The Phantom of the (Soap) Opera

How cool and spooky is this:

Yolingjohn

That scar is the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen. It mesmerizes me.

Honestly, I’m truly intrigued. They managed to use that anticlimactic story of John’s trip to New Orleans, when he saw his mom and found out his father was dead. I know she sold him out to the bad guys, and that should have been suspenseful. But it all happened so fast, it was over before we had time to care. This time, the appearance of John’s father had time to build — we knew someone was after both John and Eduardo, we found out someone was after the serum, we got a little Marlena kidnapping, a big shootout, and now this.

And really, managing to tie in the Alamain adoption and the Petrov/Stefano pawn connection to actually make a compelling story out of Yet Another Version of John’s Past?

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John and Yo Ling’s scenes were very heavy on the exposition, and I’m not really sure I got it all. But hey, we’ve got a shadowy “Alliance,” a Shane Donovan mention, cryptic Chinese aliases and tattoos, indoctrination of helpless teenage boys, a traitor father who is in desperate need of a blood donor … works for me.

And we’ve got a bunch of awesome Salemites ready to leap into action to find John and rescue him:

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And Steve called John his “partner”! Maybe we’ll finally see the Blackpatch team working together!

I’m liking the Hernandez family dynamics too:

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Eduardo’s heroic actions to save Rafe, coming right on top of the revelation that he was an assassin, instantly complicates their already thorny relationships. Rafe is obviously affected by what Eduardo did (he referred to him as “my father” in this episode, instead of “Eduardo”), and Gabi is obviously upset at the idea that they almost lost him. The scene with Ari and Eduardo and the ring, was really touching.

Also good was the brief scene of the Johnsons at the Brady pub that opened the episode. I particularly liked that Joey wants to confess (very important for us to continue to like him), and that Steve and Kayla both attributed that to what he has in common with Steve. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I believe that Joey was primarily motivated to save his mother when he killed Ava — but it would be so perfect if he were! Then they could call back to Steve’s attempt to kill Duke, back when he was five, in order to protect his mother. I hope this gets a mention sometime during this story.

At any rate, I liked how Kayla ruefully drew the parallel between Steve’s always wanting to protect her, Joey wanting to do the same, and Steve now wanting to protect Joey. She knows how the Johnson men can go way too far with this self-sacrifice thing. Girl, we know how you feel.

Screencaps Forever Safe

 

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Diehard Days

What did you guys think of the big shootout at the OK warehouse? I thought it was fun, but it made me laugh too. Eduardo’s leap to take the bullet for Rafe was a great story idea, but the staging of it made me think of the Simpson’s episode where Homer trains to be a bodyguard:

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The Chad and Abby scenes with Thomas’s birth certificate were really wonderful.

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This isn’t the dress Theresa originally designed, is it?

Such a lovely gesture on Chad’s part, and I loved his explanation for not giving Thomas his last name, that it hasn’t done him any good and he doesn’t want Thomas carrying it around. I also loved that he said Abby represented the best of both of them.

The wedding itself was sad, though. I see we’re back to pathetically attended events. I liked the conversations at the beginning, as Jennifer, Julie, and Adrienne all shared something special with Abby. The “Norm de Plume” poem was an especially nice callback, and I loved having Adrienne there to represent the Johnson family. But only six people watching as Abby walks down the aisle? That is really, really pathetic.

But, what a cliffhanger – two cliffhangers! Between Ben’s (possible) appearance and John’s very, very creepy dad, color me excited for next week.

 

 

 

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!

Not long enough

Isn’t it nice when a good writing team can come in and rectify omissions from seven years ago? It was very gratifying to me to hear Kayla chewing Ava out by telling her everything Ava did her last run. Kayla’s point of view, and justifiable anger, was something we got far too little of last time, when it was all about poor widdle Ava. Some good lines:

“It’s been a long time.” “Not long enough.”

“Hate isn’t a strong enough word.”

“My name is Kayla Johnson. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Okay, maybe not that last one. Close, though!

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Anyway, it all served as a nice refresher for those who forgot about, or never saw, Ava’s first run. Nicely done, Days!

I wonder, though, if it would have been better for the show not to tip its hand that Ava is evil. She told Joey she wanted to help Steve and Kayla to make up for what she did in the past. She told Kayla today she was dying and consequently trying to make amends. What if that’s all we saw, and we didn’t see any of those mirror scenes, the makeup, the secret smiles to the camera? We’d probably all assume she was up to no good, but it might have been interesting to introduce some doubt. After all, the character wasn’t particularly evil when we last saw her. Why not make us wonder a bit? Her collapse at the end of the show Friday could have been genuine. As it is, we know it’s all a big fake.

I liked Steve wandering around town interacting with different people. But is it paranoid to feel they just gave us Johnson family fans a big middle finger in that scene where Steve told Justin about his conversation with Adrienne? Why can’t we see them have even one scene?

I am surprised by how much I enjoyed the Eduardo and John scenes, and this latest iteration of John’s past.

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The show is actually working in details from the past (Forrest Alamain, Petrov, John as a pawn/assassin), and the cleverness of it all is making me a bit giddy. I love the idea that Eduardo and John were both orphans, both plucked from the student body at Winterthorne and trained to be assassins. And that something happened in John’s case that led to them wiping out his memory and handing him over to Stefano. This is all great setup, and I look forward to seeing this story unfold.

Regarding this Chabby brainwashing plot, I might be able to get into it. Maybe. I’ll have to see how it plays out. But I would like to address one complaint I’ve seen on the boards — that all of this comes too closely on the heels of their last crisis. After everything they’ve just gone through, why can’t they be happy for awhile first? I agree with that in terms of viewer preference, but sometimes it’s more believable that something like this could break them up when they haven’t been together and solid for very long. I know Steve and Kayla are my reference for everything, but it was a smart (if painful) decision to have Steve and Kayla’s breakup over Jack happen after they had just gotten together, before Steve proposed, and after a separation (when Steve was in DC). If they had been happy and together for several months, it wouldn’t have worked (some people say it didn’t work anyway, though I disagree).

