"The Gift": Analysis of "The Gift" Arc of ABC-TV's Port Charles
(c) Alison Armstrong
An analysis of the "The Gift" episodes of the show Port Charles, formerly of ABC-TV. This site will focus on the scenes featuring the vampire character Caleb
Morley/Stephen Clay (portrayed by actor Michael Easton). The character of Caleb Morley/Stephen Clay and any other characters relating to Port Charles are
the property of ABC and their creators. This is a fan-run site and is not an official site, nor is it affiliated in any way with ABC, Port Charles, or the actors
portraying any of the Port Charles characters. No copyright infringement is intended. The writings on this site are copyrighted by the author, Alison
Armstrong, and may not be reproduced without the author's express permission.
"The Gift" Analysis #4
“The Gift” probes the dynamics of causality, fate, and self-fulfilling prophecies while calling into question the
limitations of free will. Using traditional, even, at times, clichéd, soap opera plot devices, it gives them a
metaphysical dimension, as the ring transforms the lives and souls of the Port Charles inhabitants. Those seeking
the ring are obsessed with the threat and promise its magic represents, while those who possess it become
addicted to the sense of omnipotence it bestows.
Having the ring gives Jamal a feeling of exhilaration. Like a child with a marvelously powerful toy, Jamal
experiments with it, testing out various frivolous wishes to see if they come true. Curious to see if the ring can
bring about seemingly impossible, incongruous events, he wishes to see snow falling in July. Wanting to know if
Imani likes him, he wishes to hear her thoughts. Both wishes are miraculously granted. Snowflakes drift past
the window even though it is the Fourth of July, and Imani’s thoughts are telepathically relayed to him.
The ring’s power, like that of ancient Greek and Roman gods, is fickle. Although capable of granting almost any
wish, it cannot (or will not) give Jamal the one thing he wants the most—an end to his vampirism. It will not
restore his human mortality. And the wishes it does grant often bring unintended, unpleasant results, as Jamal
discovers when he hears Imani’s rather negative perceptions towards him.
Its ability to drastically transform personality adds to the ring’s godlike mystique. As a result of Lucy’s
inadvertent wish (made in the presence of Jamal and the ring) that her former husband would become the kind,
gentle man he once was, Kevin has, indeed, been transformed into the caring, wonderful man she married. He
has repented, turning aside from his wicked ways, and has vowed to made amends for the harm he has done.
His repentance seems sincere, in keeping with the decent, compassionate person he used to be before the drugs
and insanity took over his soul. But is Kevin’s transformation genuine? And, if so, how could magic bring such
a substantial and intrinsic personality change about? Can the ring’s magic actually alter (and, in this case,
redeem) the soul? Similar arguments could be made about the power of psychotropic medications, such as
Prozac, to seemingly transform deeply ingrained personality patterns associated with depression, thereby freeing
the afflicted individual from a downward spiral of despair and restoring the potential once clouded by debilitating
negative emotions. As with Caleb’s ring, such medications have the power to penetrate and illuminate the
darkness of the soul, to offer redemption, to release the individual from self-imprisoning torment. Does the fact
that they are external agents of change diminish the beneficial results they bring?
Seeking but not yet possessing the ring, Caleb, Rafe, and Livvie find their lives indirectly affected by its symbolic
presence as a source of power and danger. Although Alison, unlike the others, seems relatively indifferent to the
ring, she is swept up in the turmoil caused by their obsessions and fears.
As Caleb, in the process of helping Alison home, holds her in his arms, Livvie and Rafe glare with suspicion.
Livvie demands to know what is going on, and Rafe anxiously asks Alison whether Caleb has hurt her. Both
assume the worst in the person they distrust the most, with Livvie implying that Alison is merely feigning illness
to gain Caleb’s attention and Rafe suspecting Caleb of trying to seduce her. When Caleb explains that Alison was
sick and needs to see a doctor, Livvie accuses Alison of “playing victim.”
Snappies of "The
Gift" scenes taken
by A. Armstrong
“We are friends, just friends,” Alison, referring to her and Caleb, asserts. “So if either one of you have a
problem with that, then that’s just it—it’s your problem.”
Despite Alison’s and Caleb’s assurances that their relationship is merely a casual friendship, Rafe and Livvie
After she and Rafe leave the docks, Alison tries to continue her discussion with him about the stabbing.
Although Rafe, as before, tries to evade her probing questions, he eventually admits that he is angry. His anger,
he explains, however, is not about her stabbing him, but about her confiding in Caleb. When he reminds her of
all the evil Caleb has done, she points out that Caleb is “not responsible for every single bad thing that’s ever
happened” to them. Although Caleb is Rafe’s scapegoat, Rafe’s obsession, he is not to blame for their current
problems, she explains. Their main obstacle now, she tells him, is not Caleb; it is their lack of communication.