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Season Four Recap

 

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Season Four

February 13, 2008 to June 10, 2009

Production Numbers: 401-426

Written by Andy Eckles

Copyright(c) 2009 Sunset Studios. All rights reserved.

 

After recovering from a near fatal gunshot wound in season three, James emerged a reformed man. The kinder, gentler patriarch of the Blackthorne family went as far as to throw ex-wife Alex Reynolds a bone and cast her in the starring role of his new film, Angel Assassin 2. Despite its hype, the film immediately sunk into development hell, partially as a result of budget woes stemming from a sizeable loan James received in order to pay stringent government fines for his role in the Stratotech disaster. That, compounded with Alex’s diva-like antics on the set, pushed the picture fiercely behind schedule.

Brooke and Ethan were apart, her unable to tear herself away from David Jennings, and Ethan none too pleased about it. To make matters worse, Brooke’s mother, Roz, vehemently objected to her relationship with David. When Brooke’s father passed away, she and Roz journeyed to Phoenix for the funeral. Much to Roz’s chagrin, David showed up to lend support to a devastated Brooke. Genuinely concerned for his ex’s state of mind, James flew to Phoenix and also lent his emotional support.  After finding a photograph of her with Royce Jennings tucked away in the closet, Brooke, James and David confronted Roz and finally learned the grim truth: that Royce was Brooke’s father, making her and David brother and sister. An angry Brooke reeled in horror and blasted her drunken mother for her deceit. Roz TaylorJames went a step further and forbad Roz from seeing Brooke again. Upon their return to Los Angeles, James became fully aware that Brooke and Ethan were inching their way closer. Using every underhanded move in the book, James, now back to his old ways, attempted to lure Brooke back into his arms. Only after witnessing a tender scene between Brook and Ethan on the terrace did James realize he was fighting a losing battle. They had, and always would, find their way back to one another. Soon after, Brooke and Ethan made plans to leave town and start over together away from Hollywood.

With financial ruin lurking just around the corner, James learned that his loan had been sold to an independent backer in New York. When efforts failed to have the terms of his loan extended, he called for a meeting with the backer. Much to his surprise, the backer turned out to be David’s mother, Jacqueline Lamont. Jacqueline “Jackie” believed that Sunset Studios and the Blackthorne mansion rightfully belonged to her, and that James and Nathan had swindled them from her father, Jonas Lamont, after his death. Before she could call in the twenty-five million dollar loan, David made arrangements for full payment to be made to his mother, saving James from losing everything but also putting himself in the position of partial owner of the studio. Jackie, still set on taking everything from James, instead attempted to seduce him on multiple occasions.

Leilani’s daughter, Kelly, arrived in town and immediately took up with Stormy. After manipulating him into casting her in a walk-on role in Angel Assassin 2, Kelly realized how easily she could get what she wanted with little effort. When financial troubles on the set grew precarious, James made the decision to cut Alex’s role, and at Stormy’s urging, made Kelly the star of the film since her salary would be a fraction of Alex’s. The situation only instilled further rivalry between Alex and her son’s latest girlfriend. When the two announced their engagement, Alex was forced to go along with it despite her protests to the contrary. To her, Kelly was nothing but a gold digging troublemaker who would hurt her son without a doubt, not to mention she was prone to upstaging her on set.  More complications arose on the set of the movie when action hero star Scott Kelly planted a story in the media that he and Alex were having an on-set affair in hopes of keeping them from learning of his extracurricular homosexual activities. The media blitz attracted much needed attention to the project, so James urged Alex not to deny the rumors. In exchange, he awarded her first billing after all.

