Let's talk about the good stuff first!
Stefan finally went back to the one pairing that's worked for him -- Ben! Yes, this surprisingly enjoyable duo is back together. Ben went back to work for Stefan, with the caveat that he wouldn't do anything illegal for the dude. Cool. We'll see how long that lasts. I don't know if Stefan has a to-do list anywhere without at least one crime or misdemeanor on it. But, okay. If it gets these two back in each other's orbit, I'll play along. For some reason, the chemistry between the two outcasts works. I find their heart-to-heart conversations oddly interesting to watch.
Ben's first assignment is to protect Chloe. From the looks of what happened to Brady's man, Ben might want to brush up on his self-defense classes.
The Chloemeister is my queen these days. She's beating Stefan in chess, giving Rex some well-deserved side-eye about dispensing Eric to plead his case to Sarah, and taking down full-grown armed men. Rex was right. Chloe is a badass. I can absolutely see why Stefan would want to date her. Sadly for the mini-Don, she's not sure about him. I get that their time has passed, but she would have been good for him. She could almost be the Maggie to his Victor.
More stuff that's awesome? Diana! Judith Chapman's voice is a full production in itself. I could listen to her read the phone book and be intrigued. Diana's daydreams of how to kill Marlena were campy fun. I got the biggest laugh over Marlena choking on a strawberry. And of all the black gloves used in crimes, Diana's gloves have been the most fabulous!
I still don't think Leo is John's son. But I'm loving every second of Diana and Victor's unholy alliance, along with Victor's smirk at Marlena's sass at Diana. You know he's #TeamDoc here. I second Tony's sadness that we won't get Diana vs. Sami. But we could very much get Diana vs. Kate, which I would take any day over some of the other storylines on my beloved DAYS.
And here's where we get a little messy. It sort of seems like DAYS is trying to put together a full wardrobe from the 90% off rack. Not everything is the same size, and a lot of things have holes in them. Like, a lot of holes.
That leads me right to this Claire fire business. This storyline hurts my head. Claire -- who's never been shown to have any homicidal tendencies -- decides at the last minute to burn her aunt alive because she wanted Ciara out of her way. If you buy that, then you better start worrying for Eli. Tripp is letting Haley stay with him because he's trying to help her. Eli is trying to arrest Haley. Thus, it's only a matter of time before he slits Eli's throat because -- hey-- Tripp's only trying to help her.
Yes, making Claire the arsonist skips about a hundred levels. I'm still not 100% convinced she's the one who did it in the end, but let's put a pin in that for now because we have to deal with the bad deed we know Claire did -- turn Haley in to Eve.
For the record, Tripp was out of line, and any other girlfriend with a normal level of confidence would have told him so. You don't move anyone into your apartment without checking with your other roommates first. If one of those roommates is your girlfriend, and this person is the woman you've described as pretty, you sure as heck don't hug this other woman in front of your girlfriend, badmouth her ex, offer her your bed, and then rush to put on clean sheets for her. Dude. Come on.
Having said all of that, Claire's right course of action would have been to call Tripp out on his clueless behavior and set Haley up with a place over the Brady Pub, where Stephanie lived for years. Instead, she turned Haley over to the political game, thereby continuing the worst umbrella storyline this team has done yet -- immigration and politics.
Really? Who spends more than three seconds watching cable pundits argue over children in cages and thinks, "That! That's what I want on my soap! It's perfect!"?
No one. No one says that. But, alas, here we are. So, let's address it.
A few years ago, DAYS did a social issue storyline when a cop, J.J., shot an unarmed black teenager, Theo. Sure, it was a ripped-from-the-headlines grab for attention, but since it happened organically with established characters that we already had a deep affection for, it worked. At least, it worked enough for a soap.
This immigration crapola does. not. work. At all. It hinges on Haley -- a brand-new character who's so all over the place with red flags that it makes me motion sick to try to follow her. She's lived and worked in Salem most of her life, yet none of our Salemites know her. (Did she grow up in West Salem with the Hernandez kids?) She has an abusive older sister whose emotional recklessness contributed to a suicide attempt, and now that sister's nowhere to be seen. And for some reason, men fall all over themselves to help her.
Side note -- Seriously, J.J. needs to slow his roll with the "I will protect you with my life" stuff. Did this dude go to the Rex Brady School of Charm?
Anyway, the point is I don't care about the character of Haley. It probably doesn't help that I don't think Thia Megia has chemistry with either Casey Moss or Lucas Adams. But I'm just not invested enough in her to care. She's a plot point for the sake of plot.
And she's not alone.
In order to keep momentum under Eve's grudge, they had to ignore actual history and have Eve blame Jennifer for losing Brady, when, really, Eve walked out on Brady when she found out he slept with Kristen.
I love me a diva, but Eve is stage mom-ing Jack within an inch of his life. I'm surprised she isn't feeding him Red Bull and Pixie Stix each morning in their weird one-bed hotel suite.
Jack's gone from being aloof to downright gullible, which has never been in his character.
Eli and Shaft...err...Lani traded in their brains for attitude and gave J.J. a speech about honesty. These two. The two who slept together behind his back, conceived a baby, and then conspired to pass said baby off as J.J.'s -- those two -- gave J.J. the business about being honest.
