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Part One of this Background discussion is at http://jwsel.livejournal.com/23229.html

Rewinding: How Shane/Kayla Came About, Guilt, and the Stephanie Factor

I have not really focused yet on the beginning of the Shane/Kayla relationship, but I think I should discuss how it came about and some of the factors that I believe played a role in the relationship.

Steve died due to the machinations of Laurence Alamain, the mastermind behind Jencon, an oil company that built a large refinery on the Salem waterfront despite local opposition.  Before Steve died, he videotaped a meeting of some key Salem Jencon people and Lawrence (via speaker phone) plotting to burn down a forest near Salem.  Steve, Bo, Shane and Roman all tried to stop the arson.  Bo and Steve planned to take a speedboat to the forest, but a Jencon thug placed a bomb inside, intending to kill Bo.  Instead, Steve was caught in the explosion.  For a few days, he hovered between life and death, but then Lawrence ordered that some drugs be placed in Steve's IV by a crooked doctor, resulting in Steve's death.

Immediately after Steve died, Jencon sent some thugs to search for the evidence -- the videotape -- he had left behind.  Kayla was attacked by one of the Jencon people, and Shane and Roman realized it was not a random mugging.  They urged Kayla not to return to her home, but to move into Shane's house for more protection. 

So what motivated Shane's sudden protectiveness?  He and Kayla did not seem to have a tremendously close relationship before Steve's death.  However, there is precedent for Shane doing something similar.  After Gabrielle was attacked by the Riverfront Knifer, Shane had Gabrielle move into his house, and refused to send her away when Kim returned from her 1988 departure. 

There also is another potential motivating factor -- guilt.  Steve was working with Shane to bring down Jencon when he died.  That led to a lot of tension between Shane and Kayla, who blamed him for Steve's death.  At the party just before Steve is killed, Kayla confronts Shane about Steve's involvement in the mission < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOZR6hOXKnY > and, later, at the hospital, directly accuses Shane of being responsible and sending Steve to his death < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StR3kh7a53s >.  For someone who is as much of a control-freak as Shane, I suspect that losing someone on his watch -- especially someone with as much of a history and family connection as Steve -- would lead to guilt.  (I sometimes wonder if similar guilt may have played a role in why Shane got close to Bo and Kim after Roman's death.  Roman was on a mission that Shane was supposed to perform, and Shane had promised Marlena that he would send Roman back to Salem safely.)

Now as I just said, when Kayla moved into Shane's house, there was a lot of tension between them.  That continued for a few months, through a trip to Lawrence Alamain's country ("Alamainia") and even beyond, as Shane was ordered by the ISA to use Kayla on a new mission -- to find out who was responsible for a virus that was killing ISA operatives.  Shane funded an immunology lab and hired Kayla to run it, but that led to conflicts between them, such as in this scene < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceWVBp3rVYk >.

There was, however, one thing that seemed to break the tension -- Kayla's infant daughter Stephanie -- beginning with scenes where Kayla is trying to get Stephanie acclimated to the new house < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnmdwM8GdmA and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLWQoTy6ZNc >.  (I do have a nit about that sequence, because Shane's reaction to the idea of allowing Stephanie to cry herself to sleep is the exact opposite of what he wanted Kim to do when Andrew was having trouble acclimating to their house after his kidnapping.) 

It also makes sense that Shane would bond with a baby girl.  Over his years on the show, Shane had three daughters: (1) Eve, who he only learned about when she was 14 or 15; (2) the baby girl that Kim lost shortly before birth; and (3) Jeannie, who Shane did not find out was his own daughter until she was more than a year old.  In some respects, Stephanie can be seen as a surrogate for those girls, and Shane clearly bonded with Stephanie as Kayla mentions in the second scene or as is apparent in this clip < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvxgyIFcEIw at 5:11>.  Shane even admits that Stephanie filled "a void" in his life in an exchange with Kim. < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQZXaNBgZaY at 4:21 (sorry about the video quality) >.  In fact, arguably, Shane spent more time with Stephanie as an infant than with any of his own children, because Andrew was in the hospital and kidnapped for most of his first year. 

These scenes make it implicit that just as Kayla describes how her few moments of happiness since Steve's death had often involved Shane, the same is true for Shane -- his few moments of happiness since Kim left had often come with Kayla, and many were due to Stephanie.  This may be why Shane finally kisses Kayla the night of Stephanie's first birthday shortly after Kayla tells him that she and Stephanie will be moving out of the house < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_lA3qg183c and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BGJRXXKbz0 >.  (The other prompt is Marcus kissing Kayla.)  I suspect that the thought of losing Stephanie may have contributed to Shane finally acting on his feelings.

