At the DiMera mansion, Nicole noticed a bag that was filled with Countess Wilhelmina products. Nicole cautiously sampled a bottle of perfume. "This stuff isn't half bad. Maybe I should try some of these...although I would hate to give Kate the satisfaction that I actually think her products are decent. Maybe I could rip the label off, and she'd never know," Nicole muttered, unaware that Kate was standing behind her.
"Well, I know what to get you for Christmas -- product without the Countess label, that way no one will know that trampy trash is using my product," Kate said. Nicole demanded an apology, but Kate insisted that her statement was true. Kate said that Nicole wasn't good enough to be a DiMera. Kate added that E.J. was too distracted by Nicole's talents in the bedroom to realize that.
Kate pointed out that Nicole and E.J.'s previous marriages had failed, and she insisted that their current marriage wasn't going to be any different. Nicole noted that E.J. was not one of Kate's sons, and she told Kate to mind her own business. Kate reminded Nicole that E.J. was her stepson. Kate added that she didn't want to be Nicole's mother-in-law again. Kate said that she had already suffered enough. Nicole volunteered to put Kate out of her misery.
"Will you two please stop, all right? You're one expletive away from having your own reality television show," E.J. muttered. E.J. added that Nicole and Kate were going to have to learn how to live together peacefully. Kate laughed, and she knowingly stated that Nicole was just a temporary houseguest. E.J. reminded Kate that Nicole was his wife, and he insisted that Nicole would be living at the mansion for the rest of her life.
Before Nicole could gloat, E.J. pointedly reminded her that Kate was Stefano's wife. Kate and Nicole reluctantly agreed to a truce. Kate quickly added that she wasn't going to hug Nicole. "Don't worry -- the only embrace you'll get from me is a tight grip around your throat," Nicole replied. Kate excused herself so that she could finish her Christmas shopping.
After Kate left, Nicole told E.J. to make sure that the bar was fully stocked. Nicole said that was the only way that she was going to be able to make it through the holidays with the DiMeras. Nicole changed the subject, and she wondered if John had accepted E.J.'s offer. E.J. admitted that John had declined the offer, and Nicole noted that E.J. seemed surprised.
Nicole pointed out that John was convinced that E.J. had framed him. Nicole said that John was never going to agree to sell Basic Black to the DiMeras. E.J. admitted that Nicole was right, and he quickly tried to change the subject.
"You know, E.J., I've never brought this up before, but...I have to admit, I am curious. Are the rumors true? Did you or Stefano have anything to do with John's situation? Are you responsible for embezzling all that money?" Nicole asked. E.J. wondered if Nicole believed that he was capable of doing something like that. Nicole confidently stated that E.J. was definitely capable of framing John.
E.J. tried to deflect, and Nicole realized that he wasn't going to give her an honest answer. "If there are things that you can't tell me, fine...but I have a few ground rules of my own. I am your public relations director, and...although it would be helpful to know everything, I understand, for both our sakes, that that may not be possible," Nicole said.
"But when it comes to our personal life...E.J., secrets and lies destroyed us. I have learned my lesson, and I just want to make sure that you have, too, because no matter what -- no matter how badly we want this to work...Kate will be right, and we should just give up now, so if there is anything -- anything at all -- you want to tell me, now is the time," Nicole added. E.J. silently recalled his tryst with Sami.
E.J. cryptically admitted that he had made some mistakes. E.J. claimed that those mistakes were in the past, and that they weren't important. E.J. vowed that he was going to be completely honest with Nicole in the future, and that he would never hurt her. Nicole wondered if E.J. was being sincere. E.J. asked Nicole to trust him, and Nicole cautiously agreed.
Nicole realized that she needed to get back to work, and she started to exit the room. E.J. stopped Nicole, and he announced that he had arranged for a massage therapist to pamper her. Nicole thanked E.J., and she rushed upstairs to wait for the massage therapist.
A short time later, Nicole placed a blindfold over her eyes, then she waited for the massage therapist to enter the room. E.J. entered the room, and he greeted Nicole with a fake Russian accent. E.J. started to massage Nicole's leg, then he moved on to her shoulders.
Meanwhile, Nicole started to flirt with the massage therapist. Nicole noted that the massage therapist had a firm grip, and she guessed that the rest of his body was just as firm. Nicole touched the man's abs. "You know, uh...what you're doing right now is fine, but I can think of a few ways to make this massage even better," Nicole seductively stated.
E.J. continued to use his fake accent, and he reminded Nicole that her husband was downstairs. Nicole insisted that her husband would never find out. "What's taking so long, huh? I'm not getting anywhere near my happy ending. Let's go, let's go! Locked door, shirt off, hands on me -- come on," Nicole impatiently added. E.J. angrily removed his shirt, and Nicole touched his abs again.
E.J. dropped his accent, and he demanded to know what Nicole was doing. Nicole feigned shock, then she started to laugh. E.J. realized that Nicole had tricked him. E.J. started to leave, but Nicole stopped him, and she reminded him that she was still waiting for her happy ending.
At Titan, Sami watched as Brady and Madison flirted with each other. After Brady left, Sami said that she needed Madison to clarify something. "It's completely inappropriate for me to take a one-hour lunch to get a massage, but you can take the whole morning off to sleep with the CEO?" Sami asked incredulously. Madison pointed out that her personal life was none of Sami's business.
Sami warned Madison that she was making a big mistake. Sami explained that Brady had a terrible track record, but Madison shrugged and admitted that her track record was pretty bad, too. "Sami, I really don't know what else to say. If you feel so strongly about this, maybe it's time for you to look for another job," Madison suggested. Before Sami could respond, Madison exited the room.
Later, at the Horton Town Square, Brady ran into Sami. Brady warned Sami to stay out of his personal life. Sami reminded Brady that she had tried to convince him to stay away from Madison. Sami said that it was obvious that Brady and Madison were wrong for each other.
"Excuse me...that's for Madison and me to decide, not you. And second of all, you're the last person in the world that I would take relationship advice from, and third of all, this is how things work at work, Sami, okay? Madison's your boss, I'm your boss, and that means you don't get to question what goes on in the workplace, or outside of it," Brady firmly stated, as Kate listened nearby.
Sami explained that she was concerned because she didn't want to lose her job. Brady noted that Sami was worried about herself again, and he wondered if she was ever going to change. Sami insisted that she wasn't trying to be difficult. Sami reiterated that she was just concerned about her job. Brady suggested that Sami might need to find a different job, then he stormed off.
After Brady left, Kate greeted Sami, and she wondered if Sami was having a bad day. Sami confirmed Kate's suspicion, and she realized that Kate was probably going to try to make the day even worse. Kate insisted that she wasn't interested in making Sami's day worse. Kate explained that she had overheard Brady and Sami's argument. Kate added that she was aware that Madison had lashed out at Sami earlier.
Kate said that she understood that Sami was in a tough spot. "Yes, I am. You gave me good advice, and I took it, and I stood up for myself. You know how long that lasted me? Two days. Now I'm in a position where I have two options -- I can either suck it up and let Madison walk all over me, or I can quit, which isn't an option at all, because I have a family to support," Sami explained. Kate suggested that she might be able to help.
