The good news is that Sami knows Sydney is her baby. The bad news is that Stefano pumped his purple haze gas into the writers' room at the exact moment the writers were writing this week's episodes. Rather than get out of the building immediately, they stayed behind to try to finish the scenes as best they could. But, eventually the smoke became too great, so they turned in what they had and left the building, mumbling something about needing to find a place that served Oreos and Funions. And viewers were left feeling horrible cheated. Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first....
Rafe is a "by the facts" type of guy. He's been trained to think and act rather than just feel and react. Putting on that strong, stoic demeanor has probably saved his life on more than one occasion. I get it. Thus, in light of all that, the decision to let Rafe reveal the biggest secret of the year was a mistake of epic proportion. Expecting Rafe to be able to pull off the kind of explosive show-stopping moment viewers expected would be like expecting Sami to lead an extended meditation class.
So, when the DNA fairy, Tim, handed Rafe the results, Rafe just stared at the envelope. When he did finally read the news, Rafe just sat back down on the pier with the same look of "Oh, I can't believe it" that I have when I realize that I forgot my phone again. Finally, he recounted the events of Sydney/Grace's births to Sami as if he was recalling the details of an Excel spreadsheet on dust mite statistics. It was anticlimactic at best, but it was very true to Rafe's character.
Sami didn't fare much better. Bless Alison Sweeney and her over-emoting heart. She nailed each reaction Sami experienced-- disbelief over the amazing news, outrage over the suggestion that Grace wasn't her child, disappointment over not being able to know her own baby, and thrill that she was a mother again. The problem was that Sami went through all those emotions in the span of about 4 minutes. It was like drive-thru reactions at the Sami Shack. It just didn't work for me.
Also not working for me is the monumental idiot that Sami is turning into. As Tony so brilliantly argued last week, Safe's reunion was....well...a little awkward-- especially for fans of Sami. Watching her throw herself at Rafe with no explanation as to where he had been made Sami seem like a total tart. Sorry, that's the nicest word I can come up with.
Then this week, Sami was a flat-out fool. Rafe is no longer with the FBI. He hasn't started his own P.I. business. He has not joined the Salem PD. So, when he says he's working on a "case," Sami should have replied with, "What type of case does a carpenter work on?"
Yet, there she is. Blindly pushing aside the reason that the two of them broke up in the first place and automatically signing Rafe up to be Sydney's papa. Oh boy oh boy oh boy... Sami struggled with the idea of telling E.J. that he was Grace's father. Yet, she ultimately decided against it. I'm not saying she was right, but I do think it was a decision she took very seriously. So, I would think she would put a mere fraction of the same effort into evaluating a man over whose access to her children she actually does and should have 100% control.
Finally, this version of tunnel-vision Sami hasn't once thought of E.J. This news means that E.J. is Sydney's father. If even an ounce of that Sami/E.J. bonding that we saw last week meant anything, Sami needed to go tell E.J. the truth right away. I don't care how much Rafe doesn't like the guy. E.J. is Sydney's father and it's up to Sami to tell him. With Stefano gone again, that shouldn't be a problem.
I know I'm supposed to look past Rafe's shady past and his totally odd resistance to talk about it. But, I just can't. The fact that Sami so blindly trusts this guy-- now not just with one but with TWO of her children-- is frightening.
I'm also frightened by the way he treats other people on the show. I thought he was incredibly smug with E.J. at the police station. Rafe said himself that he didn't think E.J. had anything to do with the baby swap, so why the 'tude? Also, I'm not fond of the way Rafe told Roman that there'll be no case against Stefano with E.J. as the main witness. Maybe if Rafe told Roman THEN AND THERE about the baby swap, Roman would have that little thing called motive. Rafe had the proof in his pocket. But, instead of turning in a criminal, it was more important to be Sami's hero. I fail to see why Rafe couldn't have told Roman and then gone to tell Sami while Roman went and picked up Nicole. Rafe would have had his day, and Roman, who was questioning the DiMera family anyway, would have had a completely good reason to bring Nicole in.
But this whole above the law thing is a pattern for Rafe. His plan is for him and/or Sami to kidnap Sydney and then call the police. No, no, no, no, no! Rafe needed to get on the phone with Roman, and Sami needed to call E.J. (Hey, he's the father and a lawyer! Double bonus!) But Rafe running around town and breaking into Daniel's house is not hero-like behavior. It's douche bag behavior. Rafe has been so interested in facts, why doesn't he actually take them to an authority that can do something with them?!?!
