July 28, 2004 

Is RJ the biggest loser in love that Llanview has to offer?  There’s no doubt that tptb seem reluctant to see RJ happy in a relationship, but then, maybe I am too.  When Evangeline first came on board and was quickly interacting with RJ, it seemed too good to be true!  They brought someone sexy on board, and she seemed destined for RJ, what could be better?  They had chemistry, and soon we moved forward into…we moved forward into…we moved…oh wait, that’s right, I remember now - nothing happened.  Apparently they’ve been dating, I think maybe sleeping together (though they have little to fear from the fast-growing internet sex tape business, that’s for sure), and Vangie gave him a “what are you up to” look every few days or so when she suspected he was scheming over something.  Pfft.  That’s not at all what I had in mind when I saw sparks of a possible RJ match up.  While RJ and Evangeline were having this “relationship”, I mostly noticed that Evangeline was doing business with most every male character in Llanview (Kevin, Todd, Antonio, John), and she was most definitely generating sparks of some sort with each and every one.   

Evangeline is a great addition to the OLTL cast of characters.  She’s strong, gorgeous, self-assured, and has a career that is in great demand in soap land.  Renee Elise Goldsberry is a fine actress that has the gift of generating chemistry of some sort with most every other actor she encounters.  Vangie and Nora have foraged an interesting friendship that immediately felt realistic to me, even after it came out of nowhere.  She sparked with Todd, while making it clear that Evangeline was never being snowed by Todd, but rather knew exactly what he was doing and why.  She sparked with Asa, and believably maintains a command for respect, even in the face of some of the toughest characters to pull that off with.  One Life to Live hasn’t truly tested her chops yet, but I don’t expect to be disappointed when they do.   

As soap characters go though, Evangeline has been pristine.  The few times she hasn’t been working toward truth and justice in her legal practice, she’s been on the side of a character few want to see thrown in jail (Asa B.).  She’s a good girl, albeit not of the simpering Jessica type, but still, a good girl.  Soap writers (and viewers) love the good girl meets bad boy scenario, and it often provides great entertainment.  RJ is the ultimate bad boy; actually, let’s go with bad man because somehow it seems much more fitting in his case.  The problem is RJ is rarely, if ever, allowed to show his vulnerable side – something that bad boys need to show with some form of regularity.  We sometimes get to witness RJ’s soft spots, but they don’t often go into full out vulnerability with him anymore.  It was there with Keri, and maybe that’s a good argument for why she shouldn’t have been completely killed off.  She did leave her baby behind, and Grandpa RJ should provide plenty of vulnerability in the future.  Unfortunately, it may come to late for use in developing the RJ/Evangeline relationship. 

The writer’s seemed on the right track back around the time of Keri’s death, but then it seemed to fall apart.  Whether because they had different plans even then for both characters or not, they just stopped developing the characters together and started using the relationship as a backdrop for two people leading very different lives.  The glaring differences in the characters became very apparent to me, and the good girl/bad boy drama of the whole thing was completely ignored.  Evangeline spent little time worrying that RJ could easily become her most regular client if the mood hit him.  RJ, however, did spend time worrying about Vangie working in close proximity to the police, the DA’s office, etc…as though somehow he never considered that he was dating an attorney.  It was discussed between them very little, and it became apparent that we were supposed to accept that these two attractive, sexual beings were having their relationship behind closed doors, for the most part.  If it couldn’t be discussed at a table at Capricorn, then it couldn’t be discussed.  I, for one, was disappointed.   

Since I like both characters very much, it didn’t take me long to go back to noticing their chemistry with others.  RJ and Lindsay, RJ and Nora, heck, RJ even makes Jessica interesting once in awhile.  Evangeline has the aforementioned chemistry with pretty much everyone, but I sat up and took notice when she made Antonio seem like a good idea for a few minutes there.  As for John McBain, I can honestly say that I didn’t see it coming.  I like John just fine, but I don’t find him particularly attractive.  I liked the idea of John and Natalie in the beginning, but at this point I’d need a major Natalie overhaul (and would need a John overhaul if I cared enough, but I don’t) before I’d want to see that happen.  John is quite obviously still in the stages of running from anything resembling love, and I can buy that from the character I guess.  I don’t think losing Katherine helped any either…not that I grieved her any but I suppose he should have a little.  Yet he didn’t, he just plowed on ahead, which seems to be his style.   

