What struck me most last week were two almost identical plotting scenes, and my exact opposite reaction to them. In one room, Xander and Kristen snickered about their strategy to win both love and money. And in the other, Claire and Eve cackled about their fulfillment of revenge. Both were pairs of criminals discussing plans to further their own agendas at the expense of others. But whereas Xander and Kristen made my ears and heart perk up, Eve and Claire made by blood boil.
So, let's tackle the bad first. Eve and Claire are sinking further and further into the vortex of suck. I completely echo Tony's sentiment last week. It's ridiculous that Salem hasn't realized how off Claire is. Olivia Rose Keegan is slaying this material. The speech Claire gave Ciara about how good people can snap when they don't feel loved and there's no going back gave me chills. But the fact that no one is noticing this is astounding.
I'm sorry, there's one person who noticed it. Eve did. And she picked up the phone to call Belle right away because -- not sure if you heard or not -- Eve is passionate about no one else ever going through the pain of losing a child.
Ha! Kidding. Eve milked her newest creature for the finishing touches on her plan to frame Ben because Eve is the worst kind of person you'll ever meet. She recognizes human emotion. She knows right from wrong. Yet she intentionally uses other people's pain to do her own dirty work. I don't know what Eve's endgame is here and that makes it even more frustrating to watch her work Jack and Claire. If there's any justice in the soap world, one of her monsters will turn on her soon.
In better news, there's Xander and Kristin. Xander perfectly embodies what's missing with Eve. The audience knows what he wants. Deep down, Xander wants a place -- at the company, in the family, with someone. We've seen that since his initial run in Salem. Sure, his methods are villainous. But unlike Eve -- who I don't think actually has any humanity -- Xander choses to mask his because it's been stomped on so much.
He's a character about whom you have to hold two truths at one time. I believe Xander really does care about Maggie. I believe he wants a legitimate shot with Sarah. I also believe things that would be too evil for others to consider, he does with almost joy. If he didn't want love so deeply, he wouldn't go to such extremes to get it.
His partner in crimes is very similar. Kristen has a place. She just wants it back. And no, I'm not talking about Brady's bed. A huge thanks to the Xan-man for talking Kristin into shifting her priorities to taking back DiMera first. The DiMera bond is strong. Not even death can stop it. (wink)
Maggie finally told Victor that she's the one who fell off the wagon. I liked how Victor wanted to jump in and blame someone other than Maggie. He was completely wrong, as Maggie told him. That's not how sobriety works. But it was an understated moment of vulnerability for Victor, as he tried to bulldoze his way to a solution for someone he loves.
I love Kayla and Jen, but I don't need them arguing their case to Eve. They're J.V. Send in the big guns. Give me Sami. Or Shane!
I'm out on Melinda. I don't care that she's going to China with Haley. When she burst through that door, declaring there's hope for Haley's green card application now that she can prove her mom is an American citizen, my jaw hit the floor. Now that she can prove? NOW?! News flash, Mommy Dearest, Haley could have proved that a long time ago if you'd had half the compassion God gave a street rat and not abandoned your young. Get out of here, lady.
Stefan's drafting a new starting lineup at DiMera. In addition to himself and Gabi, he's adding "Nicole" to serve as head of Basic Black (yeah!) and Abe as the CCO (wa-hooo!!) I wish he had made "Nicole" work for it a little more. But the Abe offer came out of left field to make up for it. I love all things James Reynolds. Plus, it will be interesting to see if Kristin can fool Abe. He and Nicole have always shared a special bond.
I worry about Haley and Tripp being able to function in daily life. That smoke was halfway through the room before one of those scholars said, "I think the cabin is on fire." Then, the back door was their third choice after the door with smoke coming under it and then the window right next to said door. Something tells me they have to keep cheat sheets in their pockets with walking instructions. "Right then left. Okay, good. I knew it was something like that!"
When Will told a devastated Gabi, "Just hold onto me for as long as you need," I lost it. I'm such a sucker for these three. I loved her making Will propose with Arianna's birthstone ring. I loved her retort to Will's hesitation even more: "Are you really questioning my style choices? Look at the necklace you're wearing." I so hope Ron realizes that this is an essential side of Gabi to keep around once she gets further in the ring with the DiMeras.
Xander posed the question to Kristen about who else she saved -- Andre, Stefano, or Tony. Cut to me on my couch, clapping, "Yes! Yes! All of them! Please and thank you!"
HOT Part 1:
Oh, my gosh, Will's proposal gave me all the feels! Part of the initial magic of Wilson was Sonny being the person with whom Will could be vulnerable enough to let his guard down, recharge himself and emerge feeling more calm and confident than before. As long as Sonny's storyline had him pleading in Will's face to remember/leave Paul/get better (take your pick), that dynamic wasn't possible. But Will -- in the face of death -- deciding that people aren't coming for a funeral but a wedding instead, then confidently asking Sonny to marry him, shifted these souls back into the alignment that always served them best.
Chandler Massey is never better than when Will is on the verge of breaking. And here, Will is breaking. Literally, as a tumor grows in his brain, but figuratively, as he's fighting to not let fear snatch the final bit of joy from him and those he cherishes when he knows he can counter its attack with love.