Arianne Zuker is not going anywhere. I mean, I know she's going on maternity leave and so she'll be off screen for a little while. But, if TPTB are smart, they'll reward their starlet by giving Nicole an exit that leaves it open for her Nicole to make a believable return to Salem. So, as much as I'd like to see her go down in a big ball of flames, the more practical thing would be for Ari to milk every possible ounce of sympathy out of this week's scenes. And, I think she did it.
As self-serving as Nicole's rant about Rafe to Sami was, there was a lot of truth to it. Rafe cared more about protecting his secret past than trusting Sami with it. I just can't shake the feeling that there's something off about Rafe, and I wonder if the fact that Nicole distrusted him from the beginning will be part of her ticket back to redemption. After all, it takes a schemer to know a schemer, right?
The second was her concern that Rafe not be killed. I could argue that when one goes to Stefano DiMera for help, one should expect that murder is an option. But, that's not the same as Nicole ordering the hit herself. She even suggested that they pay Rafe off instead. It's a small distinction, but one that clears Nicole from complete damnation.
But before I go sounding too pro-Nicole, there are two ladies out there who should be lining up to take shots at Nicole. First and foremost is Sami Brady. Nicole stole Sami's baby purely because she wanted a replacement baby that was E.J.-flavored. That is sick and twisted, and there's no excuse for that. Before you start screaming, "But Sami was going to keep E.J. from his own daughter!"-- back up-- Nicole stole Sami's baby before Sami returned from witness protection, and before Sami went through with the plan to hide Grace. There's no way that Nicole could have known what Sami would do. The only thing it did ensure is that when Sami told EJ about the baby, DNA would never back up Sami's claim. P.S. Sami is currently $50,000 poorer thanks to sticky fingers Walker. Sami may have given her the money the first time, but not this go-round!
Next, there's Mia. Nicole strung Mia along like a little willing puppy the entire way. Sure, at times the puppy tried to bite back, but really, what is a puppy going to do to Nicole? (BTW, what did happen to Pookie?) If Nicole was able to snow all of Salem including E.J., Brady, and Sami, I can't really be mad at Mia for not wising up. How dare Nicole suggest to Mia that, "We've all made sacrifices." To quote a popular SNL skit, "bitch, pleeeeaaase."
Nicole didn't sacrifice crap. Oh wait, she held up from sleeping with EJ for six months. She had to settle for him showering her with gifts, money, and affection instead of sex. Yeah, that's almost the same thing as Mia giving up her baby, unknowingly watching that baby die, lying to her first love, trashing her reputation, and losing her current boyfriend.
The guy is losing it. Fast. And I love it. Due to the painfully monotonous scripts over the past few months, James Scott has been on autopilot. It's not his fault. Any good actor probably comes equipped with this defense mechanism. But, all will be forgiven if E.J. actually realizes what a schmuck he was to blindly let Stefano back into his life last summer and crumble under the pressure. Gotta say, I'm so looking forward to James Scott crafting E.J.'s descent into madness....and his then his subsequent acclimation back into society.
I find E.J. to be a very interesting character. He's masterminded some of the most dastardly deeds in Salem. Yet, he has a built-in characteristic that makes him different from the Stefanos and Vivians of Salem. E.J. has the ability to self-reflect. He can step out of the situations (if he's willing) and look at them objectively. He did that when he told Marlena and Sami that John was being held prisoner in Stefano's basement. And, he did it this week when he saved Rafe. I'm not saying that makes him a hero. I'm saying it makes him interesting.
Joe Mascolo broke my heart this week! I know that most of you weren't into the Vendetta storyline, but I thought it was very helpful in shedding some light on Stefano's character. He was hurt as a child and part of him was frozen in that little boy's mentality-- determined to have a big family where no one would hurt him.
I know Nicole wants to claim that she did everything she did out of love for E.J. And I'm sure there's some truth to that. But, as far as I'm concerned, Stefano has first dibs on that argument. The look of pain in Stefano's eyes when he begged E.J. to trust him was so desperate. I honestly don't know what Stefano will do if E.J. starts to pull away. But, I'm eager to watch.
