A red-head, Dale joins a growing A&D mythology, while also prompting more questions about her place and purpose in From The Heart. At the same time, she's also the tether to a real-life connection.
Theresa, Ardis, the Senate Committee chair---these women have served as catalysts for growth for our POstables, and all share a similar aesthetic trait of red/auburn hair. Sharing this trait with Martha, I've conjectured that these characters have been a way Martha could insert herself into the series at critical junctures in the lives of her characters.
At the same time, Martha has also allowed other red-heads to directly draw on bits and pieces of her actual life, lending them to the story. This is evidenced as early as the Pilot through Kelly and Charlie's story. Dale Travers joins Kelly in drawing from real life.
Not only does Dale embody an outright connection to real life, she also does what only one other red-head in the canon has done so far---acted as an obstacle to be overcome.
From The Heart
The look on Shane's face says it all.
As discussed in a previous post, Dale Travers bears a striking resemblance to the now former Mrs. Holly O'Toole [don't you just love saying that?]. Add to it a gender-neutral name not unlike her own, and it's clear why Shane might be given a bit of pause.
All of this is clearly not lost on Shane who, in this moment, must decide whether she has the courage to push past the insecurities of the Holly era to address her, albeit late, dinner invitation. As we know, Shane ultimately does.
Yet Dale's impact stretches back to even earlier stages of the film.
Oliver doesn't make it a habit to express his interest in women---past or present. But it became a necessity when relaying the events of March 24, and his failure to pick up the mail at his appointed time, leaving the contents of that particular mailbox vulnerable to an act of God, as the mysterious female cop on whom Oliver had a crush fifteen years earlier played a critical role.
At a very basic level, Dale Travers' purpose in From The Heart is meant to be a growth opportunity for Shane, while giving us a glimpse into Oliver's DLO origin story.
Why I'm Going To Need Dale Back
Obstacle or not, I'm going to need Dale Travers to make her way back to SSD ASAP. Not only has she invited Shane to come hear Oliver sing, she's also a connection to missing time I didn't even realize we might need.
Remember how Papa O'Toole said he had 15 years worth of letters sent to Oliver, all marked "return to sender?" It suggests that at least 15 years, if not more, transpired where no character we have met thus far besides Dale can account for. Sure, Norman and Rita have probably been part of Oliver's life for the past 3 or maybe more---Shane at least two---but that leaves a solid ten years where Oliver was sort of our there in the ether. What was he doing during that time?
Besides being an opportunity to get to learn more about Oliver, we'd also be getting Shane into church, as well as making a new girlfriend. Let's be honest, she needs one. Becky is still on notice for not inviting Shane to her wedding---and, yes, I'm still throwing a bit of shade her way over that. Part of me is also wondering if we won't get some answers as to why Dale and Oliver never became a "thing." Seems to me she precedes Holly, so not only do Dale and Holly share a resemblance, they both garnered Oliver's romantic affections at one point in time---one to the point of marriage. There's just something so fascinating to me about that...
For someone who spent so little time on screen, Dale Travers sure does prompt a variety of topics ripe for robust discussion! From her real life connection to her future potential, Dale Travers could certainly make for an intriguing recurring character.
Pondering Dale's Potential,
P.S. Keep voting in Round 2 of Mailbox Madness! Don't let your favorite get cut!