Christmas cheer

Maybe it’s the Christmas spirit. Maybe it’s that Steve and Kayla are happy, and I’m looking forward to Greg’s return. Maybe I’m just beaten down at this point. Whatever it is, I don’t think the show is any better, but I’ve been enjoying it more.

Depth, consistency, characterization, slow burn romance … we’ll never get these things with Dena, but occasionally she will hit on a soap plot that has a interlocking geometry to it that is satisfying. The first babyswitch story was like that, and this new one is starting to shape up and cohere a little bit.

I always wanted to like the story, because it’s the one that Eric will probably be involved in, and I’m still hoping Eric will somehow turn out to be the father.  But I also appreciate how much the show is focusing on Chloe and Nicole’s friendship. Female friendships aren’t often the focus on soaps, so this is refreshing.

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Some of the dialogue today was genuinely cute and clever, like when Chloe said ruefully she hoped this time she could have her baby in a hospital, and when Nicole reassured her that she’s done this before, delivering Grace is what started her on her fabulous babyswitching career.

I actually teared up a little when Nicole held her baby. I’m delighted that the baby is a girl, and I’m even more delighted that Nicole didn’t name the baby Danielle, or Danipalooza, or whatever.

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Now that I feel more (cautiously) hopeful that Deimos and Nicole aren’t going to be the rooting couple, I’ve even been enjoying Deimos again. His blase attitude with Brady regarding Phillip was kind of amusing: “yeah, I kidnapped Phillip and drugged him, what?” I could get on board with this characterization of Deimos: he genuinely cares for (some) people, but if you’re not one of those people, he’ll squash you like a bug if it helps him reach his goals.

Still, it’s annoying that no one calls him on it for more than a minute or two, so I really enjoyed Phillip’s parting rant, which also included Victor (another character who never gets called on anything).

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Phillip’s sendoff was actually good. It was a little abrupt, but his scenes with Chloe, the Kiriakises, and Kate actually hit some emotional beats. I really liked John Paul Lavoisier. I love Jay Kenneth Johnson, but John Paul fit well in the role. I can’t figure out why they got rid of him just when they finally got him away from Belle and gave him something more interesting to do. (And yet we keep Dario and Deimos …) I suspect the departure of Jen Lilley had something to do with it — Brady is at loose ends now, and I think they might try pairing him with Chloe. But they definitely left the door wide open for Phillip’s return, and if Jay Kenneth Johnson isn’t interested, I would welcome John Paul back with open arms.

Screencaps Joanie

Salem under seige

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So far, I’m afraid that Steve’s assessment of the villains as the “Three Stooges” has been all too accurate. I don’t know if it’s a writing or directing problem (I know it’s not an acting problem: I’ve seen what James Read, George DelHoyo, and Paul Telfer can do), but I’m not feeling as much menace and danger as I feel like I should be. The show seems to undercut the drama before it has a chance to grow. For instance, I think someone wanting to work outside the law could be a good conflict, but Brady’s hit on the bad guys was too rushed and was over before I even had time to worry about what might happen.

So it’s been very uneven, but there have been good moments in the midst of it all. That’s what makes these hostage situations/plane crashes/car accidents worth it in the end, the emotions and relationships and how they change and intensify under the pressure of events.  The Paul/Sonny conversation was particularly good, where Sonny denied wanting to have a relationship and they exchanged angstful looks:

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And then they discussed whether it was always possible to know if you were working for the good guys or the bad guys — just in time for Sonny to go home and hear Brady ordering that hit.

I liked JJ and Gabi’s love scene and how she told him he was a hero, and I also am open to Chad and Gabi having a momentary flirtation. I think they have a nice chemistry, and I know it won’t last. Chad’s conversation with Jennifer, when she gave him the watch, was really good, and her being the one to encourage him to move on is very soapy — given we know Abby is alive. It’s been nice to see Steve and Kayla working together, though I want to see them being more active than they have been so far. (My biggest fear is that Kayla will be a passive sufferer in all this, so I’m eager for signs that isn’t the case).

The big cliffhanger today, with Clyde shooting Abe, was more dramatic and effective than any of the other “big” moments they’ve done so far. (Line of the day: after Orpheus hijacked the press conference, Abe muttered, “How do you follow that?” James Reynolds said it perfectly.) Let’s hope it’s a sign of things to come.

Regarding Chloe’s baby story, speculation has been running wild about whose baby this is going to be. I can put this out there because it’s not a spoiler, just speculation, but somehow it is speculation that is perfectly absurd and yet horridly logical, and I can totally see it happening: that Chloe’s baby is Daniel and Nicole’s baby. This speculation is based on the constant references to Nicole’s childlessness, and — warning, mild spoiler — Ken Corday saying in an interview that Nicole’s upcoming story was a baby story. There’s also Chloe’s genuine puzzlement that Deimos was not the father, and then the way she suddenly seemed to think of another possibility. To me, it didn’t feel like she was just remembering someone else she’d slept with.

