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Kristen is the linchpin for multiple plans, so how do you keep her happy? If she blows, which scheme will she take down first? And are there more relatives coming in to help? Let's talk about it in this week's Two Scoops.

We've got two umbrella storylines going on in Salem right now, and both are delightful fun! They're both rooted in DiMera land, so let's start there.

Abigail's murder suspects keep on coming. I loved Nancy and Clyde marching into the police station to identify Leo. Leo gets away with everything, and it was nice to see him not be able to smirk for a second. With him backed into a corner, he and his new lawyer (we'll get to her later) whipped up an offer for Rafe -- exchange the Sarah mask for immunity. I mean, with friends like Leo, who needs enemies?

That led Rafe to confront Gwen, in front of Xander and Sarah, with the mask. It was a delightfully soapy moment. Gwen's been the suspect that makes the most sense. So, now we need to get to the bottom of her story. If she didn't kill Abigail that night, what did she do when she broke out of jail? She returned to the prison, looking very smug and delighted with herself. I doubt she just went for a nice walk around the park, grabbed some frozen yogurt, and scampered back to Statesville.

While the carousel of suspects is spinning around, Chad is just spinning. So, when people need a heart-to-heart, you go directly to Aunt Kayla. Sure, he went to her because he cut his hand on the glass he crushed, but it got him in the hot seat. Kayla works her magic and reminds Chad that he's got to get it together. I'm surprised the show hasn't brought up how Chad's really been able to do this several times before. Abigail's been absent for extended periods of time before, and Chad really stepped up and was super dad. Now would be a good time to remind him.

But, either way, he's not alone. And more help could be right in Salem.

Now, let's talk about Leo's lawyer. What we thought was just another random Alex tryst (who really, really needs to learn some guest manners) turns out to be Sloan Petersen, Attorney at Law. First, I really hope whatever writer selected that name is a Ferris Bueller fan because I got the nod right away. Second, you don't give a day player a last name, so I'm guessing she may be sticking around for a while.

And that last name -- Petersen -- was the same last name Chad had for the first two decades of his life. Madeline Peterson was his mother. Now another legally minded woman rolls back into town with the same last name? I hope it's not a coincidence! It would be interesting to see Chad explore his mom's side, since his dad's side isn't exactly helping him out right now.

That leads us to the other umbrella -- all the shenanigans at DiMera. It seems like everyone is working really hard to keep Kristen happy. And when Kristen is the one who is holding your plan together, you're in rough shape!

Li wants to keep Kristen happy because she knows he's the one who has been keeping Stefan alive. You know anytime a character turns up in a black turtleneck, they mean big-time bad guy business! And his master plan is to ask Dr. Rolf to make Stefan be in love with Chloe when Stefan wakes up.

Okay, a few things here. First, I had to laugh out loud when Dr. Rolf said that the assignment was too hard. Indeed, how could anyone imagine a man waking up in love with someone who looks like Nadia Bjorlin? Real hard sell there, doc.

Second, Stefan and Chloe went on maybe two dates, at best. They were casually seeing each other. They definitely weren't together, and I certainly wouldn't classify them as in love. But if there's a plan that doesn't make sense, you know Kristen is all in.

She's delusional enough to think that even if Stefan managed to charm Chloe away from Brady, then Brady would go right back to Kristen. But as we've seen, Brady's not so blind to Kristen anymore. Our guy would rather go back to a mound of fire ants than Kristen at this point.

Gabi wants to keep Kristen happy because that keeps her at the top of DiMera. That means that when Chloe came to her and said Kristen tried to literally murder her in the workplace, all Gabi could do is consider talking to Kristen. What Chloe really should have done was go to Anna with her concerns.

Yup, we need to start another round of slow claps for the goddess Anna DiMera. She had Kristen's number as soon as she saw Kristen looking at Stefan's obituary. I swear, they keep Anna off-screen so much because if she got a chance to talk to pretty much anyone else in the family, they'd be able to put two and two together and get Kristen. Also, it was hilarious watching her walk around Jake's apartment like it was the surface of the moon.

Finally, E.J. wants to keep Kristen happy, or at least stop Ava from getting closer to Kristen. Ava outright said her shares would go to Kristen if she gave them up. That means E.J. can't afford to be on Kristen's bad side. All of this DiMera share talk makes me wonder when Sydney is coming to town. Johnny could vote his shares a few years ago when he came to town. Sydney is not that much younger than Johnny. She has to be voting age now. Once she ages up, does that change anything?

Loose Ends

E.J., Ava, and Johnny had the most uncomfortable dinner ever. There were four loaves of bread on the table, and I'm convinced that none of those people eat carbs. Oh, and they talked about how Ava and Johnny saw each other in their birthday suits. Gah. Johnny just got out of a love triangle with his sister. I'm not really looking for him to be in one with his father. I like Ava, but she doesn't need to be messing with her son's friend. Here's hoping she's just using Johnny to get under E.J.'s skin.