On the day of Stormy and Kelly’s wedding, an earthquake demolished the hotel during the reception, trapping Alex and Kelly inside the ballroom coatroom. Kelly, wedged beneath a collapsed pillar, pleaded for Alex’s help, who used the situation as a bargaining chip. Alex’s ultimatum: leave Stormy or receive no help from her. Kelly hesitatingly agreed, only changing her tune once she was free. The two women struggled amidst a blazing fire and Alex fell unconscious. Kelly, weighing her options, took the low road and left Alex in the burning building. Jordan managed to locate his missing spouse and carried her to safety. Meanwhile, Stormy learned that Kelly had disappeared. First believing she’d perished in the fire, only to learn the shocking truth when he found a brief goodbye letter back home at the mansion. Devastated, he vowed to find her and discover why she left. Alex, afraid that her actions would come to light, pleaded with him to let it go.  Prior to the earthquake, Ethan left the reception to check on Michael at home. Brooke was ecstatic for his return for they’d decided to tie the knot that very night, the eve of their departure to their new life in the Caribbean. On his way back to the reception, Ethan’s car was sucked into a crack in the road during the earthquake and burst into flames. James and David broke the devastating news to Brooke, who refused to believe that her true love had died. Only after seeing the remnants of the charred automobile did she accept that he wasn’t coming back.

Miranda’s resentment over David and Brooke’s relationship carried on for some time. In a moment of weakness, she slept with Eddie Distefano, then immediately regretted using him as a rebound. Despite Eddie’s persistence, Miranda pushed him away. Over time, however, his goofball antics and boyish charms won her over and she regrettably and secretly began to have feelings for him. She and Eddie shared a kiss at Stormy and Kelly’s wedding. Immediately after, they became trapped amidst the debris from the earthquake. They were rescued last from the burning building; Eddie virtually unscathed and Miranda in a coma with third degree burns covering part of her face and neck. James and Alex sat vigil by her bed, fearful of her reaction to the wounds she’s suffered.

Jordan’s son, Benji Rydell returned to L.A. after being kicked out of his Swiss boarding school. Following a string of late nights and carousing about town, Jordan finally put his foot down and insisted the young man grow up and learn some responsibility. A rebellious Benji continuously used his mother’s departure when he was five years old, and the fact that he’d been sent off to school for his entire life, to his benefit, guilting his father into going easy on him. Benji’s casual affair with actor Scott Kelly resulted in Scott planting the story about his alleged affair with Alex in the papers. Benji, coincidentally, had given Scott the idea.

Home from her semester at school in New York, Sierra met Benji at a polo match. She was immediately taken by his sweet charms and dark and brooding good looks, and agreed to have lunch with him. When Renee filled her in on his past misdeeds, a nervous Sierra broke their date and returned to New York. After returning again months later with new beau Malcolm Harris in tow, Benji immediately grew jealous. Sierra, although in love with Malcolm, an up and coming record executive, still couldn’t help but feel attracted to Benji. After being trapped together in Hotel Terranova after the earthquake, Benji bravely carried an unconscious Sierra to safety, risking his own life in the process. Malcolm grew jealous of the connection Sierra seemed to have with the young man. However, when Benji assumed she’d changed her mind, Sierra grew irritated and informed him that she was still in love with Malcolm.  

James and Stormy began dealing with Titan Records in order to secure the rights to several songs for the Angel Assassin 2 soundtrack. The suave and sophisticated CEO, T.T. Levitt, bumped into Renee and immediately began pursuing her. Renee, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with him. Over twenty years earlier, she and T.T. had met while on a cruise in the Mediterranean. It was only after their two week long romance that Renee learned T.T. had been engaged all along. When the ship got to port, they went their separate ways. To further complicate matters, they both learned that their respective children, Sierra and Malcolm, were seeing one another.

Suzanne Rogers disappeared the night before she was to begin work on a new film. Jordan convinced everyone that Suzanne had simply left him over marital problems they’d been having. Jordan’s affair with Victor’s wife, Sylvie Distefano, was the catalyst. Suzanne tried to leave Jordan but she and Heather were involved in a car accident, leading Heather to suffer brain damage which caused her to have repeated blackouts over the course of the next twelve years. Heather struggled to remember what happened the night Suzanne disappeared with the help of her psychiatrist, Dr. Anderson. Dr. Anderson cryptically informed a stunned Heather that Suzanne had been murdered, and insinuated that she had been the culprit, as a result of one of her blackouts similar to when she’d killed Will Thomerson. Meanwhile, Jordan was unsure whether his daughter was emotionally and mentally able to care for her she and Brett’s newborn daughter, Violet. Brett questioned his father-in-law, angry that he would have such little faith in his own daughter. Jordan grudgingly had to tell Brett about the car accident and about the night Suzanne disappeared. But Brett maintained that with his help, Heather would prove to be a normal caring mother.

