A while ago, Dan (our fearless Soap Central boss man) asked all of us for our favorite soap Thanksgiving traditions. I couldn't come up with an on-screen one because for so many years, DAYS hasn't aired on Thanksgiving Thursday or Friday. NBC shows the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Westminster Dog Show (both beloved traditions in our house!) and then usually a sporting event. So, Thanksgiving in Salem is usually relegated to a low-key celebration in passing.
I know this week's shows were taped well before the move to Peacock, but seeing them all together gives me such hope for the future that DAYS will be able to have Thanksgiving traditions. If they are anything like the bountiful scoops of blessings we got in Salem this week, I'll be a happy fan!
Let's start with a little soap death, shall we? Xander let Susan go. Rather than go to get help (hello, Tony and Anna are still in town!), she gets herself kidnapped again and ends up in an exploding car off a cliff.
I feel like any good mob princess has an exploding car with which to fake her own death. I don't know how I explain the car going off the cliff, but we'll work that out. Point is, I'm pretty sure the only dead person in that car is Charlie, and that's because he was already dead.
Atop the cliff, Rafe and E.J. watched the whole thing go down. This started E.J.'s spiral into grief. Marlena offered him condolences. He came clean with her about his whole scheme -- including how he ultimately did this all because Johnny was becoming too obsessed with Ava. Marlena said this wasn't his fault, but continuing the theme for the week --- the person didn't take the easy way out -- E.J. said he pushed it too far, just like he did with the Clyde threat that ultimately cost Abigail her life. The E.J./Marlena conversation just got better and better. E.J. said that his mom loved Marlena. They reminisced about things unsaid. I teared up when E.J. acknowledged, "If I have any good in me at all, it came from my mother. She was the best of me." Self-awareness will get you everywhere, Elvis Jr.
Later, E.J. got drunk at the scene of the crime. Rafe found him, accepted a drink from the flask, and told E.J. he was genuinely sorry about Susan. I loved this scene. E.J. said he was sorry to hear about the Nicole divorce. I actually think E.J. meant it. He was all out of energy to gloat. At that moment, both of these extremely proud men just wanted a minute of peace.
Speaking of peaceful men, I have to love Eric's optimism. Maybe it's because of the years he spent being a priest. Or maybe it's because he's still so wildly inexperienced when it comes to schemes and women, but he honestly thinks they can be one big, happy modern family. Eric isn't going back to Jada and is dangling no promises of a romantic reconciliation her way. He's also been incredibly supportive of Jada making her own decision about the baby. This glimpse of friends co-parenting was nice between the two of them. The reason Eric is okay making all these promises to Jada about doctor appointments, cravings, and childbirth classes is because he's so sure about his feelings for Nicole. He's very clear with Nicole and anyone who will listen -- Nicole is his girl.
Nicole's always said Eric sees the best in her. She's not wrong. And unfortunately, right now, that's exactly the problem. More on Nicole's garbage person behavior later, but Eric is the linchpin here. He needs to be a little more active and a little less "we'll figure it out." Eric's the coworker who, rather than make a decision, suggests everyone have a meeting and diagram his plan together.
The two other points of this love quad were nothing short of spectacular.
Jada?!?! No notes. Not a single one. Perfect. From her talk with Kate to her utter schooling of Nicole, Jada was all sorts of right. Any mother of Eric's child would have a slew of Brady support. But, man, I love that a powerful woman like Jada is going to have Roman, Kate, Marlena, and more rallying around her. Side note -- How much would Sami loooooove Jada for so many reasons?
As for Rafe, he was petty, bitchy, and insulting. I've never loved Rafe more. I'm not even kidding. It was like the show finally figured out how to successfully use the man! One of Rafe's first scenes was locking a pregnant woman in a bathroom because she was annoying him. He later dragged a dead body across town because he didn't want his girl to get in trouble. Rafe is a diva with an attitude. Humility and forgiveness are not his jam. Sure, he's a good man in the sense he doesn't actively look to cause pain. But he plays favorites and not favorites all the time.
Nicole deserved it, too. Rafe gave her a ton of opportunities to tell the truth. He's right to be mad. But this pompous judgment is his regular setting, and it finally made perfect sense here! It's a Thanksgiving miracle! I'll take another helping!
While I'm handing out praise, let me pass some Gabi's way. I loved her in full-on protective sis mode. Sure, it was a little small when she started saying that the baby is payback for Nicole. But still, I loved that she's there for her brother. I loved that Li and Gabi drank beer with Rafe. For all the DiMera talk about "family," Gabi's probably one of the most loyal people on the show to those she loves. Anyone messing with Rafe, Will, Ari, or Sonny is bound to get her wrath, and I'm not mad at her one bit for that.
Oh, it's the holiday season, so let's pass out more praise! Three cheers for Abe and Paulina having leftovers with Nicole! Paulina being in Nicole's orbit is a gift from heaven. Chloe can't handle this mess alone. Nicole and her defeatist, weak attitude is something that needs to 1-800-See-Itself-Out. Paulina is just the person to do it. Nicole admitting that it was kind of Abe and Paulina to make time for her, considering all that was going on with Chanel, was lovely, too.
Finally, can we just acknowledge how amazing Thanksgiving dinner is? We can walk around with leftovers, hours after eating that exact meal, and decide, "You know what? Yes! Let's eat a cold version of this meal right now!" It's just spectacular.
