This week, Passions once again finds almost all of our characters in Rome. Well, the fake soundstage Rome, anyway. There’s a carriage ride with no horse; a pair of red fur-lined handcuffs; and a fight scene in a hip club. There’s plenty of stalking by plenty of psychos; some intrigue surrounding the mysterious Symbol; and an amusing turn by a drunken “former tabloid editor” who thinks that protecting his sources means hiding the stories he’s already published. Oh, and there’s tons of drinking. You could play the world’s simplest drinking game with this show – drink when they drink! – and you’d be passed out by 2:30 p.m. On with the show.We open on Gwen and Rebecca, in a lavish bedroom at the Crane mansion. I am so happy that we are finally getting some Rebecca scenes! She is one of the funniest characters on this show. And she is pure eeeeevil, which you can tell by the fact that she is one of the few characters on TV who makes openly racist remarks. For example, earlier this week, she called Theresa a “little taco-cita.”
Gwen is panicking because she has just found out that J.T. Cornell, the tabloid editor who holds her fate in his hands, is in Rome. Yes, the very same Rome that Theresa is in! Yes, that Rome. This guy is the one person on Earth who can confirm that it was Gwen and Rebecca – not Theresa – who tipped the tabloids to the fact that Ethan is a bastard, lo these many years ago.
No, not that kind of a bastard. The kind where he isn’t really a Crane, because his mom, Ivy Crane, cheated on her husband Julian with her old flame, police chief Sam Bennett. This means that Ethan’s blood is not blue, and he lost his fortune as a result. It doesn’t seem to have slowed him down too much, since I believe he still lives in the Crane mansion, but in the world of this show, it was a Very. Big. Deal.
Rebecca is not too concerned that she and Gwen will be found out. In fact, her proposed solution is that they should booze it up and forget about it. She keeps pushing Gwen to just have a martini. What an awesome mom.
“Have a [green] martini, dear.”
This brings me to one of my favorite things about soaps: In nearly every bedroom, and nearly every living room, there is a full liquor setup out on a table in full view. No, not a regular bar – we never see any actual liquor bottles, or even wine bottles. Instead, there are fancy crystal decanters full of booze in every room, and whenever people are even a tiny bit stressed, they go over and pour themselves a stiff drink – without needing to leave the room. And almost all of the characters do this! Yes, you tend to see it more with the rich people, and more with the bad guys – but plenty of middle-class good guys do it too. It is just such a hilariously retro lifestyle message. I’m surprised they don’t also have big ashtrays full of cigarette butts in every room of the house.
Now, the key to this J.T. Cornell storyline is something we just recently learned – namely, that Rebecca once had an affair with J.T. Cornell. This isn’t too surprising, since Rebecca has always rapaciously attacked any male within a fifty-foot radius. Oh, and she always makes them dress up in costumes and use props, too. However, this particular affair has been conveniently retrofitted into the plot – I don’t think it was part of the storyline back when Ethan’s paternity was actually uncovered.
Gwen wants her mom to call up her old pal J.T. and make sure that he stays away from Theresa. Which provides us with a convenient segue to … Rome.
In last week’s comments, somebody asked whether Passions was really shooting in Rome. To that I say: HAHAHAHAHA. I am not laughing at the person who asked the question, because if you haven’t been watching, it’s a very good question. I am old enough to remember the glory days of the ’80s, when Days shot huge, over-the-top storylines in Greece, Sweden, and England. What a great time to be a soap actor.
No, I’m laughing because if you turn on Passions, you’ll see that they have reduced their set budget to approximately $7.95 per quarter. It is so bad that the audience can’t be trusted to even notice that we’re in Rome. Instead, before every Rome scene, we get an establishing shot, like this:
ROME – FILE FOOTAGE
You would think they could have flown maybe one or two actors over to Rome to appear in a couple of these shots, but no. Then, we cut to the interior of some totally generic-looking “hotel” or “restaurant,” where the extras all speak with bad Italian accents. The exception is the scenes in the catacombs or the piazza, where it looks like they did at least build some new sets.
By the way, for the last few years, whenever I have seen a soap go “on location,” they always go on location to Los Angeles. Wow – thanks for the effort, guys. I bet the actors were really excited about that trip.