HOT Part 2:
Don't look now, but Xander and Sarah are ready to steal everything that should be working with both Gabi/Stefan and Hope/Ted. Should-be suave Ted needs to cool it with the necklace. Like, wait a day or so before texting, my guy. Or take a note from Xander and flat-out tell the girl she's going to fall for you with complete confidence/delusion yet not a whiff of desperation.
And I know that Gabi and Stefan are supposed to be the "I hate you/I love you" pair. But Lindsay Godfrey brought the fire in the Sarah/Xander scenes, with Paul Telfer dogging each fire ball with irresistible charm. A pair this good shouldn't be playing in a C-plot. Send these guys to the front of the stage -- immediately.
I'm all for showing compassion for others. And Haley absolutely got railroaded by Jack and Eve because they saw her as a way to motivate voters into giving them power. (I've never been convinced they actually care about the immigration system.) However, there's an ocean of possibilities between ignoring someone in need and committing federal crimes for them. I don't understand why Tripp and J.J. went right to marriage and evasion and skipped the part about, you know, writing the governor or congressman. I'm more inclined to buy J.J. and Tripp both being both motivated to be "a hero" than either of their respective affections toward Haley.
But, nope, J.J.'s fully taken over the Bachelor Brady role and is ready to move to the other side of the world to be with Haley. They met six months ago. The only proactive decision she made was to hold a grudge against J.J. when he wanted to marry her. J.J., dude. Pump. The. Brakes.
LINE OF THE WEEK:
Eve (to Ben): "It sounds like the cheese is sliding off your cracker."
Eve is basically a garbage person right now, but I'm totally stealing this line the next time I want to tell someone they're losing a grip on reality. That cracked me right up. Kassie DePaiva is a gift, as always.
Line of the Weak:
Chloe: "What jerk can't keep it in his pants because a relationship isn't quite going his way?"
D'oh! I love my Chloemeister. And it was cute that Rex held up his hand. But...he also could have held up a mirror. Chloe cheated on Lucas with Daniel and then Daniel with Philip.
Line of the Worst:
Haley: "You're facing obstruction charges!"
J.J.: "Justin will take care of it. It will be okay."
Errrrr muuhhh gawd. I'll take White Male Privilege for $500 please, Alex.
Is there anything more Jennifer than Jennifer thinking she's got street cred now that she has "assaulted an official" on her record? I bet Kristen is totally scared of this chick now.
Special family bonds were on full display last week: the trio of Gabi/Sonny/Will, and the duo of Kayla and Tripp.
I'm going to cash in all my good karma credits for this next comment. I laughed out loud when Haley tripped and knocked herself out on that table. Like, a bellow of elation and relief leaped out of my subconscious. It was the perfect encapsulation of my attitude toward this underdeveloped character and her whole plot point.
Eli is a full-service public servant. Not only does he track down criminals (police), he rescues them from burning buildings (firefighter), and pushes the stretcher through the hospital (EMS). What a guy!
The wallpaper pattern is way too much like the bedspread pattern in Kristen's room.
Is it weird that no one's told Nicole that E.J. is alive?
I like that Stefan plays chess with Theo online.
Isn't Lucas with Sami right now? Why are the two of them making separate arrangements to come back for Will? Or did Lucas take Allie to the Brady Rehab place in Austria, where he had to carry sheep up mountains?
Hey! At least Lani waited until Rafe was out of his relationship to kiss him. Progress!
I almost spit out my tea when Eve said Claire reminds her of Paige. Pffffft!! What? They're both musically inclined females with long hair. That's about it.
Considering Kate's affection for Lucas, I would think she'd be slightly more compassionate to someone falling off the wagon.
I want someone to bring up Nicole killing Deimos but not because I think she should receive any sort of punishment. Quite the opposite -- I want her cleared. It should be on the record that Deimos drugged half the town that night, and thus, no one should be held responsible for their actions.
Nadia Bjorlin and Kyle Lowder played opposite each other as little more than babies. But they still have such a charming ease together.
Aw! It was nice to hear Rex talk about Emily. Off-screen kids are fine. But I like for the show to at least remember they're there from time to time. (Hi, Tate!)
Welcome to Team Xarah, Maggie. You can sit next to me!
Marlena is getting into stereotypical Jewish mother territory when it comes to Eric's love life. To summarize, "What about Nicole? No, okay. How about that nice Sarah girl? Brother, schmother. You're a catch, son!"
Wait, John needs to go be with Paul? I get taping logistics sometime don't allow characters to be in scenes, but if John's going to miss Will's wedding, I would rather it be because he's been off looking for Rolf's diary and had a plane delay getting out of Alamainia. Going to support one of the most emotionally mature kids in Salem is a weaksauce excuse for Drake to miss a major DAYS moment.
When Kate said to Hope, "I've been involved with him," I had to wait until she clarified if she meant Ted or Rafe. Could've gone either way.
Eric Martsolf and Paul Telfer have a good thing together. I want to see more of them sparring.
I'll buy switching faces. But getting Nicole's cell phone company to turn over a plan and a number to Kristen? That's too far. Have you ever gotten what you want from a media provider?
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