The big difference between Jessica's multiple personality and Viki's personalities is that Tess is a character who has been fully embraced by so many viewers.
I've always loved the multiple-personality stories that have been a part of OLTL for so many years. Even when Niki Smith seemed to wear out her welcome, I always enjoyed the complexity of what a split personality meant for the various characters who were affected. Niki Smith was a significant character in the 80's as she impacted the lives of not just Viki's family but a number of others as well. She was aggressive and a threat to many different people. A decade later when it was revealed that Viki had at least a half dozen personalities, the seriousness and severity of her condition was realized. Not only did Viki take on the persona of some very controlling personalities like Jean Randolph, but she also morphed into real physical threats like Tommy or Tori. The D.I.D. stories didn't stop with Viki's integration, though. Todd faked a bout with D.I.D. at one point (in a brilliant portrayal by Roger Howarth, I might add). And now we have the problem surfacing in Viki's daughter Jessica.
I think the big difference between Jessica's multiple personality and those of her mother (and even Todd's "fake" personality) is that, while Niki Smith could be a hoot, Tess is a character who has been fully embraced by so many viewers. She isn't someone who the viewers were ready to see leave; she became someone who brought life and energy to a stale character who had little purpose on the show other than to babysit Antonio's daughter. To illustrate the unexpected response regarding Tess, it is my understanding that the D.I.D. storyline for Jessica was only intended to be a short-arc. But once the positive response to Tess was understood, the writers extended the storyline and even brought on her current boyfriend, Nash. When the chemistry between Bree Williamson and Forbes Marsh lit up the screen, the writers surely had to find themselves in a precarious situation. On the one hand, Jessica is a beloved character who has grown up on the show. On the other hand, Jess became uninteresting while her alter personality, Tess, became a fan favorite. What to do now?
Well, this story has so many different layers to it that it isn't just about Jessica's problem or the reason that Tess came to exist. Sure, everyone now wants to know what went on in that bar between a young Jessica and that strange anonymous man. It was eerie to see such a cute, vivacious little girl ask for help from a strange man and suspect that this grown-up would do something to violate her (if this is indeed what happened). It was even more unsettling to watch this little girl tuck her hair back over her ear and announce, "I'm not Jessica, I'm TESS." Woah. Who would have thought that Tess had emerged at such a young age?
But this story moves beyond the origin of Jessica's split. The added component now is that Niki Smith is somehow linked to the incident. Realizing that Niki might somehow be responsible for her daughter's psychological problem is surely a thought that horrifies Viki. Hearing Tess state that she would only tell Niki Smith what happened was a bold moment. It suggests that Viki will have to somehow tap within her psyche to bring out the boisterous woman who probably was responsible for bringing a young Jessica to that bar in the first place! What I'm interested in learning about, though, is how Niki Smith can emerge after someone has been integrated like Viki supposedly has been. I'm far from an expert in psychology, but it would seem to me that once an integration occurs, the distinct personalities are gone. I hope we find out.
The relationships are also integral in this story. With a pregnancy involved, this story becomes not only a "Who's the Daddy?" tale, but it is also a "Who's the Mommy?" question. I applaud Nash for not crumbling under the devastating news that the woman he has come to love isn't really a "real" person (even though she sort of is...very confusing for the poor guy!). I loved when he told Clint that he would do what is right for Jess, but he won't give up fighting for her. He is convinced that part of Tess will remain in Jess, and that is the hope he is hanging on to as he continues his quest to fight for the woman he loves. This is much more than the tired love triangle that is a staple of soap operas; this is a tragic love story that will not have a happy ending for someone. Not only will Jess/Tess ultimately decide on the man for whom she has feelings, but she will also have to balance that with the news of which person is the father of the child she is carrying!
Last week, I raved about Clint's return to Llanview, and his influence continues to be felt. I hadn't realized how much this character was missed or needed until I've watched him interact with his family and Jessica all week. Who better to talk to Nash and give him support and advice than someone, who like Nash, has been the victim of someone fighting D.I.D.? Clint knows first hand what Nash is feeling, and that empathy will make Clint sympathetic to Nash's plight.
