|"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" #7 (cont.)
“Somebody has it,” Caleb mutters in a tone of foreboding. “Somebody’s using it, and we need to find out who.”
|Snappies of "The Gift" scenes taken by A. Armstrong|
|The “somebody” using it is, of course, Jamal, who, having hoped the ring would grant his wish for a new female friend, keeps encountering obstacles to a happy relationship with this new friend, Imani. Though bringing Jamal and Imani together, the ring has not made it easy for them to form a trusting relationship. Imani has a secret she is afraid to disclose even after Jamal confides his own dark secret, revealing to her that he is a vampire.
Despite accepting his confession with understanding and tolerance, she remains unwilling to reveal her hidden self.
Frustrated with the its inability to bring him happiness, Jamal questions whether he should keep the ring or toss it away. He is beginning to think that Rafe might be right when he said the ring was cursed, capable only of causing trouble and sorrow.
In the case of Livvie and Alison, the ring, though temporarily causing personality changes, has failed to bring about the mutual understanding Jamal had probably hoped would take place when he expressed his wish that Livvie and Alison could spend some time walking in each other’s shoes. Even if he did intend for his words to be acted upon by the ring, he most likely did not intend for the ring to literally transform Livvie and Alison, shoes and all. He had wanted Livvie and Alison to gain empathy and insight towards one another; he did not foresee that they would become absurdly exaggerated caricatures of each other. Livvie acts out her perception of Alison, and vice versa, but the portrayals, like the perceptions, are flawed, stereotyped. The real Livvie is much more emotionally complex and vulnerable than Alison’s lecherous, shrewish depiction of Livvie, while the real Alison is much more spirited and brave than Livvie’s wimpy-sweet parody version, which, like Livvie’s former “twin,” Tess, seems too naïve and fragile to cope with the harsh, violent aspects of life.
The ring’s power to alter personality can make a cruel, twisted person become gentle or a sweet, loving person become vicious. It can override one’s will and conscience. Its changes can be as transitory and ultimately inconsequential as Livvie’s and Alison’s or as long-lasting and significant as Kevin’s. Although Kevin, Livvie, and Alison have all become transformed as a result of the ring, only Kevin’s transformations have brought insight and meaningful psychological change. Whereas Kevin learns more about himself because of the ring’s magic and even seems motivated to consciously make amends for his past behavior, Livvie and Alison are no more understanding of each other or themselves afterwards than they were before the ring’s magic took effect. Kevin’s metamorphosis, though forced upon him, has the potential to be redemptive, to offer possibilities for healing and self-growth. Alison’s and Livvie’s madcap misadventures, on the other hand, are farcical burlesques, amusing yet unenlightening. Neither Alison nor Livvie seems to have learned anything from their personality transfer. Released from the ring’s magic spell, both immediately revert back to their former selves, relatively unaffected by their bizarre ordeal.