Retcon-apalooza

I was delighted to see Shane again, even though this whole Theresa/Mateo retcon is really terrible. Charles Shaughnessy is looking very, very good:

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Poor Charlie was essentially stuck with narrating a complicated backstory retcon, and the way Shane was … undercover? I guess? … as a priest, in Salem, where everyone knows him, makes absolutely no sense. But it was honestly thrilling to see him with Theresa and hear him calling her “Jeannie.” It was extra special for me because I just watched the storyline when he found out she was his daughter.

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My expectations of Dena are always fairly low, but I have to say this exit story for Theresa is even worse than I could have imagined. We just had a guy in town, Xander, who swore vengeance on Theresa. Using him for her exit wouldn’t require a new actor and a complicated retcon. I mean, there might be complications with how Xander’s exit was written and Deimos pretending he’s dead, but I feel like that could be worked around. It would have had to be better than this!

And if that’s not enough, we had another complicated retcon introduced today, with the (obviously recently shot) “flashbacks” of the reveal that Chloe is, indeed, carrying Nicole and Daniel’s baby. I have no way of gauging how surprised the average viewer might be at this “twist.” All I know is that I was reading the theory on message boards months ago (and I wrote about it here) and so have already worked through my rage at the idea of baby Saint Daniel and at how Daniel keeps getting storylines even though he is dead and off the show.

Putting aside the retcon aspect, it kills me how the show seems to miss every opportunity to milk the emotional drama of their own stories. We should see Chloe be completely torn up at the idea that Nicole has always wanted a baby and yet Chloe doesn’t feel the baby would be safe, because of Nicole’s involvement with Deimos. (This is really the only logical reason for keeping the baby from Nicole. They haven’t actually told us this is the reason, but I’m reading it in.) Phillips actions would make more sense if he was actually falling in love with Chloe — trying to help her, rejecting her when she lied to him, and now wanting to help her again — but I’m not getting that vibe at all.  I suppose the Nicole/Deimos breakup is full of drama but, it’s Nicole and Deimos, so … meh.

And, here’s the thing:  I don’t think it’s true. I don’t think Daniel is the father of Nicole’s baby. Here’s why. First, this reveal was done so early in the story, and it was done all at once. I know it’s a stretch to say Dena is a better storyteller than this, but if this was THE twist, the big shock, wouldn’t she have waited and teased it a little? This is Chloe’s very first day back! I think it’s a setup for another twist down the line.

And that brings me to the moment in the flashback when the nurse comes back to Daniel, Chloe, and Nicole and says, “There’s a drunk man creating a disturbance out there.” Why is that line there? A drunk man? Come on, it has to be Eric. All right, I don’t want to think about Eric drunkenly giving his “sample” and then switching the samples. And if Nicole thinks she has some miracle Daniel baby and then finds out Eric snatched that from her … ugh! Eric doesn’t need more things to feel guilty about. If this is where they are going, I hope it was the clinic making a mistake.

They also managed to dig up this shirt that Nicole wore back in July, a few weeks after the furnace room scenes, for the flashback.

Eric confesses he's in love with Nicole!

Coincidence? Or is it possible that one of her banked eggs was already fertilized from a furnace room hookup? (No idea if the science of that would work, but c’mon, Days doesn’t care.) They’d also have to retcon that Eric and Nicole actually had sex in the furnace room. Another retcon! Why not?

I know, it’s so bad. It’s terrible storytelling. It’s all so, so Dena. But I can’t help it — I’ll admit it — I’m happy. Because if there’s one thing that Days does, always, without fail, it’s give a baby to an estranged couple that are, say it with me, Meant To Be. And to me that means that they are planning on writing for them as a couple. I have no particular confidence that it will be good. As a soap fan who appreciates a well done soap plot, I’m cringing. But as an Ericole fan … hell yes, I’ll take it.

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Eric, with a baby. Need I say more?

