Natalia : "All I've ever wanted was to marry Gus. And now the way it's started, it’s ruined."
Olivia: "No, you could fix it."
Natalia: "Even if I could fix it, I'm not sure I deserve it."
Olivia: "Deserve it? What Kind of woman are you?"
Natalia: "I'm the kind of woman who believes she should pay for her mistakes."
Olivia: "If I had to pay for all the mistakes I've made I would be broke by now."
Olivia: “I never thought I could have anything like this. I certainly didn’t do anything to deserve it.”
Natalia: “That’s not true…"
It's difficult to believe, but it was just a year and a half ago that Olivia guilted Natalia into offering up her husband, Gus, as a consolation prize for a missed opportunity at a new heart. Just 17 months ago, Olivia was wondering what kind of a woman would even think about "deserving" happiness, instead of just grabbing it, fully aware that no one is handed happiness on a silver platter. The Olivia we see today is a changed person - a completely different animal, in so many ways, and not just because she's fallen in love with a woman. It's been a big, old soap opera year and a half for Olivia. She's lost Gus, regained her health, been suicidal, eventually come to terms with the guilt surrounding Gus' death, become a grandmother, lost her infant grandson, dealt with Ava's post-partem meltdown, landed a lucrative contract with Galaxy International, lost that contract, had a heart attack, been resuscitated, received a pace-maker, made peace with Reva and Jefferey, helped finance Rafe's escape from the law, gone from hating Natalia to depending on her, hiring her, becomming her best friend and house-mate, falling hopelessly in love with her and planning a future together. These are the sort of things that can change a person, no? Mostly, though, the changes we've seen in Olivia are connected to Natalia. The love of and for a good woman has had a profound effect on Olivia Spencer.
The old Olivia was guarded, always ready with a sarcastic barb, eager to grab whatever she could, no matter who got hurt because, in her experience, good things were not ear-marked for Olivia Spencer. The old Olivia was a predatory animal, always ready to pounce. The old Olivia trusted no one, because she knew that in this world, it's every man for himself. The new Olivia is someone who is learning about patience, about having faith that good things just might come her way, that she is worthy of love. The new Olivia actually trusts someone - Natalia.
If the love of and for a good woman have have had a profound effect on Olivia, and led to changes in how she views the world and how she reacts to the curveballs life throws her, one would expect the same from Natalia. On the surface, it would seem to be the case.
The old Natalia was cautious. She didn't challenge the status quo, even when faced with grave injustice. Case in point: Rafe's treatment in prison. Natalia's strategy for dealing with the abuse her son was obviously being treated to in prison was to cow-tow to prison administration and never question authority. It was Olivia who steamrolled her way into the picture and showed Natalia, by example, that there is a time and a place when the only way good things are going to happen is when we make them happen.
The old Natalia had no aspirations to expand her horizons, and no confidence in her own abilities to be more than she was. Again, Olivia stepped in and almost forced Natalia to accept a more challenging job, put her talents to work, and think outside of the chambermaid box she'd built herself.
On finding herself drawn to another woman, the Old Natalia fearfully retreated into the arms of Frank Cooper. Good-natured, honest, hard-working and painfully decent, Frank was exactly the man Natalia thought she should be with, even though she never felt anything more than friendship for him. The old Natalia convinced herself that, by dating (and, later, having sex with and becoming engaged to) Frank, by hiding in the arms of someone who was safe, someone who didn't rock the boat or buck conventions or cause anyone's head to turn, she could purge herself of her attraction to Olivia.
Of course, the old Natalia was wrong.
The double wollop of having Olivia profess her love and devotion to Natalia, and facing Frank in church on the verge of exchanging wedding vows was enough to send the old Natalia on her way, and cause the new, improved Natalia to emerge.
New Natalia isn't just less afraid to take chances than old Natalia was. New Natalia is bold. She loves Olivia and embraces this love as a gift from God. New Natalia doesn't just declare her love to Olivia, she pursues Olivia, and convinces her that they have a future together, that neither of them will get hurt, that she knows "what it means to tell someone you love them." New Natalia tells Olivia she loves her, and doesn't regret telling her. New Natalia faces her priest, head on, and quotes scripture as she makes the ascertion that she can love Olivia and love God at the same time. New Natalia takes a frightened Olivia's hand in a church, in front of an alter, as a show of her resolve to be together before God. Most recently, new Natalia says she is finished with waiting for other people to understand and is ready to get on with a life with Olivia as her partner. New Natalia is a strong, stroppy, brave woman who doesn't cower at the first sign of trouble.
Where the hell, then, is new Natalia, now?
Apologists for the recent developments on Guiding Light claim that there is nothing out of character about Natalia running away without so much as a word to Olivia. Which Natalia are they referring to? It may be true that old Natalia might run from fearful situations, but the opposite is true of new Natalia. (I'm not even willing to concede that old Natalia would have done a runner - not on Emma, and not without at least making a phone call - but I digress.) Some apologists have used the tried-and-true "it's a super couple" argument - another that doesn't hold water with me. Over the last 35+ years, I've watched many super couples evolve, and one thing about the formula holds true - characters who make up super couples grow and change with time. Luke went from mob flunky to rapist to hero to husband and father. (Disgusting trajectory, yes, but it's a forward trajectory, nonetheless.) Laura went from naive ingenue to brave heroine.
What the writers have done with Natalia is treat her growth, her progression, like so much fishing line. Over the last year they've let out the line, bit by bit. During the past two weeks, they've reeled that line back- not by inches, but by several feet. If it's not out of character for Natalia to abandon the love of her life and the little girl who she supposedly "would die for".....if it make sense for Natalia to run at the first sign of trouble, and to cower instead of face it head-on.... then it must mean that Natalia has not grown, at all. It must mean that we are back at square one with a timid, small-minded, fearful woman who has no confidence or faith that the love she and Olivia share is strong enough to face minor adversity.
And, if Natalia hasn't really changed at all - as supporters of the current turn of events seem to be saying - then what the hell have we been watching? I thought I was watching a story line about two women who fall in love, and become better, stronger people because they love each other. If it's true that running away is still in Natalia's nature, then she hasn't grown a bit, has she? Worse: she's allowed Olivia to believe that she has grown, and to trust in her newfound strength and bravery. She hasn't just allowed Olivia to hope - she has demanded it. And this is sad, because Olivia truly has changed and allowed herself to be more vulnerable.
The changes in Olivia make Natalia's betrayal - because that's what it is: a betrayal of trust - all the more profound.
Liz and Dani of Pancakes and a Valium sum it up beautifully
The saddest thing for me isn't the crying, the screaming...it's that moment when Olivia realizes, "What was I thinking? I'm Olivia Spencer. I don't get the big love, I don't get the happy ending. I don't get the forever after."
If this behavior - hiding the truth, running away, letting Emma down, abandoning Olivia on the most important day of her life, without so much as a phone call - if this is all in character for Natalia? Then I have to agree with Liz and Dani: Natalia isn't good enough for Olivia.