An exit to remember
For the Week of May 16, 2005
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Characters (and actors) exit all the time. Sometimes these exits are done well, and others either don't fit the caliber of the actor or don't make sense.
There are weeks where I can miss one or more episodes of One Life to Live and be nonplussed about it. This wasn't one of those week. A lot happened, and I couldn't wait to see what would happen the following day. I did miss one day, due to the inevitable cable outtage, but the episodes I did see, left me wanting more. Jessica began to realize she might have DID, Blair discovered Todd's secret about what really happened with Margaret, the identity of Daniel's lover was revealed, and Jen Rappaport died, leaving those that loved her to figure out why. While the other events that I mentioned were interesting, I wish to focus on Jen's exit in this particular column. Characters (and actors) exit all the time. Sometimes these exits are done well, and others either don't fit the caliber of the actor or don't make sense. Jen's exit, while maybe not ideal, falls into the first category.
When I first heard that Jen was going to be murdered, I was frustrated. Sam was just murdered a couple of years ago, and killing off another member of the Rappaport family seemed excessive. I still wish the door were left open for her to return, but at the same time, I see how Jen's murder served another purpose besides writing the character out. Jen had connections to many people in Llanview, and her death has affected them all deeply. Daniel's sloppy method of covering up her murder will lead to his downfall, which will affect Nora's life in many ways. She was close to Jen, and her death will show her husband's true identity. Rex lost the person he loved more than anything, and Lindsay lost her only daughter. Riley's last conversation with Jen left their relationship on bad terms, and he feels guilt because he believes his doubt in her innocence led to her "suicide." Several characters are left to figure out why Jen died and how they could have prevented it. We know that she didn't commit suicide, but it is heartbreaking and I would think realistic to see these characters try to figure out why Jen felt the need to kill herself and try to assign blame. Once it is revealed that Daniel killed Jen, Daniel will have to answer to several people for taking Jen away from them. Until then, we have to watch all of these people grieve and try to move on after Jen's death. Lindsay had me in tears a couple of times during the week, when she first saw Jen's body at the morgue and when she went the memorial service. Catherine Hickland has done an outstanding job of portraying, the grieving, sad, angry mother, and watching her performance makes me sad for two separate reasons. First, her grief seems so real, that I felt the loss of Jen. Second, I am sad because Catherine Hickland has been taken off of contract. This superb actress is being bumped to the background, and we won't get to see Lindsay much anymore. It's performances such as the ones Catherine Hickland gave last week that make One Life to Live a great show, and we are losing a talented actress...for seemingly no reason. However, I digress. Jen's death was sad and had me reaching for the Kleenex more than once. Jen Rappaport was never one of my favorite characters. She never caught my attention and held it as others have, but she had a place in Llanview. When a character with so many connections leaves, we like to see them get a "grand exit." Jen's exit didn't exactly qualify as grand, but it was better than some other actors have gotten. She didn't get to say goodbye to the people she loved, as Max did when he left (I still miss him), but she also didn't get the terrible exit that Gabrielle got when she was killed off last year. Gabrielle's sendoff was horrible, especially considering the character had so much history on the show. Jen's exit fell somewhere in between, and while I still cringe at the thought of 2 Rappaports being killed in such a short time, her death will generate new storylines for the characters left behind.
I am also relieved to see that Jen is getting a memorial service. It seems like too many characters who are killed off are barely mentioned after they die. I will return to my example of Gabrielle's death. Bo briefly mentioned burying Gabrielle, but we didn't get to see anyone say goodbye to her. I remember some fans were outraged that Gabrielle didn't get a funeral, and yet Angelina (of the infamous Santi clan) got an elaborate funeral. Angelina, a character we barely knew, and that few fans cared about, got so much, while Gabrielle was basically forgotten. After that awful day when she was discovered in the bathroom, and we had to watch Bo try to "grieve" for her, it was like she never existed. Bo hardly reacted to her death at all, and there were very few people still on the show that would be truly affected by her death. Fortunately, Jen's situation is very different. Her brother Will has returned for the service and to help Lindsay cope. I think it is an oversight not to have Melanie there too, but I will let that go. Jen and Will had a special bond, it would be terrible not to have him return. Next week, I think we will see more grieving for Jen, and she will be remembered by her friends and family. This is the proper way to send off a character after he/she has been killed. Jen was a part of the show for 4 years and has had many storylines. It would be an injustice to forget about her right after killing her off. The long term effects of Jen's death remain to be seen, but there she is being given a proper goodbye that viewers will remember.
Writing characters out of a soap opera can't always be easy. When characters are involved in front burner storylines, such as Jen, she can't just pack her suitcases and take an extended vacation or just disappear altogether as some characters have (i.e Emily McIver, Eve and Shannon McBain, etc.). The writers have to find a way to have the character exit in a way that affects the storyline in which the character is involved. Jen was being framed for murder, and Daniel could have gotten away with killing Paul. Now that he has killed Jen too and has done such a bad job of covering his tracks, we can hope that he will be caught and be brought to justice for murdering 2 people and for duping Nora into marrying him. Whether Jen's death made each viewer sad or not isn't the point. The point is that her exit has the potential to be a catalyst for Daniel's downfall and for the fallout of his misdeeds. While I was originally very skeptical of having Jen be murdered, it has potential to lead to some good storylines in the near future. I just hope next week doesn't require me to have more Kleenex! Last week was a real tear jerker, thanks to this significant storyline development and the outstanding acting that took place as a result.
Have a pleasant week!
Until next time,
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