Following up last week's column was a monumental undertaking. First, the huge response to that column was overwhelming. Last week's column was the most-read Two Scoops in the history of Soap Central, generating something like 55,000 emails from readers. I doubt that any other opinion column will ever get that many of you to take time out to send your thoughts. Then there was also the issue of commenting on a story that, technically, hasn't played out on our screens yet. And just to let you know, please do not think that the 55,000 emails received in any way means that I don't want you to submit your feedback. I love reading from you, so use the email me link at the bottom of the page to send me your thoughts.
But let's cut to the chase. Short of pulling the biggest "fooled ya!" moment in the history of television, it's fairly obvious that David Hayward has been killed. I know that there are still a few people out there that think maybe David's collapse is a ruse, a ruse implemented by the writers to catch viewers off-guard when the real murder victim is shown at a later date. Simply put, that's not gonna happen. And yes, David wasn't pronounced dead last week... but he will be. So it would appear that the most obvious candidate for being bumped off is, in fact, the one the writers chose.
But why David? David's list of crimes reads like a checklist for an aspiring Crook of the Year campaign. Blackmail a woman into sleeping with you? Check. Drug the entire town? Check. Talk a woman into pulling the life support plug on her sister? Check. Kidnapping? That ole thing? Yawn... check. You get the idea.
So why did All My Children's writers decide that now was the perfect time to kill off David Hayward? First, the murder is being called a "storyline-dictated decision," and not a cost-cutting measure. For more on that angle, though, keep reading. Anyway, co-head writer Donna Swajeski insists that it was time for David to pay for his crimes. "[T]his had been building for a long time," Swajeski told Soap Opera Digest. "Even before [David Kreizman and I] started [as head writers], David had made a lot of choices and done a lot of things to a lot of people and ... it all sort of built to this moment."
It is very, very risky, at least in my opinion, to remove the show's sole villain. There's no one else on the canvas right now that really creates a furor from other characters. Annie used to be a bad girl, but she's been redeemed. Ryan was a conman, but he was never a villain. Even spoiled rich girl Greenlee was never despised universally by everyone in town. So now the canvas is filled with a bunch of bland, conventionally conniving characters, many of whom elicit zilch in the way of a response from viewers.
"WAIT A MINUTE! David is dead? Who will we love to hate now," Michelle wrote in about David's demise. "[W]as he that bad? I love the actor and always thought he played the role with such depth. He won an Emmy for goodness sake! I always felt that David could be turned back to the good with the love of a good woman, a near death experience, or something like that."
Michelle isn't alone in feeling that David's time didn't appear to be up. Even readers who loathe David's shenanigans wrote in to question why it now seemed like the time to bump off the not-so-good doctor. That, of course, has led to some very interesting theories.
Last week, I shared with you all of the different scenarios that went on in my head when I first learned that a major character would die. You'll have to take me at my word on this, but the first name that came to my mind was David Hayward. The show had been setting things up like one of the old murder mysteries from the days of black-and-white television. You know, when every main character has a scene in which they say, "Why, I could just kill you!" Once I thought it was too obvious, I went through the entire All My Children cast list... and there were so many extraneous characters with so little purpose that I was able to make a good argument for knocking off almost everyone on the show right now. First, I was amused that I was that evil and clever. Then, I was saddened because it sort of signaled to me that our show needs a lot of help at the moment.
So what if David isn't really dead? Oh, c'mon. I know a lot of you were or are thinking the same thing. David is the master chemist. Surely he could have concocted something that made his whole body stiff rather than just his... well, you know. David would love to see someone sent to the sizzle seat for murdering him, only to pop up a few minutes after the warden flipped the switch. Or better yet, I can see David haunting the person or persons who "killed" him and making them go insane. That would be a whole lot more fun for me as a viewer.
So who did kill David? The last person we saw in David's company was Ryan Lavery -- and Ryan was beating the snot out of David. So it seems too contrived that Ryan would actually be the one who killed David. Of course, I also said that it seemed too obvious that David would be killed -- and look what happened. Did you see Frankie returning to Caleb's shindig with that weird Bart Simpson-like "I didn't do it -- nobody saw me do it" look on his face. Mm-hmm. I did, too. There was a roomful of people listening to Caleb, so they all have to be ruled out as suspects. There aren't that many people left. So in my head, there is only one possible culprit -- and at least one reader agrees with me.
"David is dead. What a surprise! Let's guess who goes on trial for murder... Ryan," AJ said in an exasperated email to me. "And later find out that the pilot who took the payoff actually did the deed. Can we get some good writers, please!"
Remember earlier in the column when I told you that an All My Children rep insisted that David was snuffed because that's the way the story was written? Well, au contraire, mon frère! (I think I've been watching too many Scooby Doo Mysteries to help me prepare for all this sleuthing.) There are conflicting reports in some of the print soap mags about what is really goin' on.
A spokesperson for Vincent Irizarry posted a message on Facebook that seemed to indicate that Irizarry might not be leaving the show after all.
"We can now confirm and tell you that Vincent is still in negotiations, as the end of his contract is up shortly," the spokesperson stated. "The show has added this plot twist [...] Like many of you, I feel there is much more of David's story that needs to unfold and we would love to continue watching Vincent's amazing portrayal of the most complex character on the daytime canvas!"
Irizarry has sinced posted a note to let fans know that the statement regarding contract negotiations were not authorized by him or by ABC. While Irizarry has not offered comment on David's fate, the Emmy-winning actor has reached out to fans to let them know that he appreciates the support.
"I can't say enough how appreciative I am of all the comments on websites and message boards that have been written in support of my work and my character," Irizarry wrote. "There would be no doubt to me whatsoever, if I do return to AMC, it will be in greater part because of this wonderful outpouring from all of you who love the show and David as much as I do. I am forever grateful to all of you..."
I've been around the soap opera block a few times, so I know that characters often meet with seemingly insurmountable obstacles when contract talks between an actor and the network don't go well. Characters end up in comas, carted off to jail, they leave town on business, they are mysteriously absent with no explanation... or they are killed. We know this. So is it possible that the writers were told by higher-ups to "resolve" David's story until it can be determined if Irizarry will be remaining with the show? If that's the case, does that mean that the writers don't yet know how this storyline will resolve itself? That would suck, if you'll allow me to be blunt.
As much as the back from the dead storylines can be tiresome, if there's any character -- and actor -- that can make it work, it's this one. Halloween is coming. I think I would take some sort of secret joy from watching a not-dead David lurk around town screwing with everybody's heads. Sounds like a pretty decent horror flick to me. The writers would have to set up a situation, though, where everyone in town thinks that they killed David. Remember how the show did that when Michael Cambias was whacked? Everyone in town had a chance to kill him... maybe revisiting some of the show's incredible history will help make a story with an unsurprising murder and an undetermined resolution one of the best stories in recent years.
An old adage proclaims, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall." I'd like to see much more of resounding crash than the muted thud we heard when David fell over the railing at the Yacht Club.