For the Week of May 18, 2009
So much of this past week on One Life to Live seemed to revolve around sex and power roles, love and violence, secrets and lies.
I have to admit, part of the reason I chose that column title is just to see if I can get away with it. But come on, it's apropos, right? So much of this week on OLTL seemed to revolve around sex and power roles, love and violence, secrets and lies. While Langston and Markko made Prom Night their first time, Lola tried and failed to douse the flames of their teenage love by skewering Dorian's prized French condoms; meanwhile, across town, crazy old Powell (played by the low-key but great Sean Moynihan), a serial rapist, was channeling a crazed Camille Paglia, ordering bound and gagged women to "take their power back" from a fourth hostage. Jared and Natalie got married in less time than a commercial break, Kyle objectified himself for the female gaze, Jessica's cheap AfterEffects flashbacks increased in frequency, and a horrifying discovery sounded what is possibly the death knell for Dorian and Ray's muy caliente love affair. Oh, and the Pussycat Dolls embarrassed us all.
Nothing says "female empowerment" like drugging and tying up women you've been terrorizing for months, then demanding they kill another dude. I would say Powell's behavior this week is inconsistent and contradictory, but the truth is, the way I remember it, he's always been this way - cursing Todd for his crimes against women while simultaneously emulating him. If my memory is correct, even after transforming into the dreaded "hospital rapist," Powell kept on ranting and raving about how horrible and vicious Todd was, and how he had to pay for what he'd done to Marty. As a (too) young viewer in the early '90s, I never bought Powell's sob story, and I always felt his brand of pouting, mewling, apologetic evil was the most creepy. I don't think a man can be "bullied" into sexually violating another person, then repeating the pattern over and over throughout their lives without having an innate, preexisting mental deficiency of their own. Powell isn't butchering people for Marty, just like he never raped other women for Marty; he's doing it because he's stuck in that moment from 1993 where he acted out something primal and animal, and has never been able to put that personal demon back in its cage. Like Victor Lord, blood and rape are all that satisfies that aspect of himself, but Powell is different from Todd, in that Todd has not persisted all these years in the delusion that it was someone or something else alien of himself that made it happen - eventually, even he admitted that what he did to Marty last year was rape. One would like to hope that Todd can come away from this experience with Powell willing to be even more honest about his own recent behavior in ways that Powell clearly is not, but I'm not holding my breath. With Todd's character it's always one step forward, fifty steps back. I think that's because the writers are afraid to fail at what on Earth might possibly come next for him. Rapist, murderer, abusive spouse, baby-snatcher, domineering father, re-rapist - he's reached a strange kind of apex-slash-nadir. Where do you go with Todd past that event horizon? My inclination would be to say he has to become something else entirely. Why does no one want to answer that question?
But I digress. Back to the KAD frat house. (Fun fact of the week: Another KAD man was also a party to a Llanview serial murder case. Nick Messina, a member of Marcie and Jen's collegiate "Love Crew," was the accomplice of "Killing Club" murderer Hayes Barber, as well as a star quarterback and KAD brother.) It's easy to potentially take Powell's quasi-Paglia rambling this week as a kind of nasty backhand to the audience courtesy of the writing staff, and I know some fans see it that way. Robert Guza at General Hospital has always enjoyed putting valid fan complaints in the mouth of pariah characters (A.J., Ric, Scott, Alexis), then knocking them down. I don't think Ron Carlivati is doing the same - I don't find him to be nearly as callous or cynical - but I do find it awfully suspect that viewer commentary about misogyny and repeat female victimization by Todd is only being channeled through psychopath Powell. If some of Powell's sentiments were echoed more rationally in the voice of a sane, sympathetic personality, I'd feel better about what I'm seeing. Really, though, I enjoyed a lot of the scenes in the frathouse, especially the idea of the women arranged against Todd for final judgment, which was unfortunately totally subverted by Powell's controlling the situation. This is what the story should've been all along, without the obnoxious, nagging presence of John, who continues to barge into storylines he really has no business in, complete with blind sidekick and bestselling author Peter Straub. Mr. Straub, I loved Ghost Story, but you're not needed here and neither is John.