Frank Dunning, meanwhile, was convinced that Jordan had killed Suzanne, and sent him threatening blackmail notes. In retaliation, Jordan beat Frank up and sent him to the hospital with cracked ribs and a head trauma. When Frank learned that Benji was also convinced of Jordan’s guilt, he informed the young man that he’d witnessed Jordan burying a body on his property the night Suzanne disappeared. Eager to ruin his father’s life, Benji told Alex who promptly moved out of their Beverly Hills mansion.

Brett grew suspicious of Dr. Anderson and his motives for his treatment of Heather. He and Miranda snooped around the doctor’s office and came to the conclusion that something was definitely amiss with the odd doctor. For starters, he only appeared to use his office while in session with Heather. No other patient files were present and there was a new receptionist every time they went for an appointment. With the discovery of theatrical glue and a playbill for a local theatre, they surmised that the doctor was a theater buff. Jordan maintained that there were things he did not want Heather to remember, and insisted that she stop seeing Anderson for fear that they would come to light during one of their sessions. He told Brett that Suzanne had seen a psychiatrist, Dr. Wainwright, after her and Heather’s car accident, and that the man had had a hand in ruining their marriage.

Jordan broke into Frank Dunning’s house and found a shrine he’d built to Suzanne, including old answering machines tapes and videos of rehearsals. Several videos were of Suzanne with Troy Beauchamp, Jordan’s half brother, who had been close to Suzanne prior to her disappearance. Jordan confronted Frank at Stormy and Kelly’s wedding reception. A rattled Frank knocked Jordan unconscious after declaring his devotion to Suzanne. The earthquake put a stop to Frank’s constant accusations. He was crushed to death beneath a ceiling collapse in the lounge at the hotel.  With Frank gone, Jordan’s troubles were far from over. The earthquake unearthed a body that had been buried on his property. When the police discovered that the body was none other than Troy Beauchamp, Jordan was arrested for suspicion of murder.

Heather’s catatonic state following the earthquake worried Brett enough to take her to Dr. Anderson one last time. Following their appointment, he confronted the odd doctor and pulled off his fake beard. In a deranged outburst, Anderson began muttering to himself and drove off in a panic. Convinced that there was more that met the eye, Brett researched the doctor and learned that he was not registered in the state as a psychiatrist, and even more alarming was that he paid cash for his office rental and never had a single piece of mail delivered there. Later, when Heather mysteriously disappeared from their condo, Brett drove to Anderson’s office and found it completely empty, with new tenants preparing to movie in. A confused Brett came to the realization that his wife and the odd doctor had both seemingly vanished. To make matters worse, it became clear to Jordan and to Brett that Dr. Anderson and Dr. Wainwright were the same person. Someone had used Suzanne, and now Heather, to get to Jordan.

Anderson planted post hypnotic suggestions into Heather's mind, instructing her to kill Jordan.  With gun in hand, Heather went to Jordan's house and waited for his return.  Once alone in his cabin at the yacht club, Anderson removed his fake beard and a latex mask and revealed himself to be Victor Distefano, bent on getting revenge for Jordan's part in his wife leaving him.   At home, Heather knocked Jordan unconscious and tied him to a chair.  Brett arrived as she was about to shoot him, taking a bullet in the shoulder before Jordan was able to free himself and restrain his daughter.  At that moment, Suzanne appeared, having returned from a clinic in Switzerland after hearing of Jordan's arrest for Troy's murder.  Suzanne, who had been overcome with guilt over the car accident years ago that put Heather's life in jeopardy, succumbed to the control of Dr. Wainwright, who had really been Victor in disguise.  One night, under Victor's control, Suzanne tried to kill Jordan with an axe, instead killing Troy by mistake.  Jordan, fearful that no one would believe their story, buried Troy's body and sent Suzanne to the Swiss clinic where she would remain, her brain stuck in the hypnotic state.  Worse yet, Benji and Heather had both seen the horrible incident, scarring them each in different ways.  As a result, Jordan sent five year old Benji to a boarding school in Switzerland.  Heather, still suffering from effects of the car accident and subsequent brain surgery, blocked the painful memory out.

