Days of our Lives is killing it with the Charlie Dale murder mystery, a storyline that will see pretty much every character in Salem on the suspect list. The only real complaint is that it was tough to see actor Mike Manning hit the chopping block; even though Charlie was a real dud, his charming portrayer sure wasn't. But while some fans think that DAYS "wasted" Manning's potential with the rape storyline that led to Charlie's murder, the show's head writer, Ron Carlivati, sees it differently.
"Look, in a way, that's part of it. You don't want to say, 'Oh, let's cast somebody bad because he's going to die.' You want people to be invested," he tells Soap Opera Digest. "Mike knew it was short-term from the beginning and he's a lovely guy and a lovely actor. If the person playing Charlie wasn't a good actor or wasn't appealing, you wouldn't care. So, yes, I'm sure there were some people who were disappointed that we 'wasted' this guy. I saw a response to the character right away, which was great, but my heart kind of sank. And I was already thinking, 'Well, maybe he's got a twin brother.'"
That being said, Carlivati did not consider changing course or somehow making the Allie rape storyline go away with a redemption tale or a dissociative identity tale.
"I never thought about changing the story. I always knew that I didn't want to redeem the rapist," he reveals. "I wanted him to die, and it's tragic because we did play a lot about his backstory and there is no excuse for somebody doing something like this but you felt for him. You saw that he felt unloved and I think that haunted him his entire life."
As for the suspects in the super soapy whodunnit, Carlivati is thrilled to share that there's hardly a character on the canvas who didn't have motive to kill Charlie. That leaves a very tangled web, both in terms of what the audience must tear through to get to the bottom of the crime as well as what the writers must write to bring it alive in the best way possible.
"You have everybody in Claire's [Isabel Durant] family and everybody in Allie's [Lindsay Arnold] family, and then you have the backstory of who Charlie is, so you have Ava [Tamara Braun] and Steve [Stephen Nichols] and Tripp [Lucas Adams] and Kayla [Mary Beth Evans]. So, really, almost everybody on the canvas has a motive to want this guy dead," he explains. "I remember when General Hospital did the 'Who killed Susan Moore?' story, something like 10 characters had gone in and had an argument with her before. I was like, 'That must have been one busy parking lot outside her apartment!' So, you always have that to consider: How do these people not all run into each other? That's why you have to construct a timeline of maybe this person came and they had an argument, and then maybe this person came and that happened."
Once you have that map, Carlivati explains, "You can go, 'This week, we're going to focus in on John [Drake Hogestyn],' or, 'This week, we're going to focus in on Allie,' and see where they were that night. Of course, you do build these moments in the time leading up to it, 'I could kill you for this.' So a lot of people made threats in front of other people that they'll remember later."
As for how long viewers can expect to see the "Who killed Charlie Dale?" story play out, Carlivati says, "It's one of those things where it's a judgment call. You want to have fun with the story and the different suspects but you don't want it to go on so long that you don't care anymore, so, it's a two- or three-month arc. You want to give the story some air, but ultimately you realize, 'I've gotta keep moving it along every week and eliminating people until we get a satisfying answer.' Which I hope you will have at the end of it."
What do you think about the way DAYS has handled its "Who killed Charlie Dale?" murder mystery storyline? Who do you think will be the culprit in this super soapy whodunnit? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.