Oh, it's good to be back! Todd's in prison, Marty is pissed, Viki and Charlie are happy, Nora is rocking the major airtime, and all is right with the world. Well, almost. My, my, my, what a week. Not only did we get a bit of Christmas cheer and a joyous reunion for Viki and Charlie, as well as a somber memorial for Starr and Cole's "dead" Profound Metaphor Baby (more on her in a moment), but we also got a totally fictional holiday movie, a new role for Moe and Noelle, some babysitting foibles for Jared and Natalie, the PTSD suffering of poor Brody and his poor biceps, a marriage proposal from a giant spider-lady, and of course, the, er, triumphant return of Téa Delgado, now with her own take on "bitchy bangs." She looks great, as always, but there's just a few issues I have with ol' Téa, same as I've always had. This week will mark our first installment in this column of a special limited series, a sort of sidebar session entitled "Téa: You So Crazy!" What will she do next? More on that later. Look upon your columnist and tremble! Now begins your Two Scoops.
John Brotherton and Melissa Archer are never hotter than when they are all rumpled and looking after little children, let's just say that first. Those scenes were adorable, my nonexistent ovaries were quailing. And the new Bree is a doll, but my question is, why did Viki and Natalie talk like she wasn't in the room or was simply too young (or stupid) to understand English? That kid was clearly old enough to realize she was being talked about. And the poor little girl is just sitting there, pretending to be oblivious. Really, OLTL? Really? Well, it's a minor quibble. Meanwhile, Viki and Charlie's long-awaited reunion came not a moment too soon pour moi, with the added glamour of this likely being the first time Viki has ever spent the night at the Angel Square Hotel. God, what a slum that place is. Anyway, they were wonderful, and I was just so happy to see them back together, and that their intimacy was once again treated with respect and gentle maturity (i.e., not on the back of a Harley). Plus, weren't they so cute snuggling with Bree after the memorial service?
As for Bree's mommy, the St. Anne's Love Connection continues to simmer between trifurcated Jess and Brody's angst-ridden pectorals. Nuns a-plenty and prim doctors didn't stop Tess from pushing up on Brody, and I have to say they looked hot in each other's arms. But no - no - let's not be tawdry - the friendship between Brody and Jessica is actually still being handled very well, slowly and carefully. With the baby mystery between them and Brody still being haunted by Arab Ghost Boy, they have plenty of sturm und drang to work through, and you get the sense that OLTL is actually committed to seeing these two work through their individual problems, as opposed to drowning them in the quick-fix of sex. Now, a big part of why we are seeing Jessica's therapy is because Bess is determined to prevent integration; if Jessica is integrated, she will become aware that "Chloe" is Hope and that Bess switched the babies. So the St. Anne's story is actually now three or four-fold: It allows the baby story to continue, allows us to see Jessica regain her life, allows us to see Brody find his own, and potentially allows the two of them to grow close and maybe fall in love. It all knits together well writing-wise, and I hope it continues to do so. Brody's little shirts could stand to be knitted a little more weakly though. Couldn't he just flex and burst through them every time he sees the Ghost Kid, like Lou Ferrigno on The Incredible Hulk? These are aesthetic concerns the show needs to consider.
Regarding the babies, they of course buried the wrong one last week. Oops. Their bad. A new OLTL drinking game has developed, though: Take a shot every time someone says some variation on "Hope is dead" or "the death of Hope." That way you'll be smashed just in time for the myriad anti-delights of General Hospital. I may try this next week, and I make no promises as to what my Tuesday recap will look like afterwards. (Just kidding, Dan. Maybe.) Because OMG U GUYZ IT'S SUCH A METAPHOR! BECAUSE THEY HAVE LOST HOPE AND ALSO HOPE IS THE NAME OF THE BABY WHO THEY THINK IS DEAD! SYNERGY! Who needs Cliff's Notes for high school literature when you have this kind of heavy, thudding subtext? Andrew consoles the clergy about the death of Hope! Marcie knows that her Hope is gone! Starr fears that she has lost all Hope! And Jessica's new baby gives Viki...what's that word?...oh, yes...optimism! Seriously, though, it was a lovely series of scenes, everyone was on their A-game, and I actually really felt for Starr and Cole, as well as Blair, who despite trying times is still the mama lion of the brood, with everything from Todd and Marty to poor "Hope" bearing down on her shoulders. At least Blair has John in her corner - no, really, I mean it. I didn't expect much from McBain this week - I expect very little of him any week of the year - but I was surprised he actually committed himself to Blair. It wasn't exactly a gleaming statement of intent from Captain Words-A-Lot, and I still don't like him, but he was reasonably decent and kind to her. And at this point I would prefer Blair with a live yak over Todd. I expect John to fall down on the job and go back to fawning over Marty at any moment. Maybe he'll surprise me. I was also thrilled beyond words to see Robert Krimmer back as our Reverend Andrew during the service, and we'll discuss him further in just a tic, because now we have to discuss Llanview's own "Dirty Harriet," Marty.
