Eli rushed over to the town square's Gabi Chic store, with Gabi right behind him, after receiving an alert that someone had set off the store's security alarm.
"There's nobody inside, [and] the store hasn't been robbed," Eli assured Gabi after cautiously searching the store. "Then how did my window get broken?" Gabi wondered. "Probably with this," Eli guessed, holding up a large piece of the planter that had been thrown through the store's window. "It was probably some kids up to no good -- a random act of vandalism..." Eli decided. "[Or] maybe it's somebody trying to send a message," Gabi countered. "Sounds like you have an idea who that person might be..." Eli observed. "Yeah, I do," Gabi confirmed.
"I can see them dropping a lawsuit on you, [but] not throwing a plant through your front window," Eli argued after Gabi suggested that Chad and Abigail were responsible for the vandalism. "You're right," Gabi grudgingly conceded after some thought. "[But] I can't shake this feeling that this is personal..." Gabi maintained, sighing worriedly.
Kristen returned to the Salem Inn and joined Lani in their shared room. "I take it things didn't go well with Chad and Abigail," Lani observed. "No, no -- they actually went fine," Kristen clarified.
"Then why do you look like you're about to turn into the Incredible Hulk?" Lani wondered. "Because I just saw Brady on my way over here, [and] he was with Nicole, [so] I followed them back to her place -- [I mean], I couldn't help it -- [and] the little slut threw herself at him!" Kristen explained. "I thought [Nicole] was in love with Eric," Lani admitted. "Yeah, well, Eric is out of town, [so I guess] she decided that his brother would do in a pinch -- it's happened before!" Kristen grumbled. "Okay, well, Brady is a big boy..." Lani argued. "You did not see the way she pounced on him -- it was disgusting!" Kristen stressed.
"[I bet] they are making love right now -- [after all], they don't call her 'Misty Circle' for nothing! [You know, Brady is] so vulnerable [right now] -- I mean, he's still grieving our child, just like I am -- and she is taking advantage of that...[probably as a way of] getting her revenge on me [for] what I did to her last year!" Kristen fretted. "Okay, well, you did kind of put on a mask and --" Lani began to point out.
"Oh, my God, I don't need this from you right now!" Kristen snapped. "Look, I'm sorry, but...maybe it's not all so calculated; maybe they're just two lonely people with a lot of history --" Lani reasoned. "No, Nicole is calculated -- [and] as spiteful as they come!" Kristen insisted before spontaneously reaching for a nearby bottle of wine. "What are you gonna do with that?" Lani asked. "I am gonna use it to kill Nicole," Kristen replied through gritted teeth before starting to storm out of the hotel room, prompting Lani to block the path and try to seize the bottle.
"You really want to go and commit another murder?" Lani argued. "Oh, my God -- that is so not fair!" Kristen protested. "I am trying to stop you from killing a woman, [so] now is not the time to pull my punches," Lani reasoned, shrugging unapologetically. "I have given up [on] becoming a nun, [so] I don't have to be 'saintly' anymore!" Kristen, who still had control of the bottle, dismissively pointed out before trying to sidestep Lani. "There's a lot of ground between being 'saintly' and killing someone!" Lani countered, continuing to block Kristen's path.
"We came back here to take back what we lost, [and if] you go and kill Nicole, you lose everything [for good -- and besides], how many times [have] you told me about the guilt that you feel over killing Haley? [I mean], did all those months at the convent mean nothing? Are you not changed by that experience?" Lani continued, and Kristen grudgingly conceded the point. "It was just a knee-jerk reaction," Kristen assured Lani while setting the bottle aside. "[I mean], they are probably making love right now! Do you know how much that hurts me?" Kristen reiterated.
"Yeah, I do -- because I just saw it with Eli and Gabi!" Lani blurted out. "Wow -- you went out, after I told you not to?" Kristen realized with a groan. "I tried to stay here, [but] I couldn't," Lani explained with a shrug. "Okay, okay -- it's okay..." Kristen assured Lani. "So, where did you see Eli and Gabi?" Kristen wondered. "At your family's house," Lani clarified. "Oh, my God -- are you insane?" Kristen snapped, groaning again. "I know! [Look], I was just trying to find a way to neutralize Gabi --" Lani tried to elaborate. "The only person who can neutralize Gabi is a veterinarian!" Kristen declared.
"We both saw some things tonight that...set us back...[but] we can't lose focus," Lani decided after some thought. "You're right -- [I mean], the deck may be stacked against us, but we are strong and capable women, and we are gonna come out on top," Kristen agreed, and Lani nodded in response then opened the bottle of wine so a toast could be made to that sentiment.
Meanwhile, at Eric's apartment, Brady started to give in to Nicole's advances but ultimately decided that doing so would be a bad idea. "You're drunk, [and] I'm not Eric," Brady gently pointed out. "Oh, please -- I am sober enough to know what I want, [and] I can't have Eric -- he made that clear on several occasions -- [so] the next best thing is to forget all about the pain and the heartache for a while," Nicole dismissively countered before leaning in to give Brady another kiss. "We could do this so easily -- we could go back into this routine that we do -- but...I think we're gonna regret it if we do," Brady maintained, and Nicole grudgingly agreed.
At the Brady Pub, Roman guessed that Hattie had seen a man in Kate's bedroom and had promised not to reveal the man's identity. "It's okay, all right? I know Kate's got a man stashed up in her room," Roman stressed. "I know you know! But I'm not supposed to know that you know!" Hattie countered. "You lost me," Roman admitted. "I can't talk about this anymore!" Hattie insisted. "Look, uh, I don't know any--" Hattie loudly began to announce to the room, fearing that someone from the ISA might be listening. "Calm down, all right? I don't care who's up there with Kate. [It's] none of my business," Roman assured Hattie.
"Well, it sort of is..." Hattie argued. "Why, because she lives above the pub?" Roman assumed. "Well, that's one reason -- and the other..." Hattie began to blurt out before stopping abruptly.
"Ugh -- I can't stand this! I need a beer! My head's about to explode!" Hattie admitted with a groan, and Roman immediately granted the request.
"So, uh...how's your head now?" Roman asked after Hattie gulped down most of the beer. "Much better, thanks," Hattie replied.
"Say, Roman..." Hattie stammered. "With Kate living upstairs, [and] the two of you, uh, working together... [Well], I was thinking [that] you probably see a lot of each other, [and] because of your history -- you know, [where] you have those twins that...fell out of the sky somehow... [Well, anyway, I'm just wondering] -- are you sure there's nothing going on between the two of you?" Hattie continued. "No, [because there would just be] too many problems with that, [not to mention] the #MeToo movement... [Anyway, the point is], I do not date women who work for me -- and that includes you," Roman stressed, disappointing Hattie.
"People dating [while] they're working together -- [that] doesn't have to be a disaster!" Hattie insisted before citing examples of successful workplace romances from The Office and Cheers in an effort to prove the point. "Those are not real people, Hattie -- a writer cooked all that up," Roman countered. "Oh -- you want real people? Okay -- Hope and Rafe!" Hattie triumphantly reminded Roman. "Divorced," Roman flatly informed Hattie. "When did that happen?" Hattie wondered with a gasp of shock. "Quite awhile ago now," Roman clarified. "Oh, that's so sad..." Hattie fretted, and Roman agreed.
