I've been writing this column for coming up on ten years now. I've seen regime changes, shocking exits, and even a writers' strike. Change is perhaps the truest constant in the world of daytime drama.
But it still never loses that first-day-of-school feeling when a shiny new writer comes along. Ron's pacing is faster, tighter, and overall lighter than the previous team. It's a refreshing change. And it means that this decade-old scooper is refreshed, too. There's so much more to react to! Let's dig in!
First, who killed Deimos? Okay, technically this isn't a bad person, because whoever did this should get a bust in the Horton Square. But the plot is thickening. I'm so glad Victor was a red herring. I never liked the idea of him letting Sonny sit in jail. I also buy his suspicion that Sonny is guilty. Victor's never been blind to the bad things he or his family is capable of (Brady's drugs, Philip's kidnappings, Justin's philandering, etc.) He just doesn't really care about them. In a weird way, Victor is one of the most accepting patriarchs in Salem.
I loved all of the interaction between Paul, Brady, and Victor. All of these men love Sonny and care about each other too. Their confrontations produced a lot of scenes where you wanted to root for everyone, despite two characters facing off. It was all very well done. Plus, any scenes where we can get the deliciously sinister Paul Telfer are just sea salt on top of the caramel.
Not so well done was the head slap moment when Justin lamented, "We need another suspect." Gee, Justin, I dunno. Maybe point out that every single other person at the party could be a suspect? Anyway, it was all to set up Chad coming through for his friend (and his conscience), to which I say, good on you, Chadsworth!
Much like Sonny, Chad's "confession" shouldn't hold up as it's based on half a drugged memory coming up later. Oh, and Chad absolutely should have called Belle before he went to the station. She's the DiMera lawyer of record now. But the confession was worth it to get the besties back together and give us all more insight into what happened the night Deimos died.
Despite the amulet being in Eric's (and Nicole's -- if we're speaking in the context of that night) room, I still like my theory of Abigail killing Deimos. Pretty much everyone at the party would have protected her. Plus, the idea of confronting someone who tried to take both of Thomas' parents away had to spark her mama bear instincts, if not her PTSD from when Ben tried to separate her from her son before.
Speaking of protective moms, we need to discuss Kayla.
The mom in me totally understands where Kayla is coming from. Joey is her baby -- and a miracle one at that, since Kayla's pregnancy was complicated. Plus, Ava was bad news for her whole family. It's got to be grating that this woman is still bringing them pain!
But Kayla is kind of doing her son more damage here by not honoring his wishes. Bottom line, Steve and Kayla did the wrong thing for the right reasons. Protecting a child is about as noble as you can get. But Steve sees their mistake now. Kayla is still trying to rationalize it. The longer Kayla keeps this up, the more pain she's going to cause all of us.
Yes, I said "us" because I'm including myself in that equation. Kayla immediately tried to deflect by throwing shade at Tripp. She's close to forcing Steve to choose between his sons, which is very below Kayla. She (or anyone else who puts a parent in that situation) should lose that battle every day and twice on Sundays. Also, the hypocrisy that came spewing out of Kayla's mouth in her moment of desperation was not a good look for Sweetness.
With a stone straight face, she exclaimed, "He lied to us!" as if she hasn't been lying to Tripp since the second she met him. The other unfortunate exchange was:
Steve: "In his mind, that was about justice for his mother."
Kayla: "Oh, so that makes it all right?!"
Uh, well, wasn't that part of Joey's motivation for killing Ava? Protection and justice for Kayla? I didn't think Joey was a total monster then. I don't think Tripp is one now.
On the contrary, Tripp is in good position to be the younger male lead on the show. Steve is the perfect example of how you can come to town, do bad things, and still emerge as a hero. I hope they learn from the J.J. debacle and keep Tripp with a bit of an edge. But the more Kayla unfairly characterizes him, the easier it is to root for him.
Okay, I've now prattled on for four paragraphs about how gross Kayla behaved, and I haven't stopped for a second to praise the gift that was Mary Beth Evans in those scenes. That stops now. Holy powerhouse, Batman! Kayla's in time out, but the Lady Evans is queen! She was riveting. And the trust between her and Stephen Nichols is so, so solid. They're like a Russian figuring skating pair. They've had so much practice, you know he's going to catch her, no matter how high she spins.