Yes, Marty's out for blood. You can tell she wants vengeance against Todd because she covered her bed in photocopies while her old metronome of variable sanity clanged like a bomb timer. I love that whole thing with the metronome, though; those scenes were really atmospheric. You can easily see Marty losing herself in these revenge fantasies, alone in her room, and I can hardly blame her. But the money material for Marty this week was her surprise reunion with Andrew, after all this time. I truly never believed I'd see Susan Haskell play opposite Krimmer again, and I am overjoyed to be wrong. They still have excellent chemistry, and I think people tend to forget who Andrew was when he was first on the show, before he got relegated to funerals and weddings; Andrew Carpenter was an intensely passionate, complex character, who seethed with emotions and feelings under the surface of his white collar, feelings that were just as fiery as his devotion to his higher calling. He was unlike almost any soap character I ever saw before, or any I have seen since, and he deserves his due, as does Robert Krimmer. Andrew should not be the bit player he is today, and deserves more. He'll never get it with that hair, mind you, but can you blame Mr. Krimmer? He's apparently a full-time lawyer now, and only acts occasionally. Daytime needs you, Robert Krimmer! Don't stay away too long. Anyway, Marty took absolutely none of Andrew's advice to heart, deciding instead that it was time for her to go back to her wild child roots and take Todd down the old-school way. It may not be the most sanguine choice for Marty, especially as Cole continues to pine for her love, but it almost guarantees great soap, especially with Susan Haskell's always-incredible performance. For what it's worth, I recommend that Marty hire thugs to violate Todd to the strains of "Heart & Soul." Just a thought!
Then there was Todd himself. Todd is like a broken 8-ball. Ask him any question, and the answer is always "I love Marty." "For two hundred dollars, what powers the atomic bomb?" "What is 'Marty's love,' Alex?" I was glad Blair took Jack to see him, because she's apologized for Todd or excused his messes to their kids for far too long, bore the brunt of their pain for his deeds, and what Todd's done this time is so unspeakable that it defies explanation from anyone other than our one and only serial rapist. I am continually grateful for the show's willingness to condemn Todd and his point of view; when Nora castigated Todd last week, defining his "love" for Marty based on his actions, that's really all there is to say about it as far as I'm concerned. And what was even more poignant and true was when Blair told Todd that whereas he wanted to change for Marty, most men would have tried to change for their children, for their families. But in Todd's little bubble there's only him and his victims. Either this character isn't Todd, or Todd has had a total psychotic break. But his excuses, his rationale, it's all crap, all self-serving, all self-absorbed. And while I am thoroughly enjoying the current arc of this storyline, I fear for its future if Todd is to remain on the show. I will not tolerate Todd's crimes being undone or left unpunished, or mitigated in any way due to his supposed "genuine intent;" it's because I have loved his character over the years that I refuse to excuse him now. Unless Todd somehow pays in full and is somehow utterly rehabilitated, there is no possible way for me to tolerate him on the show any longer, or possibly to tolerate the show itself. Anything to befall him in the next couple weeks is only a fraction of what he deserves. It's sad that when Nora now says things like Todd is a narcissistic sociopath, I completely believe her - and agree. What he has done, what he continues to say do in the name of his own personal absolution scheme, is the height of narcissism. So I was pleased when it looked like Todd was ready to plead guilty, even if it was to a sentence far too light for him.
