Sometimes I wonder with the plotline involving Anthony and Elizabeth if Lynn Johnston is writing poorly and forcing these two together, or if she is a genius writer drawing together threads of things over a long period of time to tell a story rewarding to those who care to pay attention.
For example, the means by which Anthony and Elizabeth were put back together again at Shawna-Marie Verano's wedding. To recap, Elizabeth has been back in Milborough for almost a year and although she and Anthony had time together during the trial, he never asked her out on a date. So, Elizabeth asks Anthony to the wedding and he says he is taking someone else. Elizabeth then chastises herself for being an idiot.
At the wedding, she meets the someone else, and it is Julia, who is short, fat, and likes to show off her dental work. There is no tension in the air between Elizabeth and Julia, which is shown by both Elizabeth and Anthony laughing at Julia's antics. Immediately after this, as Elizabeth is being led off by best man, Mason, her thoughts turn to Anthony and how he has shaved his moustache, gotten new glasses, and her old feelings for him have returned. When Mason passes out, Anthony gallantly steps in, and with his date's encouragement, re-establishes his romance with Elizabeth.
Just awful. So superficial. Elizabeth only has feelings for Anthony because he shaved and the best man passed out? It seems weak to me. Taken by itself, it is. However, there are little threads of things leading up to this point, which could make this story seem much more elegant.
In contrast to this scene, you have to go back to a scene which never appeared in the For Better or For Worse
comic strip, and we can only surmise what happened by what people say. This scene is the first meeting between Elizabeth and Anthony's ex-wife Therese. The sequence of events before their meeting is:
a. Anthony asks Elizabeth to a New Years Eve, 2002 party where the other people present are Anthony's father's business associates. Therese is not there.http://www.chron.com/apps/comics/showComic.mpl?date=2001/12/31&name=For_Better_Or_Worse&week=1
b. At the party, Anthony tells Elizabeth he is engaged to a wonderful girl named Therese and that Elizabeth would love and he wishes she could meet her.
c. Anthony also indirectly tells Elizabeth he is engaged because he found out that Elizabeth was living with Eric Chamberlain.
d. They dance very closely (far too close for mere friends), leave the party early. Anthony specifically mentions no one would miss them if they left. Their thought balloons reveal they are still in love with each other.
e. In a later strip, Elizabeth is talking to Gordon Mayes, and he describes Therese as a nice girl, but said he was surprised Anthony was engaged to her and not to Elizabeth.http://www.chron.com/apps/comics/showComic.mpl?date=2002/7/27&name=For_Better_Or_Worse&week=1
f. Anthony reveals that Therese works for Anthony's father.http://www.chron.com/apps/comics/showComic.mpl?date=2002/8/3&name=For_Better_Or_Worse
What comes into view then, is that Anthony invited Elizabeth to a party filled full of people likely to be able to tell Therese what his actions were at the party. Then he close danced with Elizabeth and left early with her. If Anthony's dad wanted to introduce him to his business associates, then he is faced with an embarrassing "Where's Anthony?" What also comes into view is that everyone is complimentary about Therese, until after Elizabeth's first meeting with her. It is afterwards that the insults come, and they come first from Elizabeth.
In this strip,http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/000401.php
Elizabeth reveals that Therese already thinks she is competition for Anthony and she has only met her once.
In this strip,http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/000371.php
Elizabeth reveals she only met Therese once and she was like a total iceberg.
What happened during that first meeting? You can look at the differences between Julia and Therese and draw a conclusion easily. Julia is short, fat, and jolly. Therese is pretty, svelte, and described as cold and jealous by Elizabeth. In fact, in every appearance Therese had, she was shown to be jealous and unpleasant, when Anthony looked at or spent time with Elizabeth.
In every appearance except one. In this strip,http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/001066.php
Therese is at the baby shower for her child, Francoise. We are supposed to get the idea the Therese is tactless, because she has asked for money for baby shower gifts and not actual presents. However, we are also shown the idea did not necessarily originate with Therese. Some person (Therese's mother?) tries to sell time holding the baby for $10 a minute, when April was holding the baby earlier at no cost. In contrast, Therese is not shown to be tactless. In fact, she is shown to be gracious to April, for her gift. The big difference here is that Elizabeth is not present, and we see a very different Therese. The conclusion I draw is that Therese is unpleasant and jealous when Elizabeth is around.
