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Roll up your sleeves. Put up your dukes. It's time to fight. Well, not us, but those saucy Salemites are ready to rumble as February Sweeps takes aim. Battle lines have been drawn. Maneuvers have been made. And Rafe called in a ringer to bring down Princess Gina's royal reign. So, put some bottles on your fingertips and start clanking away because it's time the warriors come out to play in this week's Road to Sweeps DAYS Two Scoops!

Well. I have some sad news to start things off with, DAYS fans. A certain soap opera opinion columnist's boss has denied a very reasonable request to fork over some additional funds for a concert. As such, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will not be performing the Two Scoops halftime show this week to kick off February Sweeps. I know. I know. I'm sorry. I tried. I simply asked for a budget to obtain two world-class entertainers, a couple of elephants to carry them in on, six lions and tamers to perform in the background, some Cirque du Soleil acts to open things up with, and a grand finale of fireworks. Instead, I got a hard "no" and a dusty Soap Central water bottle with the original logo on it as a consolation prize. Gee. Thanks.

Still, there are oodles of fantastic things floating around the DAYS-verse that should keep us clapping and cheering and our hips moving, nonetheless. I promise you'll hardly miss the melodies or the "Two Scoops Shuffle" Laurisa and I were going to debut with J Lo and Shakira.

First and foremost, break out the bubbly and raise a glass to Team DAYS. The show's been renewed for a 56th season! That announcement made me break out into a late '90s/early '00s "Happy Dance Xtreme!" which is like a normal happy dance, but DJ'ed by a bro with frosted-tip spikey hair and sponsored by X-Treme Mountain Dew. Just scream "Hell yeah!" and "Woo" a lot while flailing around, and you're fine. Anyway...

This news is especially amazing after all the stress of last fall when those hack "journalists" "reported" the cast had been released from their contracts, the show was ending, and the rest of the erroneous "news" that initially followed. It's times like these I wish I had a fax machine so I could send them a page that just reads, "In your face!"

Additionally, it's been reported that the team returns to work this week. That means much more sand through the old hourglass. Again, cheers to Team DAYS!

Speaking of cheering, Whoomp! There he is. Shawn-Douglas came, he saw, and he concluded correctly about Princess Gina. I love that guy. It only took him one conversation with "Hope" to blow Gina's royal ruse. The fact that he and Rafe looped Roman into the pursuit is icing on the cake. Though, after learning Hope is Princess Gina-ing again, I did expect at least one, "Whad 'da hell?" from RoRo, but I digress.

Now, I've asked this before and I'll ask it again, but why does Rafe always seem so surprised when someone suggests an outlandish theory like Hope has been brainwashed? The dude literally had an evil impostor of himself whipped up in a lab. Remember Fafe, Rafe? How about Kristen wearing a Nicole mask? Detective Hernandez was around for that. Or with the bazillion back-from-the-dead Salemites. You'd think he'd believe anything's possible at this point. So, skip the shock and awe, drama king, and get back in the game, Rafe-a-Roni.

Ultimately, the royal cat is officially out of the bag, but Princess Gina is in the wind and wound up with John in a dungeon where she told him Marlena had died. She lied, of course, but John doesn't know that. Hat tip to Drake Hogestyn for a gut-wrenching performance.

Meanwhile, Stefano told Mar Mar the same story about John. He's dead. And here's when the record came to a screeching halt for me. Marlena's reactions were suspicious, but to explain my hunch, we first need to revisit Kate and Hattie's conversation...

Yep. Kate's stepped in it again and explained the situation to Hattie. I don't doubt that Ms. Roberts feels "Kate Guilt," which is different from normal people guilt because of how far things have gone, but she's hardly a novice co-conspirator who wouldn't know that the Stefano/Gina combo could get ugly as they jonesed for "Jarlena." Opening up now is hovering between "Better late than never?" and "Too little, too late, oh, Kate?" Still, Kate does what Kate does, and that's why I love her, faults and all. "Jarlena's" loved ones might feel differently, though, but I'm getting off track.

I suspect a Mar and Hattie switcheroo. I believe that after Kate came clean to Hattie, they told Doc and set a secret plan in motion, or Mar and Hattie switched somewhere between Kate scolding Hattie to keep quiet and trusting her with the master plan. Maybe before that even. My biggest source of that suspicion loops back to Hattie's occasional wary glances at Kate and her eagerness to learn the plan (was she working with Mar then or was she Mar?). Plus, there's Marlena's reaction to John's death.