Steve and Kayla are almost certainly going to feel the split over this for a bit. (Especially thanks to the egregious rewrite that Kayla suddenly wasn't on board with Steve looking for Tripp. Ugh. That's not how it happened!) But I think they'll be okay in the end. Like I said, he'll catch her.
From a couple on the outs to one that made it back together, the Chabby reunion was all sorts of soapy goodness. Marci Miller and Billy Flynn did so much with such an understated scene. Both hardly moved, yet the scene was powerful and tender. These two actors have made me want to believe in Chabby. They're both superb.
But what now for their characters? That's where I run into problems.
When Chad said, "I should have fought for you," I rolled my eyes so hard I could see the back of my own face. First of all, I wish DAYS didn't feel the need to baby Abigail. She's repeatedly allowed to be an idiot, ending in disaster -- yet it's all written off as a virtue. This lady just had a truck hit her and made it through! She's strong enough to handle some reality and self-reflection. Her choice to marry Dario was dumb. She needs to own that.
Second, let's be honest, Chad's mistake was taking Abigail back right away in the first place. He repeated that mistake when he jumped into a relationship with Gabi immediately after Abigail left him. He's about to make that same mistake again. Chad's understandably relieved that the mother of his child didn't die. But just because she didn't die doesn't mean she's not still the same woman who didn't trust him enough to come to him with the photo as soon as Dario tried to blackmail her. Chad and Abigail both have some stuff they need to work on individually before they can be believable together...which is why I wouldn't totally hate it if Chad got locked up for a bit.
Think about it. First, jail is probably a boss place for a DiMera. That name carries so much street cred. No one would touch him! Second, he might run into Peter! (I hadn't considered Tyler Christopher for that role, but it could work!) Plus, jail would be like cold-turkey rehab for him. He literally couldn't jump into a relationship with another woman if he's surrounded by dudes. Trust me, Chad. It's for your own good!
Speaking of things that are good, Eric/Nicole/Brady land just got downright interesting.
I've made no secret of the fact that I'm unabashedly #TeamEricole. Greg Vaughan and Arianne Zucker sizzle together. Not supporting them is like not liking puppies or naps. Clearly, you're a monster if you're not on board. ;)
Eric gets to smile when he's around Nicole now! A lot of other couples like to claim they were each other's first loves, but this pair really was! Plus, it turns out these two got it right the first time! You know how rare that is on soaps? Their reunion story is almost* perfect. The chemistry is there. The pacing is right. And there's not a single baseball flashback in sight!
Problem is, Eric is up against Brady, who happens to be played by Eric Martsolf. And when you look and act like Eric Martsolf, it's hard not to cast you in a romantic lead role. However, last week reminded us that the talented Mr. Martsolf does some of his best work after Brady gets run over by a woman. He's got an Emmy to prove it. So I can't say I'm sad to see this one play out. Throw that glassware, E-money. My popcorn is ready.
Finally, we've got the Doublemint twins causing extra trouble. I keep waiting for this storyline to fall apart, but it miraculously keeps avoiding potholes. It's like the Forest Gump of storylines at this point -- not all that bright, but somehow manages to succeed.
For starters, Hattie broke up with John. Deidre Hall playing Hattie doing an impression of Marlena is a nuanced and brilliant piece of acting on Deidre's part. And the breakup worked for two reasons. One, John didn't buy it from the beginning. He noticed she wasn't herself on the phone. So my concern about his spy-dar being off was put to rest. I have high hopes the call he got on Friday will feed his suspicion even more.
But why didn't he realize the whole thing right away? Well, that could be because, two, Stefano's gone now. John has no easy reason to assume someone has done something to Marlena. The usual suspect is out of the picture.
Next, Hattie swapped Adrienne for Bonnie, thanks to the help of the same dude who helped her smuggle Hope out. Man, that Hattie is resourceful. She's putting all of those henchmen to shame. Have a seat, Burt!
Bonnie got out and immediately broke up with Lucas. The show had been laying the groundwork for Lucas to be jealous of Justin, so Adrienne going back to him isn't too much of a stretch. (Not to mention, that's what should happen anyway!)
So, proceed with caution, doppelgšngers! I'll have a much harder time believing Justin will fall for Bonnie. And I can't even entertain the idea of Victor falling for Bonnie without my eyes filling up with tears from absurd laughter. But you've come this far, and I can't throw too many red flags. So, do your thing. Or someone else's thing. You know what I mean.
*I'm in utter denial that Ari Zucker is leaving the show. That's the only black cloud over this glorious Ericole meadow. And I hate it.
