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.

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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

Fragments

Today was a fun episode. The highlight for me was actually the short scene between Abe and Kayla, when she told him he still had fragments of the bullet in his chest. It was just very real and heartfelt, as Kayla tried to soothe him and he demanded to know the truth about his condition.

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James Reynolds took this meatier material and ran with it like the old pro that he is, and Kayla was so warm and comforting. I liked seeing Mary Beth Evans given the chance to do something other than worry about Joey. Kyler Pettis is doing great work as Theo in this story, and all of the teens in the hospital were surprisingly good.

I also enjoyed the Steve, Kayla, John, and Marlena scenes, talking about Orpheus, reviewing the past and analyzing his character.

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Considering how so many of the women characters have been sidelined lately, it was satisfying to me to have Marlena play the role of the profiler, talking about Orpheus’s motivations.

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Criminal profiles usually end up sounding pretty facile on TV, and this was no exception, but I genuinely thought it worked well. It was effective to cut from her discussion of how Orpheus wasn’t a true sociopath because he was able to love, to Orpheus looking at pictures of his family and Joey trying to engage him.

I also appreciate that Joey (and Claire, when she was there) was actually doing, or trying to do, something. I love my 60-something heroes and I could watch Steve crouching in an alley exchanging gunfire all day long, but I want to be able to root for the younger characters too. So when Brady and Sonny act like idiots and John and Steve get the job done, I’m kind of curious what the show is trying to do. Don’t they want to give Brady and Sonny a chance to win viewers’ hearts?

Speaking of Brady and Sonny, I was torn about yesterday’s show and this Kirakis-vs.-Dimera thing they are setting up. First of all, Days shouldn’t do business storylines. Whenever they do, it’s so obvious they have no idea what they are talking about. “We have to operationalize our assets.” “It’s mission-critical to stay incentivized.” “Did you put the cover on the TPS reports?”

Also, it is so frustrating that Dena is in such a hurry to get the plot going. A feud like this should develop much more organically. I’m all for Chad being a little shady, but it should take a lot more than a couple weak arguments from Kate to get him to work with Andre again. I think Billy and Thaao have a fun brotherly chemistry and I’m all for them sharing scenes, but that was ridiculous.

Sad to see the Dimera “family” reduced to Chad, Andre, and Kate. Might as well give Thomas a VP spot.

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Awww.

The Kiriakis living room, on the other hand, is stuffed to the gills. It was fun seeing all those actors together, most of whom I like very much, all yelling at each other. I got the sense they were having a lot of fun with these scenes. And Deimos really did fit right in. I still think he could work as the new Victor, when Victor was shady and ruthless — the remaining Kiriakises are just too good right now. Deimos set my teeth on edge with his condescension towards Theresa at the beginning of the episode — he used the same “don’t bother your pretty little head” voice on Nicole on Monday and I hated it then too. But if Deimos is being set up as a villain, it works. I’m glad Theresa complained about it and barged into the meeting later to chew them out, even if it all ended up feeling a little bizarre.

Deimos seems to be buying that Phillip is the father of Chloe’s baby for now, though Phillip’s fumbling answer to his questions should have been a big red flag. Until last week, I was almost completely tuned out of the baby story and anything involving Deimos and Nicole, but Eric’s potential future involvement in it all has galvanized my investment immeasurably.

I can’t exactly say that the show is good right now, but I am enjoying each episode much more than I was, and there are definitely some things that have me interested at least. The pieces are there for some interesting and dramatic stories, if the show could just find a way to put them together.

Screencaps Joanie and Forever SAFE

Salem under seige

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So far, I’m afraid that Steve’s assessment of the villains as the “Three Stooges” has been all too accurate. I don’t know if it’s a writing or directing problem (I know it’s not an acting problem: I’ve seen what James Read, George DelHoyo, and Paul Telfer can do), but I’m not feeling as much menace and danger as I feel like I should be. The show seems to undercut the drama before it has a chance to grow. For instance, I think someone wanting to work outside the law could be a good conflict, but Brady’s hit on the bad guys was too rushed and was over before I even had time to worry about what might happen.

So it’s been very uneven, but there have been good moments in the midst of it all. That’s what makes these hostage situations/plane crashes/car accidents worth it in the end, the emotions and relationships and how they change and intensify under the pressure of events.  The Paul/Sonny conversation was particularly good, where Sonny denied wanting to have a relationship and they exchanged angstful looks:

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And then they discussed whether it was always possible to know if you were working for the good guys or the bad guys — just in time for Sonny to go home and hear Brady ordering that hit.