"[Still]...when two attractive people work together, there are bound to be sparks, you know? And that's when people start to break the rules --" Hattie maintained. "Not me -- [once] I set a rule for myself, I live by it," Roman insisted. "Okay, fine -- have it your way..." Hattie grumbled before starting to exit the pub. "See you tomorrow," Roman called out, somewhat amused.
Meanwhile, in Kate's bedroom, Stefano bragged about having managed to sneak a Christmas gift into Marlena's purse during the party at the hospital. "That hideous brooch?" Kate guessed. "It's a priceless antique!" Stefano clarified. "Okay, well, that was a shrewd move -- [after all], John and Marlena don't have decades of [experience] tracing things back to you..." Kate sarcastically declared. "So what if they do? I want Marlena to know I'm out there!" Stefano dismissively countered. "Do you want her to also find out that you're Steve Johnson?" Kate wondered.
"I will have to reveal [my new face] to Marlena at some point --" Stefano reasoned with a shrug, still not convinced that there was an issue. "[And] how are you going to explain your new look?" Kate asked curiously. "I don't know yet, all right?" Stefano tiredly replied. "Okay...so, while you're trying to figure that all out, how about you stop gallivanting all around Salem [and] focus on getting back DiMera?" Kate advised. "Why are you so protective of Marlena?" Stefano demanded to know. "Because she's my friend, [and] we share a grandson [and] a great-granddaughter --" Kate began to explain. "Or is it because you're jealous?" Stefano countered.
Kate laughed off Stefano's accusation. "You know, the only reason that I haven't outed you so far is because I know [your] whole plan about Marlena is going to fail, the way it always fails -- it's gonna be one big, fat failure!" Kate stressed. "No, you're keeping silent for the same reason you do everything else -- because you think you'll get something out of it!" Stefano guessed. "[And] I will -- I'm going to reclaim my seat at the table when you reclaim DiMera!" Kate reminded Stefano. "See? You don't care anything about Marlena! So, get off your high horse --" Stefano began to argue.
"That's it -- it's not worth it!" Kate suddenly declared. "What's 'not worth it'?" Stefano asked curiously. "This whole thing -- lying for you, covering for you, sharing the same bathroom with you... I'm done! [Look], I'm calling Marlena, [and] I'm gonna spill my guts --" Kate clarified while producing a cell phone and dialing a number. "Go ahead," Stefano encouraged Kate, chuckling dismissively.
"[But] she's going to want some information, [so] you will have to tell her that you have known about me and Gina for months... You think she'll be your friend then? [And] what about Roman and John -- do you think they'll ever speak to you again [after] they find that out?" Stefano continued, stopping Kate. "Once the whole town realizes you've been in league with Gina and me, your life will be over, [because] your family members -- the ones who still speak to you -- and the few friends you still have [will] all turn their backs on you," Stefano confidently predicted.
"Doesn't matter," Kate decided after some thought. "What you're doing to John and Marlena is wrong --" Kate began to reason. "Don't pretend that you care about right and wrong -- you can't pull that off, [because] you're like Gina...and, more importantly, you're like me. You're one of us now, and there's no turning back," Stefano argued. "This obsession that you have with Marlena is going to destroy you!" Kate continued. "Go after Hattie [instead] -- she's a dead ringer for Marlena --" Kate advised. "With none of her grace [or] intelligence," Stefano countered. "[And] you've always wanted [a woman] with big...brains..." Kate dryly agreed.
"[Look], you have to not let this obsession deter you from getting DiMera back -- that's all [I'm saying] -- and I expect [to be] paid handsomely for my participation," Kate stressed after backpedaling on the decision to alert Marlena. "And you will be, Katerina...[but] I can pursue two goals at the same time and be the victor at both. I'm going to have it all -- watch me," Stefano insisted.
At the police station, Gina pretended to be Hope while trying to say goodnight to Rafe. "Wait -- hold on a second," Rafe protested, stopping Gina from rushing off.
"The lab report's [just been sent] back on the tiara [we found at Rolf's hideaway]. They found two partial prints, belonging to two different people, [and the] database made a positive ID on both -- one belongs to Rolf, and the other...belongs to you," Rafe curiously revealed. "Well, obviously, I touched it at the crime scene --" Gina innocently began to explain. "No -- I'm the one that discovered it [and] bagged it, [and] you never touched it," Rafe argued. "Oh, that's right..." Gina conceded. "[But] I went into the lab after you sent it there, [just] to look at the evidence, [and] I must have picked up the tiara without gloves on," Gina continued.
"Kind of a rookie mistake for someone with your experience..." Rafe noted. "You're right -- it really was -- [but] I had an awful lot on my mind, [and] I got distracted," Gina explained.
"Right... [Well, look], it's not a big deal -- [the point is that] we still don't have proof that Stefano was ever in Rolf's hideaway...[although] I'm still holding out hope [that] the DNA evidence, uh, that they will hopefully find on the cigar [will prove that]. They're running it through the database right now...and, hopefully, we'll have a match by tonight," Rafe stressed. "[Even if Stefano] was here in Salem [at some point, he surely would have] left when Rolf did," Gina argued. "Oh, I think I have proof that he hasn't gone anywhere," Marlena, who had just entered the police station, countered.
Gina tried to laugh off the suggestion that Stefano had personally sneaked a Christmas gift into Marlena's purse during the party at the hospital, but Rafe bought the theory -- and decided to take the brooch to the lab right away so it could be dusted for fingerprints. "Well, if you don't mind, I need to get back to work..." Gina said to Marlena after Rafe rushed off. "Actually, I do mind," Marlena replied, stopping Gina. "[Look, Hope], I think it's time we cleared the air -- [you know], about you trying to come between John and me," Marlena continued. "I'm sorry -- I hope I didn't cause problems between you," Gina grudgingly stressed.
"You couldn't cause problems between [us]," Marlena pointedly insisted, annoying Gina. "He did say you implied that he had feelings for you, [though], and I have a real problem with that," Marlena continued. "I am sorry," Gina stiffly reiterated. "Are we still friends?" Gina wondered -- but before Marlena could respond, Rafe returned and reported that the brooch was in the process of being dusted for fingerprints. "Do you have any other questions or concerns?" Rafe asked Marlena. "Just the ones that I've [already] taken up with Hope...[and] I'm assuming she will take the proper action," Marlena replied as Gina squirmed.
Shortly after Marlena left, Gabi and Eli arrived to report the vandalism that had occurred earlier that night at the town square's Gabi Chic store. While Rafe was filing the report -- and warning Gabi that Stefano might be back in Salem -- Gina learned that the DNA test that had been done on the cigar had conclusively linked it to Steve Johnson. Gina deleted the test results then told Rafe that Stefano's DNA had been found on the cigar.
Hattie returned to the Evans-Black townhouse and greeted Marlena. "How was your visit with Roman?" Marlena wondered. "How'd you know about that?" Hattie countered. "I guessed," Marlena explained. "Oh. Well, it went better than I could have expected -- I propositioned him, and he totally went for it!" Hattie bragged. "I beg your pardon?" Marlena replied, surprised. "I told him I'd like a job, [and] he said yes!" Hattie clarified. "I feel like my life is finally turning around -- [and] I didn't even have to pretend to be you [this time]!" Hattie continued.
