Saturday, August 29, 2009

96 Tears: Once Upon a Time In The Midwest


I feel really alone and really helpless. I need you to hold me......I just need you.

Was there anyone watching as Natalia pleaded for Olivia's support whose heart didn't ache when she uttered these words. Oh, yeah...that was me. Was I alone in feeling a little bit of smug satisfaction at seeing Natalia suffer so? I know this episode pissed people off, and everyone wants to know what the hell Olivia was thinking with her big "I can't hold you" reply. But, really, wasn't this episode all about comeuppance? 

Welcome To The World Of Olivia Spencer

I don't for a minute think that Olivia's refusal to step in, hold Natalia, stroke her hair, etc. was an act of revenge or coldness. It's a little something Olivia Spencer calls self-preservation. She's been hurt by Natalia, already. We only get hurt when we're vulnerable. Olivia is at her most vulnerable when she opens herself up to what she truly feels for Natalia. How, then, does a woman like Olivia protect herself? She closes off. She sets boundaries. She steers clear from that which puts her in harm's way. Hate Olivia's response all you want, but know this: it doesn't come from a lack of compassion, but from a desire to feel safe and in control of her own life. And, really, is it all that unreasonable for Olivia to consider that getting close to Natalia, again could end up just how it's ended up already - with Natalia running scared and Olivia betrayed, humiliated, broken-hearted, and left holding the proverbial bag? It's not as if Olivia hasn't been through this with Josh, before. 

Natalia's Tears

Jessica Leccia is good at looking completely lost and alone. It really does tug at the heartstrings to see those big, brown eyes well up with tears. But let's look at what she's crying about: Rafe has joined the armed forces. (Evidently, the U.S. Army is now accepting diabetic felons for active duty, but I digress.) Rafe is Natalia's son, her only child. The news of one's child planning to go to war would be upsetting for any parent. Still and all, she is broken-hearted even though her loved one made a point of going to her home, sitting down, and telling her - in person, no less - about his plans. Imagine how awful it would have been if her loved one had just decided to pick up and leave, without letting her know, first, what his plans were, where he was going, why he was going, and that he loved her? Can you imagine what that might feel like? You know who has a good idea what that feels like? Olivia. Because that is exactly what Natalia did to her on July 4th.  And isn't a little comeuppance for Natalia exactly what  few of us have been looking for, in order to feel as if the Olivia/Natalia pairing is even worth rooting for, anymore? 

Deeds, Not Words

Natalia has spent the time since she's been back in Springfield saying that she knows things have been tough for Olivia, but I haven't really believed it.  In fact, a few times I had the distinct impression that Natalia was rolling her eyes and wishing Olivia would just get over the ridiculous sadness, take her back, and let go of the whole "you left me and broke my heart" nonsense. "I left you and broke your heart?" Natalia has seemed to be asking, "Here's some raspberry jam. All better?" 

Maybe I'm just petty and mean-spirited but, ever since Natalia returned to Springfield, I've had the overwhelming desire to see her suffer as Olivia has. I've actually felt that I've needed to see this, if I was ever going to get back to thinking these two belong with one another. Just to even out the score. I'm petty like that. It's why I love 96 Tears and Kill Bill and Once Upon a Time In The West. It's why I've loved Stockard Channing ever since Girl Most Likely To... 

Comeuppance. It's the pause that refreshes. I didn't just want Natalia to say she understood how hard it's been for Olivia, I've needed her to actually feel it. When Olivia refused to be there for her in the way that she needed, Natalia looked genuinely shocked. Because that's never happened before. Not to Natalia. It's Olivia who knows what's it's like to call the person she loves on the telephone, leave message after message, pleading for some sign that everything is ok, that she's still loved. It's Olivia who knows what it's like to have those calls never be returned. That's got to sting, and now, maybe, Natalia has an idea how much. 




7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for referencing such a great Latino rock band.
I think you're right about the writers not allowing Nat to truly acknowledge Olivia's hurt but I'm a push over and wanted Olivia to take her back as soon as she said I want to spend the rest of my life with you.
My fear for this storyline is that they will portray them as having regained their friendship and leave it at that. As long as its just talk and they aren't in the same room, it seems to be ok for them to talk about each other in the language of lovers but the minute they have a scene together they are touching less than Billy and Josh.

MJinTenn said...

Well, good morning, Petty and Small-minded! Reading your posts feeds the petty, small-minded, bitter beast that lives in my heart, right across the hall from "Sappy Romantic Marshmallow," who is always barging around and getting her way, but not when it comes to Olivia.