A few more things about this story: Téa and Blair got some great scenes this week, and I loved cowardly Téa shoving Blair at Powell to try and make a break for it, only to make herself the loudest, gaudiest moving target ever. (And now another dash of pretension - how fitting that Téa tries to "disprove" Powell's diagnosis of her Todd worship with "you don't know me at all," only to discover her gun isn't even loaded.) Téa: You So Crazy! I wish Todd had made a definitive statement of not valuing Marty over Blair or Téa, as I find his "love" for her sickening, but the reasoning he offered (that he would not choose and then let Powell kill the other two) was sound. Lastly, I was glad to see Marty finally is getting her memory back, but I hate that it's still all about rape-as-catalyst for her character. If Marty is going to have any longevity as a contract character for the future, they have got to stop re-victimizing her again and again. Everything is about rape; Todd kidnaps her, Powell stalks her, and now, the flashback to her first(!) rape returns her memories...where does it end? When do you get past Todd and rape for Marty? As I said above about Todd's evolution, it seems like the writers are afraid of what might happen if they moved forward for Marty instead of always stepping back. This story has its good and its very bad points, and OLTL needs to seize the reins and allow Powell's nostalgic psychosis to be the engine for crucial change for these characters who, like him, seem mired in the past.
But Powell wasn't the only one with sex on the brain this week. Langston and Markko were bound and determined to execute "Operation: Deflower," and despite some hiccups, they did it with style and grace. I applaud OLTL's maturity and caring towards its two most underused young characters. The Dorian and Langston conversation about her important choice was a tearjerker, not just because of the loving bond between foster mother and daughter, but because of the honesty and candor they displayed, so fresh and unconventional for daytime, which usually paints teen sexuality and family relationships therein with a thick trowel. No one yelled, no one cried, no one started "sexting" naked pictures across the Internet, no one had a back alley Spring Awakening abortion. Just look at As The World Turns, where Parker and Liberty got married while Jack and Carly screamed and boozed it up. I can't think of another mother currently on daytime who'd handle things the same way, with the exception of, say, Reva Shayne, and well, that's a whole other issue. Daytime could learn a lot from how OLTL handled Dorian and Langston's open discourse in this storyline, especially when social issue stories on soaps often become teaching tools. It's silly, but I was so relieved to see that Lola hadn't foiled Langston and Markko's plans, and that Markko had come through. Personally, though, if I was Lang, I'd get a refill for that fancy condom case. That thing looked sweet. Also, I would like an entire hour devoted to Markko trying to remove tight tank tops.
Dorian and Ray also tried to throw caution to the wind this week, before being interrupted by Lola and her Purple Haze. See, like Dorian, I'm an easy date: All you need is a thick Spanish accent, a guitar, and lines like "the way you hated me is the way you will love me," and I'm done. That's it, check please, bring the car around. That was another perfect example of what Ron Carlivati does well, the type of soap so often missing from current OLTL as well as other shows - while Langston and Markko expressed their young love in a more overt way, all the older Dorian and Ray needed was a guitar, a mature conversation about gender roles, and a quiet segue into bed. That is intergenerational soap opera, and jaded production staff ignore its appeal at their peril. Crazy drug-addled Lola was amusing, and her confession of murder was satisfying, but mostly I'm glad to see her story coming to an end - the one I fear for instead is poor Ray, a worthy match for Dorian. Losing him would be a horrible mistake for OLTL after their recent scenes, and I can't believe it's even an option.
Now we come to the portion of the week which the Gilligan's Island theme song liked to call "...and the rest." It would be nice if I were able to say Jared and Natalie's wedding was an event in and of itself, but sadly it wasn't; instead, their surprise elopement was rushed through a quick montage at the end of Wednesday's show alongside a lot of other couples and stories. I can understand their expediency as they prepare to drop the Chloe bomb on Jessica, and I was very happy to see them married, but I sincerely hope they get another shot at the whole big wedding thing; I'm a huge fan of the couple, and while I like Langston and Markko, it doesn't seem right for them to get all that time while Jared and Nat don't get a big to-do. Maybe there'll be a do-over once the Chloe affair blows over? Please? Pretty please? I'll settle for them getting a better story. But I was amused by what Mr. and Mrs. Banks did get to do, particularly when Kyle crashed the bachelorette party ("My stripper is our blackmailer!"), and I look forward to seeing how this baby story shakes out, especially now that Powell and Rebecca are involved. BTW, I call foul on the show still not delving into the roots of Rebecca's turn to the dark side. The new actress is lackluster, and the writing for her even moreso. The Rebecca Lewis I remember deserved much more attention to detail; like Powell's makeshift female jury, Rebecca has a stake in Todd's past, present and future.
