The wrath of Khan

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OLTL Two Scoops: The wrath of Khan
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The week of April 20, 2009
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This past week, the killer struck again and framed John for his crimes, Stacy finally gave up that sweet, sweet marrow, and Todd and Téa got freaky.

It was an idea so nice I had to do it twice! Yes, the "N.G.T.L." (Not Going To Lie) brutal truthfest has returned, and with it has Michael's Two Scoops. It's a beautiful weekend in Brooklyn, and I hope many of you are enjoying decent weather as well. I'll tell you who can't take advantage of the warm climate, though; the residents of La Boulaie, because their swimming pool has a dead body in it. Reminds me of the "Snickers" scene in Caddyshack. Who's ever going to use that thing again after Talia got gutted like a fish? I know I'll always think of her. Anyway, the killer struck again and framed John for his crimes, Stacy finally gave up that sweet, sweet marrow, Todd and Téa got freaky, and Viki and Charlie broke out of ABC Old People Jail. Another mixed bag week on an increasingly disorganized show; at least we've got a few silver linings. And when you have something to say about a show as up and down as this week's OLTL, that means it is almost certainly time for another round of N.G.T.L. I told you I'd run this into the ground. However, I make no promises about there being a N.G.T.L. III: Tokyo Drift or a N.G.T.L. IV: Citizens On Patrol. Let's go!

N.G.T.L. Talia's death was a big mistake. As I've said before, I felt Talia's presence in Llanview, along with Beth Ann Bonner's performance, was a breath of fresh air on soaps; she had a candor and a blunt realism to her that we don't see in most soap cops, much less soap heroines. Talia wasn't a glamourpuss or a Hope Brady - just like female police officers in real life, she didn't come to work dressed like a runway model, she wore very little makeup on the job and always pulled her hair back. She did the job, no fuss, no muss, just like our men and women in uniform do every day. Talia approached life in Llanview with a dry wit and a keen sense of awkward, true-to-life physical and emotional reality, and she behaved probably like you or I would if we ever got caught living in a soap opera. For someone who came from a reality TV contest, Beth Ann Bonner proved to be shockingly competent and adept at giving me as a viewer something I'd never seen before on my show, and I've been watching a long time. Talia Sahid is easily my favorite TV lady cop next to The Wire's Kima Greggs (hollaback Wire fans), and her death is a tragedy not only for strong female (and minority - Talia's Hesser descent is still Middle Eastern) role models on an increasingly male-driven daytime network, but also because she had so much more she could do. As Carlo Hesser's daughter, Talia, a driven police officer, had so many more facets to explore; why did she become a cop? Who was her mother, and what was she like? What about her foster father, who Carlo called a "Syrian peasant?" What was Talia's life like during her years with Carlo, Johnny Dee and Charlotte Hesser? Even with Antonio gone, Talia could've continued to look after his daughter, and perhaps get close to a new man, only to find her heart torn should Antonio have returned someday. What's more, you can't honestly expect me to believe that Carlo Hesser, the man who laughs at death, would allow any of his bloodline to perish at any hand other than his own. Except for Johnny Dee, no Hesser has ever stayed dead. Talia involved with Carlo's nemesis is the greatest insult "Poseidon" has ever faced; it would be out of character for Carlo not to have carefully monitored her from afar in the months since the Mendorra fiasco. He would never have allowed Talia to be killed by a random serial killer. And with Talia dead, a huge gaping hole is left in the storyline should Carlo ever return; how did he let it happen? What will become of his feud with Antonio? Did any of it have any point? Right now it appears that these characters have all been wasted, and Talia given another ignoble, misogynistic death like that of Gabrielle Medina, who died beside a toilet. It's not only a shame, but it's shameful, and a waste, especially when Talia could have very easily left the show to work with Antonio, happily ever after. Bad form, Ron Carlivati. Rest in peace, Talia, though I'll never believe Carlo would've let you die. As they say on The Wire, "she was good police."

N.G.T.L. John as The Fugitive is absolutely mentally challenged. Can I say that? "Mentally challenged?" Let's find out. Bo and Nora have already enumerated all the reasons this doesn't work; he has no motive to be the KAD killer, he lobbied for the cops to look past Zach as a suspect, and I am pretty sure he has at least one alibi for one of the stabbings (if nothing else, we know he was with Marty when Blair was attacked). At least we now know it can't be Fish or Kyle Lewis, both of whom were accounted for when Talia was killed. This seems like a very, very thin conceit devised just to make sure the storyline continues to revolve around John, and people orbiting around him instead of having vivid, fleshed-out roles of their own. Blair is neutralized by being in the invisible ICU; Talia is dead; Marty is probably going to chase after John as little more than his sidekick, just like Natalie used to. These actors are all better than this, and I believe Ron Carlivati is better than this. Another murder storyline centered around strong women dying and John brooding is not what I ever asked to see, and I don't care if John goes on the run. This story, if it had to be done, needed to be about Marty, Blair, Todd and even Zach and Téa; instead, Zach was gone in under two weeks after another action-driven McBain plot point, and everyone waits hand and foot on John's character arc, which never goes anywhere anyway. Spare me.

