Only in Llanview is someone executed only to be miraculously brought back to life in the eleventh hour! It sounds outrageous, doesn't it? Far fetched? Definitely, but I'll tell you what-I can suspend my disbelief in this situation because of the well-crafted and phenomenally well-acted episodes leading up to Todd's execution last week. The suspense was riveting, the tension thick, and the stakes high. For once in a great while, I looked forward to watching OLTL and seeing what was going to happen next.
Fans of this column know that I've not been a fan of this Todd/Margaret storyline. Without mapping it out, I believe this story is soon reaching its two-year mark. That's a long time for one storyline to drag out. It's a long time for one-time supercouple Todd and Blair to be immersed in a storyline solely devoted to one crazy psychopath. But, the payoff in this tale's climax almost was worth it. I say almost because I still don't think I can disassociate myself with some of the craziness that led to this point. But I digress. I can recall when Margaret first started to stalk Todd and become, at that time, just a thorn in his side. As she became more and more psychotic, I grew to dislike the character more and more. Acting aside, this character was just a nuisance, like a fly that pests someone for hours on end with a flyswatter nowhere in sight. As she began to take more elevated and dangerous risks in her quest to win Todd's affections, the storyline became less and less plausible for me. I didn't like the way Margaret attacked Starr, and I was repulsed when Margaret kidnapped Todd and ultimately raped him so she could become pregnant with his child. Even Blair's abduction and presumed death in the car compactor, with great location shots that accompanied the story, couldn't make me like this storyline. But in 8 months (or less!), this led to Margaret's pregnant return with Todd's baby that culminated with Todd and Margaret out on the lake where she supposedly "drowned" at Todd's hands. Months and months in jail, a baby later, and a brainwashed Margaret shipped off to Thailand, and we finally are seeing the payoff. Thank goodness OLTL did a recap of what led up to Todd's execution before the actual episode aired. Even I had forgotten a few key details. It also helped, I presume, the casual viewer understand what is happening.
This leads me to last Monday's episode, the one when Todd was going to actually die for a crime that the viewers know he didn't commit. Talk about dramatic irony---for once, viewers KNOW Todd is innocent; we BELIEVE in him. When Blair insists that she can't trust him and thinks that he had something to do with this, all we can do is shake our heads at her ignorance because we know the truth. In fact, we are all too keenly aware that the slimeball she's sleeping with is the real culprit behind the injustice being served to Mr. Manning.
The episode itself was unbelievable. Admittedly, it is rare to find suspense on soaps in this technological age with the Internet and spoilers that pop up the moment one word is uttered somewhere about a possible outcome to a story. So with the Internet filled with rumors that Trevor St. John was really going to die, I found myself in a quandary. Surely, OLTL wouldn't be so foolish as to get rid of a character so rich in history and with so much storyline potential to mine, would they? This had to be a stunt, right? Yet, I was intrigued; I wasn't sure. Was Todd REALLY going to die? The tension that built up in those scenes was something I haven't experienced in watching this show in a very long time. Todd's heartbeat came thump-thumping right out of the TV screen! I could hear those heartbeats, I could feel the angst and the turmoil festering within him. Listening to him give tender goodbyes to sister Viki and then good friend Evangeline was heartbreaking, and it gave viewers a chance to see the emotional side of Todd very rarely seen.
I have read that some feel Todd has been emasculated because of his outward showing of emotions…but lest us forget, the man thought he was going to die in a matter of minutes. With his final chance of a reprieve gone (after the warden took the Governor's phone call indicated that a stay of execution would not happen), Todd was a man who was scared of death yet angry that he knew he was being wrongfully killed. His tender exchange with Viki during which he admitted he wished he had taken more of her sage advice and learned from her coupled with his admission to Evangeline that she is his "dearest friend," all showed the loyal side to Todd-the side that demonstrates that he will move heaven and earth for those he loves and who are loyal to him. That attitude was only cemented when he refused to really give Blair any kind of closure. He didn't gush over the mother of his children, nor did he admit his deep, passionate love for her. Instead, he told her that he would haunt her forever, that once she realized his innocence, she would never forgive herself and he would find ways to affect her dreams. It was truly heartbreaking for Blair, who clearly still loves Todd and finally came to grapple with the realization that the father of her children would really be put to death. All she wanted was the opportunity to have closure with the feelings she still has for him, and he wouldn't allow that to happen. It was the one way Todd was still able to show some sort of control in a situation far out of his hands.
With such a phenomenal build-up to the execution, I was very disappointed with the fall-out from the revelation that Margaret was still alive. Sure, the reactions in the viewing room were priceless, and it was particularly satisfying to see Spencer's mind race at the possibility that his entire plan just blew up right before his eyes. It was also poetic justice that Spencer had to be the one to save Todd's life after he spent a good year trying to make sure that his life would be taken away from him. But the rest of the fall-out just fell, well, flat. Margaret's amnesia or brainwashing or whatever it is became simply frustrating to watch. The police must be fairly certain that Spencer is somehow involved in the whole situation, and yet he still roams in and out of Todd's hospital room like he has some right to be there. Why isn't anyone demanding that another doctor look over Todd's condition? And seeing Blair cry over Todd in the hospital and promise to always trust him and to always love him NOW…AFTER THE FACT THAT HE'S BEEN PROVEN INNOCENT makes me sick. Although, if that means that we viewers will see Blair start to regain her feistiness and her tough demeanor, then I'm even willing to stomach the pathetic pleas that she is dishing out to Todd.
So much else is going on in Llanview as well, and I don't want to neglect the crazy turns of events going on with Nash/Tess/Jess/Antonio or with Dorian and David or with Michael and Marcie's new baby, so look out for a more comprehensive take on OLTL next week.
Enjoy your week,