Sami was shocked, but Kate reminded her that she had helped with the kids earlier. Sami sarcastically thanked Kate for giving the kids a large dose of sugar. Kate shrugged unapologetically, and she said that grandmothers and sugar were a natural combination. "Right...grandmothers, sugar -- two words I never thought I would associate with you," Sami dryly stated.
"Sami...I just...I think it would be a shame if you let Madison and Brady hurt your career. Okay, now, I can't believe I'm going to say this, but...you have potential. You have really been on a roll. Listen to me. You managed to grab Anthony Morrison -- that was quite a feat. You've taken to this industry, and I can absolutely understand why you wouldn't want your talents to be short-changed. And let me tell you one thing -- they wouldn't be at Countess Wilhelmina," Kate said. Before Sami could respond, Kate excused herself so that she could finish her Christmas shopping.
Back at Titan, Madison received a mysterious phone call. "Hi. Sorry I missed your call -- I turned off my phone. Why? Uh, I was tired. Yes, I'm telling you the truth. No, I told you, I'm handling my business. No, I don't need you to come to Salem. Look, I have to run, okay? Um...I'm late for a meeting, but I promise you, I will do better about keeping in touch," Madison told the caller, then she quickly ended the call.
Later, at the Brady Pub, Brady told Madison about his confrontation with Sami. Madison admitted that Sami had been a real asset to Mad World, and that she understood Sami's concern. Brady assured Madison that everything would be fine. "I mean, you've been open -- you've told me about your commitment issues, right? And you know all about my little track record with, you know, Chloe, Nicole, Arianna...we don't have secrets, and I like that. That's the way it should be," Brady added.
At the prison, John and Marlena met with Austin and Carrie in a private room. John and Marlena explained that they had met with Stefano and E.J. earlier that day. Later, Carrie and Rafe told Marlena and John about the doctored photograph. John was relieved to learn that there was a logical explanation for his memories.
"I want to repay all the people who've been hurt by this fiasco. I don't care if I have to liquidate my company and leverage everything I've got -- I need to make this right," John told Carrie. Carrie reminded John that his assets had been frozen, and she admitted that he was not in a position to repay anyone. Carrie said that she would present John's proposal to the judge, but she added that E.J. would probably object.
John vowed that he would never make a deal with a DiMera. Before anyone could respond, a guard announced that it was time for John to go back to his cell. After John left, Carrie and Rafe told Marlena about Alice's voucher. Carrie wondered if John would be willing to use the voucher as leverage. Marlena was certain that John would refuse Stefano's help. Carrie admitted that the voucher might be John's only hope.
"So...do we make a deal with the devil and use this I.O.U., or not?" Carrie asked, as Marlena silently considered the options.
In Horton Square, Melanie helped Daniel pick out a Christmas card for Maggie. When Maggie arrived at the square to join Melanie and Daniel for Christmas shopping, Daniel deftly held the card behind his back to hide it from Maggie. As Melanie and Maggie looked over a glass vase for Victor, Daniel frowned as he looked at his shaking hand.
After browsing in a shop, Melanie took out her phone and asked Daniel to take a picture of her and Maggie in front of the Christmas tree. As Daniel took the photo, his hand began to shake again. Once the picture was done, Maggie asked about shopping. Melanie noted that she had gotten gift certificates to the health spa. Maggie countered that Victor would not be interested in a massage, so Melanie shrugged and announced she needed to get another present.
Daniel sent Maggie and Melanie on without him so that he could head back to the hospital. Once alone, Maggie asked Melanie to help her pick out a present for Daniel. While they walked, Melanie pulled up the tree photo on her phone and was dismayed to see that the photo was blurry. With a grin, Maggie noted that when Daniel returned, they could ask someone to take another photo of the three of them. "Our first family photo," Melanie cooed.
Maggie was worried that she was pushing Daniel too hard to make a family, but Melanie countered that Daniel had changed his mind. With a smile, Maggie noted that she had seen a change in Daniel and that she thought he seemed more receptive to her. Maggie picked out a pair of cufflinks with the medical shield inscribed on them, and Melanie agreed that Maggie had found the perfect gift for Daniel.
Tired, Maggie took Melanie over to the cafe to have a cup of hot chocolate and talk about the hostage situation. Melanie admitted that she was having difficulty adjusting to life after the kidnapping and that she had made an appointment with Marlena to talk. When Melanie pulled back, Maggie asked Melanie whether there was something else that she wanted to talk about.
Melanie talked about being locked in a room with Chad and that she had admitted her feelings to him. Feeling guilty, Melanie fretted that she did not want to hurt Abigail but that in the moment, she hadn't been able to avoid confessing her feelings to Chad. When Maggie asked about Chad's response, Melanie admitted that Chad had said that he had feelings for Melanie as well.
When Maggie asked Melanie if she had talked to Chad since the kidnapping, Melanie noted that she had not had a moment alone with Chad since the crisis. With a sigh, Melanie added that the situation was complicated because she loved Abigail and she did not know if she could give up on Chad.
At Salem Hospital, Lexie reviewed an x-ray in her office, Stefano stopped by for a visit. Stefano attempted to reconcile with his daughter, but Lexie was furious with Stefano's actions in the mayoral election. When Lexie resisted Stefano's charm, he casually mentioned that he was visiting a doctor. Concerned, Lexie asked Stefano what was wrong. With a chuckle, Stefano remarked that Lexie still cared about him and the family.
Unfazed, Stefano reminded Lexie that she had reached out to him and E.J. when Johnny disappeared. Lexie countered that Johnny was her nephew and that it was natural for her to feel compassion for a parent when their child went missing. Stefano urged Lexie to remember that he loved her and that they were bonded for life. Lexie explained that she wanted to get past her anger and rebuild their relationship, but that she was having a hard time.
Lexie noted that she saw E.J. on the news, making accusations about Abe's lack of ability to act as the mayor. With tears in her eyes, Lexie reminded Stefano that Abe was her family. "That's who you went after, not just some opponent in a campaign. So no, father, I will not forgive or forget," Lexie said.
With a smirk, Lexie noted that she had inherited Stefano's instinct to protect the people she loved. "When you go against my husband, you go against me. Until you realize that, we have no relationship," Lexie growled. With a sigh, Stefano quietly walked out of Lexie's office.
While Lexie worked at her desk, Daniel entered. Lexie smiled and noted that she had Daniel's test results. Lexie explained that though Daniel carried the genetic marker for Myasthenia Gravis, he did not have the disease. When Daniel's face fell, Lexie grew concerned that Daniel did not appear relieved by the news. After noting that he wanted doctor-patient confidentiality, Daniel explained that he was experiencing tremors in his hand.
Daniel could not think of any triggers for the tremors, and he noted that he had not told anyone about the shaking in his hands. When Lexie urged Daniel to talk to his family, Daniel countered that he wanted to determine what was causing the tremors in his hands first. Daniel asked Lexie to cover for him at the hospital while he removed himself from the surgical rotation.
Lexie told Daniel that she admired his bravery for stepping down from his surgical position. "This must hurt like hell," Lexie said. While reassigning his cases with Lexie, Daniel came across the case file of a friend of Maggie's named Sally Dunn. Daniel explained that he had promised Maggie that he would do the surgery on her friend Sally. "If I can't operate, my career is over," Daniel said with a sigh. Lexie urged Daniel to stay positive.