Somewhat related to Stephanie is another moment of happiness that Kayla gave Shane.  This occurred when Kayla arranged for Andrew to visit Shane for Christmas after Kim refused < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnkyBzTxyEY and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTrkClltngA >.  In the second clip, compare Shane's happiness about Andrew with his rather curt and unemotional exchange in a phone call with Kim.  I think that drives home how painful the break-up with Kim still is for Shane, and provides another instance where Kayla provided a moment of happiness as a brief respite from the pain and angst Shane was experiencing.

But What About Kim?

I've only briefly mentioned Kim in all of this, but I first wanted to address Shane and Kayla coming together, which occurred largely when Kim was in Los Angeles.  However, Kim cannot be overlooked. 

    Isn't Kim Kayla's Sister?

The most significant issue viewers have with the relationship is that Kim is Kayla's sister.  This tends to be the biggest objection to the storyline.  How could Shane go after his ex-wife's sister and how could Kayla go after her sister's ex-husband?  After all, Shane has always been portrayed as a gentleman and Kayla repeatedly emphasizes that she and Kim are not just sisters, but "best friends."

The simplistic answer is "it's a soap opera," but that is rather unsatisfying.  On the other hand, Days of Our Lives has always emphasized the power of love and, if you accept that Shane and Kayla fell in love while sharing his house, then that love might override even the fact that Kim and Kayla are sisters.

Moreover, I would suggest that the fact that Kim and Kayla are sisters is somewhat responsible for the relationship.  I am not sure that Shane would have brought Kayla to his house if there were no pre-existing familial relationship between them. Would his guilt over Steve's death have been as strong if Kayla had not been Kim's sister?  I don't know, but certainly the several-year relationship between Kayla and Shane contributed to bringing them together. 

Further, as I explain above, their knowledge and familiarity with each other's past loves was another critical component to the relationship.  Shane's assurance to Kayla that he would not compete with Steve is probably something that very few men would have promised, and his understanding of her situation was probably informed by his own relationship with Kim.  In fact, Steve and Kim are very integral to the early relationship.  In Alamainia, Shane and Kayla were trapped in a collapsed tunnel and talked at length about Kim and Steve, respectively < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtUI1EXNZhk (some flashbacks are edited out of that clip)>.  Those past relationships helped forge the bond between them, and it is difficult envisioning that they would have been able to do that with anyone else.  In fact, when Kayla returned to the show in 2006, it was established that Shane was her only lover after Steve died, so she clearly was unable to form a bond with anyone else.

    What About Kim's Reaction?

This is the most curious issue for me.  I had always heard about the Kim-Shane-Kayla triangle.  Yet looking at the scenes that follow Kim's return, while there are a lot of uncomfortable elements, the triangle does not really develop until later, if at all.

Initially when Kim returns, Kayla's response is to get out of the way of a possible Kim/Shane reconciliation.  She tells Bo that anything with Shane has to stop < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_XZUP3pPfQ >.  (There also is a sweet scene in that clip where Shane sees Jeannie for the second time -- and learns that she was named after his mother -- but then ends with Shane remembering that Jeannie is not his.)  In the same clip, Kayla tells Shane she's moving out of the Donovan Mansion and that, while he may want to move on with his life without Kim, he won't do it with Kayla.  Then she goes to see Kim, telling her that she obviously still cares for Shane and should "fight" to be with him < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDU7EsVYZ38 >.  And in another scene with Shane, she tells him that she won't choose him over her family < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=891mBHkFtjE >.  Indeed, even in the mountain scenes, it is clear that Kayla agonized about the strain her relationship with Shane was putting on her relationship with Kim.  It seems pretty clear that if Kim wanted to get back together with Shane, Kayla would have quickly stepped aside.

