Let’s Play a Game

Thank goodness someone killed Nick — not because I hated him, but because it’s finally lighting a fire under this show’s ass. It seems like we’ve been stuck in a morass of B- and C-level stories and characters for months now. At least this feels like some A-level business. But with some serious departures in progress, it’s starting to seem like the show needs another 2009-style shake-up. And as we know, Ken Corday loves a Plan to Save Days, as he tends to trumpet every two years or so.


So let’s play a game called Fantasy Days, or Things Sad People Do When They Run Out of Wine. I’ll put the rest of this behind a cut so I don’t accidentally spoil anyone…

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 9.45.25 PM“What do you mean, we’re leaving? Who the hell else is going to lead this thing?”

Love them or hate them, the impending exits of Sami and E.J. are going to leave a major hole in the canvas. They and their sphere of accompanying characters have basically been the A-story for the last 5-6 years. So I’ve been pondering — kind of in a panic of, Oh my god, I have to watch this every day and I cannot watch that much Daniel and Jennifer — of where Days can and should go next. What was so exciting about 2008-2009 to me was the way they threw everything up in the air and essentially crafted a “new Salem,” using existing ties in interesting ways and making the canvas really unified for the first time in a long, long while. In that case, after some big exits/firings, we were left with a pared-down Salem, and TPTB responded by coming up with some interesting ways to merge areas of the canvas: pairing Philip/Stephanie, Nicole/EJ, Lucas/Chloe, and Kate/Stefano; making Nicole and Chloe friends; re-introducing Brady; centering things around the DiMera and Kiriakis mansions. There was a freshness we hadn’t felt in a long time, and they did something interesting (if not entirely successful) by bringing back Carly and tying her to present-day Salem via Melanie and Daniel. So, since you were asking (you were not), here are my thoughts on how to reinvigorate the show so we don’t wind up watching a bunch of tepid Brady/Theresa and JJ/Paige crap in-between scenes of people asking how Jennifer and Daniel are doing.

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 9.42.49 PM“Are they gonna let me do my hair like this in prison?”

Gabi is on her way out, so I say make her Nick’s killer. It could have been self-defense, or maybe she’s blocked it out for now, but it gets her off the show in an interesting way, wraps up the Nick thing, and leaves Arianna Grace in Salem with Will and Sonny without us having to buy that Gabi would abandon her daughter. Let Sami and EJ get married and head off together, too.

Now comes the need for, you know, actual stories. I say we start with Hope and Aiden, who actually have potential. Aiden kisses Hope, and she’s angry and rebuffs him. But she can’t stop thinking about it, either, and she confesses to John that she isn’t sure if she can go on in a phantom marriage like this. This alarms John, who makes a call and says it’s time to bring Hope in on things. Turns out John knows more about Bo’s mission than he has let on. Get Peter Reckell back for a week or two to play this out, as Hope and John travel to meet with Bo, who has gone deep undercover to infiltrate an organization that he believes is holding a very-much-alive Jack Deveraux! The three of them manage to break Jack out, but in the process, Bo is killed. Bo dies a hero, and Hope returns to Salem a widow, with Aiden there to pick up the pieces when she’s ready, though she’ll be overcome by guilt and unable to give in to him for a while.

Jack returns to Salem yet again, just as Jennifer and Daniel have gotten engaged. He surprises everyone by telling Jennifer that she should marry Daniel. He’ll always love her, but their time has clearly passed. They can be friends and co-parents, but he needs to get his life together. He takes up with Kassie DePaiva’s Eve Donovan, though he’s reluctant to get any kind of serious with her. As Jennifer’s wedding to Daniel approaches, she realizes that she still is not over Jack, either.

Eve becomes privy to the fact that Jack is having serious mood swings and rage problems. She asks Marlena to help him. Marlena urges Jack to come back to her for therapy, but he resists. The audience sees that Jack is cracking open — something is seriously wrong. One night, as he’s breaking down, he makes a confession to a surprising person: Kristen (who has recently returned and whom I’ll discuss later). He tells her, “Kristen, it’s me.” She doesn’t understand… but he repeats it… and Kristen is shocked. This man is not Jack Deveraux, but her brother, Peter Blake, with plastic surgery to look like the love of Jennifer’s life!

