Suddenly I love you

I know I keep harping on Dena and her faults, but another one of her faults is how quickly people fall in (and out) of love. Last week Phillip announced he’s in love with Chloe. Okay. That was fast. And this week Sonny told Justin that he knows Justin still in love with Adrienne. That one makes more sense, but I would have liked more than two scenes and a couple of jealous glances from Justin before moving straight to “love.”

Sigh.

But of course the highlight of the week was Steve’s proposal. I really needed this. Their reunion happened fast (as I’ve complained about before), and it would have been nice to see some fallout from the whole “Orpheus locked Kayla in a coffin and set it on fire” thing — apparently everyone has forgotten about that — but this was very, very wonderful:

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The dialogue was forgettable (“You’re sweet … that’s why I call you Sweetness”) but Stephen and Mary Beth delivered it with so much depth of feeling. And it was nice to see Steve’s uncertainty about Kayla’s answer.

And it was great to see them get a love scene, with an actual bed! Note the yellow roses in the background:

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And since I complained about this last time, I will give full props to the show for showing Steve setting all this up and wooing her so sweetly. I’ve been wanting to see that.

I’m off to Day of Days tomorrow! I’ll be posting some pics on Twitter over the weekend, and of course I’ll do a full write-up when I get back!

Screencaps Joanie

Retcon-apalooza

I was delighted to see Shane again, even though this whole Theresa/Mateo retcon is really terrible. Charles Shaughnessy is looking very, very good:

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Poor Charlie was essentially stuck with narrating a complicated backstory retcon, and the way Shane was … undercover? I guess? … as a priest, in Salem, where everyone knows him, makes absolutely no sense. But it was honestly thrilling to see him with Theresa and hear him calling her “Jeannie.” It was extra special for me because I just watched the storyline when he found out she was his daughter.

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My expectations of Dena are always fairly low, but I have to say this exit story for Theresa is even worse than I could have imagined. We just had a guy in town, Xander, who swore vengeance on Theresa. Using him for her exit wouldn’t require a new actor and a complicated retcon. I mean, there might be complications with how Xander’s exit was written and Deimos pretending he’s dead, but I feel like that could be worked around. It would have had to be better than this!

And if that’s not enough, we had another complicated retcon introduced today, with the (obviously recently shot) “flashbacks” of the reveal that Chloe is, indeed, carrying Nicole and Daniel’s baby. I have no way of gauging how surprised the average viewer might be at this “twist.” All I know is that I was reading the theory on message boards months ago (and I wrote about it here) and so have already worked through my rage at the idea of baby Saint Daniel and at how Daniel keeps getting storylines even though he is dead and off the show.

Putting aside the retcon aspect, it kills me how the show seems to miss every opportunity to milk the emotional drama of their own stories. We should see Chloe be completely torn up at the idea that Nicole has always wanted a baby and yet Chloe doesn’t feel the baby would be safe, because of Nicole’s involvement with Deimos. (This is really the only logical reason for keeping the baby from Nicole. They haven’t actually told us this is the reason, but I’m reading it in.) Phillips actions would make more sense if he was actually falling in love with Chloe — trying to help her, rejecting her when she lied to him, and now wanting to help her again — but I’m not getting that vibe at all.  I suppose the Nicole/Deimos breakup is full of drama but, it’s Nicole and Deimos, so … meh.

And, here’s the thing:  I don’t think it’s true. I don’t think Daniel is the father of Nicole’s baby. Here’s why. First, this reveal was done so early in the story, and it was done all at once. I know it’s a stretch to say Dena is a better storyteller than this, but if this was THE twist, the big shock, wouldn’t she have waited and teased it a little? This is Chloe’s very first day back! I think it’s a setup for another twist down the line.

And that brings me to the moment in the flashback when the nurse comes back to Daniel, Chloe, and Nicole and says, “There’s a drunk man creating a disturbance out there.” Why is that line there? A drunk man? Come on, it has to be Eric. All right, I don’t want to think about Eric drunkenly giving his “sample” and then switching the samples. And if Nicole thinks she has some miracle Daniel baby and then finds out Eric snatched that from her … ugh! Eric doesn’t need more things to feel guilty about. If this is where they are going, I hope it was the clinic making a mistake.

They also managed to dig up this shirt that Nicole wore back in July, a few weeks after the furnace room scenes, for the flashback.