There is a strip which disagrees with that assessment.http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/2005_01.php
At the 2005 New Years Eve party, Shawna Marie Verano tells Elizabeth that one of the mechanics at the garage is a friend of her cousin's and he heard Therese yell at Anthony for spending so much time with her at the office. From this incident, Shawna Marie has concluded Therese is even jealous of Tracey Mayes, not just Elizabeth. Is this truth, or something misheard, or something misunderstood? What you have is a story told 2 persons removed from the eyewitness. We have never seen Therese jealous of Tracey. As far as I know, Tracey and Anthony never dated or had any kind of romantic relationship, so there should be no cause for jealousy. Moreover, Tracey is Anthony's boss' wife. If Therese is jealous of Tracey, then it is proof she is really out of control.
However, at the 2004 New Years Eve party, where Tracey, Therese and Elizabeth were all present we get to see this strip,http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/000170.php
. Tracey is concerned because Elizabeth hasn't spoken to Anthony all night. That tells me a lot more about Tracey and Therese, than Shawna-Marie's 3rd hand gossip. Is Therese jealous of Tracey, or did a mechanic overhear a conversation where Therese told Anthony to stop spending so much time talking to a woman we have been shown is pushing him to be with Elizabeth and not her? My interpretation of what was presented is that Therese is jealous of Elizabeth only.
Something must have happened at that unseen first meeting between Elizabeth and Therese. By contrast with what happened with Elizabeth and Julia, we know that Elizabeth saw Therese was a real threat, and not some temporary girlfriend Anthony picked up to make her jealous as he did in their high school years. What was the difference? Was it just because she was thin and attractive? The clue is that when we first meet Therese, it is at her wedding.http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/000379.php
. She and Anthony have just greeted Elizabeth and Dennis North. She asks Anthony if she is jealous Elizabeth is with a handsome man, and Anthony responds, "Not now." This tells us Therese knows Anthony still has a thing for Elizabeth. Why didn't she break the engagement as soon as she found out? Why did she have a child with Anthony, when she didn't want children, and she knew her husband was still in love with Elizabeth? Could it be that the characteristic that kept Therese with Anthony, to bear a child for Anthony was the one characteristic which made her a threat to Elizabeth? Could it be that Therese was actually in love with Anthony?
If we had seen that scene, it would have changed everything. If we saw Therese in love with Anthony, and the realization cross her face when she met Elizabeth for the first time, and learned that Anthony still had feelings for her; then we would never side with Elizabeth. Her antics in preparing for Anthony's wedding would make her seem like a cruel and heartless homewrecker. And so, the story-teller does not show us the scene and let's us figure out what happened.
If you put all this together over the 5+ years the story is stretched, then you can come up with a completely different reason Elizabeth and Anthony ended up together at the Shawna-Marie Verano party. It isn't because Mason was drunk / medicated. It isn't because Anthony shaved his moustache and got new glasses. It has much more to do with Anthony's date, Julia. In this strip, http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/002425.php
, when Anthony discovered that Elizabeth had broken up with Paul and then did not come to him, but went to Warren, he tells Elizabeth he asked someone else to the wedding. It bares a startling parallel to the 2002 strip where Anthony told Elizabeth he was engaged, because he heard Elizabeth was living with Eric. This time though, Anthony did not choose another girl like Therese to take to the wedding. He chose Julia.
This sends the message to Elizabeth loud and clear, that although Anthony was hurt when he found out Elizabeth went out with Warren (just like he was back in 2002 when she was with Eric), this time he is showing Elizabeth that he has his pride by having a date, but he was still waiting for Elizabeth. He didn't give her a chance to recover from the mistake of dating Eric and he made the mistake of marrying Therese. This time he is giving her a chance to recover from her mistake of dating Warren and Paul, and shows her he is not going make the same marriage mistake again. Sound preposterous? Read this strip carefully: http://www.chron.com/apps/comics/showComic.mpl?date=2002/7/31&name=For_Better_Or_Worse
The word "mistake" is clearly linked to Elizabeth dating Eric and Anthony's engagement.
Taken over the 5-year period, the story seems much more complex and textured. The reader is challenged to discover the difference between what people say or think and what is truth. The reader has to figure out what really happened in crucial scenes we were not shown. The reader has to figure out the parallels in the story and draw conclusions from the differences. The reader has to be able to go through old strips with a fine toothed comb to put it all together.
On the other hand, this story is being told through a venue which makes it nearly impossible to appreciate it. You have to have collections or be aware and willing to go through an on-line archive and pick through these things. OR you have to have a phenomenal memory. It's like when I watch a daytime soap opera with my wife and she says things like, "You have to know that these two people used to be married a long time for that scene to make sense."
Work of genius or very poor writing? It all depends on whom you ask.