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So, I can’t take credit for concocting this scenario (and believe me, given how much I hate Daniel, I don’t want to), but the idea is that Nicole and Daniel banked some of her eggs with the idea that they might, after marriage, arrange for a surrogate. Daniel, in order to “surprise” Nicole, went ahead and fertilized the eggs (ew!) and arranged for Chloe to be the surrogate. However, the implantation failed, and it all came to nothing. But — surprise! — the miracle embryo was just biding its time and has now implanted.

So Deimos, who now has all the blood tests in his possession, will discover the truth of the baby’s parentage, and will keep it a secret and plan to kidnap the baby when it is born. He’s weirdly obsessed with the baby already, and they could amp up his obsession with Nicole and making her a mother. But he knows Nicole wouldn’t be party to a kidnapping (not anymore, anyway) so he’ll have to produce some other baby to pawn off on Chloe.

That doesn’t explain why Chloe wouldn’t want to hand the baby over in the first place, to her good friend who she knows is devastated that she never had a child, but I think they can work around that. Maybe Deimos will kidnap Chloe and hold her hostage until the baby is born. Nadia Bjorlin has a real life maternity leave coming up, so maybe that’s how she’ll be offscreen for a bit.

It’s all very Dena. Her most successful story ever was the babyswitch storyline with Nicole, EJ, and Sami, and Dena has recycled even her worst stories.

The other question is how Eric might be involved in this — assuming he’s involved in Nicole’s story at all. He shows up in January, which is probably around when the baby is due to arrive. He might figure out what is going on and work to save her (and Chloe) from Deimos. If Ericole is in the works, I predict Deimos will go back to being an out and out villain (which I would prefer). So the baby might end up in danger too, and Eric could partly redeem his role in Daniel’s death by restoring Daniel’s child to her.

LOL. Forgive me, I’m going to be obsessing on what Eric’s story might be for the next four months. 😀

Screencaps Joanie

Happy now

So I start my work vacation with the awesome news that Greg Vaughan is returning to Days!

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Here’s a recent picture from Tamara Braun’s instagram that set off some speculation that he was back. “He shaved his beard! He looks like Eric again!” I try not to get my hopes up with vague things like that, but in this case it turns out the speculators were right! He is already filming and will be airing on January 17. Early release for good behavior? Can’t wait to find out!

(Eeeeee! Isn’t he beautiful!)

Anyway, I promised I would post about last week’s Days. I was excited to have Steve and Kayla the focus of the action of the three villains. Steve was in fine form, talking fast and cracking one liners and outsmarting the bad guys.

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I was not as thrilled with Kayla being bound and gagged and having almost no dialogue. It actually perfectly symbolized my fear of how Dena writes for Steve and Kayla: Steve being the center of attention, and Kayla a bystander, sidelined by injury. Last run it was a problem pregnancy, this time recovery from brain surgery. Also, the staging, or rather, not staging — of the climactic moment was bizarre, to say the least. We didn’t even see the shot that downed Steve. And Kayla told Steve that Orpheus said he was leaving her with Steve’s corpse like he was left with his wife’s. There is no way that chilling line should not have played on our screens.

But I will remain hopeful for better things. It’s been too long since Hope and Kayla have shared a scene, and I really enjoyed that. And Kim even sent a cactus. (That Hope didn’t seem to think much of. Hee.) With Joey being the one kidnapped (rather than Kayla), it will hopefully give Kayla a role to play in his rescue. And of course a chance for them to bond as they are doing so, and for the danger to bring them closer together.

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But imagine being Orpheus and carrying off Joey as your prize! That doesn’t make sense. I am a little disappointed that we are getting so little of the villain’s motivations. Orpheus’s reasoning and backstory especially should be explained. Their villainy, and their cooperation, is sketchily drawn at best. “We hate everyone in Salem.” Yes, and? It reminds of Andre/Tony’s reasoning for creating Melaswen. “He’s an enemy of love.”

Okay, it’s not that bad. But a little something more than what we’ve gotten would be nice.

I haven’t talked about Chloe/Deimos/Nicole/Phillip because I find Deimos and Nicole to be a complete headscratcher of a pairing. As a writer, why would you ship off Nicole’s two love interests (my Ericole love is well known, but even Danicole had fans) and pair her with a random new character? Let alone one who kidnapped and tortured Bo. I have nothing against Vincent Irizzarry — I like him, even still! — but Deimos is a train wreck of a character. He’s bad! He’s good! Everyone in town is in love with him! He’s the new patriarch of Salem! He gets more airtime than anyone else! Any one of those things would be enough to earn him with enmity of viewers, and he’s all of them. It pains me not to enjoy watching Nicole, who I have always loved. But between her constant references to Daniel THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE YES WE GET IT and this pairing, I’m hard pressed not to fast forward her scenes.