Meanwhile, Stefano complained to Kate about being stuck at the pub. "I am so sick of being in limbo... I need to step things up, [and] tomorrow is New Year's Eve, [so I'm going] to make a bold move," Stefano decided.
Stefano attends the New Year's Eve party
In the DiMera library, Abigail informed Chad that the kids were asleep. "Maybe we can be a little bit late to that party," Chad said as he kissed Abigail's neck. "Don't mind me," Gabi said as she sauntered in. Gabi raised a glass in toast and said, "Here's to you! To a happy new year. In jail!" Gabi explained that someone had thrown a plant through the window of her store.
"Why don't you just admit that you're guilty," Gabi said. "Actually Gabi, they didn't do it," Eli interjected as he walked into the room. Eli told Gabi that the security footage had shown that a nun had thrown the plant. Eli showed Gabi, Abigail, and Chad a picture from the footage. Chad announced that he had met with Kristen the night before, and she had been dressed as a nun. Worried, Gabi asked if Kristen had agreed to sell her shares to Chad. Abigail joked that the window was a good indication of what Kristen thought of Gabi.
"I would stop making idle threats and get that window fixed, because once my sister helps me get DiMera back, that little storefront is going to be all you have," Chad said. With a smirk, Chad and Abigail left. "[Kristen] played me!" Gabi yelled. Gabi argued that Kristen was in town to string her along while undermining her at the same time. Eli suggested that Lani could have been the one that had thrown the plant. Eli promised to investigate.
"Please, I cannot lose, no matter what!"' Gabi pleaded. Eli suggested that they talk to Kristen. Gabi announced that she should make a deal with Kristen to withhold charges for breaking the window in exchange for selling Gabi the shares.
At the Salem Inn, Kristen told Lani that she had seen Brady with Nicole. "I'm not going to let that bitch steal my man," Kristen grumbled. "Were you following Brady again?" Lani asked with exasperation. Kristen said she was certain that Nicole had slept with Brady. "The thought of that makes me so sick. Especially when tonight was supposed to be our night," Kristen said.
"Nothing worked out as Brady and I planned it. But we can still have our New Year's Eve," Kristen said. With a smile, Kristen noted that if she showed up at the party in her red dress, Brady would not be able to resist. Kristen's phone beeped with a text from Chad about the shares. Lani asked Kristen if she was going to talk to Chad, but Kristen said she did not want to talk business that night. When Lani asked Kristen if she intended to go to the party, Kristen smiled. "I wouldn't miss it," Kristen said.
"What about your idea to pose as nuns so people like Gabi don't see us as threats?" Lani asked. "I didn't give up my vows for nothing," Kristen said. Kristen said she refused to let Nicole sink her claws into Brady. "I think you're making a terrible mistake," Lani said.
At Eric's apartment, Brady was disappointed to see that Nicole was not dressed for the party. Nicole admitted that she was embarrassed that she had kissed Brady. Brady reminded Nicole that he had kissed her back and that "everything after that was completely mutual." Brady noted that the night had proven that they were better off as friends. Nicole agreed. Brady suggested that he and Nicole attend the party as friends.
Brady's phone beeped with an update about Mackenzie. "Mickey is tolerating the radiation and chemo well. Happy New Year," the text from Eric read. Nicole pointed out that the text was a group text to everyone but her. Brady urged Nicole to get dressed so that they could go out and have fun. "I'm not leaving you alone here on New Year's Eve, and that is final," Brady said.
While Nicole was changing, Eric thought about when he had invited Kristen out for New Year's Eve the previous year. Lost in thought, Brady did not notice when Nicole returned to the room. After noticing that Brady was lost in thought, Nicole cleared her throat, which startled Brady.
"I was sitting here thinking about last New Year's Eve. It was kind of a turning point for me and Kristen," Brady explained. Kristen had begged off from attending the party the previous year because she had not had an outfit, even though Brady had told her that she had been glowing. Kristen had said she'd wanted to go to the party with Brady the next year after the baby was born.
"I'll be able to wear my favorite red dress," Kristen had said. "It sounds like a date," Brady had said. Brady told Nicole that he had promised Kristen that he would take her on a date for New Year's Eve. When Nicole said that she had made plans with Eric for the evening, too, Brady suggested that they end the pity party and go to an actual party. Arm in arm, they walked out of the apartment.
At the penthouse, John marveled at Marlena's outfit but frowned when he saw Stefano's brooch in Marlena's hand. Marlena said Rafe had given it to her after it had been dusted for prints, and she did not plan to wear it. John sighed with relief. Marlena informed John that she had spoken to Hope about her behavior, and that she felt better since it was off her chest.
At the loft, Stefano yelled at Gina for her string of mistakes. "Perhaps it is time for this partnership to come to an end," Stefano said. Gina protested that Stefano could not blame her. "You cannot even control your own police department!" Stefano argued. Gina reminded Stefano that the police had examined the loft, and she had intervened to alter evidence.
"Do let us be honest about what is really happening here. You are the one causing all the problems," Gina countered. Gina noted that Stefano's decision to traipse around town, dressed as Steve, had made things difficult. "The Santa suit may have been a miscalculation," Stefano said. Stefano admitted that Kayla had spotted him, but Kate had convinced Kayla that she had been mistaken because the Santa had had two good eyes. When Gina pressed for more information, Stefano admitted that Hattie had also run into him.
"You're taking too many risks," Gina said. "I am very tired of hiding myself away," Stefano complained. Gina smiled and said she had a plan. Gina pulled an eyepatch out of her purse. "I did not return here to pretend to be Stephen Johnson," Stefano said. Gina noted that the ruse was more fun than holing up in the loft. When Gina noted that Stefano could go to the party, Stefano raised an eyebrow.
"Everyone in Salem shall be there," Gina said as she tossed the eyepatch to Stefano. Gina said she did not want to go to the party alone. "If you put that patch on and get yourself all dressed up, we could show up at that New Year's Eve party and make it one that Salem shall never forget," Gina said. Gina picked up her tiara and announced that she should wear it.
"Nothing would please me more than to show up and let them know that the Phoenix has risen from the ashes!" Stefano said with a chuckle. Gina laughed. Stefano asked Gina if they should appear at the party as their actual identities. "How about we let the fates decide?" Stefano asked as he pulled a coin out of his pocket. Stefano flipped the coin to decide their fate.
The New Year's Eve Extravaganza party at Julie's Place was underway when Justin and Kayla arrived. "Love is in the air!" Julie said as Doug beamed at her. When John and Marlena arrived, Doug and Julie rattled off the guest list. John asked about Hope, and Doug admitted that he had not heard from his daughter.
Across the room, Justin told Kayla that he had missed her when he had been out of town. Justin noted that Kayla appeared to be distant. "I think I saw Steve," Kayla admitted. Kayla told Justin about the incident, and she admitted that it was unlikely that Steve had been in town.
"I don't know why I can't shake the feeling it was him," Kayla admitted. "How did that make you feel?" Justin asked. Before Kayla could answer, John and Marlena interrupted to say hello. Talk turned to Stefano, and Marlena told Justin and Kayla about the brooch.
