Wholly Unexpected Silver Linings
I've spent the past few post-announcement days doing a lot of lamenting (and also, raging: mostly about Brian Frons and The Chew. I don't think I will ever be over that, frankly. Cancelling AMC was bad enough in and of itself, but replacing it with The Chew, which sounds like a SNL skit come to life--and not even a good SNL skit. More like a skit heavily featuring Chris Kattan and Horatio Sanz--is needlessly cruel. THE CHEW!). Louise and I have been commiserating about how difficult it could be to write about All My Children and One Life to Live in the coming weeks; I'm normally quick to criticize and mocking is basically a reflex, but it felt wrong, somehow, to be honest about AMC's bad writing knowing that there are only a few months left.
Tellingly, neither of us said anything like "The show could surprise us and be, like, good!" which says a lot about the show's current state, AND YET: that's exactly what I came away from today's episode saying. That it was, like, good. Now, I could be viewing the show with overly sentimental rose-colored glasses and seeing quality entertainment where none exists or...it could have actually been good.
The majority of my positivity, as it so often has over the past few years in Pine Valley, came from Alicia Minshew, whose last scene in today's episode was just staggering. Kendall finally (FINALLY!) realized that there was something not quite right about Ricky when he hugged her and called her sweetheart. She realized, in fact, that he is EVIL and probably a MURDERER.
Ricky: I'm here, Kendall. It's going to be okay, sweetheart. It's going to be okay.
Kendall: (Pauses, raises her eyebrow and then realizes that nothing about this is all right)
Ricky: You don't look okay at all.
Kendall: (Jumping away from him like he was on fire, or diseased, or Brian Frons) Uh, um, I will be. I just, uh, I just need to be alone right now. I appreciate everything that you've done, I just need to be alone. I hope you understand.
Ricky: Of course. I'll call you tomorrow, okay?
Kendall (Trying not to be physically ill): Okay.
It was amazing--not just because it was long overdue (which it was), but because Minshew played about a thousand and one different emotions, from shock to horror to revulsion to heartbreak, to Kendall's struggle to keep it off of her face so Ricky wouldn't realize that something was up. Then, after he left, she started to cry in earnest and, almost sick, we got to see her put all of the pieces together with the help of some nifty black and white flashbacks: her telling Bianca how strange it was for Zach to refer to her as sweetheart, confessing to Ricky that she thought Zach was murdered, and remembering the time she lost the last page of the letter and Ricky sent her out of the room to go look for it and then, miraculously, it reappeared. She's dealing with enough right now, so I won't rub salt in the wound by asking her why the hell she didn't notice how evil Ricky looked during all of those moments! His glee over the fake letter scheme in the last flashback was especially epic.
Also, Erica was kidnapped which, on paper, sounds ridiculous. And it is a little bit ridiculous to watch her be held captive in a replica of her bedroom, scurrying around in a chiffon party dress. But they've executed it really well. It's very disturbing, but in the best possible way: when the distorted voice mentioned that "[her] mother Mona liked to do crosswords and acrostics" and then forced Erica to call Jack by turning on a big-screen TV and showing her a feed of Miranda (and an off-camera Gabrielle) spending quality time with a creepy person on the kidnapper's payroll, while laughing in a really upsetting way, since the voice is all mechanical so it literally sounded like a brittle "Ah ha. Ha ha. Ha ha."? It was a little awesome and a whole lot of intriguing. I am sure this story will end prematurely when Lorraine Broderick takes over in order to start (SNIFF!) wrapping the show up, but for now, I am enjoying the ride.
Then there were some...interesting exchanges, where I couldn't help but listen to what wasn't being said. What wasn't being said is italicized below, but you know they might as well have just included it in the show!
JR: Kids. You can't let them out of your sight for a second.
Maya: (Heaviest of heavy sighs)
JR: You know what I mean? Kids be crazy, girl.
Maya: (Even heavier sigh)
JR: You'll know one day, about kids. When you have them. Kids, I mean. When you have kids.
Maya: (Collapses on the floor in the fetal--pun intended--position weeping "I had a baby and gave it up!")
Angie: You seem distracted, like you're a million miles away.
Jesse: A million miles? No. Just, you know, wondering what prison time I'll get for this whole baby switch debacle. Nothing for you to worry about.
Angie: You remember I'm blind, not deaf, right?
Kendall: I'm sorry I even came here.
Griffin: (So petulantly that I half expected him to bust out with a "I hate cursive and I hate all of you!")I'm sorry, too. I'm sorry I ever got personally involved!
Um, there was no subtext there. That actually happened, just like that.
Griffin: Be careful.
Ricky: Oh, don't worry. I'm going to take good care of her. In bed. Sexually, I mean. And then I might kill her and hang out with her corpse for a while.