WILL, CHAD, AND MIA
Will is still mad at Mia for lying to him and for being the "party girl." I actually think Will's reaction is right on. High school is rough, and reputation matters. No guy wants to be seen in daylight with the easy girl. And, Will has had both parents lie to him for a good chunk of his life, so I can see where his tolerance for lies is a little weak. But never fear, Willa fans! The news that Grace really is Mia's baby will probably change a lot of things between Mia and Will.
Things will change for Chad, too, which is good, because that little bugger needs to be taught a lesson. I happened to watch the events that took place up to Mia giving Nicole her baby. Not once did Mia say, "Yeah, the jerk who knocked me up just skipped town, so you know what I'm gonna do? I'm going to sell his damn kid! That'll show him!" So, I have zero sympathy with Chad when he spouts off about getting what is rightfully his.
That's not at all how it happened. Mia didn't give her baby to Nicole to spite Chad. And, if Chad had been around for it, he might know that, too. Yes, I know it was his parents' idea to send him away. But, it was Chad's choice to do drugs, which caused him to be disciplined. (Thanks, NBC, for this message: Don't do drugs, kids. Otherwise, you won't be around when your girlfriend finds out she's pregnant, and you'll miss out on being a teen father! The More You Know...)
But it wasn't all baby swap this week. Let's talk a little Kiriakis men!
BRADY and ARIANNA
Up until this week, I was worried that the producers had made a mistake by hiring Lindsay Hartley. It's not because she isn't talented. It's certainly not because she lacks chemistry with her leading men. It's because the character of Arianna was a supporting "fluff" character, at best, and it worried me that the producers hired such a popular actress for such a minor role. But now I'm starting to warm up to Arianna. And, it's because the writers finally started to fill in the blanks with her character and gave me a back story solid enough to help explain her actions.
She was a bad kid-- did and sold drugs-- and it drove a wedge between her and the rest of her family. But prison scared her straight. When Arianna looked at Brady and said she would have done anything-- even sleep with someone-- to get out of prison, I felt sympathy for her for the first time ever. I get it. I get how serious she takes her assignment. I get how scared she was to go back to prison. I get how conflicted she was over quitting. I get how important her brother is to her and why she would totally freak out if they were separated again. I still don't get her objection to Sami and Rafe dating, but this is a good start.
I like the idea of Brady and Arianna working together to bust the drug ring in Salem. It's a good obstacle for them to overcome, rather than throwing a third party into the mix. And, it shouldn't be too long before this storyline winds around to Brady finding out that Victor's hands are more than dirty. As mad as he was when he thought his girlfriend was dealing drugs, can you imagine how steamed he's going to be at his grandfather?!?! This is getting good.
The only slight issue that I have is that Brady says he's in love with Arianna. Wasn't it just a few days ago that he was in love with Nicole? What is this guy, the 7-11 of Romeos? Slow down a bit there, John Jr.
PHILIP, MELANIE, STEPHANIE, and NATHAN
Philip is still creepy to me around Melanie. It's like he's going through a mid-life crisis and Melanie is his sports car. He's not into Melanie for anything more than getting his ego and....um...other things stroked. If he was actually into Melanie as a person, he would have taken an active enough interest in her life to at least know that she had huge midterms coming up. The dude does sit on the hospital board. It wouldn't have taken that much effort.
I know enough about Melanie's history to understand that she has a life pattern of letting men take advantage of her. So, I can understand Melanie's weakness when it comes to Philip. But, what I don't understand is how Melanie, who is usually a predator when it comes to other girls, can't see right through Stephanie.
The way Stephanie was working Melanie makes me wonder why I was so quick to dub Mel as the "bad girl" between the two. Boy, was I wrong. Stephanie Johnson is nobody's fool. She knows that if she can get Melanie to focus on Philip, he'll keep her distracted long enough for Steph to swoop in and land Nathan. And I'd bet my last café mocha that's exactly what Stephanie is going to do.
You know what else? I'm sort of excited about it. Self-righteous Stephanie makes me want to hurl. I'd like the writers to have the chutzpa to let Stephanie dip into her Earl Johnson genes, not to mention let Shelley Hennig stretch her acting muscles by playing a bad girl with an angel face. If the writers continue to insist that Stephanie is just a poor Pollyanna who needs to protect her pure spirit, I will tune out. Only a total fool would believe that Stephanie has good intentions for Melanie.
