Good Grief

Those were two incredibly painful days of television viewing.

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And I don’t mean that in the way I meant it back in May, when I had to force myself to watch 38 minutes of Serena muttering to herself about statues and Daniel telling Nicole what a piece of shit she is. The fallout from Will’s murder has been tremendously well executed — visceral, real, played out in excruciating detail. I could not do this every day, but it’s been compelling and so emotional. I wasn’t able to watch yesterday’s episode until nighttime, and I was in tears from the get-go, and then I idiotically watched today’s in real time (well, almost — I gave it enough time to buffer a good DVR lead, because I don’t really need to watch ads in which Alison Sweeney is shilling toothpaste when I know I’ll probably have to watch her peddling Nature Valley Granola Oat Clusters at Will’s funeral anyway) and was a complete mess, too.

Letting us see everyone find out in different ways was very wise. I know that I complained that we missed this stuff with Paige’s murder, but it’s much more powerful to see people learning that Will Horton — a character who has essentially grown up in real time on the show, who is connected to just about everyone on the canvas in some way, who is a young man and the father of a toddler — was viciously murdered. I was worried they might give short shrift to Lucas in all this, but they wisely didn’t. I love Bryan Dattilo and Lucas, but I actually thought he was a little fake and shouty in Monday’s episode — the dialogue did him no favors, with all the “Aw, man” and “Oh, no!” stuff — but he completely got me during that scene where he walked into the police station and hugged Marlena, and he was fantastic in Tuesday’s episode, fighting back tears and almost losing it at the mere mention of any little thing. (Also: it struck me as incredibly odd that they had Lucas in a red tie when he came over and found out about Will. It makes me wonder if the entire premise of this storyline was that they got a surplus of red ties, though that makes me wonder why we didn’t get a Club TBD Burgundy Shirt Killer earlier this year…)

And then we got Sami.

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I completely understand why they wanted her to return in the thick of this, rather than showing up the next morning, but it did feel pretty wonky how they backfilled that she was, like, planning to come to Salem anyway and had been in Chicago and also Will called her between when he left Sonny that message and when Ben killed him. It seemed they could’ve said that she was rushing home to see Caroline, who took a turn for the worse earlier this damn day, and got the bad news while making her connection or something. Logistical idiocy (which is par for the course anyway) aside, it’s so, so good to see her, even under such terrible circumstances, and it strangely does not feel at all like she’s been gone for a year. It’s an interesting choice to have Sami so stone-faced and in shock, given her well documented background of histrionics, while Lucas is continually breaking down. I’m curious to see what they do with this, but it at least feels thought-out, as opposed to just a bunch of rote crying and shrieking. And their scenes in the morgue were absolutely gut-wrenching, considering that we saw Will grow up onscreen, with these same two actors playing his parents from their teens into near middle age.

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The moment when Marlena walked out of the bedroom in tears and told John and Steve that something had happened to Will got me. Hope and Rafe trying to do their jobs while absolutely devastated got me. Even stuff like Maggie reacting, and Kayla immediately going into Protect Caroline mode, got me. I still firmly believe that this is a foolish long-term decision, but at least they’re doing it justice in the moment. I thought Camila Banus was very good, too, though I had to laugh when Gabi was all, “I’m trying to be careful about what I say in front of Arianna… like that her daddy’s gone!!!!” Girl, she is three feet away! It also occurred to me when Lucas mentioned going to stay with Kate today that it was very weird that she either didn’t know yet or hadn’t marched right down to the station to raise hell, especially given her relationship with Chad. They could’ve at least tossed in a line about how she was traveling to secure something for Basic Black and was taking the first flight home. Of course, in some fucked-up way, this is all her fault for inflicting the Weston/Ridgeway clan on Salem in the first place; I know that’s reaching, but she took such glee in Clyde’s insidious presence for so long, and this is ultimately the price her family has paid because of the way Clyde has poisoned Ben. I hope they acknowledge that.

Speaking of Ben: that fight with Chad in Tuesday’s episode was horrifying. It was well directed, well shot, well acted, and absolutely sickening. And that’s probably how it should’ve been, but I kept covering my eyes and wincing. The two men spitting out blood and teeth, and Ben bashing Chad’s head into the bed… what a far cry from a decade ago, when Marlena was skulking around in a hood fondling a letter opener and grinning like an idiot. This was a weird, weird choice of story to focus on so close to the 50th anniversary, but it is working, and I’m genuinely compelled to watch. I just don’t know how much more misery I can take.

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10 Comments on “Good Grief”

  1. underyourwing Says:

    i think this a good critique of what’s happening….speaking of Logistical idiocy what the hell happened to Hope’s directive TAKE A LOT OF PICTURES in the apt. but it never showed anyone doing anything??? Not even one quick shot of a team at the scene of the crime.

