Pacing is such an important element to soap operas. In my humble opinion, the best dramas are the ones at the slowest pace. Perhaps it's because I am such a die hard 24 fan. Or maybe it's because I still have nightmares of what Medea did in just one day (don't mess with the Greeks- I'm telling you!). But whatever the case, if a producer can make a lot of things happen in a short amount of time, audiences will be thrilled. Still, having said all that, I realize that telling in interesting story at such a slow pace is a very hard thing to do. That's like saying, "Well, in order to be good at basketball all you need to do is be eight feet tall and faster than any other kid on the court!" Easier said than done. Days got it half right this sweeps month. All of the action took place in a short span of time. Now, if only we can up the interesting factor and stop throwing in all these "made especially for sweeps" distractions, we'll be set! Here's how Salem sweeps left town:
First off, let's call out the elephant in the room. The DiMera/Kiriakis feud is nothing more than a tool for the writers to play with during sweeps. Since they foolishly decided not to let the baby swap start to unravel, they had to come up with another storyline. Truth be told, a DiMera vs. Kiriakis feud has a flimsily historical foundation. Sure, both families have occupied the resident "bad guy" role in Salem, but until recently, the two powers never really existed simultaneously. It doesn't make any sense for these two families to hate each other. I know that Tony's death was tragic, but does anyone really believe that Stefano or EJ is really grieving that much? Stefano disowned Tony multiple times and EJ just met Tony a few months before he died. But the DiMeras have always been more interested in holding a grudge than what the grudge is actually about, so I guess I can believe it for a while. I just hope the writers don't expect me to buy this feud for an extended about of time.
There was a botched swap down at the pier- botched because Philip brought Stefano, but EJ didn't bring Steph. Oops! Silly EJ. He really needs to start writing things down. Honestly, EJ is losing his touch all around. I blame the writers. They are making EJ throw these screaming fits every other episode. James Scott is one powerful actor, but there is such a thing as going to the well too many times. I remember when EJ was such a cool-cat customer that it was an utter shock to seem him lose it with Partick Lockhart. But now that it's an everyday occurrence for EJ's blood to come rushing to his head, that I'm not as affected by his outburst anymore.
Nicole arrived at the hospital and urged EJ to lie and withhold all information about Stephanie from the police. Good advice, since that worked so well for Nicole when she was investigated for the Trent Robbins murder. Yup. Lying to the police about where she was the night of Trent's murder didn't land her in jail. Nope. The cops completely backed off and paid no attention when they found evidence that connected her to the crime. Sheesh! Nicole couldn't talk her way out of a crime she didn't commit. Why the heck would EJ take her advice on covering a crime that he actually was involved with?
Not since Gollum, have I seen a guy throw such a hissy over getting a ring back. But when Stefano did put the Phoenix ring back on, he spun a tale of wonder for Nicole. It was a blend of Phoenician history mixed with tales of fallen family members and mythical warriors. And I have no idea what the holy heck Stefano was talking about. Do any of you? Some hocus pocus about how his ring contains a magic chemical that makes whoever is wearing it invincible. I suspect that the ring also makes Santa's reindeer fly and protects Dracula from sunlight. I can appreciate a good accessory just as much as the next gal, but I still have no idea why this ring is so important. All I know is that if I travel to Greece, I won't be telling Stefano. He hates people who go to Greece.
And with that, Stefano was back to his old self. I got a kick out of how Stefano just rolls his eyes when Abe threatened Stefano's life. By now, death threats are just a constant annoying part of your day if you're Stefano. Kind of like slow traffic lights are for the rest of us.
BO and the SALEM PD
Bo is in a tough spot here. Everyone wants everyone else arrested, but no one is willing to testify for fear that it might incriminate themselves or a family member. Super. I don't know how Bo is going to get around this one- especially since fellow rule-breakers, John and Steve, aren't around to help out. Abe has to follow the rules because he's the mayor. Bo has to follow the rules since he the commissioner and because he's related to half the suspects. That leaves Hope and Roman. Is it too much to wish that they get a chance to do some actual detective work on this case? I like Hope and Roman together (NOT in that way) as police partners. She would actually be the tougher/bad cop and I think it would be interesting to see the female cop be the one who does the heavy lifting for a change.
