On paper, the Madden Murder Mystery has all the elements of a decent story, specifically a hated victim and a long list of suspects. So why is it that I still don't care who actually did the deed? It might have something to do with the way this shaky plot continued to evolve this week.
In murder mysteries past, there were typically one or two primary suspects (the ones put on trial) and several others who appear guilty. Before Madden's death, we were hit over the head with how many suspects there were, but now that Zach and Dixie have been implicated, we rarely hear about anyone else. There's no suspense in that type of storytelling. The only reason I'm at all interested in this story is to find out how they'll explain away all of the evidence against Zach and Dixie (as I said before, the more guilty they look, the more certain I am that they're innocent).
As if the physical evidence wasn't bad enough, Tad and Ryan have now revealed their "proof" that Slater and Cooney are the real killers. Let's examine this alleged proof, shall we? I found the transcripts from last Friday, when Tad confronted Zach with his eyewitness account. Here's some of what Tad said:
"I went to the airport that night to look for Madden. When I couldn't find him, on my way back to the parking lot, what do I see but you and Dixie putting something in the trunk of her car - something big, bulky." No mention of actually seeing Greg Madden. "After you two left the airport parking lot I decided to tail you. Unfortunately, I lost you in traffic. So I figured I'd go back to the casino. And on my way by the park, what do I find but Dixie's car - without you two in it. So I wait and wait and wait, and you never pop out of the bushes." No mention of a body, a burial or a coffin. "When you two finally materialized, I tailed you back to the casino. You went inside, and I checked out Dixie's trunk. It was empty." Considering that you're not certain what was in the trunk in the first place, that's not very solid evidence.
The Evidence Mounts
But Ryan offered more "proof" this week - he found the disc containing Madden's confession in Zach's closet. Apparently, Ryan really, really needed to find Spike's humidifier (to see if it had been recalled), so he let himself into condo. Couldn't the writers think of a better reason for Ryan to be there? I laughed out loud at that lame explanation.
When Kendall finally accepted what Ryan was saying, Lavery seemed surprised when she broke down in his arms. What did you expect, Ryan? I guess I'm not supposed to blame him for telling Kendall the truth (as he sees it, of course) because it took him awhile to finally spill the beans. But given his feelings for Kendall and his insistence about Zach's guilt, I can't help but question his motives. And Kendall might have been impressed when Ryan admitted to planting the disc in JR's drawer for revenge, but I sure wasn't. It might have something to do with the fact that this made it possible for JR to publicly expose Josh's true parentage and humiliate some of the people closest to Kendall. No matter what he does, I just can't help but hate Ryan Lavery.
Kendall later confronted Zach about this new evidence, and he did his tight-lipped "man of few words" thing. These scenes were heartbreaking to watch, mostly because I could see both sides of the argument. Kendall definitely deserves answers, and I hate that Zach is keeping the details so close to the vest, yet again. He knows that Kendall still has trust issues, so he shouldn't be surprised that she finally caved under the mountain of evidence facing Zach and Dixie. On the other hand, I can see things from Zach's perspective. Kendall believed in him completely until Ryan opened his big mouth. Now she is suddenly convinced that he's the killer? The fingerprints and blood evidence didn't do it, but a few words from Lavery and she's sold? It's a messy situation all around.
Right Question, Wrong Questioner
When a frustrated Kendall declared her marriage to Zach was over, he went to confront Ryan, who proceeded to attack Slater for abandoning his wife on her deathbed. Ryan asked him what could have possibly been more important than getting back to a comatose Kendall. I know have a hard time believing that helping Dixie get her daughter back was more important than Kendall's health. It's definitely a question I want answered. The problem was that the exact wrong person was asking it.
Ryan also slipped out of the hospital that night - remember Bianca asking him where he had been? And if I recall, Ryan left the hospital of his own accord, he wasn't dragged out by the cops. Not to mention the fact that I will always have a problem with Ryan lecturing people about hurting Kendall. I'm sorry, but I actually remember the past three years! Ryan's been living in a glass house far too long to cast those particular stones.
Elsewhere, Tad was telling sons Jamie and JR that he was ready to skip town rather than incriminate Dixie. Tad said he was doing it all for his boys, so they wouldn't lose their mother again, but it seemed clear to me that Tad was also concerned about the ex-wife he clearly still loves. Dixie's feelings for Tad were also showcased nicely when she begged Zach not to hurt her ex. While Dixie's pleas didn't exactly move me, I was touched by Tad's scenes with JR and Jamie. On an individual basis, these three characters tend to tick me off, but I actually enjoyed their scenes together.
I could have done without JR & Jamie's Hardy Boys routine (as Zach called it) as they tried to steal Tad's confession tape and intimidate Zach into revealing Tad's whereabouts (he went missing before boarding the Chandler jet for parts unknown). It turns out Del and Di, who had tried to convince Dixie to go on the run, had kidnapped Tad, planning to lock him up in the Marick mausoleum and prevent him from testifying. When Tad convinced them to let him go, he made it to the airport just in time to run into JR and Jamie - and Derek. When they returned to the police station, Dixie was there ready to confess, but Derek didn't buy her "I did it alone" story. The police chief then upped the ante on Tad, saying that if Martin didn't testify against Dixie and Zach, he would throw JR and Jamie in jail. Did you get all that? It makes my brain hurt.
What Are You Building There, Josh?
Josh also had a tough week. He spied a kiss between Zach and Kendall, realized Slater and Dixie's alibi was phony, and became convinced of their guilt. When Babe asked him not to go to the cops because she was concerned about JR, Josh became enraged. I can't stand Babe, but you've got to hand it to her. Few women would have the guts to ask that. "Um, Josh, I know you want to bring your father's killer to justice, but since you love me, could you maybe let it go so that my husband - your sworn enemy - won't lose his mommy all over again?" Josh is a much better person than I am, because he agreed. After finding Babe crying over JR yet again, a frustrated Josh channeled his rage into carpentry. When Babe showed up at Josh's hotel room, she found a newly built coffin next to the bed... I have a feeling it has Zach and Dixie's names all over it.
If you weren't interested in the whole Madden Murder Mystery this week, AMC gave you two other options. You could focus on the super-creepy Terry-seduces-Lily-over-the-internet storyline, or you could watch the developing teen triangle between Colby, Sean and Sydney. Oh joy.
Whatever happened to soaps being fun? Serious storylines have their place, but do I ever need to see a 35-year-old pervert stare at pictures of barely-legal autistic girls? I don't think so. And if AMC thinks that watching spoiled, bratty kids arguing over cell phones and party dresses is "fun" for its key demographic, they are delusional. I mean, they're featuring their major teen-scene storyline, Colby's sweet 16, after all their teenage viewers have gone back to school! What the heck are they thinking?
I've loved this show my whole life and I can't imagine not watching it, but this is one of the worst periods in the show's history. We need a change, and fast. I want to look forward to watching AMC everyday, not dread what they might throw at me. There's a lot of potential on this show - good actors, great couples, and endless storyline possibilities. I just hope TPTB find a way to start taking advantage of that potential before too many viewers tune out for good.
That said, I'll see you back here in a couple of weeks.