Talk about, talk about, talk about movin'

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Fasten your seatbelts and get ready to rumble! Things are moving fast in Salem: 2020, and everybody has an agenda. Stefano wants to regain his ''Queen of the Night'' while Princess Gina wants the Pawn. Abby wants answers. Chad wants DiMera Enterprises back. Gabi wants to keep her empire. Xander wants to be Mickey's dad. Ciara wants to free Ben. Evan wants Sonny. And J.J. wants big-time vengeance! So, let's get movin' to this funky little town called Salem in this week's DAYS Two Scoops!

Salem's swing into 2020 is excitingly exhausting! Just when you think you've figured one thing out, a game-changer, well, changes everything. My office is starting to look like some shut-in's conspiracy theory bunker as I'm mapping out storylines and connecting characters with yarn tied around pushpins. Yep, it's maddening in the best way possible. DAYS is back to "Miss a day, miss a lot!" status, and I couldn't be a happier Two Scooper.

In addition to all the maps and charts and yarn-connected characters, I'm also adding a scoreboard to the mix. So many Salemites want something right now and are baring teeth to get what they want. From Marlena to revenge, let's look at the prizes these individuals are keeping their eyes on.

The Phoenix has risen! Hmm. Maybe the Fauxoenix. Anyway. It's Steve. Steve Johnson. Loveable old Patchy Claus is now Stefano DiMera. Sorta...

Details are still pending, but it can be deduced that sometime within the last year, Steve was snatched and taken to the Wilhelm Rolf Day Spa and Evil Scientific Experiment Shoppe (with the extra "pe" on "shop," of course, because Dr. Willy is classy like that). Steve was treated to a day of memory erasing, mind swapping, a second bionic eye implant, and all the cappuccino one would expect from a spa day and agonizing transformations. I hear the fluffy white terrycloth robes are terribly nice, though.

Now Steve is Stefano. Or at least "for now." I'd place bets that Sweetness will eventually snap him out of it, but that's for later. For now, it's still a lot to digest, even for Stefano himself. He wasn't exactly thrilled to look like his foe the Patch Man, but Gina gave a little pep talk, a little pat on the, err, back, and now he's more on board with the idea.

Me? I'm intrigued by it all. For starters, Stephen Nichols is one of the best actors out there. I'd watch him untangle Christmas lights and be in awe. I have faith that he'll continue to be delicious as Stefano. It's always fun to watch the process yet have the safety net of knowing that the flip could switch back to Steve at any time.

It could also be a way to eventually get some Stefano closure as well as a great way to honor the character through an actor (and character) everyone loves. As long as it's done respectively to Joseph Mascolo, and Steve doesn't turn out to be the real-real Phoenix, I'm in for now. Another little campy mind-swap this time of year just screams, "Holiday fun for all!'

Plus, I kind of love the banter between Steffie and Princess Gina. Stephen and Kristian Alfonso are charming. You can tell they're having a blast working with one another again, and in such different roles. I additionally dig that Gina is one of the few people who can sass Stefano, and he'll grit through it. After all, they have common goals -- he wants his Queen of the Night, and she wants the Pawn. His plan -- to be announced. Fine. I'll wait patiently. Okay. I can't promise patience, but I'll wait.

Impatiently wanting answers is also John. He's clang-clanging those alarm bells. He believes Stefano is still a threat. He would be right. Point John Black. Marlena isn't so sure. Or perhaps she's using uncertainly to mask her fear. I mean, if anyone should be afraid of the Phoenix, it's Mar Mar. He's put her through the wringer (and elaborate gold bird cage in a Parisian tunnel). I can get why she's not eager to embrace the big guy being back in the fold.

Doc also isn't eager to embrace Hope much longer. Three's a crowd and all. Still, I have mixed feelings about Marlena's mindset. Is she being the best friend to Hope she can be, or is her annoyance understandable? We know that Hope is Princess Gina. Several Salemites suspect something's seriously wrong with Hope, but I'm having a hard time not giving Marlena the side-eye when she's spilling tea with Jennifer and basically rolling her eyes at Hope for overstaying her welcome. This is her buddy Hope, not some rando that popped up out of nowhere.

Don't get me wrong. Living with Gope (Gina plus Hope?) would annoy me, too, with all the fancy dinners and wine, lots of wine, and -- wait. I'm forgetting where I'm going with this. No. I get Mar's annoyance and also agree that "Hope" would have a million and one better suited places to stay, but she's a top doctor and a friend of Hope's; I just feel she's misdiagnosing the situation, and it's not a great look for her.

