I watch Days of Our Lives. My college-age sister watches Days of Our Lives. The guy in the office next to me watches Days of or Lives. My best friend's grandma watches Days of Our Lives. The target audience for a soap is probably male and female, ages 15 - death.
So every now and then, a soap must prove that it's still worthy of such a vast span of viewers. And this week, DAYS found a way to pay tribute to the old DAYS and ensure us that new DAYS are still ahead, and more importantly, still promising.
MAGGIE and MICKEY
She couldn't walk and he healed her. He tried to love another, and she brought him back. That's the kind of love that these two had. If you buy into it, it's "Affair to Remember" type stuff. If you don't buy into it, well, then you probably wouldn't be watching soap operas. You definitely wouldn't be reading this column. Sure, we soap fans might seem like a sinister bunch, but deep down we all want a happily ever after for our favorite characters.
And in my book, that's what Maggie and Mickey got. Mickey died this week. He died, at home, while packing for a cruise he and Maggie were going to take together. On that cruise, they planned to explore new lands and search for new stars. It was yet another step in celebrating the fact that they married their best friends. We can only hope that when our time comes, we'll have as much to be thankful for as Mickey.
Maggie found him. She knew from working at the hospital that her CPR attempts were not going to work. He was gone. And so, mercifully frozen in shock, Maggie walked downstairs, into the kitchen of the house they built together, and waited for life to catch back up with her.
Suzanne Rogers' show-stopping performance started seven minutes into Friday's show and that meant I spent the rest of the episode trying to pay attention between sniffs and holding back tears. She shattered my heart when Maggie asked Hope, "Do you think he'll be upset with me that I didn't have the courage to go back upstairs?" And when Maggie put Mickey's wedding ring back on his finger just before the paramedics wheeled him out their front door...oh my gosh. I couldn't bring myself together. What did this show just do?
Killing off a major character is not an easy decision. Mickey Horton is a main pillar in Salem history. However, this case is very interesting. Mickey hasn't been seen on-screen in quite some time. The writers could have easily left him perpetually "in Chicago" until they figured out who should play him and what he should do.
So, the only reason to kill Mickey off is for pure plot. Normally, I'm fanatically against this tactic. It's a shock value move that is so cheap it might as well be made of pleather. But this time it was to throw Maggie in the middle of her very own storyline. Since the death was respectfully done, I have no problems championing the show's support of Maggie Horton, and Suzanne Rogers. In a way, it's a reemergence of what makes the Horton family great--and why DAYS owes most of its viewers to the Horton clan.
How will Maggie cope? Will she turn back to booze? Will the countless people whom she showered with unconditional support and love return the favor and rally around Maggie? Will any Hortons return to see Maggie through this?
I don't read spoilers, so I don't know for sure. But as long as the writers are CAREFUL to handle this storyline with the respect and compassion it deserves, I'll be glad to watch it. I know I'm not turning my back on Maggie now--not even a little bit. I want to be there for Aunt Maggie too!! She's a Horton. And, Hortons deserve respect in Salem.
PHILIP, MELANIE, NATHAN, and STEPHANIE
In the midst of Maggie's drama, it's difficult to appreciate the stress that some of the other characters are going through. But, her grandson and one of "her girls" are caught up in a storyline of their own. So, since Maggie is understandably distracted, I will help her out and look out for her "kids" for her. Besides, they provide me with some laughs!
Not a lot of progress storyline-wise, but a few details did make me shake my head and giggle.
First, why is Philip taking Melanie to Vegas, of all places? Melanie is 19 years old. She can't even walk on a casino floor. And, if you've ever been to Vegas, you know that every hotel specifically positions all restaurants, shops, and theaters so that you basically have to walk through a casino to get there. Heck, there are slot machines the second you walk off the plane!
I'm sure you can still have fun in Vegas if you are under 21. But, the place basically screams that you be a certain age, and we all know Melanie is not of said age. So, the whole thing just seems a bit too strange. It's kind of like going to Disney World if you know that kids get on your nerves or going to the zoo if you have bad animal allergies. I have to wonder why Philip and Mel don't just go down to the local courthouse.
Second, Stephanie is starting to access her self-respect, and I'd love to see her hold onto it. I was so proud of her when she left Nathan in jail once she found out he was there for fighting with Philip over Melanie. I could hear Morgan and Chelsea cheering for their friend right along with me.