After a frightening breakdown on the deck of his yacht where he held Suzanne and Heather captive, Victor's reign of terror had seemingly ended.  Brett, using a flare gun as a weapon, set the madman on fire.  After falling overboard, everyone assumed he'd died.  However, when Heather later seemingly fell back into a trance and tried driving off the cliff with daughter Violet in the car, it appeared Victor was still in control.  Upon examination by her new psychiatrist, however, Jordan, Suzanne and Brett were devastated to learn that Heather's mind had finally snapped, sending her into a psychotic state of altered reality.  Hesitantly, Brett agreed to have his wife committed to a mental health facility in San Francisco.  After a tearful goodbye, Brett returned home with Violet, unprepared for life as a single parent.  

Suzanne was arrested for Troy's murder.  The detective assigned to the case, a New York transplant named Stephanie Callahan, took issue with Jordan's baller lifestyle and used the case to make an example of Hollywood types.  After Heather's breakdown, however, she authorized an investigation into Victor and admitted that Suzanne was not at fault. Sexual tension between Stephanie and Jordan exploded.  When Stephanie learned that a man named Kyle Fenwick was released from prison in New York, she flew into a panic.  

Benji, angry at his mother and father's lies, took his aggressions out on Scott Kelly after learning he may have given him an STD. With baseball bat in hand, he sent the actor to the hospital with severe head injuries.  T.T. continued pursuing Renee, who wanted nothing to do with him.  In a moment of weakness, however, she agreed to have dinner with him. Just as she let her guard down, T.T.'s girlfriend, Angela Warner, arrived at his door.  Jilted, Renee informed him that she should have never agreed to see him again.  T.T., who had tried ending things with Angela on multiple occasions, professed his love to Renee.  When a spurned Angela slept with Malcolm, Benji expertly arranged for Sierra to walk in on them together.  Devastated, Sierra ran into Benji's arms and they made love.  Afterwards, she professed her love for Malcolm and told him it was a mistake.  Refusing to let her daughter be hurt again, Renee issued T.T. an ultimatum: keep Malcolm away from Sierra or never see her again.  After manipulating his son with threats of ruining his struggling record label, T.T. succeeded in getting Malcolm out of town.  Much to Benji's disapproval, however, Sierra decided to return to New York alone.  T.T. received a mysterious phone call from someone summoning him to a private meeting. When he arrived, Kyle Fenwick pronounced his desire for revenge against Stephanie Callahan and against David Jennings for their roles in sending him to prison.  T.T. warned him not to do anything stupid.  

Miranda struggled to cope with the fact that she was no longer perfect as a result of the burns she'd suffered during the earthquake fire.  James hired the best plastic surgeon in the country to fix the burns, but a scar remained, devastating Miranda and giving her a terrible case of insecurity.  Eddie maintained his feelings for her, however, and after weeks of pushing him away, she finally accepted that he did care for her.  When she spotted him with an old flame from high school, however, her insecurities returned.  Meanwhile, Stormy located Kelly, who was working as a model at a seedy agency in New York City.  He pleaded with her to return home with him, but she insisted that their marriage was over, tired of his family's disapproval over her.  Stormy blamed his mother, claiming that she'd run Kelly out of town once and for all.  On top of that, Alex's relationship with Miranda became strained as well due to her fixation on her scars and how they would affect the rest of her life.  James blasted his ex for her lack of sympathy, claiming that she was the cause of their children's problems.  To make matters worse, Alex was questioned by Detective Callahan in Scott Kelly's beating. Without thinking, Alex fingered Jordan in the crime because of her faux affair with Scott.  An irate Jordan had finally had enough of his wife, serving her with divorce papers and telling her he was through with her. Devastated, Alex began nursing her sorrows with booze and pills.  She secluded herself inside her newly rented Beverly Hills condo, reflecting on her past mistakes, and passing out after ingesting a bottle of vicodin and a glass of vodka.  