That leaves poor Nathan. He's the only one in this quad who is absolutely certain of what he wants, but might be too dumb to hold onto her. He's determined to fight Philip for Melanie, and I have no doubt that Nathan wants to be with Melanie. But, Nathan is the previously mentioned idiot who thinks Stephanie is just a sweetheart and that could be what gets him into trouble. Seriously, how dumb is this guy to sneak up on a girl who he turned down for a date and hand her a bouquet of flowers? D'oh!
DANIEL and CHLOE
Put your crash helmets on for this one-- I really liked Daniel and Chloe this week! It turns out that when these two aren't running around town acting like they're immune to humility and accountability, they are perfectly good characters.
We learned that it's going to be very hard for Chloe and Daniel to have kids the old-fashioned way. Chloe's eggs were damaged during her chemotherapy sessions back when she had leukemia....six years ago. I'm not sure I buy the idea that Chloe's infertility never came up during Chloe and Brady's marriage. Plus, I'm pretty sure that Chloe's father-- Dr. Craig Wesley, former Chief of Staff of Salem U Hospital-- would have investigated all of the possible side-effects of his daughter's cancer treatment.
But I'll go with it for now, because at least Daniel and Chloe have a storyline of substance. And like I mentioned before, it would be wonderful to see Chloe go through the process of adoption-- legally and accurately (please!) from the parent's side of things. Daniel and Chloe's separate interactions with adorable little Sydney made me realize that these two might be able to do a bit of comedy, and that would be a welcome change from the Danloe I've known and cringed for.
CARLY, BO, HOPE, and JUSTIN
I love that Victor was the one who turned Carly in. I totally buy it. He's always talking about how Bo should arrest some criminals. Plus, I liked it because someone finally stepped into this Carly/Bo/Hope/Justin mess and accepted the role of "bad guy." Thank you, Victor. At least someone is an adult about this.
Justin made me uncomfortable this week. It's a little sketchy that he used his super lawyer powers to force Carly into staying at Bo's house. (Hey, it's the law now!) But his comment to Hope of, "Let's get you home" did not sit well with me at all. First, I thought we firmly established last week that Hope's home was the house that Bo lived in. Second, if anyone offered to take my husband "home" in front of me, I'd probably knock her teeth out. So Bo has more restraint than I.
Considering the ton of problems that he has on his hands, Bo impressed me this week. And, I reluctantly agree with him that Hope and Ciara would be in danger if they moved back home. I say "reluctantly" because, while I get his desire to protect Ciara and Hope from Team Alamain, I think he's dead wrong for not telling Carly's secret to Hope. She's his wife. She's a detective. And I fail to see how she can be in any more danger than she is now. Won't she be better equipped to handle the situation if she had the whole story? Yes. The answer is, yes.
For her part, Hope needs to drop the "Carly is a murderer" crap. Hope, of all people, knows that not everyone who has committed a crime is guilty of the most serious offense. Lucas shot E.J. Marlena poisoned Stefano. Yet, Hope seems to be okay with those two. Plus, if Hope really thought that Carly was dangerous, her concern for Bo's safety would trump her irrational fear that Carly will seduce Bo. But, all Hope said was that she was worried that Carly would replace Hope in Bo's life. Not one word about Carly taking Bo's life. That's telling.
When she can keep her emotions in check, Hope is a smart gal. I liked how Hope said that while Carly does make Hope a bit uncomfortable, Hope doesn't have any vendetta against Carly. I was worried that the show would try to invent some history between the two when there's absolutely none. It keeps my secret dream alive that Carly and Hope will actually work together some day.
While I'm at it, I'd like to second Tony's point that Carly end the "I can't put this burden on you" schtick. Empty threats, my dear. But back to Carly's secret. If I was a betting woman, I'd say it has to do with a child. Bo was certain that Hope would help Carly if Hope knew the truth. Bo and Hope are split because of complications surrounding their children....
I'm just doing the math here, people. Nikki may be grown and gone, so it might be one that was born off screen. But, I am all but convinced that Carly killed Lawrence in order to protect a child. And, since Carly had a weird, random scene with Chad and Mia this week, those two are at the top of my list. Furthermore, since the writers brought up Mia's parents twice in one week, Mia might have an edge in winning the "Carly's Long-Lost Kid" award.
Vivian is heading back to Salem! Hurry up, Viv! I really want Victor to have something to do other than interfere with his kid's love lives. And, teaming up with your fabulous self is just the ticket!
