One Life to Live: 2009 In Review
Well, I've only been here on Serial Drama cheering and jeering for One Life to Live since late summer and, well, I'm not so much of a fan that I was taking notes on it for my own amusement prior to that. So I don't have much to draw from for commentary on the first half of the year, other than my own feeble memory of my reactions to various episodes and story arcs. Do forgive me if I get things wrong (and feel free to correct me!), and I warn that there were some stretches in there where I was most certainly not watching daily.
Disclaimers over. Here goes!
I'm sure all of us rang in the new year waiting in desperate worry in anticipation for the year's first episode, in which we'd find out if Todd Manning's Marty-encouraged suicide jump off of a (what must have been a three-story) building was successful. (Some of us were more concerned that he would not succeed, but we all knew he wouldn't. If they ever kill off Todd Manning, it's certainly not going to be while he's the town pariah. That wouldn't really allow for funeral-based Emmy reels, would it?) Miraculously, he survived and this somehow led to Todd being forgiven by pretty much everyone not named Marty. I have no idea why they thought that somehow led him back on a path to redemption after the rapemance fallout, with even his two-time rape victim acting as his therapist several months later. Basically his punishment was people hating him for, like, two months. Well, he's been through that a million times and bounced back just fine. Yippee. That really changed everything "forever."
We were also still in the midst of the Jess/Tess/Bess mind-cage extravaganza. Fortunately there was always a pair of glasses and a hair tie nearby so we could be clear when Bess had emerged. Oh, how I do not miss her. The good news was that Jess bonding with Brody at St. Ann's meant that Mark Lawson was not just a one-off to cause an obstacle for Gigi and Rex, and we were in fact going to get to keep this:
Happy New Year!
Meanwhile, Cole was a big ole drug addict and a serial killer was on the loose. Lee was Janet before Janet was Lee, and Talia and Wes were still alive and well. What a difference a year makes.
I appreciate Ron Carlivati's interest in the show's rich history, and sometimes his attempts to reach back are successful with huge payoffs, and others... well, others are Tina's return last year, but I digress. When they put together the letters KAD that they found on three of the murder victims, I got a chill. When it was clear they were bringing back the original actors who played Zach Rosen and Powell Lord (Josh Philip Weinstein and Sean Moynihan, respectively) to finish telling the stories, I almost peed I was so excited.
But then it quickly turned into a story whose point was that somehow Todd was least evil of Marty's three rapists and...well, look. If you can actually come up with some moral hierarchy that shows different levels of morality to any man who is willing to participate in a gang rape, those of us who were watching the show at the time know perfectly well who was the most and who was the least "evil." We were told in the KAD Murders story that we had it wrong; it was the opposite. We also got to see Todd help Marty regain her memory while tied down (again) in the room where she spent the worst night of her life -- being raped by three men with Todd as the ringleader. And somehow this gave Marty great joy and made her end her vendetta against Todd. I was thrilled that she got her memory back, and understood that we were to believe the joyful memories (Cole! Patrick!) outweighed the painful ones, but how in the world this helped her make peace with Todd will be forever beyond me.
Remember when Todd felt really, really bad about what he did to Marty? Yeah. Those were the days.
For me, Matthew and the surrounding story have been the story of the year on this show.
Cole causing the accident, his mother Marty just having her memory (and love for her son) back, Bo and Nora coming together to support Matthew after learning of his paralysis, the ripple effect on Clint and the return of Rachel (and even a little dose of Hank and RJ!). The showdown between former best friends Marty and Nora over their sons was one of those legendary soap scenes we'll probably remember for years to come, and reminded us why Susan Haskell and Hilary B. Smith are so highly regarded in the genre, with Emmys to warm their mantles.
The same car accident did lead us down some unfortunate roads as well. That was how the doctors learned of Shane's leukemia, which could've been a moving and compelling story, but instead led to Stacy, her Bag o' Blood, the Gigi/Brody Fake Affair, and finally the unholy sexual union of Rex and Stacy. We are still paying for this today. Dearly.
Matthew's accident also eventually led to the introduction of Greg, promising at first because of his ties to characters on the canvas (Shaun, Destiny) and because Terrell Tilford is a fine, fine-looking man. But we all know what happened there.
Temper tantrum of the year!
Oh, and can we all have a moment of silence for the Montez family? Okay, I'm kidding, but back then they were still front and center. I highly doubt anyone misses Lola and Vanessa, but I sure miss the Ray/Dorian heat. That was a highlight of the year for me. As we've seen, Dorian can still be on fire and certainly doesn't need a man, but this one clearly appreciated her and made her happy. Plus, chemistry galore.