Speaking of getting under people's skin, Chloe has decided she's going to take on Kristen. She better get Nicole and Nancy on speed dial for some scheming lessons right away because that fight will be like a kitten taking on a dragon. She's not wrong, though. Kristen is utterly insufferable these days, putting off huge Nellie Oleson from Little House on the Prairie vibes. Manipulating Rachel was another low -- not a shock, just another dangerous low. It's dangerous because every character needs some redeeming quality.

Kristen's always loved Rachel. However, using your kid as a pawn in your game crosses that redeeming quality off the list. I'm thrilled Brady saw right through her. He's been dumb to her ways for too long in the past. I also loved Marlena dropping the truth bomb on Kristen in order for her to wake up. Maybe Marlena needs to follow it up with a short, 20-page summary of He's Just Not That Into You for Kristen to pursue in all her free time she spends at Jake's apartment.

There was a truly cringy scene where Alex, Allie, and Chanel all went out for drinks together. Alex has spent half his time behaving like an absolute horn dog, so I get why they did this scene. And part of me is glad. Rip that Band-Aid off fast. Let Alex make the threesome ask and then completely wipe that possibility off the board. We're done with that. Let's move on.

The other part of the time, I'm really starting to like Alex. His talk with Sonny was actually pretty nuanced. Sonny loves love and wants his brother to find his flavor of happiness. Alex loves life and wants his brother to understand why he doesn't want that right now. Alex actually made a point that the women currently in his life don't want anything from him either. Alex seems to get his true joy from his professional life right now, and there's nothing immediately wrong with that.

I also kind of love that Alex isn't afraid of loud prints and likes frozen drinks with umbrellas. Every time there's the opportunity to completely bro him down, the show stops short of that. Here's hoping they do more of that.

Also, the show is going above and beyond to remind us that Alex is not a biological Johnson. He routinely references Abigail as "your cousin" when talking to Sonny. I can't help but wonder if that is because another Johnson came home this week. Stephanie showed up in town on business. She's a workaholic and -- wouldn't you know?! -- there's someone else new in town who really likes to let his bangs down and party.

Extra Scoops

HOT
How wonderful were Roman and Paulina together this week? I don't want them paired romantically, but that conversation was the strongest I've seen Roman in years. It was a refreshing twist on someone trying to stick their nose in someone else's love life. Paulina tried to make the case for Kate, but Roman respectfully shut her down at every turn. He pointed out that he didn't stop Eric's prison sentence. And he also reminded Paulina that she did the right thing with Chanel, too, by cutting her off when she was getting out of control. "You made her take responsibility. Lucas is a grandfather. He doesn't need to be coddled like a little kid." He got one up on Paulina!

NOT:
I get that Sloan and Leo are a little light on the morals, but I could go without them referencing Thomas as a "seven-year-old sociopath" or a "mentally ill little boy."

LINE OF THE WEEK:
Jada: (upon hearing how many people have been held captive under the DiMera house) "Did you ever think of sealing the tunnels?!?"
Chad: (completely serious) "Well, that's where we keep our wine."

Billy Flynn's deadpan delivery was delightful.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Gabi drank part of a shot. Is that a thing?

Did they match Brandon Beemer's shirt to his blue eyes?

This comment is going to make me sound one hundred years old, but what was Sarah wearing? Was that some sort of back brace? Does she need a harness for medical purposes? Is that what the kids are wearing these days?

Hang on a minute. Chez Rouge is a four-star restaurant!

Emily O'Brien is a talented actress all around. But nothing delights me more than when she's playing Gwen doing a bad job lying. Her fake indignant, "Whatever do you mean?" cracks me right up.

Dan Feuerriegel has perfected the hallway lurker look.

I was pregnant with my first kid the same time Abigail was pregnant with Thomas. I always kind of liked that I had a Salem pregnancy buddy! Anyway, my kiddo is six, so when they referenced Thomas as seven, I did a double take. But then I remembered Salem is a year ahead thanks to the time jump, so yes, Thomas would be seven! Don't you love soap math?

Do earbuds stay in kids' ears? I was kind of surprised when Brady gave his to Rachel to use.

Who was Lucas' lawyer?

Between Chad crushing that glass and Lucas slicing his hand with the lemon knife, I'm quite concerned that the DiMera bar may have some safety concerns.

I loved Chanel completely fangirling over Gabi from Gabi Chic. Of course, Chanel would be obsessed with a fashionista!

I didn't realize it until they had a longer scene together, but Rob Scott Wilson and Zach Tinker look like they could be brothers.

The more I think of it, the more I think Chloe is the love of Brady's life. They go back decades and have always been there for each other. I know he's one who has had a lot of loves, but I really do think Chloe is in the number one spot.

That's it for this week! Tony will be back next week to see how Li manages to explain Dr. Rolf's presence. In the meantime, best of luck to all of you parents sending kids off to school these next few weeks! And thank you so much to all the teachers caring for our kids and preparing for a wonderful school year!
Laurisa

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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of Soap Central or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen and what has happened, and to share their opinions on all of it. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same point of view.

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