I can’t believe that I’m going to say this, but The Guiding Light ended in the best way possible. Everything made sense! Alan Spaulding’s death was the umbrella storyline that put everyone else’s “future” in context. I’m not sure that Alan’s death would have been acceptable or tolerable had the show continued on, but as the event that brought Springfield to its eternal end, it was brilliant. Characters like Roger Thorpe and Alan Spaulding are provocative characters whose actions have typically impacted many, if not most, GL characters- both directly and indirectly. You never really think about how strong an impact their actions have on their onscreen counterparts until you’re forced to live without them.
When Michael Zaslow was unceremoniously removed from the role of Roger Thorpe, I spent a significant amount of time wondering how much differently various storylines would have played out had Roger been allowed to stay – or more to the point, Zas in the role. I didn’t have to wonder the same about Alan. The writers were able to show us what life in Springfield without him was like. How wonderful that Alan’s final, and redeeming, act was to save the life of his beloved golden boy, Phillip. How terribly fitting that Alan’s death meant that everyone else could be free, as well.
Lizzie could love Bill without worrying about her grandfather manipulating their relationship and living his life for the privilege of tearing them apart.
Phillip and Beth could be happy without having to make a choice between their love and protecting their children from him. They could be happy and young again, with Rick and Mindy.
James could embrace his father and not feel that loving Phillip meant that he’d betrayed his grandfather.
Buzz was able to live in peace, caring for his family, and loving Lillian without being distracted by fruitless plots and schemes to bring Alan down.
Buzz’s attention on his family, instead of hating Alan, made it possible for him to focus on Daisy and make sure she would be able to go to college – taking Ashlee with her, and giving her a reason to want to come home– to a happy well-adjusted and loving James, of course.
The lack of threat from Alan made it possible for Jon to stay and allow Sarah to know her mother, stepfather, and new sibling, as well as ‘Uncle Shayne, Cousin Henry, Aunt Marina’.
Because Alan died, the Lewis boys weren’t spending their days looking over their shoulders, waiting for Alan to either wrestle away control of their company, or for him to pin a murder/embezzlement charge/public scandal on them.
His death meant that Emma wouldn’t grow up with her various sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews cousins waiting in fear for him to take them from their parents and turn them into his evil clones.
Alex was able to finally walk away for good, and not think about her ‘duty’ to be at her brother’s side in order to love him and defend him when the world turned on him yet again for his dastardly acts. She had time to love someone else, and to be loved unconditionally in return.
I don’t know whose idea it was to give Springfield ‘peace’ by removing Alan from the equation, but his death made everything that followed feel real (or at least ‘real’ for the ‘reel’).
On Sept. 21st, when I watched my programs and didn’t find GL at the end, I wasn’t wondering what fresh hell would have taken place in our fictional Springfield on that day (though I’d have welcomed the opportunity to find out). I wondered what it would have been like to open GL and think about where the first leg of JEVA’s romantic journey took them and THEIR son, Colin. I wondered what it would have been like to watch Shayne and Remy as best friends and fathers. Would Otalia/Blake and Frank had dinners together or celebrate the holidays together with their daughters Francesca and Emma and son Rafe? Would Billy have been the big romantic teddy bear he was meant to be and made sure that Vanessa knew, every day, how much he loved her?
If there is such a thing as a ‘good death’, The Guiding Light had one. Alan’s death allowed the writers to create a Springfield I’ve ALWAYS (get it) wanted to see and one that lives on happily in my memory.
What about you? Was it everything you wanted?