Requiem for a Daytime Drama, Part Two
If Josh & Newman broke my heart, it was Raines and his Alan Spaulding who tore it apart. Make no mistake: for almost all of Alan's onscreen life, he was a rank bastard who at various times should have been killed for his various crimes & trangressions — he deserved to die for them. The late Christopher Bernau — Alan's original portrayer — created an absolute sensation when the dangerous, manipulative, darkly romantic Spaulding hit Springfield in 1977 in a role that was once considered impossible to recast (despite an ill-fated attempt with Daniel Pilon in the late 80's). In 1994, Raines took over the role.
For a long time many fans, including myself, did not see this new actor as "the real Alan." This was not Raines' fault. Various head writers and producers wrote Alan all over the place, from a megalomaniac super villain a la As the World Turns' James Stenbeck to a mentally unstable, baby obsessed sociopath, to a murderous thug and back again. No matter how bizarrely written at times, Raines managed to infuse Alan with just enough humanity, pathos, and vulnerability that it became easier to accept Raines' take as the psychologically scarred eldest son of Brandon Spaulding. Recently armed with the history altering but entirely plausible backstory of Brandon having "bought" Alan out of the Vietnam draft and the opportunity to save his adopted son Phillip's life, Raines has turned in one deft performance after another leading to today's fateful events.
For the first time in his long, miserable life, Alan looked genuinely happy to the depths of his soul. Earlier, in the hospital, Alan had accepted Natalia & Olivia as co-parents to his granddaughter Emma. At the wedding, he was able to make peace with Reva, who he had brought to Springfield and eventually married many years ago, and declared true friendship with Buzz (Justin Deas), his once mortal enemy. He expressed genuine pride in Rafe's (E.J. Bonilla) choice to join the army and the young man rewarded him by calling him grandfather. Alan even buried the hatchet with Jonathan — and it wasn't in his back! Finally, Alan gave his long-estranged son Phillip (Grant Aleksander, at his very best) one last piece of advice — to live life to its absolute fullest — before he died, sitting on a park bench alone looking out over the lake as joyous celebration surrounded him.
If viewers were not aware of the spoilers, the death of Alan Spaulding had to have hit them in the gut. If there were some fans who knew what was going to happen (as I did), I do not believe Phillip's wrenching discovery was any less powerful. Phillip's breaking down was one of the saddest scenes I have ever seen on a daytime drama.
With the death Alan, the stage is set for the Spauldings to come full circle. As Phillip, who shares many of the same traits as Alan, assumes his role as head of the family, so also does his own strained relationship with his son James (Zack Conroy) mirror that of his and Alan's. In addition to their troubles, James will no doubt blame Phillip for Alan's death just as much as he already is resentful that Phillip wouldn't let James donate his bone marrow. The son becomes the father...
Killing such a major character as Alan Spaulding could have gone horribly wrong, but I have to applaud the way the writers, Jill Lorie Hurst, and — yes, folks — Ellen Wheeler handled it. This episode was beautifully filmed, expertly edited, and wonderfully acted by everyone from La Zimmer right down to the little girl who plays Sarah.
There are three episodes left before the light goes out forever.
A Correction from Part One: I mistakenly said that Remy & Christina were moving toward marriage again, when in fact they remarried several weeks ago. I missed the episode after Bill & Lizzie's wedding that revealed that info and their re-marriage (not always referenced as such since) slipped my mind. Thanks to troymcclure for bringing it to my attention.