(But let’s hope Greg’s return changes this! Wheeee!)

But I have to say I kind of like Phillip and Chloe.

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I like the actor who plays Phillip — I know not everyone does — and I am enjoying seeing him get a little bit more airtime (and interacting with someone besides Belle). He was funny joking about Salem being the paternity test switching capital of the world, and the one liner about getting Caroline to do it was hilarious — since she was the one who switched Parker’s test results. More paternity test shenanigans has me rolling my eyes, but I will grudgingly admit it’s a bit of a twist to have the couple involved being the one wanting to switch the results … or however this plays out.

Screenshots Forever_SAFE and LizK ❤ SnK

 

 

 

Harebrained schemes

I’ve mostly been annoyed at this whole Deimos story, until now. I couldn’t believe in any of the emotions the show was trying to sell me — Kate or Nicole falling for Deimos, Deimos obsessed with Nicole. I didn’t see any reason Deimos and Kate would want to marry each other. I thought the “Helena” flashbacks were laughable.

But damn if they didn’t hook me this week, a little. I thought the introduction of Chloe into the story was reasonably well done — a retcon but not a horrible one. I think they even had her mention a boyfriend “Robert” back when she showed up in town after Daniel and Nicole got engaged. I’ve always liked Chloe for the most part, and I’ve thought since last year that she would be a good addition to the canvas — a well known and liked character in that age range, who isn’t related to everyone in town.

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Kate’s scheme is crazy, but my fears that the Salem PD would swallow it whole (like they usually do) have proved to be unfounded. Unlike her feelings for Deimos, which I never believed, I do believe she would make a play for the Kiriakis fortune. I really liked the scene where Victor came to Kate with his offer to back up either her story, or Nicole’s. I enjoyed seeing him bait the trap and let her walk into it. I thought Victor’s story to Roman today was a bit sad, though. Victor is usually a lot more subtle than that. Nevertheless, it was gratifying when Roman pointed out that a lot of people wanted Deimos dead and Victor and Kate seem awfully eager to pin the blame on Nicole. The Salem PD does have its moments of clarity, few though they may be.

I am reasonably interested in seeing all the different characters investigated who have a motivation to kill Deimos. And I am very eager for Kate and Aiden to be exposed for the frauds they are. (I’m just shaking my head at Hope for getting back with Aiden — the woman is insane.) Deimos is obviously not going to take this lying down, though I hope he stays “dead” for awhile so we can see the investigation play out a little bit more.

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I’m also grateful it’s given Nicole something different to talk about other than losing the “love of her life” (cough, cough), some different characters to interact with, and hopefully will give her a little bit of her fight back.

I also enjoyed Steve and Kayla’s standoff with Charlene Manson and family on Monday.

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The standoff gave both Steve and Kayla their chance to shine, even Joey … though he’s still got a long way to go before he can get back in my good graces. Steve was an effective hostage negotiator – I especially liked how he used the story of how he lost his eye to connect with Dirk. And of course Kayla the doctor springing into action at the end when Joey was shot.

My favorite moment, though, was when Joey asked Kayla about Fynn and Steve looked up, suddenly alert.

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I love jealous Steve so much, and Stephen plays it so well … I want Kayla to stay with Fynn forever. Ha ha, just kidding! But I do hope Fynn has a little more fight left in him.

 

 

 

 

 

What happened?

My husband and I have a running joke about how little he knows about soaps, ever since he asked me if “Mick and Laura” were on Days of our Lives in the 80’s. (This is why he calls Steve and Kayla “Mick and McKayla.”) So imagine my surprise when he came in a few weeks ago, saw Deimos on the screen, and said “Is that Lujack?” It turns out he had a girlfriend in college who watched Guiding Light, and he watched it with her! All this time I never knew!

Ari Zucker is such a pro. I’ve seen her in some really bad storylines over the years, and she always tries to sell it and give it her all. But I wouldn’t blame her if she turned to the camera, peered through her black wig, and whispered in a Greek accent, “Please send help.” The faux flashbacks of her with two day players, one with a huge pornstache, shouting at her in subtitles, has been excruciatingly, laughingly bad. The only thing that would make it worse is John Paul Lavoisier and Eric Martsolf played Deimos and Victor. (Imagine Eric Martsolf in a huge Santos-style mustache!) Even worse was Deimos’s dream, where Helena came to him and scolded him for sleeping with Kate — although, admittedly, I do agree with her there.

