Has your week been bold and beautiful? It was for the fictional denizens on B&B. This is where I usually start my column with flippant asides on the week's happenings, but I just can't bring myself to do it this time. Not with the heavy drama that, in this viewer's opinion, is making B&B worth watching again!
Not that the double whammy of Katie's potential postpartum depression and Stephanie's fatal diagnosis didn't hit a dramatic speed bump or two. Was this really the time to have Liam and Steffy slobbering all over each other? I actually was liking Leffy's chemistry this week, but I can't buy them for the same reason I can't buy Lope anymore: Liam. A few weeks ago, he wanted to marry Hope and now he wants to raise kids with Steffy. He's disgusting. He really needs to go. I know he won't, but he needs to.
This also wasn't the time for Rick to feel guilty over deceiving Hope, or for Thomas to be lowering the boom at Forrester. And why did Thomas call Eric in for help off-screen? I thought Eric was going to step in on his own, anyway. Couldn't we have seen Thomas appeal to Eric for help, or at least see Eric providing guidance, even reluctantly? It was just a weird choice. Though no weirder than Thomas blasting Brooke and telling her she was no longer family but just a valued employee!
Hold the freakin' phone! Now, I think Thomas was right to cry foul over Donna and Pam's "comedy routine" approach to reception. No company would allow that. But what happened to the Thomas who supported Brooke and almost destroyed his father's marriage over his doe-eyed devotion to his stepmother? "You're wading into dangerous waters," Brooke warned. You mean like the churning ocean waters you survived together? Brooke has far more reason to resent Thomas after his berry-sex lie.
I think it would be cool to see Brooke turn to the dark side a little! She's always been more "oops-I-did-it-again" than mean-spirited; her growling "as if [Ridge] hasn't hurt me enough already" was an unprecedented show of hostility -- which Taylor noticed. "Are you maybe running out of ways of dealing with losing him?" Taylor asked. "You think being bitter is better?" Taylor and Brooke had some nice moments this week, here and with Katie. Shame they ruined it by arguing over who'd be the better CEO!
And Taylor was of course the natural choice to bring in for Katie -- though I think Brooke and Bill should have excused themselves much sooner and not talked about Katie like she wasn't in the room. Once alone, Taylor made the keen observation that Katie might be inadvertently refusing to bond with her baby in an effort to protect him in case she died. What else could Katie hearing her heartbeat seven times in three episodes possibly indicate? Except having a point driven home too hard.
All the physical and hormonal reasons for Katie to be slipping into postpartum depression certainly make sense. Her body did go through a hellacious ordeal. But I feel like B&B is skirting over the real reason for Katie's state of mind: she's still furious with Bill over his deception, is probably wondering if she should leave, and possibly sees baby Will as a reminder, which is why she can't bond with him. B&B hinted at it, but it seems pretty obvious to me, and it's a deeper cause than what's being offered right now.
Even Bill seemed to sense it, because he acknowledged his part in everything more than Katie did. I just think that advising Katie to suck it up and forget about her anger for the sake of the baby is well intentioned, but unrealistic. Katie needs to deal with her anger directly; the postpartum depression is just a symptom. Shame Taylor missed that. But between Katie grappling with her disillusionment and Stephanie declining treatment for this latest bout of cancer, Monday's episode was a really intense one!
It used to be that Eric would take a more passive approach to things while Stephanie got fired up with a plan of attack. Now, Eric was gung-ho about treatment options for Stephanie, while Stephanie chose a quieter response, though I'd say she was more Zen than passive. "You'd just be sitting in a hospital room with an unconscious body," Stephanie gently told Eric, trying to make him see the futility of further treatment. "I'd finally get to do all the talking," he quipped, hiding his pain. What a great scene.
Stephanie implored Eric to see that her last days would be better spent enjoying life's simple pleasures instead of spent hooked up to machines, a point Eric quickly accepted. Eric decided to throw Stephanie the party to end all parties, which will be a sight to see when it happens in November. And John McCook's scenes this week just served as a reminder of how underutilized he's been. "What the hell am I gonna do?" Eric wondered, since Stephanie has been a presence in his world for over fifty years.