But then, Steph faltered a bit later in the week. The thing is, if a guy misses your second date because he got in a fight over his ex, then you move on. No biggie. Second dates turn out badly all the time and you just shake it off and forget about the guy. You do not get up on your high horse and berate the man for being a schmuck.
Did Nathan screw up? Yes. But do Nathan and Stephanie have enough of a history together for her to get that bent out of shape? No. Not even a little bit. If guys are supposed to apologize that much for bad second dates, then Randy I-don't-even-remember-his-last-name needs to Facebook me and apologize for making me sit through The Big Hit and then never calling me back. I'll wait with bated breath.
In the meantime, Melanie is shacking up with Philip while having fantasies about Nathan. And, she asked Philip to take her for a month-long honeymoon so that she won't have to run into Nathan anytime soon. This means that we're nowhere near finalizing these pairings, and it will probably be a while before Mel actually becomes Mrs. Anybody. That's the one detail I'm happy about.
Side note--that day must have been a tough day at the office for Molly Burnett! Love scenes with both Jay Johnson and Mark Hapka?!? Molly is such a trooper!
JUSTIN, HOPE, BO, and CARLY
Unlike the previously mentioned quad, these particular four are starting to fare a bit better. The big thing that happened this week was that Bo finally called Hope out, point-blank, about taking Ciara and moving out. Amen, brother!
Hope can wax on all she wants about Carly, but the truth of the matter is that Bope's problems started long before Carly. The problems started with Hope. She's the one who changed. She's the one with the problem. And, as an outsider looking at the situation, I think that means she's the one who needs to fix it. But instead, she ran away.
And in my book, that means she took some chances. The main one being that Bo might not continue to run after her for the rest of her life. He might just find comfort in the arms of someone who isn't telling him what a disgrace he is and how much pain he causes. He just might consider it a nice change to have someone appreciate his police work rather than dub him a failure at his own game. I don't think Bo is right for kissing Carly. But, it's tough to say that I can't see why he's doing it.
I get very tired of Roman, Victor, Justin, Maggie, and everyone else telling Bo that he and Hope need to fight for their marriage, and that Bo needs to stay away from Carly. I wish that someone would please tell Hope that she should never have walked out on Bo and that she needs to stay away from Justin. But that would be too fair, wouldn't it?
Yes, it's much easier to blame Carly because she came to Salem with a built-in connection to Bo. Plus, Carly has a shady past and a pretty face. It's always easier to make her the interloper. Ugh.
The truth is that Carly is so messed up right now, that I have a hard time assigning blame to her. I don't think for one second that Bo is the real reason she's staying in Salem. She's got a lot of things on her mind and "breaking up Bope" isn't exactly her main goal here.
The lady's got to build some connection to and protect her daughter. Then, she's got to keep crazy Viv off her tail. Next, she's a full-time doctor. Plus she lives on her own, without servants. And if she has any time left, she can start to reconcile her feelings for Bo. I like that Carly has so much going on right now, and I am enjoying watching Crystal Chappell tap dance through the various extremes of Carly's current mental state.
Finally, Justin is now a former Mr. Nice Guy and told Bo that Hope is fair game. I want to see more of Justin because I don't quite have a read on him yet. While I never saw him make any kind of obvious move towards Hope, I don't really think he can claim that he's been a Bope champion since he returned to Salem. His hands may be clean, but his conscience isn't. Or, at least, it shouldn't be. Like Crystal Chappell does with Carly, Wally Kurth has to portray various extremes when it comes to Justin, and there's something about it that I really enjoy.
Bottom line: More Carly and Justin. Less Bo and way-far-less Hope.
WILL, MIA, CHAD, and GABI
I'm fairly certain that Mia wants to be with Will, but doesn't want Chad to move on--especially not with super-cool, Gabi. Sure, it's a bit immature, but these kids are still teenagers. This might be the only place where this type of storyline does make sense. So, I'm okay with it.
I couldn't help but notice that little Miss Mia certainly learned a lot about workin' people during the last few months with Nicole! Wowza! Her pleas to Gabi's sensitive side were textbook Nicole Walker. And, angel-faced Taylor Sprietler is a bit captivating as a bad guy. Think The Good Son.
On the other side is my precious Gabi. I just love her. I like how she gave Mia a piece of her mind without seeming snotty. The writing and the acting are both great here, and I hope Gabi stays around for a while.