Our first Rome scene for today stars Ethan, and it starts with an awesome voice-over: “The role of Ethan Winthrop is temporarily being played by Rib Hillis.” This is exciting mostly because I think Rib Hillis is the best soap actor name of all time. Y’all, his name is Rib. Do you think it’s short for Ribbington? Ribworthy? Ribson? McRib? (By the way, he used to play a medical intern on the canceled ABC soap Port Charles.)
“Rib Hillis” in “Rome.”
I have not bothered to find out why we temporarily have a new Ethan – feel free to fill me in. To me, this temporary recast just serves to drive home how wooden all of the Ethans have been and how interchangeable they all are.
Anyway, the Ribwich is looking at a cell-phone picture that he just received from Crane Security, showing him what J.T. Cornell looks like. And what do you know – Ethan recognizes him as a guy who was hitting on Theresa at “the club” earlier in the evening, using the name “Joe.” Ethan wants to find Theresa and tell her, but he doesn’t know where she is. We know where she is, though – she went home with J.T. (J.T. is being played by Michael Sabatino, who was Lawrence Alamain on Days, and was also on various other soaps.)
Theresa doesn’t know that the guy she’s with is really J.T. The whole reason she was with this random guy was to make Ethan jealous, and it was working reasonably well. In my opinion, though, she took it a little too far by actually going back to this strange man’s apartment. Not really that smart.
And just to demonstrate how not-smart it is, as soon as they get back to his apartment, he starts insisting that she drink. Hey, he and Rebecca do have something in common! He also seems to be wasted already, and his slurred delivery is pretty funny. While he’s off making the drinks, Theresa looks at his answering machine and tells him that he has a message. We know that the message is actually from Rebecca, so if he were to play it in front of Theresa, his identity would be revealed. But he doesn’t.
Theresa then engages in the classic Passions pastime of talking to herself, announcing: “Well, I guess, you know, it wouldn’t hurt to stay like a half an hour here with Joe, if it makes Ethan realize how much he loves me.” I must pause here to say that Lindsay Hartley’s acting is head and shoulders above that of almost everyone else on the show: She almost makes the talking to herself appear convincing. Almost.
Hamlet she’s not.
Next we go to the Three Dunceketeers (Jessica, Paloma, Simone). They are making wishes in the “Trevi” “Fountain.” They are having a great time, but as they walk away, we see that EvilMonk is following them.
What an expressive actor.
Then we see Noah, in a hotel room with Lena, the evil “Dragon Lady.” This storyline is pretty confusing, but I’ve caught up some since last week. Lena’s goal is apparently to destroy Noah and Fancy’s lives. I’m not sure why she wants to do that, but hey, I can get on board. So she’s going about it as follows:
Once, a long time ago, Noah and Maya witnessed a murder. Spike was the killer and the victim was some random nobody. However, Lena has lied to Noah and said that (a) the victim was her “partner,” and (b) she wants to catch the killer. She is blackmailing him into trying to hunt down the killer, and she keeps telling him that he can’t resume his normal, happy life with Fancy until he does. Again, you might ask why, and I would be forced to answer – why ask why? Try Bud Dry.
So right now, Spike is hiding in Lena’s closet with a gun. If Noah were to find him there, it would reveal that – um – I’m not sure. Well, for one thing, it would reveal that Lena is hiding something from Noah. Also, Noah is familiar with Spike in his professional capacity, as Noah’s little sister’s pimp. And oh, by the way, Spike has The Symbol tattooed on his wrist (just as Jess has it on her back). Noah starts snooping around the hotel room. Will he find Spike in the closet??
Back in Harmony, Sheridan is staring longingly at a picture of Luis. I’m not sure whether this counts as talking to herself, since she is talking to the picture. She tells it: “Luis, I miss you. God help me, I know I shouldn’t; I’m married to Chris and I’m expecting his child, but I miss you so much.” Everybody all caught up there? Good. I have to say that Sheridan looks really clunky, since the actress is pregnant in real life. I’m used to these fake soap pregnancies where they are all skinny but they have, say, a sack of sugar under their shirt.
“I’m not talking to myself. When the camera is off, this picture talks back to me, I swear.”
