Secret, but not safe

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Secret, but not safe
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The week of May 23, 2011
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As One Life to Live continues to wade through Roger Howarth's hastily taped scenes, the Two Todds storyline is going to have to play some serious catch-up as it kicks into high gear.

...That's all I can think of with the welcome return of Roger Howarth to Llanview, kittens: Marathon Man. Poor, cute Agent Baker -- who really doesn't appear to be getting paid enough for this thankless duty -- appears to be about two minutes away from doing his best Sir Laurence Olivier on Howarth's hapless Dustin Hoffman, breaking out the dental equipment and asking over and over, "Is it secret? Is it safe?" when generally, in these situations of "enhanced interrogation," one can generally only think oh God my teeth. But seriously, what the heck are all these CIA spooks on about? What are they looking for? Why do they think To -- sorry, "TM" knows where is it after eight long years in a catatonic state? And what could it possibly have to do with Roger Howarth's Todd, who never even met John McBain?

So is Trevor St. John's Todd a government operative, like Tomas? What would the purpose be of replacing Todd in 2003 and coming up with such a convoluted cover story as the Walker Laurence scheme, which entailed having "Todd" approach crime boss Walker Flynn with a face-swapping deal and brought him into the sights of the FBI's own investigation into Flynn? Remember, when John came on the show, he was undercover in Flynn's organization as part of a sting operation. I remember that crazy funhouse ride of a story pretty well, and in it, the premise was that Mitch's thugs had beaten Todd apparently to death, with his features left unrecognizable, and he, in turn, had actually survived, fled to Atlantic City, and convinced the real Walker Laurence Flynn to allow the use of his face in order for Todd to get revenge on Mitch. Was it really necessary to go to all that trouble just to present a ringer to Todd's friends and family while the CIA (or whoever) worked the "real" Todd (or whoever he is) over in an undisclosed location?

I'm liking this story a lot so far, but they've got a lot to explain, and I hope they don't drop the ball. In the meantime, obviously Todd's friends and family back in Llanview are confused by his 180 on Tomas, as per his and Tomas' mysterious jailhouse arrangement. I personally hope Tomas isn't 100% black hat, and find him to be a red herring at best, but maybe that's just because I love Ted King's beard.

As the show continues to wade through Roger Howarth's hastily dropped-in taped scenes, though, the "Two Todds" storyline is going to have to play some serious catch-up as it kicks into high gear. In the meantime, there are some other storylines dominating the canvas. Crazy storylines. Stupid storylines. Crazy stupid storylines...and a little good stuff here and there. I'm speaking, of course, of Mad Marty and Baby Liam's Wild Ride, now co-starring Jessica, Tess, Wes, and let's not forget Bess. Oh, and the unfortunate and hopefully brief return of Austin Peck.

So apparently, they're just going to write Susan Haskell out in the most incendiary way possible -- Marty has gutted Kelly, tossed Natalie off a roof with a hilarious victory howl, kidnapped baby Liam, turned a gun on Destiny and Matthew, and now, yes, she has apparently killed the groovy Dr. Buhari. Awesome. I haven't seen a hack job like this since the treatment of Rebecca Lewis in 2009, and this is even more egregious. Oh, I suppose she could be redeemed -- soaps have done more whitewash with far darker characters over the years -- but I seriously doubt she will be, and that's just sad. Marty becomes a casualty for shock value, whereas her simply knocking Nat off the roof and absconding with Liam could have been more than enough to drive basically the same storyline without total character destruction. I predicted Natalie would forget the truth after going over the roof, so this long, long stall is just boring me, even though Haskell, Archer, et al.'s performances are consistently excellent. Despite some fun action, when the endgame brings us back to John and Natalie, with Marty either dead or institutionalized as a psycho killer, I really can't be that enthused.

