Hello, friends and lovers. This week's infuriatingly obscure and pretentious column title comes to you courtesy of Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails, and seemed oddly appropriate given our last five days in Llanview. Because, let's face it, almost nobody's themselves right now. Jessica's taken a leave of absence from herself (again), Kelly and John just made the beast with two backs, Todd's once again behaving distinctly less like any Todd on file and more like Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe, and, uh, Charlie and Matthew -- I don't even know. So, yeah, it was a week with some ups, some downs, some awkward SORASing, some unnecessarily naked Nate, and also some always-welcome Ted King. Let's hit it.
Be My Roach Motel Valentine Oh, God. Where to begin with the recent bedroom follies at the Minute Man Motel? So, okay, Charlie and Echo did it, we were all there, we all saw it. He was sober, and he doesn't even seem to totally regret it -- judging by the look in that architect's eyes (hat tip to David Bowie), Charlie's ready to change his ringtone to "Torn Between Two Lovers." To which I say, what the hell, OLTL? Whose cat did Brian Kerwin kill and eat? I love Viki and Charlie, I mean love them, and I can't imagine why this was done to Charlie's character -- it's such a thorough assassination -- unless they fully intend to break up the couple for good and leave Viki open for Clint or something, to which I say, '"boring, I want Kim back."
Kerwin and Zimmer were quite good together, the scenes were well-performed, but I can't co-sign this material. It's a hatchet job on a character the show has ignored and taken for granted for a very long time, and I think the actor, the couple, and Viki and Charlie's fans deserved a lot better. And still do. If there is to be a redemption for the character, it better get started, because I am not buying a "Charlie and Echo love story" -- not after what she's done, and the way she's flaunted her plans in Viki and Dorian's faces for months.
Over in the other "Oh God What Have We Done" suite at the Minute Man, we have John and Kelly, whose crazy bar fight last week led to their ill-advised lovemaking. This is my utter lack of surprise; I've been expecting this since John and Gina Tognoni's Kelly began sharing a disproportionate amount of scenes last spring, and finally the moment has come. Oddly enough, I didn't find their scenes here nearly as unbearable as I found them for most of the last year -- a drunk, self-consciously madcap Kelly is at least infinitely more interesting than the dour, self-righteous, self-consciously "tough" Kelly they attempted to force on us opposite Michael Easton in the past. Sober, the pair is beyond boring. Maybe the answer is to keep them drunk and crazy. Meanwhile, I still don't care about John and Natalie's future prospects, and wish she'd stop chasing after him and realize her home-and-baby scenes with Brody at Llanfair were pretty sweet and potential couple fodder. I hope one of those babies really does turn out to be Brody's, because I'm still convinced little Liam with the giant doe eyes will eventually be unmasked as a McBain.
Making Niki Smith Look Underused Yes, she's back; yes, again. What can I say, America -- I don't like Tess, I never have, and it's not because Bree Williamson isn't funny in the part (she is), it's not because she can't sell it (she can), it's because it increasingly seems as though it is all she -- or more accurately, OLTL -- want to sell here: Mental illness and crazy vixens not named Jessica. Even Jessica's mid-show promotional bumper features both her and Tess, inseparable to the last. As far as I'm concerned, Tess is played out -- what would be far more interesting is what we glimpsed last week during the wedding fallout, where an integrated, coldly furious Jessica turned on Natalie. Imagine if a newly empowered rich bitch Jessica had put Natalie in her crosshairs out in the real world, while Brody remained caught between the sisters.
Speaking of riches, Tess's crazy plan to use Ford and Ryder in order to plunder the baby's trust fund is just that: Crazy. The family knows Tess is out; no court in the land would grant her or Ford access. Apparently I'm not supposed to know that, though, and instead am expected to enjoy more "wacky fun" with Tess and poor, poor misunderstood Ford, who seemed entirely too intrigued when he thought "Jessica At 17" had returned. Spare me. These two together are unwatchable, and Brody and Langston are well rid of them right now. My fervent prayer is that the show does not continue throwing Brody under the bus to Ford.
Welcome Back To The Manning Underage Sex Gulag Because let's face it, that's what Todd's house is, again. If you have ever shared the same oxygen or water supply as Starr or Danielle, or stood at a busy intersection with them, chances are Todd is going to come after your hide for raping his children. Let's party like it's 2008! I don't care what Todd does to Old Face Nate, and I can only muster up a modicum of interest in how Starr and Danielle handle this situation -- this crud is beneath all the characters, and I find it to be a tired rehash of a story that wasn't great the first time.
Even less interesting? Starr and James's come here/go away interplay. Have they finally confessed their mutual affection? Looks like. Do I care? Not really, except it is slightly intriguing to see Starr actually being played as the aggressor/heavy in a relationship with the extremely submissive (let's just say it) James, who might as well be a male ingénue. Maybe this coupling can be spiced up by letting Starr's character become tougher and coarser again -- she shows flashes of strength and anger that remind me of who Starr used to be. The real meat of this nonsensical storyline lies with the adults for me, which brings us to...
