Greetings, DAYS fans! Hope you are all in the midst of a fantastic holiday season! Part of this time of year is evaluating what went great and poor in the past, all in the hopes of putting those lessons to work toward improving. That's where Tony and I come in. In case you missed it, we recently reviewed the best DAYS had to offer in 2021. Now, it's time for the areas we can...shape up.
Laurisa: Johnny DiMera
Allie set the bar high here. Then, Johnny came in and face-planted right into it. Sami and E.J.'s son should not be this ditzy. His lack of knowledge about his own family (both sides!) seemed extremely out of place. Then, his "lifelong" dream to be a filmmaker lasted exactly as long as he still had rich relatives he could hit up for money. I'd give half my stash of Christmas cookies to see his grandpa Roman put Johnny to work bussing tables at Brady's Pub for a week.
Finally, while E.J. was harsh with his delivery, he wasn't wrong. I'm hard-pressed to find any parent who would say, "Sure, it's totally cool for you to reject contributing to the family business while at the same time insisting that it's your right to benefit from the funds for whatever you'd like to do!" Try to pull this malarkey with Victor, Johnny D. That will get you hard labor on the side of a mountain at a goat farm. They don't even have Wi-Fi there! Gasp!
Tony: Laura Horton
I'm not sure who's sitting on the throne atop Mount Holier Than Thou now that the queen is dead, but her majesty Saint Laura certainly rode her hypocrisy reign to new heights when the "respected" shrink and grammy's Gwen-sized lie came to light. Wowza, lady. That was selfish and cruel. Shady supervillains like Stefano and Victor do those types of things. Not ordinarily someone from her pedigree. I guess Laura tossed that stereotype against the desk. Whoops. Too soon? Anyway. She blew up everyone's lives, and, while death is paying the ultimate price, I'd have liked to see her stick around Salem and face more of the firing squad. One snark-filled slugfest between her and Kate was just not enough!
Laurisa: Deimos Kiriakis
I found Deimos exhausting the first time. The show had to bend history to make him work and threw women at his feet in the short time he was on-screen. He was one character I was thrilled to see head to the big couch in the sky. So, while I found the Halloween resurrection quite fun when it came to Nick Fallon and Charlie Dale, there was no reason for Deimos to show up again. Oh, wait...it gave Nicole and Rafe an "excuse" to sleep together. More on that later...
Tony: Over-the-Phone Tamara Price
I'm sure there's a practical reason as to why Marilyn McCoo might not have been able to return as Tamara for Abe and Paulina's blown-up would-be wedding, but it was disappointing, nonetheless. Marilyn's performances are always a joy to watch, especially if she sings a song or two! More so, a one-sided, over-the-phone conversation robbed us of reactions. There were so many "Tamara versus..." throwdowns that could have been classics. Considering that, while this lie started out to keep a baby safe, Tammy let it fester out of control by letting Lani believe Abe was her father. That was just, as Susan would say, "Mean, mean, mean." And I, for one, would have been on the edge of my seat when her loved ones came calling for a little comeuppance.
Laurisa: Nicole Walker
I despise that she's a repeat winner, but now this is a serious problem. Nicole Walker used to stand for something. Sure, there were the jokes about her martini swigging and general scheming. But at least her character had a direction. She was searching for love and belonging. She wanted a home. She didn't let things stand in her way. Now? Well, she just kind of golly-jeepers her way into tough situations. Was she right to feel abandoned by Eric? Yes. But she didn't sleep with Xander because of Eric. She slept with Xander because of Rafe, as a situation that came to exist because Nicole didn't realize what was going on with her heart and, what's worse -- took no action to assume any control over her whole life. There were years I argued Nicole was basically Sami. However, lately, she's become Carrie.
Tony: Rafe Hernandez
Rafe has a lot going for him. He has a great job and a nice home, and he looks like Galen Gering. He wins. Still, we need to have a few words with the 'Commish. He simply did Ava all shades of wrong. Yes, she's a sinner, too, and blah blah blah, but this isn't about her. It's about Rafe, his hypocrisy, and his shadiness.
