Has your week been bold and beautiful? Did you wish you'd worn black to Catalina? Were you surrounded by foes that became friends in your time of need? Did you make a trip to Babies RUs? These and more situations faced the Forrester-Logan-Spencer-Spectra-Avant-Buckingham clan this week!
Happy 2019, Scoopers! I hope it's filled with love and light for all of you. So far, mine is filled with shock! The good kind, but shock. You may know I've written these columns since 2009, and I'm usually the first to bag on B&B when they don't get it right. So, this slam-bang start to the year has changed even my perspective on what I would do with the show. Ready for a plot that's not Reese-cycled? Let's Scoop about it!
AND I WOULD WALK EIGHT THOUSAND MILES
I have to jump back to January 4 and the actual 8,000th episode for a moment. Usually you expect some sort of barely-hidden celebration and/or some other kind of "special episode" treatment. Not this time! B&B chose to mark this milestone with the rawest of tragedies, and even someone who picks apart television as much as I do had a hard time finding fault with it.
The build-up to Hope giving birth was suspenseful, with her contractions coming as hard and fast as the wind that knocked the power out in that Catalina clinic. Back home, you had Bill and Ridge pulling together over the crisis! And newcomer Reese got some gravitas moments -- including a tangible bond with Hope -- while getting texted threats about Zoe from people Reese owed hella Benjamins to.
I could nitpick, I suppose, that the last time there was epic drama on the show, there was also high wind and power outages (recall the night of Bill's shooting). And those Santa Ana winds can be fierce, but I can't be sure they ever get so bad you can't fly a helicopter through them. Nevertheless, Hope's "babymoon" turned into a hell ride, not just for Liam's chopper and Hope's labor, but for all of us as well.
And you know, this is typically the week in January I craft my "If I Wrote B&B" columns. I admit, this year, the muse wasn't inspiring me to do a whole column on that subject -- but what I was going to mention sporadically actually seems to have been answered in its own ways! I always suggest a disaster story that involves most if not all of the cast. Well, I sure got that, didn't I?
True, I'd envisioned the disaster being an earthquake or something else of the natural persuasion, but what started as a dark night for Hope and Reese quickly reverberated to cast members major and minor. If this springboard is how we commemorated 8,000 episodes, then I'm curious to see where we'll be by 8,100 and 8,200!
NO MAN IS AN ISLAND
"Twenty-six miles across the sea," as the Four Preps sang about Catalina Island, Liam had just finished telling Hope that Beth hadn't made it. Now, normally, I'm cynical -- you see a soap actor crying a little bit, and you immediately think, "Emmy reel." But no cynicism here -- Annika Noelle gave such a nuanced, agonizing performance that I was ready to walk into that hospital room and hand her a statuette myself.
Really, what Noelle brought to Hope last week and this week was so gut-wrenching, it was hard to not be affected by it. Yes, even I got verklempt more than once. Tawk amongst yerselves. One of the other heart-grabbing moments was brought on by none other than Bill Spencer! That's right -- Bill! First, he barks to make sure his pilot can get Liam to Hope despite the weather; then, the Dollar flies Ridge there!
I mean, think about it! The last time Ridge and Bill got near helicopters, they were throwing each other out of them! Yet both egomaniacs provided much-needed unity for Liam and Hope when they needed it most. When you consider how much Bill hated Hope in the past (gondola, anyone?), that's quite a feat. Brooke, of course, rises to the occasion in adversity and left her giggles behind to be a tower of strength for Hope.
But Noelle's mastery of these scenes didn't stop with crying and wailing. When Brooke tried to assure the increasingly self-blaming Hope she did nothing wrong, Hope, in a deeper register, near-whispered, "But my body did." Chilling. Then, Liam had everyone join hands so he and Hope could say a few words to Beth. Did you ever think you'd see Bill and Ridge holding hands for any reason?
Naturally, the tragedy of Hope and Liam couldn't stay confined to Catalina, and it fell to Ridge to deliver the news to his daughter and ex-wife. Steffy's immediate heartbreak was like a punch in the gut, perhaps punctuated by the fact that Steffy and Hope battled over Liam for years. It really does seem Steffy and Hope's pledge of a blended family is sticking, and this sorrow may just Krazy Glue it together.
But then, Taylor, whom Hope didn't want anywhere near her unborn baby at Christmas, asked Ridge to tell Hope and Brooke that her prayers were with them. It's true, "hopes and prayers" is rather an overused, inefficient sentiment in this day and age, but given Taylor's history with anyone who answers to the last name Logan, this was significant well-wishing.
