One. (Life to Live)
It was hard to make myself sit down and write about the final episode of One Life to Live -- not just for the obvious reasons (e.g., not being able to stop rocking and weeping), but so much has been written and said in the days since that it feels like it would be impossible to bring anything new to the discussion. Luckily I've been away for a few days and completely oblivious to most anything that was said and have really only experienced listening to a podcast of an interview with Ron Carlivati (which I'd highly recommend if you haven't heard it already), so while I may be repeating what has been said a million times, hey, at least I won't know it. Yet.
And so now, this is ostensibly my final post ever about One Life to Live. I'm hoping to occasionally chime in with other things the actors or writers are working on, possibly cover a classic episode every once in a while, and I will cross my fingers that when it's Emmy time they'll at least get, I don't know, one single solitary nomination for something that I can discuss here. And I will still be covering The Bold & the Beautiful and will start pitching in with the General Hospital coverage.
But since this is the final regular OLTL post, I did want to thank you guys before I dive in. I jumped into this whole Serial Drama thing late in the game and felt very welcomed, and I've enjoyed all of your insightful and hilarious comments over the last couple of years (and considering some of the crazy-internet-people comments you always see on other sites, people have been remarkably restrained and civil when they disagree with me, so I count myself lucky!). I've also gotten comfort from a lot of your comments in the final few weeks (and I hope in some ways this blog did a little of that in reverse, too!) as well as some incredibly sweet emails from many of you. So I thank you for that. It means a lot to feel a part of a community where we all understand the place this genre has in our hearts, and where we don't have to feel like we need to apologize for it.
I don't know about you guys, but I was done for by the opening shot. Just perfect to open on The Banner on the doorstep of Llanfair, thus covering two of the overarching elements of OLTL's history in one brief shot. In fact, I'm watching it yet again right now as I compile notes from my several other viewings and I'm a little shaky. I was lucky enough to get to watch the episode among like-minded people -- one of our excellent readers had clued me in to this group that had organized a viewing at a bar in Chelsea, and so it was. I'm a shy gal so I'd debated back and forth with myself about a thousand times about going, but during the penultimate episode had made the decision while Viki was making that beautiful speech about soaps. If I had any chance to share the experience with other people who cared as much as I did, you're damn right I was going to! Are you kidding? And the excitement was palpable as the episode began, but it was a bittersweet excitement for the obvious heartbreaking reasons. But I digress, and more on that as we move forward.
And then the pan of the mantle photographs of Viki's past and present loved ones. You just don't get better openings than this.
Sniffles. (Really, I think you can stop reading now because every single photo caption is going to be one of the following: Awww!, Sniffles, OH MY GAH!, or Wow. I'll try to vary it up a bit. Who loves ya?)
I don't know where it happened for anyone else, but I realized after a couple of seconds that the voice-over was none other than Barbara Garrick. At this point I wasn't sure if they were just happening to use one of their kick-ass recurring cast members-slash-theatre-people to deliver a non-character voice-over or if we were actually going to eventually see Allison, but I was most intrigued. And the voice-over itself was perfect.
Allison: There was a woman named Victoria Lord Riley Burke Riley Buchanan Buchanan Carpenter Davidson Banks. She was the heiress to a vast publishing fortune. But even greater in number were all the people she loved, her family in the town she called home -- Llanview. Victoria herself had five children who all grew up to have stories of their own. The youngest were beautiful twin daughters as different as the colors of their hair -- Jessica, the fair maiden, who somehow always managed to rescue herself [I'm going to have to beg to differ here -- Ed.]... and Natalie, whose fiery temper could sometimes scare away the people she loved, like the dashing detective, John McBain, a hero whose tragic past drives his endless quest for justice. And let's not forget Victoria's brother, Todd. His past hurts everyone he cares about, including his true love, Blair, and his eldest daughter, Starr. She's about to turn a new page herself. Victoria's path has long been entwined with that of the mega-rich Buchanans, beginning with Clint, the father of her children. Well, most of them. And then there's Clint's brother, Bo Buchanan, who has long sacrificed his own gain to protect the people he loves. This is the story of Victoria's life, one she lived with love, laughter, tears, joy, sorrow, anger, betrayal, and forgiveness. And maybe just a few surprises. So... shall we?
And of course, during the speech, we cut to all the referred-to characters and the events of the day: Viki and Clint getting ready to open Jessica's paternity results, Natalie and Jessica having a moment, Téa and Tomas reuniting with John's help, Todd and Blair passionately making out (!!)...
...Starr and Hope arriving at Langston and Markko's place in Los Angeles, and Destiny about to give birth with Matthew's and her family both present. And then we cut to actual Allison, reading this whole thing from her own manuscript of One Life to Live to... who knows?
And then the opening credits rolled, and they'd never looked so wonderful or so sad to me.