"How could Stefano get through the hospital security?" Kayla asked. John explained that no one suspicious had appeared in the footage. Justin suggested that Stefano had been dressed as Santa. Marlena admitted that Santa had flirted with her, but she had not found him to be suspicious.
Kayla jumped in and noted that she had believed that Steve had been dressed as Santa. "I don't think it was Stefano," Kayla said. John told Justin and Kayla about Celeste's prophecy, but Kayla said the body type of the person in the Santa suit was not Stefano, even if he had a new face.
When Chad and Abigail arrived, they informed Doug and Julie that Jack, Jennifer, and J.J. intended to spend a quiet night at home. Brady and Nicole walked in next. While Brady was at the bar, Marlena approached Nicole. Nicole told Marlena that she was praying for Mackenzie and relieved to learn that she was responding to the treatment.
"Have you been talking to Eric?" Marlena asked. Nicole admitted that Brady had told her the news. "Then you know how much you hurt Eric?" Marlena asked. Nicole nodded yes. "Well then, I hope you don't hurt Brady, too," Marlena said.
At the bar, John asked Brady about Nicole. "I happen to know both of you are kind of vulnerable right now," John said. Brady admitted that there would always be an attraction between him and Nicole, but they had agreed that they were better as friends. Brady saw Nicole walk outside, and he followed her.
Nicole told Brady what Marlena had said to her. Brady reminded Nicole that he had said worse things to her in the past. "Thank you for forgiving me," Brady said. "You're my best friend. There is no one else I'd rather spend New Year's with," Brady said. Nicole smiled.
Inside the restaurant, Abigail talked to the babysitter on the phone about the kids. Chad suggested that they head home. Chad added that the night always ended in a train wreck. "What if the train wreck this year is your father?" Abigail asked Chad. With a shrug, Chad said it was unlikely that Stefano would make an appearance at the party.
Julie clinked her glass and gave a speech. "We love you all so much! So, let's raise a glass for the year that's past and for the year that is to come," Julie said. The bells chimed, and everyone in the room counted down to midnight. Around the room, the various couples kissed in celebration. Outside the restaurant, Brady and Nicole kissed. Kristen, dressed in her nun's habit, watched from nearby.
At the Salem Inn, Eli knocked on the door to Kristen's room. As the bells chimed at midnight, Gabi noted that it was the new year. Eli kissed Gabi right as Lani opened the door.
In Julie's Place, Gina arrived at the party, dressed as Hope. As "Hope" hugged her father, Stefano walked in, dressed as Steve. "Look who I brought," "Hope" said cheerfully. Sporting the eyepatch, "Steve" walked to the center of the room and announced, "Happy New Year, everyone! I'm back!"
PREEMPTION: Days of our Lives did not air
Due to the New Year's Day holiday, Days of our Lives did not air. This was a planned preemption and there were no "lost" episode as a result. Regular programming resumed on Thursday, January 2, 2020,, and picked up where the Tuesday, December 31, 2019,, episode concluded.
Stefano begins posing as Steve
At Julie's Place, Gina and Stefano exchanged mischievous grins as the New Year's Eve partygoers reacted to the illusion that Hope and Steve had just arrived together.
"I never expected Steve to show up here tonight," John quietly admitted to Marlena. "And what is he doing with Hope?" Marlena replied, matching John's tone.
"Steve? Is that you?" Kayla hesitantly began. "Happy New Year...Sweetness," Stefano replied, saying the nickname stiffly. "I don't understand -- why did you come back?" Kayla wondered. "I'd like to know the answer to that, too," Justin interjected. "Hey, Justin -- what's the word?" Stefano replied. "Reprehensible, cruel, unforgivable -- take your pick!" Justin spat. "Easy, man -- it's a party, huh?" Stefano -- who seemed to be settling into a "stereotypical surfer dude" take on Steve -- countered. "Right -- this, you show up for...[but] you couldn't be bothered [to show up for] your own sister's funeral," Justin summarized.
"[Or] to come back and face Kayla to discuss the end of your marriage," Justin continued. "I don't see what there was to discuss -- [I mean], she sent me the papers, and I just signed them because I figured that was what she wanted me to do. And now I see why -- [you know], Hope warned me that my ex-wife had moved on with the husband of my poor, deceased sister..." Stefano replied. "If you've come back to Salem for Kayla, you can forget about it," Justin warned while somewhat possessively pulling Kayla close. "Don't worry, dude -- that ship, as they say, has sailed," Stefano insisted.
"If you didn't come back here for me, then what the hell did you come back for? I think everybody in this room wants to know that!" Kayla snapped. "Kayla's right -- [I mean], it's always great to see you, partner, and I know, better than anyone, about the ISA and secrets, [but] I find it just a little strange that you would show up back in Salem after all this time without some kind of a heads-up, so...what's the deal?" John wondered. "Yeah, Steve -- what's the deal? Let's hear it already," Justin demanded. "The truth is..." Stefano began before pausing dramatically.
"I'm here because of Marlena," Stefano eventually continued, prompting John and Marlena to approach, both clearly confused. "[You look] a little threatened, buddy," Stefano teasingly informed John. "I tracked Steve down because I am just as concerned as you are that Stefano is targeting Marlena again," Gina explained, stopping Stefano from further antagonizing John. "Really? Because when I brought the brooch to the police station [and told you] that I thought it was proof that Stefano was in Salem, you were unconvinced," Marlena pointed out. "Well, now I'm not," Gina clarified with a shrug.
"After you left [the police station], we learned that Stefano's DNA was on a cigar that was found at [Rolf's] hideout, which proves that, indeed, he was here in Salem...[so] I'm not taking any chances with [your] life," Gina continued. "That's why Hope reached out to me -- because no one knows Stefano DiMera..." Stefano began to reason before noticing that John and Marlena were both already preparing to dispute the expected conclusion of the claim. "Better than me...except maybe you two," Stefano grudgingly backpedaled, giving John and Marlena a nod.
"Marlena, I don't want you to be afraid. Stefano is no threat to you -- not while I'm here," Stefano stressed, putting a comforting hand on Marlena's shoulder. "I know it's been a long time, but I can honestly say...you have never looked better," Stefano continued, leaving Marlena -- and Kayla, John, and Justin -- in stunned silence. "Kayla, I'm so sorry I didn't tell you that I was tracking Steve down, but Stefano has eyes and ears everywhere," Gina helpfully interjected. "I understand that you needed to keep it quiet, but you could have at least given Kayla some warning," Justin argued, and Kayla agreed.
"Let's get you home --" Justin offered, already trying to drag Kayla away. "I need to ask Steve something first," Kayla insisted, dodging Justin. "At the Christmas party, I saw you in a Santa suit -- I know it -- but that Santa didn't have an eye patch," Kayla continued. "Must have been wishful thinking on your part...Sweetness," Stefano replied with a shrug. "Cut the 'Sweetness' crap -- you gave up any right to call her that when you signed the divorce papers!" Justin snapped before again trying to drag Kayla away. "It's too bad, but some relationships just don't work out," Stefano explained to the other partygoers after Kayla left with Justin.