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Fragments

Today was a fun episode. The highlight for me was actually the short scene between Abe and Kayla, when she told him he still had fragments of the bullet in his chest. It was just very real and heartfelt, as Kayla tried to soothe him and he demanded to know the truth about his condition.

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James Reynolds took this meatier material and ran with it like the old pro that he is, and Kayla was so warm and comforting. I liked seeing Mary Beth Evans given the chance to do something other than worry about Joey. Kyler Pettis is doing great work as Theo in this story, and all of the teens in the hospital were surprisingly good.

I also enjoyed the Steve, Kayla, John, and Marlena scenes, talking about Orpheus, reviewing the past and analyzing his character.

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Considering how so many of the women characters have been sidelined lately, it was satisfying to me to have Marlena play the role of the profiler, talking about Orpheus’s motivations.

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Criminal profiles usually end up sounding pretty facile on TV, and this was no exception, but I genuinely thought it worked well. It was effective to cut from her discussion of how Orpheus wasn’t a true sociopath because he was able to love, to Orpheus looking at pictures of his family and Joey trying to engage him.

I also appreciate that Joey (and Claire, when she was there) was actually doing, or trying to do, something. I love my 60-something heroes and I could watch Steve crouching in an alley exchanging gunfire all day long, but I want to be able to root for the younger characters too. So when Brady and Sonny act like idiots and John and Steve get the job done, I’m kind of curious what the show is trying to do. Don’t they want to give Brady and Sonny a chance to win viewers’ hearts?

Speaking of Brady and Sonny, I was torn about yesterday’s show and this Kirakis-vs.-Dimera thing they are setting up. First of all, Days shouldn’t do business storylines. Whenever they do, it’s so obvious they have no idea what they are talking about. “We have to operationalize our assets.” “It’s mission-critical to stay incentivized.” “Did you put the cover on the TPS reports?”

Also, it is so frustrating that Dena is in such a hurry to get the plot going. A feud like this should develop much more organically. I’m all for Chad being a little shady, but it should take a lot more than a couple weak arguments from Kate to get him to work with Andre again. I think Billy and Thaao have a fun brotherly chemistry and I’m all for them sharing scenes, but that was ridiculous.

Sad to see the Dimera “family” reduced to Chad, Andre, and Kate. Might as well give Thomas a VP spot.

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Awww.

The Kiriakis living room, on the other hand, is stuffed to the gills. It was fun seeing all those actors together, most of whom I like very much, all yelling at each other. I got the sense they were having a lot of fun with these scenes. And Deimos really did fit right in. I still think he could work as the new Victor, when Victor was shady and ruthless — the remaining Kiriakises are just too good right now. Deimos set my teeth on edge with his condescension towards Theresa at the beginning of the episode — he used the same “don’t bother your pretty little head” voice on Nicole on Monday and I hated it then too. But if Deimos is being set up as a villain, it works. I’m glad Theresa complained about it and barged into the meeting later to chew them out, even if it all ended up feeling a little bizarre.

Deimos seems to be buying that Phillip is the father of Chloe’s baby for now, though Phillip’s fumbling answer to his questions should have been a big red flag. Until last week, I was almost completely tuned out of the baby story and anything involving Deimos and Nicole, but Eric’s potential future involvement in it all has galvanized my investment immeasurably.

I can’t exactly say that the show is good right now, but I am enjoying each episode much more than I was, and there are definitely some things that have me interested at least. The pieces are there for some interesting and dramatic stories, if the show could just find a way to put them together.

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Anticipation

Friday and Monday featured the stories I’m not as invested in, but they were both really strong episodes. You could argue that today’s episode was a little overstuffed, but after the last few months of people being stranded in their bubbles, I found it refreshing.

I am not invested in Summer as a character (at least not yet), and I’m definitely not invested in her as another long lost child for Maggie, but I’m enjoying what this story is doing for Brady. This is the first time I can remember him actively trying to help another person. It kind of amazes me that Days doesn’t seem to get that — that what makes us admire and root for people is for them to do admirable things. I also like the fact that Theresa’s suspicion of Summer isn’t crazy or unfounded, and they are playing the disagreement about her in a pretty low-key way so far.