Brooke found a new lease on life after Ethan's death.  Instead of succumbing to playing the role of victim yet again, she used the tragedy as a springboard to better her life and the life of her son, Michael.  With money that Ethan left her in his will, she bought David's forty percent of Sunset Studios.  Jackie, who believed the studio rightfully belonged to her, became embittered.  Knowing that Nathan Blackthorne owned ten percent of the studio, she traveled to Paris and married him in prison, thus giving her proxy over his shares.  

Read Season 5 Recap


Producers Remarks

by Andy Eckles

In the first three years of The Blackthornes, I touched briefly on Hollywood-inspired themes, but it was never fully availed as a story about Hollywood.  Probably because it’s not.  It’s about a set of interlocking players with Hollywood as a backdrop.  However, readers seemed to like the Hollywood aspect, so in season four, I decided to weave a story stemming from the production of a movie.  Virtually everything that happens in this season had some kind of connection to Angel Assassin 2: Halo and Goodbye.  A few examples:  1.) In the main story arc - the disappearance of Suzanne Rogers - one big key to the mystery lied with the film’s director, Frank Dunning, who had a mysterious past with Suzanne.  2.) Alex starred in the film, who was married to Jordan who was a key player in Suzanne’s disappearance.  3.) Victor Distefano, another main star, was revealed to have a major part in Suzanne’s backstory.  4.) Victor’s son, Eddie, had an ongoing love/hate romance with Miranda throughout the season.  5.) Scott Kelly, the third star of the film, had connections to Alex in the form of a faux affair, and to Benji in the form of an occasional homosexual liaison.  6.) Sierra, who returned from school for Stormy’s wedding, brought along new beau Malcolm Harris, the son of T.T. Levitt who was set to embark on a business dealing with James and Sunset Studios in relation to the film.  T.T., coincidentally, had past ties to Renee.  7.) Stormy’s fiancé, Kelly, garnered a spot in the film thanks to some seductive techniques.  The connections go on and on.  It was safe to assume that anything and everything could be traced back to the film that set the tone for the season.

Breaking it down: the mystery of Suzanne’s disappearance was something I’d been planning since the very beginning of the series.  It was clear early on that Jordan and Heather weren’t just a father-daughter duo with no other family to speak of.  Suzanne was referred to, usually as simple as Jordan’s ex-wife who left them without a word.  There was one scene at one point in the first season when Alex point blank asked Jordan what happened to her and he told her it was best that she didn’t know, and to never ask again.  At that point, I had some idea of what the story was going to be, but it hadn’t been fully formulated.  However, after that set-up, I knew I couldn’t short-change the readers by having it be anything less than gruesomely over-the-top.  Dr. Anderson, Victor’s psychiatrist alter-ego, had been recurring since early in season 3 after Heather had a breakdown following her murder of Will Thomerson.  I can’t say that I knew at that time that Anderson was going to be Victor in disguise, but I did have plans to have this nefarious doctor play a sinister role in the Suzanne disappearance.  I went back and forth on the scenarios until I sat down and sketched out the whole story sometime later.  The chilling/campy scene where Dr. Anderson reveals himself to be Victor by pulling off the latex mask was something I’d wanted to do for a long time.  It’s campy and it’s over the top, but it’s so Hollywood.  If anyone can pull it off (no pun intended), it’s someone living in Hollywood.  I wasn’t going to have Suzanne appear at all outside of flashbacks, but I realized the story would have less impact if she didn’t appear in the flesh after the reader learned she was alive.  I got a lot of flack about her not having much of a character, which was a fair enough complaint as I hadn’t really thought much about who Suzanne was outside of this woman who’s been missing for twelve years.  Having her come onto the scene was foreign to me, but I knew it had to be done or the whole thing would have been all for not.  The story really wasn’t about Suzanne to begin with.  It was about the other players, Jordan, Heather, Benji, and Victor.  I still don’t know “who” Suzanne is, so I do have some work to do if I decide to keep her around for any length of time.  I also loved this story because it took the reader back to season two when Heather had the blackout when she killed Will Thomerson.  She’d had blackouts before then and after then too, and with the explanation of the car accident and ensuing brain surgery, I thought it neatly explained why she was the way she was.  And having her leave at the end of the season, sent off to the mental hospital, was in true form.  Heather’s always been a little crazy, and after everything that’s happened to her it was a given that she’d go off to the nut house.  The only downside of this story was losing Victor as a really awesome supporting character. 