I can buy that Evangeline was having trouble with RJ and maybe was doubting whether that relationship was something she should have gotten involved in or not.  It would have helped immensely to see more of those doubts, but I can believe some of it is implied.  I can also believe that she may have been at that crossroad most relationships hit where you realize you have to either be in it for the long haul or get the hell out…and she may have run scared at the thought of making things work with RJ, or at the thought of how much she *wanted* things to work.  It happens.  The writing hasn’t done much of a job of making us feel any of it though, and that’s a shame.  That said; I’m rarely against a sudden flaring of passion between to consenting soap opera characters, so I could believe that in that situation, John and Evangeline threw caution to the wind and went for it.  The scenes were unexpected (if you’re spoiler free) and an interesting twist.  Who would have thought they’d end up in bed together?  I wouldn’t have been all that surprised by an Antonio/Evangeline fling, because it seemed they were maybe heading toward that with RJ’s obvious jealousy over the two working together.  Did what ultimately happened prove he had reason to be jealous, or did his (sometimes raging) jealousy tip her off to facets of RJ she had not yet experienced? 

Evangeline and Antonio would have been shortsighted though, because the animosity already exists there.  John is a new player, and brings Natalie and Paul along with him into the foray.  Paul has a vested interest in keeping John away from Natalie.  Both RJ and Natalie have Rex tagging along, and goodness knows he always mixes things up and he seems to be biding his time with the information he knows at the moment.  Antonio is John’s best friend, but Antonio has a daughter to think about and RJ is her grandfather…no one is served by antagonizing the other with the baby in between.  Jessica wants Natalie away from Paul, and RJ was probably nicer regarding Antonio and the baby when he was with Evangeline, so goodness knows what Jessica could be talked into doing to set things right…she’ll jump at any chance to get involved in just about anything, lol.   

I find it all very interesting.  Evangeline handled her betrayal of RJ calmly, in her best attorney’s voice, but there’s more to admit to herself I would think.  The way she chose to extricate herself from the relationship will undoubtedly come back to haunt her.  RJ has been wronged, yet it’s impossible not to cite karma as the possible instigator.  John knew exactly what he was doing, and he can hardly deny having the motivations of self-destruction floating around in there somewhere.  Natalie had “moved on”, and no one likes to be the one standing around waiting…alone.  I’ve always loved RJ, and I root for him to learn things from his mistakes so that he can finally be happy with someone, yet all the while I don’t want him to lose his edge or become uninteresting.  Sure, I’d want him to be in love…but I wouldn’t want him to stop being the RJ he’s always been.  So what does that mean exactly?  Can root for him to get the girl, even knowing that most likely he’ll ruin the whole thing and possibly ruin her?  Is John McBain any less likely to hurt the girl in the end?  He’s completely on the run from emotion of any sort, and it seems pretty obvious that the reason Evangeline and he are finding comfort (and are comfortable with each other) together has a lot to do with the safety that can be found in being unfettered.  They can talk comfortably about things that neither talks about very well elsewhere, and that’s because there’s nothing to lose.  Not that I’m saying they don’t have something, or won’t in the future, because I’d guess that many a relationship is born from just needing someone who is safe and undemanding to hold onto for a while.   

Safe and undemanding are exactly what RJ needs as well, and I recommend Lindsay.  Not that she can usually be considered safe, but in this instance, I think they could do each other some good.  Lindsay has learned a few things that RJ still needs to understand, and RJ needs someone who can be with him without judging him.  I personally still have hope that Evangeline and RJ will end up together down the road somewhere, so I view this as a chance for both to learn a thing or two about jumping in with both feet before you see what’s below.  If the characters are going to be allowed to look ahead, the writers will have to adapt the same strategy.  It can’t hurt, that’s for sure.



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