Luis misses Sheridan, too. He is in Rome, at “the club,” which is called Prometheus. By the way, in several of these Rome scenes, a Rolling Stones song is playing – “Rain Fall Down” from their current album. This is product placement at its oddest. The Stones did this with Days a while back, with another track from this same album. Is it just me, or doesn’t this up the cool factor of these crappy, low-budget soaps, while making the Rolling Stones seem really pathetic and desperate? (The songs are not bad.)
Luis is hanging out with Fancy. Her new friend has just vanished. That’s because her new friend is Beth, who is cleverly trying to avoid being spotted by Luis. (Fancy didn’t know Beth before, so she has no idea who she’s been hanging out with.)
Luis and Fancy at Prometheus, the “hippest” “club” in “Rome.”
Beth spent much of this week engaged in wacky hijinks, trying to kill Fancy with a variety of Wile E. Coyote-style moves. For example, she was disguised as a chambermaid for a while. She wants to kill her because she has transferred her hatred of Sheridan onto Fancy, who appears to be the new object of Luis’s attention. Also, Fancy is blonde like Sheridan, and she’s a Crane like Sheridan.
(NB: Beth is also a Crane, as the Pit storyline culminated with the shocking revelation that Alistair Crane is her biological father. However, learning this did not fill Beth with sisterly love.)
At Prometheus, Luis is scolding Fancy for being generally difficult for him to keep track of. She tells him to chill out, and he reminds “her” about “the e-mail threat that Theresa got, warning us that somebody might just not make it home to Harmony.” (This type of conversation, along with the wall-staring monologues, is the reason why you only need to watch the show a couple of times a year to know what’s going on.)
Her response is kind of hilarious: “First of all, there’s a whole slew of us here from Harmony.” In other words, there’s only like a 5 or 10 percent chance that she is the one who’s going to be murdered – more likely, it’s just one of their close friends or relatives – so he should just quit worrying about it. Anyway, he lectures her some more, really whiny. He is starting to remind me a lot of Jack from Lost, with all his annoying preachiness.
Maybe Jack is a secret Lopez-Fitzgerald love child.
Luis again reminds Fancy and the audience that his main priority is to find his son. She blathers something about how lucky Sheridan is to have him, because, like, I guess if he wasn’t so devoted to Sheridan, he wouldn’t want to find his kidnapped kid? Whatever. Anyway, they hug, and then Beth walks back in and sees them (but they don’t see her), and she is enraged. She caresses the weapon she’s carrying in her purse – a pair of long scissors, the weapon of choice of soap-opera psychos everywhere.
After the commercial, we go back to the Dunceketeers, who decide they want to take a carriage ride through the city. Huh – apparently they are supposed to be outside, although you could’ve fooled me. For one thing, there are almost no people around, even though they’re in the middle of some kind of piazza. Come on, Passions, couldn’t you at least hire a few more non-speaking extras and dub in some traffic noise or something? How much would that really cost?
They meet a horse-and-carriage guy, who hilariously has no horse. Horses cost too much, so this scene is shot from an angle where you will just have to imagine the horse.
No, really, I swear I have a horse. It’s, uh, right over here….
Simone approaches the guy by saying, “Hi, my Italian is terrible, but are you … for … hire?” And she waves her hand up in the air. I think she’s signing “higher.” That should clear that language barrier right up. Of course, the guy speaks English, and he takes them for a ride, and we see again that EvilMonk is following them.
Noah is still suspicious of Lena and searching her hotel room to see if she’s hiding any accomplices. He opens the closet where Spike is hiring, but he doesn’t see him, because Spike is suspended from the ceiling, Spiderman-style!
Ew – looks like he might find him when sweat starts dripping from the closet ceiling.
Sheridan talks to Luis’s picture some more. She wishes she had waited one more day before marrying Chris. Because, you see, then Luis would have returned from the dead while she was still a single woman. I hate it when that happens.
Luis goes off to buy Fancy a drink, and she starts dancing with some greasy Italian. He talks to himself about how he doesn’t like that because it isn’t safe. Beth is watching her, too, and calls her a slut, and caresses her scissors some more.
Ethan (still the Ribwich version) is looking for Theresa, “outside” on the “piazza.”
“Rib” is wondering why there’s a Vespa in the middle of this hotel lobby.