After his meeting with Lexie, Daniel went to the Brady Pub to meet up with Melanie and Maggie. Daniel entered the restaurant when Maggie and Melanie were looking at the cufflinks, so Melanie hid the box behind her back. Suspicious, Daniel asked Melanie what she was hiding. Melanie resisted, but Maggie urged Melanie to give Daniel his gift. With a grin, Melanie handed the box to Daniel.
When Daniel opened the box, his face fell. "To the best surgeon I know," Maggie said. "That's the best birthday-slash-Christmas present I ever got," Daniel said solemnly. As a cheerful Melanie and Maggie hugged Daniel, he smiled stoically.
At the penthouse, Carrie talked on the phone, and Rafe stood quietly in the corner. Hope asked Marlena for permission to move forward in her plan to negotiate with Stefano behind John's back. When Marlena resisted, Bo cautioned her to remember that John would be sent upstate to prison once the civil trial was over. Panicked at the thought of her separation from John, Marlena worried aloud what would become of her husband. Bo noted that the prison was one of the harshest in the state, and that John would have a difficult time if he were sent there.
Marlena was upset that John was alone in jail during the holidays. "Every single day, all John thinks about is the people that lost everything. I worry about him, and he worries about them," Marlena said. Hope urged Marlena to realize that Stefano could help John. Shaking her head, Marlena countered that if John were there, he would tear up the note and refuse to ask Stefano for any assistance.
"Taking Stefano's help would kill him," Marlena said firmly. With a frustrated sigh, Marlena thrust the note back into Hope's hand and ordered her to use it. Marlena noted that John would be furious with them for negotiating with Stefano, but that she knew it needed to be done. Upset, Marlena stepped aside to gather her thoughts.
Bo and Hope gathered in the corner and noted that they needed to convince Stefano to honor his promise to Alice. "We can't let John and Marlena down. We've gotta make this happen," Hope whispered. Fortified with Marlena's blessing, Bo and Hope left to talk to Stefano.
Marlena gathered all the information she could find about her trip to Paris with John and handed it to Rafe and Carrie to review. Carrie was pleased to see that the timing of the trip was months off of the timeline that the prosecution had set out. Nervous, Marlena fidgeted and wondered aloud whether Stefano would stand by his word to Alice and help John.
When Marlena received a call, she sent it to voicemail. Carrie inquired about the call, and Marlena noted that it was the university. Marlena explained that she had been offered a job to head the psychiatric residency program at Salem University. With a nod, Marlena added that she had not accepted the position because she was worried about her future. With a grin, Carrie reminded Marlena that she and Austin would be living in Salem and that Austin would be a professor at the university.
While Carrie stepped in the other room, Marlena asked Rafe about Will. Rafe admitted that Will was still shaky after the website debacle, but that he was doing well. When Marlena asked about Sami, Rafe admitted that Will was avoiding her. Marlena noted that Will was sorting through some complicated feelings regarding his mother. When Rafe wished aloud that Will would talk to him, Marlena suggested that Will should move in with her. Marlena explained that the separation from Sami would give Will a chance to cool off and reconcile the family.
As Rafe sat down and went back to work reviewing the notes on John's case, Carrie returned to the living room and saw Marlena staring at a photo of her and John. Carrie urged Marlena to believe that John would be home soon to take more photos with Marlena. "Our future in Stefano's hands again. How did this ever happen?" Marlena wondered aloud.
At the DiMera mansion, Bo and Hope handed Stefano the note dictating that the bearer of the letter had earned a favor from Stefano. When Stefano asked what Hope wanted, Bo countered that Stefano was a man of his word. Hope added that they wanted Stefano to set John free. "This is nothing but a piece of paper!" Stefano growled. Stefano shoved the paper back into Hope's hand and refused to help.
Unfazed, Hope reminded Stefano why he had given the note to Alice. "Don't act like this is some meaningless gesture," Hope said. With a sigh, Stefano noted that the note had been given to Alice. Hope argued that as the letter was in her hand, she was the bearer as noted in the letter. When Stefano argued that he did not have the power to free John, Hope countered that Stefano had the power and influence to get John out of jail.
Furrowing his brow, Stefano asked Hope why she was helping John. When Hope bristled at John's question, Stefano asked Hope why she did not use the letter to help her family instead of John. Bo defended his wife, and Stefano reminded Bo that Hope had once been romantically linked to John.
With a smirk, Bo handed Hope a dollar. When Stefano raised an eyebrow questioningly, Bo explained that he and Hope had bet on how soon Stefano would mention Hope's past with John. Frustrated, Hope ordered Stefano to help them free John. Faced with an ultimatum to make a decision, Stefano refused to help Hope with John's case. When Hope asked why, Stefano explained that Hope's request was impossible.
"You don't care that Mrs. H saved your little boy," Bo noted. "A real man would do anything he could to repay a debt like this," Bo added. Annoyed, Stefano asked Bo and Hope to leave. Unfazed, Hope noted that Stefano's code of honor prevented him from turning down her request. With a sigh, Stefano said that he did not think he was capable of setting John free.
"What you ask requires more. And I don't have that. You see, this is not like something that you can turn on and off like a faucet," Stefano said. When Hope noted that she did not understand, Stefano said he had nothing else to say. Bo stopped Stefano and said that they needed more information. "That's what it's gonna have to be," Stefano said.
At Titan, Madison recorded an enthusiastic message for the staff in Mad World's satellite offices to tell them that the company was expecting a revenue increase, thanks to the success of their new men's line. She thanked them all for their hard work. When Madison was finished, Brady noted how impressed he was with the surprisingly great numbers for the men's line. He asserted that buying Madison's company had been the best decision he'd ever made, because she was good at both the business and creative sides of things.
Madison teasingly accused him of flattering her because they were sleeping together, but Brady insisted that wasn't the case -- plus he thought that what they were doing counted as more than just sleeping together. Madison chuckled, but seemed a bit reluctant to label it as "dating." Brady reiterated his praise at what Madison had accomplished, especially considering where she'd started out. Madison explained, "Someone once told me to dream big. He said if I didn't take extraordinary risks, I'd lead an ordinary life, and I'd say that's the key to my success."
Brady asked who had given Madison such sage advice, but she would only say that it had just been a former colleague. She changed the subject by asking what the secret to Brady's success was, and if he'd always dreamed of taking over the family business. Brady admitted that as a kid, he'd had other plans: he'd wanted to be an astronaut. He explained that Victor had given him a telescope, and Brady had become obsessed with stars and planets. Joking that she was surprised to learn that Brady had been a geek, Madison asked if he'd wanted to save the universe from aliens.
"No, I wanted to find my mom," Brady replied. He explained that when he'd been a little kid, everyone had told him that his mom had gone up to heaven, and John had even named a star for Isabella that he'd shown to Brady. Brady admitted that he'd stared into the sky and talked to his mom. He'd believed that if he was an astronaut, he could fly into space and find her, so he could ask her to return home. Touched by the story, Madison apologized for calling Brady a geek.