Peter’s plan is to win Jennifer back, but he wants to make her want him. And it’s working. As Kristen keeps his secret, “Jack” insinuates himself back into Jennifer’s life. Eventually, Daniel is killed (or leaves town with Eve/Chloe/someone, whatever, just go away), Peter is exposed, and it is revealed that the real Jack actually is alive. He comes back to Salem and forges a tentative reunion with Jennifer, and they slide into more of a supporting role as parents to Abigail and JJ and working professionals.

Rafe and Jordan quickly marry and leave town, but Ben stays behind. He and Abigail get involved, but Ben is reluctant to get too serious. Meanwhile, raising a baby while running a business and going to school takes a toll on Sonny and Will’s relationship. One night, Will drops by TBD to see Sonny, only to learn that he has taken off in pursuit of some investors. Ben is closing up, and Will confesses that he is overwhelmed and, honestly, a little bored with his happy domestic life. They get to drinking and hook up. Afterward, Ben explains that he isn’t some closet case; he occasionally enjoys hooking up with guys, too, and he has no commitment to Abigail yet. Will feels guilty but can’t stop thinking about the tryst, and it happens again. Eventually, the truth comes out, blowing up Will and Sonny’s marriage. Abigail is angry at Will for getting with her guy. Ben leaves Salem, and Will gets jealous when Sonny gets involved with a new man who seems to have his life way more together than Will does.

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 9.42.31 PM“Derrrrr…”

Brady hires Jack to help run Bella, Titan’s former fashion/lifestyle magazine that is being relaunched as a major web destination. Jack brings in Abigail, who aspires to be a journalist like her father. Jack and Brady clash over the direction of the site — Jack wants to publish more serious work amidst the fluff, while Brady fights to keep it light — and Abigail is caught in the middle of the two. Eventually, she and Brady realize they are attracted to one another and begin a secret relationship, which makes his clashes with Jack even more charged. Brady and Abigail become one of the centerpiece couples.

I know most of us are sick of the current incarnation of Jennifer (i.e., Dannifer-style), but I do think she has an important place on the canvas, and the idea of building the Hortons back up around her branch makes a lot of sense. If we bring in Bill, Mike, and Jeremy, we’ve basically done that. Bill dates Marlena for a while before she and John reunite, but there’s clearly still interest between Bill and Kate, too; Mike goes back to work at the hospital and starts to get close to Kayla; and Jeremy will be useful in a story I’ll go into below. Meanwhile, JJ forgets about Paige when Joy Wesley enrolls at Salem U. Craig and Nancy make regular visits to see their daughter (especially since Craig begins doing surgeries at University Hospital again), which sparks up the old rivalry between them and JJ’s uncle, Mike. Neither family wants the young couple together, and on top of that, there is a part of JJ that can’t stay away from bad-seed Theresa. Eventually, Joy is either a victim of rape or falsely accuses someone of rape, which I would normally call overdone and exploitative, but in this case, it is the portal to telling a story about JJ and Abigail having to confront their father’s long-ago rape of Kayla, this time with Jack actually onscreen.

The other big story centers on Nicole and Eric. Nicole’s deception about the Chyka documents causes Eric to call off the engagement, just as Kristen returns with a baby boy. No one knows if it is Brady’s or Eric’s (or someone else’s), and Kristen uses the child as a bargaining chip: she’ll submit him to a DNA test if and only if she’s given immunity in Eric’s assault. Eric’s family thinks this is insane, but he decides that it’s worth it. The DNA test proves that the boy is Eric’s child. Through this ordeal, he and Nicole reconnect, and he begins to reconsider their split. Meanwhile, Nicole has — via some situation that I have yet to contrive — gotten herself into trouble that concerns Victor, who has to divorce Maggie to protect his money. And in order to keep themselves out of danger, Victor and Nicole have to remarry!