    That fight was incredibly realistic….I was shocked it was so good….and you are right….so hard to watch. I was SO hoping Chad would prevail and then Ben would be over….but to watch Ben bash Chad’s skull into
    that bed frame apparently made of cement…. OMG….
    now we have Chad in a fucking coma handcuffed to the bed railing… Will is in the morgue, Sami is gonna explode sooner than later, and yeah, where the hell was Kate??? I did think it was good they showed Sonny in Paris listening to Victor drop the bomb on him about Will at least………
    The Caroline trip bothered me……one minute she is lucid and fine, talking to….I forget who…..
    but then she is in No Condition to know about Will??? Can they make up their minds whether she is in it or out of it for God’s sake….. I am dying, uhhhh….Curious, to see where they go with Big Ben now…..
    we’ve got 3 more Days left this week so…..pins and needles.

    anyway: Holy Shit.

    • mykleraus Says:

      The fight was insanely realistic. Like, I’m shocked they got that on daytime network television. This whole thing is really dark. I’m actually glad the Basic Black story was on today, just for some relief.

      The Caroline thing is weird. What therapy for a degenerative disorder is just healing her the second she wakes up? I would’ve preferred if it felt more progressive, like she woke up and actually recognized Kayla, and that was a good sign, and it was touch-and-go for a bit…

      But yes, it’s NICE to be excited and compelled and actually interested in watching!

  2. marypickford Says:

    Agree, agree, agree. I lol’d at your point about Gabi talking in front of Ari about what she couldn’t say in front of Ari. And that little girl has the best stricken facial expressions.

    I noticed Lucas’s red tie, too. An odd choice by wardrobe! Bryan and Ali totally killed me in the morgue scene. When she leaned over and kissed him and said good night, I was blubbering.

    I just finished watching today’s and it wasn’t as strong of an episode, but I appreciated the BB stuff so much because it’s a break from the angst.

    • mykleraus Says:

      Today is definitely sort of “back to normal,” but I’m almost relieved. I don’t think I could’ve handled another hour-long grief-fest. The BB stuff was a palate cleanser, and the scenes were certainly not BAD, so I was grateful for them. I cannot do THAT five days a week!

  3. Jamie Says:

    I watched all 3 episodes last night, back-to-back. Not my smartest idea.

    I really am still at a loss for words over Will’s death. As much as I disliked this current version of Will, watching his death play out and then his family mourn…it was almost too much to take. I remember when he was born!!

    I think the best (most heart-wrenching) scenes were Sami in Will’s apartment on Wednesday, Sami and Lucas in the morgue and Gabi finding Will and trying to resuscitate him. All very well acted.

    I do agree that Bryan Datillo was a little OTT on Monday’s episode.

    The fight scene was so unbelievably graphic and dark. When they zoomed in on that blood stain on the bed after Ben smashed Chad’s head in, that seemed like something that would have killed someone. Which, I guess was Ben’s intention.

    When Ben first came to town, didn’t he show signs of anger issues then? I seem to remember he was arrested before for fighting with Chad? I wonder if all of that is going to be brought up at some point.

    The BB scenes were a good distraction from all the grief, however it really bothered me that Kate was doing business deals in the square the day after her grandson was brutally murdered. Have a little respect!

    • mykleraus Says:

      Ben’s anger has definitely been planted. He attacked Chad with very little provocation on several occasions. And we’ve seen how controlling and jealous he can be with Abigail. This is definitely not the most implausible twist.

      Everything has just been so heavy. Between that fight and all the too-real crying… eesh. But I do agree that Kate’s reaction felt rushed. They tried to keep a thread of it going (or at least Lauren Koslow did) even when she transitioned into the BB stuff, but it was definitely given short shrift, especially considering her unique relationship with Chad.

  4. Dylan Says:

    I’m heartbroken!! I actually found out about Days of our Lives from youtube clips on Will & Sonny’s storyline three years ago. He was a great character especially in that he brought other characters together (Kate & Sami, for example, and Adrienne/Sami). I always thought Will & Sonny were sort of rushed together but I loved their dynamic at the beginning – before their relationship & drama all centered around ‘the baby’ and Gabi and Nick (ugh).

    There is no way this had to be the end of Will – they could have recasted him and given him different storylines, and dropped this whole journalism nonsense (which just never worked for me, I mean it came out of nowhere and has always been tedious). With a creative writing team they could have stirred up some interesting drama with Paul or Will, or they could have recast Sonny.. I hate that he’s gone because of this whole ‘Weston’ family that has been forced down our throats for so long (Will Jordan show her face again when Ben is charged with murder? Don’t answer that.) Especially now that Gabi is out of jail (did they even explain how she got out ONE YEAR after committing murder? She’s been much more tolerable since, anyway. She was a pain to watch back in 2013 in my opinion).