Okay, I'm not going to do a detailed recap of the whole thing, so now let's get into broad strokes. I apologize in advance that this thing is going to be a little heavy on Todd and Blair, but let's just put it this way... when you finally watch your favorite couple in the history of scripted entertainment get reunited years after you'd given up hope of ever even seeing them on screen together again in your life? You get a little freakin' excited. You don't sit around trying to find a way to be unbiased or professional about it. You flip the eff out, is what you do, and it's what I did. I had faith the series would conclude with hope for a full-on Todd and Blair reunion, but I have to admit I did not expect what we got. But let's hold off on that for a little bit because it'll bring us to the end.
Now, I've been pretty vocal about my disinterest in the storyline about Destiny's baby. I didn't blame Matthew for being super-pissed when he woke up from a coma and everyone expected him to be on board right away (especially when the child's mother had gotten the luxury of more time than that to decide), and I was a little annoyed that they'd gone to the teen-motherhood-rocks well again. I knew she'd give birth and Matthew would show up and decide he's all about fatherhood, but I admit I hoped for something open-ended, like a mutual discussion about how they were both afraid and might still want to consider adoption or having their families raise the child or... I don't know, something. But of course what we knew was going to happen happened, and of course those jerks made me cry all sniffly and sentimentally about it! I think one of the best things about it was that I was watching it in public, and all of us at the bar were dying laughing at the birthing scenes. You know how some comedy just works better among other viewers? So the case with this.
Now I might not have broken completely if one really wonderful and actually unexpected thing hadn't happened -- I'd naturally assumed they'd name the baby Asa. It honestly had not crossed my mind for one second that they'd name him after Drew.
I really did not see it coming, and I loved it. Drew doesn't get mentioned very often and he is, in fact, a major reason that Matthew even exists in this world, so it was a beautiful choice. And Bo and Nora had a great final moment talking about being grandparents and about how much they love each other, and how can any human not get choked up when Robert S. Woods' voice cracks like it did in the final "I love you, Red" he will ever deliver to his onscreen partner Hillary B. Smith. And of course they underscored it with the reworked theme song, which they did at basically every most-important poignant moment in the episode with totally manipulative and perfect effect.
Okay, I'm getting myself all kinds of heartbroken. Most difficult post I've ever written by about a million miles.
Now, back to Llanfair. While Natalie and John had a fantastic reunion the other day, I was more than thrilled that her final scenes brought her back to basics: her family. The major issue at hand was the paternity results, and that was another great thing to watch with a group because everyone was very vocal with the, "Oh my lord, open it already!!!" and the like. And after Jess and Natalie had a sweet moment sealing their forever-bond as twin sisters no matter what, they walked in on Mom and Dad with the results. And Clint is Jessica's father! As you can imagine, the place erupted into applause.
Oh man did my heart swell when Jess burst into tears and cried, "Daddy?!" and threw her arms around Clint.
Aww. Because I remember this like it was yesterday. Yesterday.
And how lovely was it that Natalie and Viki got to share in this moment, making it about something that brought all of them together and not just Jessica and Clint?
Meanwhile, the Delgados were having a sweet reunion until Tomas heard about Todd and Blair getting closer and almost stormed out to head right over to Blair. Because of what was concurrently happening between Todd and Blair, I had a little trouble really feeling for Tomas but, of course, based on the information he had, Todd is the man who murdered Tomas' sister's husband and then framed him for it and abducted him in order to frame him for the crime, all of which Tomas would assume Blair could never get over (Tomas obviously doesn't understand Blair and Todd's dynamic, then, since really only the first crime would be on her very limited "unforgivable" list). But as I've suspected all along, things were not exactly what they seemed. I'm glad Téa got her reunion with her brother, though, and that John ended it all being who he was when we first met him (but of course with a family he loves now!), but I was a little sad that we didn't get to see Téa get her reunion with... okay, we'll get to that.
And fortunately she talked her brother out of running off to take Todd out, assassin-style. Florencia Lozano got to do some of her awesome "you know what I'm saying even if you don't speak the language" Spanish, making sure he knew what was up.
At the same time, Starr was having a reunion with Langston and Markko, who appear to be very happily back together (so he's as forgiving as a Cramer woman), and filling them in on faking Cole's death (soaps!). But then Cole showed up as her pretend bodyguard! I'm not sure how exactly that's going to work, but hey! He already apparently had plastic surgery and looks an awful lot like Van Hughes now, so I guess no one will ever recognize him when the paparazzi chase Starr around L.A. and he acts as her guard.
(Somewhere in the midst of this, an ad for The Revolution came on. There was booing. Lots of booing. I worried that drinks would be thrown. Uh... by me.)