Now on to the other odds and ends that have been on my mind this week...
1. As a big fan of the new Fox show, "Prison Break," I have loved the prison storyline involving Chris and my all-time favorite villain, Carlo Hesser. Leave it to Carlo to have the entire prison under his thumb! He truly does run the place and actually seems a lot more content behind those prison walls than I would have expected. How chilling to see Carlo hand Cristian cyanide pills and urge him to end his life the "easier" way! I gotta give it to Chris; boy does he know how to stand up to that former mob boss. There is no way that I would ever consider crossing that menacing and ferocious baldie! Knowing that there is a prison riot on the horizon, I'm anxious to see how this drama unfolds. Cris is certainly going to be out of that place sooner rather than later, and Carlo's involvement in Cris's brainwashing will surely come to light, but I definitely hope this doesn't mean the end to my favorite bad-guy! He still has unfinished business with the Buchanans. There will always be a place in Llanview for Carlo Hesser, as far as I'm concerned. Maybe Carlo has been watching a little bit of that FOX show this season and has gained a few pointers...
2. I continue to love the banter between David and Dorian, especially as their wedding day approaches. Dorian's ranting about her missing "Matron of Honor" (Viki) while David remains preoccupied with his sinister brother has made for some great scenes to counter-balance the D.I.D. storyline. I was wondering if Cassie would be returning for her mother's wedding, so it was pleasant to hear Dorian mention her to her fiancÚ. While I'm disappointed that the bad weather down south is preventing Dorian's daughter to attend the wedding, I'm glad that the show didn't just forget about her completely.
3. Even though it must be obvious to even the most casual viewer that Clint and Viki are destined to be reunited, it was also a realistic touch by the writers to make us remember that Clint originally left Llanview to go to London with a woman named Dallas; sure, she may have been forgettable, but she and Clint have apparently weathered the storm for all of these years. Having Clint communicate to her via phone and express how badly he is needed in Pennsylvania to help his daughter battle her D.I.D. helps us remember that this reunion between the former Mr. and Mrs. Buchanan will not be as easy as it may seem.
1. Let me reiterate again my extreme concern over the possibility that Hillary B. Smith will be left go from the show. After having read an article in "Soap Opera Digest" about Smith being "low-balled" in regards to her salary, I am shocked that the writers and producers do not see the importance and value in this beloved character! A 13-year run on OLTL has created so many different relationships for Nora. She and Todd alone share an animosity and a violent history together that is too often ignored. She and Bo have never re-connected after she and ex-husband Sam had a one-night fling that originally seemed to have produced Matthew (we later found out that Bo could, in fact, father a child). Viewers have been teased for years that the two would eventually reunite, but that has never happened. Bo and Nora were so much fun in their heyday. They helped solve cases together but could go home and eat junk food while watching old movies. For many of their married years, they had a healthy and fulfilling marriage, something that is so rare on daytime dramas in 2005. This character is filled with vitality and a fierce independence that should not be thrown away for budgetary reasons; heck, get rid of a few newbies who lack the charisma with other actors and who fail to bring the rich history that a character like Nora does. Few scenes compare to when Nora acted as the lawyer for Todd, Kevin, and the other fraternity brothers accused of raping Marty Saybrooke in the mid-90's. We must rally together to make sure this important character is not discarded like a pair of dirty socks.
2. I am so completely over Todd and Blair and the Margaret fiasco. Please put an end to this already. I could care less about who killed the psycho. I could care less if the body was actually Margaret's or someone else's. I could care less that Blair is mad at Todd for not telling her about Margaret's pregnancy with his child (that was conceived through rape, I might add). I could care less that Todd makes himself look guilty by running away. I could care less that Todd will probably be framed for this crime and go on trial. I could just-care-less.
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Enjoy your week,
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