For starters, Rafe has absolutely no obligations to stay with Ava. None. He just doesn't want to look like the bad guy. For a "tough guy," he's too weak to admit his wrongdoings and that he's, as they say, "just not into her." Oh, I believe he likes her. Just, you know, not enough to respect her, too. Ava deserves better. He's doing nobody a solid by sticking with his second choice. I guess they're sticking together for "misery loves company" sake, perhaps. Neither is that happy. He's longing for Nicole. She's stressing about his longing for Nicole and finally saw them smooching, confirming everything she suspected all along. What Ava does from here is on her, but that no obligation to stay together thingy works both ways.
But back to that unsolid that Rafe did to Ava. He wanted any old excuse to rationalize sleeping with Nicole. He jumped at the chance when he believed Ava broke their bond. "Uh. Umm. Ava used a pot in my kitchen to cook me an extravagant dinner, but she really didn't ask for permission to use it, so she basically betrayed me first, so we can do it, Nicole!" Okay, Rafe. Okay. Whatever you say. I say, "You're lame and a very big disappointment."
Also disappointing, why hasn't Rafe -- a legitimately super stepfather -- spent time with Johnny yet!? They had a beautiful relationship in the past. These days, something tells me that hard-working West Salem native Rafe could straight-shoot some smug entitlement out of Silver Spoon Johnny. Instead, nada. Somewhere, a child-sized FBI jacket once belonging to Johnny is sobbing.
Laurisa: Sami's Loved Ones
You guys, Sami Brady does not go dark. She does not stay uninvolved. She does not let her children go merrily along their way, adding no input as to the life decisions they should be making. I understand that everyone may have enjoyed the reprieve from all the Sami-ness for a minute. But, after a few weeks of her sending nothing but vague texts about how she's eat-pray-loving her way through somewhere else, it made no sense. All of them should have known better.
Tony: Theo Carver
I adored watching Theo and Ciara growing up together. These two were inseparable from an early age. When they were SORAS-ed, I still even bought their bestie status. No history rewrites needed. He's also a smart guy. A brilliant one, even! He's a computer genius and chess prodigy. So, I'm totally confused why Theo took advantage of his oldest, closest friend, especially when nearly all his loved ones (and some causal observers) kept warning him that he's basically a "CIN" speedbump. It hurt my head and heart to watch.
If Ciara had her faculties about her and a legitimate love triangle had bloomed, that's one thing. The thing we got instead was just a bad look for Theo. It was so forced and cringeworthy. He literally courted an amnesiac in her hospital bed. She still had the scabs from the explosion when he convinced her to go to South Africa with him. I guess her I.D. at the airport was her hospital bracelet. I digress...
Ciara basically picked Theo because she felt comfortable around him. More so, he wasn't Ben, who creeped her out. I get that. Ben wasn't on his best behavior, either, but Theo, as her bestie, should have had her back, not wanted to get her on hers. Hopefully, now that Ciara has her memory back, this can all be forgotten.
Laurisa: Olivia Price
The swing here was the casting of the fabulous Marla Gibbs. Her chemistry with Jackée Harry hasn't missed a beat. And she worked her magic alongside James Reynolds, Sal Stowers, and Raven Bowens. Olivia was a true leader and even clocked the devil right away. However, Oliva deserved much more, and by "much more," I mean "literally any," blame for Lani's maternity secret. Paulina got it all. Olivia got invited to Thanksgiving dinner. That just didn't seem fair. Also, her "preacher man" comment really seemed odd, mainly because the Price family is a collection of progressive women who are business owners or head up their own careers. "Strong Women Doing It on Their Own" seems to be the Price family motto.
Tony: Kristen's "Mistress of Disguise" Phase
I love my Ms. DiMera, especially when she hisses things like, "Do you know who I am!? with such crazy slick confidence, but Kristen's faux face phase got old fast. It was this year's version of "*whispers* "Resurrection by Wilhelm." As in, there might be too much of a...thing. While the actors performing as Kristen posing as their normal roles was entertaining to watch, it got a little redonkulous as the characters they had to interact with were so dumbed down to make it work. In the end, Kristen is badass enough. She doesn't need gimmicks. Let's hope for more "Head of All Things DiMera" and less "Mistress of Disguise" in 2022!
Laurisa: Justin Kiriakis
Did you hear? Bonnie has changed! She's a reformed woman! She rescues orphans off the side of the road! She hand-feeds orphaned baby goats! Move over, Maggie! Salem has a new kindness mascot!