Would I still rather watch Ari do this than coo over Daniel? A million times yes.

I actually genuinely like the idea of Nicole trying to get the goods on Deimos by romancing him. Has this story been told many times before? Yes, it has. Nicole/Xander comes to mind, which was just last year. But this time, everyone knows — including, so far, Deimos — that her motives are to take him down. I just hope they stretch it out longer than they did when Phillip was in a similar position (minus the seduction part) a few months ago. I can never figure out how Days will set up an intriguing premise (Phillip as a double agent) and then drop it immediately. I hope that doesn’t happen this time. In their clumsy way, they are setting up that Deimos is obsessed and haunted by Helena’s memory, which makes him ripe to be drawn to Nicole against his will. It’s not a terrible idea, Days! Don’t make it terrible!

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Yesterday, my husband came in during this scene, watched as Deimos pulled the oxygen tubes out of Victor’s nose, and said sadly, “Lujack, what happened?”

(I’m sorry I haven’t posted much lately, it’s been difficult to get inspired. I think I need to pull out my DVDs and post about Shayla again!)

To catch a Kiriakis

For the last few weeks it’s been difficult to get invested in the show — other than Steve and Kayla, who have had some great stuff! — because it feels like everyone I’m watching is leaving. I’m extremely invested in Eric, so good and bad I was riveted by that, but I knew it was ending. I’m invested in Chad and Abby, and the “Abby going nuts” story has been good TV, but again Abby is leaving, so I’m watching it as something that will end. I’m not inclined to invest in Belle, Summer, Lani, or Shawn, since the announcement that they are all out the door. So what’s left? Brady and Theresa have been wrapped up with Summer. Blah. Ciara’s rape. You guys know how I feel about that. Hope getting away with murder. Rope. Nope.

But it looks like we are finally seeing some setup towards a big story that will involve a lot of the cast. I love the idea of Brady and Justin (and Phillip, I hope) teaming up to take down Deimos. More Justin is always a fabulous thing, and Brady has long needed a story that develops his character outside of his romantic relationships.

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I’m guessing Nicole’s astounding resemblance to Helena will inevitably involve her , probably when she decides to use Deimos’s attraction to her to get close to him and help Maggie. (But no more Helena/Victor flashbacks PLEASE THEY ARE TERRIBLE.) I’m guessing that’s what all this Maggie/Nicole bonding has been about. Of course Nicole will do everything she can to help Daniel “the love of her life” Jonas’s mother. Gag — but you know it’s coming.

Hope seems game to go on a murderous rampage again, after she killed the wrong guy last year. Rafe will try to rein her in and inevitably fail and have to clean up after her again. Phillip has something to prove after Deimos made a fool of him last year.  And Kate siding with Deimos — even though it doesn’t make sense and I do not like seeing Deimos with her, to put it mildly — will pit her against her son and might lead to some interesting conflict.

So color me decently intrigued.

 

 

Mix it up

Some encouraging signs on the cast mixing front. Today, Abby had conversations with Chad, JJ and Gabi, and Jennifer. To me, the best scene was the one with JJ and Gabi. I really like JJ’s skepticism about Chad. I think it’s a very believable conflict. But the conversation had some actual layers, when Gabi pointed out that Chad deserved the benefit of the doubt because, after all, he did save Abby’s life.

And Chad is acting a little weird. I have chalked up his desire to move into the Dimera mansion as Days’s desire to keep using the set. But Chad’s pressuring of Abby to elope is different. It’s clear to me that Abby doesn’t want to elope and let down her family, and yet Chad refuses to see that. So I thought JJ’s last line, when he muttered that he bet it wasn’t Abby’s idea to elope, was very much on point.

I’m just not sure where they are going with this. Going by this shot, is Chad going to end up taking Stefano’s place?

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If so, I would like very much to be given a reason for it. Humiliating Andre has given him a case of hubris? He’s so determined to clear the Dimera name he’s throwing his weight around to do it? Give me something here, Days.

I also liked when Gabi defended Abby’s choice to put Thomas in day care, saying that moms are often judged no matter what choices they make regarding work and child care. Of course, most of us don’t have “Dimera nanny” as one of our options, but her point still stands. And JJ backed down.

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(I think they are so cute! Here’s hoping for a real story for them.)

I continue to really like Deimos, despite his interest in Kate, and there was some story movement for him Monday, turning him into the new Big Bad in town. Again, there was some nice crisscrossing that I think bodes well for the future. John told Phillip that Seth Malcolm got some calls from Greece before he died. Maggie let Brady know about Deimos’s history and Phillip’s role in helping him. Eddy and Phillip commiserated about Kate’s interest in Deimos.

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And Phillip got a haircut! Hallelujah!

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Now, let’s just give him a brain and some backbone.