Who could have ever realized just how much Zach and Greenlee had in common? Certainly not me. I have seen her as an impediment to Zach and his desires for a very long time, but never really considered that there might be similarities -- and that perhaps that those similarities are the reason they have been at cross purposes for so long.
Two kids -- both raised in the world of wealth, power and excess, yet completely miserable in their gilded cages. There is no doubt that Zach's youth was a nightmare in comparison to Greenlee's, yet the similarities are striking. Greenlee grew up learning to talk a lot without saying anything -- Zach learned to bottle up his feelings and barely talk at all. Greenlee grew up as a plaything for her parents, something to be trotted out and shown off and then sent back to servants without getting any real love or attention. Zach grew up as his father's possession, his life designed for him without care or consideration for his own needs or desires, and certainly no love or attention lavished on him except what would mold him into his father's image. Both children carrying the names of the previous generation -- even that singular opportunity for uniqueness taken from them by their controlling, manipulative and uncaring parents. And each of them forged a singular life for themselves out of the desolation that permeated their childhoods. Greenlee said it for both of them today, "I am what I am. Take it or leave it."
As Zach and Greenlee have worked to tear down the wall of their prison, there have been other, stronger walls that have crumbled. Little by little, the defenses that they built against each other and the world have disintegrated in the face of a common foe, in the desolation of a common fate. When one of them has been ready to give up, the other has done the bolstering. That kind of give and take relationship doesn't surprise me in Zach, but it also doesn't come naturally to him. He is a loner and has long depended only on himself -- one of the reasons that he ended up in the bomb shelter was his unwillingness to share his plans against Greenlee with Kendall, protecting her from what he considers his dark side. Greenlee? Well, let's just say that there is precious little evidence that she can see beyond her own reflection in a mirror -- yet over the past several weeks she has shouldered burdens that were not hers to carry, and helped someone that she has always despised. Through these efforts, they have forged their own relationship and respect. Yes, as unbelievable as it is, there appears to be respect between them now. Definitely hard won, and definitely surprising -- but both have learned interesting, valuable and unexpected lessons about the other... about their capacity for love, their determination, and even their sense of humor.
I loved how Zach so dryly told Greenlee yesterday that "I know funny" while explaining that he had auditioned millions of comedians. References to his life as a casino owner have been few and far between, and I relish those moments when Zach's past informs his present. I enjoyed playful Greenlee, and how she accepted his dry wit and shared his jokes and witticisms openly. Even more, I was moved when she allowed him to explain himself to her and to tell her about the fear that is at the core of everything he has done. While I recognize that part of Zach, I'm not even sure that he was aware of how driven by fear his life has been... because he has never stopped long enough to examine that part of himself, and perhaps because he has never been asked that question in quite that way before. Always in the past there was something that he could do to keep from focusing on himself, and I doubt that he has ever been in a situation that has left him feeling quite as powerless as the one he is in right now.
The one thing that we cannot doubt -- and Greenlee now cannot doubt -- is that, regardless of what HE thinks, Zach's true nature is not fearful. He is a nurturer, and that gift for taking care of others has been a positive manifestation of the pain and abuse he suffered as a child. He is not cursed with the insanity of his father and brother, instead his life's influence has been the mother who nurtured him for a few precious years. This gift from his mother is a trait that he's exhibited since the moment we met him in Las Vegas and found him caring for Erica despite what she and her family had done to his brother. As we have learned more about him, and of his past, we have found that one trait exhibited over and over again. A year ago, Tad's investigation uncovered many details about Zach's "sordid" past after leaving behind Alexander Cambias Jr. but before assuming the identity of Zach Slater. Tad treated it as a laundry list of crimes -- but a careful review showed that it read more like a modern day Robin Hood, and that someone else always benefited from Zach's actions even when the overt beneficiary appeared to be just himself. As a casino owner, his specialty was taking care of people, protecting their secrets and offering to them a safe haven. In his dealings with the citizenry of Pine Valley, he has cared for and nurtured SO many... often to his own detriment and never truly understood... but no differently than he has shown care and compassion towards Greenlee during this long sojourn together.
Zach's pain at his admission caused a tear, as did his willingness to listen to Greenlee's childhood tale. Another tear was shed for the boy who didn't know what went on at those slumber parties, whose life was so barren that even that simple pleasure was denied him. Yet those tears were tempered by laughter as he reluctantly complied with Greenlee's pinkie swear and cajoled her towards rest. His gentle way with her as he covered her with the blanket and tried to warm her was only proof of the man we know so well, but is still misunderstood by so many.
The words that took me over the edge today, though, were meant as a quip and not seriously... because I know better. I know who Zach Slater is -- just as I believe Greenlee has learned. In explaining how he could keep from falling asleep he said to her, "I've got a huge heart..."
Yes you do, Zach Slater, yes you do. The biggest one I've ever seen... big enough to show caring and compassion to the woman who hurt your family, and to take care of her as if none of that ever occurred, even to telling her the words she wanted to hear from you the most.
Bravo, TK! Well done... and thank you. I can't wait to see what you, and Zach, have in store for us next!