I Took a Pill in Salem

Am I hopped up on painkillers, or was Jennifer hitting rockbottom a pretty good episode, even in spite of most of the “story” having taken place offscreen?

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Melissa Reeves definitely showed up to work, and there was something incredibly visceral about Jennifer’s simple need to make it to 6 a.m. without taking another pill. The use of Lucas and Julie added some real heft to the episode. (And I guess Doug was there, too, though he didn’t do much of substance.) This felt like a Horton family crisis, though Hope’s absence was glaring. I guess she has her own illogical love triangle and troubled, robotic daughter to deal with, but it’s still damn strange to me that she lived with Jennifer for weeks and hasn’t had anything to say about this apparently dire pill-popping.

But what really made it work was this.

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It says a lot that the actor and character who was most necessary to shore up this whole thing was Matthew Ashford’s Jack. He remains Reeves’s best scene partner, and reflecting on her history with Jack and what the loss of him meant went a long way toward finally giving Jennifer’s overnight addiction some context. It definitely felt like a retro-fitted explanation — frankly, for the past few months, I don’t think the writers gave much thought to what was going on in Jennifer’s head or whether she was actually in pain or why she kept taking the pills — but it set a lot right for me.

And look at how young and handsome Jack was back in the day!

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I thought Ashford looked better on Tuesday than he did during his last contract run, actually. He seems to have aged into his looks or something. It was just such a pleasure to have him onscreen, especially without any of the forced hijinks they’ve made Jack’s trademark during his last few returns. And how blessed are we that they went with Jack and not Daniel for this role?

Special shoutout to whichever writer had Jennifer finally remember that she was on the other side of this exact same situation with Carly not five years ago, and to whomever picked out that cute dress she wore to her first AA meeting. It even looked relatively comfortable and almost managed to banish my usual thought of “Don’t any of these people own sweatshirts?!” And all that dialogue about writing and the Spectator!

I’m not entirely sure where this goes next — I’m really burnt-out on watching recovering addicts struggle with their demons on this show — but this episode laid out a potentially interesting new path for Jennifer, as she navigates who she is at this new juncture in her life. Let’s see if they actually bother to put any of it onscreen.

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14 Comments on “I Took a Pill in Salem”

  1. Shea Says:

    I think what I find most frustrating is that all the pieces for a decent story were there just needed to put Jennifer into it and show it. The murders of Paige and Will back in fall, followed by what happened with Abigail and Ben, then the accident and the death of the tan one all could have been shown to impact Jennifer. All we needed was a scene or two after each event to show her becoming depressed or suffering from some anxiety so that becoming addicted to the pills fairly quickly would make a hell of a lot more sense than having Eric see her take one pill and call her an addict. And it is was so annoying that they didn’t set this episode up any better than they did. I said over on Spoiler Free Days that we could have seen was how she struggled to handle the hospital PR during the virus quarantine while trying to give up the pills only to then have Chad throw her problem back in her face when he wouldn’t let her take Thomas for the night and it would have felt like a better set up for her hitting rock bottom. Again, the pieces were there but they didn’t use them.

    It is increasingly apparent that these writers just do not understand how to use supporting characters and why they are important for ongoing continuity of storytelling. Jennifer should have been on screen in her supporting role with small little glimpses of her growing problem along the way. The same was true of Eric before her. Maybe it’s all about budget and not wanting to pay supporting actors to appear but it just seems like lazy storytelling. (I would have loved to have a little more Jennifer and less Hope and Ciara.)

    They did a nice job using Lucas, Julie AND Doug in supporting roles in this episode so why can’t they do that all the time? I know Doug’s part was small but Bill Hayes is almost 91 so I don’t expect him to carry any scenes and I like the fact that Doug declared they were moving in to help Jennifer.

    Matthew Ashford looked great and I would be campaigning for his full time return but I don’t trust these writers to be able to handle the complexity of a character like Jack so I will just enjoy these visits and leave it at that.

    • mykleraus Says:

      +1 to all of this.

