In the movie “The Princess Bride,” Inigo Montoya says to his friend, “Do you hear that, Fezzik? That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound when the six-fingered man killed my father. The Man in Black makes it now.”
Do you hear that, AMC viewers? That painful wail that issued forth from central California? That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heard made that sound when David Hayward was pronounced dead. I know that Vincent Irizarry has come and gone from All My Children before. I know that he’s likely not really dead but is probably only soap dead. In “Princess Bride” speak, that means he is only “mostly dead,” which is “partly alive.” How I pray that Miracle Max and his wife, Valerie, can paint a bolus with chocolate and shove it down my favorite doctor’s throat and bring him back to us.
AMC fans are all abuzz about whether David is really dead or is the point of view we saw watching Krystal break the news to Marissa about her father’s death. As we try and put together this puzzle that has plenty of missing pieces and jagged edges, the pictures that emerges is no clearer than it was when we started. In an age that prides itself on spoilers and foreknowledge of actor comings and goings, a lot of us are throwing up our hands and saying, “You know? I dunno!”
The very day that David’s death scene aired, Soap Opera Digest announced that Vincent Irizarry would be leaving the show due to “storyline dictated” reasons. When does it EVER happen that an actor leaves a soap without a single leak getting out there? Spoilers for this week were very “specifically vague” saying things like, “The victim collapses” and “the accused is arrested.” Is it really so simple as David died and Ryan killed him?
David is up to his attractive shoulders in a number of major stories right now. He seemed to have a budding flirtation with Liza. His heart was crushed by Greenlee. He is determined to get even with Ryan. Now Caleb has been brought into the David fold, as well as his ongoing stories with Tad, Krystal and Marissa. The Hubbards can’t draw a breath without cursing David’s name. David affects every character on the canvas at this point and sure, it would be “good story” to have him die and watch the rollout from that, but what can we really expect? No one in Pine Valley (except ME) wanted him to be around, so it’s more likely that everyone will band together to let his murder fade away into obscurity, particularly if St. Ryan is found to be at fault.
In David’s mind, I can see him finding value in his own death, either in reality or faked. He has access to the necessary tools like corpses, a variety of obscure medications that could simulate death (and leave Ryan disoriented and amnesiac), and computer access to modify legal medical records. In soaps, David is in the famed catbird’s seat in terms of having access to anything he would need to fake his death. The guilt Greenlee felt was palpable as she remembered all of the times that David tried to draw her in, tried to give her love and tremendous loyalty and she rejected him over and over and led him on more than once. Framing Ryan for the murder would be an even better benefit. David had to know that everyone he resents and detests would fall neatly into a top ten suspects list. He likely also knew that Liza, who was recently sympathetic to him, might end up being the “interim DA” who would head up prosecuting the case.
It all meets his needs splendidly and could exact revenge on everyone who has ever done him wrong who is currently in town to take the fall. Rumors say that he’s actually dead and Kendall ends up being the killer, thus facilitating an exit for Alicia Minshew to return home to mommying and the East Coast life she has set up with her relatively new hubby. Some say that Greenlee herself ends up being the killer. Ryan is the most obvious suspect, but is he too obvious? That’s one gigantic red herring! Angie? She’d have to be able to see him to kill him, I would think.
If David is alive, how long can he skulk around in the shadows without enjoying the fruits of his labors first hand? How long will the writers keep us in the dark about the actual, true fate of the whipping boy of Pine Valley? Has David does horrible things? Absolutely. So have Tad, Joe, Jake, Erica, Jack, Liza, Krystal, JR, Kendall, Ryan, Greenlee… shall I go on? The difference is that – for whatever reasons – the actions of those characters are always sanctified and rationalized while David’s misdeeds are demonized. This time, can the bad behavior of others be exposed in a murder trial?
Vincent Irizarry recently released a comment via his official facebook that speaks if not volumes, at least a chapter or two:
“I can’t say enough how appreciative I am of all the comments on websites and message boards that have been written in support of my work and my character. There would be no doubt to me whatsoever, if I do return to AMC, it will be in greater part because of this wonderful outpouring from all of you who love the show and David as much as I do. I am forever grateful to all of you…”
Taken strictly on his words alone without reading too deeply into them, it looks as though it has not yet been determined whether David will live or die in this story. Negotiations appear to be ongoing with his contract not far from expiration. We have lost so many of our favorite characters. Joe Martin has retired to Florida. Adam has run off with Brooke. Palmer died. Myrtle died. Zach is only with us from time to time, enough to make us miss him more. Do we really have to give up yet another important figure in Pine Valley?
Who will be our villain now? Caleb’s rough edges are softening moment by moment and he doesn’t really have a bad guy bone in him. Damon doesn’t even have his villain merit badge in Boy Scouts yet and doesn’t stand a chance of holding that torch. He’s just a Cad Jr and we all know that Martins never do anything wrong, so he can’t possibly actually be a bad guy. Without David, we have no true antagonists on the show; simply a lot of self-absorbed, sanctimonious people who will no longer have anyone on whom to blame the misfortunes that befall them in their lives.
I have to give it to AMC. They put one over on us this time and blindsided most of us completely. In a time where we have stopped believing in soap opera surprises, they pulled a major “gotcha.” Who will grieve David with me? Likely no one in Pine Valley. I hold out hope that “negotiations” will result in a very alive David coming back into town more powerful than ever before. I refuse to let anyone take that hope away from me lest I once again have to make that sound of ultimate suffering. I’m not completely sure the fault lines here in California can stand it again.To view archived columns, click here