A Tale of Two Marias:
When Maria Santos first arrived on the scene she appeared to be a frail old woman in a wheelchair. However, as in most soap stories, looks can be deceiving. It was no secret that she disliked her daughter-in-law Carmen, but with her grandsons it was a completely different story. She loved them and they her. In fact Abuela was the happy Santos matriarch at the formal wedding between Danny and Michelle. Realizing her grandson was truly in love she urged him to follow his heart….Of course that was the first Maria Santos portrayed by Gloria Irizarry.
But the role was quickly recast and Maria took on a far more dark and sinister personality…
The role of Maria Santos number two was given to Miriam Colon and I have to say; she pulled off the manipulative, deceitful, twisted grandmother to perfection.
While Maria did love her grandsons, that love was conditional on their participation in the Santos organized crime business. For example, in 2001 when Danny wanted to take the Santos family legit Maria took manipulation to a whole new level. Knowing that Tony wanted more responsibility she offered him the position as head of the family….if he carried out a hit on Danny!!! Though Tony was tempted by the power of the position he ultimately remained loyal to Danny. Did that stop Maria? Nope. She decided to carry out the hit on her own. Though she didn’t pull the trigger herself, both Danny and Tony were shot by the hitmen hired by none other than their grandmother Maria Santos!
Maria and Marony:
Maria played a significant role in the Marah and Tony story, especially in the Catalina years. Just like Carmen knew Michelle’s love had the power to show Danny that there was more to life than the dangerous life of organized crime, Maria saw that Marah had the same effect with Tony. Maria grew found of the Catalina Quesada who had escaped Cuba searching for a better life. Feeling that Catalina would make a better match for her grandson Maria pushed Catalina to fight for her grandson’s affections and keep him away from Marah Lewis.
Maria’s feelings towards Catalina changed when she learned that Catalina had tricked Tony into getting her pregnant. A child born out-of-wedlock wasn’t the issue ironically it was the trickery Catalina used to get what she wanted. But Maria was far from over. This time the always “helpful” Maria gave Catalina some special tea from Cuba. Though Catalina would have a miscarriage she would go on to lie and say that everything was “fine”.
However, Catalina was on to Maria and the next time Abuela offered her some of her “special tea” she accused the older woman of poisoning her. Though when Catalina had the tea tested it came back untainted it was implied that Maria did indeed cause Catalina’s initial miscarriage. Catalina and Maria had each other at a stalemate. Maria knew that Catalina had lost the baby-and Catalina knew that Maria had caused the miscarriage in the first place.
Catalina’s fatal error, which ultimately led to her death, was her threatening to go to the FBI about the Santos Family should Abuela tell Tony the truth about the miscarriage. Ever manipulative Maria resorted to plan B, Marah Lewis. She arranged for Marah to find out that Catalina lost the baby hoping that Marah would be the one to tell Tony and leave Maria blameless. When even that plan failed, Maria turned to Tony’s best friend Romeo Jones. In exchange for him murdering Catalina and framing Marah for the crime she would give him more power in the family business.
What Maria couldn’t anticipate was the depth of Tony’s love for Marah. Thinking that Marah killed Catalina Tony confessed to the crime to keep her out of prison. And then, to spare her the agony of once again waiting for him, he cruelly pushed her away. The stress of seeing just how far things had spiraled out of control caused Maria to have a stroke and she watched helplessly while Romeo, drunk on power, went rogue.
Though the truth about Romeo would be revealed and Maria recovered from her stroke, Tony never trusted her again. By the end of 2002 Maria Santos left Springfield and Marah and Tony went on to face a whole other set of obstacles….
Inside the Mind of Maria
Maria and Carmen were both against Tony’s relationship with Marah; though Maria’s role was more direct than Carmen’s. Not only was Marah an outsider, but she had the power to show Tony another way of life away from the Santos “family”. In their eyes she was another Michelle and they had already lost the power over one Santos male already. As Maria told Catalina, “Danny chose Michelle, who is a nice girl, but she’ll always be afraid of who he really is, you know. The same is true of this Marah Lewis. She’ll bring much unhappiness to him. Because he will change what he is for her.” What Maria and Carmen couldn’t understand is that both Danny and Tony didn’t necessarily like certain aspects of their lives but had never known any different. Both would have remained blissfully unaware if it weren’t for Michelle and Marah. Danny and Tony wanted to change for a lot of reasons, one of the biggest being that they wanted the Santos family name to mean something good for a change.
Catalina fit Maria and Carmen’s idea of a potential Santos because for two reasons; 1. She was Cuban and 2. Tony didn’t love her and therefore there was no risk of him leaving the family like Danny. In a nice bit of irony Maria was fine with Catalina’s manipulations, she actually encouraged them, until Catalina tricked Tony into getting her pregnant. Realizing she didn’t want Tony married to a manipulative wife Maria eventually had her murdered.
As head of the Santos family Maria’s character dictated that she be cunning and devious. And she was that, in spades. She was also ruthless with some seriously twisted, not to mention flawed, logic. But she was a good villain who flew under the radar and who played a large role in the Marah and Tony story.