Maggie had a heart-to-heart with Mia! WOOT! I'd been waiting for some Maggie/Mia conversation and I LOVED how Maggie brought up the fact that she adopted because she couldn't have kids. I also loved how Maggie said she wanted to dance, but it just wasn't in the cards for her. It was refreshing to hear a soap character (many of whom spend years being motivated by some bogus goal) calmly admit that dreams can change. More. Maggie. All. The. Time. Thank you.
Apparently Lawrence kept Carly from talking to anyone-- including her own family. If she did talk to them, I'm sure her brother Frankie would have filled her in on the fact that he defended Chelsea when she faced hit-and-run charges for Zach's death.
Really, Arianna? Rafe has no idea you're working undercover? Your ex-FBI agent brother launched a multi-country investigation into a secret for a woman he just started dating because he had a "hunch" that someone was hiding something from her. Yet, we're supposed to believe that he didn't think to keep an eye on his ex-con sister and find out why she's out of jail early? Did I mention that he had access to FBI resources? Sorry, not buying it at all. Lazy writing or a big lie. I'm sincerely hoping for the latter.
Hope said that she and Bo had been through the biggest tragedy parents can face, and came out stronger than ever with even more love. Ummm...I thought Hope moved out because she had some unresolved issues stemming back to Zach's death. Which is it? Or, is Hope talking about a different tragedy? There's so many, I lose count sometimes.
I giggled when Nicole was walking around the the mansion yelling for Sydney. Was she expecting Sydney to yell back an answer and come walking down the stairs? *giggle*
As much as Kate loves her own kids, you would think that she wouldn't be so afraid to hold Sydney. Imagine the years of meddling you have to look forward to there, step-granny!
How cute is Sydney? She is a scene-stealing little pro! No wonder everyone wants her. ;)
I'm a little surprised that Chloe didn't figure out what Nicole was really up to. Chloe knows what Nicole is capable of, and Chloe is the one who told Nicole about Sami's pregnancy.
Will and Mia! Every once in a while, characters get to say exactly what fans are thinking. I cheered when Will tore into Sami for giving Rafe another chance. Will is 100% right. Sure, Rafe has an excellent reason for leaving Sami. But, if he doesn't give her that reason, does it count? Ah, no. And thank goodness Will is smart enough to realize that in the moment.
Also, I love Mia challenging Nicole. Mia did ruin her life for Sydney, and she wants to make sure Nicole can hold up her end of the bargain. Nicole didn't bet on Mia being a person with feelings. That's Nicole's bad, and she deserved to be called out on it.
Any surprise? The disturbingly disappointing way that Sami found out about the baby swap is arguably the most disappointing writing choice ever. I have no doubt that the show will follow up with some great reactions-- E.J.'s reaction that Stefano was in on it, especially. But soaps don't get many chances like this. This plot point involved basically the WHOLE cast! Higley and her crew have done a fabulous job of weaving the mayor's murder (oh yeah, remember him?) with the Sami/E.J./Nicole love triangle, turning it into dueling pregnancies, and finally landing on a baby swap and cover-up.
So, color me shocked when the show that has given me such can't-miss moments-- like Kristen's teeth flying out or Kate crashing Sami and Lucas' wedding in drag-- suddenly breaks a storyline wide open by having Rafe show up at Sami's penthouse and tell her calmly and in private that the last nine months of her life were a complete lie. It was the equivalent of Dick Clark deciding not to have the live "Rockin' New Year's Eve Party" from Times Square, but instead, opting to post a pre-taped video of Ryan Seacrest setting the timer on his microwave for everyone to watch. 10!...9!....8!............boo.
LINE OF THE WEEK
E.J. (to Kate about Stefano): "Mummy, I'd like to know where Daddy is." The delivery, plus the sheer comedy of that line, was brilliant!
On that positive E.J. note, I will turn things over to Tony. He will be back next week to scoop a hopefully less sucky week in Salem. Sami's reveal was a bust, so let's hope that E.J.'s will be better. Not to mention reactions from those involved with the baby swap (Stefano, Mia, Brady, Chad, and Chloe ); those members of the two families of the babies (Roman, Will, Caroline, Bo, Hope, Stephanie, Abe, Lexie, Johnny, Ali, Theo); and those who were involved along the way (Daniel, Lucas, Maggie, Kate, Arianna, Mary). Hmm....sounds like Days has a lot of work to do!
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