OLTL Update Friday 1/17/03

One Life to Live Update Friday 1/17/03

By Laura
Pictures by Juanita

It gives me obscene pleasure to open this recap of Friday's "One Life to Live" episode with inviolable, incontrovertible proof that there indeed is a God. And that He's looking out for us. Go with me on this. News broke today that poor Barbara Niven (who, as the ill-fated Liz, was given THE hands-down worst, most repugnant storyline in the history of the medium to play) has been handed her walking papers. Hit the road, jack, and don't ya come back no more no more no more no more!! This is probably the best news I've heard since we found out that Josh Griffith and Michael Malone are coming back (and don't for a second believe that these two morsels of news aren't interrelated).

Now let me just say that I think Niven is a fine actress and she absolutely did her best with the surreally idiotic crap she was given to play. Barbara, if you're reading this, my qualms are not directed at you, and I happen to believe you'd be a smash addition to any of the other nine soaps on the air. Let me also say that this bit of news -- along with the announcements that Steve Harris (Seth) and Laurence Lau (Sam) have also been shown the door, and rumors that more dismissals are imminent -- is a clear, unmistakable sign that Frank Valentini and his gifted writing team have taken thorough stock of this show, identified what isn't working, and are taking steps to rectify it. I, for one, am thrilled.

(I'll save my thoughts on Lau's unfortunate firing for a later date, but may I ask TPTB that Emily, Jen, Rex, Shawna, and Keri be the next pink-slipped characters? Pretty please?)

It's pretty clear that MUCH of the show isn't working these days, and at the very top of that list -- besides that beyond-repair baby mess -- is the Blair/Todd relationship, and you need look no further than today's episode to divine exactly why it's not working. They opened this episode engaged in a soul-shaking kiss, long and passion-filled, and when they pulled away from each other, Blair hauled off and slapped the hell out of Todd. When he asked why exactly she did that, she said it was because he kissed her. Then -- I kid you not -- they spent the ENTIRETY of the next six minutes (and, listen, I know six minutes isn't very long, but in soap opera terms, where scenes are routinely two minutes or less, six minutes is an ETERNITY, especially when the content in such a scene is vapid and purposeless) arguing about who kissed who. No, I'm really not kidding, it was maddening. And painful. And painfully unfunny, even though they were obviously playing it for laughs. Then, Blair finally ended their bickering by saying it didn't matter who kissed whom because the kiss itself was meaningless. "Sure it was," Todd said. Blair said again that it didn't mean anything to her. "So then you won't mind if I tell Sam about it then?" Todd asked.

Well, you better believe that Blair went to back-pedaling on that one, honey. Then I zoned out because it was all very grating (and I still hadn't fully recovered from the headache these two gave me yesterday), but for some reason Blair marched upstairs in a huff, and Todd sat down to read a magazine. And then Starr came downstairs and asked Todd if he and Blair were back together yet. "I'm working on it," he told his daughter, adding that they wouldn't have to live like they are for very much longer. (To which I again said, "Thank you God.")

Meanwhile, Sam had his hands full dealing with his psychotic daughter, whose psychoticness was just today coming into Sam's full view. He finally got her to break down and admit that she and Mitch have been in cahoots -- that Mitch had approached her and offered to help her get back at Cristian and Mitch for betraying her, and that she accepted, and that she lied in earshot of Judge Fitzwater in order to cement Cristian's jail sentence.

Well Sam was appropriately horrified at the tale his daughter laid out for him, then he assured her that he loves her still, and completely, and that he understands the sting of rejection and how it can make you do crazy things. Then he told her that they need to go to Judge Fitzwater and come clean, and that this needn't be more than a tiny bump in the road.