At any rate, what makes this story difficult to swallow is that it comes on the heels of a truly excellent story — soapy to be sure, but somehow more realistic and grounded, at least to me. Ben’s turn to the dark side and framing of Chad, Abby’s belief in Chad against the odds, her kidnapping and labor, Chad’s lone-wolf rescue — all of it was crazy, soapy, and dramatic, but somehow it all worked. I am having a hard time suspending my disbelief that a single brainwashing session could turn Chad on Abby and towards Belle. Those are some powerful kittens.

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All that being said, I kind of fully expect that Billy Flynn is going to sell me on this, along with Martha Madison and this snippy, bitchy version of Belle (I’ve seen lots of complaints about Belle’s newfound hard edge, but I love it!). I loved that she didn’t take any shit from him and snarked about the merits of his “case.” Of course, she’s going to end up taking it, and I look forward to more sparring like we saw on Friday. At the same time, it looks like Abby won’t be fooled for long, and it should be interesting to see her digging around in the Dimera’s business.

 

Plans

Today was nice. I feel like I got to take a breath, enjoy some happy scenes, and get some other storylines going. Deranged Hope was still on, of course, but I am going to ignore that. It was refreshing today that everyone was active, doing something, or making plans to do something. One of my pet peeves about soaps is that there is so much passive suffering, or (more common) boneheaded stupidity. More often than not, it doesn’t seem like people really want anything, they just react. Except the bad guys, of course.

Of course Steve and Kayla’s kiss made me melt, but my favorite part was actually the opening scene. Kayla’s strength was always an active strength — she’s not one for patient endurance. So  it was perfect the way she showed up, said she had a plan, and then immediately put it into action.

Steve says, “Don’t you want to think that over, come up with a strategy … ” “Nope!” Hee!

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Give up, Steve. Just go along with it. And maybe smolder a little …

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… ah, there you go.

But Steve had his chance to shine, when he figured out that Joey was not working alone. His private detective skills have been redeemed (a little). Aaaaand we got our first look at Ava. I have no clue what she could possibly have to gain by helping Steve and Kayla get back together. Is she just trying to win Joey’s trust? Is she going to sleep with Joey, joining the “Kate club” of father/son diddlers? (Pretty much guaranteed, I’m afraid).

I’m intrigued by the new developments in our stories today. Will John and Eduardo work together? Is Winterthorne some super sekrit ISA-training academy? Did Eduardo just get an assignment to kill John? Is Dario connected to this? What does Belle want to “build for herself”? Can we stop talking about Sami now? Is Andre really going to try to get Chad to woo Belle? (NO NO NO)

Speaking of Chad, I loved his reaction when Stefano told him about the missing 250 million dollars. “We’ll just live like normal people.” Ha! Good one, Chad.

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But surely Abby has that land in Ireland still coming to her, right? Which Stefano can now get his hands on? Or don’t we care about that anymore?

Abby took a shower! Changed her clothes! Brushed her hair!

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Seriously, this made me so happy. To see her smiling, talking with her mother and Chad, naming her baby (“Thomas Jack” – now that’s a baby name. Take note, Theresa and Brady!). I appreciated Jen thanking Chad, and hugging him.

And of course Chad’s final words: I love you, I will always love you.  Sigh. Happiness. It’s fleeting on soaps, so let’s grab it while we can.

 

 

Safe and sound

Whew.

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I really loved the fakeout with the shadow ominously appearing over the baby, and then this happy reunion! Look at the expression on the baby’s face! “Mommy!” Give that little guy an Emmy.

(I kind of wanted Abby run off to breastfeed the baby, like, right now. It’s been how many hours? But I suppose that would have been a little too much realism for Days. I’m actually amazed that they mentioned breastfeeding at all. When Abby was pleading for her life because she was the only one who could feed the baby … yup, that still gets me where I live.)

This episode was good but felt a little bit too jam-packed. I would have liked to see Abby’s statement about the murders put off for tomorrow. Regardless, it was very satisfying to have the truth come out and see the officers reacting. I particularly liked when Abby said, “Didn’t I tell you?” about Ben’s motives. She is really at the end of her rope.

It was a curious moment when Abby said she “always” knew there was something off about Ben. I guess we started to see it as time went on, but as you all know I spent a lot of time complaining about how happy she was with him.

This shot:

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put me in mind of this famous final shot, from Psycho:

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Complete with the blanket! Deliberate or not?

Cute guys with babies — can never get enough of this:

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I haven’t commented on Hope the past few days, mostly because I think I need a break. I think she has been on every day for about four weeks. I loved the set (or location?) where she brought Dr. Malcolm, and I kind of love how the actor looks like a bit of a schlub. Nice casting against type. I liked how he was taunting her for moving on, which of course is why she is so hellbent on this revenge kick. But I’m kind of ready for her to dial it down a little. She seems to be headed for something worse than a breakdown, and I’m not sure what.

Chase and Ciara: I am warming up to both of them, but I feel they too, have been on every day or nearly every day. I didn’t feel anything particularly new happened today, so I would rather have used the airtime to check in with a different story.

I knew Eduardo’s “international security” business was going to turn into something! This has to be connected to the ISA, or at least John’s story, in some way. Excited to see where it goes.

I’m going to pretend that Kate and Eddy aren’t happening. Such an awkward conversation … did you know your grandaughter is my great-granddaughter? Oh, and your son and I had a … connection. Nope. No thank you.