N.G.T.L. Todd and Téa are hot. They are sick, crazy, nasty people and they are hot. And I say that as an agnostic Todd and Blair fan. I don't believe that Téa is good for Todd, or that Todd is good for Téa, but the chemistry and their intensity is undeniable. Everything they did and said together this week was icky but well-written and acted, informed by their years of sordid history, the abuse, the violence, the lies, the misogyny and emasculation, the freaky monkey love. Téa has finally reached her goal: Get Todd back. She denies it, she talks circles around herself to make excuses for it, but that's what Téa wants, what she's always wanted, and it's why she came back to Llanview in the first place. He could do anything and she'd still want him. Téa longs for the renewal of their dysfunctional relationship, and finally she has her favorite co-dependent abuser/victim back. Now they can scream at each other again, hit each other again, and have sex up against the wall. She's partying like it's 1998! Anyway, I find Todd and Téa's twisted foreplay fascinating and compulsively watchable, and I think Florencia Lozano and Trevor St. John sell the hell out of it, but in the end I also find it to be hollow. The fact is, I feel OLTL has done next to nothing to reconstruct Todd's character in the wake of the Todd and Marty debacle. Instead of giving St. John material to rehabilitate Todd from his latest nadir, the writers leave him twisting in the wind to smirk and smarm his way through scenes, which can be very enjoyable, but doesn't solve the larger problem: How can Todd come back from what he has become, this empty, scabrous, remorseless gadabout? There doesn't seem to be any "soul" to Todd anymore, just delicious wit and sexuality. Sure, Todd and Téa are fun to watch, but Téa wants Todd as an unrepentant monster, so there's no attempt for him to be better, do better in his life, make amends. They can have all the kinky sex they want, but it won't change the fact that they are two freaky people reveling in their own freakiness. My question is, when does Todd's character come back to reality again? How is he supposed to be put back together, and reconnect with the humanity of his former self as well as that which the viewers once saw in him? Because right now, Todd and Téa might be appointment insanity, but they can't last forever like this, at least Todd can't. When is OLTL going to make up its mind on how to handle what they have done to Todd Manning? Todd and Téa's psycho sexy can only distract me for so long.

N.G.T.L. I can't believe Gigi didn't just tell Jessica the truth about Stacy. She was still there after Rex left Llanfair, so why not do so and spare Brody and Jessica the agony? Another dumb move in a dumb storyline. At the other end of the spectrum, it was nice to see Jessica at Nash's gravesite, and Brody and Jessica are still cute together, but I am utterly sick of the "Hope/Chloe" anvils every week. How many times can Starr walk into a convenient two-shot with Jessica and Chloe? How many times can these characters say things like "We lost all hope" and "how can we get hope back?" or even the dependable "Chloe gives me hope." I get it, thanks. At least Starr and Cole are taking steps to wrap this thing up by looking into the cause of "Hope's" death. Hopefully neither of them will lock Jared and Natalie in a secret room.

N.G.T.L. Stacy and Schuyler are nice together. Stacy is still a soulless psycho, but Crystal Hunt's interplay with Scott Clifton was extremely easy and unforced. It's not enough to redeem her, though, OLTL, so don't get any ideas. I want Stacy to take a nice long dirt nap. Schuyler deserves a hell of a lot better. And for God's sake, when will we find out who Rex's dad is? The only upside to this storyline this week was the interplay between Kyle and Roxy, who made a great scheming team. Also funny: Schuyler's double-take when he seemed to realize, like me, that he and Rex were awfully similar.

N.G.T.L. Cole's rehab storyline has a 50/50 chance of staying interesting or completely falling apart. The reason it's in danger is because Cole basically comes and goes from rehab at all times, taking drugs as he pleases. And I'm supposed to care about his "struggle?" Is there no quality control? No patient monitoring? I say there's a 50/50 chance for good drama because our fierce new Rachel Gannon is now in this story, and she makes everything good, I mean OMG you guys, have you seen her? Beautiful and a great actress! Bravo to OLTL for casting for integrity and smarts on Rachel, a character I have always wanted to see back on contract, and bravo to Daphnee Duplaix for slipping into the role like it was an old shoe. She helped Eddie Alderson elevate his scenes this week, as well. I'd like to believe she can do the same for Shenell Edmonds (Destiny), but I fear that nice little girl is a case of "good character, bad actress." The writing for Destiny is whip-smart in many ways, but I don't see Edmonds able to sell it; instead, she reminds me of a pint-sized Jessica Morris. Like I said, N.G.T.L.

N.G.T.L. I was pleased that Clint went to see Viki this week about his Bo and Nora player-hater issues. I am not interested in a Viki and Clint reunion, but it only makes sense for Clint to go to Viki, his longtime partner and one of his closest friends. I was glad she gave it to him straight about the complications of his relationship with Nora, and that there was awkwardness when Charlie happened upon the two. Should the show toy with the Viki, Charlie and Clint dynamic, and Clint's dependence on Viki in his tough times? I say sure, as long as they don't break up Viki and Charlie. I'd have to cut somebody. Meanwhile, I still like the Matthew storyline overall but I'm waiting for Bo and Nora to turn the heat up. This is my foot, tapping. Tap tap, y'all.

What's that, you say? What about Dorian and Ray? Well, I'll talk about them when they get something to do. Poor A Martinez. And Lola, well, she and her crazy eyes aren't worth mentioning; all she did was skulk about and vow contract-ending revenge. Adios, Crazy Lola. And adios guys, that's it for me and this round of N.G.T.L. Until next time, remember, when you are stalking a serial killer by the pool, check your corners and keep the gun pointed up; failing that, wear water wings. Later.

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