Soap Opera Digest
November 13th, 2001
Volume 26, No. 45
The Changeling, OLTL
So, it all comes down to
this: Having discovered a potential loophole in OLTL's history who says the
child returned by Allison after several weeks of kidnapping was the same one she
stole from the Llanfair crib in 1986 writers faced a daunting task.
this enormous tweak of history work, they'd need to assemble their best actors
and craft emotional, crackling writing that lifted the question off the page,
landing it square in the realm of "could have really happened." Adding in
a good, old-fashioned bitch-slap (from the wounded Jessica to smug Natalie) was
just the cherry on top. Man, this was fun!
Although Natalie, Seth
and Allison's shenanigans have been idling for a few weeks now, it wasn't until
Viki happening upon Natalie telling Seth that he was her man, not Jessica's
asked, "What did you just say?" that the engine was thrown into full
gear. A face-off with vet Erika Slezak (Viki) requires a confidence that most
actors couldn't muster, Melissa Archer (who does lean towards frequent,
strenuous pop-eyed surprise) however, lived up to the challenge. Nat had a
secret hidden under the enormous chip on her shoulder. So, in an extended
sequence (during which Erin Torpey's Jessica , rarely looking so sweetly
vulnerable, ran around Llanview discovering that her boyfriend and new best
friend had been lying to her), Natalie taunted a righteously angry Viki.
Yet Viki never threw her out, coming down hard on Natalie with a
simmering, narrow-eyed gaze, as if daring her to realize the error of her
ways and ask forgiveness. Natalie never flinched, lips curling back in
disgust at Mrs. Davidson's perceived arrogance. "Seth and I are lovers.
And we have been since way before we met Jessica." But Natalie was just
playing for time. With that satisfying smack in the face out of the way
and all the players assembled, including a long-suspicious Ben and an overeager
Allison, Nat could finally move the chip aside and let the secret out. The
success of the scenes grew out of more than just having all the characters
together thanks to the muted, creepily building music, and the staging, which
put all of Viki and Natalie's sparring in the Llanfair living room, then crammed
the other actors in there too, the scenes had a closeness verging on
claustrophobia. It was tense. It was meant to be that way.
players took sides : Ben, Jessica and Viki Vs Seth, Natalie and Allison.
Viki demanded an answer: "What is it that you and Allison are planning to
do to my daughter?" "Your daughter?" grinned Natalie, delivering her
long-held punchline with thick relish. "Oh, she's not your daughter. She's
nothing. I'm your daughter." And with that explosive release, the
humid closeness hissed out of that room like air from a balloon. It all
came out: How Allison took one baby but brought back another, how dirt-poor
Natalie grew up embittered that her own mother hadn't realized that shed been
given back a changeling, and so on.
The ripples will resonate for months
and years. With a less-than-deft treatment, this story could have lumbered
around like a blind giant. Instead, the talented cast, crew and writers
once again proved they've got the talent and guts to handle any twist in the
tale no matter how big.