This is not what I want from my escape hour of TV. I can get this noise on at least five other channels any time of the day. So, I have to wonder what the endgame is here. Sure, it's a good way for Jack and Jen to have a full reunion because Jack is reverting back nicely (sure, that's the word I'll go with) to his pre-Jen self. And Matt Ashford, Missy Reeves, Casey Moss, and Kassie DePaiva are all turning in great performances. But I'm not enjoying this journey at all, especially when DAYS has done and is doing so much better with other storylines.
Ben broke up with Ciara. Yup, the guy who ran into a burning building for her decided they should stay apart. Sure, that will work. Look, Benny Boo Bear, you're instinct to not turn into Hulk Ben is right. But the solution is to get your rear to a shrink, not just break up with Ciara. But darn it if Robert Scott Wilson didn't sell me on Ben's stance. Ben's both the white knight and the dragon in this tale, and we're all getting our money's worth.
Pretty please, don't go there with Abe and Sheila. Not only is there a weird age warp happening there (she's childhood friends with his daughter's boyfriend), but I really enjoy their boss/sidekick relationship.
This narrative that Rafe "ran off to be with Sami" needs to stop. He didn't go to be with Sami. He went to be with Johnny, a kid the show always went to great lengths to show had a huge connection to Rafe. Sending Rafe on a guilt trip about not picking Ciara over Johnny was a flat-out low thing for Hope to do.
Of course, this was all a decoy because Rafe rightly pointed out that Ted was trying to move in on Hope. Look, I don't think Hope cheated on Rafe. That kiss was all Ted. But -- but -- the longer Hope goes without telling Rafe that it happened, the more it looks like Hope has something to hide. That's a hard lie of omission to reconcile with her inaccurate spin on the whole Sami/Johnny situation. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but in this current state, Rafe could do a lot better than Hope.
Hey, hey! The men of Salem are um... improving (?) their courtship tactics:
Rather than exposing himself to employees, Stefan suggested a lady let him kiss her so good she'll fall in love with him instantly. Better! At least he got consent this time!
The last time Rex proposed to Sarah, she said, "Hell, no!" This time, she said, "No, sorry…" Progress! She didn't scream at him!
Chloe let Marlena have custody of the Salem brain long enough for her to insist John get a DNA test. Yes, Mar! Furthermore, DAYS skipped the usual soap staple, and Marlena didn't make a huge deal out of John keeping this to himself. Instead, she hopped into action right next to her super spy hubby, and they put a plan in motion! I enjoyed seeing them thrilled with their mission to get Leo's toothbrush out of the mansion.
Poof! Legally here, Nurse Shelley Santos popped up out of nowhere to support Jack's stance on "real Americans" and help Diana
change the test results illegally access Marlena's medical records. Some may say the xenophobic nurse was out of line. But, hey, she referenced Haley as "some Chinese girl" and not "an oriental," so clearly, Shelley is all sorts of woke.
Good lord, I want this one to stop. Can we get Dr. Rolf in here to erase my memory of this whole immigration storyline disaster?
LINE OF THE WEEK:
Stefan: "Your best relationship was with Will Horton, and he turned out to be gay!"
Gabi: "At least he was a real person and not an alter is someone's head!"
LINE OF THE WEAK:
Rafe: "How did we get someone so shady as the D.A.? What was Abe thinking?
Me: Um, hey there, Officer Weekend at Bernie's. Abe considered you for commissioner, too.
Kristin Alfonso and Victora Konefal got to play a happy scene! You know what? Happy Hope and Ciara make me happy, too!
I chucked when Ciara said, "Here, skanky, skanky skank!" when trying to sleuth out the woman cheating with her niece's man. The fact that she did it while wearing Sandy's pants from Grease only gave her extra points. Go on, Ciara.
Woah! It's been a hot minute since Brady's been at the DiMansion. Seeing him there was like seeing your teacher at Target.
Let's assume for a second Leo is John's kid. If my soap math is correct, there's approximately five minutes of age difference between Leo, Brady, Paul, and Belle.
The security at the Salem Inn is the worst! Diana had three men break into her room at the same time. They need a staff meeting or something.
Rex (about Sarah): "This woman is insane" You don't say, Rex. You don't say. I think it would be good for Eric to have a chat with Cousin Shawn. After Nicole comes back, it might be good for Eric to know how to get himself out of a locked cage. You can never be too prepared! I'm kidding. Sorta.
Oh, sweet Neptune. Sonny was talking to Will on speakerphone about their plot to get the goods on Leo. The Hardy Boys are killing me.
I get what Justin meant, but Will and Sonny share a kid. It's ridiculous to suggest they shouldn't ever speak or see each other.
I want to see Julie and Chloe go to self-defense class together. I don't care. Make it a web series. I would watch all of that!
I love the cobalt blue water bottles in Salem.
I have to confess, I have a lighter in my jewelry box, too. You know what I use it for? To light scented candles. No worries, all of my aunts are alive and accounted for.
Rex has a little Sami in him. I don't mean the scheming side. I mean the desperate-to-be-loved-rely-on-Eric-for-absolution side.
Hope was shocked that Ted was a shyster. I'm guessing she thought the guy who helped her in an illegal search was just a real puzzle enthusiast and liked to have his lock-picking skills sharp for his next escape room outing.
Rex's whole speech about never meeting a man who's good enough for Sarah should have been his proposal. That was a lot better than fumbling though $75 worth of balloons from Party City.
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