I liked JJ and Gabi’s love scene and how she told him he was a hero, and I also am open to Chad and Gabi having a momentary flirtation. I think they have a nice chemistry, and I know it won’t last. Chad’s conversation with Jennifer, when she gave him the watch, was really good, and her being the one to encourage him to move on is very soapy — given we know Abby is alive. It’s been nice to see Steve and Kayla working together, though I want to see them being more active than they have been so far. (My biggest fear is that Kayla will be a passive sufferer in all this, so I’m eager for signs that isn’t the case).

The big cliffhanger today, with Clyde shooting Abe, was more dramatic and effective than any of the other “big” moments they’ve done so far. (Line of the day: after Orpheus hijacked the press conference, Abe muttered, “How do you follow that?” James Reynolds said it perfectly.) Let’s hope it’s a sign of things to come.

Regarding Chloe’s baby story, speculation has been running wild about whose baby this is going to be. I can put this out there because it’s not a spoiler, just speculation, but somehow it is speculation that is perfectly absurd and yet horridly logical, and I can totally see it happening: that Chloe’s baby is Daniel and Nicole’s baby. This speculation is based on the constant references to Nicole’s childlessness, and — warning, mild spoiler — Ken Corday saying in an interview that Nicole’s upcoming story was a baby story. There’s also Chloe’s genuine puzzlement that Deimos was not the father, and then the way she suddenly seemed to think of another possibility. To me, it didn’t feel like she was just remembering someone else she’d slept with.

chloeconfused

So, I can’t take credit for concocting this scenario (and believe me, given how much I hate Daniel, I don’t want to), but the idea is that Nicole and Daniel banked some of her eggs with the idea that they might, after marriage, arrange for a surrogate. Daniel, in order to “surprise” Nicole, went ahead and fertilized the eggs (ew!) and arranged for Chloe to be the surrogate. However, the implantation failed, and it all came to nothing. But — surprise! — the miracle embryo was just biding its time and has now implanted.

So Deimos, who now has all the blood tests in his possession, will discover the truth of the baby’s parentage, and will keep it a secret and plan to kidnap the baby when it is born. He’s weirdly obsessed with the baby already, and they could amp up his obsession with Nicole and making her a mother. But he knows Nicole wouldn’t be party to a kidnapping (not anymore, anyway) so he’ll have to produce some other baby to pawn off on Chloe.

That doesn’t explain why Chloe wouldn’t want to hand the baby over in the first place, to her good friend who she knows is devastated that she never had a child, but I think they can work around that. Maybe Deimos will kidnap Chloe and hold her hostage until the baby is born. Nadia Bjorlin has a real life maternity leave coming up, so maybe that’s how she’ll be offscreen for a bit.

It’s all very Dena. Her most successful story ever was the babyswitch storyline with Nicole, EJ, and Sami, and Dena has recycled even her worst stories.

The other question is how Eric might be involved in this — assuming he’s involved in Nicole’s story at all. He shows up in January, which is probably around when the baby is due to arrive. He might figure out what is going on and work to save her (and Chloe) from Deimos. If Ericole is in the works, I predict Deimos will go back to being an out and out villain (which I would prefer). So the baby might end up in danger too, and Eric could partly redeem his role in Daniel’s death by restoring Daniel’s child to her.

LOL. Forgive me, I’m going to be obsessing on what Eric’s story might be for the next four months. 😀

Screencaps Joanie

Storyline of the day

Hey everybody! I’ve been reviewing the Marina/key storyline as I repost my Jack and Jennifer clips on Google+. I had so much fun re-watching this clip, I thought I would share it with you all again. This little arc is more about Steve and Kayla, and is a great example of how you help two characters reconnect after something like the Marina disruption. Would love to see something like this for Steve and Kayla today … hint hint.

Days has carefully established a fragile bond between Kayla and Jack. They’ve used it to create some jealousy and angst for Steve when his relationship with Kayla was at its worst, but what’s going to happen now that things are a little better?

This is a fun denouement to the plot where Jack tries to break Isabella out of Bayview.