Victor was this close (*note: I'm holding my fingers really close together) to having me on his side. I can see how Bo's constant rejection could wear on Victor. And, Bo certainly does have his moments where he acts like he is above everyone else. But then Victor turns around and kicks Brady out of the family as if Brady had just lost some vote on Survivor. This is move is very odd. Sure, Victor can be a crusty old jerk, but he's always had a soft spot for family. And if he hates Brady so much, then why is Victor still spewing venom at Chloe every time he sees her? Don't get me wrong, I love it when Victor insults Chloe; but it seems a little moot now. Kate, Daniel, Bo, and even Philip all told Victor that this wasn't Brady's fault. But it was to no avail. Victor kept his fingers in his ears, stopped his feet, and kept professing that Brady is dead to him. Vic better watch it with the language. The last time a tyrant started spouting phrases like, "He's dead to me!" a dude actually did end up dead.
STEPHANIE and OWEN
There's something about this pair that I really like. That something is Wes Ramsey. He wins me over left and right. I am not sure if I want Owen to live happily ever after, or if I want him to go live with the crazies, but I know that I enjoy every bit of him on screen. I should give some kudos to Shelley Hennig as well. Really, how many times can Steph schmooze Owen almost enough to escape, only to have him tie her up and put her in the drawer….again….again…and again? It's very easy for this storyline to grow stale. Yet between the sympathy kisses and the faux plans to run to Canada, I have to admit that this pair really entertains me. Somehow, they manage to avoid all of the horrid captor/captive clichés that Sami and Rafe ran head-on into. There's some strange sort of good chemistry between the two of them. I don't want them to be romantically involved, but the way that she cares for him (even if she is faking it) and the way he values her approval is actually very appealing. Nice job, kids!
This week my husband asked me, "How come every time I see that guy, he's shirtless and dying? HA! True, Philip has more lives than ten cats. This week he managed to shake off that little poisoning thing, evade the police, and sneak into the morgue to try to rescue Stephanie. We'll get to his helpful duo of Mel and Brady in a second, but for now, let's concentrate on Philip himself. I've got a bone to pick with the writers. (Shocking, I know.) Here 'tis: Philip Kiriakis is a Marine who served two tours in Iraq, the second of which required specialty training. In TV life, that means that Philip totally went to some sort of special ops camp where soldiers learn how to escape from certain restraints and confined places. So, why did the writers decide to have Philip escape that body bag with all the easy and grace of the rhino scene from Ace Ventura? No clue. It's stupid and I don't like it. Philip may have a hot headed emotional temper, but physically he should be able to get through situations without much problem. The writers know enough to make sure that Philip is the only guy who was able to run away from the police at the pier even though he has a prosthetic leg, had just been released from the hospital, and still had residual effects from a paralyzing drug in him. So why all the thrashing to find a zipper on a bag? I have no idea either.
We knew that he couldn't stay squeaky clean for long. And this week, the armor on our fair knight started to tarnish a bit. Thank goodness! I've never seen Eric Martsolf play anything but a stand up guy, and I have to say- the scene where Brady went to Nicole to squeeze her for information about Stephanie's location was downright awesome. It's about time that Brady called Nicole for a favor. She owes him a gazillion times over for keeping her miscarriage a secret. It's making me a little crazy that Brady has gotten nothing in return. Not even a gift basket.
I thought Melanie was awesome from the beginning. And, for me, she just keeps getting better. In addition to her being spunky and fun, we can now add "bang-up investigator" to the list. Not that I'm ever surprised when the Salem PD doesn't solve a crime, but I was shocked at the record speed Mel and Philip managed to figure out who took Stephanie and where she was hiding. If only the Salem PD had Google….and Mel!
Anyway, Mel (and eventually Brady) helped Philip smuggle into the now famous Heritage Park Mortuary: "Where People Are Dying To Get In!" Mel's scheming knowledge worked entirely too well with this whole plot. In fact, I would have loved if some of the Safe filler was replaced with more Mel and Philip's detective work. She didn't need to have ideas and execute them so fast! But hopefully next week we'll get to see Mel and Brady fumble a bit now that they are locked in the Kiriakis family vault.