They can’t tell their respective lovers that it’s a charade, even though they can barely stand one another. Victor doesn’t care if Nicole cheats on him, as long as she doesn’t blow their cover, but Eric won’t give in to her seduction attempts; he refuses to be a party to adultery. With her life in danger, Nicole has no choice but to try and give up on Eric. But their separation is driving him nuts, too, and one night, they give in to their passion and sleep together. Eric insists it can’t happen again, and Nicole is primed to tell him the truth — until she discovers that she is pregnant. She has to pretend the child is Victor’s, which causes an even deeper rift between Victor and Maggie. Wanting to keep her child safe from this TBD Crime Syndicate, Nicole realizes that she has to commit to her fake marriage. Meanwhile, a heartbroken Eric starts to connect with a recently returned Sarah Horton, Maggie’s daughter…

And this is the most controversial thing I will ever type, but I think this show needs Shawn and Belle now. They’re too important as parts of the next generation. I think/hope they have been gone long enough that they could get fresh starts, and the first step in that would be splitting them up. Shawn returns home to support Hope and Ciara in the wake of Bo’s death, and he brings his daughter, Claire, with him. He joins the Salem PD and tells his family that Belle is too busy doing missionary work, but when Belle finally joins them, it’s clear that she came to be with her daughter and that the marriage is on the rocks. Belle, who is a nurse and has been using her medical training to do good, gets involved at St. Luke’s and bonds with her brother Eric, and she eventually admits to him that her marriage is falling apart. Belle and Shawn finally agree that they have grown apart and divorce.

Through her work at the hospital, Belle gets to know intern Jeremy Horton, who is set on following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps. Do-gooder Belle and cocky, opportunistic Jeremy clash, but she is the first to find out his secret: that he failed his medical boards and is in danger of being kicked out of the program. Though she is reluctant to become involved with Shawn’s cousin, Belle finds herself unable to resist Jeremy.

And those are my thoughts. I know I’ve left some holes — Kristen, Lucas, and Eve in particular could use more to do, and I’m not entirely certain what I would do with Theresa (though I think she has potential). The Jeremy role could also be filled by an Alexander Kiriakis or Andrew Donovan, though I like the medical legacy part of this setup. I’m not sure what I would do with Shawn in terms of romantic pairings, since he’s related to almost everyone currently available. My initial thoughts are to bring in a recast Melanie at some point or have young Joy Wesley become fixated on him and maybe, once she’s spurned, accuse him of rape. The point is, all of this can be done with a mix of existing characters and recasts who have built-in history/connections (Joy is probably the loosest new addition, and her parents could really help ground that).

What would you do with Salem if given the chance?

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14 Comments on “Let’s Play a Game”

  1. Gary Himes Says:

    I’d give cartilage to get Jack back in the manner you suggest.

    • mykleraus Says:

      Right?! He’s so viable as a character. I don’t want to watch endless J&J breakups and makeups, but there’s plenty to do with him that doesn’t involve that.

  2. kathyj Says:

    I’m in. Neil Curtis returns with Sarah and tries to reconnect with Maggie. Maggie kept her house and Sarah and Neil move in with her. At first Maggie and Neil have a platonic relationship but a romance develops. Victor tries to stay connected with Maggie but she cuts all ties.

    • mykleraus Says:

      Works for me. The only way to do a Neil return is to tie it in through Sarah, so that’s organic. Plus that means Sarah’s half-sister, Noel, could always turn up…

  3. eramer Says:

    Ugh, that’s it. I’m just going to imagine this is how everything plays out and not bother with the actual show anymore.

    But seriously, I don’t care about the Hortons. I don’t care about the Bradys. I feel like their golden age has passed and it’s time to stop forcing them on us. I don’t care that they are the 2 main families of Salem. I hate 90% of them and I want new blood. I want Bev & Rory to be given families and history, I want basically everyone on the board now to gtfo.
    I want to see everyone stop shitting on Theresa and see some of her nefarious plots actually work. I want Belle and Shawn back with new actors. I want Ciara to get SORASed and be a psychopath.
    Basically I just want a bunch of stuff that I know will never happen.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I want new blood, BUT I want it to be interesting. Jordan and Ben are new blood and they’re soooo boring and underdeveloped. I do agree that just slapping the name Horton or Brady on some random-ass person won’t make them interesting.

