Laughing in the face of death

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Laughing in the face of death
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The week of September 13, 2010
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Despite the fact that there were several stories taking place on the AMC canvas before David died, they've all sort of come together -- or temporarily paused -- into one big, connected story. It's sort of the opposite of the much-ballyhooed umbrella storyline.

If you've missed the previous two Two Scoops in this series, you can read them at:August 30: Someone in Pine Valley will die • September 6: Who killed David Hayward?

Despite the fact that there were several stories taking place on the AMC canvas before David died, they've all sort of come together -- or temporarily paused -- into one big, connected story. It's sort of the opposite of the much-ballyhooed umbrella storyline. In an umbrella storyline, there's one big event that spawns a whole bunch of different stories. So we'll call what's happening here... a Pepto storyline. I won't even try to explain that one, so hopefully you all get the idea without the explanation.

I'm not sure if it's because I have a macabre sense of humor or maybe just a sign of my bitter and darkened soul, but I have to say that I am really enjoying "Ghost David's" appearances to Greenlee. It was such a clever piece of camerawork to have David magically appear when Greenlee perused through David's clothing. Not only did he appear, but he chided her for picking out a "far too conservative" suit for his burial.

In the same vein, it's been a long, long time since Greenlee had a storyline that didn't solely involve a man. The last time that I can remember seeing the character in a somewhat vulnerable state was when Greenlee was mourning another death, the man who I truly believe was the love of her life, Leo. It's weird how soap history repeats itself, huh?

I thought that the writers did a really nice job setting up Marissa's reaction to David's death. Sitting alone at Krystal's, a perturbed Marissa listened to a voicemail message from David explaining how he'd pretty much failed as a father, and how he wanted to try to right his wrongs with her. I was surprised that Marissa hit the "7" on her phone -- at least that's what I push to delete a message -- with such zeal. As soon as she did, I remember groaning audibly at the television because I knew she'd come to regret it.

I don't consider myself to be pessimistic or Eeyore-y at all, but I confess that I save the thoughtful messages left on my voicemail by family and friends -- and I am sure that I am not the only one who does this. Sometimes it's just nice to have warm words at your fingertips. It seems everyone is so quick to be mean or nasty in the point-and-click world.

Getting back to the show, it was a smart directing choice to have viewers not hear Krystal break the news of David's death to Marissa. I thought the through-the-window camera angle was far more powerful than anything that the show could have put together with dialogue. Viewers were sort of left to imagine what was being said and then draw what they wanted from Marissa's inaudible response. Sometimes less is more.

I hope it isn't wrong of me to say this, but I don't know how Marissa is keeping it together. She lost her mother and father in a car accident, her twin sister was killed by a tornado, her husband cheated on her, her birth father was murdered... I have to think that by now I'd either have snapped or been heavily medicated.

Why is it that everyone in Pine Valley is just now discovering that maybe it's not the best idea to have Madison "Bookends" North hanging around Frankie? I thought their friendship was strange from the gate -- she framed Frankie's wife for murder. Hello? So I am glad that Natalia is on the attack, urging Madison to stop looking to Frankie for support. As she duly noted, Madison has a man -- a man who is in jail at the moment, but... he's still a man. Now, according to the previews in this week's The Scoop, Randi is also going to strongly urge Madison to quietly sit by and wait for conjugal visits with Ryan.

Speaking of Madison, I can't tell you how many messages I received from readers who've fingered Madison as David's killer. It caught me a little by surprise, so here are two examples of what folks were saying.

"It was totally Madison who killed David," Two Scoops detective and reader Aaron explained to me. "Ryan kept saying that the way for him and Greenlee to move on was for David to be out of Greenlee's life. With Madison killing David it opens the door for a [Ryan and Greenlee] reunion."

"This is too obvious," Ross lectures. "Madison killed David to protect Ryan. When Ryan is accused, she will confess, and go to prison. This will free Ryan up to get back to together with Greenlee."