Back on the Logan estate, Brooke visited Hope and Liam at home. (I keep wanting to ask why the marrieds are still living in that little tiny cabin, but I guess now's not the right time.) It did resonate that they walked into a room full of baby toys and clothes; ouch. Brooke and Liam thought maybe the reminders should be stashed away, but Hope wanted to keep everything the way it was.
This is one column where I've decided not to make my usual wise cracks and oh-no-he-didn't jokes. Yet I couldn't help seeing a connection between Hope sadly perusing everything she'd bought for Beth and the night Hope recreated her graduation party so she could understand Oliver's mask boink with Brooke. I know they're completely different situations; it's just I find a similar psychology going on with Hope.
Thankfully, Hope turned down any pain medication that Reese gave her; it would be too easy for Hope to get addicted to meds again like she did with her antianxiety pills in 2012. Hope softly accepted Brooke's offer to share the sad tidings with Rick and R.J. and Bridget. But for some reason, Hope didn't want Brooke to call Wyatt. That was strange. There's a missing correlation there I'll get into a few more paragraphs down.
Leaving Hope to tell Liam she wasn't ready for a "next time" regarding babies, Brooke went back to the main house and quite literally cried on Ridge's shoulder. And for once, I don't mean any sarcasm with a statement like this, but awww...Ridge cried, too. He's come a long way from thinking Hope is a stain on the family name because of the circumstances of her birth. Hey, how come no one's thought to call Deacon?
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
I got a little confused, because first it was suggested Eric was holding a memorial for Beth, then Brooke got the credit for arranging it. But I suppose semantics don't matter, knowing the reason for the get-together. "We need to show Hope and Liam that their loss is our loss," Steffy told Taylor. Man, I am so Team Steffy right now. And Taylor revealed that she was surprised and touched that Brooke invited her, of all people.
It's hard to believe that this "one big complicated family," as Brooke described them, gathered just over two weeks ago for Christmas. And I gotta tell you, I hate those holiday episodes. These guys spend 364 days of the year stabbing each other in the back and then are all smiles around Eric's piano, singing under their breath, "Jingle bells, you've no brain cells, I wish that you were dead!"
No cheesy gift-giving or fake goodwill here. Not only was absolutely everyone on their best behavior, but the shared sorrow wasn't put-on or half-hearted. Bill was welcomed. Pastry didn't fly between Brooke and Taylor. Even Quinn and Pam were united in grief. Though I half expected Quinn to tell Liam, "I know I almost impaled you with a sword I designed to kill you, but I'm sorry for the loss of your baby."
Thorne was conspicuously absent, having stayed home to nurse Will through a stomach bug. I wonder if we'll see Thorne in the form of Ingo Rademacher anymore now that Ingo is leaving the show? Thorne will have to be recast, since he's Katie's husband, though spousal bonds didn't stop Rick from ditching Maya off-screen. Notice how Maya nearly horked when Liam said Hope would see Rick "soon enough"?
Seriously, what was up Raya's split? Maya was vague about it to everyone; I wonder if we're going to find out what caused them to separate. Here's what I would do: we find out Rick was really transphobic after all. That, or Maya runs across it getting back into the L.A. dating scene. No point in Maya being a landmark character without her dealing with the challenges that come with changing one's gender.
Anyway, original cast members John McCook and Katherine Kelly Lang again showed the 30-plus-year history of Eric and Brooke in one hug (Team Beric!), and Steffy broke down, telling Liam that if she'd just insisted he join Hope instead of letting him stay behind to observe Kelly's fever, Liam could have gotten to Hope in time so Hope wouldn't have had to go through losing the baby on her own.
Steffy flung her arms around her stepsister, swearing to help Hope through the crisis. I really love Steffy and Hope as friends, but I guess I wouldn't if they hadn't been rivals for years first. And, after Taylor gave Hope contact info for support groups and a grief counselor, Brooke, who only weeks ago didn't want Taylor around Kelly, approached the Doc and thanked her for assisting her daughter.
"When you think about it, we're all connected" are not words you'd expect from someone who recently dropped to her knees and begged Brooke not to turn her in to the cops! But adversaries coming together in adversity is a high note of soap operas, and B&B hit all those notes with the memorial. Like Hope, I originally thought it was too soon to surround her with people, but, like Hope, in the end, I'm glad she was.
Whatever animosity Taylor had been holding toward Brooke, the Doc shelved it, wanting to know how Brooke was managing through everything. "I know it isn't easy, seeing your child in pain, and you just want to take that hurt away," Taylor empathized. It felt like Taylor was describing her rationale for shooting Bill and, like Brooke, was more apt to understand it after Taylor reiterated it in the current context.
MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE
Now, I'm being unusually effusive about B&B and its quality, I know, and it's effusiveness that's well-deserved. But there's one big problem with this story, and I don't know if it's just to not overemphasize this particular aspect or if the show is forgetting about it, but...if a loved one had a painful experience that you'd had yourself, wouldn't you tell him or her about that experience to empathize with them?
