One Life to Love
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February 28-March 3 2000

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At the rate secrets are being revealed in Llanview, the writers better get cracking and manufacture some new ones to keep the momentum going. Thus far, Will and Roseanne's conspiracy, Lindsay's sperm test tampering, and Nora's "feelings" for Bo have all been exposed to the cold light of day.

Of course, Lindsay's pregnancy, Matthew's questionable paternity, Kelly and Kevin’s near-miss on New Year’s Eve, and Asa’s set-up of Will are still under wraps, plus Blair remains clueless about Max and Skye, but this week brought another big reveal -- a double whammy: the truth about Max's medical condition and the identity of Asa's true son.

Oh, yeah, Todd Manning paid a visit to Llanview.

Yes, Todd was back -- if ever so briefly -- so let the mind games begin. While the promos promised "One Man, One Week," truth in advertising would be more like "One Man, One Day"! I’d be curious to know the figure for Todd's total airtime this week.

After someone took a shot at R.J. last week, Bo finally asked the million-dollar question: Could Todd be involved? Initially, Tea pooh-poohed the idea, but soon her spider senses were tingling. She went back down to the garage and found a mysterious key (remember that Todd also left her a key when he skipped town). She headed to the park to clear her head and ran into Blair and Starr. Now, I can't remember the last time Blair and Tea had a scene together, but clearly, distance hasn't made Blair's heart grow fonder or her memory dimmer. She quickly lashed into Tea for marrying Todd to help him get custody of Starr.

While Todd's two ex-wives re-hashed old differences, Starr managed to discover dear old dad and the pair had a short but sweet reunion. Then Todd gave Starr a note for "T" to be delivered when no one else was around.

After sending Blair away for ice cream, Starr slipped "T" the note. It contained a map and cryptic message. So did Tea tell R.J. or Bo or Hank? Nope. She fobbed off R.J. with some lame excuse about being tired, then took off. Not surprising, really. Tea has never been able to resist the challenge of Todd.

She drove to Viki's cabin and sure enough, there was Todd. Tea's opening conversational gambit: "You bastard!" No hearts and flowers for this couple -- more like thorns and weeds. Todd copped to the campaign against R.J., but claimed the shot was an accident (he'd been trying to miss). Then Tea gave Todd a big speech about how happy she was with R.J., how glad she was to be in a normal relationship, and how she wasn't going to let him drag her back into the abyss. Well that's all fine and dandy, but when Tea made a move to leave, Todd called her bluff.

Tea can talk a good game when it comes to making a break with Todd, but actions speak louder than words, and it's clear she has never gotten over him. As much as she hates to admit it, there's still unfinished business between these two. Then Todd told Tea that he couldn't get her out of his mind and asked her to come away with him.

Feeling the balance of power shift away from her (yet again), Tea played her trump card: sex. She told Todd she would leave with him if he made love to her. Todd's response: no dice.

Honestly, Todd's offer didn't sound all that enticing: misery loves company but no sex. Then again, Tea's life in Llanview since Todd left town has been fairly tepid stuff: playing professional second-fiddle to Hank, working overtime to keep R.J. on the straight and narrow, and bailing out her ungrateful niece. Still, I found it sad how easily Tea fell back into the old pattern of push-pull. When Todd said "no" to a show of physical love, Tea then asked him to at least stay in Llanview for her. Again, the answer was "no." So what did he offer: "If you come with me, I will try not to push you away." To my mind, that's not much, but it's all Tea's gonna get and (possibly) all Todd is able to give.

The show's conception of Todd has changed over time. He's gone from being a one-note thug to a complex mixture of good and evil to a kind of superhuman master criminal. This week, we saw a mix of Todd 2 and 3 -- able to seemingly appear and disappear at will with strange powers of omniscience, yet at the same time vulnerable, pleading, and lonely.

My assessment of Todd's quickie return visit: Disappointing and unsatisfying, but understandably so. It's always fun to watch Roger Howarth in action, but with so little time there was no opportunity for anything but a brief re-hash of Todd and Tea's troubled relationship. Depending on your feelings for this couple, the deliberately ambiguous resolution was open to interpretation. On Thursday, Todd reached out his hand to Tea and asked her to leave Llanview with him and Tea took his hand. Then on Friday, when Bo burst into the cabin, all he found was a note: "Gotcha! We're out of here -- Todd Manning." Yes, Tea may have accepted Todd as her destiny, but the last image we saw of her was in tears.

With Todd on the canvas only sporadically throughout the week, there was plenty of room for other storylines.

Nora discussed her latest Lindsay suspicions with Viki and agreed to stay out of it. Wise decision. Then she told Viki about her "feelings" for Bo and how much she missed Sam. You could tell Viki wanted to confide about her health scare, but instead told Nora a story about "a friend" who might have cancer.

Later in the week, Nora ran into Bo and tried to get a sense of whether or not she should pursue her suspicions about Lindsay's pregnancy, Bo was beyond frosty -- he was downright arctic. But later, when he thought Todd might be back, he insisted that Nora have police protection.

Antonio tried a different approach with Roseanne this week. Instead of insulting and upbraiding her, he opened up to her. In the hopes of getting Roseanne to face reality about her own situation with Cris, Antonio told her about his own marital problems.

