Thursday, November 04, 2010

Missed Opportunity: Guiding Light Edition
Cassie Layne Winslow and Alan-Michael
Spaulding: A Bad Romance
By Nicole Walker

It never fails. Just like you know that when a woman sleeps with two different men on the same night that she’s going to end up pregnant or when an emotionally distraught girlfriend/wife/mother gets behind the wheel of a car you can set your watch by how many minutes she has before she crashes her car into oncoming traffic...

When news that an actor is leaving a soap and their character is being written out, THAT is when the character and their potential becomes 1000x more compelling than what they were before they were given the pink slip.

Now, many Guiding Light fans were skeptical when the beloved Alan-Michael Spaulding was brought back to the canvas in 2005, which was understandable since he wasn’t being played by Emmy award winned Rick Hearst. I mean, Alan-Michael IS Rick Hearst (sorry, Carl Tye Evans, we love you, too; it's just been a while) and Michael Dempsey (Alan-Michael’s new portrayer) was quite pretty to look at, but he wasn’t Rick Hearst.

And, as if the poor guy didn’t have enough against him, instead of playing with the big boys upon his return, Alan-Michael was thrown into not one but two head scratching romances with women nearly half his age - Marina and Ava - the former being the daughter of his ex-wife, Eleni, who at one time could have turned out to be Alan-Michael’s daughter!


After nearly two years on canvas, Dempsey was given his pink-slip in 2007, and us viewers were left to watch and wait for his exit.

And then it happened.

One scene of Alan-Michael playing the Spaulding Family Defender against the emotionally volatile and grieving Cassie Layne Winslow and suddenly I could visualize a compelling, organic, character-consistent, emotionally engaging storyline for Alan-Michael and Cassie that could keep going and going for years.

Take Alan-Michael: Always at odds with Alan and being a Spaulding, he nevertheless takes up the mantle of gate-keeper and head of the Spaulding family because that’s what a son does. In taking this action, of course, there is the hope that he will finally earn Alan’s respect and love.

Take Cassie Layne Winslow: A grieving mother who is unraveling to an alarmingly unpredictable degree. She has a legitimate beef against Alan-Michael’s father, Alan, for his role in Cassie’s daughter’s death and aims to see Alan - and all the Spauldings, if necessary - pay and pay dearly and will do so by any means necessary.

The two battle; Cassie doing her damndest to upset Alan’s life and Alan-Michael doing his best to set it right, Cassie changing up her tactics and playing up her grief to sucker Alan-Michael in, Alan-Michael playing to Cassie, claiming that he does feel her pain and understand what she’s going through...

Only somewhere along the way, the sweet sensitive part of himself that Alan-Michael tries to protect does begin to feel Cassie’s pain and Cassie is shocked to realize that not all Spauldings are without a heart or compassion and the two realize, to their horror, that they are falling in love with the enemy.

But this wasn’t supposed to happen, each is using the other as a means to an end. So they retreat from each other back to their warring selves, only the more they try to fight it, the more they can’t resist each other, even when they give in to lust and temptation they tell themselves that it’s all part of the plan, that they’re in control of themselves, in control of the situation and that nothing will keep them from their ultimate goals.

And then fate intervenes. Cassie ends up pregnant. Clich├ęd? Maybe. (Ed. Note: Tricky without a uterus, perhaps even more so.) But nothing steps up a storyline like a blood-feud baby!

Now the game goes to a whole new level.

For Cassie this child is a miracle, a salve for her broken heart or a weapon in her vendetta against the family obsessed Alan, even as it remains a vulnerability that the Spauldings can use to completely and utterly destroy her once and for all.

For Alan-Michael- this child marks the defining moment of his life. A family is now within reach, but will he cut ties from the Spauldings for his child and its mother and make a deliberate effort to protect his own child from Alan’s crushing influence? Or would he be swayed by Alan’s sudden interest in another heir to use his and Cassie’s child to finally cement himself in his father’s good graces?

Would Cassie and Alan-Michael ever trust each other enough to believe in their love? To let go of the past and look to a future as a normal happy family with their new bundle of joy?

Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

Cassie and Alan-Michael never engaged in full on crazy, sexy, hot, Spaulding-Layne warfare.

Alan-Michael went out with whimper instead of a bang, forced out of Springfield by Alan in a most humiliating manner in a supposed effort to ‘protect’ him.

Cassie would leave town a year later after finally hitting rock bottom, taking the one kid she had left, RJ, off for a new start in Hawaii.

Somewhat anti-climactic ends, I’d say.

But who knows, maybe those two, crazy, pretty kids still found each other after leaving Springfield; Cassie being the one to help Alan-Michael finally let go of his anger towards Alan, and Alan-Michael showing Cassie that not all Spauldings are irredeemably evil.

What do you all think? Click the Comments button and let us know!


Nicole Walker is the Associate Producer of Another World Today. She is rarely without an opinion.

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