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He succeeds, but in the process ends up getting himself and Kayla captured. In desperation, he called Steve for help, but Kayla came instead. Let’s watch:

Steve rescues Kayla and Jack

(As always, you’ll have to be my follower on Google+ to view the video. Click here and leave a comment there and I’ll add you!)

Steve pretending to be a cop is always fun. I love how Jack adds “bribery” to the charges that Steve is listing—since Jack was the one doing the bribing when he was sneaking in to see Isabella. He reminds me of snotty little brother in this scene, big brother is here to rescue him now and he can hang back and shoot off smartmouth remarks. It’s very cute. And I love the very last look between Jack and Kayla as Steve is leading her away. They seem to have a shared understanding of, “Yes, Steve is shouting and ordering us around, but it’s best to just humor him, really.” It’s a perfect way to show that the bond between them is still there, and this little adventure has reinforced it.

Back at the Brady house, Steve keeps trying to blame Jack and Kayla keeps defending him. Mary Beth plays this very calmly, though, and not with the passion Kayla usually has when she’s defending someone. She can step back enough to see he has changed and, in typical Kayla fashion, doesn’t let her own issues stop her from speaking up for Jack when the situation seems to warrant it. But, she is still not totally comfortable in that role, and I like that tension. It would have been very easy for the show to make everything hunky-dory between Jack and Kayla after this storyline, but that doesn’t happen—though admittedly this is partly due to Mary Beth and Matt Ashford and the way they play it, never letting Jack and Kayla get too comfortable with each other.

But, at the moment, she is certainly more inclined to trust him than Steve is. When Jack arrives, Steve is still unconvinced. But, he lets him in calmly (no lapels grabbing).

stevekaylawithjack

When Jack asks for Steve’s help, I can really feel what a brave thing this is for him to do, to let down his walls enough to reach out like this. Plus, I love the way he prefaces it by saying Steve has every right to turn him down. It shows he’s not going to play the martyr if Steve turns him down. He used to use Steve’s suspicions about him as an excuse to lash out and act even worse than he would have otherwise. Now he seems to sense that he has to accept those suspicions, and work through them, in order to have any hope of being in a position of trust again.

Steve agrees to look for Isabella with Jack (but makes it clear that it’s only because he wants to find her too). As Jack turns to leave and says “Thank you, both of you”, Kayla gives one look at Steve but leaves him alone, not pushing it. And then there’s the ending shot on Steve’s face, contemplating that Jack might have good motives, with a vulnerable look that shows he hopes it’s true. We haven’t seen his buried feelings for Jack in a long time. The irony is perfect. Steve was the last to give up on Jack (not counting Jo), and he will also be the last to start acknowledging any change in him. It shows how much damage Jack had to do to get Steve to let go. That means he will have to work that much harder to get Steve to accept him again.

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After Jack leaves, we get a very nice, tender scene of Steve and Kayla together. Kayla still keeps a little distance when she expresses skepticism that he can really take care of her, listing all the things that could still go wrong. But when Steve ushers her over to the couch and says they shouldn’t think about it, she relents and lets him fuss over her. That’s a step forward in itself. Of course it’s very soapy that when he makes his heartfelt declaration of his love and faith in them, he turns around and finds she’s asleep. But then we get a sighworthy moment as he gently takes her cup from her hands and covers her up, and says, “I really love you,” in that husky voice. Perfect.

Happy now

So I start my work vacation with the awesome news that Greg Vaughan is returning to Days!

gregtamara

Here’s a recent picture from Tamara Braun’s instagram that set off some speculation that he was back. “He shaved his beard! He looks like Eric again!” I try not to get my hopes up with vague things like that, but in this case it turns out the speculators were right! He is already filming and will be airing on January 17. Early release for good behavior? Can’t wait to find out!

(Eeeeee! Isn’t he beautiful!)

Anyway, I promised I would post about last week’s Days. I was excited to have Steve and Kayla the focus of the action of the three villains. Steve was in fine form, talking fast and cracking one liners and outsmarting the bad guys.

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I was not as thrilled with Kayla being bound and gagged and having almost no dialogue. It actually perfectly symbolized my fear of how Dena writes for Steve and Kayla: Steve being the center of attention, and Kayla a bystander, sidelined by injury. Last run it was a problem pregnancy, this time recovery from brain surgery. Also, the staging, or rather, not staging — of the climactic moment was bizarre, to say the least. We didn’t even see the shot that downed Steve. And Kayla told Steve that Orpheus said he was leaving her with Steve’s corpse like he was left with his wife’s. There is no way that chilling line should not have played on our screens.