This was also the year that Langston and Markko lost their virginity to each other on prom night, rendering Langston little more than a lusty nymphomaniac or a friendly ear for Starr the remainder of the year. There was a cute C-story about Markko's family rejecting him because of the pre-marital sex (and because Dorian's a heathen), which wrapped up nicely after one of those great diner scenes where four storylines are happening at once and all of a sudden intersect (Markko's dad overheard a lovely talk between Bo and David).
Anatomy of a Domino Effect
Speaking of intersecting, One Life moved pretty quickly through the year, with tons of storylines moving forward at a decent pace, so why in the world the Stacy-makes-Gigi-dump-Rex story arc seemed to last an absolute eternity is beyond me. A few thousand other things were nicely woven in there, though, so I need to begrudgingly thank the story for a few things. Follow along with me: Fish crushes on Layla, Layla gets bored, Fish notices, Fish sleeps with Stacy and decides he crushes on her instead, Layla wants another shot with Fish, Fish gets dropped by Stacy and decides to give Layla another go. Meanwhile, there's clear tension between Layla and Cristian, which they're both in denial about because of a comatose Evangeline and a recently-departed Sarah, so Layla and Fish push forward and try to force something. Oh, and this dude Kyle is all intertwined in the Stacy business too because he's a lab tech and helps Stacy do the stem cell fake-a-rama while stealing Mitch's stem cells (though we don't yet know they're Mitch's) and claiming them as her own and forcing Gigi to give up Rex or let Shane die. Turns out this Kyle fellow is actually Kyle Lewis, brother of Rebecca Lewis, who was on the show fifteen years ago and came back this year as one half of the team that committed the KAD murders. Kyle and Roxy find some common ground as he knows she was in on the stem cell scam (in order to protect Rex from knowing the identity of his father), so he makes her give him a room at the Angel Square Hotel, and they become unlikely friends. Oh yeah, and turns out this Kyle Lewis and Fish (first name Oliver, profession police officer) used to be fraternity brothers back in college and Kyle definitely knows something about Fish that he wouldn't want his friends to know -- oh, did I mention Cris and Layla need a roommate and end up with Fish? So Gigi takes Stacy's deal and fakes an affair with Brody, forcing Rex to leave her, broken, and move in with Stacy. Now this Brody guy just got out of St. Anne's, where he developed a bond with Jess/Tess/Bess, sister of Natalie, who just happens to be Rex's non-biological but de facto sister. So Natalie loathes Brody for hurting Rex, but Gigi is tight with Nat's and Jess's mother Viki, who's dating Nat's husband Jared's father Charlie. With me? Eventually Brody tells Jess about the scam, Jess pulls her daughter Bree out of Stacy's dance class (ha!), and asks Natalie to just trust her that she knows what she's doing, spending time with this asshole Brody who hurt Rex. Enter Schuyler, already tied to the canvas because he was fired from his high school teaching job after student Starr laid a kiss on him on prom night (a kiss that led Cole in a rage out the door which led to the car accident that paralyzed Matthew and allowed the doctors to learn of Shane's leukemia which led to Gigi's deal with Stacy over the stem cells and... so on), and who happened to be the son of the OB-GYN who committed suicide after having made a deal with the devil (or Todd Manning) that indirectly led to the death of Chloe, Jess's daughter who she thought was alive early in the year but later learned was really Hope, child of Starr and Cole. Turns out Schuyler used to date Stacy back in Vegas, and he's convinced she's up to something and brings this knowledge to Gigi. Schuyler and Gigi do some sleuthing, learn the truth, and bring their findings to Natalie and Jared, who've just recently emerged from a too-long-held secret in which they knew Chloe was Hope but lied about it to protect Jess, and so they tell Schuyler and Gigi, "Sorry, no go, we don't do secrets anymore [famous last words], you need to tell Rex." Gigi decides to woman up, right at about the very moment Rex and Stacy are getting it on in Rex's club. Rex learns the truth, lets Stacy have it, denies to Gigi that anything happened between him and Stacy, until Stacy turns up preggers. Truth comes out. (Deep breath.) Kyle and Fish were lovers in college, it turns out, and it's easy to see Kyle isn't over it and Fish is in serious denial, driving him to bed Layla and call her his girlfriend. Cris does some recon and suggests Fish is gay, Layla confronts him with it, and he's not accepting it. He goes to drown his sorrows. Across town, Stacy has an "unfortunate" miscarriage and thinks she's screwed and can't hold onto Rex anymore, so calls her BFF Kim into town to help dull the pain, and Kim points out that Stacy just needs to be pregnant with a kid, not necessarily the kid she was pregnant with before. So Stacy makes some moves -- on Kyle (oops!), on Schuyler (he's not into it, even after she drugs him), and then finally stumbles upon the drowning Fish, who hits rock bottom, does the deed with Stacy, and promptly upon waking up from doing the deed with Stacy rushes home to come out of the closet to his roommates Layla and Cris. But little does he know, he deposited a bun in Stacy's oven. Kim gets bored and wants some local action of her own in the form of gold-digging and eventually sets her sights on Clint... Clint, who is Viki's ex and the father of Jess and Natalie, and who is married to Nora, mother of a paralyzed Matthew, and Nora is having an emotional affair with Bo, her ex (and Clint's brother) and surrogate father to Rex.