There was a big Twitter dust-up over a picture that Vincent Irizarry tweeted of him with Judi Evans (and I really, really hope we will see Deimos and Adrienne share scenes!) In the background of that photo there was someone who looked very much like Freddie Smith. I wasn’t getting too excited about it either way —  though I like Sonny and I want Paul to have a love interest. I figured, even if he was coming back, it was months and months away. But two mentions of Sonny in two weeks? I smell a return!

John and Eduardo are a lot of fun.

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There is something about seeing two alpha males who distrust each other, and yet are forced to cooperate, that I just love. It’s what I loved about Steve and RoJohn, and Steve and Bo, back in the 80’s. (If they throw Steve into this mix too, I may faint.) Eduardo’s intense investment in Kate seems a little extreme, and not earned by the non-relationship that we saw onscreen. But, A plays that frustrated attraction so well, I kind of love it anyway. It’s a way of giving him a personal stake in his investigation of Deimos, so it’s a good idea on that score.

And, finally, the Chabby scenes with JJ and Jennifer were brief but very good. Jennifer’s defensiveness about her pills was well done. They seem to be playing her addiction as linked to a being a bit of a perfectionist and a supermom, with all her talk about how she can handle anything Abby throws at her and such. That’s not something we’ve seen, really, but it somehow fits. It plays on her past as the Horton golden girl. I’m liking this. The wedding planning scene with Chad was really subtle in its awkwardness, with Jen trying to be welcoming but maybe trying to hard. That felt very real.

JJ and Chad have great chemistry — I’ve loved all their scenes together lately. JJ had a great line when he said he was sure a few months in a psychology clinic completely cured Ben of his tendency to kill people. Casey Moss was great there. Chad’s rationale for keeping the escape a secret from Abby was a little weak, but it’s what soap men do all the time, so I fully expected him to prevail on JJ.  Abby’s suspicious look, though:

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I was very pleasantly surprised when JJ spit out the truth after all. When she then chewed them both out for keeping secrets it was, again, just very classic, old school soap, and I loved it.

All in all, things are looking very, very promising. Can’t wait to see what happens next, and when was the last time I felt this way?

Screenshots Forever Safe.

Not guilty

(Sorry to be late with this. This is about Thursday’s show. Haven’t watched Friday yet!)

Every story has a little more zing to it when they mix up the cast interaction, and I’m very happy we saw so much of that on Thursday. I particularly enjoyed JJ’s scenes with Chad and Abby at the start of the episode.

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The undercurrents were delightful in the scene where Chad told JJ to tell Abby the truth (Ben’s escape), and JJ exchanged looks with him and proceeded to lie his ass off — which is, of course, exactly what Chad wanted. JJ’s lie (that he would support their marriage) was sweet, and tied in nicely to the fact that he and Chad are now cooperating to protect Abby.

And … they are keeping secrets from her, which always turns out well.

Steve and Kayla’s scenes were as good as I hoped they would be. Really nice work by Stephen and Mary Beth in the opening scene, as they discussed how best to protect Joey.

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I am still upset that Joey is a murderer, and I think Steve and Kayla should have expressed more shock and dismay at the fact that Joey killed someone. What happened to Kayla “murder is wrong” Brady?

(Sigh. Doing my best to get past it.)

I really liked how Joey talked about Ava had succeeded in tearing them apart, and Steve was the one to pipe up and say they weren’t going to let her succeed. It was a nice show of faith on his part. I also appreciate that Steve isn’t determined to throw himself to the wolves, that he’s looking for ways to plead self defense. That makes Joey’s willingness to let Steve take the fall more palatable, and it shows growth for the character of Steve. In times past, when Steve tried to martyr himself, he often acted like the more he suffered, the more he would benefit the person he was trying to help. And this has been a great way to use Belle. More please!

And, for all of us who have been begging and begging for a Steve/Adrienne scene:

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Squeee! It was very, very brief, but very, very welcome!