Now, Deidre Hall is downright brilliant. She's managed to craft two very distinctive characters right down to the nuances of each. I've never noticed much overlapping unless it was intentional, and one character was impersonating the other. There was something very "Hattie" about Marlena's reaction to John's death. I could be wrong. I probably and often am, but something smells doppelgänger-ish, even so.

Also smelling fishy was "Steve." He pinged hard on John, Tony, and Anna's radar. Stefano is brilliant in many ways. Keeping his cool is not one of them, as it were. I was surprised he let himself get so belligerent, but both Anna and Tony hit him hard in the ego, and that's often his Achilles heel.

Unlike Steffie, who probably had some issues with them, I loved the Prague scenes! They were hilarious and sly. The word "play" alone created a great sense of danger, especially as Stefano's answers to John had such deep double meanings. Yes. Yes, they have had a long history together. It was twisted and great, and, really, Tony and Anna make everything much more fun.

You know, as much as the Princess Gina storyline seems to be on the way to wrapping up -- and it's time -- there will be other fun things I'm going to miss. Top of the list will be the Gina vs. Kate throwdowns. They're divatastic. They're my guilty pleasure. When you think about it, aside from Vivian and Sami, Kate has few sparring partners that she can throw the full force of her attitude toward without them crumbling. Gina's proven to be a worthy adversary. Respect.

I know this next one makes me sound like I should be wearing a Dalmatian coat, but I also love Gina's zingers toward Rafe. He's a big boy. He can take them. I also consider them a little retribution for Rafe's earlier days when he was so...so...oh, just so painstakingly Rafey at times.

After all this rambling, I do have another question. What is the endgame of Stefano and Princess G's evil plan? Do they want to stay cooped up in an art studio and dungeon with their evil-hearts' desires for life? I guess Stefano and Marlena could roam around Salem, since he could make everyone else think John is dead, but if John is freed, it's not like he's going to casually pour one onto the ground for his fallen homies then hang in Whereversville with Gina and never return to Salem. Maybe she's planning to brainwash him, too? That seems solid. I don't know. I feel like I'm missing something obvious. I do that a lot. In any event, I am so ready for Sweeps to start and to see everything that's being set up set off into storyline explosions. Bring. It. On.

LOOSE ENDS:
My heart went a little pitter-pattery when Eric and Nicole shared those sweet scenes. He cares. He still cares. Come on, Eric. Admit it. Well, first, I guess Nicole must admit she's not bedding Brady again. Then an Eric and Nicole reunion? Please. Pretty please!?

The "Bristen" baby was named "Rachel Isabella" after their mothers (as well as a "Hey! Hey!" side shout-out to his sister Belle). One, I like the nods in that name! Two, a crisp lacy christening gown would have been a fabulous homage to Rachel "The Woman in White" Blake. That eventually needs to happen. Just saying. Oh! We could dress baby David up as Stefano and recreate Aremid scenes with them. Okay. Right. And three, with initials like R.I., we could have totally called the baby "RiRi." Damnit, Victor and Xander always ruin good things.

So. Summer the Bummer is also "in the wind." It shouldn't be hard to find her if you are downwind, as she kind of reeks of suckage and cheap vodka. Damn it, me. I told myself to be better than that. Okay. Summer is gone but not forgotten. Maggie has no clue as to where she went, but she does have a clue about the night of Mother's Day 2020. She knows she was drunk. That seems to be all. For now. I suspect unpleasant memory flashes are soon to start plaguing her. Though, can they be worse than Summer showing up again? I'm not sure. Well. I tried. Either way, I suspect the Bummer has more to do with the crash than we're being told. Hmm.

I don't think I could have loved the scene between Will and Ciara more if I tried. Initially, I thought the connection these two had was based solely on her desire to see Ben and using Will to do so. Sure, it still might have a twinge of that, but these cousins' friendship is blossoming into something special. Could they become the next Hope and Jen of the Horton family? I kind of hope so and really hope we see more of them once this storyline is over.

