Justin time, or, The hunter becomes the hunted

For the Week of June 28, 2021
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After months of waiting for B&B's announced murder mystery, this week we learned Vinny wasn't murdered, but we got an answer to a mystery! With Justin Barber on the hunt, is Thomas finally getting some of his belated instant karma? Get cagey with Two Scoops' Mike!

Has your week been bold and beautiful? Did you play tech support at just the right time? Did you let people know a petty grudge of yours wasn't so petty? Did you dance the pop-and-lock but just paid attention to the lock? These and more situations faced the Forrester-Logan-Spencer-Walton-Buckingham-Fulton clan this week!

Holy jailhouse rock, Scoopers! Just when the saga of Liam making roadkill out of Vinny started to feel like it wasn't going much of anywhere, we got a double plot twist in that Vinny killed himself and Dollar Bill's faithful right-hand man Justin decided "Imma git mine!" And how about predator Thomas being bitch-slapped by karma and becoming the prey? Y'all ready? Let's Scoop about it!

Rockin' in the free world

In the area of Los Angeles where people are allowed to roam free, Bridge completely missed the fact that they have no story and went right into butting heads about Thomas. Brooke was concerned that Thomas, having been given permission by the incarcerated Liam to "be there" for Hope and the kids, might take that as a green light to pay conjugal visits to Hope!

And Ridge was not entirely opposed to it! Dude, really? Why does nobody in this bunch remember that Thomas and Hope are stepsiblings? Maybe it got by Ridge because of his one-time flirtation with daughter-turned-sister Bridget. Just because Hope might end up alone, it does not make the case that Hope might want a new man in the form of better-the-devil-you-know Thomas.

Brooke made the point that Thomas', ahem, services may not be needed, because Liam might only get slapped with a light sentence. Brooke is right; most everyone else thinks Liam could be in the clink for life, but how often do people do life for hitting someone with their car? I don't watch enough crime procedurals; maybe I'm missing something. I just feel like the life sentence bit is only being bandied about for dramatic effect.

Hope remembered Brooke's warning about Thomas potentially heading back into throwing-himself-into-a-vat-to-win-Hope's-love territory and back off of his hug like he'd forgotten to use deodorant the past month. Hope decided it would be more fun to hang out in jail instead, so she went to see Liam for the gazillionth time in a few days, where she found her hoosegowed husband in conference with lawyer Justin.

Lope was not encouraged by Justin's predictions of doom and gloom. Mr. Barber couldn't muster up the enthusiasm to endorse Hope's theory that it was possible to prove Liam was at least innocent of the hit-and-run. The jury wouldn't buy it, Justin worried. Once alone, Liam told Hope it was time to start thinking about telling Beth and Douglas why he wasn't home anymore...somehow forgetting about Kelly.

I guess Liam figures Finn is so much of a distraction that Kelly won't even notice Liam is gone. Liam looked tired (good on you, Scott Clifton!), and I might be, too, if I kept going back and forth about how I may not get out of jail, but my spouse kept saying I was innocent, and I kept betting I was in for life. There were many circular discussions like that this week. Not unusual, but it did feel like so much filler.

Case in point: Steffy -- the only one I know who would go out in a maternity mini-skirt (not that she didn't rock it!) -- went to see Hope. It took them two episodes to get to it, but ultimately, the former rivals settled on coming together to help Liam and their extended family. Which was good, because for most of their convo, they couldn't decide between fighting for Liam or giving up on him.

There had to be a way to free Liam. But the district attorney and/or the judge might have a personal bias against Bill. But the D.A. had to realize Vinny's death was an accident. But the kids would pay the price for Liam being in jail. Gah, you're giving me whiplash, girls. The part I really liked, though, was Steffy offering to bring Beth and Douglas over to see Kelly so Hope could get a chance to regroup.

This is what working together as an extended family is, and when you consider how long Hope and Steffy crossed swords over Liam, these moments are extra sweet. Steffy got bonus points for commenting that Bill had always behaved as if the rules didn't apply to him; with Bill, there had been no accountability. Steffy should know! All the way back in 2009, Bill had kissed Steffy while just freshly married to Katie.

