OLTL Update Friday 2/21/03

One Life to Live Update Friday 2/21/03

By Brandon
Pictures by Juanita

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So if what you're looking for is a tiny little reflection, a microcosm representing the renewed strengths and continued weaknesses of "One Life to Live," then look no further than Friday's episode, because it was all there on full display -- the good and the bad, the questionable and the unquestionable.

Right off the bat, the good: characters I love and recognize are filling up my TV screen on a daily basis! What a novel concept! Is anybody else out there thrilled that we haven't seen Liz or Keri or Rex or Emily once this whole week?! Yay! Meanwhile, Nora's IQ has returned to triple digits where it always belonged (though I'm still not sure about this whole DA's office thing she's gotten herself roped into, but I'll save that for a later recap), Todd is no longer showing "buffoon" as his primary color, and this show's casting department has done a magnificent job with the roles of Joey and Jessica. (Bruce Michael Hall -- who is the most strikingly handsome young man this show has seen since the first adult Joey, that forever adorable Nathan Fillion -- and Bree Williamson -- whose Canadian accent is the only thing throwing me off with her, particularly the way she says the word "about" -- are filling some mighty big shows with courageous panache and gusto.)

The bad: are they kidding me with this regarding this whole bizarre heart transplant thing? How are they going to explain the fact that Natalie and Victor don't have the same blood type and yet she's giving him her heart? What?! Anybody else get the feeling that we're building toward the revelation that Natalie isn't Viki's daughter after all? Or is there some grand plan unfolding here that I'm just not seeing?

The questionable: Am I the only one bothered by the fact that there's only one major story on this show right now? It seems to me that if you don't like this Mitch thing right now, you're screwed, because it takes up most of the hour, and I'm concerned that when it reaches its inevitable climax, there's not going to be anything worthwhile to take its place. (Ooh, Al's failing his classes! Roxy's broke! Rae and Asa are still hitched!) Don't fail to recognize that Gary Tomlin and his compadres fell into this exact trap following all the climaxes and revelations of last May's breathtaking live week, which subsequently yielded to the most boring, lifeless summer in the entire history of this series.

And the unquestionable: can't you just see -- can't you just SMELL -- the too-obvious look of sheer relief on my all-time favorite Hillary B. Smith's face everytime Nora's onscreen nowadays? It just washes over like a tide of sunlight when she gets snappy smart dialogue and an actual purpose, as opposed to mooning over psychos and psycho-doppelgangers. Seriously, when I see Nora, my heart is full.

And Nora seems as effective an entrance ramp onto this recap as any: today, she and Bo sent Viki, Jessica, and an eavesdropping Todd reeling with their theory that perhaps Victor Lord isn't dead after all. Viki refused to believe it at first, even after Nora laid it all out for her about the mysterious bottle of hair coloring and the medical files at Mitch's house. Bo opined that maybe Mitch is trying to pass Natalie off as Jessica, and Viki said that was crazy, and then she reminded Nora and Bo both that Victor's body had been exhumed several years ago for Dorian's murder trial, and that they were all there and they all saw it. Bo countered by saying that since they were looking for nothing but physical evidence at that time -- nothing genetic was ever tested -- it could've been anybody's body in that coffin.

Todd for his part believed it was possible that Victor could be alive, but Viki refused to, urgin Bo to keep his attention on Mitch and Natalie. Bo and Nora promised to keep looking into every angle of the puzzle and then returned to the police station, where Nora managed to procure a warrant for Mitch's arrest whenever they find him. Bo asked her to pull off another miracle and slip a copy of Victor Lord's will out of the county records office.

Hank later got Nora by herself to ask how she was holding up; he was concerned that she might be throwing herself into work to avoid dealing with her feelings over Troy. "Troy who?" Nora asked, and then left to go meet Sam.

Bo later found out that Cristian was out of the hospital. Thinking that strange, he asked to speak to Antonio and found out that the detective hadn't reported to work all day. He then found out that one of the police cruisers was unaccounted for and realized that the Vega boys were engaged in some extracurricular gumshoe-shining.

Which indeed they were, at the Coleman Clinic in a place outside of Harrisburg called Jason's Landing. (Kind of like Knots Landing, minus the cul-de-sac, fair enough?) They were grilling this poor fool Dr. Sanders, who wasn't budging with any information about Mitch or Natalie or anybody else. But Antonio somehow-or-other got himself a search warrant and he and Cristian commenced with ransacking the office looking for information on Natalie. And they didn't find any, but they did find a huge file on Jessica, as well as bags full of her blood. (Seriously, the more I learn about this story, the more confused I get, and I'm not kidding. Is that the point?)

So Antonio called Bo and told him to hightail it up there, which he did. (Literally, he got there in the span of, like, one commercial break, it was amazing.) Dr. Sanders continued to deny knowing anybody named Mitch Laurence, so then Bo pulled a photo of Victor Lord from his pocket and asked the doc if he recognized him. And Sanders obviously did.

Natalie, meanwhile, spent the whole episode drifting in and out of consciousness, as Mitch taunted her and told her to surrender to it and "enjoy the ride." It was all really creepy, and nurses and doctors continued shooting syringes of things into her arm to prepare her for the upcoming surgery.

Back at Llanfair, meantime, Todd told Viki that he believes Victor could be capable of faking his own death and she does too deep down. Viki told him she couldn't let herself believe it, being as she was the one who killed him in the first place, and that it was just too painful to face a more horrifying truth than that. Todd told her it wouldn't faze him at all: that he's already felt all the pain he's ever going to allow himself, and that he's spent his entire life avoiding Victor and he has no intention of starting now. He then said that he could find out if the man was dead or not, however; and when next we saw Todd, he was inside the Lord mausoleum, staring at Victor's crypt, large crowbar in hand.

Viki pulled a copy of Victor's will out of the Llanfair safe to see if there was anything untoward in the distribution of assets that might shed some light on the mystery, and Jessica looked on stunned to realize how powerful and wealthy Victor was when he died. And indeed, there was one odd thing that caught Viki's eye -- a large piece of farmland bequeathed to a charity called "Champion Noble Foundation." Viki told Jessica that there wasn't a charitable bone in Victor's whole body and that it seemed odd at the time but that nobody ever really questioned it hard enough. Then get this: Jessica slowly began thinking that maybe it wasn't a real charity -- that champion is another word for "victor" and that noble is another word for "lord" (I kid you not, the girl came up with this all by herself -- isn't it very jarring to see these characters acting like they're smart again after years of two plus two equaling nine for these people?) Viki was horrified by the implications of all of this as she began to realize that this was all more than just a coincidence. She and Jessica decided to go to this piece of farmland and see for themselves what was there.

Oh, come on, you know what was there! Victor! The look on Erika Slezak's face was positively priceless -- the woman was blown completely away.

Meanwhile, in a story that has nothing to do with anything yet, Joey tried one more time to get through to Flash, whom he followed to some warehouse or something where she and her band were practicing. She told him to buzz off and then she buzzed off. She later got an offer from some guy to join him in a hotel room at the Palace, and since she was cold where she was staying, she accepted.

Not a clue where that one's headed, but I have faith that it'll all tie in somehow. Have a good weekend guys, see you all next week!

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