Brady took Madison to the Kiriakis mansion, and showed her the impressively large telescope that Victor had given him. After confessed that as a teenager, she had always been attracted to nerdy guys, Madison asked Brady to show her some constellations. Brady focused the scope, and while Madison looked through the eyepiece, he explained that she was seeing the constellation Perseus, and told her the story of Perseus and Andromeda. Brady then pointed out a bright star in the constellation Andromeda, and divulged that it was the star where his grandfather had said Brady's mother had gone.
Brady admitted that he didn't know why he was telling Madison all of that, except that he'd realized he had nothing to hide from her. Madison confided that as a child, she'd wished on the first star every night for her father to return, but her wish had never come true. "God, we were two sad kids, Madison!" Brady declared, and they laughed wryly. Madison pointed out that her hard life had made her into the woman she'd become. "It sure did. And who you are is pretty damn wonderful."
Brady asked if Madison had blamed herself because her father had left. Madison admitted that she had, but she'd kept her feelings to herself -- although she'd always wondered why her father had chosen another woman over them. Brady confessed that after his mom had died, his dad had returned to his old family, and Brady had felt like John had chosen them over him. Madison declared, "Considering the really sadly dysfunctional upbringings we both had, it's kind of like a Christmas miracle that we turned out to be sane, rational, wonderful people."
After raising a glass to one another, they snuggled on the couch for a while. Brady suggested that they go upstairs, but Madison wanted to go for a walk with Brady instead. "Outside, under the stars, just you and me," she clarified, caressing his face. "So all you want is the moon and the stars? Is that all you need, Madison?" Brady asked playfully. "No -- and you by my side," Madison replied. Brady led her by the hand to the front door, then dashed up the stairs to get their coats.
Rafe called Sami from the Brady Pub, where he was picking up some food to take to Marlena's, since he and Carrie were working on something for John's case. Sami pointed out that they had very little money in the checking account, and they still had bills to pay and necessities to buy for the kids -- plus they'd soon have to pay the bills for Christmas gifts. Rafe was confident that things would turn around for them, but offered to cancel their vow-renewal ceremony if it would help. Sami reminded him that it wasn't going to cost them anything. Rafe promised to step up his job search after the first of the year, and Sami agreed to try to remain positive.
Someone pounded on the door of the loft, so Sami had to hang up with Rafe. When she opened the door, she was dismayed to find Kate in the hallway. Kate breezed into the apartment uninvited, and declared that she was there to change Sami's life. Sami was understandably skeptical, and impatiently urged Kate to get to the point. Kate declared, "I think I made it perfectly clear before, but I'm offering you a job, Sami. I want you to come and work for me at Countess Wilhelmina."
Sami didn't buy it, and reminded Kate that the two of them hated each other. Kate maintained that she was a very smart businesswoman, and despite their differences, she recognized that Sami was a talented, savvy executive -- and she wanted Sami to be part of the Countess Wilhelmina team. Sami guessed, "You want me to burn my bridges with Madison, so the second I set foot at Countess W, you're going to fire my ass -- so that I end up without a job." Sami continued that it was all part of Kate's plan to help Lucas and E.J. get custody of Sami's children.
Kate insisted that she didn't want to take Sami's kids away; she truly believed that Sami was the right person to help make Countess Wilhelmina the top company in its field. Kate added that she knew better than anyone how determined and hardworking Sami was, and she wanted Sami to work for Kate instead of the competition. Sami declared that she would never give up a steady job to work for someone she couldn't stand and didn't trust. Noting Sami and Rafe's financial difficulties, Kate offered to double the salary Sami was earning at Mad World. Sami demanded to know what was really going on, and pointed out that Kate always had an agenda.
Sami believed that E.J. was behind the idea as a way to get her under his thumb. Kate maintained that E.J. knew nothing about it, and noted that she'd thought Sami and E.J. had put things behind them after the ordeal with Johnny. "Why would you think that? Did he say something to you?" Sami demanded with a note of panic in her voice. A concerned Kate asked why Sami was freaking out. Sami maintained that she got tense at the mere mention of E.J.'s name because she never knew what new way he'd find to hurt her or the kids.
Kate promised that Sami would have no contact with E.J. at Countess Wilhelmina. Sami pointed out that she and Kate had worked together twice before, and neither time had turned out well. Kate reminded her that Sami had used blackmail to get the job both of those times. "I'd like to believe that the two of us have changed since then, that we both have a mutual but grudging respect for each other," Kate stated. She added that she had struggled to raise Billie, Austin, and Lucas, and she knew how tough a situation like that could be on the children. Kate loved her grandchildren, and wanted them to be "happy and well fed" -- plus she wanted an excuse to see them as often as possible.
Kate asked if Sami would take the job, but Sami replied that she wasn't willing to take the risk. Kate asserted that Sami shouldn't pass up such an amazing opportunity -- not just for Sami and her career, but for her marriage and family, as well. Kate pointed out that financial problems were the leading cause of divorce, but Sami emphasized that her marriage to Rafe was so strong that they were renewing their vows on Christmas Eve.
"Sami, you need to take this job. Don't let your stubbornness get in the way of your future and your family," Kate urged. Sami pointed out that she couldn't make such an important decision on the spur of the moment -- especially considering their history -- but agreed to think about it seriously. On her way out, Kate asked Sami not to share their discussion with anyone. Sami maintained that she had no reason to. Kate's parting words were, "Let me give you a little holiday advice: Take the cookies when they're passed. They may not come back later."
At the penthouse, Marlena produced some more paperwork for Carrie to review in the hopes that it would help exonerate John. Carrie wondered why they hadn't heard from Bo and Hope yet, and Marlena didn't think they should expect Stefano to honor his IOU to Alice. When Bo and Hope arrived, Marlena guessed from their expressions, "He's refused to help, hasn't he?" Hope replied, "Yes -- and no." Bo and Hope described what had happened at the DiMera mansion: first, Stefano had stonewalled them, then he'd "rubbed salt in old wounds," and finally he'd declared that there was simply nothing he could do to help.
Hope continued that as they were leaving, "He said he's not sure he can access the information we want, that it requires something more, something he doesn't have. Then he said that it's not the kind of thing you can turn on and off like a faucet." Hope asserted her belief that Stefano was trying in his own way to honor his promise to Alice by giving them clues to help John. When Rafe arrived, they filled him in about the possible clues. They all agreed that the clues were pretty cryptic -- but they were determined to figure it out to help John.
As they reviewed Stefano's words, Bo wondered if Stefano had meant that it had been John, not Stefano, who hadn't had access to something. Carrie deduced that John hadn't been able to commit the crime because he hadn't had access to something. Rafe asked if that could mean passwords, but Marlena didn't think so. They wondered what Stefano's reference to a faucet could mean.
While the others brainstormed, Marlena reiterated her thanks to Carrie for helping. Carrie insisted that it was the least she could do, since Marlena had been a mother to Carrie while Anna had been too busy running around Europe to raise a daughter. Marlena declared that she had always felt like Carrie's mother, and she was very proud of the woman Carrie had become. Carrie countered that she'd had a great role model in Marlena. "I wish Sami felt the same way," Marlena confessed. Carrie was sure that with time, things between Marlena and Sami would thaw, because Sami truly loved her mother. Marlena was thankful that Sami and Carrie had grown closer after years of fighting over the same man.
