The Day of the (Not So) Dead
One of the first things I did after watching yesterday's episode of All My Children was stockpile a number of phrases commonly used to express shock, including "Well, knock me over with a feather", "I am completely gobsmacked!", "IS THIS REAL LIFE?", "Oh em gee" and wordless flailing, because to my utter surprise, the last few minutes of Monday's AMC were some of the soapiest soap to recently soap. I mean, please: Kendall breaking down as she plays and replays Zach's voicemail message, followed by Greenlee sentenced to life in prison, followed by David strolling, stone-faced, into the courtroom? PURE FREAKING SOAP.
So I eagerly and excitedly tuned into today's AMC, figuring that the writing staff would be able to sustain, if not exceed, this level of awesome and also sort of wondering what brought on this previously undemonstrated knowledge of soapiness.
It turns out that short-term narcotics of some sort were responsible because today, while filled with some compelling moments and FANTASTIC performances, was oddly...off, somehow.
We all knew there was a possibility that David wasn't really and truly dead and was merely faking his death as part of a nefarious plot on Pine Valley, so his entrance wasn't completely shocking but it was wonderfully staged. With the gasps and the hammy double-take from Darnell Williams and Greenlee and David locking eyes, and then the entire courtroom dissolving into sheer hysteria. How did they all react? Greenlee: DISGUST. Ryan: HATRED. Jake: HATRED. Liza: "How the eff did this become my life?"
Kimberlin Brown (it's still bizarre that they got KIMBERLIN BROWN for THIS role. So fantastic and so, so wasted here) confirms that David is David and he takes the stand to explain what the hell is going on, which leads to A LOT of monologuing and flashbacking and fake-flashbacking.
Short version: he despises, with every fiber of his being, Ryan Lavery and would do anything in his power to make sure that he rids the world of the unholy pairing of Ryan and Greenlee. Which...make that a campaign platform and I'd totally vote for him.
David: Do you really need me to spell this out for you, your honor? The man wanted my wife.
Ryan: What I wanted was her away from you.
David: You made Greenlee believe you could give her the world while destroying mine in the process. Did you really think that you could get her to forget about her horrible accident? All the pain and suffering you caused? I was the one who saved her life, not you. It was supposed to be Ryan behind that table today, Greenlee. Rotting behind bars for the rest of his life. Not you. It was never supposed to be you. I could never hurt you, Greenlee. That's why I'm here today: because I would rather lose my own freedom than watch you lose yours.
I think was the problem I had with this episode: it was A LOT of David, talking, and occasionally flashing back to things that happened a few months ago. A combination of exposition and the writers attempting to rewrite things they only half-assed in the first place, and the whole thing just seemed cheesy. Like, end of Lifetime movie cheesy, with the flashbacks (the best was David lurking around in the background after his "death" wearing a hat and sunglasses) and the soliloquies.
And it just drove home the fact that a promising couple was demolished to put Ryan and Greenlee back together. Because they were promising, and I feel like there was such a fantastic story there if the show was willing to delve into their history (Leo's brother and his great love falling in love!), but...no. And as Greenlee pointed out, David's plot did nothing to kill the show's horrifying, possibly immortal villain. He made it more powerful and self-righteous!
Greenlee: Poor poor David. You got upset because I, what, said Ryan's name? You're such a fool. I loved you once, I truly did. And I wasn't leaving you for Ryan. He had moved on and I respected that. I was leaving you for me, because what we had had turned into something ugly and suffocating and I needed to get out for me. But you know what the best part of this whole thing is, David? Ryan and I wouldn't be together if it wasn't for your sick plan. So thank you, really, from the bottom of my heart. Everything you did to keep us apart pushed us together. You created your own nightmare.
So, yeah, David administered an herbal compound that makes blood pressure look non-existent (it's "infamous in Turkey") and blackmailed the medical examiner and watched people mourn for him. Pine Valley...did not take it well.
- Marissa stormed into the courtroom and gave her father fakest looking slap, and ranted about how horrible it is that David did this to her and how he's dead to him with all the passion of a person who dropped the coffee filter, getting coffee grinds all over the phone.
- Tad was a hypocrite.
David: Stealing another man's wife doesn't exactly make you good, right?
Tad: And you wouldn't know a thing about that, would you Dave?
You...are a tool, Tad.
- Jake got owned.
David: Don't beat yourself up over missing [the fact that he wasn't, you know, dead], Martin. It could happen to any...mediocre doctor.
- And David made me laugh.
David: In order for this plan to work, Lavery had to be angry. Well, we all know what kind of a hot head he is, so that wasn't too difficult.
I got a huge kick, however, of David, Greenlee and Ryan having these heated conversations about someone not really being dead. They've all been "dead" at some point! They really should have known this was a possibility!
So Ryan is furious, Greenlee is angry and devastated and David is going to be hauled to jail for fraud and a few other charges.
David: And if you're waiting for an apology, you'll be waiting until your dying breath. When it comes to you, I'm just sorry your sorry ass isn't behind bars.
Ryan: I'm just sorry you're still walking this earth. I guess prison isn't so bad, right? When you're in there, at least you're safe from me.
I don't think that's entirely true, because I get the feeling that Ryan haunts David's dreams...
If Vincent Irizarry was the star of part of the show, Alicia Minshew carried the rest on her tiny little shoulders. This week and, I'm sure, coming weeks are going to be filled with material for her Emmy reel. She's been FANTASTIC.
Anyone who has ever lost somebody knows, all too well, the devastation and the way the shock is just numbing at first, and she was pitch-perfect at conveying that. Refusing to go into their bedroom, not wanting to cry and throw things because she may not be able to stop...it was so sad, and so hard to watch!
Then Bianca filled her in on the David bombshell and Kendall jumped right to the FURY stage of grief, storming into the courtroom and reading David the riot act. There's no one better on this show at conveying rage.
Kendall: All of this is happening because of you.
David: I'm sorry about Zach.
Kendall: Oh, you think you're sorry now? Just wait.
Kimberlin Brown: I will not allow threats in my courtroom.
Kendall: Look. My husband went to go help a friend. He wanted to stay home with me and the boys, but he went anyway. We thought Greenlee was fighting for her life.
David: Zach getting hurt was never part of the plan.
Kendall: HE'S NOT HURT. He's not hurt, he's (Enormous gasp) gone. He is gone. Forever. He won't be there for either of our sons, ever, and this is your fault and I want you to own that. (Bianca tries, kind of weakly, to calm her) NO! No, no! I want you to sit with that guilt for the rest of your life and I want it to eat you alive from the inside out until there is nothing left. Nothing. And then maybe you will know how I feel.
Like I said, FANTASTIC. I'm not really sure what it says about me that the scenes I am most looking forward to in coming days are the scenes of a heartbroken woman grieving...