Tony: PHLOE vs BROE
Did you hear that Philip doesn't trust Brady and Chloe, Chloe is frustrated and conflicted, and Brady is, well, Brady!? Because that's what happened this year. A lot! Even Kate was over this repetitive drama, and Ms. Roberts loves the dramas. Though, she sums it up better (and snarkier) than I could in this epic "LINE OF THE WEEK" winning burn. She said to her son, "Honey. It gets boring. You've been doing this since you were in high school. At least then, you were an adolescent who was age-appropriate to be mooning around like Hamlet on downers. This is just...sad." Preach, Sister Kate!
Look, I sincerely enjoy all the characters involved, but this broken record storyline felt forced and tiresome (pre-Philip faking his plunge; that's reinvigorated the storyline immensely). Months and months and months of Philip going ham on trees and scowling, Chloe consumed with the same old confused feels, and, again, Brady being, well, Brady, it got to be a lot of the same, and that same wasn't a good look for any of them. They all deserved more. In the beginning, I had the most sympathy for Chloe, but she could have walked away from both the chumps and started anew. Instead, rinse and repeat. This all proves one thing -- Kate and Belle, who wasn't afraid to call an idiot an idiot, should be listened to more often, if not always.
Laurisa: Gabi DiMera
Gabi has become a bit of a one-note character. She wants power because power is cool...I think? Her relationship with Jake feels very cosmetic. She still owned the DiMera mansion yet chose not to live there because people were mean to her man. Instead, she moved in with Rafe to start a beef with Ava, a feud that really doesn't make sense. If anything, Gabi should be anti-Nicole, since Gabi is Team Sami. You can look at Kate as an example of how to craft an alpha female that still has nuances. Perhaps it's the absence of Will, Sonny, or Arianna, but Gabi doesn't seem to have anything that allows her to pump the brakes a bit and keep tending to the other side of her character. That's why the Halloween episode was such a nice reprieve for her.
Tony: Jake DiMera
Remember when Jake was a hard-working mechanic who'd rather tinker on cars (his passion) than sit in a suit all day? Yeah. Me, too. I don't mind character growth, but Jake sort of went the wrong way for a while. His willingness to let Gabi do the heavy lifting while he distracted her with sex and requests for breakfast kind of made me feel icky. It's like, muh man, you're better than this; do some work or let Gabi take the credit and become CEO supreme while you cheer her on. It felt non-Jake-like for him to sit back yet banter about the credit. Luckily, he's rebounded -- a bit, but I'm keeping an eye on him in 2022.
Laurisa: Xander Cook
He's played by the ever-charismatic Paul Telfer, so Xander's going to be just fine. But 2021 was a very manic use of Salem's bad (ish) boy. First, he gave up on Sarah way too fast. The guy who stole a baby for this woman just let her walk out of his life. Second, in doing so, the man who worked as Kristen's partner in crime and knew about the masks very early on didn't stop to realize there could be a reason why someone starts acting completely out of character. Finally, his relationship with Gwen seems completely out of plot, as his declarations of love came right when everyone started mentioning Sarah. All in all, it seemed like Xander had a series of vignettes rather than any cohesive storyline this year.
Tony: Ben Weston
Ben's intentions were one hundo percent honorable regarding Ciara. He wanted the love of his life to regain her memory. Fair. Though, his delivery? Oh. That sucked.
Frankly, we were all eager for Ciara's memory to return and be done with that storyline, but Ben shredded that entire "love is patient" thingy by trying to drug his already terrified and terrorized wife while she was in a hospital bed, recovering from an explosion. His entire storyline up until then was not giving up on Ciara. He still could have not given up on her but done so in a less traumatizing way. Say, let her work with his bestie, Dr. Mar Mar, who's done wonders for him. Maybe even let her get home for a week or two and settle into life again. Nah. Instead, getting in her face a lot and attempting to drug her, um, was a solid choice. Not.
Ben's efforts to make her remember just kept adding an unnecessary "heavy" feel to the storyline, and it distracted a lot of us from rooting for their reconciliation at times. He's supposed to be the love of her life, yet he can't wait for her to recover at her own pace (or get out of the hospital, even)? It made him feel like the lovechild of Veruca Salt and Lennie Small -- Ben wanted to pet the rabbits now! but did so too hard at times. Oh, Ollie. We're glad you're not a creeper anymore, but if it happens again, remember what Guns N' Roses sang, "All we need is just a little patience (patience)."