It's true: Bill's always gotten away with everything. He could have killed Katie, the heart transplant recipient, by locking her in that tower to keep her from ratting on him about Leffy/Lope. Bill arranged to kill Amber and bribed a warden to spring Deacon so he could derail Liam's wedding to Hope. Those last two are definitely crimes. Bill being in jail now, albeit a decade too late, is strangely satisfying to me.

There's one more crime on Bill's rap sheet that Ridge, of all people, reminded us about. Ridge went on another one of his yawn-inducing rants about the Dollah, but this time growled how Bill had dumped him out of a helicopter and never paid for it! When Brooke and Steffy wanted to go easier on Bill, Ridge scoffed, "Thank you for letting me have an opinion about the man who tried to kill me!"

So that's what's behind Ridge's sometimes irrational hatred of Bill. Not only does it make sense, but Ridge made it make more. Ridge still woke up feeling like he was falling and thought about his plunge every day. Let's face it: Ridge did suffer brain damage from that fall. Maybe that explains some of his behavior regarding Shauna; no shade. It's a justifiable motivation for Ridge's loathing, and excellent continuity.

Belated Father's Day

Again, it was super fitting that Bill came striding into his prison's visiting area. I can't disagree with Ridge -- Bill has been owed jail time for years. Katie had arrived for a visit, reporting how she'd had to tell Will that the reason Bill wasn't around was because he was cooling his heels behind bars. It was all over TV and the news, and one would presume TikTok, likely Will's primary form of communication.

Will was struggling with it all, and Katie flamed her ex for only thinking of Liam and not thinking of his other sons. Bill conceded he might have thought things out more before ditching Vinny on the side of the road, but Bill also had to admit that, if he had it to do again, he'd probably do the same thing. Not only that, he'd have done it for Will or Wyatt just as easily, and Katie, too.

Maybe it wasn't really a missed beat, given the situation, but neither Bill nor Katie ever discussed the status of their relationship. I suppose it really only mattered that they were functioning as Will's parents in that moment. But Bill had leaned so heavily on winning Katie back, it's strange he didn't say something like "When I get out of here, I want to be your husband/boyfriend/lover again."

And it pings on my radar more because B&B mistakenly believes that Bill and Katie are still married. They're not, and they weren't even when Katie saw the video of Bill kissing Brooke pre-COVID. Batie will always be a part of each other, but one of these days, we're going to have to define them. I don't mind seeing them this way. I just hope Katie doesn't actually end up taking him back...no matter how good Bill said his prison garb made him look!

I must admit, the way Bill filled out them scrubs inspired more than one prison fantasy. Ignoring any requests from his cellmates to drop the soap, Bill swaggered into the big house yard and ran across Liam, who found time to get a haircut in the slammer. William Spencers II and III couldn't believe they were still in jail, yet Bill also stated that bail hadn't been posted because they were both considered flight risks.

The goal was to make sure their case(s) didn't go to trial -- I assume because then a jury would hear the evidence and find Bill and Liam guilty. Bill was getting frustrated with Justin's lack of progress, though the Dollah also knew Justin was making Bill's freedom his life's work. Justin had never let Bill down. Liam agreed but felt they were missing something. There was something about the coincidence of Vinny being in the path of Bill's car they just hadn't put together yet.

How'd you like a nice Hawaiian punch

Zende (remember him?) asked the arriving Thomas if Thomas had received any of Zende's texts about some work decisions. Thomas hadn't; there'd been something weird going on with his phone. Zende suggested Thomas do a reset and decided to play IT for his co-designer; after all, Zende had just had a similar problem with his own device. Again, great continuity! We're actually two for two!

After Zende fixed his phone, Thomas was bombarded with text after text from Vinny, whom Thomas had blocked after Vinny had confessed about switching the results of Steffy's paternity test to read Liam was her baby's father. Vinny was sorry, so sorry, but he was going to make everything right. And then, Thomas got a surprise on his screen even bigger than those in-app ads that pop up.

