The outsider who comes into an established power structure is a trope as old as soap operas in any medium, going back to Jane Eyre walking into Rochester’s household. Dynasty used that first with Krystle, who was (as that outsider is frequently meant to function) the viewer’s perspective into that world. While the pattern was obviously borrowed from Pamela Barnes going into the Ewing pit of vipers, Dynasty upped the ante: Pam was at least in love and secure in the arms of her knight-in-boots-and-saddle Bobby. Krystle was still in love with another man, and Blake was anything but a knight: he was manipulative and passive aggressive and, in the end, outright aggressive when he raped her. When Krystle confronted Joseph or Fallon, we were identifying right with her since the haughty inhabitants of the majestic mansion were alien figures to the audience—much unlike the Ewings, who--other than J.R.--were not that different from common Texas folk. Krystle was an outsider in ethics as well, and for the first two seasons her status survived—Alexis was able to push her buttons exactly because Krystle knew how precarious her position was in the household. Her eventual ally, Steven, was himself pretty low on the Blake Carrington totem pole. Krystle’s mystery was the present: how would each day unfold in this tinderbox she called home? The next outsider was Alexis. She was cut from a different cloth: this time, it was she who was the snake who wanted to creep back into the garden. Her perspective was not our perspective--especially when she was shooting at pregnant women or slapping Cecil to kingdom come during a heart attack. Instead we were voyeurs, very much playing Joseph’s role which she herself deliciously described in their encounter in the studio. Alexis once upon a time belonged in the Denver high society—nay, she defined it—but her fall from grace also gave her a precarious position, not unlike Krystle. She needed someone to use as a social ladder: her children, or her ex-husband, or eventually (and successfully) her ex-husband’s business rival. Alexis’s mystery was the past: what was she doing all these years with her trust fund money in these hotels she name-dropped and having the social adventures whose clippings Joseph kept? The show initially used bits and pieces (like Rasheed Ahmed) to demonstrate that her past was quite the fertile field to explore and a ground for plots to sprout from. The third such successful mystery outsider was Michael Torrance: he came and claimed to be Adam Carrington, but he had too much fun at Fallon’s expense at their initial mutual attraction. Because the show had given us an objective POV when Kate Torrance told him he was Adam, we had no reason to doubt him. But what it meant to be Adam Carrington was an unknown: we knew Fallon and Steven right away. But Adam sided with Alexis against Blake on the basis on a single encounter with each, flashing his unpredictable nature. Alexis showed her dangerous side with the rifle, but then the writers decided they did not want to go to that well too often, yet with Adam it was one dastardly deed after another, from toxic compound mixing to raping the majordomo’s daughter to framing his mother for acts he committed. The mystery with Adam was not, like Alexis, the past, but the future: what else would he do? How far would he go and what would he be able to get away with? The show tried to mimic the success of this trio of mystery outsiders with other characters, most notably Dominique Deveraux, Amanda, Daniel Reece, Caress, and Ben. However, there was not as much of a rich story behind them or in their future, and so it was easy for all of them to eventually disappear. Even though some of them were promising, like Amanda, the mystery was shattered: her past was dealt in a single scene, and we learned quickly who she was, and what she could do (whine and lust after mommy’s husband). Amanda, as a Carrington offspring, had the most potential to recapture the essence of the first three mysterious outsiders, but by then the show was too focused on plot rather than character. Not so accidentally, the show returned successfully to this trope in season nine, with Sable. This time the mystery outsider was a trickster on the audience, playing with their supposed knowledge of the character and turning it on its head. Viewers thought they knew Sable from "The Colbys," yet early on in the show she started subverting expectations. Could she have been the one who hired the man who endangered Sammy Jo? Low and behold, she was. Was it possible for calculating Sable to really not have an agenda when she befriended Krystle? Turns out, she didn’t. Could she and Jeff ever be nice to one another? Thanks to Adam and Alexis (and a juicy paternity secret), the answer was, under circumstances, yes. In fact, Sable was a bit of every other mystery outsider we had met: like Krystle, she was trying to find her place in the Carrington and Denver structure. Like Alexis, she was an ex who had been exiled from a life and husband she still desired and with, as it turned out, a past we did not know. And like Adam, we knew who Sable was, but we couldn’t be sure what she would or would not do.