    On another note, this Aiden stuff sucks. I’m not buying any of this stuff linking him to ‘the Dimeras’. While it is cool that Bo is coming back, it doesn’t excuse them throwing away a promising character like this. Do ‘the Dimeras’ know about Chase and Meredith? None of it makes any sense. Or have the new writers completely forgotten about the whole beach house thing?

    I have a feeling that once Sonny leaves again and the onscreen grieving over Will ends, the show is going to take a turn for the worse. Especially since Eve is leaving..

    • mykleraus Says:

      I didn’t realize you were such a new viewer! I’m always impressed when people managed to get into modern-era Days, given the production values and the, er, inconsistent writing.

      I really loved Will’s coming-out, but I do agree that the pairing was rushed. Or, at least, the serious-relationship aspect of it was. Sonny was a wonderful friend to Will, and I saw a spark of attraction there, and all of a sudden, they were talking marriage and cohabitation and stuff. To be fair, the baby situation put everything into overdrive, and they at least addressed how rushed it all was in the past year’s story (sloppy though it was). I actually LOVED the whole baby Ari story and Nick’s involvement — it felt like classic supercouple stuff, in terms of obstacles, but it was great how Sonny and Will stood by one another. It’s a shame it has to end like this, because, as you said, Will provides story and context for so many characters.

      They didn’t explain in much detail how Gabi was released. I think there was a throwaway line about some evidence having been screwed up during the investigation (?), but it doesn’t bother me TOO much. She’s a young mother who confessed to the crime, and lots of people could speak to the way that Nick was stalking and terrorizing her. It’s fast-tracked, for sure, but her being paroled doesn’t strike me as one of the crazier things this ridiculous show has done, especially since half the town has never paid at all for THEIR murders.

  5. Dan Says:

    Monday and Tuesday were hard watching. It was much harder to watch than anything at the end of Higley 2.0 with Chloe prostituting, Carly’s drug addiction, and the ongoing Rafe 2 story. By the Tuesday episode, I felt the show needed to play a story that wasn’t so dark. Between’s Will’s death, Andre’s blackmailing Aiden, and the other serial killer threads, the show was incredibly bleak. I think the show should have balanced it with something less threatening, like Nicole and Daniel’s wedding planning or more Theresa / Tate / Brady baby bonding.

    Sonny’s return was nice. Will’s final phone call was wonderful, but also very reminiscent of Paige calling J.J. right before his death. I hope there is a Sonny/J.J. scene before Smith leaves again. Victor and Sonny’s scene was very well done. Based on this, I wonder if the Sonny goodbye stuff was already written before Higley/Griffith, but they just brought Sonny back to kill off Will.

    Some of the smaller moments were beautiful. Kayla’s concern about Caroline was beautiful, Sami’s arrival at the police station was beautifully staged. It wasn’t clear whether she was going to cry or go off on everybody. Maggie’s reaction was very sweet.

    I expected a bit more from Datillo. When Grace died, both GG and AS were powerful. It helped that the story had them interacting with the sick child before she died, but both actors tapped into their experiences as parents to make that work. I kind og hoped that Bryan would have brought more to the role.

    Having Sami not show her grief was a fascinating character choice. I would have her insist that no one in her family ever really dies. Her father came back, her mother came back, and her son will too. To play on the Higley twist, I would have go to Stefano begging him to return her son to her only for Stefano to comfort her, understanding her grief. I would have Marlena and Kate, together, track Sami down to the Dimera mansion where they would find Sami sobbing in Stefano’s arms, while Stefano was professing how much he cared for Will when he was living in the mansion.

    Logistically, this story is problematic. Arguably, the two most important people in Will’s life, his mother and his husband, no longer live in Salem. They had to brought back and their lives will play out offscreen within several weeks. That is an issue. Will’s death should have a huge impact on the canvas, but how can that be the case if these important people are no longer in town.

    My hope is that someone decides to set up some sort of foundation in Will’s name that at least brings some important story to the canvas.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I go back and forth. On one hand, the episodes were tough to watch because they were so heavy and dark, but they were effective in what they were aiming to do. I felt like the cutaways to other stories (like the brief John/Steve stuff) was disorienting, so I was okay with them mostly focusing on the Will story.

      I’m actually impressed that they did so much character work with Sami, as opposed to just having her show up and weep with everyone. Your idea of her going to Stefano is interesting, too — they kind of dropped the entire Will/Stefano thing after Will came out.

      But yeah, it’s a little weird that so much of Will’s death and the fallout hangs on characters who aren’t on the show right now. I believe what happened with Sonny is that FS didn’t want to leave — he asked to go recurring when his contract was up, and they didn’t want to keep Sonny in limbo, so they had to write him out when his contract run ended. What’s strange is that they basically did nothing with Will between then and now, so they probably could’ve just had Sonny offscreen in Salem and we wouldn’t have noticed! (I’ve heard that they are looking to recast Sonny but didn’t want to do it before Will’s death played out, which seems smart. Now they can send FS off again, and when Sonny returns, he’ll be a new actor.)

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