Eric confesses he's in love with Nicole!

Coincidence? Or is it possible that one of her banked eggs was already fertilized from a furnace room hookup? (No idea if the science of that would work, but c’mon, Days doesn’t care.) They’d also have to retcon that Eric and Nicole actually had sex in the furnace room. Another retcon! Why not?

I know, it’s so bad. It’s terrible storytelling. It’s all so, so Dena. But I can’t help it — I’ll admit it — I’m happy. Because if there’s one thing that Days does, always, without fail, it’s give a baby to an estranged couple that are, say it with me, Meant To Be. And to me that means that they are planning on writing for them as a couple. I have no particular confidence that it will be good. As a soap fan who appreciates a well done soap plot, I’m cringing. But as an Ericole fan … hell yes, I’ll take it.

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Eric, with a baby. Need I say more?

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.

 

Sweeten the pill

DENA: Guess what? Steve and Kayla are getting back together!

ME: Yay!

DENA: But I’m going to do it in a way that you hate.

ME: Impossible!

ME: …

ME: Oh.

Dena truly is the monkey’s paw. It wasn’t just that Steve and Kayla got back together so fast. I expected that. It wasn’t that their issues were presented superficially. I expected that too.

It was that she seemed to be going out of her way to thumb her nose at Kayla fans who were worried about how she would write for Kayla. This is “I’ve finally accepted who he is” times one hundred. So many things! Marlena says it’s nice to see Steve happy again. (What about Kayla? Who cares!) Kayla says she wants Steve to go back to Blackpatch — she realized Steve shouldn’t give up her job for her. (She said that at the time!) She says she talks too much (wtf?) and they should try it Steve’s way (not talking, I guess).  Steve doesn’t have to go to therapy — she’s all done with that silliness. He just needs to watch sports … while she fetches his pipe and slippers, presumably.

I did like some of the dialogue. I liked that Kayla, when she mentioned he quit his job, said that danger came to them anyway. I am truly not against the idea that Kayla would or could come to the realization that you can’t banish danger from your life. I just feel that Steve should have come to a realization or two himself regarding playing God, regarding the cost of his decisions on other people, namely Kayla … and maybe have done some more heavy lifting in their reconciliation. (Couldn’t he have set up this romantic dinner?) I also liked when Steve insisted he was going to go to therapy, because he doesn’t want to screw this up again.

The sad thing is, I think this was Dena trying to write them talking about their issues. And according to some people, she’s not wrong. So what do I know?

Okay, so that’s the pill. But the she did sweeten it, and it was very, very, very sweet. I really loved the opening scenes, the fab four sitting around, reflecting on what just happened. It was refreshing to see everyone smiling, and Kayla teasing John and Marlena about their wedding date.

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And no more headscarf! I love her hair like this.

Setting up their romantic dinner on the pier was absolutely perfect. I have so many fond memories of Steve and Kayla on that pier. I think the only thing that would have pegged my squee-meter more is the loft … or maybe the loft roof. 😀 I actually squealed when Steve called Kayla his “Lady in Red.” Nice use of history, Days! As always, Stephen and Mary Beth did so much with their eyes and their body language, showing how much these two love each other and enjoy each other.

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Watching them dance was so lovely. Days doesn’t do these romantic scenes as much as they used to, so we have to enjoy them when we can. And Steve was always a big romantic at heart, and I love to see that side of him. (Another reason why it would have been much better if he had set this up *cough*).

I’ll leave you with this. My awesome friend Liz clipped that beautiful dance, with one notable improvement. Check it out:

I’m melllllllting. 🙂

Screencaps LizK ❤ SnK

Wrong

My worry all along about Dena, as a writer for Steve and Kayla, is how she would write for Kayla, or really all of the female characters. She doesn’t seem to know what to do for the “good” women. She seems to enjoy writing for bad girls, like Nicole in the babyswitch story, or Ava (gag) in her first run. But her supposed heroines are often bystanders, dupes, indecisively drawn to two or more men, or gone temporarily bad (like when Hope was taking sleeping pills that turned her into a nighttime mugger who tried to kill Bo  — remember that story?)