Laurisa: Ciara Apologizing to Theo
Nope. No, thank you. This scene felt very much like the victim apologizing, and I didn't like it. Maybe if Theo had waited just a beat, as literally anyone he talked to would tell him, it would have been better. But Ciara went directly from her hospital bed to South Africa with Theo. He should have known better. He should have treated her with more care. (As should have Ben! There's plenty of blame to go around here!)
But the real kick in the shins was having to watch Ciara apologize to Theo for hurting his feelings when she got her memory back and realized that she shouldn't have started a relationship with Theo in the first place. Ooof! Theo knew the risks here. He wasn't some stranger who didn't know Ciara's immediate present and past. He proceeded with the relationship, anyway. None of this was on Ciara. She shouldn't have been the one apologizing.
Tony: Justin Goes Dark...For Bonnie!?
While shaming Steve for being upset that the woman who terrorized his sister and once stole her identity showed up for dinner, dressed as said terrorized sister, was a "what da hell!?" head-scratcher, Justin going dark for Bonnie was a bogus moment I'm still bummed about.
Justin's been fighting the dark side for decades. Literally. He's stuck to lawyering all these years to actively avoid getting too deeply involved in the family business. He's dodged Uncle Vic's pull -- again -- for decades. Okay. He did dabble in darkness during the entire Emilio storyline, but since then, he's been, as Victor said of his status amongst the Kiriakis family, "The best of us." We needed him to continue wearing the white hat, to be that amazing guy we've adored for decades. We needed one solid Salemite, and Justin was our man.
Of course, if Justin were to take off that white hat, it would have to be for one of his children or a-really-alive-after-all Adrienne, right? As it turned out, he took off the white hat and put on the Stetson Bonnie gave him. Boo. So, congratulations, Sonny, you now have the "Best of Us" title, as your father caused us to face-palm when he did dark for the big dum-dum Bonnie.
Laurisa: E.J. DiMera
The year started with his wife cheating on him. It ended with him starting a relationship with Nicole, who literally told him she was using him to distract herself from Rafe. And, along the way, he peppered in moments where he taunted her brothers about sharing love scenes with their respective wives on-screen. Not a great year in the love department for Elvis Jr.
Tony: Billie Reed
Agent Reed really tangoed with the wrong fella while on the hunt for the Alamainian Peacock's gems. Okay. Kyle Graham looked like Peter Porte. We get it, girl. Until he turned out to be a creep. Boo.
Sure. She met Lord Sebastian Alamain, and there was a glimmer of hope. Promises of dinner in a castle, even. Still! In her own spin-off series Billie couldn't get the first-choice guy? Really, Cupid!? You had to love gut-punch her again first? Somewhere in Europe (maybe Alamainia), I hope that Billie and Carly Manning meet once a year to console each other over being "Cursed by Bope."
Laurisa: Rafe Hernandez and Nicole Walker
First, everything Tony wrote above about there being no reason for them to avoid being together holds true. There's no blackmail or lies between these two. They're just making the choice to stay apart because they kind of both like the attention. Second, both of them were incredibly shady to Ava. She's no saint, but in this case, she's right to take them both to task for lying to her face. Finally, that dang bear got more screen time this year than characters we actually love and miss.
Tony: Calista Lockhart and Harrison Lord
To maintain a PG-13 rating, I can't precisely describe the depths to which these two walking punchlines hurt my brain, but let's just say, "Seriously!?" and move on. The absurdity of Satan was more fun and believable than whatever they were supposed to be. If redeeming Bonnie was their point, they failed. Miserably. Mercifully, our time with the McShadys was brief. Still, I could have done without the introduction of this wretched couple altogether.
Wait...what did this storyline just do?!
Laurisa: Lani as Paulina's Daughter
The whole retcon where Lani was now Paulina's daughter felt unnecessary at best and cruel at worst. The unnecessary part was that Paulina was in search of a storyline. Not only was the whole Price clan brilliantly introduced to Salem, but Paulina has tons of storyline potential on her own. But more than that, this felt super mean to do to Abe. For longtime DAYS viewers, we remember his desperation to become a parent and the real struggles he and Lexie went through to have a child. Now, taking away another child from him felt plain old mean.