Most likely, you would. But there was none of that on the soap all week. Brooke has had three miscarriages (or two, depending if you still think she faked the 1998 one), as recently as six years ago when she lost Bill's child. Why didn't Brooke recall her own pain to give Hope even more to connect to? Same with Steffy. She also lost Liam's child -- and was so heartbroken, she moved to Paris. Yet it never came up.
The list goes on. Bill talked with Brooke, but Hope's loss didn't remind them of their own; likewise, Liam and Steffy, who didn't mention theirs. Wyatt's marriage to Hope ended because of her losing his child, but they never acknowledged it. Even Maya has experienced the loss of a child, though her "daughter" wasn't hers biologically. Why didn't a single character reference their loss to help Hope with hers?
And let's not forget -- Beth isn't the first child Hope lost! You'd think that fact would be uppermost in Hope's mind as she held herself responsible for her child not surviving. Again, I don't know if the show just didn't want to push the subject in our faces, and it's not like every character needed to say, "Me, too." But we can't just pretend miscarriage isn't in these people's histories. It was odd.
This may have fallen through the cracks amid all the camaraderie and grieving, but when Zoe passed Reese's condolences on to Brooke for Hope, Brooke got that Stephanie look of distrust in her eye and told Zoe that, once things mellowed a bit, Brooke was going to talk to Doc Buck! Ooh, Reese better watch out. Because the ish goes down when Brooke starts nosing around. Just ask Judge McMullen!
THREE'S A CROWD
I'm not sure where Ridge's head was this week. On the one hand, he expressed gratitude toward Bill for shipping Liam to Catalina "tout de suite"; on the other, Ridge took a moment after Beth's memorial to tell Bill he still thought Bill's do-gooder routine was "a ploy to woo Brooke!" We know Bill is an ass, but does Ridge really think Bill faked all his encouragement of Hope and Liam just to score points with his ex?
I understand that Ridge, as only Ridge can, was just trying to get around to the idea of actually pulling together with Bill to help their children. It was just a weird way to go about it. Ultimately, Brooke stepped in and reminded Bill, in front of Ridge, that Ridge is her soul mate, and any changes Bill was implementing in himself needed to be done for Bill's sake and the sake of Bill's sons, not for Brooke.
Bill sulked out, but I guess that's the end of that potential triangle! And that's something else I really want to see on B&B in 2019: less triangles. I know triangles are a soap staple, but this soap has overdone that device for years. Look how much more compelling Ridge and Brooke have been trying to work through problems of their own making without Bill successfully interloping.
You can say the same now about Hope and Liam. They really don't need Steffy coming between them, and I've got my fingers crossed that Hope losing Beth doesn't somehow push Liam back to Steffy. I'm loving the independent Steffy, and it's high time that, when she does find a man, it's not Liam. How about bringing back that it's-hard-to-look-right-atcha-baby dude Leo for Steffy? Let Steffy get her groove back!
FROM THE DESK OF SHEILA CARTER...
Zoe seemed to see a new side to her flighty father, who was clearly haunted by the experience of not being able to deliver Hope's baby alive down in Catalina. I admit to having watched Wayne Brady in marathons of Whose Line Is It, Anyway? (my mother loves that show), so I knew he could do comedy -- but he's bringing some serious drama here. Not bad for only being on the show six weeks.
And Zoe is really starting to come into her own as a character. I didn't particularly enjoy her when all she did was taunt Xander about hanging around "that little girl Emma" and flaunt her body to get her ex back. Today, Kiara Barnes is being given material she can sink her teeth into, and Zoe is much more three-dimensional as a result.
Not to mention, now we know why Xander spent his entire time with Emma kissing on Zoe -- he was never over Zoe. That makes sense, and sense is all I ask for. Maybe the X-man isn't such a pig, after all. Reese didn't think he was, either, because Reese suddenly suggested that Xander move in with Zoe. We know why, of course -- because the big bad gangster guy essentially threatened Zoe's life if Reese didn't cough up 200 G's.
Speaking of our thug, did B&B really have to dress him all in black? Such a cliché. Oh, well. Reese was so haunted by Hope's placental abruption that Zoe asked if someone was threatening him. Psyche! Zoe meant any of the Forresters threatening lawsuits against Dr. Buckingham, of course. Nice touch to have Mr. Bad Guy snap a pic of Zoe outside of Forrester.
Having run into said bad guy near the Forrester parking lot, Reese assured that a "Mr. Thigpen" would get his money in the next week or so. Hmm! Reese just told him pre-Catalina that he didn't have that kind of bread. What changed? But we'll get to that. Reese checked on Zoe again (he's going to tip his hand if he keeps that up) then flashed back to Hope passing out during her delivery. That's important.