As I mentioned, it isn't as though Slugger hasn't killed a man before. So, sure, it's certainly in the realm of possibility that Madison could have offed David... but I'm not so convinced. I can't see the current writing team ditching the character of Madison, especially after they've worked so hard to integrate the character and make her a love interest for Ryan. Yeah, yeah. I hear you chirping, "But Dan, you know that murderers rarely get punished for killing people in Pine Valley." I retort with: But you know that murderees rarely ever stay dead in Pine Valley!

Another person with a history of bopping people is little morphing Annie. Oh, yes. The sun sure did come out for her -- and she even had her own Daddy Warbucks. Before we all belt out a refrain of "Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I'll love you tomorrow," I have to share a line that made me chuckle. "This is strange," Annie marveled when she visited Ryan in jail. "It's usually me on the other side of these bars."

I'm not sure why I am less bothered by Annie's reformation than I am by Madison's. I like both characters. Maybe it's because Annie was cuckoo and Madison was just ... what exactly was she? Jealous? Madison was supposedly under duress because she had an evil father, but that seemed random at best. I'm still not sure that I'm buying that.

I am sure by now, you'll all know from reading this column that I really appreciate the little things on the soaps. There was a very-much-in-passing occurrence last week in a scene with Angie and Frankie that caught my attention -- and in case you missed it, let me share it with you. When Angie decided to call the various associations that assist the visually impaired, she took the phone from Frankie and it was upside-down. Frankie softly told his mother, "Other way." I am not sure if this was a planned plot device, or if Cornelius Smith, Jr. realized that Debbi Morgan didn't know the phone was inverted and decided to give her a heads-up.

However, not everything in that scene sat well with viewers. One reader, Matt B., wrote in to express his dismay with some of the wording in the same set of scenes.

"Being a person who has been visually impaired since birth, I am fully aware of organizations and technology for the blind," Matt wrote. "Later in the episode, Angie had Frankie help her get the number for the Clinic For the Blind. Forgive my pickiness, but I found the use of the word 'clinic' offensive. That word makes blindness sound like some horrible disease to me. I guess the other thing that bothers me so much about this story is the thing that bothers me about all the blindness/paralysis stories on soaps, the character always regains their sight or use of their legs. This is a slap in the face to those of us who live with our disability, and many of us including myself, very successfully every day."

Back to the matter at hand, I think it's a fairly safe bet to say that Ryan isn't the one who killed David. If he did, I think it would be one of the biggest surprises on AMC in quite some time. As for who did kill David, I haven't the foggiest. It doesn't look to me that anyone will really start to look guilty until next week and the week after. So I'd love to hear any theories that you might have!

The majority of viewers, at least according to my email's in box, seem to believe that David is still alive. Notice I said the majority. There are a few folks who are quite certain that David is a goner.

"The problem is you do not autopsy a live body -- and you have to by state law autopsy all murdered persons so how are they going to get around that one?" Carole asked.

I'm not sure if Carole is a new soap viewer or not, but when did a little autopsy get in the way of death? We've seen people die in loved ones' arms -- and they've come back to life. An aborted baby has been implanted into stranger's uterus. Another soap even had a dozen dead people transported to a mysterious island where they hid out for a little while.

"I don't think David is dead," Amanda wrote, echoing the opinion of hundreds of other emails. "I think he is faking his death to frame Ryan for trying to help Greenlee. I think the medical examiner and David had planned this idea for a while now."

Amanda has a really good scenario playing out in her head. I also thought that Dr. Shifty McShadems was up to something during the "autopsy." As I mentioned last week, if Vincent Irizarry really is in contract talks, it's possible that the show could pull a switcheroo with the ultimate storyline resolution. So while I am content to laugh at David's haunting of Greenlee for now, I really hope that I am not laughing for a different reason when we find out whodunit.


Dan J Kroll
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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of Soap Central or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen and what has happened, and to share their opinions on all of it. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same point of view.

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