After working on the clues for a long while, Hope wondered if Stefano had been playing games with them by intentionally dropping hints that were too vague to interpret. Bo was certain that they were very close to figuring it out, and wondered what else John would have needed to access the pension funds. Hope suggested that they walk through the process, and began to log on to the Basic Black website. "That's it! That's the one thing that you would need to make those transactions -- the Internet!" Rafe deduced excitedly, and wondered, "What if the Internet was down in John's area when he was supposedly making all these transactions?"
The others agreed that there was no way John could have tapped into the accounts without Internet access. "And Stefano would make it his business to know that," Hope pointed out. As they began planning to contact John's Internet provider about outages so they could compare the transaction times and dates to possible outages, Carrie noted that John could have just used his cell carrier to make the transactions. Rafe said that they would have to investigate cell tower outages, as well. Marlena thought it seemed a little far-fetched that the Internet servers and cell towers would have been out at the same time. Rafe agreed, but he thought that might have been what Stefano had been referring to.
Carrie excitedly noted that if John hadn't been able to access the Internet on the dates of the transactions, it would mean that all of John's records had been falsified, and the FBI's evidence would have to be thrown out of court. Rafe chimed in that if they combined that with the doctored photo and the witness from the clinic, they could prove that John had been deliberately set up. "This could be it! We could finally prove John's innocence!" Marlena exclaimed hopefully, as the others rejoiced.
At the hospital, Maggie and Victor learned that Daniel had removed himself from the surgical rotation. Maggie assumed that Daniel had been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, but Daniel assured her that he had not inherited the disease. Maggie was relieved, but she could tell that Daniel was hiding something.
Later, at the Kiriakis mansion, Maggie pointed out that Daniel would not have removed himself from the surgical rotation unless he believed that something was wrong. "Okay, okay...when I got tested for MG, it wasn't just because of the hereditary factors. I developed...sort of, you know, just a tremor, you know, in my hands," Daniel reluctantly admitted. Daniel added that the tremors had started occurring a few weeks earlier.
Daniel assured Victor and Maggie that he probably just needed a vacation. Victor offered to hire the best neurologist that money could buy, but Daniel declined the offer. Daniel said that Lexie had already ordered some preliminary tests, and he reminded Victor and Maggie that there was no reason to panic yet. Victor wondered if Daniel had any early theories that would explain what was going on.
"No, I do not have any idea. I mean, my mother had a tremor in one hand, but then, I'm not really biologically related to her," Daniel replied. Victor optimistically pointed out that Daniel would still be able to practice medicine either way, and Daniel agreed. Maggie wondered if Daniel had talked to Jennifer about the tremors. Daniel shook his head, and he insisted that he did not want anyone's pity.
Victor and Maggie invited Daniel over to the mansion for Christmas dinner. Daniel thanked Victor and Maggie for the invitation, and he politely declined. Daniel apologized for whining about his problems. "You know, when I'm scared about something, I try to imagine how I will combat the worst-case scenario, and then, of course, when it inevitably turns out to be something not so bad...I know I've already whipped it," Maggie said.
"And then there's my technique -- I just pretend it isn't happening," Victor added. Daniel said that he liked Victor's idea, and he assured Victor and Maggie that he would be all right. Daniel started to leave, and Maggie reiterated that he was welcome to join her and Victor for dinner the next day. Victor pointedly added that Philip and Parker would be staying in Chicago.
Daniel said that he would keep that in mind, and he thanked Victor and Maggie for their concern. Victor wondered if Daniel had told Melanie about the tremors. Daniel reiterated that he didn't want anyone to know, and he pointed out that Melanie had been through enough lately.
Daniel added that he didn't want to ruin Melanie's Christmas celebrations. Maggie seized the opportunity to mention that Melanie was going to be joining Victor and Maggie for Christmas dinner. Daniel laughed, and he assured Maggie and Victor that he would think about their offer.
At the Brady Pub, Abigail asked Melanie for advice about Abigail's secret crush. Abigail admitted that Chad was a great guy, and she added that the other guy probably wasn't interested in her. "Still, whenever I'm around him, whenever I even think about him...my heart beats a little faster. But this is crazy -- I mean, I have to forget about him, right? I mean, there's no hope," Abigail added.
Melanie wondered if Abigail would be able to forget about the mystery man. Abigail admitted that she wasn't sure. Melanie told Abigail to listen to her heart, but Abigail insisted that she would never be able to have a relationship with the other man. "Well, now it kind of just sounds like you're keeping Chad around 'cause he's a sure thing," Melanie bluntly stated.
Abigail protested, and Melanie quickly apologized. Melanie said that she had a lot on her mind, and she added that she was worried about Daniel. Abigail realized that Melanie was talking about Daniel and Jennifer's breakup. Abigail asked Melanie if that was going to affect their friendship, and Melanie promised that it would not. Abigail hugged Melanie, then she excused herself so that she could finish her Christmas shopping.
At the Horton Town Square, Carrie and Austin greeted Chad. Carrie noted that Chad was carrying a bag that was from the jewelry store. Chad explained that he had purchased a pair of earrings for Abigail. Carrie excitedly asked Chad to show her the earrings, and Chad complied. Carrie sighed as she stared at the heart-shaped earrings. Carrie assured Chad that the earrings were beautiful, and that they looked expensive.
"Well, I bought her the matching necklace for the night she got the journalism award, but, uh...now the police are holding on to it as evidence, and I'm not sure when I'll get it back," Chad explained. Carrie said that Abigail was going to love the earrings. "My sister used to say that guys would only give you jewelry when they're feeling guilty about something, but I don't buy that," Carrie added.
Chad silently remembered kissing Melanie, and he admitted that he was feeling guilty about something. Chad said that he blamed himself for Abigail's kidnapping, but Austin assured him that it wasn't his fault. Carrie excused herself so that she could check in with Bo, Hope, and Rafe. After Carrie left, Chad noted that it was obvious that Austin and Carrie really loved each other. Austin admitted that marriage wasn't easy.
Chad wondered how he would be able to recognize that he had found the right woman. "You look for somebody who fits you, because no matter who you are, no matter who she is, you're gonna go through a million changes together, but when you find the one who will weather all the storms with you, you hold on to her, and you hold on to her with all you've got, because this is a very rare thing, my friend," Austin said.
At John and Marlena's townhouse, Carrie greeted Rafe, Bo, and Hope. Rafe told Carrie about his latest theory. "John says he was in Paris when all those transactions took place. Remember the demonstrations that took place in Paris -- the ones about immigration? When similar demonstrations took place in the Middle East, the government realized that social media was playing a part in organizing the crowd," Rafe explained.
Carrie nodded, and she recalled that the government had disabled the Internet access during the demonstrations. Carrie wondered if the French government might have done the same thing. Hope noted that she had already checked all of the official outages, and Rafe explained that the unofficial outages would not have been reported. Rafe said that he was going to ask one of his Interpol contacts for some help.
Rafe left a message for his Interpol contact, and everyone anxiously waited for the man to return Rafe's call. Meanwhile, Carrie talked to Rafe about the vow renewal ceremony. Rafe admitted that he wasn't sure why Sami was eager to renew their vows, and he wondered why she wasn't focused on Will's sudden bursts of anger. Later, Carrie excused herself so that she could have lunch with Austin.