While Marlena spilled some tea with Jenny Bear, Abigail hopes to get the bottom of her mother's fall faster than, well, Jennifer fell. You go, girl! I'm fully on board Abigail's investigative schtick. She's much more interesting when she's taking control and not losing it. Though Abby's quest isn't sitting pretty with Commissioner Faux-Fancy Face. Abs, Rafe, and others are starting to pick up on Hope's Not-Hope-Ness. With these wheels moving quicker, I suspect Princess Gina has painted her last portrait for a while. I repeat, "Hmm."

Yes, yes, and yes! Abe is involved with John's Stefano suspicions, he reached out to Theo, and we got a psychic Celeste shout-out. Whew. None of that is bad. The more James Reynolds in a storyline, the better! I hope Abe stays in the loop as he certainly has the 4-1-1 on his former father-in-law. He even knew that wasn't Stefano's handwriting. See. Abe knows all. More, please.

Abe also got contacted from Lani and a tongue-lashing from Eli. He doesn't want to hear Lani's name again. Ever. Ever, he says. I respect his pain, but take it down a notch when talking to Abe, please and thank you. Anyway...

Eli ended up in the convent...and ran into Sister-To-Be Lani. And cliffhanger! While this run-in was writing on the wall, I secretly can't wait for Eli's reaction. That might be unintentionally hilarious. Though I probably won't be laughing when Lani continues to keep the truth from him. That is still a head scratcher, as all her problems could have been easily solved. Heck, Eli is capable. He would shut down that app and Gabi, given the info. But running away to a convent makes sense, too. Sure. We'll go with that.

Also in Rome, a not-at-all-high J.J. saw dead people, um, a dead person, and stole a gun to go after Kristen by posing as Eli's bodyguard. I mean, he didn't look strung out at all. Sure. Let him into a room. I guess Italian hotel security is as good as security at Statesville. They might even share the same motto: "To Protect, Serve, and, Oh, Why Not? Go Ahead!"

And so, Junior confronted Sister Sinner-No-More with a gun. And, again, cliffhung! I need more to this story. Those flashbacks were not enough. It legit seems like Kristen wasn't guilty this time. Highlight: this time. Though I'm not complaining. I enjoy that Casey Moss is getting meaty material, and, really, how much more could J.J. take before he snapped? That's after having lost one girlfriend already. Maybe Paige will join next time, and they can have a dead girlfriend intervention.

Back in Salem, it's official! Justin is moving in with Kayla. Nope. They're not moving fast; you are. I mean, if you're keeping track, Abe endorses them. And Abe's the mayor. So...

Evan scolding himself and calling himself "stupid" after kissing Sonny was telling. Sure, Sonny took it on the chin...umm... the lips and was polite to Evan before he left, but I suspect this nanny is a little nutso. Maybe Stella Lombard's pit is still available, and Will can eventually rescue Sonny after Evan has a breakdown. Maybe. One thing's for sure. Rafe gets points for caring. He was very sweet and warned Evan that the Care Bear has a den full of baggage. Oh, does he ever.

We're surely learning about Salem: 2020 through Jennifer's eyes, but I just realized Brady is also a linchpin in learning about the past year. Last week, he kind of wandered around Salem and talked to random people. He had a chitchat with Victor that filled in some blanks, a nice little catchup with John, and a touching talk with Rafe, and he supported Nicole as she melted down. Yep. Brady gets around and, this time, not in the way Brady usually "gets around." He hasn't told anyone they're the love of his life in days. Progress, Brady Black. Progress. Points for you!

Side note: I loved Brady and Nicole as besties, and it looks like they're inching their way there again. Let's return to that status. And let's not get them romantically entangled again, mmm'k? Though I may need a volunteer to venture to Salem with a laser pointer and something shiny to distract Brady if he starts to fall in love with her again.

Alas, Eric and Nicole aren't inching toward anything right now. He's super mad at her. He can't forgive her ever. So, you know he will eventually. Seriously, though, Eric is still in shock about Mickey and all the lies regarding her paternity. Eric pretty much has to swallow it to deal with Sarah for Mickey's sake. Eric wants Xander out of the picture and is making that clear. So, Nicole is getting the brunt of his anger at the moment. Trust me, I get his anger (more so his hurt) and feel for the guy, but his resoluteness needs to be taken down a notch. Eric has two speeds at times: forgiveness and *insert raging Internet dialup noise circa the '90s*

Oh, no! Baby Mickey is sick. I hate this already. She's too cute. I'm keeping a strong front, though, and suspecting that this is just a plot device to either bring Sarah and Eric closer together or reveal some paternity bombshell. And I'll tell myself that until Mickey is better. And she will get better, damn it.

Ciara looked very posh in her safety goggles. There's that. Though she was smart enough to wear protective eye gear, but not, perhaps, go to one of the zillion garages or unoccupied wings of the mansion to make all that noise? Either way, she's supporting her man, and that's not a bad thing. Carry on, C. Carry on.

Meanwhile, in Statesville, Clyde is one creepy son of a shiv. Watching James Read is chilling. Sure, Clyde is the worst. He's arrogant, he's dangerous, and he's downright delusional. Yet James brings in the bravado to play him so excellently, and Clyde's scenes with Ben are next level legit, thanks to the Read/Wilson combo.

Clyde was fixin' to kill Will, but Ben jumped in to save the day. Ben even quipped, "I kinda owed you one," after Will thanked him for saving his life as well as telling the truth to the prison officials. Now, Ben and Will are cool and plan to make friendship bracelets out of old prison jumpers. Still, they're in for a hurtin' once Clyde gets out of solitary confinement. I enjoy that DAYS has been locking baddies up. It makes their comings and goings more unpredictable and less, "Wait. I thought so-and-so was dead!?" So, Clyde can come back to strike at any moment? Okay. I'll leave the lights on, since you asked. I mean, you're afraid. I'm not.

Extra Scoops

From, "I'm good at everything I do, Roman," to "Really? You -- Kate -- want to throw stones in this arena?" I adored everything about Kate and Roman last week! First, Kate unplugged is a wickedly entertaining thing. Love it. Her filter is off. She has some money in the bank, she's enjoying herself at the pub as a change of pace and doesn't have flips to give. Roman is enjoying her there, too, and is one of the few people who can toss truth bombs back to Kate, and she'll, maybe, act offended, but know he's right. These two are just charming, and I want much more, please.

In the spirit of the season, this week's "NOT" is being preempted by another "HOT." Hello, Paul Telfer! Damn. Simply put -- he's a phenomenal actor. His scenes with Arianne Zucker were intense, he and Linsey Godfrey are smoldering, he and Greg Vaughan drip with disdain as Xander and Eric, and when Xander talks about Mickey, Paul simultaneously melts and breaks my heart. That entire "Her happiness first" speech and ending with, "Play 'This Little Piggy' after bath time" was epic. Just epic.

Princess Gina (to Stefano): "A nun? Your daughter, Kristen DiMera, a nun? Hilarious."

Marlena (to John): "Oh this isn't about Julie and her turkey."

John (to Marlena): "It can always be Stefano."

Clyde (to Will): "Well, what do you know? My little caged bird all alone with nobody to protect him."

Brady: "I love you."
Nicole: "You have terrible taste."

Woot! We got a Sami update. She's doing "fine." Okay. A little elaboration would have been nice, but I'll forgive the lack of details due to this fantastic news! I repeat, "Woot!"

Yes, please! Speaking of Sami, Stefano still has it out for his daughter-in-law. He's not forgiven her for stealing part of the family fortune. Oh, I just want Sami back now so we can watch this showdown.

I'm putting this wish on my Christmas list. Should John and Stefano have one final fight and actually get into a brawl, I'll kind of laugh if Steve regains his memory but throws one more punch. Drake would be hilarious delivering, "What was that for, Partner? I thought you remembered me now." To which Steve could reply, "That one was for righty."

I know I shouldn't have, but I kind of snickered when Princess Gina told Rafe where he can stick his concern and just who's in charge of the doughnut shop. Sure, it triggered even more alarm bells. Rafe knows that something is up. But, you know, sometimes a smackdown is amusing, nonetheless. Point Gina.

No, really, how long did former-Father Eric want to be a father? I remember him talking a lot over the years, but I don't remember bio kids being one of his Hot Topic takes of the day until recently. It's confusing.

Points to Jenny Bear for bringing up that she lied to Eric, too. No, really. Respect. That wouldn't have been easy.

I love all the nods to Kayla and pie making. Well played.

Something tells me that Mickey's first phrase is going to be, "Pouty Papa's in a mood again."

Wow! I enjoy Gabi's non-blue office at DiMera Enterprises. It's very -- shall we say? -- chic.

Justin asking Kayla if she liked romantic comedies is like asking Sonny if he likes to giggle. Of course, the answer is going to be "Yes!"