On topic, Ciara told Will the entire saga about Maggie causing the accident. Will's reaction was endearing. He was elated that he didn't cause Adrienne's death, but he was also compassionate toward Ciara because, since that was the secret Victor and Xander shared, it means Ben's name hasn't been cleared. He was also sympathetic toward Maggie and worried how she would take the news. In fact, he was so concerned that he told Ciara he'd have to put the pin back in this bombshell and think about what he wants to do next. That's some deep love right there.

Sidebar: I think Ciara should use some of that Kiriakis cash and pay off the prison guard to expose the truth, claiming he overheard Ciara and Will's conversation and couldn't keep quiet. That way, he could destroy Maggie, and Will doesn't have to make the call. Plus, it's not like they can't be bought and sold. Victor has one on his payroll, and Clyde seems to get what he wants from them. Huh. I wonder how much it takes to get them to do some favors. A "Statesville Prison, Salem, USA" orange jumpsuit might make comfy loungewear while Two Scooping.

Ciara, of course, will stay on, well, course and figure out her next step to clear Ben. She's not about to give up, and it seems like she'll have an ally in Will as she searches for answers. Yes, please.

Speaking of allies, J.J. has teamed up with Lani to take down Gabi, and there's even talk about reaching out to Theo for some tech support (yes, please), but Lanister doesn't want the po-po involved. Makes sense. She was a cop. She knows what the Salem P.D. are incapable of. Though, at least she's grateful for J.J.'s help. Just last week, she demanded that he "Sit down and explain yourself" when he told her he's in the wedding party. I'll be honest -- I kind of thought, "He just brought you a doughnut with sprinkles. That at least earns him a 'Would you please sit down and explain things to me?'" Then again, she doesn't deal well with stress. Last time, she ran away to a convent, so, I guess snapping at J.J. is an improvement? We'll go with that.

I give Evan props. If someone I was interested in opened with (and I'm paraphrasing slightly), "I just came back from visiting my soon-to-be twice-ex-husband in prison where we signed the divorce papers because he accidentally killed my mom" and then he later went on to talk about his child's other parent being in jail... Yeah. As Sarah would say, "That's a mountain full of baggage." At that point, I'd be nonchalantly sending Laurisa the "call me now with an emergency" text. Sorry, Sonny. Gotta go.

Sonny's fooling himself and nobody else. He's rebounding hard. He even stated he has "a future beyond Will." Paul. Hey, Paul! Wanna weigh in on this? Exactly. Granted, there's worse ways I can think of to rebound than some alone time with easy-on-the-eyes Evan, but, in the morning, it's still rebounding. That, plus I still suspect Evan is shadier than a white panel van parked in a dark alleyway. That makes the answer clear. Nope. This is not a union that screams, "Longevity!" So, enjoy your rebounding safely, Sonny Bear, and don't let Evan take you to any second locations. Again, we'll go with that.

Chad and Abby kind of win "Cute Couple of the Week." I'm also eager to see what they do with that "Steve" portrait. A gift to Auntie Kayla? I kid. I kid. Abby's been on a roll. She'll get to the bottom of things.

Riddle me this...

Chad has his and Tony's DiMera Enterprises stocks. Kate has Andre's. Kristen has her own. I think Sami has control of E.J.'s shares, or maybe he's gotten them back from her if his marshmallow bandages are off and he's recovered. Okay.

I assume Abe has Lexie's and is holding them for Theo, unless Chad has those, too. Gee. I need to pay more attention, but, again, I digress.

We'll assume that Renée and Megan were dead long before Stefano's children having stocks was a thing, and, more so, they died before him. Benjy was dead early on, too, but I'd like to think his widow, Sonja, has hold of them for their son, Steven. Maybe?

That leads to the question: who has control of Peter's stocks? He's kind of an in-the-wind wildcard here, eh? I think he'd sell them to Kristen before anyone else, but with good old bad Pete, you never know. I think it's time for his homecoming and an all-out DiMera battle royal.

Extra Scoops

HOT
I simply suggest playing the Vengaboys's version of "Hot Hot Hot" and xtreme happy dancing around for four minutes to celebrate all things DAYS. Picking one "HOT" this week would be impossible with all the renewal and cast back to work news, the magical duo of Konefal and Massey as well as so many other powerful performances this week, and let's not forget Shawn-D, Tony, and Anna being back on our screens! Yep. There's a lot there (and more) to celebrate.