Back at the Horton Town Square, Austin greeted Abigail. Austin referenced the kidnapping ordeal, and he assured Abigail that she could talk to him if she was having a hard time. Abigail was shocked that Austin was worried about her. Abigail said that Austin had already saved her life, and that he didn't need to do anything else.
"Well, there's an old Chinese belief that says, 'If you save somebody's life, you become responsible for that person,'" Austin said. Abigail pointed out that Austin wasn't Chinese. "Okay, maybe I'm putting this too strongly, but you were in big trouble, and I just so happened to be there, and that makes you very special to me...so if you need someone to talk to -- you need anything at all -- I'm here," Austin assured Abigail.
Later, Abigail helped Austin set up an online discussion board for his class. Austin wasn't convinced that he would need something like that. "Well, you can post the assignments there, and your students can email you, and they can post their reactions to the readings and stuff," Abigail explained. Austin pointed out that his students could just do those things during his classes.
"Why can't they just raise their hand and say, 'Professor Reed, I thought your lecture was extremely, like, boring' or something?" Austin asked. Abigail laughed, and she assured Austin that the discussion board would be helpful. Before Austin could respond, Carrie arrived, and she greeted Austin and Abigail. Austin kissed Carrie, and they playfully teased each other about their Christmas presents.
Abigail sighed as she listened to the couple's banter, and she started to excuse herself. Austin told Carrie about the discussion board. Carrie offered to buy Abigail's lunch, and Abigail eagerly agreed. Later, Carrie recalled that she had met Austin at Salem University. "I was working at Ballistix, and...he came in, and I was like, 'Whoa.' I sold him a shirt, and he proceeded to try it on in front of me, and that was that," Carrie explained.
Austin recalled that Roman had hated him at first, and he admitted that he had been hanging out with the wrong crowd back then. Carrie added that Roman had eventually accepted the fact that his little girl had found the love of her life. Abigail uncomfortably excused herself, and she quickly walked away.
Back at the Brady Pub, Melanie accidentally bumped into Chad. Chad wondered if Melanie wanted to talk about the night of the kidnapping. Chad said that he didn't want to hurt Abigail, and that he didn't want to hurt Melanie, either. "Look, um...we don't have to say anything to Abigail. You know, what she doesn't know won't hurt her, and everything that happened...I don't know, it doesn't mean anything," Melanie claimed.
Melanie pointed out that she and Chad had shared a near-death experience. Chad agreed with Melanie, and he rationalized that the situation had caused them to say some weird things. "I mean, it's also...you start hanging out with someone a lot, and start wondering what it would be like to kiss that person," Chad added. Melanie nodded, and she assured Chad that she wouldn't tell Abigail about the kiss.
Melanie changed the subject, and she asked Chad about the bag that he was carrying. Chad showed Melanie the earrings. Melanie assured Chad that Abigail would love the earrings, and that she would also love him. Melanie wondered if she and Chad were all right. Chad paused, then he assured Melanie that everything was fine.
Chad asked about Melanie's holiday plans. Melanie said that she was going to be joining Victor and Maggie for dinner. Chad explained that he was going to spend some time with Abigail, and he noted that it would be his first Horton Christmas. Melanie assured Chad that the Hortons knew how to celebrate Christmas.
After an awkward silence, Chad said that he was glad that he and Melanie had talked about the kiss. Melanie assured Chad that she was going to pretend that the kiss had never happened. Chad nodded, and he quietly walked away. After Chad left, Melanie muttered to herself that she was doing the right thing.
Back at the townhouse, Bo noted that Hope was nervous, and he wondered what was bothering her. Hope said that Bo already knew what was bothering her. Bo sighed, and he told Hope not to go there. "Brady, how can I not? How can I not go there? Why did that bastard have to bait you about me and John?" Hope wondered. Bo wondered why Hope was still thinking about Stefano's comment.
Hope said that she didn't want to think about the bad times. "Thing is, we've been through too many bad times. Positive side is we've made it through, and we are stronger than ever. We are still together, and that is never gonna change...promise. I'll carve it in a tree again, if that's what you'd like," Bo said. Hope agreed, and she apologized for mentioning Stefano.
Rafe received a call from his Interpol contact. After a short conversation, Rafe ended the call. "The French government did not shut down the Internet because of the demonstrations...they shut it down because they got intel that there was going to be a terrorist attack in the Metro!" Rafe exclaimed. Bo confirmed that John had been in Paris at the time of the outage. Hope added that the bank transfers had occurred at that time.
Bo, Hope, and Rafe celebrated, and Rafe said that John was going to have a great Christmas.
At the Horton house, Maggie and Victor smooched in front of the Christmas tree until Melanie returned from checking on the turkey and interrupted them. All three expressed their regrets that Daniel wouldn't be joining them for dinner. Melanie added that she hoped her dad didn't spend his time alone just moping about Jennifer.
Marlena was at home alone, looking through old photo albums and remembering the Christmas when John had given her a special charm bracelet, when Will knocked on the door. After they shared a warm embrace, Marlena wondered why her grandson wasn't at Sami and Rafe's vow-renewal ceremony. Will declared that he was there to take Marlena with him, but she informed him that she hadn't been invited, and she didn't want to ruin Sami's special night.
Will thought that Marlena should be there regardless of what his mom wanted. He pointed out that the other grandkids wanted her there, as well -- plus Marlena should be with family on Christmas Eve, "Not crying over an old photo album." Marlena claimed that she hadn't been crying. Pretending to concede defeat, Will put his feet up on the coffee table and declared that if Marlena wasn't going, he wasn't going, either, and they could cry over old photo albums together. Marlena playfully swatted him, and teased him for being stubborn -- and just like his mother. "No, I'm not. I'm nothing like her," Will stated seriously.
Austin arrived at the loft to help Sami before the ceremony. Although beautifully dressed in a short but festive red gown, a frazzled Sami was frantically searching for her lost shoe and complaining that Johnny refused to get dressed. Austin reassured her that he was there to help, and urged her to relax and remember that the night was supposed to be a happy occasion. "I am happy!" Sami insisted, frowning. She admitted that she just wanted everything to be perfect, but Rafe was running late. Austin informed her that Rafe and Carrie were working on a possible break in John's case. Sami grumbled that John was going to ruin everything -- like he always did.
Rafe accompanied Carrie to Judge Goldberg's chambers. Carrie laid out the evidence that Rafe, Bo, and Hope had discovered: John could not possibly have made the transactions he'd been charged with making, because the Internet in his area had been on government shutdown. Rafe added that it meant that the documents that the FBI had supplied had been falsified. Carrie explained that she had asked to meet privately with the judge and the prosecution because she didn't want to get John or Marlena's hopes up. Judge Goldberg questioned Carrie about what she was asking for.
"I think the evidence speaks for itself, Your Honor. My client's guilty plea must be overturned, and all charges dropped. John Black deserves to be set free tonight," Carrie declared. Judge Goldberg asked why John had pleaded guilty if he were truly innocent. Carrie explained that John had merely been trying to protect his family from the public, who had been out for blood. Judge Goldberg asked the prosecutor if the FBI was willing to drop the charges, and the prosecutor replied that he would like to consult with his colleagues first. After urging the prosecutor to do so quickly, Judge Goldberg told Carrie and Rafe that they could leave, and he would notify them as soon as he'd made a decision.
