Two little words, one big surprise. Say what you will about OLTL; it still knows how to turn out a Friday cliffhanger like no other soap! Holy crap, that was sweet. Since this "Two Todds" story kicked into high gear, virtually every day has been can't-miss, even with the occasional dud story, and I have to say I've profoundly enjoyed the trend towards "awesome" in the last few weeks. This week was a particular pleasure, as we got Tomas coming clean to John and Blair, "TM" getting down to business, the premiere of Vicker Man, and the culmination of several stories large and small. Vimal and Rama resolved their issues; Old Face Nate got his sweet, sweet comeuppance; and the Todd-Off went way, way public in a fantastic way. Oh, Llanview! In the words of Snoop Dogg, what it do? Let's find out.
No need for crazy titles this week: the show itself was crazy enough, and so much spun out of the gala premiere of Vicker Man that we might as well deal with much of the stories and character arcs in one fell swoop. I could giggle about the cavalcade of in-jokes at the Palace all night -- Mia Korf! Robin Strasser dissing AFTRA! Fraternity Row! Melador! Dorian wearing "Gammie," a.k.a. the work of longtime OLTL costume designer Susan Gammie! The top stars David and Dorian somehow shanghai'ed into being in their silly film! But the real delights of the evening came after Austin Peck's porn king crashed the premiere with Nate's cinematic debut in Hold the Diploma. "My diploma's so big because I double-majored!" Indeed, Old Face Nate.
I could not stop guffawing at the sweet, sweet schadenfreude as Nate was outed as an amateur porn star before his clueless girlfriend and half the town. Few rubber-chested octogenarians have deserved it more. Girls, remember this moment -- this is why you don't date men ten, fifteen, twenty years older than you! Crap like this always goes down when they get bored! From his usurping of Matthew, both in Dani's life and on the frontburner, to now, I have despised this pointless, over-muscled pretty-boy with no apparent purpose on the canvas other than to be a "hotter" love interest for Kelley Missal, and I am enjoying his crushing downfall immensely. He has yet to be perp-walked for what he did to Matthew, but I'm sure that's coming soon. Save poor, inconsequential James, there's really no good Ford to be found anywhere in Llanview, except little Ryder, and I don't acknowledge that he's "Bobby's" son. That's how I stay sane. Don't judge me.
Speaking of Fords, I was equally delighted by Markko's return as he turned the tables on down-and-out Bobby at the premiere. The student has become the master, and the cater-waiter has become the star director. Langston and Markko are back together in California, and Ford deserves every inch of misery and poverty life affords to him. That being said, Markko, shave the beard -- you look ridiculous, baby.
Let's not go further without getting to the heart of the week: the Two Todds saga. Roger Howarth is back and on point in a way he hasn't been in many years, and yes, I'm counting his dismal days in Oakdale. He came to play, and judging by online reaction, the audience is engaged as well. Just when I thought he couldn't get hotter, they submerged him in water and made him get out in wet clothes! Come on, people, that's stacking the deck! Anyway, yeah, he was gorgeous, he had a solid rapport with Michael Easton, and his John impression was hilarious.
The facts are starting to come together on the two Todds, too; as Tomas told John, sexy-evil Agent Baker is a rogue operative from the sinister Rubik's Cube Agency (their symbol also vaguely resembles the big red ball of destruction from the last Star Trek movie), but parts of the story still don't jibe with some of what we've seen previously. Trevor St. John's "Todd" seemed to know this week that he is not Todd Manning, but last week, when Baker appeared to whisk "TM" away (when can I just call him Todd?), he appeared genuinely confused and insistent that he was the legit article. So which is it? Is he a knowing conspirator, a brainwashed dupe, or something in-between? Either way, I'm enjoying his comeuppance too -- the "Todd" who re-raped Marty, air-quoted it (as well as Gigi's death), and stole Starr's baby totally deserves this, as far as I'm concerned.
The show seems to be telegraphing its endgame, as well, with "Todd" not recalling Blair's earrings but promising to keep "hurting" (a.k.a. loving) Téa for years to come. Meanwhile, Howarth's Todd tells us there was "a time" he loved Counselor Delgado very much while going gaga over Blair. This makes sense to me, but I do find a poignant note in that Todd admitting aloud he once loved Téa -- something he was never really able to do when they were together -- while St. John's Todd, much more of a monstrous creature in my mind, has committed to her wholeheartedly, and she him because of his full-throated pursuit of her. She's bought into a fantasy of what she always wanted with Todd, only with a fraud. This is tragic for Téa, but the real tragedy here is that you could play each "Todd" and their lovers off of each other for years, as dueling couples, no matter who St. John's Todd turns out to be.
I think it's a waste if this Todd-on-Todd rivalry does not carry over onto Prospect Park Media's "OLTL 2.0." I feel TSJ's Todd is the ultimate darkness in Howarth's Todd carried out to the nth degree while remaining functional -- he has become a cautionary tale of what Howarth's Todd must never become, and has always fought against succumbing to. The men are like night and day in many ways in their performances, yet they represent two sides of one character. One is the real man, one the imitation, but the latter came to embody his role more than either of them probably ever could have imagined, in a very Victor Lord sort of way. Yet St. John's Todd, for all that darkness, clearly still loves and cares about certain things and people, in his own mad way, even if I often feel it's mostly for what they can do for him as objects or treasures. There's a gold mine of future story in that, if anyone is listening and if Trevor St. John gets bored and decides to come back to Llanview. I don't know where this is all going quite yet, but the reveal knocked my socks off, and I can't wait to see where it's going on Monday.