      They’ve proven surprisingly adept at using the supporting players when they choose to use them, but they don’t weave them through the major stories nearly enough. For all of TomSell’s faults, remember how well Adrienne, Justin, Kayla, Lucas, and other non-contract players were regularly layered into the A-stories? They’d even play them like contract players for a few weeks at a time, then let them recede. The fact that a variety of stories are happening at least 50% offscreen this year is so jarring.

      I definitely felt like Jennifer should’ve been at the hospital during JJ’s alleged terrible illness, which lasted like one hour, but I love your idea about her scrambling to manage the PR and that tying into her addiction. They’ve done such a crappy job of having this resonate through her life aside from her looking pained and gobbling pills and occasionally weirding people out with how perky she seems.

      • Mo Says:

        Right on Shea. Shows like DAYS need A-Level stories, B-Level stories and C-Level stories that they can rotate in and out to keep things fresh. Jen’s pill addiction was most definitely a C-Level story but given a chance to shine it was the most interesting thing the show has done in quite awhile. Jack and Jennifer were the couple that got me hooked on DAYS though so maybe I am biased.

        Ashford DID look so much better this time and those flashbacks! He has always had a unique, non-soap-star look and act that works for him like a charm.

      • mykleraus Says:

        The problem is they do this weird thing where the C-stories are always the C-stories, until randomly they climax and they’re frontburner for an episode or two, and then they fade away again. So odd.

  2. Hard Candy Says:

    This episode was one of the best I’ve seen on Days in years. It actually made me quite emotional, but not surprising as I’ve been a J&J shipper since 1990. 🙂 Missy was excellent, which proves that when they give her good material to work with, she sure can bring it! She’s been marvelous in the few scenes they’ve given her leading up to this, as well, especially those with Eric. I don’t understand why they don’t use her more — she can act circles around most of the others on the show.

    Seeing Jack and Jen together again, talking about the old days was wonderful. And yes, Matt is still one fine looking man. But back in their supercouple days, Lord have mercy! He was just scrumptious. I used to tape the show so I could watch after school, and I would always have to rewind (VCRs! OMG!) to actually hear whatever he had said because looking at him would make me lose focus. lol If they can bring Aiden back from the dead (I mean, really? But at least it wasn’t Daniel. I’ll count my blessings), why can’t Jack return? He has so many people to interact with now, not just Jen, but also Steve, J.J., Abby, and his grandbaby. I miss him and no one lights Missy up the way he does. They’ve just always had that ever-so-elusive chemistry in spades, and still do.

    • mykleraus Says:

      Agreed all around. Reeves was great. I do think she defaults to shrewish a little too easily on a day-to-day basis, but she can deliver with focused material. And she plays so well off Ashford. I’m really disappointed that they cut the Jen/Eric pairing off at the knees, because it was totally working and was one of the more compelling dynamics on the show. Sigh.

      The craziest thing about Jack/Ashford is that they’ve historically been so reluctant to write for him apart from Jennifer. Since the mid-90s, Jack has basically just been “Jennifer’s true love” without any other story function. It’s a shame.

      • Hard Candy Says:

        I know, there’s so much depth to his character that they just ignore. I’d love to see his dark side reappear, and him struggling with that — that whole side of him just sort of disappeared which was bogus. And how about Jennifer chase him for a change (like she did in the beginning)?

      • mykleraus Says:

        They’ve completely limited him to the role of “other guy in Jennifer’s supercouple.” It’s really narrow-minded.

  3. Denise Says:

    I agree with all your opinions about the lead up to this. Seeing Jack, though…wow. And the wonderful writing metaphors just killed me. I felt like this WAS Jack. He was always pretty unsentimental, more intellect than heart, and that’s what made his falling in love with Jen so much more rich, his denying it and running the whole way! If they could bring him back like this, with some really good writing, I’d take it. I’d love to see him back at the paper. Bring back Vern! :). I thought this was a multi-episode arc? Will we see him again, or was that it?

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