Reese called Taylor and asked to see her. He was really distraught, lamenting how he'd taken an oath to do no harm and admitting how terrible he felt about Hope's loss. Reese said he wanted to tell Taylor everything. Would he come clean about his gambling addiction? Taylor would understand -- both her father Jack and brother Zach racked up gambling debts that made Felicia the target of mobsters in 1992!
There was a close-up on Reese as Taylor conveyed that at least Hope got to see and hold her baby for one precious moment. Then Reese said he had something to show Taylor. He went into the other room -- at least he gets an apartment; we don't even know where some of our characters live! -- and came back holding an infant! Taylor's mind was blown. "Where did you get this baby?" Taylor asked, astonished.
Ah ha! It's all coming together. I don't usually give credence to spoilers unless they're posted here on Soap Central or other reputable sites, but there have been some rumblings that Beth would be the victim of some kind of baby switch, with Reese up to his colorful collars in it. Last week, Chanel said as much herself. On its face, Reese looks to be genuinely heartbroken to have broken Hope's heart.
But is it some kind of act? Maybe not -- let's not forget that Reese's only other patient that night was another blonde woman who had something happen that "wasn't her fault." One minute, all was on track with Hope's delivery then Hope passed out...and when she woke up, she was faced with having to hold a dead baby. Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Scoopers? Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Reese received threats about Zoe while Hope was in labor. Did Reese somehow, in those few minutes or however long Hope was out cold, concoct a plot to switch Beth with Patient Zero's stillborn child so he could raise this Thigpen's money by selling or otherwise making some coin on Hope's baby? Even if I hadn't already had spoilers to feasibly connect the dots, this direction seems the logical guess!
It does make you wonder if Reese made the acquaintance of one Sheila Carter while noshing on food he couldn't afford at Il Giardino! After all, Sheila is the Mistress of Baby Switching, having put her own dead baby in Lauren Fenmore's arms on Y&R back in 1991. Hey, we haven't seen Sheila in ten months, and a girl's got to do something besides polish silverware with vinegar back in the kitchen!
I was surprised Reese produced a baby so fast; no one caught on to Sheila's switcheroo for a year or so, but I think Reese will be ratted out much faster than that. And don't forget, Hope dropped the hint that she sensed Beth wasn't gone! Easier to forget: the hint that Steffy wants to adopt a sister for baby Kelly. It seems to me Steffy will end up raising Kelly and Beth as sisters all by herself!
The question is, how will Reese make that happen? Is he going to offer Beth up to Taylor for adoption, and that's how Reese gets the money to pay his gambling debt? I originally thought Reese would sell Beth on the black market, but I concede he really doesn't seem that skeevy. It also seems Reese didn't do this out of malice, as I once suspected; I'd wager he's only gone this far to protect Zoe.
So, what happens when Hope goes to the much-mentioned Dr. Phillips for a follow-up and there ends up being no evidence of placental abruption? Because that will likely happen. Anyway, the one thing I really wanted for B&B in 2019 was to see our characters in some new situations; this may not be new for other soaps, but I don't ever recall B&B doing a baby-switch plot before. I'll take it!
Ever since New Year's, the show has been damn good. And that's me saying that. If they can keep up this level of drama, 2019 could be a hallmark year for them! Please, please, don't drop the ball of Beth's journey the way y'all did the fallout of learning the identity of Bill's shooter!
How would you write B&B, Scoopers? Thicken your plots in the Comments section below or on the Soap Central message boards, or simply click here to submit feedback. Your comments could wind up in a future column! Like these!
"[How would I write B&B?] One word: #Still. Until that is allowed to happen, the rest is just subplot. JMO" -- Miss Gracie
"My wishes for 2019 and BB is to please let Steffy's 'I choose me' speech [be] more than just lip service where Liam is concerned. She can start by taking that gigantic picture off her living room wall, get a custody agreement with Liam so he can't just drop by whenever, and go on a date or two. And please let Donna do something better than be paired up with Pam going after clueless Eric. Get her a real job and get her paired up with either Justin or Carter." -- "bikette"
"It would be so much more interesting if it turns out that it was really Liam who shot Bill. Perhaps Taylor will have a moment of clarity in one of her therapy sessions, realize Liam was the shooter and be torn about what to do...somehow I don't think Hope and Brooke would be trying to ban him from seeing Kelly and Beth like they've tried to do to Taylor. As always with the Logans, it wouldn't count if it was one of them." -- "DaffySez"
2019 is on, so keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold. And remember: no matter color, creed, religion, gender identity, orientation, or nationality, we're all beautiful.
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