One dictionary defines empathy as "the ability to sense and understand someone else's feelings as if they were one's own." This is so obviously something Natalia has not been able to do, or even tried to do, to my mind. I seriously doubt she will ever connect the dots that you do insofar as how she would feel if Rafe had left without telling her, though. If there's been any hint of that already I missed it, as I kind of gloss over the scenes with Rafe; he looks like he is going to giggle at serious moments, and my brain apparently goes into hibernation mode.

Natalia leaving with no word was a betrayal, and a humongous one. Any hope of Olivia relenting should require Natalia's understanding -- and a clear demonstration of that understanding -- of the consequences of that betrayal in equal or greater proportion. Raspberry jam, flowers and cookies are paltry offerings, as is that dismayed look when Olivia holds firm.

leftwing78 said...

I agree, though as someone else said, I am much more of a pushover and part of me wanted Olivia to say-"okay, come here, I love you.It's all fine." But that would not have made sense. However, it makes complete sense that Olivia said she couldn't do this, that she is trying to protect herself by stepping back. Honestly, the fact that she told Natalia she would do anything for her as a friend shows the depth or her feelings for this woman, and (I think) that she will be able to go back to a place where she is ready to have a romantic relationship...but not yet.
I hope that Natalia WILL come to realize that she is feeling some degree of what Olivia felt, and find some figurative way to throw herself at Olivia's feet and beg for forgiveness.
I mean, let's look at this--her ADULT son has made a decision that will make her miss him and worry about him. But, this is a natural progression of life and having your children grow up. (Which Rafe has been taking his sweet time doing anyway, and that he's finally doing something other than wandering around moping and whining, is somewhat of a relief.) Natalia's no dummy, she will have to see the parallels-with the exception of the fact that HER leaving was not at all a natural progression, and hence, damaged every relationship that was important to her.
For some stupid reason FRANK was still willing to ignore her MIA status and do whatever she wanted, but we all know what a deep thinker HE is.

Anonymous said...

Snapper you made some excellent points. Olivia is protecting herself, and Natalia is suffering some of the anguish she caused Olivia through Rafe's enlistment.

When I watched this scene with Olivia and Natalia, Olivia used the word "friend". The word "friend" just as the phrase "Frank is a good man" has played out. When Olivia told Natalia what she could do for her and could not do for her, and the purse on the floor between them acted as a symbolic boundary that could not be crossed. The scene also highlighted the masterful craftmanship of skillful acting, because Olivia wanted to do more than hold Natalia's hand.(Crystal used her voice, a sigh, and body language to let the audience/viewers know this, and she stuck to the scripted words.)Olivia did not cross the boundaries that were set.

Anonymous said...

Snapper your posts are always so great. I agree that with the way this has been written, we have not seen Natalia [until today just a little] really "get it" about what she did to Olivia. So yes, I want her to really understand and really ask for forgiveness, and take a few months to win back Olivia's Trust [oh - yea...].

But that is just the thing for me - I think that this all stems from the ridiculous crappy decision to write the plot this way 1]to have Nat be pregnant at all - stupid and unbelievable even on soap terms 2]to have her utterly panic and run away without a word to Olivia. Even if she did that in a moment of panic for a day -to stay away for so long, not to answer any of Olivia's voice mails messages, not to rethink, after some time to reflect, and at least text her or email her - that is just all too unbelievable - the character Natalia can be naive and a bit self absorbed, but she has never been cruel. And she understands Olivia. The whole point of the love story was two people who saw past each others surface and got to know the person within...at least that is what I thought...

So everything that happens as a result of that initial unbelievable writing just does not touch me really, b/c I just can't buy the whole thing.

And I think it is really just a way to censor the story and justify the continued lack of physical intimacy -

so yes it makes sense for O to close up and set boundaries this way in this situation = but it is not a real situation IMO. It has no dramatic merit - it is a fabrication within a fictional story - it is all really quite sad.

Anonymous said...

" It has no dramatic merit- It is a fabrication within a fictional story -". That is absolutely correct it a fabrication, because of the situation the writers have set up for the characters. The only reason I continue to watch this "fabrication within a fictional story" is the dramatic pureness of the actresses performance, otherwise this storyline would have been history for me.

TheWeyrd1 said...

I agree with your assessment that Natalia needs to come down a few pegs from her family with Olivia fantasy and feel the pain. She's had much difficulty walking in other people's shoes actually. Much as she comes across as a helper of others, sometimes it feels more like she's self centered in her behavior. She helps others (i.e. through the church) in order to appear self sacrificing to others. Did she raise Rafe the way she did because he was the only center to her world, or because he would one day be a reflection of her. Well she got a self centered man to be a reflection of her. Apple...tree. Hopefully, she'll manage some genuine humility soon. That's what Olivia needs and deserves in a partner.