Here's the story: While Antonio was busy with law school, Andy was busy falling in love with her partner "Phil." A serviceable enough tale, but not really believable to anyone who watched Andy and Antonio in action. Whatever this couples' difficulties, Andy was nothing if not loyal. But when one half of a couple returns without the other, history gets rewritten to justify the solo re-appearance. It's just a fact of soap life that fans need to keep in perspective. Sooner or later, the writers will make your favorite character do something you don't believe in. If you can't accept that, then you're forced to seek what solace you may in fan fiction.

It seemed to me that regardless of his motivations, Antonio was being sincere with Roseanne in confiding the problems in his marriage. And he was very sincere when he asked her, "Where's your pride?" and challenged her to "start thinking about yourself."

Meanwhile, Will and Cris continue to haunt Jessica's life. She's been pretty icy to both of them, so you can't accuse her of sending mixed messages -- these guys just won't take a hint. I did like the way Cris stood up to her and challenged Jess to be open to the truth about Asa. And later in the week, Will did the same. It looks like Jess is starting to at least consider the possibility that Asa might've been involved in what happened to Will.

But other than Todd and Tea, the big action this week involved Max/Skye/Ben/Asa. If you recall, Skye got quite an eyeful and earful when she overheard Blair and Max's post-coital conversation about getting rid of her. Feeling like a fool, Skye ran straight to Ben to ask if he had ever loved her. Ben was kind enough to bolster Skye's ego a bit -- pretty gallant considering all the stunts she's pulled. But the nice guy bit worked, and Skye started spilling Max's secrets: The faked brain damage, the faux paternity, and she was just about to tell Ben the identity of Asa and Renee's real son, when Max showed up.

It took Max less than five minute to have Skye eating out of his hand again -- pathetic. Deep down, I think she knows he's lying and leading her on, but for Skye the illusion of happiness is better than the reality of loneliness.

Max's schmooze routine was cut short when Skye admitted she'd told Ben a couple of Max's secrets -- Max took off looking for Asa. After going to the mansion and finding Asa gone, Max got so worked up her burst into Viki's house looking for Ben. Then Sam showed up and told Max he knew where Ben and Asa were and offered a deal: He'd call off Ben via cell phone if Max fessed up about Will. Max refused and Sam punched him. That must've felt good. I certainly enjoyed watching it.

Earlier, Ben had gone to the mansion looking for Asa. Ben then lured Asa to one of the buildings on his property (I couldn't tell, was it the same place Grace had died?). Asa was packing heat. Ben offered to "horse trade" with with old man: If Asa dropped the charges against Will, Ben would keep quiet about Max's faking -- both his illness and his Buchanan blood ties. Asa called Ben a liar.

But Ben was relentless, and as much as Asa didn't want to believe him, the old devil is smart enough to know the ring of truth when he hears it. Ben kept goading him till Asa finally hauled off and shot Ben, luckily (unluckily?) Ben had sabotaged Asa's gun.

The stress was too much for Asa and his heart condition began acting up. Ben was merciless, unlocking the door and telling Asa to make a break for it, if he could walk a step -- he couldn't. Then Ben offered to help Asa in exchange for Asa letting Will off the hook. Naturally, Asa was too damn stubborn to deal. Finally, Max found them and showed that he really does care about Asa and is willing to put Asa's needs above his own by telling Ben that he had to help Asa or live with the fact that he let his own father die.

Yessiree -- that big ol' tomcat is finally out of the bag. No surprise, of course. Having Ben as Asa's son has always made the most sense logistically and dramatically, and this reveal is gonna has some major aftershocks for months, maybe years to come - wheeee!

Snippets:

• I'm glad the first person Todd saw was Starr. It's the one relationship he's good at -- effortlessly -- and she's the one person who loves him -- unconditionally.

• LOL at the stunned look on R.J.'s face when he realized that Hank was agreeing with him.

• So how does Todd know what goes on over at Asa's and elsewhere in Llanview? Is he superhuman or does he have the whole town bugged?

• Jessica is going to Cancun with some girlfriends -- what girlfriends?

• That Starr is an ace little schemer. Her mom and dad should be very proud.

• Is Todd invisible now or are Blair and Tea legally blind? He was standing about three feet away behind a small tree and a few bushes!!

• LOL at Todd's sour face as he listened to Blair and Tea's stroll down memory lane.

• Asa really needs to beef up his home security system!

• Those were some very touching scenes as Viki looked through her old photo albums and spent time with her children.

• What is this? Out of sight, out of mind? The whole town should be buzzing with the news of Dorian's departure. Why weren't Viki and Nora talking about it? For a few weeks at least, conversations in Llanview should be peppered with the departed diva's name!

• The scenes between Asa and Ben were some of Mark Derwin's strongest since joining the show.

• Viki's specialist has the world's worst bedside manner!

• That was a rather sweet conversation between Renee and Blair on the subject of Max -- the one thing these two women have in common.

• •So Jessica wanted to play Scrabble for cash -- yep, she's Asa's granddaughter all right.

• LOL when Asa calls Ben "Benjie."

• This week, we caught a glimpse of the old R.J. when he went off on Jared Hall shouting, "Where is my woman." Spurned by Tea in favor of Todd, this could be just the thing to send R.J. back to his bad old ways. Good!

• Too bad we didn't have the opportunity to watch Todd and R.J. face off over Tea.

• Clever Nora has a sixth sense when it comes to Todd.

• Seems like this experience with Roseanne has wised Cris up a bit -- he's able to see right through Will.

• Todd has very good penmanship.


Till next week!

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