Téa Loses The Coin Toss Cruel irony struck the talented Florencia Lozano with its cold, gnarled paw this week, as we discovered that Téa is in fact related by blood to Ted King's Tomas and therefore cannot have sex with him, a fate worse than death for most daytime leading ladies if you ask me. Yeah, sorry, I love Ted King, what can I say. And I actually love the Delgado connection with these two; I think it's inspired, and I never though the show made enough use of Téa's other relatives. As for the ongoing tale, the Blair and Tomas story is moving slowly, but I think it's actually a proper romantic build and that the two crackle together. They seem to actually be examining Blair's trust issues and her history, in her scenes with everyone from Langston to Kelly to Tomas himself. And the mystery regarding Todd's photograph appears poised to kick into high gear, too, as Todd comes apart at the seams over Nate and Danielle -- and who's calling him on the phone?
Can we blame Tomas for telling Téa to leave her insane multiple rapist husband? I say no. Todd looked about ready to clock her again during their confrontation at the end of the week, and often seems to be approaching their entire marriage with a minimum of interest and, when he's grumpy, a maximum of contempt. Because I don't think today's Todd Manning respects or cares about anything but himself and his needs. Whatever it is that's going on here, he is rapidly being positioned as the antagonist in several storylines. There is a marked difference between the man Téa and Blair loved in the '90s and the cold, disconnected Todd of today -- but for what reason? I'm loving the riddle of this story.
What Are You Talking About, Of Course This Is Jack This week also marked the debut of Andrew Trischitta as the all-new, slightly taller and older Jack Manning. Um...jury's still out in my book. I felt Trischitta might be talented, but his first day didn't go well; his line delivery was extremely stiff and wooden, and the bullying scenes at Llanview High were dreadfully written. They also put the lie to any reasoning regarding firing Carmen LoPorto's Jack for height or age in relation to Austin Williams, because that one little munchkin friend of Jack's who taunted Shane in the hallway might as well have been a member of the Lollipop Guild. If that little bugger could bully Shane and tiny Justin Lowell could terrorize Matthew, then surely Carmen LoPorto's tough cookie could have given "Wheezy" Morasco his own variety of hell. Bullying today isn't just about height or physical strength; it's about power and the supposed imperfections of the perceived 'other' who is different from the crowd. Shane was born impoverished and has a physical ailment, and these items coupled with his scandalous family background give Jack and the in-crowd plenty of ammunition with which to prey on him. Keeping LoPorto in the role might have allowed the show to be innovative and highlight how bullying is not simply a physical, but a mental and emotional issue.
That being said, I'm giving Andrew Trischitta a chance. Whoever plays Jack, the writing for this storyline has to improve, because it was sheer dreck this week. Which leads us to...
Jerkass: A Medical Documentary Are you only onscreen twice a month, or does it seem that way? When you do appear, are you either colossally stupid, irrationally obnoxious, or both? Do you experience random shifts of character that seem designed to benefit other, more boring people? If so, your name may be Matthew or Joey Buchanan, and you may have contracted a unique viral infection we here at the Centers for Disease Control call "Jerkass."
Basically, I have no idea what those brief, insane Matthew scenes this week were. It's been like a year since he and Destiny kissed, and there has been no real follow-up since no one at the show seems to give a damn about them. To top it off, he wasn't at the wedding fiasco, but despite everything, he is still defending Clint. Still! What's next -- Matthew: Holocaust Denier? And I simply don't believe that the Matthew who went through what he did in 2009 would turn his back on Shane in a similar situation. I do not believe it. I never will. This is character assassination and it is apparently crafted to make us forget this is a viable, long-term, of-age teenage lead who we have watched for years and who the audience enjoys. Whether it's to prop up Old Face Nate or keep the Fords in general front and center, I don't know, but I hate everything about this. Matthew doesn't deserve to be ruined like this and the show, as well as Ron Carlivati, knows better.
I've talked about the ongoing problem with Joey's character, too. When he is on, he's an idiot, and now he's blaming Kelly, John, and Clint for everything under the sun. He deserved that pie in the face, but my concern is the idea that the show may want us to see him like that, as the perpetual fool. This is another character who deserves better, but is playing the clown for half the cast to drive plot. Both these characters need to be cured of their wretched cases of Jerkass.
Speaking of Joey: I don't like that Aubrey seems to be completely invulnerable -- one day she's gaming Clint to get her way, the next it's Rama and Vimal. This character is not worth this much. Let her take a fall, finally.
So that was your week that was, the good, the bad, and the ugly. See you in two, kids, where hopefully Wendy Williams will be appearing. Adieu!