So far, in this run, it hasn’t been that bad. I have enjoyed how she has written for Marlena, showing her as a doctor, a profiler, and someone willing to go toe to toe with Orpheus. The writing for Kayla hasn’t been as good as that, but I have enjoyed the scenes with Kayla as a doctor, particularly the scenes with Abe. And I have enjoyed watching Steve and Kayla cooperating and working together since this whole business with Orpheus and the other villains began. I appreciated that Steve and Kayla’s reconciliation seemed to happening (somewhat) slowly, and I really liked when Kayla contrasted her optimism that Steve would rescue her when Orpheus kidnapped her in 1986, to how she feels now. Even if it wasn’t exactly accurate (she thought Steve had been killed in 1986), the larger point was a good one: her earlier faith and naivete has given way to a realistic awareness that things don’t, in fact, always work out for the best.

So, I was feeling a little cautious optimism. Then came this week.

First, I did enjoy the scenes where Kayla helped Steve evade the lockdown at the hospital so he could go after John.

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It was fun to see her arguing with the hospital administrator, and to see them cooperating for John’s sake. Stephen and Mary Beth always add a little extra something to their scenes. This time, I loved Steve’s look when Kayla asked him if he could make out on the fire escape: it seemed to say, do you know who you’re talking to? And then of course their kiss — the way she grabbed him was really lovely.

But then, when Kayla told Adrienne about what happened, Adrienne said “You couldn’t talk him out of it?” And Kayla’s response … “I’ve come to accept this is who he is.”

Is this Dena’s understanding of what their problems are? That Kayla can’t accept who Steve is? She even told him after he quit his job at Blackpatch that it wasn’t about him changing who he is — that would only lead to him resenting her for it. Instead it was whether she could live with the danger that he always seemed to attract. AND another issue, which they haven’t come close to addressing, is trust. Can she trust Steve not to keep her in the dark, not to play God with her life and Joey’s life. They’ve never properly addressed what happened in Africa that made him run off, nor have they really hashed out what happened with Ava. All the pain that Kayla has gone through, and she’s the one in the wrong? I said recently that I was worried that their issues were being boiled down to, “Does Kayla realize that Steve is, in fact, a hero?” And that seems to be exactly what has happened.

Grr.

Screencap Forever_SAFE

Settling for less

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:

Lawrence’s press conference

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:

Kayla and Jeannie

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.

kaylakim

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.

Salem strikes back

The adventure continues …

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Lots of fun scenes with our Fab Four. I love that the Salemites are working together in an active plan to strike back at the three villains. Marlena the profiler was particularly fun to watch. She also had a great moment with Deimos and Nicole, when Deimos was loudly (and obnoxiously) insisting Nicole not be involved. “You’re a very intuitive man, Deimos…” I gotta say, not one does shade like Dee.

I’m still baffled as to what is supposed to be going on with Nicole and Deimos. I keep waiting for a sure signal that he is a villain in this, and that their relationship isn’t something we’re supposed to be rooting for. I don’t get the sense that it is, but I don’t get the sense that it isn’t either. I mean, to me he comes across to me as condescending, overbearing, and controlling … but I guess I don’t have quite enough faith in Dena’s feminist bona fides to think that this is deliberate. Sigh. It would be nice to enjoy Nicole again. Right now, she’s coming across as a weak, easily manipulated mess. And what’s with all the making out on the couch? Make it stop.

I remember from her previous run that Dena’s Days can be difficult to blog about, because sometimes it feels like cotton candy — it can be fun to watch, but there’s no there there. But the Sonny/Paul/Chad scenes were a nice exception today. The conflict between Sonny and Chad was introduced too quickly and is now being resolved too quickly, but Sonny and Chad’s argument and subsequent hug was still fun to watch. I like it when Days focuses on friendships.

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And I thought the conversation with Paul afterwards was very well done, when Paul apologized for his role in breaking up Will and Sonny and said maybe, if that hadn’t happened, Will wouldn’t have died. Sonny’s pain at Will’s death is obviously still fresh, but he is drawn to Paul all the same, and Freddie and Christopher Sean played that tension really nicely. I also think it is refreshing — after Will was the focus of the WilSon, at least the part I saw — to have Sonny be the one pursued. And Freddie was looking sharp in his Elvis pompadour and black leather jacket.

And to think I used to laugh at people who asked for more screen time for babies …

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Get that kid a daytime Emmy.

Screencaps Joanie