A short time later, Stefano said goodnight to John and Marlena. "Where are you staying?" Marlena wondered. "Well...actually, I was hoping I could, uh...maybe, uh...crash with you guys -- [that way, first thing] in the morning, we can get started on strategizing how to smoke out Stefano," Stefano suggested. "Well...gosh, I'm -- I'm sorry, [but] our -- our guest room is already filled..." Marlena admitted. "[But] you're welcome to the couch, and we'd love to have you," John added. "It would be safer for Marlena if I'm there..." Stefano reasoned. "Right...but just remember that I'm the police commissioner, so I'm running the show here," Gina stressed.
Meanwhile, outside the restaurant, Kristen interrupted Brady and Nicole's kiss. "I heard [that] you had become a nun, but seeing you dressed like that is [still] pretty shocking," Brady admitted while staring at Kristen in disbelief, and Nicole nodded in agreement. "Yeah, well, I wish I could say it was 'shocking' to see that tramp's tongue down your throat, but Nicole just can't help throwing herself at men!" Kristen spat. "It was just a friendly New Year's kiss --" Nicole tried to explain. "Oh, 'a friendly New Year's kiss,' hmm? I'm sure you would love for Brady to think that, but I know exactly how you operate!" Kristen countered.
"Don't even [try to deny it]! I saw you pounce on him the other night, and neither [that move nor this one] was innocent. You are still the same pathetic, desperate slut you've always been!" Kristen continued. "Wow -- for a nun, you have one hell of a potty mouth," Nicole observed. "Yeah, well, I'm just speaking the truth," Kristen explained, shrugging unapologetically.
"Have you been following us, Kristen? How long have you been back in Salem?" Nicole asked. "Long enough to know that you've screwed up your relationship with Eric yet again -- and [that] you bounced back to his brother again! [You know], I can only imagine what happened --" Kristen replied. "Nothing happened -- and even if it did, why would you care? It looks [like] you are married to God at this point --" Brady interjected, prompting Kristen to rip off the habit, revealing a familiar red dress underneath. "Let's just say...we broke up," Kristen summarized while kicking the habit into some nearby shrubbery.
"And the real Kristen emerges, like a demented butterfly! Why am I not surprised? I didn't believe for one second that you were remotely capable of committing yourself to God!" Nicole declared. "Don't you dare judge me!" Kristen warned. "I have devoted my heart and soul to a prayerful life to atone for my sins!" Kristen insisted, clearly implying that Nicole could stand to do the same. "Like killing an innocent nurse?" Nicole summarized, ignoring the hint. "I never meant to hurt that poor woman, [and] I am so sorry for what happened!" Kristen stressed.
"[J.J.] has been a wreck without her," Brady reported. "Yeah, well, I have been destroyed since we lost our child!" Kristen countered. "And I stood by you!" Brady shot back. "I know you did, [but] I feared [that] you were only doing it out of obligation, not true love," Kristen admitted. "[Then] why wouldn't you say that to me [back then]?" Brady wondered. "I didn't see the point, because after our child died, I was convinced that it could never be the same between us -- [that] any hope of happiness [or a] future with us [was] gone," Kristen explained.
"[So], you just left without saying goodbye -- that was your answer?" Brady incredulously summarized. "I was in so much pain, [and] I needed to start over -- somewhere far away from here!" Kristen reasoned.
"And I really thought that I'd found my home in the church -- you know, spending the rest of my life doing penance -- [but then] J.J. walked in, and he pulled a gun on me, and he called me a murderer and a monster...[and, you know], for so long, people have thought the worst of me, to the point where I started believing it [myself, but in] that moment, being belittled and shamed by J.J., and told that I was unworthy to continue to live...[well], something just switched inside of me, and I knew that I didn't need to take it anymore, [because] I know, in my heart, that I am right with God, and that his opinion is the only one that counts!" Kristen continued.
"No one will judge me ever again!" Kristen stressed through gritted teeth. "[And] Eli shouldn't judge Lani, either," Kristen insisted. "She left him at the altar --" Nicole pointed out, finding the seemingly random change of subject confusing. "Oh, but there's more to the story than that," Kristen cryptically countered. "Whatever, Kristen..." Nicole dismissively muttered. "[See] -- you're judging me again! [You know], all of you [love] spitting scorn on Lani and me, [but] the truth is, this town [is] filled with a bunch of hypocrites who have done far worse than what we have done!" Kristen argued.
"[So], instead of cloistering myself in a convent for the rest of my life, I came back to take what's rightfully mine," Kristen continued, turning to face Brady.
"I still love you, [and] I still want you, [so] just kick this -- ugh, this whore -- to the curb and come back to me! [Look], I know you still have feelings for me, [because] I can see it in your eyes, [and] we may not be able to have another baby, but we can still build a future together, [because] carrying our baby [was an experience that] transformed me into [a] totally different woman -- a better woman, the woman that you fell back in love with -- [and] that tragedy -- our loss -- [just] knocked me off my axis [for a while], but all that change [and] all that good [is] still right here, inside me!" Kristen stressed.
"[Then] what are you doing, coming back and masquerading this way, [and] throwing insults at [Nicole]?" Brady wondered. "She's a predator!" Kristen explained. "She is not 'a predator'; she has been by my side in my darkest moments [and] has been nothing but supportive and sympathetic, [all while] you were nowhere to be found, [so] don't you dare make her out to be the bad guy in this! [You know], I was actually hopeful that [becoming a nun would help you] find peace [and] redemption, [but] what you're proving to me right now is [that] your soul is just as twisted as it has ever been!" Brady countered.
"Let's go -- before she lures you into any more of her lies," Nicole advised Brady. "I don't need this," Brady agreed before starting to walk away with Nicole.
Kristen lunged at Nicole in anger, but Brady quickly broke up the fight. "She's using you, Brady -- she's settling for you because she can't have Eric [right now, but] when Eric gives her another chance [again], she's gonna dump you to the side [again, because] she doesn't love you, [and] she doesn't want you, but I do, Brady -- I do, more than anything in the world -- so why would you want to be with her when you can be with me? [You know], this was supposed to be our night, Brady, [and] I wore this dress, [and] you promised me that we would ring in the New Year together --" Kristen argued.
"I can't let you back into my life [now], knowing what you're capable of, [so you should] leave town [and] go back to Italy -- [or at least] leave her [and] me alone," Brady insisted while reaching for one of Nicole's hands -- a move that Kristen noticed. "This is all your fault!" Kristen snapped at Nicole. "You should have thought about the consequences when you stole my life," Nicole countered.
After Brady and Kristen walked away together, hand in hand, Kristen ripped some Christmas decorations off the side of Julie's Place in anger then sank to the ground and broke down.
At the Salem Inn, Eli and Gabi both demanded to know why Lani had returned to Salem. "I found a higher calling, [and that] has helped me to put the past behind me," Lani vaguely explained while pointedly glaring at Gabi. "[That's] nice for you...[but] not so much for the rest of us," Eli grumbled. "We came here to talk to Kristen --" Eli continued. "I'm afraid she's not here -- [you see], against my advice, I think she went to crash a party," Lani reported. "Are nuns even allowed to go to parties?" Eli wondered. "Look, I really don't care if Kristen goes dancing naked [through] Times Square, all right?" Gabi dismissively insisted.