Tony: Gwen's Stupid Scheming
Ms. Rizczech is not dumb. She plotted a super sophisticated revenge act for years and almost executed it flawlessly. She broke up a supercouple for the better part of a year. She had other ruthless victories before that. So, Ms. Rizzy, why on earth did you lie when fate handed you a horrible yet perfectly timed truth on a silver platter!?
I've mentioned this in columns over the year, but Gwen could have had everything. Payback and sympathy. Oh, and the truth on her side! All she had to say was, "I went to find Chad to tell him we lost the baby. I found Abigail instead. I tried to tell her, but she cruelly lashed out at me. I couldn't get a word in. She followed me as I left to find Chad to tell him our baby died. During our altercation, I fell down the stairs."
With that, she would have painted Abby in a horrible light (a revenge goal of hers) yet found footing with Jack (a life goal of hers). Instead, she told a lie that was easily uncovered once it was looked for, and she flailed around panic-stricken before that. Oh, Gwen. Scheme smarter, not harder.
Laurisa: Gwen's Secrets Exposed with a Fizzle
This is the one place I felt the pandemic side effects in Salem. Gwen's scheme was so far reaching. It was years in the making and involved a huge set piece where Abigail blew up Jack and Jen's marriage in a very public way. Yet, when Gwen's final takedown happened, it was four people in the Horton living room. Maybe it's an actual reflection of how many people really don't care about Gwen in Salem, but it all felt very small and anticlimactic. And as a result of it, Gwen lost...well, really nothing. Jack's a little mad at her, but you know he'll come around. Her consolation prize is Xander. That'll teach ol' Gwen. For sure.
Tony: Jo-burg for Claire Bear
Full disclosure, I'm an unabashed Claire fan. Still, there were valid reasons for her to stick around Salem. For starters, amongst Marlena's family, none have struggled with good versus evil issues as much as Claire over the past few years. It would have been interesting if BeelzeDoc got ahold of Salem's most beloved, recovered little Firestarter. Could Claire have fought the devil, or would she become Satan's sidekick along with Jan Spears!? This would also have given Belle and Shawn even more investment in the Possession storyline.
I'll even double down on something I said in a Two Scoops -- Claire should have been cast as Sami in Johnny's movie. First, social media guru Claire loves the spotlight. Singer turned actress. We've heard that story before. Second, again, Belle's daughter playing Sami!? That's so much built-in drama. And if they revisited a certain kidnapping and black-market baby bombshell -- bombBelle -- yeah, it would be scandalous all over again. Mar's daughters watching this unfold on-screen would be amazing, especially given Belle's instinctive greetings toward Sami these days. That is, an eyeroll and an exasperated sigh. And with Claire's voice, it could have been turned into "Possession: The Musical!" Um. Yes.
Lastly (though I could go on with more reasons), with the Kiriakis boy band breaking up, maybe Claire could have joined Ciara at Titan, and they could have been junior executives under someone like -- oh, I don't know -- Chelsea. I know Maggie doesn't meddle too much in company business, but she surely can support "Girl Power!" and put in a good word to Victor, right!? Titan could surely use a junior CEO to create some positive social media buzz, and Claire is right there. Fine. I'll book her a return flight pronto. You're welcome.
Laurisa: A Rafe/Ava/Philip Triangle
Imagine the alternative universe where the triangle wasn't Rafe trying to decide how to find the courage to tell the truth, but instead, it was Ava being pulled between a traditional nice guy and a smarmy bad guy. Rafe could represent everything Ava says she wants. She wants to be a legit member of society and retain a relationship with Tripp. Philip could represent the actual kind of mom she was to Charlie and her past as a member of a nefarious family. Add in the potential run-ins with Victor and the very real fact that the Ava/Nicole friendship would still be intact, and I very much wish we'd gotten this reality!
Tony: Charlie's Father is NOT A DiMera
If we're keeping it real, a pop-up DiMera is not much of a surprise. In fact, one could say it's redundant. Still, Charlie's father being a DiMera could have worked, and there is plenty of DiMera DNA that could have been used instead of Stefano's like...
