Thoughts on the week of April 13-17.
The week essentially focused on two things – Natalia and Frank's wedding and Edmund continuing to flip out. He cornered Shayne but his revenge was interrupted. Shayne still seemed a bit oblivious until Edmund ran up and whacked him in the head with a baseball bat, which seemed slightly out of character. I guess he was in a hurry and couldn't come up with something more calculated, though, with Shayne's past flirtation with a baseball career, I suppose there was an ironic jab involved. Afterward, Dinah cuddled Shayne while his parents panicked. Edmund went after Reva's baby but she managed to run across town and catch him. He wanted to raise her child as his own. "Luckily you won't have to grow up in this hideous place with wooden bears and wagon wheels and commemorative plates," he memorably promised the child. They ranted at each other and then she jabbed him with a needle. Josh came and they decided to ship Edmund off. Roc Hoover promised to give him a fate worse than death. If they wanted to give poor Eddie that, than why didn't they make him stay in Springfield with Reva? Josh and Jeffrey both seemed to realize that they've basically switched places. Now Josh drifts around and acts a bit mercenary and Jeffrey is Reva's grumpy maid. Edmund was driven away, asking "Father Josh" about how he and his cohorts could live with their hypocrisy. It's a good question, but I doubt we'll get an answer. We will get a little more Edmund this week though.
Spanning the wedding over several days gave them the chance to do a lot of smaller things. Nat quoting scripture to Frank, Rafe returning, Marina singing, Daisy and James sending each other text messages, Lillian and Buzz getting back together. The whole event was well-paced and the details felt natural. It was also really nice to see Frank have a chance to emote. All around, it was another strong week of acting.
The event itself was vintage soap opera and there was a lot of build up to it, but I have to admit that my reaction to the whole thing was mixed. I've always liked the Otalia relationship, but not without reservation. For me, they started to click when they were fighting over Gus more than a year ago in one of the most peculiar romantic triangles the show has created. One of the admirable things about Tuesday's graveyard scene was that it spelled out their relationship with such avowedly gothic overtones. The graveyard scene also gave me some serious problems because it was so over-the-top and Olivia speech to Gus' grave, no matter how well performed, was laced with some extraordinarily campy dialogue. I'm all for campiness, but it's extremely hard to pull off and I don't think it's what they were going for. This isn't The Bold and the Beautiful, but that's sort of what it felt like, only without the laughs. The story has always moved between being an extreme melodrama and being a naturalistic love story. We've been in the second mode for most of the past few months so the leap back for a few minutes was a bit stunning.
Over the past year, this storyline has traversed some truly exciting psychological territory. The entire first half of the relationship was a brutal and claustrophobic melodrama. They had a wonderfully dark, cynically humorous and slightly kinky romance story full of anguish, commentary about class divisions and religious differences. That was gradually eroded and the tone shifted dramatically. The relationship became about small moments, about nuances and domesticity. Much of what had made the relationship genuinely complicated faded away until they became the most vanilla romance on the show. This week, they explicitly spelled out exactly what this shift was about. It was, perhaps somewhat subversively, about the meaning of Christian love. That's what all of Natalia's scriptural quotations were about and her explanation of love was explicitly theological. The Otalia story is the story of Olivia's reformation.
Anyway, those were my thoughts about last week. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below and remember that this is all in fun.
- Matt Purvis