Then there's Chad. He's been a bit underdeveloped, but I'm hoping that this budding romance with Gabi will give him more of a spotlight. Casey Deidrick has a built-in charm, which is nice on-screen. I like this Chad a lot more than the "Listen, lady" Chad of the baby swap age.
For a storyline that hinges so heavily on three new characters, this one isn't doing too badly! I'd like to see where this goes once the nuWill gets into the mix.
One character who will soon be mercifully out of the mix is Nicole. Thank goodness. As always Arianne Zucker's work was perfection. But, Nicole needs to have a time-out--if for no other reason, than I'm sick of seeing that whack black wig.
Nicole went out in style, though, because we finally got to see Salem's long-lost courtroom! I love courtroom scenes because it means that multiple cast members are going to be in the same place at the same time.
E.J., Sami, Mia, and Chad all testified about what Nicole did, how long she kept quiet, and how much she lied. The testimonies were all well done and were well written so that each character pointed out a specific and personal wrong that - when linked together - created the big picture.
But then, things started to go downhill.
The one thing I could have done without was Brady's testimony. I get that Nicole needs to have someone in her corner. And, yes, I completely understand why it makes sense for Brady to be that someone. He was the one who physically saw her go through the miscarriage. And, yes again, I know that Nicole needs to have a storyline preheating for when she gets out of jail. Brady is all those things.
But every time he tells her that she's really a good and loving person, it makes him look like a total tool. He, of all people, should know what Nicole is capable of! He acts like this baby swap is the first time that Nicole has tried to pull a stunt like this. Does he really think that Nicole is completely changed, yet unfortunate and tragic coincidences lead her down the EXACT SAME PATH that she's chosen for herself in the past? Sadly, I think he does.
Also, I was extremely put off by Judge Goldberg pointing out Sami and E.J.'s past transgressions. I have a feeling that the writers put that bit in there to appease some fans who don't like E.J. and Sami, but that move was stupid. Not only is this trial NOT about Sami or E.J., but the whole scene played out like this crime was the first that Nicole has ever committed. There was no mention of Nicole's history with attempted murder, bigamy, fraud, and custodial interference. Nope. Just talk about how she is the most remorseful defendant his honor had ever seen.
We'll see how long Nicole actually stays behind bars. She was sentenced to 20 years. I don't have to read spoilers to know that she'll be free before then. Otherwise, what will Brady and Arianna have to fight about?
Sorry, Rafe lovers. No support here yet. (I'm sure you're all shocked.) In fact, my stomach is actually churning as I write this section. Reinstating Rafe to the FBI is the biggest dumbass move the writers have made with this character yet. And, here's why:
If Rafe is going to work for the FBI, then he is going to have to keep secrets from people. That's literally part of the job. It's imperative and non-negotiable that agents must keep secrets from almost everyone.
Thus, it is completely ridiculous that the writers keep making Rafe the champion of honestly. Rafe pouts like a fifteen-year-old girl who just got her iPod taken away anytime anyone - be it Brady, Arianna, Sami, or E.J. - doesn't make a full confession to him about the details of their lives. Yet, he's keeping a huge amount of secrets himself!
At one point this week, Rafe actually told Sami, "A secret is the same as a lie. And you don't lie to the people that you love." To which I respond, "What really happened to Emily, Rafe? Where were you for those three weeks that you disappeared, Rafe? How long were you investigating Nicole, Rafe?" That's what I thought.
Do you see what I'm getting at here? Either Rafe is the mysterious agent who flirts with danger and bends the rules when he needs in order to help is lady love; or Rafe is the anti-E.J. who falls over himself to be as open and honest as he can about himself so that other people will be open and honest with him. The writers cannot have it both ways. Despite even his best efforts, it's excruciatingly painful to watch Galen Gering try to mesh those two personality traits together. And Galen is no spring chicken to soaps. That should tell the writers something.
E.J. and ANNA
Holy crap. E.J. was behind the kidnapping the whole time. E.J. and Anna are working together!!! I did not see that coming at all. But, I'm totally down with it! Where do I sign up?
I know E.J. is a DiMera and therefore is genetically equipped to pull off massive schemes. But, I am very impressed that E.J. could pull himself together enough to play everyone in Salem.
And by "everyone," I mean Stefano. That scene at the hospital where E.J. confronted Stefano was so believable. I thought E.J. was headed for a nervous breakdown. There's no way I thought he'd have enough wits about him to craft this grand of a ruse.