While they waited for the judge's ruling, Rafe changed into his wedding suit. Carrie assured him that it was all right if he left, since Sami was waiting for him, but Rafe wanted to be there when the decision was announced. Carrie expressed her amazement that they had gotten as far as they had based on a hint from Stefano. Rafe pointed out that it had probably been Stefano one who had framed John, and Carrie acknowledged that John would never have let them do anything if he'd known Stefano was involved. Rafe asserted that John never needed to know.
Carrie noticed how much Rafe was struggling with his tie, and stepped in to help him get it on straight. Just then, her cell phone rang with a call from the judge. Carrie answered quickly, and then gasped, "What? I don't believe it!"
As Jack, Jennifer, and Abigail arrived at Horton Square, they talked about how much they missed J.J., who was skiing in the Alps.
Bo and Hope entered the square with Ciara, with Abe, Lexie, and Theo right behind them. The kids immediately ran off together to play. Abe asked Bo about John's case, and Bo -- wearing a Santa hat -- informed the others that Carrie and Rafe were looking into a lead that might give them all some good news for Christmas. Just as Hope asked Abe about his speech for that night, E.J. and Nicole appeared in the entrance to the square.
Declaring that she refused to let E.J. ruin Abe's speech, Lexie stormed over to confront her brother. E.J. assured her that he was taking the night off from campaigning, and had no plans to try to upstage Abe. E.J. then asked, "Father and I were wondering if maybe you and Abe and Theo would like to come around to the house later to celebrate." Lexie laughed incredulously. E.J. suggested that perhaps just Theo could go over to get his presents, and pointed out, "It's Christmas, you know. It's about family." Lexie maintained that if E.J. really cared about family, he never would have entered the mayoral race in the first place.
Maggie, Victor, and Melanie had arrived, as had Sami and Austin, when Abe stood in front of the Christmas tree and addressed the crowd. With the children gathered around, Abe introduced the arrival of Santa Claus. Doug appeared in costume at the top of the stairs, and all the children and even the adults cheered and applauded enthusiastically. "Santa" took his place on the ornate throne, where Julie awaited him. She handed him a large book, as the children sat, enraptured, at his feet. Doug then began to tell the story of Christmas. Jennifer blinked back tears, as if remembering Christmases past.
When story time was over, Melanie casually asked Abigail where Chad was. Abigail informed her that Sonny and Chad were working at the soup kitchen, and explained that she suspected it was at least partly because Chad didn't want to end up like his father. Melanie then asked what Abigail had gotten Chad for Christmas. Abigail said that she'd bought the video game that Melanie had suggested.
As Will and Marlena paused at the entrance to the square, she teased him about "dragging" her out of the house. She asked about Gabi, and Will said that Gabi was spending the holidays with her mom. Marlena inquired about how Will was doing. "I'm great. I mean, I'm over it," Will replied. Marlena wasn't convinced, and urged him to be honest. Will confessed, "I guess I loved the idea of us more than I loved her." Marlena praised him for being so insightful.
Will then confided that he'd been having feelings for a while that he couldn't get rid of, even though he'd tried. Marlena gently asked what kind of feelings, but Will decided that it wasn't the right time to discuss it. And understanding Marlena put her arm around her grandson and escorted him into the square. E.J. appeared from around the corner, and looked after them musingly, as if he'd overheard.
As soon as Johnny and Allie saw Marlena, they both shouted, "Grandma!" and rushed into her arms. A displeased Sami asked Will what Marlena was doing there, and he replied that Marlena was his "plus one." Sensing the tension, Austin quickly suggested that he take Sami's younger kids to get some hot cocoa, and they all held hands as he led them away.
Sami addressed her mother quietly, "I didn't want to have to say this. This is a really special night for Rafe and me, and I didn't want anything or anyone to ruin it. I didn't ask you to come because I don't want you here, and I would like for you to leave." Will demanded to know what was wrong with Sami. Marlena gently intervened before things got too heated between Sami and her son. Sami admitted that she could barely stand to look at Marlena. After expressing how beautiful Sami looked and wishing her well, Marlena said goodbye to Will.
As Sami stomped off, Will stopped her, and reminded her that she had wanted to renew her vows in front of God and her family -- and if that didn't mean her mother, then he didn't know whom she was talking about. Sami didn't answer, so Will told Marlena, "If you leave, I leave." They began to leave the square, but Sami asked them to wait. After acknowledging that she hadn't realized how much it meant to Will, she agreed to let Marlena stay. "Please don't make me regret this," Sami added quietly. "I never would," Marlena assured her.
Allie called out to Abigail as she passed by the table where Austin was entertaining the children. Allie happily informed Austin that Abigail was her cousin. Abigail was surprised to hear that Carrie was working on Christmas Eve. Sami arrived, and expressed her gratitude to Austin for keeping an eye on the kids. She asked if he could continue to stay with Allie while Sami took Sydney and Johnny to see their dad. Austin agreed. As Sami and the kids hurried away, Austin invited Abigail to join him and Allie for a cup of cocoa. Abigail happily accepted.
As Bo and Hope sat together in front of the plaque dedicated to Tom and Alice, Bo surprised his wife with a birthday gift. She was touched when she opened it, and Bo explained that it was the same book of poetry that he'd given her on her eighteenth birthday, but that copy had gotten quite tattered over the years. Hope looked inside, and noted with amazement that it was a first edition. She clutched the book to her heart, and softly declared that she loved it. When she began to kiss Bo in thanks, he stopped her to produce another gift, which he said was for their anniversary. Inside, Hope found a beautiful silver pendant. As Bo helped her put it on, he thanked her for being his wife. After declaring their love for one another, they sealed it with a kiss.
As Sami handed off Johnny and Sydney to E.J. and Nicole, Johnny innocently asked his daddy if he was going to stay for the wedding. E.J. replied that the wedding was just for family, and then changed the subject by asking for permission to let the children open their Christmas gifts. Sami consented.
A nearby Will had overheard the exchange, and sarcastically told Sami that she should let E.J. stay for the wedding, since the two of them had been getting along so well. Sami was taken aback, but Will seized the opportunity to needle his mom about her five marriages. He then declared that one day, Rafe would figure out who Sami really was -- just as Will had.
Nicole and E.J. sat on a bench while they watched Sydney and Johnny play with their Christmas gifts. Nicole commended E.J. for not overshadowing Abe's moment in the spotlight. E.J. cheerfully explained that he thought he should give Abe a glimmer of hope, because as soon as E.J. won the civil suit against John, Abe's chances of becoming reelected would be very slim. E.J. declared that life couldn't be better, because he had two wonderful children -- and Nicole.
Sami pleaded with Will to tell her why he was so upset with her. With a bitter laugh, Will replied that he would be happy to tell her right then, along with everybody else there. He declared that he was sick of watching Sami do whatever she wanted without considering the people whom her actions affected, and he refused to let her hurt any more innocent people. "Will, I don't know what you're talking about," Sami said tearfully, reaching out with questioning hands to her son. Will argued, "You know exactly what I'm talking about. What you did when--"
Just then, Rafe arrived, and interrupted before Will could finish. He admonished Will, who declared that Sami didn't deserve Rafe. "It's Christmas. We're family. Come on; can we love each other here?" Rafe implored, but Will merely walked away. Sami managed a smile for her husband, and said that she'd been worried he wouldn't make it. Rafe assured her that he wouldn't have missed their vow renewal for anything. Sami asked how things had gone with work, and Rafe said that he wanted to talk to her about that. The two walked away together arm-in-arm.
