Come Out Wherever You Are
Not unlike other stories on daytime, there has been a great deal if handwringing, head-scratching, second guessing and outright criticism about the story of Luke's step-grandfather puttin' the moves on him while married to grandmother Lucinda on As the World Turns. I believe the words "icky" and "eww" were used by both fans and serious critics alike. In all honesty, the good folks at ATWT didn't make things any easier with their own "new" production model of producing more episodic like daily shows on what appears to be a 3-2 schedule (front burner stories air 3+ days a week, B stories air 2 days a week, and everything else gets in where it can fit in).
The result of this production model is that front burner stories don't flow well, supporting stories stagger drunkenly along, and lots of characters get the short shrift, the bum's rush and, more often than not, the premature heave-ho. Adding additional complication is the often lamented fact that ATWT has also adopted a Road Runner/Speedy Gonzales approach to narrative and all stories suffer as a result of being rushed at a breakneck pace.
Nonetheless, I'm going to do something for head writer Jean Passanante that is as rare as Simon Cowell not getting a woody over a pretty but marginally talented American Idol contestant in a bikini: I'm going give Ms. Passanante a little bit of praise.
For the first time in a long time on ATWT, Passanante managed to tell a story with a definitive beginning, a middle and an end. As simple as it sounds, I think this is not really significant (because this is what writers should be doing regardless of which show or network they are on) but it is certainly a welcome change for this show. It has become habitual for ATWT to veer from story to story, careen from plot point to plot point, and switch gears in midstream without a moment's hesitation. However, in this tale we saw an introduction of a character whose internal struggles had a ripple effect on Luke, Lucinda and, belatedly, Noah. We saw a little courtship, marriage, betrayal, heartbreak, contrition, and finally a bit of reconciliation all play out over a six month period. Now that As the World Turns' Luke/Brian/Lucinda/Brian story arc has more or less concluded, I am left with a simple question that has a semi-complex answer: Whose storyline was it anyway?
LUCINDA: Big Lucy confronted her mortality with her usual grit and determination to survive. The recurrence of her cancer, the second mastectomy and having a handsome, slightly younger man to lean on provided the normally clear eyed, pragmatic Lucinda the opportunity to fall back into her bad old matrimonial choices from a new perspective as a woman of a certain age. This was far from the first time she'd chosen badly in terms of mate; included among her many husbands are John Dixon and James Stenbeck! However, it was Lucinda's borderline desperation to be loved by Brian, followed by her rage & heartbreak over being proven "wrong" once again and finally the genuine compassion she showed to Brian that added new yet consistent layers to our Big Lucy. As always, Elizabeth Hubbard has been extraordinary.
NOAH: I complained earlier that Noah was little more than a bystander during the bulk of this story and that criticism continues to stand. However, one of the more interesting developments to come out of it (so to speak) has been the emergence of Noah as stronger and more secure than ever. His scenes the last few days have been filled with a fire, a nice little touch of passion and — at last — a resolve not usually reserved for this character. Jake Silbermann has seemed far more engaged and interested in his work than in a very long time. The actor's performance and subtle reactions during the confrontation with Brian were very nicely played. Hopefully, Noah will be a far more engaging character as a result.
BRIAN: From the outset, I championed Laurence Lau's portrayal of the super-tightly wound Brian. Lau's conservative reserve, flashes of anger and deadpan denial served the closeted Brian well. Once the cat was out of the bag (so to speak), Lau allowed Brian to break little by little. It was during today's episode that one truly felt Brian's despair and I personally thought it was brilliantly played. After all, we so often see characters with no real connection to a show's canvas come and go without a second thought once the main storyline wraps up or, in ATWT's case, switches gears. Fortunately, we got a glimpse into Brian's loneliness as he arrived at his hotel room and started to pack. There was hurt in his eyes, defeat in his posture. Finally, when confronted by Luke & Noah, Brian broke. There was something heartbreaking in how he tried to maintain his composure but as he shouted, he couldn't keep his voice from cracking. When Lucinda granted him a bit of grace, Brian seemed to smile, for the first time, genuinely. (continued)