He does a little good old-fashioned soliloquizing. “I can’t believe that she left the club with this guy! I mean, she doesn’t know anything about him, let alone that he’s the tabloid editor that she’s been trying to track down ever since she heard he was in Rome. How the hell am I gonna tell her if I can’t even find her?” For some reason, his loud, nonsensical ramblings don’t lead to an arrest for vagrancy.
J.T. Cornell is totally planning to roofie Theresa, “to put her in the mood,” as he says. These people don’t even quit narrating their actions when they’re in the process of committing a secret violent felony against a person standing ten feet away. Theresa tastes her roofied drink, but it’s disgusting, so she only has a tiny sip. She’s torn between staying and going home, but J.T. convinces her to come out on the balcony. She oohs and aahs over his view. Of course, we don’t get to see the view for ourselves, but for once the show makes a small effort and we get some cricket noises to signify outdoors-ness.
On the balcony, J.T. starts trying to make his move. Theresa tries to turn him down politely, saying she doesn’t know him at all, so he starts “giving her his resume,” if you know what I mean. No, really, he says that. He tells her, “In a previous life, I was a damn good newspaperman.” She says, “A reporter, huh?” He gets all cocky, and he’s like, “In the beginning, but I got promoted to edit-or.” He says this like he’s bragging about being a racecar driver or a movie star.
Editors of the world, rise up!
Theresa notes the coincidence, since she is looking for a particular editor herself. Then we see that J.T. has a framed photo of himself and Rebecca on his coffee table – which Theresa hasn’t noticed. Oh, and in the photo, they’re in bed. Um. Who frames (or even takes) this type of photo and displays it in their living room? For that matter, who goes to this much trouble to commemorate an affair they had twenty years ago?
Ah, memories. Sweet memories.
Lena finally convinces Noah to quit digging through her closet and return to his fake mission, finding the man who killed her fake partner. She recaps that he and Maya were the only eyewitnesses; they were in an attic and saw this guy get shot in the back. He says he didn’t see anything useful and can’t help. She tries to basically hypnotize Noah into remembering more of what he saw, and suddenly, he magically remembers that the killer had The Symbol tattooed on his wrist.
Spike is really sweating it in the closet, with The Symbol tattooed on his wrist. Er, I really don’t get this. I thought Lena was just trying to send Noah on a wild goose chase to keep him away from Fancy. Isn’t it going to screw things up for her and Spike if he actually pins the murder on Spike? Shouldn’t Spike be a little annoyed that she is helping Noah remember stuff that could tie Spike to the crime?
Sheridan has a bunch of sappy flashbacks of her and Luis. She cries, although she doesn’t manage any actual tears, and clasps his photo to her breast.
Luis and Beth continue to watch Fancy from opposite sides of the club. The greasy Italian starts making unwanted groping advances on Fancy. Actually, his fake accent is completely French. Is this intentional? Do you think this extra was like, “Okay, but what about my character’s motivation? Let’s say he’s in town from France on business and he’s lonely. I just need to understand him better.”
With that accent, he deserves this.
Luis goes over and punches the guy’s lights out, just like you knew he would. He then tries to justify it by saying the guy was reaching for his pocket. The guy says he was just going for his cell phone, and Luis gets thrown out of the club. Fancy doesn’t want to go with him, but she’s pathetic and lets Luis order her.
Lena tells Noah to get out of her room and start investigating. She says that if his sister has the same tattoo as the killer, maybe he should start by questioning her. He says that Jessica doesn’t know the meaning of her own tattoo. Finally Lena gets him to leave and Spike comes out of the closet. He brags about Noah not knowing that his “sister’s boyfriend” was hanging over his head in the closet, and Lena corrects him to “sister’s pimp.”
Gee, do you think this guy is supposed to be a pimp?
Lena tries to tell Spike to stay away from Noah so he isn’t spotted, but he fills her in that EvilMonk ordered him to Rome to do one thing only – kill Noah – and he’s not going to disappoint. This makes me wonder why he didn’t just kill Noah right now, when he could have had the element of surprise in the closet in this very room. Oh, and also, he had a gun. Best not to think too hard about this one.