And please, please, please let this turn snake thing turn into something really cool and interesting, that connects to another story on the canvas, and gives Blackpatch a chance to investigate something!

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The Summer story was the weakest part of the show, because I’m not particularly invested in Summer being Maggie’s daughter (WHY NOT BRING ON SARAH HORTON, YOU MORONS?) but they managed to intrigue me even here. What does Summer want with Nicole’s sunglasses? Or those heart-shaped earrings? (Were those Theresa’s, by the way? I lost focus for a minute.) Looks like she’s got a hidden agenda, and I just hope to God it’s more complex than “I fell instantly in love with Brady and I will make him mine at all costs.”

Of course, these scenes were drastically improved by the mesmerizing sight of Ari Zucker’s cleavage:

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Thank you, costume department!

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Sex, lies, and videotape

Yesterday’s show was really good.

I’m mildly intrigued by this story with Summer.

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I’m fully prepared for this to be really cheesy and a big letdown, but I always like a little mystery. And I think Nicole’s growing attachment to Brady has been played in a fairly natural way. Theresa’s insecurity was overplayed, but at least they brought it to life in a vivid way, with those two nightmare fantasy sequences. I was tickled they made a reference to Daniel’s heart letting him make love to Nicole, because I joked about that last week.

Similarly, I really like the idea of Phillip pretending to work for Deimos. First, it gives Phillip a chance to show he has a brain (fingers crossed), and creates some complications for Deimos as he pursues his plans – which I’m guessing are a lot more complicated than just getting revenge on Victor.

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Belle finally showed a little introspection, though they are not using her history nearly as much as they could. Her explanation that she is sick of always having to be the mature one would have been better if they had connected it to the fact that she found her “soulmate” and got married and had a baby so young. Or rather … she got pregnant, got married, had a baby, had an affair, got a divorce, got married again, and had another affair … actually, two affairs.

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Okay, so maybe her claim to being the “mature” one doesn’t bear too much scrutiny, but I won’t quibble.

Of course the standouts of the show were Steve and Kayla. I have a suspicion that this reveal is happening sooner than was planned. Just a guess, but usually soap secrets last longer than this. But, I’m not complaining. I’m glad they showed Steve with John, deciding to come clean, just as Kayla was getting the video from Ava. Typical soap gambit there, deciding to tell the truth just when it’s too late, but effective. (And nice to see Steve and John share a scene. Aren’t they supposed to be running a business together?) Some really great lines in this scene. Steve “I didn’t want to hurt you.” Kayla: “It’s too late.” Stephen and Mary Beth added some great touches, like when Kayla was twisting her ring like she was going to take it off, maybe throw it in his face, but she didn’t.

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I also really liked Kayla’s line that she spend so many years being angry with him, he came back into her life and pushed and pushed, and said things will be different, and look what happened. It wasn’t exactly fair, but it was a perfect way to use the fact that Kayla did take him back on faith, and maybe he didn’t have to earn his way back quite as much as we — or at least I — would have liked. Since we just saw a story where Steve earned back Kayla’s trust, and now he has to do again, I hope we’ll see this play out differently somehow. I’m not sure how to reinvent it, but I hope they mix it up. Silent Bob, where are you? 🙂

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Mix and match

Hey, if Lani and Shawn become a couple, we can call them “Lawn” because it’s like watching grass grow!

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I kid, I kid. I have no opinion on them yet. It seems to me the past couple of days have taken some characters out of their usual orbits, and there seems to be some chem testing going on, especially with Lani and Fynn. I’m still on the fence about Lani. I feel like I could warm up to her – maybe.

But Fynn is another story. Fynn is like the Hydra, what grew in the place where we chopped off Daniel’s head. He’s a doctor, he’s a sleaze, and he’s everyone’s best friend. Why are he and Shawn best buds suddenly? And Claire is confiding in him? Ugh. I took an instant dislike to him at the beginning and now that I’ve seen him talking to Daniel’s shrine I hate him even more. Not to mention that sleazy scene about his sex tapes. Do they think we will see this and think “what a charming rogue”? Ick.