Vinny had sent Thomas a video. Thomas watched in horror as his now-dead friend announced he was leaving. Thomas deserved the best, and that best was Hope. Vinny had been tracking "him," and "he" was on his way. Vinny was doing "this" for Thomas. Thomas wouldn't have to worry about Liam anymore. Vinny told Thomas he loved him, signed off, and threw himself in front of Liam's car!

So, that's what Vinny was doing wandering around late at night, just happening to be in Liam's path in a city of seven million people! Vinny planned it! He'd committed suicide but made it look like Liam had killed him so Liam would go to jail, and Hope would be free for Thomas! In a macabre development, Vinny left his camera phone running, and Liam and Bill could be heard getting out of the car and expressing shock about the dead Vinny!

But, speaking of phones, hold the! I might be able to buy that Vinny hacked into Liam's device somehow and was able to track Liam coming down that particular road. Except Liam was in Bill's car. Maybe Vinny assumed from the tracking that Liam was driving his own, but Bill could have been driving just as easily, which would have resulted in Vinny framing Bill, not Liam. It's just a bit too much of a stretch.

I know in real life, one would watch a video like that over and over, but Thomas binge-watching it for our benefit was overkill. Thankfully, Thomas finally got a hold of himself and realized he needed to tell Hope, Steffy, and Chief Baker that Liam hadn't killed Vinny! Notice Thomas' priority there? You'd think he'd tell Baker first. Hope had almost gotten the ultimate top billing, since Thomas' thumb hovered over the delete button of Vinny's video!

Yep, Thomas silently considered erasing the evidence and granting Vinny's final request that Thomas be with Hope, but Thomas thought better of it and made a beeline for the door, only to run into Justin. The Spencer exec wanted to get a character reference about Vinny from Thomas. Justin grunted that he was trying to get Bill and Liam out of jail. Thomas blurted out that they wouldn't be there much longer.

Thomas went on and on about what Vinny had done, being rather cryptic about Vinny's video before finally explaining every pixel of it. Why didn't Thomas just show Justin the video? It's not like Thomas didn't view it enough times. Instead, Justin asked Thomas to confirm what was in the clip. And once Thomas did, Justin hauled off and punched Thomas out!

It's about time somebody did! Not to condone violence or anything, but Thomas has had this coming pretty much ever since he walked through the door in the form of Matthew Atkinson. Letting someone think their child was dead, tormenting your own child -- tell me Thomas didn't deserve it. I have never considered him redeemed, brain bleed or no. But now I'm starting to feel the score is evening a bit.

Don't get cagey with me

Justin sat at Bill's desk, getting the lay of the land. Soon blocking his eyeline was the overdressed Wyatt. Dude, you're at work, not a screening at the Directors' Guild, and even Bill never wears a suit and tie to the office. Anyway, Wyatt wanted to know what the hell Justin was doing to get his father and brother out of the joint. "You're a corporate guy, and this is a criminal case," Wyatt pointed out.

Truer words, Wyatt! How is Justin even eligible to work on this case? But Justin reassured Wyatt that he was on top of things. He said he would make everything right, and he winked at Wyatt as he departed. Good thing Wyatt didn't see Justin deleting Vinny's video from Thomas' phone seconds before Wyatt walked in! Oh, yeah, Justin was up to something, and good it wasn't going to be.

When we next saw Thomas, he was locked in some sort of cage in what looked like an industrial basement. But we already knew this was somewhere in the Spencer Publications building...because the establishing shot, er, established it. Whaaaaat? In a room like that, wouldn't janitors or other maintenance crew find Thomas sooner than later?

Well, Justin showed up, and Thomas demanded to know why he was being detained "down here." How could Thomas know he was "down" anywhere? He woke up in that cage -- he could have been on the top floor of one of L.A.'s many towers for all he knew. Justin stood there, closed-mouthed, leaving Thomas to go from being confused over why the attorney wouldn't let Thomas present his exonerating video to realizing Justin wanted to keep Bill and Liam in jail.