And to my complete surprise, adding Anna into the mix wasn't that difficult. All she had to say was that she reached out to E.J. after Tony's death. I believe that E.J. and Anna could have very well grieved together over losing Tony. The way that she left Salem, I also bet that Anna would jump at any chance to make Stefano suffer.
Furthermore, considering how much hell Sami put Carrie through, there's not a doubt in my mind that Anna would want to get some revenge for her daughter. And, since I'm feeling so generous, I'll even let that ludicrous comment about Marlena being a good mother to Sami slide. Welcome to the storyline, Anna. You may take your well-deserved place!
Now, where will this awesome twist take us? E.J. says he did all this to get his daughter back. Nope, sorry. Don't buy it. There has to be more.
Maybe he wanted to stick it to Sami and Stefano for lying to him. Or, maybe he's tired of Rafe being Salem's savior and wants some of Sami's attention back. (I couldn't help but notice that when Anna badmouthed Sami, E.J. was quick to put a stop to it.) Or, maybe he's planning a way to escape with Johnny and Sydney. I'm up for anything at this point!
Carly confessed to killing Lawrence. Vivian now has proof. I'm interested to see how this matters because Viv always proceeded like Carly had killed Lawrence. Oh well. More scenes with Viv and Carly is never a bad thing.
Chloe is taking over some of Maggie's volunteer work at the hospital. I hope the writers follow through on this because it means that Chloe will get to interact with some new characters. A friendship between Chloe and Stephanie might be something I could get behind. They both are in the market for new BFFs right about now.
Troy tried unsuccessfully to order a hit on Ari. Maybe Troy is more like E.J. than I thought...
Crystal Chappell might be the only woman who can make stupid, blinking, New Year's Eve glasses look right.
I'm a little surprised that Sami didn't recognize Anna's delightfully funny and quick-witted speech pattern. Even through a voice scrambler, that Anna spunk is unmistakable.
I saw the sign for Salem Place!!!
Why hasn't E.J. divorced Nicole yet? The judge and lawyer used the phrase "Mrs. DiMera" too many times for viewers not to notice. The writers want us to make sure that we are aware that Nicole and E.J. are still legally married. What gives?
Do high school kids really drink that much coffee?
Anna said she was mad that she never received Tony's part of the inheritance. Ummm...doesn't inheritance get paid out when the person with the money died, not when the person who was supposed to inherit the money dies? Am I missing something? Is Anna just being proactive because she thinks that when Stefano dies (*chuckle* like that'll ever stick!), she won't get Tony's share of the DiMera fortune?
Suzanne Rogers. Is there any other choice this week? I'm certain that they crafted the word "stunning" with Suzanne Rogers in mind. Everything about the woman oozes class. She is beautiful to look at. And, she emotes better than anyone on the show. She makes me want to hug Maggie - not because Maggie is a weak and frail character, but because I genuinely feel for Maggie.
And over the past years, the Emmy winner has been shelved for fresher produce. Yet, she never faltered in her commitment to her job and to her fans. Lesser women would have scoffed at the idea of working with the "kids," but not Rogers. She embraced the younger actors, and, in my humble opinion, solidified newcomers Blake Berris and Molly Burnett as legitimate actors and not just cute 20-somethings. There's something to be said about an actress who can navigate the rough world of soaps and still manage to reinvent herself and excite a whole new audience. That something is "stunning."
Dang, Will! Right after Tony and I praised you for being one of the best characters in '09 you go and turn back into the whiny brat who blames Sami for all his problems. There's no mention of Lucas or Kate's parts in raising Will. Nope. It's all Sami's fault that Will can't trust Mia. *Sigh* I guess it's time to dig out my Lumi Flowchart of Schemes again and have a session with Will.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Victor (to Justin): "Happy new year, deck the halls, yada yada."
Yes, dear Victor, there is a Santa Claus. But, like the rest of us, even he gets tired of his family after the holidays. Thank you for reminding us of that. And thank you for making us laugh.
That's all for now, DAYS fans! Tony will be back next week to cover the fallout of Mickey's death. The hidden gem of this storyline is that it could affect every current storyline. Mel and Mia should pause their love lives to be there for Maggie. Nathan, Hope, Will, Ali, and Lucas should all show up to help Mags. Even E.J. should take some time to pay respects to the man who gave him his first legitimate job in Salem. Will they? Won't they? Tony will be sure to hand out applause and citations where necessary.
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