"I'm here to talk to her about her DiMera shares -- see, if she signs those over to me, I will donate double their market value to your convent," Gabi continued. "Hmm. About those shares -- I think Kristen's had a change of plans..." Lani teasingly declared. "Did that weasel Chad persuade her [to] sell her stock to him?" Gabi worriedly wondered. "No -- what I meant was [that] Kristen decided to change her mind about selling her stocks to anyone...[because she's] decided not to become a nun, after all. [See], not everyone can embrace the higher calling..." Lani clarified, drawing a groan of disappointment from Gabi.
"[Then] it was you who broke the Gabi Chic store window," Eli assumed. "I have no idea what you're talking about. It's a sin to destroy property," Lani replied. "The police have security footage of the square, [and] they know that a nun threw the plant, [so] it had to be you!" Gabi insisted. "Well, in a way, I suppose I am responsible -- during our time at the convent, Kristen became very protective of me, [so] perhaps she threw that plant because she was upset with Gabi for...moving in on you," Lani explained to Eli while giving Gabi another pointed look. "After you dumped me at the altar? That makes no sense," Eli argued.
"Then I'm at a loss to explain why Kristen would destroy Gabi's shop," Lani said to Eli with a shrug. "Do you have any idea?" Lani asked Gabi, who squirmed and dodged the question then quickly dragged Eli away.
Gabi returned to Lani's room a short time later -- alone. "I was just in the middle of my evening prayer --" Lani, who had actually been about to open a bottle of wine, claimed. "Oh, drop the act, 'Sister' -- I know Kristen didn't throw that plant," Gabi, who had sold Eli a story about going back inside the hotel to look for a missing earring, countered. "Would you rather I tell Eli the real reason why I might be angry enough to destroy your property?" Lani wondered. "You think that the threat to Julie is not real [anymore]? It is! Eli and I, we're together, and if you mess with that, I'm gonna have to destroy that old lady's heart!" Gabi warned.
"Why are you really with Eli? Is it just another way for you to twist the knife, since you blame me for Stefan's death?" Lani asked. "Well, uh, I guess it was that at first...[but now], what Eli and I have is so real... [Now], I have no idea why you came back with your cray-cray best friend, but you better turn yourself around and disappear, or Julie's gonna pay the price," Gabi replied. "But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you..." Lani began to recite. "Save it, [because] I am not convinced you're any more committed to God than Kristen is," Gabi countered.
After leaving the hotel, Gabi returned to the DiMera mansion, where Eli was in the process of reminiscing about happier times with Lani -- a fact that was pointedly kept a secret.
Lani was in the process of reminiscing about those same happy times when Kristen returned to their shared hotel room. After catching each other up on what had happened that night, they both vowed to win in the end.
While alone with Nicole in Eric's apartment, Brady resolved to never give Kristen another chance.
While passing through the park with Justin, Kayla insisted that Steve's return wasn't going to change anything -- but the statement wasn't uttered with much conviction.
At the Evans-Black townhouse, John searched for pillows and blankets for the couch, leaving Marlena alone with Stefano, who was still pretending to be Steve. "I will stop at nothing to keep you safe and protected, [because] you're precious to me...as a friend, I mean," Stefano stressed before seizing a hug from Marlena, who seemed to find the gesture a bit puzzling.
Xander warns Victor not to trust Ciara
At the Brady townhouse, Kayla awoke with a start after a pleasant dream in which Steve's abandonment had turned out to be nothing more than a nightmare -- one that had ended with the dawn of a new day.
"What is it?" Justin asked, putting a comforting hand on Kayla's cheek in the same way that Steve had during the dream. "Nothing -- it was just, uh...it was just a dream," Kayla replied with a sigh. "From the looks of it, [it] must have been some dream... You want to talk about it?" Justin prodded Kayla, who reluctantly admitted that the dream had been about Steve.
"I'm sorry," Kayla stressed. "Don't be sorry -- I still dream about Adrienne," Justin replied. "And Steve's return was a shock for everyone. I can't imagine what [it] was like for you to see him in the flesh [again]. And the way he treated you -- it was all I could do not to hit him," Justin continued. "When I saw him standing there...it was like we were the only two people in the room," Kayla admitted. "Does, um, Steve coming back to Salem change how you feel about us?" Justin wondered. "I have moved on from Steve. We have a long and complicated history, but he's my past, and you are my present and my future," Kayla reassured Justin.
After Justin rushed off to work, Kayla made another attempt to get rid of a framed wedding photograph that had surfaced a few weeks earlier, but the task again proved to be too painful to complete.
At the Evans-Black townhouse, Stefano stepped in front of a wall-mounted mirror in the living room, which was otherwise unoccupied, and irritably adjusted Steve's eye patch. "Ugh -- I don't understand how Steve Johnson could wear this ridiculous thing all those years... Ugh -- I feel like I should be singing baritone in that insufferable piece of tripe by Gilbert and Sullivan..." Stefano grumbled.
Stefano soon received a phone call from Gina. "What the hell do you want?" Stefano snapped in lieu of a greeting. "Just because you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, [that] does not give you the right to take my head off," Gina warned. "It was a couch...and to wake up on the wrong side would imply that I actually slept," Stefano countered. "Oh, Steffy -- what is a sleepless night or two? This is exactly what you wanted -- to be under the same roof as your Queen of the Night," Gina argued, and Stefano conceded the point. "Marlena is so close to being mine, Gina -- I am perfectly positioned to move forward with my plans for her," Stefano bragged.
"What plans?" Hattie wondered, startling Stefano, who quickly hung up on Gina. "Hattie?" Stefano nervously guessed. "Well, who else would I be?" Hattie confirmed.
"John and Marlena told me you were, uh, staying here," Stefano revealed, breathing a sigh of relief. "Yeah... Well, I can't say I like the idea of having you for a roommate...but what am I gonna do, huh?" Hattie replied with a shrug of defeat. "I would like an answer to something, [though] -- why did you make me promise not to say anything about [this] big, fat, secret mission [of yours if you knew you were just gonna] waltz into the New Year's Eve party [and announce] to everybody that you're here?" Hattie continued. "Things [have] changed since we spoke, Hattie -- the stakes have gone sky-high," Stefano explained.
"Hope told me that Stefano is reaching out to Marlena --" Stefano began to elaborate. "He is?" Hattie asked with a gasp. "Yes. [See], Marlena found this in her purse -- [it] was a Christmas gift from the Phoenix himself, which means he's closing in on his Queen of the Night," Stefano continued while showing Hattie the brooch. "In her purse? Well, that must mean that he's back in Salem, right?" Hattie realized with a gulp. "Between you and me...Stefano is even closer than you think," Stefano stressed in a dramatic whisper. "Ooh -- the thought of being close to Stefano just gives me the heebie-jeebies!" Hattie admitted with a shudder.
"[That's] why I had to come back from undercover and move in here to help John protect Marlena. [I mean], I'm sure that you understand, better than anyone, the lengths to which he will go to possess her," Stefano reasoned. "I do -- and I will do anything I need to [do] to make sure he keeps his grimy mitts off of her, [so] just tell me what you think I should do, and that's what I'll do!" Hattie replied.
