” between Kayla and Hope yesterday.

And Gabi!

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I’m excited to see what they plan to do with Gabi. I like Camilla Banus, and I think it’s smart to beef up the Hernandez family. I hope they give her a good story with her brother (and father) first, but then who do we think they might pair her with? I haven’t heard even a hint. JJ? Lucas seems too old, and besides, it would be creepy since she already slept with (and has a child with) his son. Brady is going to be in Theresa’s orbit, as far as I can tell, and who else is there? Shawn? Phillip?