Gwen wants Rebecca to call J.T. again, because what if he didn’t get Rebecca’s message? She demands that Rebecca search extra hard to see if she has another number for the guy. When Rebecca doesn’t hop to it fast enough, Gwen dumps her purse out on the bed. Rebecca pours herself another green drink as Gwen rummages through the contents. She is a bit put off by the presence of sex toys – fur-lined handcuffs, specifically, and, um, something that looks like jumper cables.
Rebecca keeps these in her purse.
Gwen finds a manila envelope full of old photos, and Rebecca is like, “Oh, wow, I wondered where that went!” It was IN YOUR PURSE. How do you not know that you have a manila envelope full of photos in your purse?
Rebecca proudly shows off the picture of her and J.T. in bed, and Gwen is suitably disgusted. Rebecca clarifies that this was the first night they met, just in case we forgot what a big slut she is in the five seconds since it was explained to us by the presence of those fur handcuffs.
Of course, the picture provides for a clever segue back to J.T.’s apartment, with the same picture on the coffee table. Theresa knocks it off the table, but they don’t bother to pick it up. She tries to draw J.T. out about his editor past, and when he doesn’t want to talk about it, she tries to leave. He promises her juicy stories to get her to stay. While he isn’t looking, she dumps the rest of her drink into his.
J.T. starts to brag about the scandalous stories he broke back in the day. He tells her that one of them involved “one of the wealthiest families in the Northeast.” Theresa’s radar starts to ping, and she asks him which family. He says, “Oh, you’d know the name, all right, but I’m not gonna name names. I’m gonna protect my sources in case I ever get back in that game.”
Hang on a second. He’s talking about a story that was huge news several years ago. Dude – what do you mean, you aren’t going to name names? The whole thing was already on the front page! Theresa’s not asking for sources – she’s just asking to know the part that was ALREADY IN THE PAPER.
This guy needs to brush up on his Journalism 101.
Theresa is not sharp enough to point out this flaw in J.T.’s reasoning, so she asks him for some hints about the subject matter. He decides there would be no harm in that (you think?), so he tells her that he called the story “Paternity-gate.” Ooh, catchy name. This pings Theresa’s radar even louder.
J.T. fills in more details, enough to make it totally clear to Theresa that he’s talking about Ethan and the Cranes. (Also, enough so that anyone who remembered reading this supposedly front-page story would know exactly what he was talking about – so much for “protecting his sources.”) Michael Sabatino does a really good job of acting comically drunker and drunker.
Luis and Fancy are back in Fancy’s room, and they’re still bickering. I guess this is the show’s attempt at building Moonlighting-style romantic chemistry. Next! They do manage to make me laugh by chugging some nice stiff drinks poured from a crystal decanter in their room.
See? Even the good guys do it.
Luis goes into the bathroom and calls Sheridan. He tells her that he briefly saw Beth and Marty, and Marty looks fine, but they got away. Luis rambles on about their future together and Sheridan tries to deflect him.
And just on the other side of the door, Beth is sneaking into the room where Fancy lies in bed, already asleep. You just know she has those scissors ready to go.
Remember the three idiot girls taking the carriage ride around Rome? Well, the carriage is totally silent and motionless, as is the scenery, and the driver seems to have vanished too, but the girls are having a great time anyway. Paloma blah blahs about how romantic Rome is and how she always wanted to experience it with the man of her dreams. Simone takes the opportunity to remind us that she is a lesbian, and is hoping to find the girl of her dreams in Rome. The Dunceketeers all giggle.
(Oh, and thanks for the reminder, Passions. It is, in fact, pretty hard to remember that Simone is a lesbian, since she never has a love interest and acts 100 percent identical to her bubbleheaded straight friends. However, if you check out the NBC Passions Vendetta website, you can find little bios of all the characters. For example, Luis’s explains about how he’s in love with Sheridan, looking for Marty, etc. Whereas Simone’s just says, “Simone is a lesbian.” Apparently that’s her whole life story, so it’s nice that they do mention it once every six months or so.)
Is this because I’m a lesbian?
Jessica opines that she, herself, is not meant to find love, what with her recent history as a cheap hooker under Spike’s evil influence. Her friends reassure her that she can put it all behind her. Spike lurks in the shadows.