Thomas slipped up somewhat in his reasoning that the video would free Liam and Bill. Liam, maybe. But, regardless of Vinny's motivations, Bill still fled the scene of a hit-and-run, which is illegal. Liam might get off on the technicality of having been unconscious at the time, even though he can't prove it. Bill, however, would not instantly be released, no matter what Vinny admitted in his video.

Justin smirked that Thomas was in a part of Spencer where no one would find Thomas or hear him screaming for help. I still find that highly unlikely. There looked to be equipment in that room that someone would come for eventually. And where did that cage come from, the sex room Bill built for Brooke, adjacent to his office? Or did kinky Quinn happen to have one on loan?

But Aaron D. Spears's performance from there pretty much made me forget all the plot holes. Though he's played Justin since 2009, he's never really gotten a chance to do much of anything that required any kind of real dramatic ability. Boy, did he make up for that this week! And, in a three for three, B&B worked this into the script as Justin blew up about constantly being pigeonholed as Bill Spencer's stooge!

Justin spat that he wasn't Bill's friend -- he was Bill's fixer! Bill had taken advantage of Justin over and over, and Justin had put up with it because he was sure it would eventually allow him a chance to advance in Spencer Publications. But that chance never came because Bill's long-lost sons had shown up! Even after Justin had served at Bill's side for 20 years.

There may be a little playing fast and loose with the timeline here; I'm not sure. Bill and Justin only showed up from Spencer's New York office eleven years ago. At the beginning of the millennium, all things Spencer were deep on B&B's backburner. So, it's not unreasonable that Justin could have been with Bill as long as he said, only on the East Coast. Because, technically, Bill Sr. would have been running Spencer two decades ago.

Justin had moments of seeming conflicted as Thomas tried to convince his own jailer to let him go. It wasn't personal, Justin assured. Damn it, why isn't it? Did Thomas not watch Justin's niece, Emma, die on the side of the road so Emma wouldn't rat Thomas out to Hope? But a tweet I read made me think that maybe Justin doesn't know about Thomas' involvement, which is highly possible.

And it's too bad if that's the case, because that would have been one hell of a display of Barber family revenge. Oh, well; at least we're getting #JusticeForEmma by default. Justin told Thomas that Bill had never given him the reins at the company...and now there was going to be a change in leadership. Thomas correctly replied that Wyatt was an exec, too, and a shoo-in as one of Bill's sons.

Justin chortled that he could take care of Wyatt, who wasn't the brightest bulb in the room. Love it! And let's not forget, Justin also scuffled with Wyatt over the keys to Spencer in 2017 after Liam blackmailed Bill into leaving the company. So, the impression I got that Justin resents Wyatt seems accurate. Thomas understood. He hated Liam and Bill, too, but it wasn't worth hurting Hope, Steffy, and the kids.

Thomas saw that Justin wanted to be free of Bill, but Justin wasn't going to do that by acting just like the Dollah. "Don't let Bill turn you into the kind of man he is," Thomas pleaded, imploring Justin to let him out and let him go to the cops with his video. Justin looked like he was considering it. But even if Justin sets Thomas free now, that video is gone, unless it's still in the Recently Deleted folder of his camera app.

Fate is the hunter

Meanwhile, Quinn (remember her?) sat fiddling with jewelry and thinking of Carter when the real McCoy walked in. Of course, they went back to what is now their standard fare of Carter shouldn't confess to Eric himself, and no one else could find out about Quarter's quivering, especially since Shauna and Paris already knew. Enter said Paris, who was still grossed out that her sister's fiancé and BFF had had sex.

And this led to more of Carter and Quinn trying to persuade Paris to keep quiet. I wish we could have these stories without the repetitive dialogue. Carter begged Paris not to take his and Quinn's relationships away; Carter couldn't wait to marry Zoe. So, naturally, Zoe came in and heard the tail end of that. Zoe couldn't wait to marry Carter, either! And then we got another speech about love and commitment designed to make Quinn and Carter squirm...again.