What makes this story "meh" for me, though, is the angle wherein we are once accosted by OLTL's concept of "the Bree Williamson Experience," a host of alternate personalities for Jessica, each less well-thought-out than the last! Riddle me this, Ron Carlivati: how does Jessica just spontaneously produce a spare alter to handle her feelings for Brody? She barely knew Wes Grainger (who I always liked with Marty -- poor guy). My crude understanding of DID is that the alters are created as a response to the original trauma, and Jessica was molested decades ago, long before Wes or Brody entered her life.

Now, sadly, it seems this character's just going from a perennial victim to some sort of superhero/comic book figure, making Jessica into a joke of sexual abuse, which can spit out a new persona at the drop of a hat while juggling bare-chested, scummy new husbands who actively work to keep her crazy. Ms. Williamson's not untalented, and her "guy" act is okay, but the jokey angle of all this, right down to "Wes" flirting with the ladies at Capricorn, means we've just got too much camp mixed with too much shock value on top of stories being written too poorly and quickly. I like camp, I can take humor, but when too much is too much, all you're left with is a hot mess. How would anyone pitch Jessica as Jessica if OLTL were ever to be revived on television in the future? There's no character left.

Speaking of bare-chested scum, let's get back to Ford for a second -- I don't care how many funny outfits he shows up in, I will always despise him, and Cutter ain't much better. No, I don't buy that either of them care for any iteration of Jessica's fractured psyche, and I still want Bess to ice them in cold blood. I'll accept "Wes" snapping their necks. But Bobby's not even the most offensive Ford this week -- that would be Nate, who went from making eyes at Deanna during their "hot" squirt (ahem) gun fight to hitting Matthew with a Street Fighter-style Shoryuken uppercut. "You killed my dad!"

Oh, please, Old Face Nate, you hated him too. Pick up some Rogaine and go home. I recognize the horrific foreboding coming down the pike here for Matthew and Destiny -- I've seen the promos -- but I can't even deal with that right now. I just hate Old Face Nate, and I want Matthew to skate while this loser creeps back out of town with his crazy eyes and perfect teeth. I did appreciate Dani's initially apoplectic reaction to Matt and Des, though -- could they be going for a real love triangle soon, since Matthew has pledged his troth to Destiny for really reals, and Nate appears to be getting an encroaching "douchebag edit" as he grows hormonally close to Deanna?

And then there was the Clint Buchanan Redemption Express. Okay, yeah, I get it, the show's wrapping up and they want to put him back with Viki, but did he have to confess to everything right then and there for Blanca Morales in addition to taking responsibility for Eddie's murder? Clint's continued snark is great, but I wonder what he's going to be left with here. What's he going to do in his pre-cancellation dotage, go back to sitting around rubbing Viki's shoulders and wearing lots of sweaters? I watched that Clint as Jerry verDorn performed this thankless Dena Higley version up 'til 2007, and it was boring as all get out. A Clint #2 without a scheme or a bird in the hand is no Clint A'Tall (as Viki would say) to me. Let's not de-fang him completely!

Clint's live confessional, of course, left Rama and Aubrey on edge, fearing the worst for their precious secrets and schemes. It's refreshing to see Aubrey as the clueless schmuck for once, unaware that Joey is at Kelly's bedside, pouring his heart out and ready to give Aubrey the hook. Despite poor writing and a bland characterization by the writers, Tom Degnan does have real chemistry with Gina Tognoni, even if I still prefer Kelly with Kevin. I hope Joey takes Aubrey down hard next week, and doesn't let her off the hook, as I don't buy her "change" any more than I do Ford's. As for Rama and Vimal -- well, Cris and Rama are kind of cute, but I think I've been over this, and this seems like such a silly subplot to continue with. Couldn't they give these actors something more intriguing and less rote?

Anyway, good, bad, and ugly, that's the week that was. I'll see you kids in two for more fun, and hopefully a lot more Roger Howarth. Man, that scar got a lot uglier in eight years. Toodles!


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