Welcome Back, Dusty!
It is absolutely wonderful to see Grayson McCouch back as Dusty Donovan! Oddly enough, he looks much younger than when he left World Turns. And maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me but with that mop top of curly hair Grayson looks like a slightly older version of his character Morgan Winthrop on the late Another World.
However as much as I've been enjoying the return of James Stenbeck, there is a problematic element with how Dusty's return has folded into the larger narrative. Once again we are subjected to executive producer Chris Goutman's love affair with compressed storytelling where events move at such a rapid pace there is no breathing room. As a result, tension and a sense of impending danger does not have the opportunity to build. When Emily held Dusty hostage a while back and as unsavory as the story was, it played out over the course of a little more than a week onscreen. As we witnessed the deterioration of Em's mental state, the stakes rose to such a degree that even if we knew that she wouldn't kill Dusty there was no telling how far she would go.
But over the course of the last day or so Meg finds Dusty alive and with barely enough time to let the enormity of finding her ex-lover being held in a cage by James Stenbeck, we get a rushed explanation for Dusty's faking his death in order to look for Lucy and Johnny. Then Meg breaks Dusty out of the cage and they are running for escape. Like too many stories on ATWT, everything moved far too fast.
Memo to Goutman: the danger of compressed storytelling is that in an effort to maintain a breathless momemtum of events and plot points one sacrifices potential audience investment in those events.
On the plus side, Marie Wilson and McCouch were great as Meg & Dusty. There was always good chemistry between them and they picked up right where they left off before Dusty became a horndog.
On the minus side, it didn't make a lot of sense for Paul to automatically jump to the conclusion that Meg had betrayed him with Dusty. Maybe it was the drugs. To be fair, it is in character since the writers haven't had Paul make much sense in a long time.
On the major plus side, Barbara instantly figured out James was behind sending the videos to Paul's laptop.
On the minus side, both Paul and Jack should have figured out it was James as well, given their respective histories with the villain.
On the plus side, Bonnie and Dallas actually shared a decent scene together although it was an argument. They are cousins, after all.
On the minus side, James did become a bit more cartoonish.
On the plus side as a nod to history, James always gets cartoonish as all his schemes (and story lines) come to a head.
Brad/Katie/Mike: These scenes played well among all the actors and made a bit of sense given recent developments, yet they also lacked a certain punch since we here know Mike is not long for Oakdale. And what a shame, too, because Jon Prescott plays very well off the women on the canvas. (Why couldn't Mike have gone after Lucinda?)
Kudos to the production staff for the outdoor location scenes. Although everything from the beach to Derek being conked on the head in the middle of the street all seem to have been shot within a two block radius of each other, the cinematography was nonetheless very effective. It ain't Lost, but it's still enjoyable. Sure beats the hell out of Guiding Light's Peapack Afghanistan!
LINE OF THE DAY goes to James Stenbeck to his newest hostage Derek: "I do hope you've eaten, because in the present economy the prison meal plan has been cut."
What say you, gentle folk? How do you feel about Grayson's return? Is his story arc here moving too fast or would a more deliberate pace bore you? Does any soap character look worse in a hospital gown than Paul? Who needs rescue more, Meg Ryan from James Stenbeck or Sarah Palin from Katie Couric? Inquiring minds...