But that wasn't all that went down this week, or at the premiere; we also had Rex's embarrassing attempts at playing dark knight, as he tried to go all Bourne Identity on Todd and Jack. I'm sorry, but handing John-Paul Lavoisier a toy gun and making him grimace at people from the shadows does not set my soul afire. I just don't buy Dark Prince Rex, Crazed Widow Rex, you name it -- it doesn't work for me, and watching him skulk about in the curtains just makes me snicker. It doesn't suit the character or actor. Maybe he could carry off some more illicit business stuff, the classic sort of scheming Rex model, but this "angry man with a gun" routine? Nope. Nope. Give me more Shane and his grief, though. I could watch Austin Williams out-act half the cast all day.
Another story that took a giant step forward was the Patel shenanigans -- Rama confessed all to Vimal's lovely parents, and the couple vowed to start anew, ending that unfortunate business with Cristian once and for all. Yeah, the old water balloon schtick was goofy. And you know, I've said many times that I dislike prefabricated "ethnic couples" on daytime, where they tend to shove minorities together into little boxes, stick 'em in a corner, and forget about them until it's time for comic relief C-level storylines, and I still think that's a huge, valid issue here. That being said, Shenaz Treasury and Nick Choksi are great together, and they make a great, loving couple I can't help but believe in despite all those concerns. If Rama and Vimal are going to be a Wanda and Vinnie Wolek for the 2010s, I'm all for it. Why not play them out as a couple, and introduce other Indian/Hindu characters along with them to continue expanding OLTL's horizons in the online age? I'm betting Natalie or Jessica could use a sexy new man from Mumbai. When's the last time you saw that on daytime?
As for the rest of Llanview, well, the Jessica/Natalie/Brody/etc. mess barely moved, except that OLTL kept digging the hole deeper for poor Brody. He's conflicted, yes, and still a good man, for my money, but they keep making him do the wrong thing in order to prop up John and especially "Uncle Bobby" Ford and I can't see this ending well for him at all, not when the show is still determined to make Bobby happen. Ugh, Ford still makes my skin crawl, and evidently Viki is, too, judging by her reaction to the news of Bree's playdate in the park.
Natalie is clearly Just Not That Into Brody, and Jessica's ceaseless rage about the couple clearly indicates to me that she's not over Officer Lovett. So why not do the right thing, OLTL? This show is ending, and Bree Williamson is rumored to be out as the show leaves ABC. Why not give Brody and Jessica a happy ending, as opposed to pairing her with her smiling rapist? I don't care how many low-income jobs Ford takes; I will never stop wanting him dead, and you can't make me. Also, why the hell did Natalie move in with Brody? Isn't that a frickin' studio apartment? It's even worse than John's gross place. Where will Liam sleep? The sink? Why do people with lives and lovers and careers live there for longer than six months? I'll never understand it. Also, points to the show for having Viki mournfully reflect on her rift with Tina, who is returning this fall OMG I'M SO EXCITED!!! I knew someday, somehow, Andrea Evans would be back, and it can't happen soon enough for me. Please stay 'til January, Andrea! Then join OLTL 2.0. We could use more good people to pick up the slack as everything changes.
What else was there this week? Starr and her two suitors, whose romances with her are, well, let's just say "improbable?" They're not making Cole Thornhart look good to me, but neither are they anything to write home about. I like Baz as Tomas' son and Dani's brother, but the character as a romantic teen lead is a dud. And poor James just needs a scholarship and a loving spouse, somewhere else, and then they need to find Starr a real love interest with deep characterization and fiery talent who won't drain her of all smarts and sparks.
I must also take a moment and say that it pains me that the one other young African-American woman on contract, Nafessa Williams, was dumped into a sleazy D-story about amateur pornography and then unceremoniously shoved off the show. We'll never know if Ms. Williams had anything of import to add to the show because the character of Deanna was lame from the start. All we've got left now for black representation is Destiny's pregnancy story which is plodding along at the speed of death as Matthew recuperates, and Shenell Edmonds is straining to carry the narrative weight. I hope they get that going, and bring in Eddie Alderson and the big guns, like Hillary B. Smith and Bob Woods. Down the road, I hope OLTL 2.0 takes serious stock of Llanview's diverse canvas, or lack thereof, and makes major adjustments. The show and its audience deserve more.
Two Todds, one week, no waiting, and I wish it was Monday! Rarely has Llanview left me so utterly satisfied this year, but I still can't get enough. See you in two for more fun, with hopefully more Todd, more pain for Nate, and more humiliation for Bobby Ford. We can hope, right? Stay safe, folks, and remember, do not perform in amateur pornography, or if you do, make sure you did it out of state. Later!