Yet Kim does not say that she wants to get back together with Shane.  To the contrary, she tells Kayla that Shane has obviously moved on.  And in later scenes, she pushes Kayla toward Shane.  For instance, here, right after Eve has disappeared, Kim tells Kayla to go to Shane because he needs support and Kim also insists that things are over between her and Shane < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GTu8_HAMzU >.  (This scene occurs after Kim reveals that she is working with the ISA to trap Lawrence and, as a condition to her continuing on the case, insists that Shane arrange for Kayla to be fired from the lab she started with Shane.  Kayla then overhears a phone conversation and realizes her firing was due to Kim and Shane, though she doesn't realize it is related to an ISA case.)  Later in that clip, Kim calls Shane, complaining that Kayla won't accept that their marriage is over, leading to a joint effort to show Kayla that things are over < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8A5QFMnwQs >.  Also, during a Brady family meeting to address the situation, when Shawn angrily criticizes Kayla for moving in on Kim's husband, Kim defends Kayla, pointing out that Shane is her "ex-husband" < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMlY0X5Rov8 - I think there is a better version of this scene, but I can't find it >. 

Then there is this rather astonishing scene where Kim tries to convince her sister how much Shane really loves her < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpxKweGR6AE beginning at 5:42 >.  Kim begins by telling Kayla once again that it's over between Shane and her.  Then Kim tries to convince Kayla how much Shane loves her by pointing to the music box that Shane gave Stephanie, which plays a song that Kim knows has personal meaning to Shane.  Kim says the music box proves Shane's love because "Shane doesn't give up pieces of himself that easily."  Kim then discovers inside the music box the emerald ring Shane gave Kayla, and explains that when Shane gave Kayla the ring, he was giving her his heart.  Those are very strong statements from Kim encouraging Kayla to pursue her relationship with Shane.

This whole sequence of events raises two significant questions.  First, what does Kim actually want?  I don't think it's clear.  On the one hand, she keeps telling people the marriage is over.  On the other hand, she is working for the ISA to capture Lawrence by getting close to him, so maybe all of her protestations are just part of her act.  Yet there also are indicia that Kim is beginning to fall for Lawrence < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjCRxhosLwU >, which would be inconsistent with wanting to reunite with Shane.  (I also find it odd that Kim suddenly is the one who is struggling to accept their divorce, when she initiated the divorce proceedings in the first place.)  Kim's ambivalence towards Shane and Kayla makes it difficult for me to sympathize with her, because I just don't know exactly what she wants.

And that leads to the second question.  If viewers don't know what Kim wants, why should we criticize Shane and Kayla for accepting her statements that the marriage is over and her efforts to push Kayla to Shane?  I've read some comments that Shane and Kayla should have understood that Kim still wanted Shane, but that would require them to ignore what she actually says and presume that she really means the opposite.  I'm not sure that Shane and Kayla should be expected to be mind-readers.

Then there is the Lawrence Alamain issue, which complicates matters greatly.  As I mentioned above, Kim accepts an ISA assignment to get close to Lawrence.  (This occurs after he has tried to ingratiate himself with Kim as a way of screwing up Shane's life, part of Lawrence's plot to distract Shane so he cannot focus on bringing Lawrence down.)  However, initially, Shane does not know about Kim's ISA assignment and Kayla does not learn about it until much later.  Remember that Shane and Kayla both know that Lawrence killed Steve and were nearly killed themselves by Lawrence in Alamainia.  Needless to say, before learning about her ISA role, they both try to convince Kim to stay away from Lawrence, and are baffled and angry that she ignores their warnings and continues to pursue a relationship with him. 

One of the problems I have during this entire sequence is that I can't tell if Kim is just getting close to Lawrence because she: (1) is doing her ISA job; (2) actually has feelings for him; or (3) is running to Lawrence to find solace because Shane has rejected her. 

Before Shane knows about Kim's involvement in the ISA case, he raises the third point, suggesting that Lawrence is another Cal Winters -- telling her "if you're trying to avoid pain, you don't go rushing headlong into a self-destructive relationship" < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pClsT15tjZQ >.  In that clip and the one where Shane suggests Kim may be falling for Lawrence, Kim's response is to tell Shane that he cannot control her and cannot dictate with whom she can have a relationship.  I think her response is a bit of an overreaction, because Shane doesn't show any signs of trying to control her life generally (and he later takes no steps toward interfering with Kim's relationship with Phillip Collier).  Shane is just warning her to stay away from Lawrence Alamain, the murderer and master manipulator.  I do think Kim's involvement with Lawrence may be fed a bit by an "I'll show him [Shane]" attitude, but nonetheless she proceeds to get closer to Lawrence.  Whether it's fair to blame Shane for "pushing" her to Lawrence is an open question on which viewers can disagree.

