By Marlena De Lacroix
While we were all bitching and moaning about Budig, I for one almost missed the soap opera story of the year. This is the denouement of that Marcie-on-the-run story on One Life to Live, in which Marcie had fled Llanview with her “adopted” son (newly handed over by the court to Tommy’s biological father, rapist Todd), eventually ending up in Paris, Texas.
The concluding scenes in which Marcie held Viki and later her own husband Michael hostage in the Bon Jour diner with the police waiting outside was just everything a soap should be but hardly ever is anymore. It was bravura acting, writing and production all combined to make a story denouement so strikingly real and emotional it made a longtime cynical soap opera addict like moi break down and bawl like a baby.
Yes, it was a long in coming soapwise (months and months!) and it felt as if Marcie had been on the run forever, with baby Tommy perched on her hip throughout every single scene. This Marlena would like to pop every single internet board poster who during this time carped about Marcie’s high-pitched whining voice or Marcie’s plus size physique. You try being the only young actress on daytime right now who can spill her guts on screen every single day, while balancing a toddler on your hip, while never once loosing character on screen during this long, long ordeal. Kathy Brier is the best young actress we have on soaps these day, a real actress among the male and female runway models that populate daytime.
And you’ve got love this about the writing: What character was deliberately chosen for Marcie to hold hostage? Viki, played by Erika Slezak, who has spilled her guts daily on daytime TV for forty years! Sure Viki is Todd’s step-sister, great leverage for Marcie. But what a wonderfully subtle way to say in joint scenes that Brier is Slezak’s natural successor in One Life to Live if not in daytime greatness. The glory of Viki is always that she has struggled and survived all these years. She is woman. So is Marcie!
But back to the crucial scenes, leading up to Marcie handing Tommy over to Todd — peacefully, take great note — by way of her husband Michael, who finally and successfully talked her into doing it. Chris Stack — the only member of the prestigious Actor’s Studio I can ever remember on soaps — was magnificent trying to talk Marcie into handing over the baby. A real hero, since he recently replaced Nathaniel Martson in the role, and had basically not had a chance yet to do anything else. When it was needed, Stack stepped up to plate and delivered a home run, a performance his bosses at ABC should never forget.
And here’s where the quality of the writing kicked in. At the zero hour, Marcie did not shoot up the place or kill anyone in the macho manner in which Sonny or Jason probably would have on General Hospital. She was talked into surrender by her husband Michael, by reassuring her that no matter what happened he would stand by her and love her. They would stand up to the world as a family. May I repeat “and love her.” This is what soap opera viewers long to hear: This is how we deal with our problems. With love, with family, not with guns. This is called writing which understands the medium it’s for. Daytime soap opera. Not The Godfather.
And so I burbled when the dreaded moment came — Marcie actually handing Todd the baby. (And being arrested on the spot!) What mother can not relate to this, having to give away your child, the ultimate moment of madness? Marlena was stunned. And I know I am not the only One Life to Live viewer who sobbed mightily for the moment Marcie and I had feared would come for months and months and months …
Oh, soap operas can be great … if they’re done right! As demonstrated by the acting, writing and directing in the Marcie-on-the-run sequence and the Marcie-surrenders-the-baby scenes, thank goodness at least OLTL remembers how to make good quality soap!