I guess the upshot to all this is that Zoe's final episode will air on July 6. So we won't have to hear her making all these giddy proclamations. I also have to presume that Zoe is going to find out that Carter slept with Quinn in the next week and a half. I do wish Kiara Barnes all the best...and I'm hoping maybe she slipped a bit of Zoe's original British accent into her last scene.

Shauna went to visit Eric, who was working from home...in a suit? Hey, during lockdown, I could understand that, but now, I'm not sure why Eric was so dressed up. Maybe it was so he could tell Shauna how much he missed having her around the house and how she had brought him happiness and support during a time in which he really needed it.

Uh-oh. Do I hear the squeak of a revolving door that will see Shauna replace Quinn as Eric's main squeeze? "I've never met anyone like you before," Shauna gushed to Eric. Yeah, that's a foreshadow, and it casts long. Then Quinn came home and declared in front of Shauna that Quinn knew a way to show the world how she and Eric had recommitted. Quinn wanted to throw a vow renewal ceremony!

Oh, no, those never end well. At least not on this show. Can you think of one vow renewal that actually went through? Bill's ceremony with Katie tanked because of Steffy, Liam's to Steffy fell apart because of his under-rubble kissy-poo with Sally. So, yeah, this ish is gonna blow up. Maybe a video of Quarter will show up on a digital picture frame? It would only serve Quinn right.

I'm on the hunt, I'm after you

Back at Spencer's heretofore unknown cage room, Thomas kept trying to convince Justin to set him free. Many of you have asked, how was it possible for Justin to drag an unconscious Thomas out of Forrester and into the basement at Spencer? I admit...I don't know. But that the contrivance got Thomas locked in a cage makes me suspend all the disbelief.

Again, after Thomas stalked and hunted Hope like she was a frightened deer, he's got this coming in spades. Justin was not there for Thomas' pleas and insisted he would not go back to Bill roaming the hallways of Spencer and listening to his demeaning sarcasm and dismissals. And Liam...well, he was collateral damage. After all, Justin had learned from the master: one Dollar Bill!

When Thomas balked, Justin taunted that Thomas must still be suffering from the blow to the head Thomas had gotten. When Thomas deemed Justin crazy, Justin teased, "Funny coming from you, Thomas!" Amen, Justin. But Thomas showed amazing fortitude as he stood his ground. Liam did not deserve to rot in jail for something he didn't do. Thomas would tell the truth. Thomas would not be silenced!

Justin doubted it, causing Thomas to ask, "You gonna get rid of me?" Justin promised Thomas would never talk. Huh, where is this going? There's been no word that Matthew Atkinson is leaving, so Thomas will survive, and I suspect Justin will get a free pass, because he just got a new picture in the credits. But it's true -- Justin can't keep Thomas caged up forever. Maybe Justin needs to compare notes with Lisa, who kept Y&R's Brad Carlton locked up for weeks in 1988. Ironically, Brad was played by Don Diamont, who now sits in Dollar Bill's chair. It all ties together!

How about it, Scoopers? Who do you think will spill the truth about Quarter first? Is Thomas getting what he deserves after everything he did to Hope, Liam, and Douglas (and Emma!)? Do you think Vinny committing suicide to frame Liam makes sense? And is Justin justified in finally striking back at Bill? Put your key in the lock in the Comments section below or the Soap Central message boards, or simply click here to submit feedback. Your comments could wind up in a future column!

So, after much speculation about who Finn's mother is (with theories ranging from Sheila to Brooke!), we find out that it's actually a woman named Li, soon to be played by Naomi Matsuda. Yay for casting an Asian actor! Finn's daddy will be played by none other than Ted King (Loving/The City/General Hospital/One Life to Live). Oh, daddy! I just hope Finn's father, Jack Finnegan, doesn't become another romantic interest for Brooke. At least Jack and Li are coming in as a couple -- that's encouraging!

Jigs are about to be up, so keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold. And don't forget, protecting yourselves and others from a virus and getting vaccinated for it is always beautiful.
Mike

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