Several adorable couples this week: The aforementioned Langston and Markko plus Dorian and Mr. Montez, as well as Jessica and Brody (but did she have to introduce him to Bree as "Mommy's special friend?") and even (gasp!) Starr and Cole, who actually won me over a little this week as they bonded over Hope's exhumation and their need for an emotional release at Llanview High's Prom Night. Brandon Buddy has really improved, and despite some missteps, I've enjoyed his drug rehab story overall. His treatment of Starr is now even-tempered, steady and faithful, not unlike how Patrick used to comfort Marty or Clint Ritchie's Clint stood by Viki. A less showy, more empathetic young male performance is nice to see. Meanwhile, Destiny and Matthew are cute, but I remain unconvinced by the young actress, who still seems awfully green. I'd warm up to her more if she smacked down that evil leprechaun Justin and his towering Amazon girlfriend. Those two are working my last nerve. Incidentally, I can't imagine why the Llanview High staff thought a quasi-burlesque act like the mildly talentless Pussycat Dolls were a good choice for their underage teens, but I wish they hadn't had to mangle a great Bollywood tune from Slumdog Millionaire while they were here. The great Snoop Dogg, they were not.
The Gigi, Rex, and Stacy bomb was fortunately left on the outskirts of the week, with Stacy's shameful striptease at the bachelor party evoking nothing so much as Britney Spears tanking at the Video Music Awards. Try synching up her "dancing" to "Gimme More;" it'll work! Gigi has now promised the Almighty (and us) that she's through taking Stacy's crap, and she better mean it. I'm sick and tired of watching her cry and whine week after week while Shane and Rex throw old vegetables. I want to see her team up with Schuyler and make that blonde she-beast sorry - and if she steals a kiss off Scott Clifton in the meantime, who can blame her?
Clint foolishly proposed to Nora at his daughter's bachelorette party (gag) and Nora foolishly accepted, but looked ready to eat a gun as she did so. Just the fact that this story is not over fills my heart with joy, as OLTL seems to finally be pushing forward with a Bo and Nora story for the first time in over a decade. This brotherly triangle is a perfect setup, mimicking the Asa/Bo wars of the past, with increasingly nasty patriarch Clint in the role of their father, and Nora as Delilah, Becky Lee, you name it, yet still quintessentially Nora. Don't screw this up, Ron. It's one of a smattering of really solid stories right now.
Speaking of brotherly triangles, I've got a bad feeling about Rachel's meeting sweet lug Shaun. They were adorable together, but I sense a 'but' coming on here. It's time for a little NGTL: We know Shaun's own mysterious brother is lurking out there, and that Destiny wants him to come to Llanview to help Matthew; with Terrell Tilford being cast, what's the odds that three characters of color will soon end up in the familiar routine of playing out a tired backburnered triangle amongst themselves, only on for one or two days a week? You've seen it before too. It's one thing when brothers like Bo and Clint, with acres of history, fight it out, but not two veritable 'newbies' over a single actress. No matter what color, that's a bad recipe for any story. I'll reserve judgment since I like all the actors involved here (Daphnee Duplaix is especially wonderful as the long-beloved Rachel, and her big sister scenes with Cole and Matthew are stellar), but Rachel, Shaun, and all new characters deserve more possibilities than just shoving them into a "closed" story by themselves. That has happened on a race-lazy daytime one too many times, to characters like Hank and R.J., as well as Derek Frye and Detective Taggert. Hopefully, I'm jumping the gun on this. As long as Rachel, Shaun and company branch out and explore other storylines and characters as well as merely each other, we have nothing to worry about. Fingers crossed, y'all. Lock it up.
So that's the week. It was pretty good, all things considered, with some caveats. Next week, things get really crazy with Chloe/Hope and the climax of the KAD story. I'll be back in two weeks to pick up the pieces, and hopefully no other Indian pop songs wll be ruined in the meantime. See you then. Until next time, remember, kids: Buy your own condoms.
Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of soapcentral.com or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen, what has happened, and to take a look at the logistics of it all. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same view point.