Andre or Peter! The next gen DiMeras could use an offspring or two. Part of the miss of Stefan and Jake was not seeing them in the shadow of the Phoenix. Having someone other than Stefano sire a surprise child would give us that dad and son dynamic back. Once -- and if Andre or Peter returned, of course.
Speaking of Jake, Ava actually knew him from their Philly days. Maybe one night they hooked up, and Chuckie was conceived? The thought of a Vitali, Alamain, and DiMera hybrid is as horrifying as it is amazing. I mean, Charlie being such a hybrid totally tracks.
There are also plenty of other ways this could happen, especially since Ava spent most of her life drugged by her father and another large chunk comatose in a warehouse, recovering under Dr. Rolf's mad scientist ways. We wouldn't be shocked if slimeball Martino had offered up Ava to combine their houses. We also wouldn't have been surprised if Dr. Rolf impregnated Ava with DiMera DNA while she was at the warehouse. He was after a Stefa-clone for a while there, after all.
A comatose Eej was also at the warehouse. Sure, sure. The timing is off, but when has that really mattered in Salem? Elvis Jr. should be around Charlie's age right now. Instead, well, thanks SORAS-ing! So. Anything can go. Plus, if Charlie had turned out to be his child, E.J. would have been forced to look at his own dark life choices, and that would have been some meaty material for Dan Feuerriegel. Just saying.
The ultimate fact of Stefano's grandchild or a Stefa-clone being obsessed with Marlena's grandchild would have been a little bit of history repeating in a very fascinating way.
Laurisa: Cin in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass
Huge hat tip to the writers for figuring out a way to have actors film with plexiglass between them and have it make this much sense. But the way here was a long, tortured road that was utterly exhausting. I guess DAYS was trying to hint that Cin has that thing Bope did where they could use their spidey sense to communicate with each other. But I don't ever remember Bo ranting on about classic literature to everyone who would listen to him.
When Ben did it, well, it was an all-around tough look for a character who is really, really trying hard to convince people he's not still mentally ill. Furthermore, the revolving door of bad guys this whole time -- Eve, Vincent, Christian -- made it hard to remember what conflict we're trying to solve here. When Ciara emerged from the captivity with amnesia and it meant Ben's resort was to scream more Lewis Carroll quotes at her, I threw up my hands in defeat. This is one rabbit I really wish we didn't follow.
Tony: Bonnie's "Redemption"
Seriously!? DAYS went all in on Bonnie -- the Jar Jar Binks of Salem -- and even created characters to shoehorn the narrative that she's a changed woman? Oof. It was all simply painful to watch and unnecessary.
Though, my feelings are no surprise to anyone who's read Two Scoops over the year, so, to avoid nabbing a "BROKEN RECORD" award myself, I'll try to be brief and only hit the most maddening aspects of this storyline...
It nearly razed great characters like Justin, painted Steve in a bad light until he drank the Bon Bon's Kool-Aid, and introduced us to old Calista and Harrison. Lockhart and Lord. Not Flockhart and Ford, of course. Again, "Oof."
See, while plotting with Harrison to embezzle a million dollars years ago, Bonnie killed him in self-defense. Sure. Can't blame her for that, but everything before and after, I can. She has done so many horrible things since we met her way back when that I can't get behind her redemption, even though she said she was very, wery sowwy, ya'll. If swindling sweetheart Mickey Horton wasn't bad enough, her laughing off raping Lucas is unforgivable until, maybe, she actually embraces what she did to him and make amends. Those in addition to all of the buffoonery she bestowed on Salem all of these years and, well, as they say, "I just can't."
So, considering nearly every Salemite has been "dead" at one point or another, why can't we get Adrienne back? Satan is on our screens now. Literally anything is possible. I still believe Adrienne is out there or undercover as Bonnie, due to some threat from a story she was investigating, as the subject is a big, bad, terrible next level villain we'll soon meet. That. Please. It has to be that. Either way, since the devil is in town, I'm willing to trade Bonnie for Adrienne, though would Satan be able to tolerate Bon Bon any better? That I'm unsure of.
That's it, DAYS fans! We did it! Cross this year off in the books. In many ways, it seems like a blur. But we did it together! In this crazy world, it's nice to know that we have this utterly crazy place called Salem to spend an hour each day. Thanks for joining us there. We'll see you in 2022! (Or is it 2023 in Salem? I think it's 2023...)
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