As the storyline progresses, I do think Shane is proven right that Kim has developed feelings for Lawrence.   After Shane suspects that Kim has feelings for Lawrence, Kim actually sleeps with Lawrence (messing up Shane's plans to investigate Lawrence's house), and Shane then watches the videotape of her sleeping with Lawrence < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPioD_kCulQ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmek4-LHw5M >.  However, the ultimate proof that Kim has feelings for Lawrence is when she bugs him and finds out that he duped her into believing he was innocent of some rape charges < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlmMVbyeWQg >.  This causes her to break down in tears.

We also must consider Kayla's reaction to Lawrence, something that I believe is overlooked by many critics of the Shane/Kayla pairing.  Kayla is furious, because she cannot see how her sister would get involved with the man who killed Steve.  Initially, as I mentioned above, when Kim returns, Kayla offers to step aside.  In the mountains and in numerous other scenes, she agonizes over the strain her relationship with Shane is putting on her relationship with Kim.  However, Kayla's reluctance to pursue a relationship with Shane ends when she decides that Kim's relationship with the man who killed her husband proves Kim doesn't care about Kayla's wishes.  So why, under those circumstances, should she cater to Kim by refusing to get involved with Shane?  That is a major turning point for Kayla, and from then on, she fights for her relationship with Shane.

It is hard to question Kayla's view.  She does not know anything about Kim's ISA mission.  So to her, she is just seeing her sister shacking up with the man who killed her true love.  Although Kayla had been willing to give up Shane in favor of Kim, why should she continue to sacrifice her own happiness for Kim, who is off with Lawrence?  Some might see that as a form of revenge, but it also could be seen as an understandable reaction to what Kayla perceives -- her sister's lack of sensitivity to Kayla's profound loss.

    Isn't Shane Torn Between Kim And Kayla?

Another very interesting issue about this so-called triangle is Shane's behavior. 

Oddly, for a triangle situation, Shane does not really show any sign that he is open to renewing a relationship with Kim.  In fact, in the first clip I mentioned in this section < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_XZUP3pPfQ >, Shane echoes what he said when Kim returned from walking out in 1988 -- that Kim cannot just leave and come back expecting everything to go back to the way it was.  From what he says, I think it also is clear that the pain of her leaving is still there and supports the notion that Shane won't entertain the possibility of reuniting with Kim because he does not want to subject him to that pain again.  He also goes to dinner with Kim where he makes it clear to her that their marriage is over < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBiNW7mT--g at 5:35 > and immediately after, he tries to convince Kayla that she shouldn't walk away from a potential relationship, telling her that it would not be right for him to get back together with Kim < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=891mBHkFtjE >.  (He repeats both those statements in later clips.)  There are some brief hints later that maybe Shane might be having some feelings for Kim, but they really don't go beyond a look or passing comment.  In short, the triangle does not really develop, because there never seems to be a realistic possibility that Shane will leave Kayla to return to Kim.

    Didn't Shane's Horrible Treatment Push Kim To Lawrence?

I've read some comments about the way Shane treats Kim and her involvement with Lawrence.  As the following two clips, which I've already linked above, he tries to block her relationship with Lawrence before finding out she is involved with the ISA < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pClsT15tjZQ > and, later, warns her against falling for him < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjCRxhosLwU >.  In both scenes, Kim reacts by dismissing Shane's concerns and accusing him of trying to control her personal life.  Some see Shane's involvement as being unfair since he is both rejecting her and trying to control her, but I don't see him trying to control her as much as he is trying to protect her from a murderer and being hurt (which, in fact, does occur).

There also are two scenes during the mission to catch Lawrence where Kim actually slaps Shane, something she never did during their prior relationship.  In the first scene, they argue about her plan to act as bait to catch Lawrence in the act of infecting her with the virus < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNhqpU02k1g >.  Shane opposes the idea, but she goes ahead.  That leads to Shane comparing her behavior to the situation in Miami, where she slept with Victor Kiriakis.  She claims this situation is nothing like Victor, and he accuses her of "want[ing] it this time."

In the second, he manipulates her feelings so he can plant a bug on her, which she discovers while making love to Lawrence.  That leads to a nasty confrontation where Shane angrily asks Kim if she deals with every situation by having sex, runs through her relationships -- Victor, Cal, and then Lawrence -- and asks "Is there anybody you wouldn't sleep with?" < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9yDUbik3us >.  Ouch.  My first reaction to that scene was to hate Shane for dredging up the past.  Then I thought about it some more.  Remember, he had tried to warn her much more nicely that she was repeating her past mistakes and that she would wind up being hurt by Lawrence (he was right).  That warning failed.  Also, at the time of this exchange, Kim had ruined Shane's efforts to find incriminating evidence, so he did have some reason to be angry at her.  Was it harsh?  Absolutely.  I'm just not sure that his anger was completely out of left field.