      I really came to hate Belle and Shawn, but I think their places on canvas are too important to have them be gone this long. Their presence would instantly activate Hope, Marlena, and John in plausible ways.

  4. Dylan Says:

    I’d love to see some interesting conflict in Will & Sonny’s relationship other than Nick & Gabi as you’re saying, that would be really interesting although I doubt Ben will be a part of it since they’ve barely interacted with him. Is there any chance that Peter Reckell might come back to close up the storyline? Do you think they’ll just get divorced offscreen or something?
    Speaking of Abby, have the writers forgotten about when she went to the DiMera doctor to find out whether she was pregnant and the doctor had a cryptic conversation about doing Stefano a favor? And what has Stefano been up to the last few months? The usual getting dressed-up and sitting in a room?
    I’m honestly not seeing Brady’s storyline going anywhere interesting any time soon. All he does is whine about how his life sucks, etc. He needs to grow up! And John’s going to give him a million lectures about how Theresa is bad for him, bla bla bla… Well hopefully not. How do you think they’re going to use John’s character? His recent return has been somewhat.. underwhelming in my opinion. I feel like they could be using him more.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I basically just used Ben there because he’s not related to either of them (which is a feat, if you really think about it) and because he already exists. But yeah, I think it’d be realistic to see them struggling with being married and raising a baby so young — especially Will, who never really got to be out and single.

      I think Reckell said he’d be open to a brief return if the logistics worked out. I’d rather they do that to kill him off than give us another stupid offscreen divorce.

      I don’t know what that DiMera doctor thing was all about. Abigail would know if she were pregnant by now, and there’s NO WAY they could have harvested a six-week-old fetus and implanted it in some other woman or something. (I know, this is Days…) I don’t really get what this necklace thing with Kate and Stefano is supposed to be setting up, either.

      Brady’s storyline sucks. It’s not even a storyline. It’s just him being “bad” and moody and getting yelled at for it. I feel like he’s in a holding pattern until Kristen returns. I loved her stint, but it sucks that they made her so bad, because she’s been his most compelling pairing since Martsolf took over. And I don’t know WHAT is up with John. The way they’re using Marlena, they could just have them be happily married and show John once a month anyway. His whole attitude feels off lately.

  5. Farah Says:

    Unless Missy Reeves divorces Mr. Reeves, Peter Blake and Days is never getting back together. It frustrating because it could be story gold. It’s stupid that Jennifer wouldn’t mention him during her Chad/EJ Dimera rants or Kristen friendship. They can’t even hint it!! Jennifer could easily say: DiMera men are bed news. Past experiences have told me so” THAT would be enough.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I thought that was the case, but then they had Kristen mention Peter to Jennifer last year! She said something like, “My brother Peter really did love you” or something like that. I was shocked!

  6. fluffysmom Says:

    Those are terrific story ideas. I’d love to see them play out onscreen.

  7. dee Says:

    Love it! You should apply to be part of the show’s writing group! Your ideas totally remind me of the good old Days … when we had kidnappings, plastic surgery disguises, folks returning from the grave, trips to Europe to track down mysteries, adventures on the island of Aremid, etc. Speaking of which, two of my most favorite storylines of all time were actually when Vivian buried Carly alive, and when Marlena was the devil .. and of course, the whole Kristen, Susan, Sister Mary Moira, and one other personality, right?! I know most people think those were the most horrible and cheesy, but I loved them! So entertaining! Now Passions was cheesy!!! But someone Days, in my opinion, told the outrageous storylines with a lot more class! And, Susan was how we got Elvis Junior! I’ll also never forget when EJ first came to Salem … and now he’s gone …

    Anyway, I hate how conservative story lines have actually gotten over the past several years … and they take a lot of the fantasy out of them too!

    • mykleraus Says:

      I loved those stories, too. I like that the show is written more realistically (relatively speaking) these days, and there’s an actual emphasis on different characters interacting. The James E. Reilly years felt like a cartoon. But there’s a way to do those bigger storylines with some sense of grounding, too.

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