Before we get into the nitty gritty of Pine Valley this week, I wanted to mention that my last column -- particularly the last paragraph -- garnered a bigger reaction than any other in my time with SOC. While a few of you thought I was being too negative, most of you seemed to wholeheartedly agree with me. It's nice to know I'm not alone in my frustration. Hopefully, TPTB will take notice.
That said, I want to start out by talking about Monday's episode of AMC. The show was written specifically for airing on the fifth anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and was designed to focus on core relationships in PV. There were even some subtle 9-11 references. This episode made me cry (admittedly, not too difficult a task), not only because the content moved me, but because it reminded me what AMC could be, given the right circumstances.
Maybe it was because some of my least favorite characters (namely Ryan, Dixie and the teen set) were nowhere to be seen. Maybe it was because there was nary a mention of the Murder Mystery That Ate Pine Valley. But those weren't the only reasons this episode stood out from the others. Not once did I get angry while watching this episode. Not once did I get the urge to hurl random projectiles at my TV set. Not once was I tempted to fast-forward through a scene.
Josh and Jeff's conversation was honest, but hopeful. Palmer and Myrtle's flirting was adorable. David was in rare form, making Julia care for him even when he was doing his level best to make her hate him. Even characters who normally work my last nerve, like Simone, Erin and Jamie, didn't bother me.
The topper, of course, was the conversation between Erica and Kendall. What mother hasn't had the same doubts and fears about keeping her children safe? Kendall was able to express those feelings to Erica -- and, miracle of miracles, Erica actually listened! This is La Kane at her best, with her genuine love for her kids shining through, taking a step back from her all-about-me persona, being a great mom. (She showed this again in scenes with Josh later in the week, which were also quite touching). These scenes were funny, touching and above all, real. We got to see how Kendall and Erica have grown, how they believe in their love for one another. That's good soap opera. And it shouldn't take special circumstances to make it happen.
Two JRs for the Price of One
I admit it, I'm a sucker for any reference to AMC history and we got quite a few little nods this week -- Erica talked about Lily's birth mother Laurel, David mentioned his father's suicide, and Sean taunted Adam about his twin-switch divorce from Aunt Erica. But the biggest blast from the past was the appearance of former-JR Jesse McCartney. Even though I knew it was coming, I still got a kick out of Adam and current JR, Jacob Young, doing the gosh-you-look-familiar bit. Jesse's line about growing up in a town just like Pine Valley was pretty cute too.
McCartney's appearance was probably the high point of the sweet 16 party for me. For the most part, it was the same old shrill, annoying teeny bopper dialogue. At one point, Sydney and Colby each grabbed one of Sean's arms and tried to stake their claim. I get it! It's a triangle! I don't care! I did feel some sympathy for Colby after she lost her virginity to Sean (I presume it was her first time, judging by her reaction) after the party moved to the yacht. This seemed more real to me -- a young girl, desperate to be loved, having sex with a guy to make him like her. I'm no teenager, but it seems to me that stories like that ring a lot truer than whining for an overpriced ice sculpture or waking up to a convertible on your 16th birthday. When the Coast Guard crashed the party, Colby crashed the yacht, and as of Friday, she was missing. I wish I cared more about that, but for right now, I really don't.
While the teenagers I don't care about were living it up on the high seas of Pennsylvania, the one that I do care about -- Lily -- was being attacked by Terry. By the time Aidan and Ryan finally figured out Terry had given them the slip, it was too late. The pervert had already lured Lily to a cabin in the woods, and proceeded to terrorize her, before Jonathan showed up and shot McDermott.
I understand that bad stuff has to happen on a soap. Sometimes, when horrible things happen, it creates classic storylines. Bianca's rape was horrible, but it led to some great material and an overarching story about the Kane family. In this case, however, the violence seemed gratuitous. Watching a 30-year-old man undress a catatonic 18-year-old autistic girl is just too creepy. Maybe some good story will come out of it, I'm not sure. Walt Willey, Susan Lucci and Jeff Branson certainly raised their games for the post-attack scenes... but I still think the whole near-rape incident was needlessly cruel.
I actually didn't mind Jonathan this week. I thought his scenes with Amanda were pretty hot, and I liked the way he reacted to killing Terry. Unlike Jon's past crimes, this was definitely justifiable, but it was nice to see that moment when he realized that he was a killer again. This was more moving to me than all the heavy-handed Jonathan-is-a-hero moments leading up to the rescue. Even Jackson softened towards Jonathan, offering to defend him against murder charges. As long as they don't make Jonny and Jack best friends, or have Jack pushing for a Lily/Jonathan reunion! That would be all kinds of wrong.
Annie was definitely grateful to Jonny for getting rid of her ex. Unfortunately, she managed to accidentally shoot Ryan before she found out about Terry's demise. To his credit, Ryan, even when he was writhing in pain from his gunshot wound, was reassuring Annie that everything would be OK. Of course, Kendall went off on Annie for taking aim at Spike's daddy. She eventually relented when she heard the whole story (Annie was awesome in those scenes, by the way). While Annie was pleading her case, David managed to get little Emma alone long enough to swab her cheek for a DNA test, so we should find out soon enough whether Emma McDermott is actually Kate Martin. I'm a little worried about where they may be going with this story, given the recent news about David's portrayer, Vincent Irizarry. I don't want to see David destroyed to prop Dixie & Tad's story.
Ryan and Kendall shared some recovery scenes, which actually weren't too bad, mostly because I didn't see any romantic connection between them. Don't get me wrong, there was love in Ryan's eyes, but all I saw in Kendall's was concern for a friend -- nothing more.
Kendall's connection to a certain casino owner is still too strong to ignore, even with Zach back in jail for attacking Tad. Speaking of which, those scenes between Slater and Martin seemed a little too cryptic to be taken at face value. There's something else going on, though I'm not sure what. I also found it interesting that Zach said Tad "couldn't have" seen him with Dixie the night Madden disappeared. I believe Tad saw something, but I'm definitely not it was what he thought he saw.
Back to Zach and Kendall... no, wait a minute. Let's talk about Zach and Myrtle first. We had two Myrtle sightings this week and I still can't decide which one I preferred. I loved that Myrt was such a straight shooter with Zach, calling him on all the man-of-mystery crud he pulls while still making it clear that she loves him and believes in him. The little chat seemed to work, because when Kendall came to visit her husband, he was ready to tell her everything. Too bad Kendall thought it was a little too late to come clean. Alicia Minshew did a great job portraying Kendall's hurt and disappointment without going over the top. Even though they seem further apart than ever, I can't wait to watch these two fight their way back to one another.
Another on-again, off-again couple, Babe and JR, actually had a pretty good week -- and by good I mean they didn't have the trust conversation again. When confronted by Josh, JR actually took the high road. Babe even hinted that after their current Fusion campaign was over, she would fire Josh from the company, at least in part to please her hubby. Why do I have a feeling that won't happen?
Well, that about covers it! Thanks for reading. See you back here in two weeks.