Guiding Light Weekly Blog
Blogging From The Beacon.
Thoughts on the week of June 15-19.
There was a certain thematic consistency to last week’s episodes. In one way or another, they were about the struggles between sons and their parents over perceived failures in fulfilling their ideals. Regardless of Guiding Light‘s realistic trappings in terms of style, its narrative form, especially since Ellen Wheeler took over, couldn’t be more divorced from realism. In a deep way, the show is far more symbolic and far closer to parable than it is to prosaic storytelling. For a long time there was a tension between the two things, but sometimes, like last week, they gelled really well.
James got off easy at his hearing last week. His father bribed the judge for him and sank money back into the fund before taking over it. Phillip tortured himself about sending his son to jail, then about doing what he had to do to get him released. James didn’t stick around to bond with him either. He quickly leaped into the waiting limo of some of his friends and drove away. The whole event made James hate his father even more, but that was inevitable. Inevitability is the force that seems to push everything that happens in that family. It’s either James being anxious about turning into his father or his father being anxious about turning into his father, but, inevitably, that’s what happens. Regardless of what Phillip chose to do, or how he experienced it, it would come out in the same form. He still, either way, did the things that Alan would have done, or his father would have done before him, as Alex acidly pointed out. Even the justification was largely the same, the only difference is that Phillip has always been in denial about it. That’s why James hates him. Like most of the characters who popped up in his generation, he sought to create himself anew and break from the past. For the most part, this has been delusional and repeatedly turned to failure.
Rafe learned the truth about his mother and Olivia. He didn’t take it well and used various means of articulating this. He tried religion, bringing up Gus and even using the ‘f word’ without actually saying it, which was symbolically appropriate since his outburst was about both sex and a kind of self-censorship. His problem is rather different from that of James. Rafe’s mother actually did, in his eyes at least, live up to her ideals. She was always regarded in a rather saintly way, but now that’s gone. She shouldn’t be surprised by the way he’s reacting. It is, quite explicitly, exactly how she indoctrinated him to react in such a situation. If anything, compared to the way she reacted when Daisy had her abortion, Rafe is being downright generous and understanding.
For her part, Natalia spent most of the week struggling with what I would call her "Ashley Wilkes complex." She always seems to be cast as the passive, idealized victim in the desires and plans of others, only able to react and be pulled along. She seems to have inherited this from Gus since he suffered from the same affliction. Olivia badgered her about their relationship and what Rafe's knowledge of it will mean. Nat didn't know and, instead of trying to figure it out, launched into an absurd quest to redefine her relationship with Olivia as something existing out of pure choice, indifferent to circumstance. But if they didn't fall in love because of their circumstances, how did they fall in love? Did they do it in a vacuum devoid of any context? Love isn't something you choose, which both characters have said on more than one occasion, but now that their relationship exists in the wider scheme of things, they think they have to make it look that way in order to prove to themselves that everyone else is wrong about how they fell in love. It's ludicrous, but that's okay. If Nat's story wasn't so full of contradictions and confusion, it wouldn't be interesting. On another level, it seems to point to one of the often crucial things in soap opera writing - the irrelevance of character history in the face of the myths created around them. What, if anything, it will actually end up saying about that issue still isn't unclear.
Meanwhile, Remy tried turning the whole thing upside down by exceeding his father's expectations. Unfortunately for him, he did so by illegal means. Then, out of a sense of guilt, he wound up flushing the diamonds down the toilet. Cyrus quickly caught on and now has to prepare to go sewer dredging. Remy's colleagues at the Springfield Police Department proved to be among the most inept people in the world once more. They actually make a show of it, with Mallet threatening to discipline several of his cops when he catches them sitting around playing video games. And Jeffrey and Dinah returned to their old ways and fled the country to try and con Edmund out of hiding. It's strange to see them working together again. One almost forgets that they were lovers in a rather twisted and vicious relationship before they were reformed into whatever they are now, Dinah's redemption thanks to brain damage and Jeffrey's thanks to falling in love with Reva.
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