But I will remain hopeful for better things. It’s been too long since Hope and Kayla have shared a scene, and I really enjoyed that. And Kim even sent a cactus. (That Hope didn’t seem to think much of. Hee.) With Joey being the one kidnapped (rather than Kayla), it will hopefully give Kayla a role to play in his rescue. And of course a chance for them to bond as they are doing so, and for the danger to bring them closer together.

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But imagine being Orpheus and carrying off Joey as your prize! That doesn’t make sense. I am a little disappointed that we are getting so little of the villain’s motivations. Orpheus’s reasoning and backstory especially should be explained. Their villainy, and their cooperation, is sketchily drawn at best. “We hate everyone in Salem.” Yes, and? It reminds of Andre/Tony’s reasoning for creating Melaswen. “He’s an enemy of love.”

Okay, it’s not that bad. But a little something more than what we’ve gotten would be nice.

I haven’t talked about Chloe/Deimos/Nicole/Phillip because I find Deimos and Nicole to be a complete headscratcher of a pairing. As a writer, why would you ship off Nicole’s two love interests (my Ericole love is well known, but even Danicole had fans) and pair her with a random new character? Let alone one who kidnapped and tortured Bo. I have nothing against Vincent Irizzarry — I like him, even still! — but Deimos is a train wreck of a character. He’s bad! He’s good! Everyone in town is in love with him! He’s the new patriarch of Salem! He gets more airtime than anyone else! Any one of those things would be enough to earn him with enmity of viewers, and he’s all of them. It pains me not to enjoy watching Nicole, who I have always loved. But between her constant references to Daniel THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE YES WE GET IT and this pairing, I’m hard pressed not to fast forward her scenes.

(But let’s hope Greg’s return changes this! Wheeee!)

But I have to say I kind of like Phillip and Chloe.

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I like the actor who plays Phillip — I know not everyone does — and I am enjoying seeing him get a little bit more airtime (and interacting with someone besides Belle). He was funny joking about Salem being the paternity test switching capital of the world, and the one liner about getting Caroline to do it was hilarious — since she was the one who switched Parker’s test results. More paternity test shenanigans has me rolling my eyes, but I will grudgingly admit it’s a bit of a twist to have the couple involved being the one wanting to switch the results … or however this plays out.

Screenshots Forever_SAFE and LizK ❤ SnK

 

 

 

Goodbye my friend

I will be posting about this week’s Days, but for now I wanted to commemorate the fact that I just finished watching my Shayla DVDs. I have been binge watching over the last few weeks and just finished the last scenes this morning. I posted about Steve’s death back in August of 2011 (here , here,  and here), so it’s taken me five years to watch a year and seven months worth of shows. But I’m so glad I did. It’s really fascinating to see Kayla’s character explored apart from Steve, and to see Mary Beth do some different material.

I’ll be doing some more posts on this late 91/early 92 time period. 1990-1992 was a time of upheaval for the show in general. A lot of cast comings and goings, and churning through different writers. But it’s not until 1992 that it really starts to do some damage — it feels a little more like the show today, choppy and inconsistent. But, for all that, one thing they still knew how to do was give a proper exit:

Kayla leaves Salem

I have heard that Mary Beth had to fight for the “Goodbye My Friend” montage, and I’m so glad she did. I teared up at the first scenes and cried through the whole thing.

But even aside from that, we got to see a real departure, unlike today, where someone will have one scene where they say got an offer to go to Timbuktu. Or they just disappear and someone else casually mentions it later. We get to see Kayla get a job offer from LA, and then decide to take it when she loses her job at University hospital and starts to have problems with Shane. We see her family helping her pack. She has a going away party. She visits Steve’s grave.

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Doing the “courage” sign. Sob!

Speaking of those problems with Shane … Patsy Pease had departed the show abruptly just a few months before due to personal issues. So they ended the triangle somewhat suddenly, when Patsy Pease left, and suddenly Kayla and Shane were happy and blissful. Then they had to break them up pretty quickly after that, when they decided not to renew Mary Beth’s contract. Shane had recently paralyzed in an explosion (and that, I think, wasn’t part of Kayla’s exit story, it was happening anyway). So the show went with “Shane is impotent and can’t deal with it, so he pushes Kayla away.” Poor Shane! 😀