Much like Ben at the end of the week, we just need a little bit of space to breathe. So much happened last week that it was hard to keep up! Reveal on top of return, Ron was cleaning out the storyline fridge and reheating all kinds of things we forgot were in there.
First and most important to my heart, Nicole came back! Real Nicole! I swear I've written this before, but man, it's always great to see Arianne Zucker and Greg Vaughan do their thing. It's great to see Arianne Zucker anytime, full stop, and it's a credit to her skills that it took me about thirty seconds to see Nicole again and not Kristen.
I would have liked a breath here with Eric and Nicole. That hug between Eric and Holly was extremely touching. And I give Eric tons of credit for telling Nicole he'd slept with Sarah while Nicole was gone. These two have a legit start. And this setup gives Nicole a chance at something she's been missing for years -- an opponent. Nicole vs. Kristen could be interesting if there's anything of the old (and best!) Nicole left.
The problem is Ron threw Sarah in the way. There's a lot to respect about Sarah. Her conversation with Eric last week was very mature. She's in the Paul role from a few years back, and I respect that she knows it. Only this time, Eric didn't leave Sarah at the altar. But he did leave her with a baby.
Of course, Eric doesn't know that yet. (Side note -- Why don't doctors know how to prevent pregnancy?! I should check in with Tripp to confirm that's covered in one of his classes.) Right. Back to Sarah. She said right out that the timing didn't work for anyone for Eric to be the father. And that paternity does make the most soap sense for the current storylines. But I caution the temptation to write Eric as someone duty-bound to be with the mother of his child, even if he doesn't love her.
Eric was raised by a man who wasn't his father and, by all accounts, seems to love both Roman and John very much. Nicole loved both Tate and Sydney (I know, that one is loaded, but still) as her own when she was with their respective fathers. The point is, I don't see this being a big deal for Ericole as a couple. Besides, the reveal down the line of Holly being raised by the man who caused her father's death is ripe for soap drama.
And that leads me to Xander. You guys, I know he's a little bit strangle-y, but this guy is loyal. And he's right. Sarah needs to have enough confidence in herself to stop staying with men who don't have the capacity (for one reason or another) to make her their top priority. Xander laid out that exact offer for her. Then, to back it up, he offered to clean up her puke! A guy that devoted surely would...I don't know...agree to pretend to be the father of your baby so you could let the other guy you love be happy with his original true bae. Just a thought.
Speaking of being happy, Gabi and Stefan are back on track. I love these two together so much more as partners in crime -- equals who get each other. Gabi brings out a humanity in him, and Stefan brings out a backbone in her. It's a strange pairing that should not work. But it does. And I very much enjoy watching them scheme together.
Adding Vivian and Kate into this mix is never a bad idea, either! That's right, Vivian is back and played by One Life to Live's amazing Robin Strasser! I'm thrilled to have Dame Strasser in Salem. But to call out the elephant in the awesome wig, this is a noticeably different Vivian. I can't see this one taking in Bollywood shows or listening to opera. I can, however, see this one carrying a flask of whiskey and gleefully shoveling dirt with her own hands.
For me, it's working. And it's entirely due to Brandon Barash. His Stefan works with Robin's Vivian. His Stefan is more bro than brood, and that works with a mom who is more grit than grand.
I need to see more to make a final call. But I was able to accept the recast and, frankly, the massive shift in character, thanks to her current on-screen pairings. (Note -- Lauren Koslow is DAYS bacon and basically goes great with anything, so I wasn't worried about her. Kate, however, will be livid that Vivian got dirt all over that fantastic blazer.)
I suspect it will be Gabi who finds Kate, and that's probably good, because she'll need all the allies she can get once Julie squawks more about how Gabi left her to die...
Sorry, I had to take Ciara's advice and grab some Chinese food and fortune cookies to get through this next section. Deep breath. Here's goes.
To be fair, all Gabi had to do was call 9-1-1 and then walk away. That would have been the safest thing to do. And had it been anyone other than the woman who faked a heart attack in front of Gabi last year, I have no doubt that's what Gabi would have done. I mean, Gabi stood in front of a gun for Kate just a few minutes later. This isn't as simple as "Gabi is a terrible person."
Technically, Gabi was doing the right thing in walking away from Julie. That's what we tell our kids to do with bullies. Just walk away. Don't let them get to you.
Only in this case, the bully chased Gabi down in an attempt to win woke-grandma points with Eli by giving one of those non-apology apologies politicians like to make all the time. You know the kind. They're always contingent on the victim misconstruing something. PSA to all those people -- when your apology starts with the word "if," you're not doing it right.
And that's exactly what Julie did here. Gabi didn't misconstrue anything Julie said to her. Julie chose those words with intent to insult and hurt Gabi. I appreciated Eli and Lani talking to Julie about not saying racially hurtful things. But how about talking to her about not actually being a hurtful person? The words aren't specifically the problem. It's the ugly place they come from.
And that brings me to the toughest part of this storyline. It's hard to muster up much, if any, sympathy for Julie due to her inconsistent treatment of everyone else. I don't know if she's a racist. But she's got a maddening sliding scale of conditional love for those around her, including her own family. She loves Doug, sure. But everyone else is expendable. She'll absolutely pit one family member against the other without any desire to learn the truth. (Ciara > Claire, Nick > Will) She went on a baffling rant about Chloe last week, when all we've seen is Chloe work hard and be a good business partner. I keep hitting refresh on my Julie Power Rankings page, but it's flat-out hard to keep up with who's a FOJ (friend of Julie) and who's completely expendable.
