Probably the most contentious subject among Days fans right now is The Rape, and the implications for the future of Samantha Roberts on the show. EJ or Lucas? Shippers on both sides have sharpened their weapons and plunged into the fray. As I was browsing through a message board recently, I saw this succinct and forceful thread title:
“DIE LUCAS DIE!”
and, striking a more plaintive note:
“What makes Jack’s rape of Kayla forgivable but not EJ’s rape of Sami?”
For the Lumi side we have this little gem of a character analysis:
“Time to Stop Pimping Rapist Murderer Torturer Psychopath EJ!”
I have been staying away from this topic on my blog, mostly because I feel it is being done to death elsewhere. Also, it is a rather strange feeling for me to feel so at sea about something that so many people are so certain about (on both sides), and are so passionate in their certainty. There are two basic issues here: the pairing issue and the rape issue. Let’s take the pairing issue first.
Who’s hotter, Bryan or James? Who’s the better actor? Is a new coupling better for Days right now, or is it better to protect all couplings that have a significant fanbase? What is the storyline potential for each pairing? Who does Ali play best with? Given Sami’s history, what is true to her character?
In terms of storyline potential, putting the rape aside, in my opinion the Romeo and Juliet possibilities for a DiBrady pairing outweigh the fun-with-Nick-and-Nora possibilities of the Lumi pairing. I would also give the “new couple over old couple” edge to EJami, because Days has too many established pairings. Everything else comes down to personal preference. This is where the show itself needs to take a stand, though I’m not sure I have much confidence it will do so.
Looking for guidance from the past, a potential parallel, perhaps, was the undeniable chemistry between Steve and Hope when Steve first came on the show. It’s clear, watching scenes from that time, that they were flirting with the idea of a triangle between Bo, Hope, and Steve. But in the end, they made Steve and Hope friends and paired Steve with Britta and then Kayla.
Another parallel from the past is when Roman Brady first appeared. The show had a popular couple in Marlena and Don Craig, but in the end they split them up for good and paired Marlena with Roman. So is Lumi more like Bo and Hope or more like Marlena and Don?
Regarding the rape, you have to wonder what made the show choose to go in that direction. Other than proving EJ is EEEEEvil and giving us a WTD scenario (which apparently is now settled with Lucas being the father? That can’t be!), there was really no reason for it that I can see. The consequences for Sami, and for how Sami and EJ relate to each other, have been presented patchily at best. Different characters take turns shouting at EJ, “You raped Sami!” or some variation thereof. That seems to be the limit of showing the actual ramifications of what happened.
To answer the question posed by the thread title above, the reason that Jack’s rape of Kayla was forgivable is that it was dealt with properly on the show. We saw Kayla suffer, we saw her recover. We saw Steve feeling torn between Kayla and Jack (still mad about that), and the way he finally stood by Kayla and washed his hands of Jack. We saw Kayla make the difficult decision to press charges, and we saw Jack convicted and given a suspended sentence. We saw that Jack still held a torch for the woman he raped. We saw him deny that it was rape at all, and we saw him change his mind. We saw Jack’s eventual remorse. We saw Mary Beth and Matt Ashford always be awkward around each other, even after a peace had been reached. (I love Ali, but I do feel she dropped the ball there. I never felt that Sami had an instinctive revulsion toward EJ, a shrinking from being touched by him. The writing is more at fault, but that would have helped.) That’s how you redeem a rape. So it’s not something to introduce lightly.
(As a side note, there is something particular about rape that is more morally repugnant to soap viewers than other types of crimes. EJami shippers like to point out that Lucas let Sami sit on death row, and in fact let her be executed [she just didn’t die], for a crime that he committed. But though that’s a rotten thing to do, it doesn’t have the same resonance with real life that makes rape a stickier issue to deal with.)
But that’s irrelevant now, because like it or not, it happened, and we’re stuck with it. And the show is stuck with the fact that, in addition to the diehard Lumi shippers who would never support a EJami pairing, there are now fans who abhor the very notion, in principle, of pairing a victim with her rapist (I have harbored feelings of that sort myself, though I am also on principle opposed to stories being off-limits because of the supposed “message” they will send).
I am inclined to say that since Ali and James both generate chemistry very easily with costars, it almost seems a waste to put them together. Let Ali stay with Bryan, who doesn’t share that quality but does have good chemistry with Ali. I would suggest that the show tinker with their writing for Lumi, making them more partners in crime. Stop trying to turn Lucas into an alpha male and make him the sneaky guy who finds the twisty indirect way to get things done. For James Scott, let’s cast someone new for him. But not right away. Here was my take right after the rape, and I still think it’s a viable option:
The only wrinkle, from a writer’s perspective, is the pressure to give “EJami” a whirl because of their chemistry. This might have been possible last fall, to have Sami temporarily with EJ before reuniting with Lucas, but after the rape the die is now cast. You can’t have it both ways anymore. But all is not lost for the EJ/Sami chemistry. EJ is a delicious villian, and needs to stay on the canvas and be given a complex backstory, a tangled-up relationship to his father and brother, and feelings for Sami he doesn’t know what to do with. An EJ/Sami baby, or a plot by Sami to bring EJ down, or both, would give Ali Sweeney and James Scott plenty of wonderful scenes together. It would be EJami, the dark version.