For this character study I wanted to do something a little different. Since there were only two actors to portray the character of Tony Santos, and I have made my displeasure of the recast known quite well, any comparison would be repetitive and probably boring for readers. So instead I decided to mix things up and take a look at the character of Tony beginning at one of the defining moments in the character’s life. This character study is also different in that I tried to use a lot of dialog to show just where Tony was at that time. So without further ado…
There is no denying that I love the Tony Santos character, I wouldn’t have been so captivated by the Marony couple had I not. He was a great soap character: flawed but with a good heart. Even when he screwed up, and he screwed up a lot, he usually meant well. Tony described it best when talking to Marah about the Santos clan,”Ray was all good, Carmen is all Carmen, but Danny, he was somewhere in between– like me, but better.” But Tony was unique in that he was stuck in a very Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde limbo for his first couple years, torn between wanting to be a better man (mainly to fit into Marah’s world) and the only life he had ever known…all the while fighting deep-rooted anger and pain from a childhood that was anything but pleasant.
This anger was particularly evident in one of the more controversial storylines of 2002, Tony’s assault on Marah after learning that she slept with Romeo. It was chilling to watch live and no less so years later clipping it for YouTube. But looking at it objectively, the assault really got to the root of the Tony character. The facade that was so close to the surface was completely eradicated and in its wake was all the darkness that Tony kept bottled up inside. The most important part, especially in understanding Tony, is WHY it happened. In Tony’s eyes Marah was everything that was good and pure in his world, a world that otherwise would be complete darkness. He himself said, “Marah, when I think of you and Romeo… God, I wouldn’t even touch you, do you remember that? Do you remember why, Marah? Because you were the most beautiful thing, the most pure, perfect… I… I thought… I thought just for once that I was going to do the right thing by you, just for once in my life.” Tony had put Marah up on a pedestal and his image of her was shattered, and he reacted the only way he knew how, with violence. That certainly doesn’t make it right and it was the end of Marony for the forseeable future.
Later Marah consulted Ray seeking a reason for why Tony was so consumed with anger. As Ray explained, “He’s basically good, sensitive– maybe too sensitive. Our parents died when he was just a kid, and I was too involved with the church to give him the attention he needed. Look, I’m not making any excuses, but the kid basically grew up on his own….It’s the life. It’s where we come from. Violence was the way.”
If Tony’s attack on Marah ripped him to his very soul then Danny’s “death” in late 2002 was the final catalyst the character needed to finally let go of the ghosts of the past. Tony knew that being a Santos would always be a strike against him. He had tried, and failed, to fit into Marah’s world numerous times. He was tired of trying and instead had embraced the destructive pattern of behavior before Marah came into his life. Then Danny was believed to be dead, and by his mother Carmen no less. Not only did this utterly destroy Tony but it went against everything he had ever known about family loyalty. Added to Tony’s pain was the realization that Danny was attempting to take the family legit and had made immunity for Tony part of the deal with the FBI. It was then that Tony decided that Danny couldn’t die in vain, “I have to finish what Danny started. This family is out of control. Danny had that figured out.”
Danny’s supposed death also was the catalyst that brought Tony and Marah back together. As scared as Marah was of Tony’s anger she never could completely stop loving him. And when he needed someone the most she was right by his side offering both comfort and support. Marah witnessed Tony threatening Carmen, but stopping himself from actually getting violent. As intended, this symbolized a big turn around in the Tony character. Obviously the rage was present but he finally saw just how low the family had sunk, and he no longer wanted to be caught in the undertow. When Marah remarked that he didn’t hurt Carmen Tony wasn’t as hopeful about the turn around, “I know, but it’s still here. It’s always here. When I think about what’s happened to my family, what Carmen did to Danny, what I’ve done to you, I finally realized how the rest of the world must look at us: How ugly. I don’t want to be a part of that anymore.”
Tony had tried so hard to fit into Marah’s world so many times, only to fall short by no fault but his own. Now he was making the change for himself and that would make all the difference. “For what it’s worth, the other night, when I looked at Carmen, it’s like I really saw her for the first time, and I thought to myself, “this isn’t me. This isn’t me. I want out.” “You know, and I thought about how Danny tried to get away, and Ray. And I thought, “I really want this.” For the first time, I want to be different. For me. Not you.” Tony had lost so much to “the life” and being a Santos that he had finally reached the point in his life where he wanted more, he wanted better. “You know, I… I have to get away from all of this. This life took my father, my uncle, my two cousins. I want better than that for myself.”
These changes in Tony would last until Jordi Vilasuso’s departure of the role in November 2003. When Stephen Martines took over Tony regressed back to the Dr. Jekyll character from before. Tony was once again back in the mob life, he betrayed Danny repeatedly the one person (besides Ray) he respected and trusted in his life, and he pursued a relationship with Michelle (which I must reiterate is just wrong on all levels). There was no saving grace for Tony this time and his character would perish a very dark and un-rootable character.
One of the goals of the fanfic was to eradicate this change in the character and bring him back to the Tony Santos that I (and other Marony fans) knew and loved. The man who, even when deeply flawed, remained loyal to his family and loved Marah with his whole heart.