‘One Life To Live’s Heroines Fall From Grace

by | November 22, 2010 at 10:37 AM | Deep Soap

Jessica Leccia (CBS)

Jessica Leccia (CBS)

Tarnished Halos

Sometimes a little moral ambiguity can go a long way towards making a character interesting.  ‘One Life To Live’s’ Inez (Jessica Leccia) makes my fast forward finger itchy.

She was a bland damsel in distress, with financial problems and a jerk of an ex-husband.  She has three annoying sons, amazing Miscrosoft Office skills (which admittedly makes her more competent than two thirds of soap characters), and inexplicably fascinates both Bo (Robert S. Woods) and Clint Buchanan (Jerry Ver Dorn) Inez and the Ford brood were starting to strike me as The Rappaports 2: Electric Boogaloo.  Then her ex, Eddie (John Wesley Shipp) came to town.  In a brilliant sequence, he suggested to Bo that Inez was actually a grifter, and that her wholesomeness was an act.

Bo: I’m not here to talk about Inez. I’m here to warn you. Watch your step.
Eddie: She tell you I kicked her out, that I forced her to leave James and Bobby behind? Is she singing that old tune?

Meanwhile, Bo’s wife Nora (Hillary Smith) called out Inez about her obvious crush on Bo.  If Inez is not really as nice as she seems, if she is embarking on a fiendishly clever plot to ensnare a Buchanan, an act made all the more plausible by her reluctance to date Clint, then Inez is suddenly fascinating.  She did, after all, abandon two of her sons.  That’s not what a living saint would do. Now I am going to be paying careful attention to all her scenes – or at least the ones without her kids — to see if she is really the nicest person in Llanview, or its more subtle villain.  Well played.

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Though she is an important character in OLTL history, Marty’s (Susan Haskell) return to the show has seemed superfluous ever since the conclusion of her initial twisted storyline wherein Todd (Trevor St. John) took advantage of her amnesiac state to get her to fall in love with him.  Marty had little to do other than occasionally dole out motherly advice to Cole (Brandon Buddy).

Her romance with John (Michael Easton) was dull.   Once it ended, I wondered why she was still in Llanview.  Then Marty attempted to take the blame for Cole’s murder of Elli (Matt Walton). Natalie (Melissa Archer), the woman John left her for, had the forensic evidence that proved Cole was guilty.  She refused to back up Marty’s false confession, pointing out that thanks to Cole’s fingerprints being on the gun, the truth was going to come out regardless of what she said.

Though Natalie is objectively right, Marty’s reasoning that Natalie is a hypocrite because she allowed other people to cover for her when she stabbed Mitch last year is also accurate.  That is a great, unexpected use of history.  After overhearing a couple of conversations between Natalie and Brody, Marty suspected that he could be the father of Natalie’s baby.  She used her job as a doctor to gain access to Natalie’s medical files and get proof.  Now she is torturing Natalie with her knowledge, waiting for the best moment to reveal her secret.

Vengeful Marty is entertaining.  It harkens back to the character’s roots as a dysfunctional rich girl who spread lies that Reverend Andrew Carpenter molested a teenager boy after he spurned her romantic advances.  She also has a sympathetic motivation.  Any mother would be tempted to lie to protect her child.  Any woman would hate the woman who she got dumped for, the woman who managed to get pregnant with her ex’s child not long after she had a miscarriage.  Now the most boring woman in Llanview has become one if its most exciting.

OLTL has managed the difficult task of showing new sides to two characters in just a few scenes without making them seem out of character.  This is why, despite its often uneven storytelling, it is ABC’s most compelling soap.