It's not just a cheesy '80s rock ballad anymore. This week on OLTL was nothing less than a ticking time bomb. Everything and I do mean everything is about to come crashing down on all our favorite Llanviewites' heads in the coming episodes, and you won't want to miss a moment. Even though we missed one day due to the holiday, that didn't stop OLTL from moving at a breakneck pace that somehow managed to remain character-driven, intelligently written and well-structured. Everything is leading up to the grand unveiling of Dorian's long-simmering vengeance against the Buchanans, and all the pieces are masterfully being eased into place.
First of all: Poor Charlie! Brian Kerwin plays him as an ordinary, everyday guy relatively unscathed by the glossy fantasy touches of soap opera, and in showing his flaws, Charlie often comes across as somewhat "put upon" because he can't always keep up with the outlandish scheming around him. Well, now he's even more put upon - drugged and unconscious in La Boulaie for hours upon hours. And now Dorian's going to pass him off as having fallen off the wagon! (More on that in a bit.) I know I'm not alone in wishing Charlie would get a little break, but I know that just doesn't happen on daytime. I'd settle for him being able to give Dorian a little of her own back. And I'm sure that's coming. In the meantime, I'll just tear my Kleenex to bits in what are sure to be heartbreaking scenes with Charlie and Viki in the near future. Viki's pain and heartache this week was palpable until it almost seemed to be crippling her in Friday's scenes with Dorian and David; watching her try to put on a happy face for Jessica and Bree was a hard thing to see. Nonetheless, I'm very glad to have the star-crossed lovers front and center again.
Viki's feelings of betrayal over Charlie's deception also gave way to solid scenes with Gigi over the whole unfortunate l'affaire de Balsom. (Did I get my French right? God, I'll be so embarrassed if I didn't; I took three years of it and my mother is fluent.) Gigi saw parallels in her situation and Charlie's, and it's that kind of elegant symmetry of storytelling that Ron Carlivati seems to excel in. Charlie plays at being Rex's father, when it's easier to be his than keep trying to win over the formerly-ungrateful Jared. Gigi takes the Roxy role, trying to keep Shane from what she once saw as 'the greater evil' by telling him Brody was his father and not the absentee Rex. And in that strange way, both Rex and Shane, father and son, are now going to be mirrors of each other. Really well-thought-out by RC, if you ask me. But I couldn't believe the kind of attitude Gigi gave Brody last week. Even before the incident with the beer (which, I agree with her, was not okay) she was extremely diffident and distant towards him, which is understandable given her state of mind, but Brody and his broad, manly pecs deserved a lot better treatment from the Geege than they'd been getting. I was glad they didn't mince words and hashed it out, and that she apologized. They are cute together, but so are Gigi and Rex. Oh, the emo that is to come! It's so refreshing to be able to invest in a series of well-fleshed-out, sympathetic characters again, and not just one in a dozen.
Speaking of Rex, that brings us to the whole car crash thing with Todd and Adriana, a.k.a. The Car Seat Incident. Yes, yes, Todd was incredibly irresponsible and is being an ass, I totally agree, and we'll get to him in a minute, but let's be real here: I saw the episode leading up to the crash last week, and from what I saw, Adriana caused that frickin' crash. Whereas Todd was just trying to keep Sam from playing with something in the car, Adriana was committing the most foul of all cell phone user sins: Screwing with your phone while driving. Am I surprised she tried to pin it all on him? Not at all. Adriana's shady like that, we all know it. The cracks and fissures are already appearing in the Balsom marriage, and it's only been about ninety seconds. I was shocked and pleased that RC remembered his loose end of Charlie's fork in Rex's things, and now Adriana has her own smoking gun: The Toothbrush of Questionable Paternity. Lies upon lies, Mrs. Balsom! You goin' down. Down to Chinatown. (BTW, did anyone else's mind go to a terrible place when Adriana told Gigi, "this toothbrush is covered with Rex's DNA?" It was just a very awkward phrasing, that's all I'm saying.)