CHLOE, LUCAS, DANIEL, and MAGGIE
In non-feud news, Chloe and Daniel lamented the fact that they can't be together. I'm sorry Danloe fans, but I find that Chloe and Daniel have such a preposterous audacity about them that it's almost funny. Chloe actually complained to Daniel about how mean Kate is to her, as if it's so strange for a mother to be ticked at the person who cheated on her son. And Daniel immediately chimed in that it really is unfair to poor Chloe that Lucas is so moody. Then, Chloe said that even though her decision to marry Lucas is final, she admitted that she still feels something for Daniel. Ugh. I'm pretty sure they make a cream for that.
But pushing all that foolishness aside, I have an even bigger gripe with this storyline: Lucas (and Bryan Dattilo) deserve better. I haven't been the biggest Lucas fan in the past, but for the first time in his life he has his act together. He tells Kate to back off when she gets all "mama bear" on him. He sticks up for Chloe at every turn. He has a real job. He and Sami are getting along. And, he even corrects himself and apologizes when that sanctimonious streak starts to rear its ugly head. This time, Lucas is doing everything absolutely right. Yet, the writers still insist on making Lucas play the fool. I don't see any scenario in which Lucas will come out of this looking good. Even if he finds out about Chloe's affair and deals with that, he still has to come to grips with Kate and Maggie (Maggie!) lying to him. Everyone is tip-toeing around because they don't think Lucas is mature enough to handle the news. They are assuming that if given the choice, Lucas would rather remain in a faithless marriage than know the truth about his relationship. Do you know anyone who would make that decision? Me either. I want more for Lucas. I want him to be given the control over his life that I feel he's earned.
SAMI and RAFE
This pairing has worn out its welcome. And while I commend Alison Sweeney's dedication to her craft, even she can't force something resembling chemistry for these two- and she even managed to make Austin seem interesting! But this business about adopting Grace is mind numbingly foolish. The idea is a big boat full of sucky ice cream, covered in stinky sauce, and topped off with a crap cherry. I don't understand why any writer would think fans might possibly believe that Sami, who is a total and complete control freak, is so willing to hand over her child to a stranger. And yes, Rafe is a stranger. Sami knows that he looks great with his shirt off and that he likes the Bears. That's enough information to go on a second date, not enough to offer up your fourth born child.
But the biggest flaw here is that the writers passed on the only viable shot at storyline that Sami and Rafe had. What these two SHOULD be doing is investigating the mayor's murder! You remember the mayor, right? AKA that tiny little federal case that is still unsolved? Everyone refers to a hit man, but no one seems concerned with catching the person who ordered the hit! Tell me it wouldn't have been infinitely more interesting to watch Sami use
her feelings for EJ EJ's feelings for her to gain access to the DiMera mansion and search for clues to the mayor's murder, rather than watch her and Rafe lie to everyone in their lives. And if Rafe actually had a chance to use some of those uber awesome agent skills, I might have something other to occupy my time other than the growing suspicion that Rafe has an unhealthy obsession with Grace and Sami (in that order).
WILL and MIA
Can I gush any more about how endearingly cute Will and Mia are together? Yup! I'm all aboard the "Wila" train. Sure, parts of their storyline are coved in Velveeta, but I am scooping up every last bite. I loved how Will stood up for Mia when mega-bitch Kinsey tried to stir up more trouble. I chuckled when Mia joked with Will that learning how to hit a baseball qualifies as "practical life skills". And I absolutely adore how Mia called Will "Horton". (Reminiscent of how Hope calls Bo "Brady", no?) My only complaint is that we didn't get to see enough of them! I wanted to see them play ski ball. I wanted to watch Mia try to take batting practice.
But at least I got to see that her feelings for Will (what ever they are at this point), jumpstarted her to finally take charge of her life and tell Nicole to back the crap off! You go, Mia! Nicole has been nothing but downright nasty to Mia since Grace was born and, frankly, I'm a little sick of it. At this point, I really hope Mia uncovers the swap and gets to blow Nicole out of the water. Right now, Mia needs all the good news she can get.