In the category of "things I'd already surmised by stupidly looking at the final cast photo," Brody paid Jessica a surprise visit. I was still excited to see him, of course! They had a sweet scene that gave them a little closure, or maybe even a little unlikely hope. I do wish he hadn't told her he was probably going back to the Navy so I could have written my own ending for them in my head, but I guess I can still do that, right?
I did love that after all those months of worrying he'd be Ross Rayburn-ed on his way out of town (or in a bodybag), they gave Brody a really dignified and promising last moment.
While Jessica was chatting with Brody, Clint and Viki were having a big discussion of their own.
Clint: You know, in the -- in the past few days, I nearly lost everything.
Viki: We both did.
Clint: Yeah. And it made me realize, if -- if one of us had kicked the bucket, I really would have been a total fool.
Clint: Because I wasted too much damn time.
Clint: And by God, I'm not gonna do that anymore. And so, right here, right now, what I want to say is this. (gets down on one knee as the theme song starts up and we all start crying like babies)
Clint: Will you marry me?
Viki: (laughing and crying) Oh!
Yes! Say yes, Viki, say yes! I guess we'll never know. (I'm kidding, that was not the face of a woman ready to turn him down, and let's hope the next time we see Todd over in Port Charles he'll casually mention that his sister's wedding is coming up!) What a beautiful, beautiful thing. And I quite firmly believe that if there had never been a Prospect Park and they hadn't thought the show was moving on, those last moments would have been in a different order and Viki's acceptance would have very probably been the very final frame of One Life to Live.
But there was a Prospect Park and they did think the show was moving on and so we got a very different final frame. But we'll get to that.
So... what else happened? Huh. I just can't think of anything. That's pretty much all that really stuck with me, y'all.
Oh yeah! There was this one other minor detail: OH MY GOD TODD AND BLAIR TODD AND BLAIR TODD AND BLAIR TODD AND BLAIR!!!
So right, where were we? Todd and Blair were making out and made their way to the bed when Todd suddenly pulled back. I adored the way Blair flopped back, frustrated as hell by this.
Don't blue-ball that poor woman, Todd! You are the love of her life and she hasn't been with you in nine years!! Before that moment, they were heating up like crazy -- all hands and desperation and soulful, soulful longing.
He said he couldn't do it and then made a joke about curtains (I love the way she always just rolls past his defensive humor). I thought he was going to tell her about Victor and Tomas right then and there, but instead she pushed him to open up and they had the greatest exchange about the last time (well, one of the last times) he lost her.
Todd: I was on my way to Ireland, and you showed up at the airport to try and stop me. Do you remember that?
Blair: Really? You're asking me that like I could forget that?
Todd: You said you finally had everything that you wanted. And yet, the problem with having everything that you want--
Blair: Is that you could lose everything.
Todd: The whole time I was away from you, all I wanted -- all I needed was to get back to you, to get back to our children. And here I am. Here I am.
Blair: You... are not going to lose me.
Todd: Yeah, that's what I told you. I said just that. Right before somebody shot me in the back and stuck me in the back of a car.
Blair: And nothing was ever the same. Come on, Todd. Didn't we both just say there are no guarantees?
Todd: It would be great if there were guarantees. Wouldn't it just be great? It'll make everything just -- so much easier.
Blair: Oh, yeah. Real-- yeah. 'Cause then you -- you wouldn't trust people. And if you didn't trust people, then you wouldn't get hurt.
Todd: People are unreliable. People do stupid things.
Blair: Not everybody does.
Todd: Blair, I do stupid things. Every day.
Blair: Well, then... you need to know... right here... right now... there is nobody in the world that I trust more than you. So. If you know a reason why -- why we shouldn't do this... please tell me. I know that you're scared. So am I. But we don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow. But I think it's worth -- worth finding out.
Oh, these two just kill me. And I was of mixed feelings here. It would have shown insane growth on Todd's part to confess right there and I would have loved that, but it also would have taken too long. In other words, the episode would have ended before anything had really happened between them because she, of course, would be furious and in shock. So, uh...
They went with the other option. Yes! And sweet mercy were Kassie DePaiva and Roger Howarth doing a beautiful job. They played every bit of the hunger and the desperate need for each other that Blair and Todd have never shaken (especially when they wanted to).
Whew. Is it getting hot in here? I had my hand over my mouth during these scenes because I was in public and I did not need the world to see my huge smile along with the undoubtedly hefty portion of drool I was emitting.
Worth the wait? For me, oh hell yeah! Especially because of their afterglow scene that came next.
Todd: You do something for me?
Todd: Not that. Well, maybe that. But...
Todd: You sing to me.
Blair: You want that song, that sappy Nat King Cole song that --
Todd: Not sappy.
Blair: (laughs) Yes, it is.
Todd: You have a pretty voice. (Beat.) What?
Blair: Are you still afraid you're gonna lose me?
Todd: It's always been you and me, Blair. I love you.