Marlena arrived from outside through the archway, and spied the mistletoe hanging overhead. As she recalled a time in the past when John had surprised her under some mistletoe, suddenly she heard her husband's voice behind her saying, "Hey, sweetheart. How about a kiss?" Marlena let out a startled gasp, then ecstatically threw her arms around John. After a long embrace, she kissed him passionately under the mistletoe.
Marlena and John were in front of the tree, but still kissing, when Austin and Carrie walked up. Marlena asked John breathlessly, "How did this happen?" John explained that because of the evidence that Carrie and Rafe had uncovered, the judge had overthrown John's guilty plea and dropped all the charges. "It is a real Christmas miracle!" Marlena exclaimed. John expressed his enthusiastic gratitude to Carrie, then pulled her into a bear hug.
E.J. was livid when he spotted John across the square, and vowed to find out how John had gotten out of prison. Bo and Hope appeared, and couldn't help but gloat that E.J.'s civil suit against John was effectively over -- which meant that all the scheming E.J. had done to become mayor had been fruitless. Nicole declared that E.J. would get elected anyway -- and then Bo and Hope would report to him. After E.J. and Nicole walked away, Hope did a joyful little dance.
Lexie and Abe were thrilled to see John, who had barely let go of Marlena since arriving. Lexie playfully but forcefully wrested Marlena away from John, ostensibly so the women could talk. Abe declared that he was very glad to see his old partner out from behind bars. John thanked Abe for his support, and apologized sincerely if his situation had damaged Abe's campaign in any way. Abe insisted that their friendship was far more important than his campaign. As the men embraced, E.J. and Nicole approached.
E.J. offered his sarcastic congratulations to John. "I'm sorry if I spoiled your plans to ruin my life," John replied. E.J. vowed to continue to fight until the bitter end.
Austin expressed his admiration for how Carrie had gone above and beyond what anyone else would have done. Carrie reminded him that she'd had help, and asserted that getting to see John and Marlena back together had made it more than worthwhile. As they kissed, Abigail emerged from a nearby shop, and watched the Reeds wistfully.
Lexie tentatively asked Abe if it would be all right if they went to her father's house after Abe performed Sami and Rafe's ceremony. She explained that although she couldn't forgive the things that Stefano and E.J. had done, she also had to think about Theo. Abe interrupted, and assured her that he understood. "It's Christmas," he acknowledged. Lexie kissed him gratefully.
As Bo reiterated his congratulations to John, Hope hugged John and Marlena. John acknowledged that it had been a brilliant idea for the others to look into the Internet outages, but Hope shrugged it off as a "stroke of amazing luck." John vowed to find whoever was responsible for setting him up, and then repay every penny that had been stolen.
When Rafe and Sami arrived, Bo and Hope quickly made a polite excuse and left. After exchanging holiday pleasantries, Rafe and Sami invited John and Marlena to attend the vow-renewal ceremony. Marlena expressed her surprise, but Sami seemed sincere when she stated, "We would like for you both to be there. John, I want you to know I'm really happy that Rafe helped prove that you're innocent." John enthused that Sami had chosen a great husband and had beautiful children, and then declared happily, "We would love nothing better than to attend your ceremony."
Abe began the ceremony for Rafe and Sami in front of the Christmas tree, while the children, including Theo, sat and watched. In Rafe's vows, he stated that he still meant every word from his and Sami's wedding the previous year, and a lot had happened in the ensuing year -- but they were stronger because of it. He continued, "And I'm better because I have you. You're my heart. You're my everything." He promised to spend the rest of his life making Sami happy, because she made his life worth living. "I love you, Samantha Brady-Hernandez," Rafe concluded.
Grinning, Lexie turned to share her joy with Will, who was standing next to her, but her smile faded when she saw him glowering in his mother's direction. Sami began her vows by declaring that Rafe was truly her better half, and he made her a better wife and mother, as well as a better person. She promised to be loyal, devoted, and honest, and to honor and respect Rafe. Will scoffed. E.J. began to enter through the archway just then, but stopped when he saw that the ceremony was taking place. "I promise to spend the rest of my life loving you. I am the luckiest woman in the entire world to be married to you," Sami concluded, grinning through her tears.
As E.J. turned and left, Abe continued his part of the ceremony: "Sami and Rafe asked to be married here in the square to honor Tom and Alice Horton, an inspiration to us all. I ask that you remember to continue to cherish and respect each other as individuals. As Tom and Alice always taught us, live each day in love, in good times and in bad." He reintroduced Sami and Rafe as Mr. and Mrs. Rafael Hernandez, and declared that it was time for the happy couple to kiss. As Rafe and Sami shared an enthusiastic kiss, their family and friends cheered and clapped. Even Will managed to look happy, if only for a moment.
Later, Sami handed her bouquet to Johnny so she could embrace her daughters. With some encouragement from Marlena, Will finally approached his mom, and gave her a brief hug. Both the hug and its brevity seemed to surprise Sami. Austin and Carrie each embraced Rafe in congratulations, while Sami tentatively approached John. At last she welcomed her stepfather home, and put her arms around him. John accepted the embrace gratefully, and when Sami walked away, he and Marlena exchanged looks of pleasant surprise.
Nicole and E.J. were about to head upstairs at the DiMera mansion, but E.J. had to stop to answer the door. On the doorstep were Abe, Lexie, and Theo, carrying bags full of gifts. Theo immediately ran inside to hug Nicole, but Abe and Lexie hesitated for a moment, then finally went inside.
Back at the Horton house, Bo and Hope admired the family ornaments on the tree. As they gazed at the ornaments for Tom and Alice, Hope marveled that her grandmother had managed to save the day again. "If it wasn't for her help, John would be spending Christmas in a jail cell," Hope asserted. She admitted that she still missed "Gran," but Bo pointed out that Alice was always there with them. Julie and Doug entered with champagne, followed by Ciara, Jack, Jennifer, Abigail, Maggie, Victor, and Melanie.
As the noisy Horton clan finally quieted down, Doug raised his glass to make a Christmas toast: "To all my wonderful family and friends, may your holiday season be filled with laughter and love and happiness and friendship and hugs and kisses! Here's to all of us," he continued, turning to face Tom and Alice's portrait on the mantel, "and to Alice and Tom, for bringing us all together, and always reminding us what family and love are truly about. Cheers!" As the Hortons clinked glasses and hugged, Julie dashed over to kiss and clink glasses with her husband.
Maggie sat in Alice's chair, and Melanie knelt on the floor next to her so they could watch Victor open a gift -- a colorful sweater like nothing else in his wardrobe. He scowled good-naturedly as he held it up, and the women giggled. Meanwhile, Doug took a picture of Julie, Hope, Bo, and Ciara in front of the Christmas tree. Jennifer, Abigail, and Jack sat on the sofa and looked through a family photo album together.
Alone in Horton Square, John and Marlena gazed affectionately at the plaque of Tom and Alice before sharing another joyful kiss.