Now, as to poor, suffering Todd: How can Blair and Starr possibly betray Todd like this?! They know what he has been through with Sam and Cole. Todd harbors such pain and anguish over his struggles with Marty and the baby, and here's Blair, betraying him again, taking his kids away, never on his side, never trying to understand.... Oh. I'm sorry. That was actually my evil twin from the Star Trek Mirror Universe writing that crap. Here's the facts, ma'am: Todd had it all coming. Todd may be one of my personal favorite characters, but he's almost always in the wrong when it comes to his family strife with his wife (or wives) or children, that's the nature of his backwards character, and what Todd's been doing in the last few months is sadly no exception. The scenes with the court hearing regarding Sam's custody this week were practically a recitation by Ron Carlivati of all the horrible stuff Todd got up to during the strike, like beating on the kids, making Starr a prisoner in her own home, and more recently, flinging her down the stairs like she was no better than Pauly Shore. Carlivati seemed to me to be using those scenes to make his own final comment on the situation, and make it clear that Todd's actions would not be ignored, or glossed over, or swept under the rug. To me, that is extremely important: Even though I may enjoy Todd and Blair, I would not and could not in good conscience agree with them reuniting while Todd is still in this frame of mind or treating his family this way. (And in the real world, he would've been gone a long time ago.) Todd reaped what he sowed in the courtroom this week, and now what I hope will be done is a slow rebuilding of Todd's character again. It's sad that Ron Carlivati has had to rebuild Todd and Blair twice in six months thanks to the WGA strike, but I have faith in him. What I most appreciate is the fact that Blair has not rolled over for Todd, or been marginalized as a character, for once. Due to the "gray" nature of Blair's character, it seems to me that she's very often used as an all-purpose plot device or appendage by too many bad writers: She can be a villain, a housewife, a "whore" or a "bitch" whenever they want, someone to project plot points and certain behaviors onto just to service other characters the writer finds more important, and most of these writers haven't been able to think beyond that for Blair, or care to. Dena Higley in particular seemed to despise Blair, claiming that Todd and Blair's relationship was built on sex (which could not be further from the truth if you watched between the years of 1995 and 2003). What I think Blair and Todd's relationship was built on was a keen understanding of each other, and of Todd in particular, when few others would. The problem for them generally is, Blair is willing to evolve, and Todd usually is not. Blair may come second to Todd for me as a viewer, but when it comes to their relationship, I almost always side with Blair...because she tries, and he doesn't. Anyway, Ron Carlivati has presented Blair as a strong woman with her own history (struggling in foster homes, desperate to keep Sam from that life), her own backbone again, and I appreciate that. Blair having a backbone doesn't mean she's walking all over Todd. It just means she's not letting him put his boot in her face every day. I do hope the Mannings can come back from this, and I do have faith. But Todd will have to be shown doing the work...so long as he doesn't turn too nice.
I'd be remiss not to mention the great scenes at the courthouse with Cole and Starr and especially Michael and Marcie. Other writers would've ignored the obvious emotional sting when Blair mentioned Sam calling her "mama," but Carlivati went for it and showed Marcie's face screwing up and her fleeing the courtroom. It was a heartbreaking moment, and deepened later, as Marcie explained her ongoing struggle to her husband. Sometimes Kathy Brier can be shrill to me, but she was totally on-point on Friday, and I felt for her one hundred percent. You could also possibly see the formation of a new storyline, as Starr was eavesdropping on the McBains' conversation about having another child. Starr and Cole had a nasty, brutally real moment during their argument outside the courtroom that punctured their boring-as-hell bubble of sappy teen love. "Your baby is going to be fine," Starr spat at Cole, blaming him for getting her pregnant again, and that was the Starr I knew and loved. It was also a realistic adolescent, and I want to see where that's going, when things stop being all Miley Cyrus songs and "I (Heart) You" IMs and start getting ugly.
As for the rest of town this week, I think I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I'll always side with Nora when it comes to Lindsay. I love Lindsay, yes, but Nora has every reason in the world to want Lindsay to pay and want her away from her son. Despite solidly written dialogue, it defies logic that Bo would want to be with the woman who singlehandedly engineered the destruction of his marriage to Nora (starting with altering his fertility test results), and for Lindsay to continue to bleat and whine, even when she's alone with R.J., that this is just Nora being petty and unfair when she knows the whole truth about her actions then and now (faking her insanity) is completely delusional. I have to conclude that Bo is just that bitter towards Nora and desperate not to be alone. And honestly, Lindsay: Are you blind? Have you seen R.J.?! Oy. Just oy. Speaking of "oy" moments, Jessica happily revealed to Natalie that she was pregnant again this week, and kudos to the writers for remembering Jessica's Hep C. It was a little tough watching Jessica so blissfully happy holding her daughter, knowing that...uh...anything could happen...
Saving the best for last, we have Dorian's master plan, along with David and Addie, hot, funny, and wonderful. Addie's just such an ongoing delight that I can't possibly keep piling on superlatives to talk about her. Suffice to say that they're great together and I'd find it a hoot if she actually managed to steal David away from "Dori" for awhile. As for Dorian, she was alternately chilling, badass, and actually a little touching this week, as she pressed on, iron-willed, in her complex and mysterious plan to ruin Buchanan Enterprises for good. When she looked heavenward and invoked Mel as she dosed Charlie with vodka, it was a great, classic Dorian moment that, once again, most writers would have forgotten. But Mel meant so much to Dorian, and for as much as Dorian craves love and stability, sometimes her more bestial, cruel instincts override her heart, such as they have now. "I have to finish what I started," she whispered, a little sadly, and I do believe that Dorian was genuinely sad about having to disappoint her late beloved. But as always, that won't stop Dorian from going after something she's been planning since probably November, when Clint dumped her...and that anger, too, comes from her heart. The countdown to Dorian's ultimate revenge was classic Cramer, and classic OLTL. I urge everyone to tune in for the big finish.
Next week: Dorian lowers the boom, Clint asks, "is Clint Buchanan going to have to choke a bitch?", the Palace loses a skylight, and someone else loses a loved one. Watch it! And meet me back here in two weeks, when we roll out the welcome home mat for two people I have dearly missed. Ciao!