Alex planned a quite charming Thanksgiving dinner for Stephanie. Maybe it's the chemistry between the actors or the fact that I've always thought Steph paired best with Kiriakis man, but I'm not hating this pair. It will do Alex all the favors to lean into his connection to Adrienne. She's the waking antidote to toxic masculinity.
Wendy and Johnny managed to Scooby Doo kids their way out of a situation with Dr. Rolf. (Shakes fist -- "You rotten kids!") I'm enjoying Wendy a lot, so I'm overlooking a ton of things with Johnny here. But I do think the show needs a better excuse than this justice for Gabi situation they're trying to pull. While they don't wish her harm, neither specifically cares about Gabi's happiness. Perhaps neither Wendy nor Johnny wanted to tell Rolf they were really out for revenge on their respective relatives?
Paulina filled Chanel in on all things Sloan -- mainly how there's no big boss and Sloan was the mastermind all along. According to Chanel, Nathan had two kids. Sloan was one of them. So, there's another kid...er...shoe to drop here.
Also, as if I needed another reason to love Chanel, I adore how she's representing the other truth here, too. Paulina, Allie, and everyone else are absolutely right that Nathan was in a power position and taking advantage of someone just barely not a child. But the other truth here -- Chanel knew Nathan was married -- represents the growth Chanel's had. Chanel's all about the empowered woman today and the retrospective lesson about respecting herself and other women is one she doesn't take lightly. I adore that about Chanel.
Remember how Rafe and Nicole got married off-screen? Now Chloe and Stefan are dating off-screen. I'm sure the comparisons end there, and Chloe/Stefan are in for a long life of happiness together.
Let's say that Xander can get Sarah to accept the fact that he chloroformed, abducted, and held two women hostage. The one part of this whole storyline she probably won't be able to get past is him confiding in Gwen this whole time. For all of his evil deeds before, Sarah's been his north star -- the one woman he wanted to be with, trust, and build a future with. Sharing secrets with Gwen (Gwen!), of all people, would be hard for any woman to accept. But Gwen had a hand in kidnapping and torturing Sarah. Gwen cost Sarah a part of her brain! Pick another confidante, Xander. Sheesh.
Dan Feuerriegel chewed so much scenery this week, and he took all the right bites. He was fantastic. E.J. is a boiling pot with the lid perfectly placed at nearly all times. Thus, we need E.J. to be able to have those moments where the lid comes loose, and he completely falls apart. Dan nailed those moments when E.J. lost it with Tony, Stefan, and Rafe. Bravo, my good sir. So very well done.
Nicole is verging on steal-a-baby jealous here. Only this time, she doesn't have the excuse of going through a recent trauma to explain her actions. Her
bullying of talk with Jada was gross. And while I don't think Jada is weak enough to make a major life decision based on Nicole's clearly biased opinion, this was the lowest of low character moments for Nicole. Nicole had a real shot at grace here and blew it. This whole situation looks like it's going to be as messy as Nicole -- and Nicole alone -- makes it.
Also, I understand Nicole is insecure, but she can see herself out with that shot at Sami. A broken home isn't the reason she went off the rails. Like you, she was sexually assaulted as a child. Much as I come down on Sami for accusing Nicole of being a porn star, I have to call the same foul here. It's just unnecessary cruelty between two victims.
LINE OF THE WEEK:
I need a minute from that "Not" to settle into the sweetness here. That's better. Here we go.
Maggie: "I need to get home to Victor."
Just typing that gives me good chills. How splendid it is that we lucky DAYS fans get to exist in a world where the lovely John Aniston is still with us for a few more precious weeks?!
I loved Charlie remembering E.J. used to drive race cars.
That flashback showed Nicole's been into bad prints for a hot minute.
Do people really move out of houses in suitcases?
Roman calling her "Katie" is still the most adorable thing ever.
There was instrumental Christmas music playing in the background of DAYS this week. I. Love. This.
I hope Wendy and Johnny call someone to rescue Rolf. Otherwise, the next for-sure dead person in Salem is definitely on them.
I giggled that Marlena had to specify, "the wedding in 1999" because they have had so many weddings.
Did Xander go out to get some air in a suit? I guess this is the male equivalent of postpartum attire being tight skirts.
Here's a hot take -- If Susan really is dead, her death is somewhat on Johnny. He (or, more accurately, his libido) insisted Ava be allowed to stay in the mansion. He forced E.J.'s hand at banishing Ava when Johnny chose to shoulder-shrug off Ava's scheme. For sure, there's blame for Ava and E.J., too. But Johnny sure seemed to be the catalyst that set this fire to scorching because he thought a girl was pretty and his dad was being totally lame.
The ongoing plot point where Li is a super dessert fan was hilarious. This exchange cracked me right up:
Gabi: "You should have shoved that pie right in her face."
Rafe: "Well, I did throw it in the trash."
Li: "Wait, there's no pie?...Okay, I get there's no pie, but now there's no dessert at all?"
I always love it when characters who don't interact much get scenes. This week gave us Allie and Abe. For a girl who grew up with Sami and Lucas as her parents, winding up with Paulina and Abe as in-laws is like winning the lottery after being homeless. (And I love Lumi...but...you know, stability isn't their thing.)
Mike Manning is kinda great. He plays despicable oh-so very well.
Forget all the dresses and corporate takeovers. DiMera should sell that CRS-17 position. There could be a big market for them around the time of family holiday dinners!
That's it for this week. Tony will be back next week in hopes of seeing some holiday decorations up around Salem. Considering clown masks were at 60% off before October, I'm guessing there will be abundant garlands up the first week in December.
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