A storyline that I started, with modest intentions, but abandoned after a few episodes, was Violet and her original storyline.  The story, which started in the finale of season three, was largely modeled after a true story that happened to someone close to me.  In this instance, a woman in the second trimester of her pregnancy learned that she’d been infected with toxoplasmosis, went on medication to treat it, but the doctor’s didn’t feel they’d treated it in time.  The result was the distinct possibility that the baby would be born mentally challenged.  The infection restricts the blood vessels in the umbilical cord and prevents blood flow to the fetus’s brain.   A few weeks after birth, the baby was given early tests (regarding adaptive functioning) and the result was the doctor’s 99% certainty that she would have a mental handicap as she grew older.  Then people started complaining.  It was called “offensive” and labeled as the most preposterous plot of the year because I used the word mentally retarded.  In the real life version of this story, that's exactly what the doctors classified the baby as, PC or not.  Cases were classified as mild, moderate, severe, profound, etc.  I was asked several times to diagnose Violet with something, but in the true instance of this story, there was nothing to diagnose. It wasn’t hereditary, genetic, or chromosomal.   At any rate, I don’t know if I could have handled it any better than I did.  By the time someone claimed they were offended by it, I was already done and ready to wash my hands of the whole thing because of how ridiculous that statement was to me.  There’s always going to be someone who worked with special needs kids, or knows a special needs kid that will always know more on the subject than I do and nothing will ever be acceptable.  For all of that, I decided to downplay it slowly until it wasn’t brought up anymore.  

I intended to really broaden the scope of the Jennings/Lamont connection in this season, thus the arrival of Jackie.  Each episode, however, ran too long and had too many things happening that eventually I wound up barely using her at all and got none of the plot points covered that I'd intended.  I did lay the groundwork, however, for a deliciously wicked feud between Jackie and Brooke, with David caught in the middle.  Naturally it begs for the return of Roz at some point, which I also ran out of time to accomplish, but never fear - the bitch will be back.  

This season I attempted a big glitzy wedding like they do in the soaps, complete with a big glitzy natural disaster to follow it up.  What better plot technique than to have the entire cast dressed up in fancy clothes and then get smeared in blood and earthquake debris?  I could practically see it on camera!  This type of thing would typically happen at the end of a season on one of the big primetime soaps, but naturally I did it mid-season instead (I've never been one for big overdone cliffhangers to finish out a season).  Rather than having everyone survive unscathed only to return to their normal activity by the following episode, I tried to give this an impact.  Not only with Ethan's death, but moreso with Miranda's burns and subsequent scarring.  And of course the earthquake was a convenient way to unearth the body buried behind Jordan's house.  

All in all, I thought it was a solid season that could have faired better with more consistent posting.  Twice I took unannounced hiatuses lasting two or more months.  With a storyline like the one about Suzanne's disappearance, the reader benefits from regular episodes without having to wait weeks or months between.  I'm sure some minor details got lost in the mix, but they were things I tried to repeat through exposition.  Not ideal, but it seemed to work.  

 

 


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