And seriously, y’all, the carriage is not moving. At first I thought it was just a tight shot, to hide the fact that it wasn’t really moving, but now we can see that the three of them are sitting in this motionless carriage next to some ruins. What the?
Worst carriage ride ever.
Theresa is still trying to squeeze info out of J.T., but she’s kind of made things tougher on herself by drugging him into near-oblivion. In fairness to her, there’s no reason to think she knows what he put in her drink or what she thus put back into his.
Gwen finally gets Rebecca to put in another call to J.T. And – dun dun DUN! – Rebecca proceeds to leave a message on his machine, with Theresa sitting right there in the living room listening. Theresa recognizes Rebecca’s voice right away, and her jaw drops. Really, though, this would have been a more shocking reveal if Theresa hadn’t already figured out who J.T. is a few minutes ago. (And remember, she already knows Rebecca and Gwen tipped J.T. to the paternity scandal, so the Rebecca connection is nothing new to her.)
Still, Theresa is excited enough to hyperventilate. At first it looks as if she’s hoping Rebecca will leave something incriminating on the answering-machine tape, and maybe she would have, if Theresa didn’t proceed to do the dumbest thing ever: She answers the phone, just to rub it in to Rebecca that she’s there with J.T. Way to make sure you don’t get any EVIDENCE, there, Theresa. She does succeed in sending Gwen and Rebecca into a full-scale panic attack.
Ethan is still conducting a futile search for Theresa among the three or four people crowding the piazza, and he runs into Noah, who’s conducting his own futile search for Jess. You know, these three guys – Ethan, Noah, and Luis – are supposed to be so macho and so concerned with protecting all of their helpless womenfolk and making sure nothing bad happens to them, but they don’t seem to be able to keep tabs on any of them for more than two minutes at a time.
The Three Dunceketeers finally get out of their abandoned carriage. Paloma and Simone turn their backs on Jess for one minute, and they totally lose her. Spike is holding her gagged and at knifepoint on the other side of the carriage.
Beth, in a blonde wig, delivers a monologue in Fancy’s hotel room. Okay, remember what I said earlier, about how these people talk to themselves even when they are plotting a violent crime against someone a few feet away? Well, they even do it when that person is SLEEPING. This particular monologue runs as follows: “Bitch! How dare you try to take Luis away from me and my son! You’re gonna pay for this, missy, with your life.”
Uh-oh! Just then, Beth hears Luis running water in the bathroom, so she goes over and blocks the bathroom door with a chair. Luis is still in there on the phone with Sheridan, and his crack bodyguarding skills cause him not to bother to check what’s going on, even when he hears a weird noise.
Beth continues her monologue, and we see that she has abandoned her scissors in favor of a good old-fashioned pillow-smothering. I guess it’s quieter. Her final words of the episode? “Bye-bye, blondie. Say hi to the devil when you get down there for me, okay? ‘Cause you’re going STRAIGHT TO HELL.” She jumps on with the pillow and Fancy starts making “Mmf!” noises.
Gotta love a murder scene with plenty of cleavage.
And … scene. That’s it for today. However, just like last week, I also owe you a wrap-up of the storylines that didn’t appear on Friday’s show. This time, I decided to save it for the end of the recap instead of putting it up front. And this week, there was really only one storyline that didn’t appear on Friday.
That’s right, y’all – there was NO mermaid on Friday. And after all of my trash-talking, I kind of missed it. I know you are all clamoring for mermaid news, but not much happened with that this week. After last week’s steamy photo shoot wrapped up, they all went out to eat together, and there was some comedy when Siren scarfed some fish out of the aquarium in the restaurant. Nobody saw her, though – at least, no one who wasn’t an extra. Then Miguel and Siren made out some more, and Kay was pissed off some more.
Contrivance paid a visit (even more than usual) when Miguel confided in Siren that as a boy, he once wrote a description of his ideal woman and threw it into the ocean. On her own time, Siren went looking for it. And Kay was forced to admit to herself, finally, that she really does still have feelings for Miguel. Well, duh.
Previews for next week: Theresa taunts Rebecca on the phone. Luis tells Sheridan that Fancy is safe; meanwhile, Beth pulls the pillow off of an apparently dead Fancy. Miguel tells Kay that she told him to find somebody else to be with, and she confesses she didn’t mean it.
See you next week!