But wait! Who's that in the back of the courtroom with a sassy strut and a gleam in her eye? That's right, it's everyone's favorite castaway, Téa Delgado! Which brings us to our very first installment of a special Two Scoops sidebar: "Téa: You So Crazy!" Oh, Téa, Téa, Téa. Not one day in town and she's all about Todd. I mean, sure, she's obviously got another agenda, and I bet it has to do with Evil Spider-Woman Vanessa (who we will get to), but really all she actually seems to care about is, once again, enabling Todd. Enabling Todd allll over town. Just reunited with your relatives? Time to talk to them about the town rapist! Awkward, what awkward? Nothing livens up a holiday reunion than chatting about your rapist ex who socked you in the face like this was Mike Tyson's Punch-Out and you were Glass Joe, and then you still tried to get married to him in a Walt Disney Magic Kingdom wedding! Nothing awkward at all about broaching this topic with your aunt and two cops! I would love to believe that Téa is somehow faking this solicitious concern for Todd, but she's never been this good a liar. She has, however, always been this over-the-top obnoxious, overbearing, and loaded for bear with freshman year psychobabble. Understand: I have nothing against Florencia Lozano. She's a beautiful woman, her hair looks great, and she is still playing this role to the hilt. (I also love that she appears to understand the character the same way I do.) But Téa, as far as I am concerned, is a destructive, unstable element who was always just as disturbed as the man she married, a character who thrived on abuse and sought it out in every intimate relationship she had, who accelerated the deterioration her dysfunctional relationship with Todd because she needed to feel that pain and confusion. I think they were bad for each other and I think Téa's falling back into the same old patterns. Now, mind you, that does not mean I am not enjoying her on the show! Anybody as wacky as Téa is always good soap, and she's only going to make this storyline wilder; I also appreciate the way they have painted the character this time, as opposed to glossing over her behavior and her attitude to make her seem "saintly" - which she never was. Téa is a peace-disturber, and she's one of the best OLTL ever had. So bring on the rationalizations, Téa! You make my week complete. What's that you say, girlfriend? You chose Todd over R.J.? You chose Todd over the hot-as-hell Shawn Christian who never punched you in the mouth? Blair made Todd do bad things like imprison Marty, and Todd just wanted a new life on his own terms? Oh, Téa. Why you so crazy? This has been your bi-weekly edition of "Téa: You So Crazy!"
But before we leave Ms. Delgado altogether, we must mention her incredibly foolhardy, (you so) crazy interpetation of the whole Cristian and Vanessa situation, while Sarah stood there feeling like dirt whose thirteen contractual weeks were up. Nicely done, Téa! Why you so crazy? And of course her plan is for Cris to marry another shifty-eyed chick who lies badly, just like Roseanne. Cristian's blank stares as Vanessa strutted mostly nude through his loft and then proposed marriage to him were...well, basically one and the same. He's obviously going to tie the knot with her, and Sarah is obviously going to flee Llanview in disgust. But I suspect Téa may be out to get Vanessa and nail her for her crimes (after Téa lunches with Todd's latest "alter," "Tojo," the horny samurai, of course). I think Téa's wackiness may be a match for Vanessa's creepy spider-clutches. She definitely has Vanessa beat in the hairstyling. How dim can Cristian be, though? Seriously? And why have I not mentioned Lola at all in the column? Oh, right, because she was barely noticeable.
In the category of "Latina women I would rather be watching than Vanessa and Lola," there is a second character (other than Téa) we haven't yet mentioned: Our girl Noelle, the latest waitress at the Buenos Dias! I am actually glad she and Moe are now Llanview staples; I've always liked their characters, broad and comic, though they are, and I've got nothing against that on the show as long as they aren't out of place, which so far, they aren't. Making Moe into Dorian's "Chef Maurice" was a stroke of genius, and I am already enjoying his La Boulaie foibles with Jack and Addie. Gigi and Rex also got in some good stuff this week, as they did a good deed for Brody, and then were one of the few couples not to sit down and watch that Llanview Christmas classic, Christina Comes Home For Christmas. Oh, I know all the complaints: "This movie does not exist," "no one has ever mentioned it before," "it looks fake," "why is the whole movie just one scene outside a house?" Pish tosh! I admire the concept more than anything: Most people in the audience can relate to sitting down and watching Christmas movies during the holidays, and I think seeing our favorite Llanviewites do the same (and shed manly tears like Brody) is a point of connection for the viewers, and a classic scene of everyday life. Sure, they could have picked a real film, but then they couldn't have scripted Christina... with all sorts of thudding subtext lines. "You've come home at last!" "People tried to come between us!" I see what you did there, OLTL. Subtle! (Not really.) But I liked it anyway.
So that's that for that. Next week, Téa continues to crazy her way through town, Marty takes the stand, and we approach a critical point in the telling of this whole twisted saga with Todd and his victim. Don't screw it up, OLTL. I'll see you in two weeks for my Best and Worst of 2008!