"Move out," Stefano immediately suggested. "What? Oh, forget it, Patchy -- that's not gonna happen! [Look], I kept your secret, so I'm on the team -- [and] don't even think about getting me kicked off, 'cause if you do, I'll...I'll go over your head to Roman!" Hattie defensively insisted. "I'm just thinking of what's best for you -- [I mean], if you insist on staying here, you could be in real danger, [because] we both know you look exactly like Marlena, [and] Stefano could mistake you for her," Stefano argued. "Oh, yeah... [You know], the devil tried that once, [too] -- tried sending me straight to hell..." Hattie recalled, confusing Stefano.
"No, I'm sorry -- that was...that was a dream..." Hattie backpedaled. "[Well], this is real life, and Stefano is back -- with a vengeance, and with one goal in mind -- [and] we both know what he's capable of, [so] if you were to get caught in the middle of this --" Stefano warned. "Okay, okay, okay -- uh, yeah, I don't...yeah, I don't want [that, so] I'll just get some stuff packed, [and then] I'll be leaving..." Hattie agreed, pleasing Stefano, who suggested that Kate and Roman might have room at the Brady Pub for another guest. Hattie started to rush off to the guest room to pack -- then turned back around, suddenly suspicious about something.
"You told me that the ISA fixed your eye, so why are you wearing that patch?" Hattie wondered. "Well...the truth is, Hattie...I started wearing the patch again because...I just didn't feel like Steve Johnson without it," Stefano claimed. "Okay... Yeah, I get it... I get it, [because] I had to quit chewing gum when I was pretending to be Marlena, [and] I just didn't feel like myself at all unless I had a big wad of gum in my cheek!" Hattie admitted after some thought, drawing another sigh of relief from Stefano.
Shortly after Hattie moved out, Stefano received a visit from Kayla. "You are different somehow -- you're cold, [Steve]. It's like somebody took your soul," Kayla curiously observed after Stefano dodged several questions about Steve's abandonment. "Look at this," Kayla demanded, producing the framed wedding photograph. "We were happy. We were in love. How could you just throw that away? What happened to the man in this picture?" Kayla wondered as Stefano tried to avoid looking at the image. "[He's] gone," Stefano insisted. "But --" Kayla began to protest.
"For God's sake -- I'm in love with another woman, all right?" Stefano tiredly blurted out, leaving Kayla devastated.
At the police station, Rafe thanked Roman for having set aside the time for a face-to-face conversation on such short notice. "I need some advice from my old boss --" Rafe began to explain. "I heard our old nemesis is back in town, so [is that it] -- you want to talk about Stefano DiMera?" Roman assumed. "[No -- actually], it's about Hope," Rafe clarified with a sigh.
Rafe pulled Roman into one of the conference rooms for more privacy then began listing the many ways in which Hope had seemed like a completely different person lately. "[Basically], ever since Hope has come back as commissioner, she's been making a lot of procedural mistakes," Rafe summarized at the end of the recap. "[And]...I've been documenting them," Rafe continued, producing a fairly large file. "You're building a case against Hope?" Roman asked incredulously. "It's not a power play -- [I mean], I'm not trying to oust Hope as commissioner; I'm just...[you know], trying to make sense of it all," Rafe carefully replied.
"You're right -- those are a lot of rookie mistakes," Roman conceded after skimming the contents of the file. "[And] I've tried talking to her [about this, but she always] gets irate and irrational, [and then she reminds me], 'You're not my husband anymore,' [and...well], basically, she acts like she has something to hide," Rafe reported. "I will keep an eye on her," Roman promised Rafe, who seemed satisfied with that response.
"[And, by the way]...on the Stefano front -- Steve Johnson's back in town, and he and John know Stefano's twisted mind as well as anybody, [so] the Phoenix has no place to hide [anymore]," Roman assured Rafe.
At the Brady Pub, Kate practically threw a plate of food down on Gina's table. "Ugh, that smell -- ugh, and all that grease... This is not fit for a dog, let alone --" Gina began to declare. "A bitch?" Kate concluded while claiming the extra chair at Gina's table. "We need to have a serious talk," Kate insisted, having heard about the stunt that Gina and Stefano had pulled on New Year's Eve. "I understand that both of you have a love of the dramatic, but don't make another move like that -- not without consulting me first," Kate demanded. "Hmm. Stefano and I do not consult the help," Gina countered, shrugging unapologetically.
"I never understood why Stefano brought you in on our plans in the first place... He said you could be of some use -- our eyes and ears -- but, clearly, all you have offered up so far is that big mouth of yours... [Now, look], it is none of your business what Stefano and I do -- or how we do it, or when... Your business is flapjacks and scrambles -- and given how badly you have messed up my order...well, Kate, I strongly suggest you refocus your energies on being the best waitress you can be," Gina continued, waving a hand dismissively. "Princess, you are clearly crazy," Kate decided between fits of hysterical laughter.
"You need to listen very carefully to this 'big mouth' -- you have to stop supporting Stefano's obsession with Marlena. [I mean], let's get real, okay? Right now, what you're looking forward to is Stefano getting Marlena out of the way so you can have a go at John, but that's just never gonna happen, because Marlena is never gonna choose Stefano over John, just the same way that John is never gonna choose you over Marlena, [so] you need to drop it. Right now, Stefano needs to focus on getting DiMera back and getting his family back, and that's the only thing that I'm willing to help with," Kate stressed.
"Oh, there is that word again: 'help'...which is what you are -- nothing more. [Trust me] -- no one is going to stop Stefano from taking Marlena away from John," Gina maintained. "You really need to get it through your thick skull that underestimating John and Marlena's love for each other is [just] putting you at risk...but, hell, you know, if you want to throw yourself at John, go ahead, because everyone [in Salem can then] have a front-row seat [for] you making a fool of yourself," Kate countered before starting to walk away. "It will not be I who is [made] a fool," Gina shot back, blocking Kate's path.
"What the hell is going on here?" Roman, who had just entered the pub, demanded to know. "I was...showing Kate that my eggs [are] clearly not cooked enough," Gina claimed.
"[And now] I've lost my appetite," Gina added before starting to rush off -- just as Hattie entered the pub. Gina tried to hide, not wanting to talk to Marlena. "Hope!" Hattie cheerfully called out, and Gina groaned in response -- then stiffened when Hattie offered a warm hug. "It's Hattie!" Hattie somewhat curiously explained, finding the reaction odd. "Lucky me -- that you are here for my first day of work!" Hattie continued. "Good luck," Gina coldly replied before starting to rush off again. "Hey, I thought we were friends!" Hattie protested, hurt. "No, we're not," Gina matter-of-factly clarified before exiting the pub.
"What'd I say?" Hattie asked Roman and Kate. "Some folks just aren't morning people," Roman replied before chasing after Gina, who had paused outside to fiddle with a cell phone.
"Hope, what was that about?" Roman demanded to know. "I'm sorry, but do you really want your customers insulted by Kate Roberts -- [or] manhandled and groped by Hattie Adams?" Gina reasoned with a shrug. "I understand that Kate can be a pain sometimes...but Hattie's been your friend -- you've always been kind to her -- [so]...what's going on with you?" Roman wondered. "No breakfast, for one thing," Gina grumbled. "Rafe [told me earlier that he was] concerned about you -- [and] after what I saw in there, so am I," Roman stressed. "The only person with a problem [is] Rafe," Gina insisted before rushing off.