It is hard to know how to interpret these scenes.  Is Shane just being nasty to Kim because he is still angry at her for leaving him?  Is he acting out of jealousy that Kim is getting close to Lawrence?  Is he just acting protective of her and trying to convince her how dangerous her situation is after failing in his ear?  Does his attitude indicate that he still loves Kim?  I don't think the show clearly answers those questions.

However, I feel a need to give Shane the benefit of the doubt.  Why?  Because if Shane is just being nasty or passive-aggressive, then he is just a vindictive jerk.  And if that is the case, it begs a critical question for Shane and Kim fans: If Shane is a vindictive jerk, why would we ever want them to reunite?  For the same reason, I have to believe that Shane and Kayla did love each other, even though their love was a shadow of what they had with their prior loves.  If they did not love each other, Shane's actions during this entire storyline are utterly unacceptable and it is difficult to see how his character can be redeemed.  It is far more palatable to see Shane as a wounded soul who pushed Kim away because he could not risk being hurt again and instead sought happiness and a safer love in the arms of a similarly wounded soul like Kayla.

Importantly, I want to make something clear.  I am not saying that Shane and Kayla should have survived.  I just think it is possible to provide a reasonable explanation for why Shane chose Kayla over Kim at that point in his life and why that relationship should not permanently poison the well for a future reconciliation with Kim.  Also, I really want to get across that I am not anti-Kim.  I wouldn't be writing this story if I was anti-Kim.  I just think it is possible to look at the Shayla storyline, see the role Kim played, and avoid oversimplifying her role by casting her as the victim of Shane and Kayla's cruelty.  These characters are all too complex for such oversimplifications.  But of course, that is what makes them so fascinating.

Next up: Part 3: The Collapse of Shayla, Plus the Good and the Really Bad in the Storyline


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 3rd, 2010 09:31 pm (UTC)
It's funny, the Kim/Kayla sisters thing never really bothered me. I mean, in real life I'm sure it would, but this is a soap and two sisters involved with the same guy is really pretty tame. That doesn't mean it's irrelevant, as it is, of course, important to how Kayla's relationship with Shane impacts her relationship with Kim (and with the Brady family). It's just nothing that made me go "ewww" or made me think that Kayla would never do that simply because Kim is her sister.

And I really agree with your last paragraph - that it's important to look at the whole storyline and see the role that all three played in what happened, rather than just declare Kim a victim of her cruel ex-husband and sister. That oversimplification makes things easier, I suppose. But it's far less satisfying than deconstructing what happened and seeing how it all fits together in a messier, but more human, way.
Dec. 4th, 2010 01:28 am (UTC)
It's funny, the Kim/Kayla sisters thing never really bothered me. I mean, in real life I'm sure it would, but this is a soap and two sisters involved with the same guy is really pretty tame.

I agree that the sisters involved with the same man is pretty tame (and rather common) on soaps, but that tends to be the first major objection people make to Shayla. I suspect a lot of that has to do with Shane. There had never been a real risk that he would get involved with another woman, even when the show threw Gillian and Gabrielle at him. And even when he had amnesia and was sharing a bed with Rebecca, he resisted temptation. For much of the time -- and sometimes to ridiculous effect -- Shane was portrayed as the gentleman who sat around taking tea breaks. So it was particularly hard to envision him ever going after a woman other than Kim.

And I really agree with your last paragraph - that it's important to look at the whole storyline and see the role that all three played in what happened, rather than just declare Kim a victim of her cruel ex-husband and sister. That oversimplification makes things easier, I suppose. But it's far less satisfying than deconstructing what happened and seeing how it all fits together in a messier, but more human, way.

I love the way you put that. I recently had a PM discussion with someone in which I urged her to watch some of the Shayla clips. She refused -- "I just can't bear it" -- which is fine if you simply declare the Shane/Kim story over in 1990. However, if you want to look for a future for Kim and Shane, I don't see how the Shayla period can be oversimplified as the cruel ex-husband and sister.

Edited at 2010-12-04 01:33 am (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )