...cause a Salem party don't stop!

For the Week of July 26, 2021
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If you thought Eric and Nicole's anniversary interruptus was a blast, wait until the afterparty! The unmerry married couple imploded. E.J.'s about to burst! Claire conned with a Hofstetter while Ben pulled a Zbornak, all of which made Ciara's head want to explode. And most of it's "to be continued!" So, let's celebrate all of Salem's explosive encounters and Olympic-sized cliffhangers in this week's DAYS Two Scoops!

It's official! We've been Olympically cliffhung. It'll be over two weeks until we can catch up with our favorite flawed but fabulous friends on DAYS. Though, that leaves us plenty of time to ponder what trials and tribulations are in store for the sordid little settlement of Salem, USA, when we get back from the hiatus.

In fact, since Salem kept partying right up until the very last second, we've been left with some burning questions at the edge of that cliff until August. Is E.J. about to go nuclear on Sami!? Is Ciara starting to remember her past? Where did Ben get that hat? Do we accept Auntie P's olive branch? Is Eli asking for trouble? Can we day drink with Nicole until the Olympics are over? Oh, and just how long will it take the bakery to open?

Still, before those and more queries were cast, Sami detonated a Xanimal-sized truth bomb that blew apart everything "Ericole" during their anniversary celebration. It was a hot yet magnificent mess. He's gone back to Africa. She's gone back to beast mode. And I couldn't be happier (or sadder). Let's discuss...

First a flashback to 2007, though! I'll wait for you to scroll through your iPod shuffle until you find "Umbrella." And yes! It was really fourteen years ago when that song came out, but I digress, as I'm flashbacking here.

I was an excited yet nervous new Two Scooper, and I had a secret. Well, a secret wish list, that is. Since some of my DAYS favorites had bid adieu to Salem, I jotted down a "wish list" of characters I'd hope to cover someday if they returned. Floating atop were names like Vivian, Kristen, and, of course, Nicole. Now, I'm truly a very lucky Two Scooper. I've gotten to cover all three of those legends since scribbling that list. Sure, there are some names still not crossed off, but they'll remain a mystery for another time.

So, why did I take us back to '07? Well, just a year later, we got to celebrate the return of Nicole Walker! And her little dog, too. She sauntered back to Salem with pooch Pookie and a bag full of fierceness. It was glorious. Since then, there have been ups and downs and departures and returns, but one thing made it all worthwhile -- the way flawlessly fabulous Arianne Zucker brings Nicole to life. And last week, Nicole was full of life!

Seriously, several days later, and I'm still mesmerized by Monday and Tuesday's episodes. They were amazing. No, no, no. What's better than amazing? Marvelous? Tremendous? Amazingest!? I don't know. Whatever that answer is, they were that and a bag of chips. I said it on Twitter, and it bears repeating: my hands still hurt from applauding Team DAYS for those showings.

I don't even know where to start with the praise for these episodes. The plot was pure soapiness at its simplest form -- the reveal of an explosive secret at a party. But, my God, the delivery was impeccable. Paul Telfer was terrifically cheeky as Xander exploded the scene. Greg Vaughan brilliantly brought the pain and anger like only he soul-crushingly can. Ari Zucker was perfection. And the supporting cast shined in their roles, too. Applause is deserved all around, and that includes those in the writers' room.

The little touches also made these scenes even more layered. I loved that Roman rushed to his son's hand with ice. Marlena's little whimper when she finally got to hug her hurt son was heart-tugging. In fact, I loved that Ro and Mar got to be there for Eric. You could tell they cherish him and wanted to erase his pain. Chloe being there for Nicole was additionally a great touch, as was Brady's unwavering support.

Now, while Xander landed the boom, from the moment Nicole said "I'm so sorry" through her sobs, it was on. I knew hearts would break and tears would be shed. They did and they were. Big time.

That breakup scene was so perfectly painful, I just want to give Ari and Greg every golden statue out there. From an Emmy to a "Teacher of the Year" award, they deserve them all, as they taught a master class in acting. The depths to which they understand their characters as well as each other's were crystal clear and added a riveting intimacy to the scenes.

The dialogue and delivery were also a precise blend of soapiness and realism. The booming drama was left at the pub. Standing out of the gaze of others, both characters spoke from their shattered hearts in their living room. There were no winners. No "bad guys." It was just two flawed people who were utterly gutted by the reality before them, standing in their once happy home -- broken by their actions, mourning their marriage, and dreading to say goodbye yet knowing it's the best thing for them (for now). I had a laundry list of lines I wanted to quote from that episode, but seriously, just go rewatch it. It's that good. Just, you know, bring plenty of tissues and comfort food. You'll need it.

Though, as sad as I am that we'll have to put the "Ericole" Rollerblades in the memory box (again, for now), I'm proud that Nicole stood her ground. She didn't let Eric leave unscathed from blame. Of course, because Eric is nearly perfect, he accepted his part in the downfall of their marriage. Nevertheless, I was glad it wasn't an entire blame Nicole for everything scenario. I guess I'm proud of them both!

And, of course, from a storyline perspective, this had to happen. Nicole's been a bride in limbo since shortly after her wedding. That couldn't have gone on much longer, and I'm grateful that Greg Vaughan got to return as Eric to propel things forward.

So, where does Nicole go next? I'm not sure, but I'm hopeful. This heartbreak seemed to reawaken a fire inside of her. It seems like this magnificent amalgamation is emerging of the classic tough, hell on heels if needed Ms. Walker and the Mrs. Brady who worked hard to become a better person over the years. I could get behind that! "Trying Too Hard To Be Perfect And Accepted" Nicole was never the best look for the character. Flawed but fabulous has always worked. A healthy balance of them both might be what Nicole needs to pick that martini glass back up, celebrate her own fierceness that's sometimes forgotten, and move forward.

One thing is clear. Nicole's going to have a few battles in front of her. There's a letter delivery Sami will surely have an issue with. An unmarried Nicole and shared custody of a teddy bear might make Ava uneasy. And if Nicole gets to twist the knife a bit more in a revenge match with E.J., I wouldn't mind that. Those scenes were sleek. So, every "Ericole" fan line up for one big group hug, and then we're toasting to Team Nicole -- may the best be yet to come!

LOOSE ENDS:

As for those questions, let's tackle a few. "Is E.J. about to go nuclear on Sami!?" I don't think so! I might be wrong, but had he been ready to rock her world, he would have handed her the letter or screamed (again) the moment he walked in the door. Instead, he took to flattering his wife into a false sense of security. E.J.'s always seemed to prefer death by a thousand cuts. This way, he can slowly drive Sami crazy with little hints that he might know before finally razing her. She also might get the heads-up if Philip tells Lucas and Lucas tells her, which will still keep her on edge unless she confesses first. Which, it's Sami, so she won't. That type of warfare is certainly in the "EJami" playbook. They're very Virginia Woolf like that. Then again, I already thought E.J. knew, so my guesses are -- like Eli's clothes most of the time lately -- a little off these days.

Speaking of, we must ponder: is Eli asking for trouble? Granted, Chanel had her bedtime blinders on this time, but, in a stressful situation, she's been known to make some less than smart choices like kissing on Theo or marrying Xander. Should she experience another troublesome trigger, will she pounce on a nearly naked Eli? Will he pounce back? I hope not! I like the "big brother-kid sister" bond they're forming, but my day-one stance remains on this scenario -- there's a strong scent of Sami, Austin, and Carrie in the air between that the Price-Grants and Ms. Dupree.

Ding! Ding! It. Was. On. Julie versus Paulina was amusing, albeit cut way too short. I was Team Julie on this one. Paulina has treated her rather uncouthly since she showed up in Salem and, you know, basically wanted to demolish everything Julie holds (sometimes too tightly) dear. I'm glad Julie called her out on it. I'm also glad Paulina recognized her faults. That goes a long way. I think it'll be a while before these two sip high tea at the Salem Inn, but perhaps J.J. could visit and offer them some of his special doughnuts, as that might bond them highlariously.

The next stop on Auntie P's apology tour was facing Abe and Lani. I believe she was being sincere when she said sorry and promised to spare the Square. I won't trust her for a while, of course, but I believed her. Maybe we should all help Chanel get the bakery ready then sit around with some sweets and try to talk things out further. Baked goods and bonding go together nicely. Just saying.

Also, isn't there any land between Salem and Brookville that Paulina could plant the Price Town flag on? With the decline of brick-and-mortar businesses, I'm sure Salem Place could use a new store for some retail therapy (and maybe reopen a Java Café inside). I also think it would be uber chic if she converted an old waterfront warehouse into a flagship store. And we'd get to see the pier sets again! Wins all around, Ms. Price. Get your chin up and your checkbook out. Again, just saying.

And finally, we were invited to a wedding last week! Don't worry. There will be plenty of places to sit, as the regrets list kept getting longer and longer. It's a really wonky wedding, anyway, that nearly nobody wanted to attend or thought was a good idea except, maybe, the groom. Maybe.

Though, I suspect even Theo thought "down the road" rather than "down the aisle that day" was a better idea, but he didn't want to disappoint Ciara. Oh, buddy. There's going to be a lot of disappointment to dish out. So much so, we'll have doggy bags to spare.

About disappointment, I'm not happy that Shawn told Claire to leave her own home, but I get why he did. It was getting loud and repetitive in there. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to be him last week. At all. The dad-brother referee schtick did not look fun. It's a no-win sitch. He was stuck between a well-meaning, hellbent Claire Bear and a bratty, bewildered, brain-damaged bride. Shawn-D should really reach out to Nicole for some day drinking tips. Though at least Belle showed up to the wedding last minute. Hopefully with a flask. It'll be needed. Anyway.

Did I mention Belle showed up? That brought the body count to seven, I think. So, yeah. I also think -- think -- the lead-up to the wedding was meant to be played for laughs. If not, whoops. I was laughing my hourglass off, nevertheless. The Salemites bailing left and right was laughably overdone. Chad was peaced out for a DiMera Enterprises emergency trip. Eli had a thing. I'm fairly sure Doug threw himself down on the racquetball court just to get out of the wedding, and Julie "had to help him." They're not all at Julie's Place with the lights lowered, sipping margs and watching the Olympics. Nope. Not at all.

It would have been nice to know why Celeste, Cameron, and Brandon couldn't make it, either. Maybe Madame Perrault knew things would implode, so she saved the airfare. Then again, it didn't take a psychic to realize that wedding was a goner.

I'm also fairly certain that Ciara's first bouquet would send Claire a "Thank You" card for sparing it from the wedding if it could. Like, really, nobody wanted to be there except Theo. Even Ciara seems to have doubts about the wedding. She chanted "Ben means nothing to me" like a mantra, trying to will herself to forget him, even though she doesn't exactly remember him. Or something like that.

Plus, Hope-less DAYS hit home for me last week while I watched all the hoopla. Sure, Fancy Face's plane had its problems. There's that. Still, I'd love Hope's take on all of this. I know she loves Theo. She watched him grow up alongside Ciara, as Abe and Lexie were two of her best friends. A lot would indicate that Hope might (under normal circumstances) root for this couple.

Still, Hope developed a soft spot for Ben. She grew to call him family. Granted, Ciara's an adult and can do what she wants, but would Hope be comfortable with her brain-damaged daughter going down the aisle, or would she stop her?

I feel like if Hope were on Team CIN, it would have been much fun to watch her and Claire work together with Ben. I can almost imagine that glimmer in Hope's eye as she states, "I have an idea." Then, of course, giving that enchanting, knowing wink of hers. Ah, memories.

The "Tale of Bope" would have had more of an impact coming from Hope, as well. Instead, it came off as the something borrowed that made some of us blue, especially as CIN has their own celebrated moments to pull from. Perhaps Ciara could have received an anonymous fortune cookie with a message to meet her on the park bench or something. Reusing the "Bope" thingy just seemed more unimaginative (like Bonnie on a bench and Justin hands her a handkerchief or Victor gives Maggie red shoes) than a touching throwback. Maybe that's just me. Again, I digress.

Even with all that said, I'm not going to lie. Claire's Howie Hofstetter-reminiscent ruse was a gas. Her nonchalant "Surprise!" cracked me up. Isabel Durant was a find, for sure. And sans the burning phase, Claire really is the best best friend ever. I'd want her in my corner. I also loved that she was in her own corner and stood up to Ciara. When she stated, "You can't talk to me like that in my own house," I cheered for Claire Bear.

And finally (for real), when Ciara was in the car and the driver turned around and it, well, turned out to be Ben, I had a total Stanley Zbornak flashback from the last episode of The Golden Girls. That was kind of needed. It's better to focus on the comedic side of things because with "reality goggles" on, this storyline can become a bit cringy at times. Like, a lot of times. So, let's hope that when we return to Salem, Ciara's memory also promptly returns, and we can swiftly forget a lot of the cringe factors that have faced this fan-favorite couple. Deal, Soap Gods!?

Extra Scoops

HOT
Ari Zucker. Wow! Need I say more!? She was hauntingly brilliant last week. All week. As usual, of course, but last week was extra special wow. Wow on another level. Cheers to Ms. Zucker!

NOT
Seriously, Detective Grant!? Seriously. Your wife should not have to ask you multiple times to put on some damn clothes when houseguests are present. I hardcore felt Lani's frustrations. It was redundantly maddening for her (and us). #TeamLani

LINE(S) OF THE WEEK: NICOLE WALKER-BRADY EDITION

Nicole (to Sami): "Oh! You're quoting the Bible now? Well. Here's a verse for you -- 'Let she who is without sin cast the first stone.'"

Nicole (to E.J.): "Well. I'm having much more fun than I thought I would."

Nicole (to E.J., regarding if she read the letter): "Yes. I have. I'm an adulterer and a snoop."

EXCHANGE OF THE WEEK: HEARTBREAK EDITION
Eric: "I will always love you."
Nicole: "And I will always, always love you."

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Lucas and Philip continue to delight me! Though Lucas might not be as delighted once Dimples explains what he's done. Whoopsy.

Oh, Hope. Come home for a visit. I'll have Victor send a plane. He solves problems promptly.

"Want to turn it into a Waffle House!?" Ha! Julie cracks me up.

If I were Allie, I'd find out if Tripp can make pancakes. If he can't, I'd pick Chanel. She bakes and makes beautiful breakfast food. And you're welcome, Allie.

Points to Eej for using the old "omelet and egg" quote! I love that one. His Beelzebub one was great, too. So, aside from entering marshmallow head pageants, we now know he watched Clue while in recovery.

I wonder what case was so important that Eli had to be there to testify.

I adored Abe stating Theo was like his mother because he is "wise as hell, but stubborn as they come." Oh, Lexie. How I miss thee.

I very much enjoy Boho-Chic, but Hope's house is a bit -- I want to say -- "too busy," perhaps.

I'm going to hell for laughing about this, but John's "What do you mean?" had me snickering. Oh, Mar. I'm glad you were there to explain for him.

Did Theo really pay for his own breakfast on his wedding day!? C'mon, Abe and Lani. You two are better than that.

I feel like we need to have an entire "Who Wore It Better?!" extravaganza combating Claire versus Howie Hofstetter, and Ben versus Stanley Zbornak.

Lucas was right when he said, "Don't tell me something went wrong. Not in Salem." You're as insightful as you are sarcastic, Mr. Horton. Hat tip to you!

If I'm doing a crossword puzzle and need a four-letter word for "hypocrite," can we now use "Sami"? Love you, Scami Gene, but I gotta call them like I see them.

I know I should feel worse for E.J., but watching Nicole knock him down was epic. Now if someone can hand him his smugness that she verbally slapped off his face along with his file folders that he threw on the floor, that would be great. Thank you!

PARTING THOUGHTS
So, friends and fellow DAYS fans, that's it for July 26. Okay. So, maybe a Salem party does stop -- at least for an Olympic hiatus -- but a Two Scoops shindig doesn't! Laurisa and I will return next week with an all-new special edition to keep the DAYS love flowing until the show returns August 9. And, as always, thank you for reading, and "That's a fact."
Tony

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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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