I'm stopping there because I could go on and walk us through every single plot point this season and the several links it has to every single other plot point, but the bottom line is... damn, Carlivati! Weave it, brother! I admit that I absolutely hated some of these characters and storylines, but all these ties and all interconnectedness and chain reactions -- this is how to write a freakin' soap opera.
There's always plenty to be negative about, but considering our show is obviously next on the chopping block and there's some damn good stuff on it alongside the damn bad stuff, I can't help but be a cheerleader along with my holiday spirit. I want more, I want better, but I'm not disgusted with this show in its entirety the way I am with... some others.
FUN WITH QUANTIFICATION
Lest I be accused of being blind to the faults of OLTL's 2009, I'll start with the bad:
Losses (or Mistakes)
The great promise of the characters Ross and Eli, and the actors who portray them
Any semblance of acting ability from John Paul Lavoisier and Farah Fath
Asking for serious dramatic work from Shenell Edmonds
Rendering Mitch's return from the dead a bit silly by having him spend much of it in a hospital bed
Putting Natalie and John back in each other's orbit the day after Nat's husband's death
Making Marty boring by putting her with John
Todd and Tea's wedding
Nora's constant self-righteous shock at people being justifiably angry at her
Bo and Nora's crap-ass actions toward Matthew
Terrell Tilford (a welcome character and pretty, pretty man but... well, we've been over this)
Marty as Todd's therapist
Rex/Gigi as a couple
The conclusion of the KAD murder mystery
Bag of Blood/Stacy and the Stem Cells
The repetitive humiliations of Blair Cramer
Langston and Markko's sex tape
Ray Montez and his smokin' hot chemistry with Dorian
Eddie Alderson's emergence as one hell of a young actor
Cris and Layla
Bo/Nora getting back together
Clint's excellent anger
Clint/Kim and wherever that's going (I am so on board thus far!)
The re-emergence of Melissa Archer's acting skills
The lovely and heartbreaking Viki/Jess scene at the baby reveal
The Marty/Nora confrontation after the boys' car accident
The friendship between Roxy and Kyle
Dorian's Big Gay Wedding
The Defenestration of Blair Cramer (yes, it was more Blair humiliation, but it was a fantastic episode)
Tea's batshit-crazy jail cell scene
Marcie finally getting her munchkin
David Vickers, David Vickers, David Vickers
The unusual friendship of David and Destiny
Dani (not the backstory, but the girl herself... so far)
Brody in a wetsuit
Cops saving the day against mobsters
The word "cabana"
Little Dorian throwing the chair around in the jail cell
Nash's Corpse/ Mitch coming out of the coffin
The Roxy/Jackie kiss at the Big Gay Wedding
And last but not even freaking close to least: Kyle/Fish
And finally, I thought the OLTL holiday episode on the 23rd was the loveliest. Most soaps just kind of put everything on hold for a day to show nothing but sentiment and schmaltz. We had our share of that, but storylines still moved forward and we were still left with suspense for the next episode, five days later. They didn't just all pretend to be happy and forgiving for a day, only to go back in the next episode to the same grudges and nonsense from the day before (yes, GH, I'm looking at you again). The final montage was terrific; check out how Greg and Rachel really start getting it on right on cue with the music. Hilarious!
And finally, I wanted to thank everyone for welcoming me to the Serial Drama party (especially Mallory and Becca!). It's been a lot of fun so far, and I sure hope my show stays alive long enough for me to stick around a bit longer! Share your highlights/lowlights of the year below-- I'm sure I missed a ton.
Have a great New Year, everyone. Destiny out!