Blair: I love you, too.
I was practically hyperventilating at this point. Once again, these are the moments that soaps give us. This isn't everybody's favorite couple, but everybody has one. What other medium tells a love story for two decades that can give us payoff like this? What a reunion.
It would be too punny to point out how naked these two seemed with each other, but it's not what I mean. They were just so raw and vulnerable.
And then of course we know what happened next. John McBain and his deputies busted right in on their afterglow.
This, too, got applause at the bar. Considerably less than the early events, but very passionate applause from those who expressed it. I kept thinking, "But don't you know! There's more to the story!"
And there was. I really have to commend them for keeping a lid on this. I know plenty of people saw it coming and all, but even the actor himself had repeatedly denied in interviews that he had come back for anything at all. So while I knew Todd didn't kill Victor, I figured it was something like Irene brainwashing him into thinking he did it, or worse but still not the full enchilada, brainwashing him into doing it. Or that they'd leave it open entirely to be answered in the next (thought then to be happening) chapter.
But they sure gave us some information, and they sure gave us one hell of a cliffhanger!
Allison: But why spoil what happens next? You of all people should know... things are rarely what they appear.
Victor's alive, Victor's alive, Victor's alive! So freaking perfect. What crazy person wouldn't have tuned in Monday online?! And I loved how they really only showed him for a split second, and from a distance at first in the middle of all the motion of the pages. So well done. The bar went nuts whooping and hollering. It was tough because everyone was reeling from that when we all kind of collectively realized we were in the middle of the commercial break... and there was no more.
The only single solitary part of the finale (besides that it was the finale) that made me angry came next. The final credits. They flew by, didn't get the full screen, and were accompanied by an effing ad for The Revolution. I was livid. Enraged, really. I was loud about it, too. You know who I bonded with over it? Carmen LoPorto's mother. Carmen (ex-Jack) and his girlfriend and family were sitting next to me at the bar and man was his mama pissed. We were talking about how we thought they'd really run the full credits to allow all the names to be seen of the whole cast and crew. I was saying that I actually truly believed they'd do that while underscoring it with the famous Peabo Bryson theme song. How incredibly insulting of ABC to do that. Forty-three years and they don't even get to run the credits on their series finale. And I'm not even going to get into my rage about what they were advertising on it because I'll start spitting and probably need to be sedated. What a deeply, deeply disrespectful way to treat a group of artists and technicians who put their hearts into this for so many years.
So thanks for nothing, ABC. You didn't even give them their final moment.
In the end, ABC still sucks and OLTL is still awesome. What a finale. What a way to go out. What a way to go into something else, as they thought they were doing. What great work by the cast and the writers and the directors and the crew. I hope they were proud of what they put up there. It was beautiful and it was exciting and it was fun, and I'm so lucky that I got to watch it amongst fellow viewers and that I got to chat with some of them afterwards about what we were feeling!
(Oh oh oh! And I also chatted with Tobias Truvillion who used to play Vincent Jones, and he was really sweet and thought it was hilarious how much I was freaking out about all of it. And we also talked about Black Angels Over Tuskegee, the Off-Broadway play he's currently in -- so if you're nearby you should definitely check it out!)
Whoa. I'm exhausted and gutted from writing about that. So sad, too, because in a way putting this off was keeping it alive. I'm certainly glad that we'll at least get a little information next month when Blair, Todd, Starr, and John visit General Hospital and I do wish Ron Carlivati (who rocked that ending) and Frank Valentini the best of luck over there (my main request: please do a musical episode in which Sonny and Jason must sing and dance!). I hope they can breathe new life into it because I don't want to lose ABC's final soap. I've already lost my long-time favorite, and I want the genre to stay alive.
Thanks again for reading. If you haven't already, stop by Friday's post and tell us how you got hooked on One Life to Live. And if you already have, check out everyone else's stories! My heart could only take a few of them until I was finished writing this, so that's what I'll go do now to feel nostalgic.
How's everyone holding up? Did you like the finale (besides it being the finale)? What do you think would have changed had it been officially the end when they put it together? What, if anything, are you expecting and hoping from the four Llanviewites visiting Port Charles? Are you excited to see any of your favorite actors in other shows (B&B is getting Hillary B. Smith for a while, I believe!)? Do you ache every time you look at the clock and it's anywhere near 2:00pm EST? Talk to me. (And oh yeah, once again please don't say it sucked or deserved to be canceled or anything like that in the comments here. No one's in the mood. Go tell ABC what a good thing they've done if that's how you feel.)
And finally, congratulations to the show for a forty-three year run, and to everyone involved in it. The fascinating thing isn't what they did so wrong to get canceled, it's what they did so right to have a record long run. It wasn't a failure, it was a historic success. And it gave us so many joys and comforts and moments of escape, and we'll never forget it. Long live Llanview!