Stephen Nichols as Skyler Gates in NBC's Santa Barbara.

Stephen Nichols as Skyler Gates in NBC’s Santa Barbara.

When Stephen Nichols joined the cast of the NBC daytime drama Santa Barbara in September 1992, Producer Paul Rauch said, “To get this guy back in the medium is big stuff.”

Stephen played Zen therapist Dr. Skyler Gates, specializing in Eastern philosophy and religion. Skyler was a Harvard graduate schooled as a psychiatrist. During his training and his study of Eastern philosophy and religion, he found that the disciplines and practices in mediation, when applied to psychoanalysis, were very helpful. They brought a whole new area of intuitiveness into his work.

Skyler was very intuitive. He could go beyond what someone is saying and see the truth behind the words.

Skyler and Warren Lockridge (Jack Wagner) met in the far East where Skyler learned eastern meditation. Warren asked his friend to treat B.J. Walker (Sydney Penny). Skyler sensed that Warren was in love with B.J. and agreed. She was a young woman who was suffering with repressed memories of molestation as a child. She was the daughter of Cruz (A Martinez) and his former lover Jodie Walker (Kim Zimmer).

The story unfolded in two directions – Cruz learning he had a daughter and Dr. Gates using pseudo-spiritual treatments to unlock her memories. In the meantime, B. J. became romantically involved with Warren.

B.J. agreed to see Skyler if Warren came to the sessions with her. Skyler meditated with B.J. and asked both of them at the end of the first session to stay at his place over night. B.J. wanted to get rid of the terrible experiences in her past and wanted to undergo therapy with Skyler.

The Walkers, Cruz and Warren went with B.J. to Skyler for his first therapeutic sitting. Cruz had a confidential talk with Skyler and later destroyed the only proof – B.J’s dress by which she could have been prosecuted for the murder of her molester, Frank. All signs pointed to Cruz as the murderer and he wasready to go to prison for B.J. While Reese and Jody were finding the written confession from Cruz, the latter was giving his farewell to B.J. and Warren. Cruz left without Kelly.

Warren persuaded B.J. to continue the therapy with Skyler. B.J. learned about Cruz’s confession that he had murdered Frank Goodman and, when she learned he left the country, she became upset. Connor McCabe (Charles Grant) began having doubts about Cruz’s confession.

Warren persuaded B.J. to continue the therapy with Skyler. B.J. learned about Cruz’s confession that he murdered Frank Goodman and, when she learned he has left the country, became upset. Kelly scattered the ashes of B.J.’s dress on the beach, the only proof of her guilt. McCabe watched her and found a button in the ashes. He decided that B.J. may have murdered Frank.When he found out she was Cruz’s daughter, he believed Cruz  made up the confession to protect her.

Warren also believed that B.J. shot Frank because he had seen the video tapes of her hypnosis sessions. Only B.J. didn’t know anything as she had suppressed everything in relation to the murder case. Warren decided to hide B.J. Skyler decided that B.J.’s psyche was damaged because of the murder.

B.J.was arrested and accused of murdering Frank. She became hysterical because everyone thought she was guilty. Skyler and B.J. argued and B.J. believed he betrayed her. Skyler later met with Warren and they worked out a plan to prove B.J.’s innocence. While under hypnosis, B.J. remembered the events of the murder day. Skyler thought the trial could only be positive for B.J.’s psychological situation because she would have to recall everything that happened.

B.J. did recall killing Frank while on the witness stand and Julia tried to find out why Frank would molest her. She set a course of action to prove that Frank molested B.J. because he himself was molested.

B.J. recounted her sex life with Frank and a man in the courtroom confessed that he abused Frank. Eugene was Frank’s roommate and he testified about Frank and apologized to B.J. for creating the chain of abuse that led to her. B.J. was acquitted.

Stephen left the show in November, 1992. It was canceled in January, 1993.