Deep Soap: ‘One Life to Live’s’ Knife Fight

Gina Tognoni of 'One Life to Live' (Photo: ABC)

Gina Tognoni of 'One Life to Live' (Photo: ABC)

A Stab in the Dark

I am so conflicted about “One Life To Live’s” Marty (Susan Haskell) epic knife fight with Kelly (Gina Tognoni) and Natalie (Melissa Archer). On one hand, making Marty become crazy and violent beyond the point of redemption is an insult to what used to be one of the strongest, toughest women in Llanview. It’s particularly galling that a woman who managed to remain sane after being gang raped in college, having the poetry-quoting love of her life murdered, and being brainwashed into falling in love with the  man who raped her years ago, is losing it over that emo moper John (Michael Easton). Yes, he dumped her for Natalie soon after she miscarried their child, and yes, Natalie getting pregnant right away was salt in the wound, but is John really worth all that much angst? There are numerous other attractive, gainfully employed men in Llanview, many of whom also occasionally smile. I have tried to rationalize Marty’s break from reality as really being about the loss of her children. Having a college aged son go to prison for murder would be nearly as devastating as if he died. She did not snap until after Cole was arrested. But all of her dialogue has been about how she belongs with John. Her rivalry with Natalie began because Natalie refused to cover up Cole’s guilt and let Marty take the blame for Eli’s death.  Her hatred of Kelly is just because she is dating John. This is not a dignified send off for an actress who won an Emmy for the role just two years ago,

On the other hand, when Marty went after Kelly with a knife, it was melodramatic, soapy fun. Both actresses seemed to be having a blast with the material. Marty called out Kelly for such sins as planning to cook John an expensive steak and serving him imported beer. Marty, a doctor who grew up as a poor little rich girl, is clearly the only one who can understand John’s salt-of-the-earth tastes. The fight itself was well choreographed.

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I was surprised that Marty went the full Norman Bates on Kelly, leaving her to die in a pool of her own blood. When Natalie, who it should be noted makes her living as a Crime Scene Investigator, arrived at John’s apartment planning to tell him that he was Liam’s father, she did not notice the puddle of blood by the closet door. Falling for John does horrible things to a woman’s mind. However, her epic showdown on the roof with Marty was “Dynasty” meets “Nikita.” She called out Marty about switching the paternity tests. Marty was certainly in no position to be upset that Natalie stole the tape of her therapy session. I had to laugh when Natalie asked Marty where Kelly was and she responded, “With God, I think.” This would have been a good time for Natalie to call 911.

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The two women actually fought, knocking over a table and throwing each other all over the roof. It looks like the actresses did not use stunt doubles, which may be as much of a reflection of OLTL’s low budget as their commitment to the craft.

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The true moral of these scenes is that fighting on a roof is a bad idea. First Marty went over the edge. Natalie, not wanting to add letting a crazy woman die to her list of sins, helped her to safety. It still did not occur to her to call the police, AKA her employer. Marty thanked her by pushing her off the roof. If this were real life, she would have died when she hit the ground. Marty is a killing machine with superhuman strength. It’s a shame that no members of the Ford family got on her bad side.

It’s a bigger shame that this can only end with Marty either in a straightjacket or dead. I wish that there was an attempt to use Marty’s history to explain her behavior. Her first storyline involved her falling in love with the married minister Andrew Carpenter then accusing him of molesting a teenage boy when he rejected her. Though it  has not been mentioned in ages, Marty has lupus. One of the rarer symptoms of the disease is psychosis. Some dialogue about these aspects of Marty’s past, perhaps from Marty’s psychiatrist, could make Crazy Marty a somewhat logical development.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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