Again, none of this means Julie should die, nor that Gabi shouldn't have called 9-1-1. But Julie's such a morality amoeba that I felt a lot of dissonance toward her current plight. I hope this near-death experience pivots Julie in a better direction. There are lots of people who could use someone with her moxie and strength on their side. But if not, some consistency would be good. Even with a villain like Kristen, I know what and who she stands for. I don't know that with Julie.
Speaking of Kristen, she got her own dose of soap justice. Yes, she should be in jail for rape, kidnapping, and face-stealing. But as we've often discussed, soaps can't put everyone in jail. So, we have to deal in soap justice. What were the only two things she wanted? Brady and DiMera Enterprises. She had them in her grasp and then lost them both. She's left with nothing. And she's probably really itchy, since she had to spend two weeks in that fully sequined dress!
Huh. Now Victor wants to take on Ben? I mean, I guess it's good because it gives Cin a story. But Victor, my guy, you're a little late to this party. At this point, you'll have to either trick or go through Hope now.
Also, why didn't Ben just say he'd break up with Ciara and then go and tell her the truth? What else does Victor have to hold over him?
Finally, high-five to Ciara for realizing there was some other motive for Brady offering a job at Titan. I truly do like Victor and his boys, but Titan is a long-standing chapter of the He-Man Woman Haters Club. For all of Victor's pontificating on how family comes first, he's never given his female offspring the opportunities he has given to the males.
I was downright shocked Kayla gave Sarah any optimistic advice about Eric. Steve was "dead" for the better part of two decades, and Kayla didn't move on. With anyone. At all. She waited for him and then sat through an amnesia spell to get Steve back. She's literality the worst person to give "he may move on" advice. Kayla is the number one true-to-your-boo person on the show.
I didn't especially love Kate taunting Stefano's portrait, saying Stefan is a chip off the old block. Kate legitimately loved that old block and at one point cried to get him to not divorce her. If Kate wants to object to the Vivian side of Stefan, that's totally fair. But the DiMera side is off-brand for Kate.
Hope read a letter from Ted explaining that pretty much everything he said was a lie -- the dead kid, the dead wife -- all except for the wife Dianna Caulfield said she saw alive in France. I still wonder if that wife is Jordan, making Ted baby David's father. There's got to be a reason to bring that up now. Otherwise, why crucify all of Ted's character development after a character is dead?
It's important to note that Ben did not murder Mr. Thug of the Day. It was self-defense. I still think Ben should mention this incident to his therapist, however.
Also, just pointing out that a man died right around the same time Kayla announced Julie would need a new heart.
Dr. Rolf is back, too! I hope he stays around until Halloween, just so Tony and I can include him on our costume list. I've got a great idea for him!
Oh, Doug! When he crawled in bed with Julie, I lost it. I know I spent paragraphs outlining how Julie kind of sucks at life. But Doug sees her the way we all hope the person who loves us sees us. This guy adores her. And for his sake, I'm rooting for her to be okay so they can go on making beautiful music together!
I laugh out loud each time Lani tries to get all moral with Gabi. But last week was an especially impressive display of asshattery on Lani's part. First, she dragged out the old misconception that Gabi pushed Julie down the stairs. Gabi didn't. They struggled, and Julie fell. I'd think that a cop would be interested in actual facts, but not the Lanster!
Second, she berated Gabi for leaving "a poor old woman" to die, and I have to think Julie would object to the sentiment of "poor old" anything.
But the final thing that made me guffaw was Lani scoffing, "You sure know how to pick 'em" at Gabi's choice of mate. Guuurrrrllll, you've slept with two of Gabi's exes while she was still with them. The clouds must have been thick that day up on Mt. Superior because Lani clearly couldn't see how that comment could reflect on herself at all.
LINE OF THE WEEK:
Ciara (a commentary on her own cooking skills): "Well, we could go back to the gate house so I could burn something."
Jack: "Rolf's serum tends to have the unfortunate effect of wiping out the memory of whoever it's used on. That's what happened to me and Will Horton!"
Vivian: "Fascinating. Would anyone like a drink? I certainly could use one."
Ciara: "I'm fine. I have snacks!"
Doug: "It's called being a romantic. That's you. And I like to think you caught it from me."
Vivian (to Stefan): "I've changed, haven't I? But you've changed too!"
LOL! "You missed your calling, Julie. You should have been an actress."
You guys, the DiMeras have magic decanters.
I love Hope suggesting Julie was missing because of Labor Day Sales.
Ted has impeccable line spacing for a handwritten note.
The relationship between Ben and Stefan is low-key yet one of the more interesting ones on the show.
It's rare that I think people are underdressed on soaps. But, I haven't seen many doctors go to work in jeans.
I liked Ciara's pewter nail polish.
Part of me likes Victor and Sarah's relationship.
I'm sad Chloe and Nicole won't get to make up on-screen.
Someone make a reason for Vivian and Eve to share a scene, just to get and Robin and Kassie together again. Please and thank you.
I'm surprised Julie was afraid of Ben. Sure, he "killed" Will, but Julie forgets he's a Horton every day.
"As your sister recently proved, the Weston family tree is full of rot." Yeah, Vic. Except for the fact that Jordan isn't a Weston. She and Ben don't share the same father.
Does the police commissioner have to take what the D.A. shovels out? Honest question. I'm not sure of the hierarchy there. They have the same manager.
Note to Kate -- if someone tells you not to piss them off, you probably shouldn't immediately steal their decanter of (likely very expensive) booze.
I couldn't have been the only one screaming, "Yes! Yes! Call Celeste!" when Julie, Eli, and Lani were talking about getting the bad spirits out of Doug's Place.
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