This whole J.J./Gabi/Chad/Abigail quad was a bit too incestuous for me. Maybe that's why I was rooting for Eli to comfort Gabi. That gal deserves a break from these three.
I guess Rafe's "guys" at the FBI aren't taking his calls anymore? He had to barge in on poor shirtless Eli to demand answers about who's after Dario. I've never liked Rafe more.
Eli said Dario's boss was someone here in Salem. I'm feeling not terrible about my Victor theory.
I really hope Dario is still alive at the end of this. There's so much potential with the character now that he's a full-on baddie. Whiny Dario was never a thrill. But sinister Dario with a soft spot, next to his moral-compass cop brother with a selective blind eye, has so much potential. Ron did more for Dario in two weeks that the previous writing regime did for him his whole return. Under this writer, I wouldn't mind seeing Dario back.
Lani made Raines back down with the perfect mix of spunk and blackmail. I'm not mad at her for either. Going back to the remorse Raines felt when Lani was in the hospital, there's a spark of something very interesting here. I want the show to explore it. Whether romantic or not, this pairing brings out a needed change in both characters.
Other than doing 95 percent of the work in Anjelica's scheme, I'm unsure why Hattie is part of it. That is, unless Anjelica's boss is Kristen. Getting Marlena away from John is something she would benefit from. I can see Kristen making it a requirement for Anjelica to get Hattie on board.
Bryan Dattilo and Eric Martsolf put on an entirely enjoyable performance as drunk Lucas and Brady. But the scene was a bit sad. Addicts falling off the wagon is not easy to watch. It also didn't make sense for Lucas to get this upset over Adrienne. The last gal who dumped him did it by standing in between her new boo and a gun. At least "Adrienne" did it via private conversation.
Abe must have hit some jewelry sale! Val's going to be covered in ice pretty soon!
Hey there, Chloemeister! Welcome back!
You guys, Eric took Nicole's picture! For those of you who didn't watch the origins of Ericole, he was a fashion photographer. She was a model for High Style. Having him photograph her again was like Hope climbing onto the back of Bo's motorcycle one more time. It was such a treat for fans. It's one of those moments that makes you realize people on soaps can be happy.
Can we start a slow clap for the class that is Gabi and Abigail? It's so nice to see women on soaps not letting a man come between them. Neither of them did anything malicious to the other. Both bowed out at separate times of their own accord. This was never a traditional soap competition, so their truce is believable here. Plus, this relationship exists outside of Chad. Abigail is godmother to Gabi's child.
Bonnie and Lucas were in Salem at the same time before. Why was she looking him up on the Internet? This goes toward the one big obstacle for the Adrienne/Bonnie swap -- enough people in Salem knew both Adrienne and Bonnie, yet no one ever mentioned to Bonnie that she looked exactly like Adrienne. Sure, Adrienne had been gone so long by the time Bonnie showed up, it might have seemed odd. But DAYS shouldn't double-down on this mistake by having Bonnie act totally clueless to things about Adrienne's life she absolutely should know.
LINE OF THE WEEK:
Hattie: "I want a divorce."
John: "We're not married!"
You know that moment when a character repeats the very thing you just said back to your TV? Maybe they can hear us!
Victor's robe game was tremendous. He's also the only man who can make a cup of milk look badass.
Who is this foster sister/babysitter who just let a strange woman pick up a baby?
Every time someone mentions Mexico, I think, "Can you please find Theresa and bring her back too?"
That makes me think, how many major Mexican drug lords are there?
I can't remember the last time we got a Lucas/John scene.
Is Myron running Club TBD now? Gabi? Maybe Arianna is getting a jumpstart on her therapy fund?
That shot of Brady and his shadow was way cool.
Quote from my husband regarding Tripp: "How old is he to be wearing that backpack?" Fair point.
Lucas Adams and Mary Beth Evans did an amazing job in that scene, but was I the only one who felt like Tripp was holding Kayla hostage with a butter knife?
How did Marlena get a cell phone?
Cheesy poofs chasers are quite a great idea.
At least DAYS found another use for Eve's theme music.
I'm so glad to see Anjelica be the straight man to Hattie and Bonnie's crazy. I was worried they'd try to make Anjelica some smooth, man-eating tigress. We already have the best Kate Roberts there is. We didn't need a watered-down version of a second one.
Please let Raines's first name be "Purple."
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