Oh, no! John said he'd chew Steve out for being so absent. Um. Wasn't blinding him enough, Mr. Black? I still think he's working off that one.

Prison guard Earl straight up sucks. No Golden Donuts for him this year.

Sometimes I forget just how long the feud between Eric and Xander goes back. They had issues as far back as Africa. Then again, most of us had issues with them in Africa, too.

Will and Sonny had a very cute Thanksgiving in 2019. There's that.

Kate's take on babies and children cracked me up. Yep, I'm loving Kate unplugged.

Hearing Xander say "nappies" and "dad" always makes me smile.

I love that Sonny and Justin (and John) did the "Turkey Trot."

I wish I had Rafe's backyard! It's always inviting and set up for some fun activities. I'll bring the drinks if he makes some of his mother's famous dishes. Deal, Rafe A Roni?

This time jump has inspired a new DAYS drinking game. Raise a glass every time a character says something to the effect of "A lot changed in a year," "So much has happened in a year," "I can't believe that was a year ago," etc. It's fun. From what I remember. Though I might need Brady to swing by my place once he's done administering that hangover remedy to Nicole. He has the time.

Maybe Chad and Gabi just need a good game of baseball to remind them of the friends they used to be, eh, sluggers?

BONUS SCOOP -- "The Last Blast Reunion" Digital Series

Holla, Last Blasters! I'm so here for this reunion. I love the New York backdrop, the use of history and flashbacks, and the quick pace with which the story is being told and built. Episode Two started with Philip *sigh* and ended with the looming threat of someone lurking outside Kevin's .Com.

Let's loop back to Philip. Jay Kenneth Johnson is a sight for sore eyes. I missed that talented, dimply, delicious dude in the role! So much. And I forgot how magical Jay Ken Doll and Nadia Bjorlin were and are together. Plus, despite her breaking his heart when last he was in Salem, Philip's forgiven Chloe. Things are good. They're good. Craig and Nancy hope things are good. It's all good. I hope things get, err, good-er between them again. You know, Team Phloe and all.

Don't worry. Phil and Belle are okay, too. Okay-ish? They hugged it out after a lot -- I mean a lot -- of awkwardness and steamy memories. I get the divide in camps, but I'm hoping Team Shelle continues to be the "Best Couple" that Kevin believes they are. While Philip didn't make it super uncomfortable at all by pointing out his affair with Belle once Shawn-D came in, I'm more eager to see what will happen instead of what might happen again. The reminiscing is fab, but that aspect of the past should maybe stay in the early '00s.

Though, should Philip want to stir the pot some more, I have a plan. While we sadly don't have Caroline and her trusty baseball bat to break up potential fights between Shawn-D and Philip anymore, we do have a Claire. And she's a bit crazy and unpredictable now. So, Phil, tread lightly, oh, Dimpled One.

Philip: "...and then we all went skinny-dipping in the pool at the mansion."
Belle: "Yeah, Victor came out and almost caught us."
Chloe: "Oh, my God, I couldn't put my clothes on fast enough."
Mimi: "That was a first."

I enjoyed the drama of the "Good, Bad, and Ugly" toast but really loved the "Ghoul Girl" chant as Chloe chugged a beer. Atta girl, Chlomeister!

Teressa Liane is great as Mimi! There were even vintage flashbacks, and it works. I also like that Teressa's brought more snark (and less whininess) to the role. She's a keeper!

Oh, no, Nancy. We finally have something we disagree about. She doesn't like superhero movies. We will need to talk this out over iced caps at .Com the next time I'm in New York.

Aw, Susan! She's so cute and nostalgic. I want good things for her. I hope she makes it back to Salem. She'd be a fun recurring character to have around.

Oh, Jason Wells is gonna show up! He's not wanted. That must mean, "Hello, Jason!" Is he the one looming outside of .Com!?

So, friends and fellow DAYS fans, that's it for December 9! Laurisa will be back next week, as she's given me a lengthy to-do list as we start whipping up the batter for the Thirteenth Annual Golden Donut Awards: The Best of DAYS 2019. I have to polish trophies, pick up our formal wear from the cleaners, tidy up the Two Scoops offices, re-stock our Champagne supply, fly to Rome for more Limoncello, kill Princess Gina's enemies -- wait! I think her highness broke into the Two Scoops offices again and added stuff to my list. Either way, I have a lot to do and better get cracking. See you back here in two weeks for all the end-of-the-year fun! And, "That's a fact."

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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of Soap Central or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen and what has happened, and to share their opinions on all of it. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same point of view.

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