But Jen decided she was on a roll with her truth-telling streak and decided to go for broke: she admitted to Sam that she got pregnant with another man's baby in order to try to trap Cristian in the first place. Al's baby, to be specific. Sam was stunned to think that Al went along with it, and Jen told him that Al didn't know, that she was using him as a means to her end. It was all too bizarro for straight-laced Sam to wrap his mind around -- even though he has direct experience at being used to father a baby for somebody desperate -- and so Jen explained that she just wanted to make everybody as miserable as she was, and this was the way to do it in her mind, and she almost made it work.

"Did your mother put you up to this?" Sam finally asked. Jen told him no, and that Lindsay even tried to talk her out of it once she got wind of the plan. Sam again assured Jen that he loves her and that they need to go to Fitzwater and right the wrongs, and then he went to fetch Blair for their romantic getaway.

Viki went to see Mitch, who immediately asked where Jessica was. Viki informed him that she's gone for good, and that he'll never see her again. Mitch said that it sounded like Viki would never see her again either, and Viki replied that if that's the cost of keeping her away from him, so be it. Then Nora arrived, all lawyerly and fabulous, with yet another annulment proposal that involves an attempt to pay Mitch off. (Isn't this, like, the fifth or sixth time that Viki has tried to offer him money? Get a grip, Vick! He. Doesn't. Want. Money.) I don't know, something about sign the paper and take the check and the marriage is history. Mitch was amused, and grinned creepily at the two ladies as he ripped up the check, saying again it wasn't about money.

Then they left and some guy showed up, and Mitch wanted him to go to the Llanview jail and do something devious.

Cris was at the jail of course, and Natalie was visiting him, and Allison was brought in to inhabit a neighboring cell. Natalie quickly deduced that Mitch was behind it, after Allison explained that she's no longer crazy -- which of course is debatable -- and that she's headed back to Statesville. Allison played dumb by saying that Mitch has been dead for years, and then Nataile informed her that he's very much alive, and she's got a wedding ring to prove it. Allison's demeanor shifted completely at the news that Mitch and Natalie are married, but that was never really explained, and the remainder of their screen time made as much sense as the rest of this show makes. I don't know, Allison whispered to Natalie to "heed the messenger" and Natalie raced off, barging later into Mitch's house, demanding an explanation for Allison's new address.

Asa was incredulous when Max told him the deal was off, that Roxy's had a hard life and he doesn't want to break her heart and he doesn't want to divorce her. Asa decided that he was going to run off with Roxy anyway, just to stick it to Max.

But Rae kinda threw a wrench in that plan: she told Roxy about Max and Asa's deal to get rid of their respective wives. Roxy was crushed as Rae revealed all of this to her, and then was headed out to tear Max's head off and throw it at his dying ass. "No, no, no, no," Rae said, stopping her and urging her to think this through, adding that she shouldn't get mad; she should get EVEN. They teamed up against us, Rae reasoned, so why don't we team up against them?

Well Roxy liked the sound of it, so she first barged into Asa's living room and told him that she was declining his offer, that she made vows to Max on her wedding night and intended to uphold them. Asa pointed out to her that people break vows all the time, and that he's broken his twelve times at last count. Roxy told him that just means he's damaged goods, and left, leaving Asa even further bewildered. He told Nigel that he still had a chance to get rid of Rae, and so he sent Nigel to break into Max's house and find those signed divorce papers.

Meanwhile, Rae showed up at Max's playing it to the hilt, with this sob story about how Asa and Roxy are running off together. She then said that they needed to get back at Asa and Roxy -- "they've been cheating on us," Rae said, "so we should just cheat right back." She then jumped on top of him and started kissing him. He was sufficiently disgusted (as, not coincidentally, was I) and tried to get away from her, but she chased him all over his living room, kissing him and insisting that she's attracted to him and they need to get even with their mates and kissing him more.

And of course, right on cue, Roxanne walked in mid-kiss, and blew up at the two of them. Max tried to explain what was happening, but Roxy was hearing none of it. She announced to him that she was set to divorce him. And leave him with nothing.

And with that, we'll praise the heavens one more time for Liz's soon-to-be-absence from this canvas, and I'll wish you all a great weekend. See you all next week!

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