NOT
Unfortunately, I don't have time for a proper "NOT" this week, as I must rush to Salem with a spray bottle full of icy cold water to spritz Eric and Sarah. Bad former exes. Bad.

LINE OF THE WEEK
Hattie (to Roman): "What's up, boss?"


Sarah (to Maggie): "No one knew that Summer was going to show up on our doorstep with a mountain full of baggage and a bottle of vodka."

EXCHANGE(S) OF THE WEEK
John: "We have a long history."
Stefano: "That we do."


Princess Gina: "You're so determined to ruin everything."
Kate: "I guess it's just my nature."

RANDOM THOUGHTS
Anna and Tony are taking a cooking class!? Hilarious. I'm all in for that. Please make that the next DAYS digital series, thank you.

Brandon Beemer being back as Shawn-D makes me happy. Methinks Sailor Man needs to stay put in Salem and phone 'Tink to return, too. More Martha Madison is a must!

When Maggie stated, "I can't imagine a worse feeling," I just blurted out, "Oh, girl," to my TV and shook my head.

Okay. So, if Steve or Hope had a food allergy, could Stefano or Princess Gina eat the things that Steve and Hope couldn't, or would they have a reaction? I'd say reaction because it's Steve and Hope's bodies, but I'm not entirely sure how that works.

I was kind of half-expecting Princess Gina to mumble to Shawn-D, "Go get mama some smokes," in an Annette Atkins from Drop Dead Gorgeous kind of way.

The skeptical, "Will he?" and especially the look on Nicole's face when Brady suggested that Eric will come around was priceless.

Regarding "priceless looks," I love the one that Tony shot "Steve" after he stated it was nice to see Tony again as they were parting. Well played, Count DiMera. Well played.

Monday's Sarah and Maggie moments were very sweet, as were Maggie's scenes with Victor. Oh, this is bittersweet. The more saccharine the scenes, the more it's going to get ugly later.

John went through Steve's stuff. He really is the worst best friend ever. I kid. I kid. This time.

I like Eli and Gabi's rule of no phones in bed. Though I suspect that will come back to bite her eventually.

Every time I hear Theresa or Tate's name, I just think of Jen Lilley, and then I miss her! Come back to Salem, Jeannie-T. J.J. is single. Just putting that out there.

If Gina doesn't want to go to dinner with Shawn, I guess I'll take one for the team. Brady Pub in fifteen, Sailor Man?

I forgot that diamond bracelet was still in play.

I wonder what Evan thought of the forking series finale of The Good Place?

Did anyone else do a palm to forehead slap when Marlena chose to listen to Rafe's voicemail instead of just calling him? Sure, it was informative, but speaking to him would have helped clear things up. It's sort of like when a character in a horror movie yells, "Who's there?" and then goes into the dark room.

Things that confirm my reservation on an eventual bus to hell: When Eric said, "Just being a little sensitive these days," I may have replied, "Just these days?" I don't fault him, as he's going through a lot, but that's like Stefano claiming he's been just a wee bit sinister recently or Brady believing he's a smidge fickle the past few weeks. Own your drama, man.

Points to Princess G for playing the long game. She arranged for Mar to be in Germany. I think Steffie underestimates her sinister strategic skillset.

So. The gatehouse has been vacant for a year, but it looks a lot less "Can you find the hidden objects" picture game and more, well, nice?

Damn, Stefano sends long texts! He would get totally frustrated on Twitter. Though it would be amusing to watch him try to tweet one of his manifestos.

As I've been forced to watch DAYS OnDemand instead of my DVR, I've had to endure commercials. Because of that, every time I see Tanner Novlan (the handsome Liberty Mutual guy) I think he should be cast as Ben's long-lost brother or one of the Kiriakis sons. Look him up. It's worth it (and he's swoon-worthy). And you're welcome.

PARTING THOUGHTS
So, friends and fellow DAYS fans, that's your J Lo and Shakira-less Two Scoops for February 3! I hope everyone had an amazing Groundhog Day on Shakira's birthday, no less! I'm off to jump onto the party bus, but Laurisa is back next week with a bag full of Sweeps awesomeness to unleash. As always, thank you for reading, and "That's a fact."

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

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