Hope for the Best
How lovely! Another episode of People Who Are Dead Who Should Be on Our TVs Instead of Summer.
I’m kidding. Kind of. These standalone episodes are an interesting change of pace, and I applaud the experimentation with form (seriously, we get 250 episodes a year — they don’t all have to abide by the same structure), but it’s a little weird that I’m coming to look forward to these episodes because I want to see people who aren’t regularly on the show and see longtime characters behave in ways that actually make sense, which they don’t get to do in the regular episodes.
I thought the throughline of this Hope-centric episode worked fairly well, although like the Jennifer and Abigail ones before it, there wasn’t exactly enough story to fill an hour-long episode. But at least we got a bunch of exciting visits. Like Larry Welch!
That was fun and unexpected, and it was a smart way to call back to who Hope was way back when (and bring up some of her less admirable personality traits, like the “princess” stuff — and I mean the bratty kind, not the brainwashed art-stealing kind). This really was an occasion for Hope to take stock of who she’s been and who she will be, so this fit better than I thought it might.
And of course I started weeping the minute Grown-Up Zack arrived.
I really like how they’ve maintained Zack as a sort of touchstone for Hope (and Bo) for a decade. Part of me has always expected him to turn out alive as part of some convoluted DiMera plot, but it was so powerful to see him in this context. They should never let us forget how the loss of a young child impacted Hope and will continue to do so. And the actor was pretty good, no? He reminded me, looks-wise, a little of Jason Cook, and he held his own easily. Why can they cast good Ghost Kids but can’t find decent living ones?!
Some of this episode definitely felt like a response to criticism about Hope being, you know, a murderer who got away with it, and yeah, it was sort of heavy-handed to have the ghosts of Bo and Stefano basically absolving her of what she did, but it’s about damn time they brought that major internal conflict into the foreground. She’s a cop who shot a man who — despite being a monster — was unarmed and just kind of being an ass to her at the time, and then she disposed of his body and let his own (insane) son go to jail for it. I still maintain that they could’ve gotten just about the same story value out of Hope killing Stefano in an act of self-defense, without all the ensuing ickiness, but what do I know? Also, did anyone else crack up when she promised Stefano that she’d look out for Chad — which was actually a smart, interesting tie to make — “the same way I look out for my own”? So what, you’ll text him every four weeks? Sounds great!
It was so great to see Peter Reckell onscreen again as Bo. The two of them just light up the screen together. And don’t get me started on how I bawled when “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love” started playing. I did not expect that. I assume the upcoming cast cuts were made in order to free up money for 90 seconds of that song to be played onscreen, but good grief, was it worth it.
The problem, of course, is that Bo and Hope have such weight, such history, that it made the entire piece about her flimsy love triangle with Rafe and Aiden feel beyond superfluous. I’ve said this before, but I like Hope and Rafe in concept. They have a pleasant chemistry. But the forced writing does them no favors, and when you put them up against the legend of Bo and Hope, it’s clear why. I find the idea of exploring Hope getting a “second act” interesting, and it’s something that Haiden 1.0 kind of delved into, but they seem to be avoiding it with the current Hope/Rafe pairing. This is a woman with two grown children, a child she lost, a grandchild, and a great love in her past. This should be a story about “What does the rest of my life look like?” instead of a paint-by-numbers soap romance. And is Rafe ready to be a stepfather to Ciara and Shawn? He has some experience, given his marriage to Sami, but that’s an angle to explore that they’ve completely neglected. They’re bypassing the interesting, different story in favor of… I don’t even know what. And then there’s this mind-boggling B.S. about Hope maybe still being in love with Aiden. Lady, you can’t be the stepmother to your daughter’s rapist. Sorry, move on! She could be torn over a number of things — residual affection/guilt toward Chase in spite of her hatred of what he did; a desire to forgive Aiden — but contemplating a reunion with Aiden is bonkers.
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