I wish I enjoyed Belle being bitchy to Shawn. I wanted to enjoy it, but she was so passive aggressive it pushed all my formerly Belle-hating buttons. He questions whether she can afford to buy an expensive ring and she turns it into “You are questioning my perfection, waaah!” But I also thought Shawn’s line about her “crossing a line” (presumably with Phillip) was patronizing and uncalled-for. Basically, I hated them both in that scene. And Phillip isn’t impressing me his smarts, either — Deimos just took him behind the woodshed and whupped him with one hand tied behind his back. He didn’t even make it a challenge.

Okay, I hate being so negative – moving on. There was some good stuff these last two days. Today, I especially liked the scenes with Andre and Chase.

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Chase is still a blank slate, so they could turn him into a bad seed, which I could totally go for.  I liked the way he said “I hurt people” so calmly, as a statement of fact. That worked a lot better for me than his pathetic explanation and apology to Ciara and Theo last week. Andre was laying it on pretty thick about how much they had in common, how they were going to meet again, and how Chase shouldn’t tell anyone. He came across as, well, a pedophile grooming his next victim. But it worked — in a really, really creepy way.

And it probably wasn’t intentional, but Ciara was reasoning like a battered wife where Chase is concerned. “Oh, I can’t even think about dating, what would it do to Chase?” He’s just crazy because he loves me so much – I’ll tiptoe around him and keep him placated at all costs.

I also liked the Hernandez clan dinner. Gabi was really cute teasing (and cheerleading) the two men for actually getting along. And Galen and A have a really nice father/son chemistry, partly hostile, but friendly too. I liked Eduardo getting a little tipsy and talking about his regrets and encouraging Rafe to go after what (or who) he wants. A is really selling me on both Eddy’s urgent desire to connect with his family, and his bittersweet knowledge that it’s all a little too late — he can never get those years back.

And finally, I found Thrady genuinely sweet and touching in their scenes with the ukelele:

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It all could have come off as way too precious and self-consciously cute (I sometimes feel that way about Jen Lilley), but it all felt natural and unforced. I like their self-deprecating jokes about singing, and how Brady played for her to cheer her up, and she turned around and played for him later. And I thought their conversation about Nicole and Theresa’s uncertainty about her was surprisingly mature.

The “they can’t have sex” angle is obviously to create a little distance so Nicole can be more of a problem. (The scenes skeeved me out a little, but I think that was Fynn’s presence. Yup, I really hate Fynn.) No doubt Daniel’s heart won’t give Brady any trouble if he tries to have sex with Nicole.

But imagine how Daniel’s heart would react if it was Melanie. Ha!

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Don’t judge me, but I’m kind of enjoying this story of Brady’s dreams.

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The premise is pretty dopey, but what is making it work is the way Nicole is eagerly latching onto Brady as her last link to Daniel (I know, I know, but if I put that aside). In turn, it seems clear that Brady himself is sympathetic to her pain — it’s not just because he is channeling Daniel’s feelings. That grounds this all in something real. Plus, Ari and Eric Martsolf have always had chemistry. I can’t get behind them as an endgame, rootable couple, but for something like this I enjoy their scenes together.

I thought it was stupid at first that the Basic Black story was being so hastily abandoned. Not that I thought it was really working that well, but it seemed like a strange left turn. Nicole and Theresa are going to be business rivals of Kate instead of business partners who act like rivals. Yawn. But now it makes sense. Bringing Brady into the DJ Designs company should put the three of them — Nicole, Theresa, Brady — in a nice pressure cooker of tension and temptation.

In other news, I was pretty underwhelmed by Chad’s reaction to Stefano’s death. Maybe he didn’t fully believe Andre, or maybe finding out Hope really did do it will change his attitude. I hope so, because if he’s not conflicted about any of this, where’s the story?

Here’s Jen hopped up on pills, raving about Abby’s wedding dress:

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Hee! More please.