(As The Stab Burns explores the careers and characters of genre actors who have, also, made a name for themselves in the delightfully awesome world of soap operas.)
As Bobby Joe, she, gamely, faced down freaky stuff in the woods in the cult horror classic Evil Dead II. But, lately, the timelessly beautiful, sweetly talented Kassie DePaiva has been dealing with even more twisted drama, on the regular, as the emotionally tormented, ultimately vengeful Eve Larson on Days of Our Lives.
After the late spring discovery of Eve’s affair with her innocent daughter’s boyfriend, a soap staple plotline if there ever was one, DePaiva has skillfully shown Eve’s guilt and anger. This anger has recently manifested itself upon Days’ perennial heroine, Jennifer, whom Eve blames, more than anyone, for the fallout of her relationship with Paige, her vulnerable offspring. As Eve, currently, plots to drug Jennifer into a doomed madness, De Paiva shows every conflicted thought in her character’s mind with flinty shifts in her eyes.
Testaments to DePaiva’s talents have been evident throughout the entirety of this story, though. Strangely, in a genre that has been built around powerful women, the writers at Days turned what could have been a deliciously lurid romp into an almost anti-feminine treatise, dominated by the male perspective, with only DePaiva showing the emotional confusion necessary to give the plotline a human touch.
Instead of concentrating on the forbidden connection and passion that a younger man and a more mature woman might share, the scribes had JJ, Eve’s undercover paramour; react with rebellious disgust over his affair with his girlfriend’s mother. His violent outbursts against Eve not only rendered the plot as almost unbelievable, but made the character of Eve seem deluded and desperate. That Jennifer, JJ’s mother, blackmailed Eve into allowing him to recommit himself to Paige, after her discovery of the affair, was another story oddity. This allowed JJ to bed Paige, a virgin, who surely would not have slept with him, had she known of his transgression. Unfortunately, this violation has never been addressed, vocally, by any of the participants, producing something far from the aura that such mighty mavens as Irna Phillips and Agnes Nixon, creators of such soaps of Guiding Light and All My Children, strove to achieve with such strong characters as Bert Bauer and Erica Kane. (Days has wandered down this weird path a number of times in the past few years. A particularly unctuous moment occurred when Kate, the show’s ruthless businesswoman, maneuvered Chloe, her former daughter-in-law, into a life of prostitution. The kicker, of course, being that Kate was once a lady of the evening, herself. )
Thankfully, though, the edge of heart sickness that De Paiva has given Eve has resonated throughout the story, giving viewers a way in, emotionally, and allowing them to care for the character, despite her mistakes. In fact, the show was at its best during the weeks of the reveal of the affair and its aftermath, thanks to that work and the truly fine achievements of De Paiva’s co-stars True O’Brien (Paige), Casey Moss (JJ) and Melissa Reeves (Jennifer). Additionally, the powers-that-be have finally allowed JJ to take a much softer and more balanced approach to his transgression. No longer spouting monologues blaming Eve for their trysts, he has acknowledged that they were both equal participants. Still, it’s a shame that the whole affair wasn’t rendered along the lines of such classic scenarios as Tad and Marian on AMC and Brooke and Deacon on The Bold and the Beautiful.
But, now with new head writers in place, it appears De Paiva is being tied into the show’s history with Eve’s current agenda. Jennifer’s mother Laura has had her bouts with madness, Eve’s inspiration for her scheme, and it looks like she may have a touching connection with the show’s upcoming serial killer mystery, a Days staple, as well. (The uninitiated should note that Days has often, successfully, delved into the spookily macabre with tales of satanic possession and premature burials lining up their dockets.) De Paiva’s chemistry with Greg Vaughn (Children of the Corn V), the show’s romantically lost former priest, has been readily apparent, as well.
…and if the weekends find you missing her presence, be sure to visit this incredibly talented lady, whose other terror credits include We Are What We Are and (the seemingly unreleased) Undone, at http://www.kassiedepaiva.com.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!