This great soap opera begins with a flashback to a party in honor of Channing Capwell Jr. in Santa Barbara, California in 1979. Channing and his older brother, Mason, are entertaining the guests until the butler, Phillip, gives Channing a note. Channing asks the maid, Santana Andrade, if he'll see her tonight. He then follows instructions to go to the Capwell study. When Channing enters the study, it's clear that someone was waiting behind the desk. The person points a gun and pulls the trigger. Seconds later, Channing is lying dead on the floor. "Santa Barbara" then cuts five years ahead in time to the San Quentin prison on July 30, 1984. The warden tells Joe Perkins that Joe is released from prison; the parole board moved up its decision on Joe. During the engagement party for Kelly Capwell and her fiancé Peter Flint, Mason Capwell is talking with Kelly and Peter until he receives a note. He goes to the study after asking Santana Andrade, who is no longer a maid, if he'll see her tonight. Then Mason enters the study, where his father C.C. Capwell waiting for him. An angry C.C. informs Mason that Joe Perkins has been released from prison. C.C. blames Mason for this because Mason is the Assistent D.A. C.C. worries that Perkins will start to harrass C.C.'s daughter, Kelly, again. "I lost a son to that bastard," C.C. fumes. "I am not going to lose a daughter." C.C. admits to Mason that sometimes he still can't believe his beloved namesake, Channing Capwell Jr., is gone. Mason reminds his father that C.C. has his other children -- Ted, Eden, Kelly and Mason. Santana Andrade is furious about Joe's sudden release. "He shouldn't be alive when Channing is dead," Santana tells C.C. The butler, Phillip, informs C.C. that C.C. is to dance with Kelly. Santana stays behind in the Capwell study and takes C.C.'s gun out of a drawer. She takes the gun to her apartment. C.C. dances with his daughter, Kelly Capwell, and they start to reminisce about how they used to dance at the yacht club. C.C. has arranged for a helictopter to wisk Kelly and Peter out to the island tonight. He then tells Kelly that Joe was released from prison today. Although Kelly insists that she's fine, it's obvious that the news affects her deeply because Kelly was once secretly engaged to Joe. In the study, C.C. promises Peter Flint, a physics teacher, a job at Capwell Enterprises if Peter makes Kelly happy. "You're on your way to becoming a Capwell," C.C. smiles. This obviously pleases Peter a great deal. Meanwhile, the warden advises Joe Perkins not to return to Santa Barbara because people haven't forgotten what happened. Insisting that he's innocent, Joe is determined to find Channing's real killer. A mysterious woman hears on the news about Joe Perkins's release from prison and calls someone to make sure that Joe Perkins won't return to Santa Barbara. At the Perkins house, teenager Jade Perkins is thrilled when she hears on the news that her brother is being released from prison. Jade's mother, Marisa, couldn't be happier because she never believed that her son killed Channing. Marisa's husband, John Perkins, returns home and wonders what all the commotion is about. Marisa and Jade tell John about Joe's release from prison, but John is not happy to hear this. At a beach bar, teenagers Ted Capwell and Danny Andrade are waiting for Laken Lockridge to arrive because Ted has a crush on the shy girl. Ted takes Laken to the Capwell stables. Kelly arrives to talk to Ted, but leaves when she sees Laken. Ted admits to Laken that he doesn't like Kelly's fiancé, Peter. An old lady demands to know why her driver, Ambrose, has stopped the car. The driver explains that there are a lot of news people at the Capwell gate, but the lady orders him to drive her home anyway. Peter makes a toast to Kelly. Many balloons are then lifted up into the air. The old lady, Minx Lockridge, calls the police to complain about the music at the Capwell house. She introduces herself as Mrs. T. MacDonald Lockridge ("T" as in Tiger) and wants C.C. Capwell arrested. A short while later, the Capwell maid, Rosa Andrade, tells C.C. that two policemen want to talk to him. After getting rid of the policemen, C.C. wants Phillip to ask the band to play a little bit louder. "Minx Lockridge can't hear the music with all her windows closed," C.C. smiles, "and I'm sure she would be delighted to hear all of the music." At the stables, Ted and Laken almost kiss. Laken decides that she should go home. At the Lockridge house, Ted and Laken are about to kiss when Minx Lockridge opens the door. Peter tries to get close to Kelly, but Kelly rejects him. Joe goes to the bus station and buys a ticket to Santa Barbara. Two thugs drag Joe to the toilets and beat him up. Fortunately, Joe manages to get into the bus on time. The thugs decide to follow the bus. Joe has flashbacks about him and Kelly having a great time on the beach. He then remembers Kelly testifying against him -- she came into her father's study and saw Joe with a gun in his hand, standing over Channing's dead body. One of the thugs gets ready to shoot Joe, but Joe gets away from the window in time. The driver stops the bus, and many of the passengers want to get off the bus. However, Joe forces the bus driver to take him to Santa Barbara. When the mysterious woman learns that her thugs didn't succceed in preventing Joe's return to Santa Barbara, she decides to handle it her own way. Santana's mother, Rosa Andrade, goes to Santana's apartment and follows her to the bus station. It seems that Santana wants to kill Joe Perkins. John Perkins doesn't want to fetch Joe, which upsets Marisa. John lies that it's because his leg is bothering him. Marisa and Jade then go to the bus station. Mason and C.C. Capwell make sure that the angry citizens of Santa Barbara will welcome Joe at the bus station. Peter and Kelly are in the helicopter when Kelly sees what's happening with Joe. Joe looks up and sees Kelly.