Mia's mysterious cousin Jamie actually appeared this week. (My money was on "Jamie" being a cover for "I'm still living at the women's shelter". Shows what I know.) Jamie told Mia that Mia needed to find a different place to live- or move back in with her mother, who ever that is. My heart went out to Mia when she realized that she might have to move away right before summer vacation. Remember the days when you were sure that if you didn't get a chance to talk to your crush everyday, you'd just die? I know it was easy for Maggie to smile and reassure Mia that Will would never forget her, but that's no consolation to a high school kid. And despite the huge life struggles that both Will and Mia have been through in their short lives, they are still kids. I'm glad that the writers are letting them hold onto that trait because it's what makes them rock as characters.
For those of you keeping score, Lexie is back to loving Stefano again. She cried at his bedside when she thought he was going to die.
In the midst of Mia's awesome tongue lashing towards Nicole, Mia let it slip that Rafe is adopting Grace. Urhhhggg!!! I am so tired to Nicole stumbling onto all these good luck bits of information that help her keep her lie going. At least make her work for it, writers!
Lucas and Sami both playfully teased Will a little about his crush on Mia. I thought it was cute. It shows that these three are finally moving past the tired "You ruined my life!" dialogue, and I'll take that change any day!
Owens dad, Walter (played by the great Gordon Thomson), was a little too much for my taste. Talk about an inappropriate temper. He seemed to have a short fuse just for the sport of being crazed. I'm not too pleased with this assignment for the talented Mr. Thomson.
Brady and Arianna literally ran into each other again- this time at the pier. Poor Eric Martsolf and Felicia Terrell have to be painfully tired of playing the exact same scene over and over again. I know I'm tired of watching it.
Caroline did not warm up to Sami's "good news" about Rafe adopting Grace. I'm glad. With Marlena and Belle out of the picture, Sami needs some tie to reality.
How's that house that Lucas is building coming?
Did you all see the Salem Place sign?!?! Ahh…memories!
What the heck was Nicole wearing? Black stretch pants and a brown spandex sequin top? She looked like a reject from an Olivia Newton John video.
Door mystery: Is it really true that morgue doors don't open from the inside? Doesn't it seem odd that someone would deem that a necessary feature for doors that hold dead people? I think so. And, why wouldn't a crypt open from the inside? If people go in there to visit, leave flowers, or sit on that bench that is inside the crypt, what are they supposed to do with the door? Find a rock to prop it open? Bring a friend to hold the door for them?
It's no shock that I love Will and Mia. But the umbrella on this daiquiri is all the little things that this storyline does right. First there's Jamie. It's amazing how non-bitchy a character seems when we KNOW the reason for her 'tude. I wasn't mad for a second when Jamie tried to playa hate on Wila. The last time Mia liked a guy, she ended up 16, single, and pregnant. I think Jamie was totally justified. Then, there's Maggie. I'm so glad to see that the resident Salem matriarch is still a Horton woman. Her Midas touch with Will and Mia warms my heart. She's caring and nurturing without being condescending. I wouldn't be upset if Mia moved in with Maggie, Mel, and Mickey. That many M's living in one house just screams "Good times!"
Arianna needs to have a purpose. She alluded to Rafe's troubled past twice this week, but never actually goes anywhere with the news. Right now, I think Arianna is a busy-body, overprotective freak with inappropriate feelings about her brother. She's running low on time to change my mind. Her interactions with Brady aren't cute enough for me to bless Arianna with the title of "spunky". Right now she's just a pain in the neck. If there's something that we need to know about Rafe, the time is NOW.
LINE OF THE WEEK
The following exchange between Rafe and Caroline shows why Caroline has a monopoly on most of the brain cells in Salem:
Rafe: I have a grandmother.
Caroline: Most people do.
We've officially been swept away! Sweeps is over and it's time to move full blast into the summer storylines. Will they bring in a new audience? Will Mickey actually represent EJ? Just who all is buried in the Kiriakis vault? And are we really supposed to believe that Victor never comes to visit? I'll be back next week for a second scoop while Tony is taking some time off. But, I'll text him to make sure he knows to swing by the cemetery and let Brady and Mel out.