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    Guiding Light - NEWS ROOM

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    Guiding Light Weekly Blog.

    Monday, April 20 2009

    Blogging From The Beacon.

    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.

    Most of the week took place in or around the church. It was the bog week for Otalia. Both women confessed their feelings, if only to each other. Early in the week, Frank and Natalia pushed ahead with the wedding plans. Father Ray was even surprised by the rush. Olivia choked on her tears but she finally broke down and confessed her love to Nat in the graveyard. She didn't give Natalia time to answer back and they rushed ahead with the wedding. Father Ray was waylaid so Doris stepped in. She tried to push Olivia to tell Nat how she feels. Olivia wouldn't step in that direction again. When it came down to it, Natalia couldn't go ahead with the ceremony. She ran off, Olivia ran after her and Nat told her that she loves her. Frank finally caught up to her and Olivia said that it was just too soon. He readily accepted that.

    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

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    Posted by ahhiker at Thursday, April 23 2009 10:51 PM

    I have the Otalia clips for April 13-17 bookmarked on my ipod. What an awesome week! We had waited a year for this week! Crystal Chappell has always been an incredible actress, but she was phenomenal in that graveside confession! She gave the performance of a lifetime! And Jessica Leccia was outstanding as were the writers! Guiding Light still has a lot of life left!

    Posted by loveoandn at Friday, April 24 2009 09:49 AM

    Matt, I appreciate that you see their complicated relationship, but I must disagree on their recent romance being vanilla. In these last few months, they have practically destroyed each other in trying to run from their feelings. Wreckage strewn afar.

    Now I wholeheartedly agree with you on the Otalia story being about Olivia's reformation. But, even though Christian scripture is spouted, the reformation is coming from the universality of love. In taking her vows, Natalia said that God is love and feeling love is experiencing it through God. I am unable to attribute these thoughts to any branch or sect of monotheism. Which for me is good because I have no use for organized religion and its dogma.

    I agree with you somewhat on the graveyard speech. Of course, Crystal Chappell's performance was stellar, but I thought bringing it back to Gus was a distraction. Having Olivia say that she could feel everything Gus ever felt for Natalia seemed to discount that Olivia had found or sought her own love for Natalia. In my opinion, Gus never loved Natalia like Olivia does now. Gus was always about Harley.

    Anyway, thanks for your analysis of Otalia. I feel certain they will continue to entertain us with their very complicated romance.

    Posted by Blithedale at Friday, April 24 2009 10:09 AM

    Matt, interesting take on a bunch of things.

    First Edmund. I'm fairly new to Guiding Light (January 2009) so I don't know the Edmund/Reva backstory beyond a simple recap. But I loved the whole Edmund/Reva exchange on Tuesday. The campiest line of the whole thing "I did it for Lara" and that line about sparing Colin a childhood in the country-fied cabin were priceless. It was textbook melodrama. And I did take the baseball bat to be related to Shayne's ambitions -- seemed like Edmund's intelligent villainy to me!

    Now Otalia - Maybe its a gender thing, but I actually thought Olivia's speech at Gus' grave was spot on. She was in that serious emotional anguish where we talk in those kinds of eternal/universal/sweeping statements.

    You're right about the various layers/stages of this story line. I'm glad you pointed out the almost kinky energy of the original Gus/Olivia/Natalia triangle - Gus was such the object. And I hope the class issues from last summer's beat return. And yes, the last few weeks have been the redemption of Olivia through the love of a good woman.

    But for me, all of those different aspects -- and the combination of both melodrama and naturalistic -- keeps the story hoping, changing and open ended in the ways the genre demands without the insta-shifts, plot devices, and wacked out stuff that have become the norm in soap opera over the last 20 years. Otalia keeps surprising us with layers and perspectives.

    Posted by Kiran26 at Friday, April 24 2009 12:28 PM

    Matt thank you for the article. I thought last week's Olivia/Natalia related moments were one of the best I've seen on TV. I cried with them, I smiled (very few occasions 'Unusual interest in your bridesmaid' comment by Olivia) with them. Crystal and Jessica knocked it out of the park with their performances. I've been watching the older clips to see the progression and it is amazing how well thought out and written this whole storyline. The chemistry between these two is palpable. I have to disagree with the vanilla comment though. I find NOTHING vanilla about Olivia/Natalia is complex, self-sacrificing and BIG. Thanks!

    Posted by maraleia at Friday, April 24 2009 04:27 PM

    This past week was a culmination of all that Otalia has been building up to. Olivia has been on a journey of self-discovery and this story is showing that she is a changed person. The Olivia of old would not have poured her heart out at a grave, nor would she have waited for sex like she is doing now. This relationship with Natalia is showing us the true Olivia Spencer. I will never forget this week of television as long as I live. This is a story of redemption, love and family.

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