The only quibble I had was Eric's claim that Stephanie's been by his side all these years. "I wouldn't change a thing," he said as he smiled. Would he have changed Stephanie being on the sidelines while he cavorted with Brooke, Sheila, Lauren, and Jackie? Just a slight inconsistency. Like Pam and Stephanie saying, "We've been together our whole lives!" Yeah, except for the thirty years Stephanie ignored her Douglas relatives! Nitpicking maybe, but especially glaring when the rest of these scenes were so wonderful.
"What do I have without you?" Pam sobbed upon hearing Stephanie's news. "A bunch of strangers who are forced to call me family!" Ouch, but too true. I like Alley Mills, but Pam has been dead weight for quite a while now. Do you get the feeling Pam is being groomed as a new wife for Eric? Between Pam being in Eric's orbit again and Stephanie promising to take care of Pam with a "you'll see"…well, I know B&B and the way they hint by now. Where, oh where, is Jackie when you need her?
Speaking of which, will Nick and Jackie show up at Stephanie's party? They both have complicated and colorful histories with La Forrester. Which begs the question, will Ridge fly to his mother's side? If he doesn't, there will be a straight-up mutiny from the fans. And the same if Ridge shows up in any other form but Ronn Moss's. But I digress…
I found it only natural that the Douglas sisters would relive their mother's death through Stephanie's impending death. The Ann flashbacks were awesome and a reminder of how much Betty White's brief presence impacted the show. Could have done without the maudlin song, though. And flashing back to Pam's first appearance was great (how understated she was, in comparison!), but her "Catdance" and Stephanie's glee over Pam invalidating Ridge and Brooke's marriage were strange memories to have.
There were more flashbacks in the offing when Brooke was told Stephanie's cancer had returned. "This is where it all started," Brooke said, looking around the Forrester living room. And boom! We were in 1987, witnessing Brooke and Stephanie's first meeting. What perspective, especially given we are coming up on their last scenes. I also loved that not all the flashbacks were sweet and warm, some (though not enough) showing their animosity and hostility over these many years.
But things went a little awry when B&B lingered over Brooke and Stephanie's 2010 moments with the homeless. It's part of their history -- and a factor in Stephanie's previous cancer diagnosis -- but the way they harped on it just screamed, "Look! We won an Emmy for this, remember?" The Lean On Me inclusion was total cheese the first time, but completely grating now. Couldn't we have used those minutes on a wider array of flashbacks or an even deeper conversation between B&B's ultimate frenemies?
Not to say that their convo wasn't deep. "I'm gonna be right here hidden in the back of your mind," Stephanie joked/warned. Queen Stephanie and the Slut from the Valley admitted they brought out the best and worst in each other, and Stephanie thanked Brooke for buying her two more years. "Why can't things stay the way they were?" Brooke asked, in a clear reference to the Core Four dissolving right before our very eyes. Indeed, Brooke. Indeed.
I know it's "just a show," and these people are only fictional characters. There's no need to have much of an emotional response to their travails, right? But Stephanie's approaching exit is really messing me up. True, part of it is because my Dad fought cancer, and this week we found out it may be back, but it's so much more than that with Stephanie. She's been on that screen my entire adult life.
I'm glad Susan Flannery will get a chance to retire after five decades of soap finery, and killing Stephanie off is really the only reasonable end for her since inflicting her with cancer. It's just unsettling when, even unconsciously, you count on something always being there and are suddenly faced with that thing not being there. Which is how I'm sure fans of GL and ATWT and AMC and OLTL felt as those final airdates approached. At least we're just losing a character and not a whole show…but, in so many ways, Stephanie is B&B.
I think we should spend some time these next weeks also celebrating the life of this dynamic soap character, and celebrate we shall. I look forward to sharing my own favorite Stephanie Forrester moments with you. Perhaps you have some of your own -- in which case they should be shared with us here at Soap Central. Your recollections may find their way into a future column. Like these very interesting comments!