Confused, Roman reentered the pub and apologized to Hattie for what had just happened. "I've probably been treated worse -- and maybe [Hope's] got a lot on her mind, with the you-know-what and the you-know-who," Hattie reasoned, leaving Roman even more confused. Meanwhile, Gina stormed into the police station and, as Hope, unceremoniously fired Rafe.
At the Kiriakis mansion, Xander and Victor chatted about Mackenzie. "Maggie's very concerned about our little grandbaby -- well, we both are," Victor stressed. "I can relate -- loving that little one so much and being helpless to do anything is just...it's killing me," Xander admitted. "[But] there is another granddaughter that we can do something for...and we need to -- the sooner, the better," Xander continued.
"When I was in Boston, [Sarah] confirmed that the lockbox that she saw Ciara drilling into matched mine," Xander elaborated. "And I bet I know what she was looking for..." Xander continued, and Victor nodded in agreement, having apparently reached the same conclusion. "I confronted Ciara about going to the prison to visit Weston, [but] she swore up and down to me that she was there to see Will Horton [and] had cut all her ties to Ben -- no pun intended. [And] when I called Justin on the carpet for representing that killer, she was with me every step of the way," Victor revealed. "More lies..." Xander grumbled.
"[She's been giving] an award-winning performance...[but] how much do you want to bet [that] she's the one who convinced Justin to represent Ben? [I mean, she's] obviously been playing us [this whole time]; she still thinks her boyfriend is innocent, and she's convinced herself that we're responsible for Jordan's murder, [and] that's why she broke into my lockbox -- [to look] for proof," Xander maintained. "I know you love your granddaughter, but we have no choice -- we have to get rid of Ciara," Xander insisted with a scowl. "You're not seriously suggesting...?" Victor asked incredulously.
"Of course not," Xander assured Victor. "You know how she is, [though -- she] will dig, and dig, and dig, [and] she won't stop until she exposes us, [and then] everything we've worked for [and] dreamed of will come tumbling down. [Look], she has shown zero loyalty to this family -- to you -- [and] she needs to be taught a lesson, [so]...I want her fired [and] kicked out of this house. We have to keep as much distance between her and the truth as we can. [And] you should know [that] I already tried to fire her when I realized that she broke into my lockbox, [and] she's convinced that you have her back, and she's not going anywhere," Xander continued.
"I've known my granddaughter a lot longer than you have -- I know how important family is to her, [and] the strength she draws from it... [Look], Weston may have gotten under her skin, but there's no way she sides with that killer against the family," Victor dismissively insisted after some thought, annoying Xander, who maintained that Ciara was a threat. "I'm going to use very small words, so that you understand -- you fire her, I fire you...and if you're lucky, that's all I do," Victor stressed. "Uncle --" Xander tried to protest. "You will stay away from Ciara," Victor maintained.
"I'm trying to help you, protect you --" Xander continued. "You're trying to protect your own hide, and I won't have you hurting my granddaughter to do it," Victor countered. "Don't forget the reason you gave me this job in the first place, Uncle -- I know everything. That gives me a certain amount of power," Xander argued. "Are you threatening me? You have just as much to lose here as I do!" Victor replied, scoffing at Xander dismissively. "Oh, I'm well aware of the stakes, Uncle -- my entire future rests on our secret staying secret, [and that's why] I'm not gonna stand by while Ciara destroys everything I've been working for!" Xander stressed.
"Once again, you're not looking at the big picture, which is this -- Ben Weston has one appeal left, [and the] odds are [that] he's going to lose it, [and] once he does, he'll be dead, and Ciara will have no reason to go looking in places she shouldn't [anymore]," Victor reasoned. "So, you want me to...what, be patient, cross my fingers, [and] hope for the best?" Xander incredulously summarized. "I want you to show some restraint -- [and] stay away from Ciara! I will not tolerate you or anyone else menacing her!" Victor tiredly reiterated. "Fine, you have my word -- I won't touch Ciara," Xander replied with a sigh of defeat.
At Statesville, Ciara waited in the visitor's lounge for Ben, who eventually arrived. "I had to wait for Will to tell me the coast was clear," Ben explained while joining Ciara at one of the tables. "Did you have a good visit?" Ben continued. "Yeah -- I, uh...I showed Will some new pictures of Ari... I know that my visiting him is only so that my grandfather doesn't know that I'm seeing you, [but he's] been having such a hard time with, uh, the whole divorce thing... I just -- I hope that my visits help him feel a little bit better," Ciara replied. "Your visits always help me," Ben assured Ciara.
"Although I'm not really sure you should be here today..." Ben continued. "Where else would I be [on] the day that Justin goes to court to argue your final appeal?" Ciara countered. "It's my last chance, Ciara -- if I lose today...I'm a dead man... [You know], what we need right now is a magic wand..." Ben fretted. "I'd settle for a smoking gun...[and] I almost had it -- I was so close to proving that my grandfather sent Xander to kill Jordan, [and] that is the kind of evidence that Justin needs in court," Ciara stressed -- just as Justin entered the visitor's lounge.
"I spent most of my time over the holidays going over your case, [and I still believe that] there's no way a jury should have found you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, [since all] the evidence against you is circumstantial," Justin informed Ben. "[But] I don't want you to get your hopes up -- I mean, the reality is [that], since there's no new evidence, I'll be basically making the same arguments to the court [during this appeal that your] previous lawyer made [during the others] --" Justin warned. "And we all know how well those arguments worked [then]," Ben concluded for Justin with a heavy sigh.
"[Right -- but] I'm just hoping that if I do a better job of making your case -- to a different...and, perhaps, more sympathetic...judge -- that the outcome will be different, and we can get that stay of execution... [Now], the big strike against us is that, uh, even though the evidence is only circumstantial, it all points to [you -- you were] found at the scene of the crime, [and you] had motive, [and] the only two DNA samples found on Jordan's body belonged to [you and] her son," Justin continued. "What if I went to court [and] testified that I overheard [my grandfather and Xander] confessing that they sent an innocent man to prison?" Ciara interjected.
"Unfortunately, [that's] hearsay and would most likely be inadmissible," Justin explained. "I should have worn a wire... [But] maybe it's not too late; maybe we can wire me up, and I can go in there [and] get them to confess --" Ciara suggested. "[No] -- these guys are dangerous, [and] they're lethal when they're cornered, [so] I'm not letting you take that chance," Ben insisted, and Justin agreed. "[But] I might be [our] last chance, and I'll do anything that I can to get the truth to come out! [Look], I can make this happen -- my grandfather loves me, [and] I am under his protection, and he would never, ever do anything to hurt me!" Ciara argued.
Later, after Ciara and Justin both left the prison, Ben started to leave the visitor's lounge -- just as Xander entered it. "We need to have a little chat...about your nosy girlfriend," Xander explained to Ben.
Meanwhile, at the Kiriakis mansion, Victor demanded to know why Ciara had just visited Ben.