My favorite aspect of the Shayla relationship is the family conflict it creates. But there is another interesting facet that the show touches on but doesn’t fully explore. And that is that this is a “second choice” relationship for both Shane and Kayla. For Kayla, this is straightforward: Steve is dead, so she doesn’t have a first choice. But for Shane, his “true love” relationship is still a possibility. So why does he choose Kayla? The suggestion is that Kim has just hurt Shane too many times, and he’s not willing to go down the road with her again. A quieter relationship is just what he needs right now.
Here is a great scene where they play on the appeal, and the limits, of a quiet relationship:
Kayla’s insecurity makes perfect sense, after hearing Lawrence talk snidely about their relationship and refer to Kim as “the most passionate woman he’s ever known.” I like how Kayla tells Shane that doesn’t want him to “settle for less.” I also think there is more than insecurity talking here. I think Kayla knows if Steve were to come back, there is no way she would “settle” for Shane. So how is it fair for her to expect Shane to settle for her?
I like that Shane’s reassures her that what they have is passionate. (By the way, they haven’t slept together yet.) It would probably be a little much for him to say, “I’ve had enough with getting my heart broken again and again with a grand passion. I’d rather be with someone who lets me keep my walls up.” But I do think there is some truth to that assessment, though Shane might not be fully aware of it.
This is a way to keep their options open. As I talked about here, I think the show always wanted to be able to reunite Kim and Shane down the line. Now that I’ve finished watching the whole Shayla relationship, I think there is a point where that was the plan.
Here’s what happens: Cal Winters comes back to town, fully off his rocker (and played by a really bad recast). He plans to kidnap Kim and his “daughter” Jeannie. (Who is really Shane’s daughter; Cal blackmailed the doctor … of course). Through a mistake, he nabs Kayla instead. While she is captured, Cal is ranting and raving to her and refers to Jeannie as “Shane’s daughter.” Kayla confronts him on his slip, but he denies it.
Then, after the big complicated plot has been resolved and everyone is home safe, Kayla has to tell everyone what she heard, right? Well, take a look:
It’s clear what they were setting up, don’t you think? Kayla is afraid of losing Shane, so she keeps the secret of Jeannie’s paternity. Meanwhile, Kim and Shane grow closer because Kim has moved in with Shane (for safety reasons). Kayla would now be the interloper, and the reveal of her secret keeping, plus Jeannie’s true paternity, would push Kim and Shane back together.
But, that’s not what happens. Kayla keeps the secret for a couple of weeks, and then she tells the truth. Kim and Shane are mad at first, but then they get over it. Shane and Kayla stay together.
Kim leaves the show right after this, so I think it’s pretty obvious the story was changed because Patsy Pease decided to leave. And all I can about that is — whew. I would not have enjoyed watching Kayla play the bad guy in this triangle. And yet — I’m also a little intrigued. It is fascinating to hear Kayla in the clip above, in the scene with Caroline, passionately defending her right to be selfish:
“Am I supposed to stand on the sideline and be a martyr? I used to be really good at that, but I’m not anymore, Mom. Not after I had my husband taken away from me, and my whole life just ripped from underneath me. And nobody, not even you, knows what I went through. It was only Shane, because Kimberly was doing that to him. And he knew how lonely it was for me, and how empty the days were, and how endless it all seemed. I felt that I would never be happy again. And that I would never, ever in my life, find love. But I did. Shane gave me that. He gave me back my life, and I’m just not willing to give that up so easily.”
I love how she connects her grief about Steve with the right to hang onto any happiness she can find now. It shows how much Steve’s death shook her to her core. Sometimes, when you settle for less, it’s because it’s all you have.