WTF Wednesday: The Perplexing Existence of Andre DiMera
It’s yet another period of transition in Salem, but one thing that doesn’t seem like it’ll be changing anytime soon is the presence of town villain Andre DiMera. His portrayer, Thaao Penghlis, recently re-signed with Days for another two years, ensuring that Andre will continue to maniacally swan around town like some kind of psychotic Liberace.
But here’s the thing about Andre: despite having been an on-and-off presence on the show for over three decades, this stint is really the first time we’re experiencing him as himself. Due to some largely nonsensical retcons, most of what we watched of Tony DiMera over the years turns out to have been Andre all along. Here’s a walk down memory lane of the timeline of the lookalike (via plastic surgery) cousins and kind-of-maybe-brothers, whose confusing history involves a hell of a lot of bodies that were later not accounted for…
1981: Count Antony DiMera arrives in Salem as the estranged husband of Liz Chandler. His criminal father, Stefano, soon follows. Tony winds up involved with Renee Dumonde, who is revealed to be Stefano’s daughter… which winds up not being an issue (for now) because Tony’s mother, Daphne, in turn reveals that he wasn’t Stefano’s biological son. But the couple’s happiness is short-lived, as Renee is murdered by the Salem Slasher.
1984: Tony is suspected of being the Slasher, but it turns out that he’s being held captive and has been replaced by his cousin, Andre, who’s had plastic surgery to look just like him. Tony’s name is cleared, and Andre drowns in quicksand on a tropical island (for real).
1985: Tony’s marriage to Anna ends when he vanishes from Salem, having been blackmailed by Emma Marshall or something equally confusing that must have driven fans insane at the time.
1993: Penghlis returns to the show as Tony, who is now the betrothed of Stefano’s adopted daughter, Kristen, which is fucked-up in its own special way. Kristen marries Tony but can’t fight her feelings for John Black.
1995: Kristen stays with Tony after an accident leaves him blind, but Tony regains his sight and keeps the truth from her. Driven to madness by Kristen’s affair with John and also by the fact that he’s a DiMera, Tony — who has since learned he has a fatal blood disease — commits suicide and frames John for his murder. (John is saved from the gas chamber at the last minute.) In case you’re keeping score, we now have two dead, lookalike DiMeras: one dead from quicksand (so dramatic), the other from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
2002: With Stefano off the canvas, Tony makes a surprising return. He helpfully explains that it was actually Andre who killed himself and framed John several years ago. (In the show’s defense, Penghlis had actually played the end of Tony’s life in ways that implied it might not be the real Tony: smoking, for instance. So the seed had been planted.) Tony then proves himself to be as batshit crazy as his father and cousin by becoming obsessed with Marlena and concocting all manner of ridiculous schemes. It’s also during this period that they just started referring to Tony as Stefano’s biological son without ever clearing up the Renee thing. Incest? So what, who cares!
2004: With the Salem Stalker running rampant through Salem, Tony is mauled by a tiger during a circus. (No, really.) He is hospitalized and dies when the killer — revealed to be Marlena — injects his IV with poison.
2004, again: Just kidding! Marlena and all her victims turn up on an island called Melaswen (“New Salem” backwards), which has been doctored up to look just like their home but with a generous helping of tropical foliage and Tommy Bahama resort wear. Tony privately has a Psycho-esque (and by “-esque” I mean “ripoff”) conversation with what he believes to be Stefano’s dead body/skeleton and explains to his henchman, Bart, that he brainwashed Marlena into committing the murders to… uh, to foil true love, or something! Everyone eventually gets off the island.
2005: Tony goes into hiding but continues to wreak havoc, including helping Sami Brady get revenge on her enemies by parading out dressed as a man named Stan. Tony also winds up luring a bunch of the idiotic good guys to an unnamed country/war zone in the Middle East (!) and is finally jailed.
2007: Turns out Stefano is alive but barely clinging to life, so Tony manages to get himself released from prison to care for him, because that’s totally how murder and treason charges work. Also during this time: Tony rides into the DiMera living room ON A HORSE to greet John and Bo.
Well, “Tony.” Because later that year, we find out that Tony DiMera has been on a tropical island — presumably the one where Andre was believed to have drowned in quicksand, or maybe a different one after he left Anna and Salem? — for two decades, and the “Tony” we’ve been seeing since his early 90s return has actually been Andre masquerading as Tony. Marlena, John, and the recently returned Anna track down Tony, who confirms that he isn’t actually Stefano’s biological child after all (chalk it up to new writers cleaning up old messes). So now we have: Tony, alive; Andre, alive; someone who died in quicksand but I guess got saved; someone who died of a gunshot wound who was very clearly dead but wasn’t Tony or Andre.
By the end of 2007, Andre falls off a roof twice and removes himself from life support to frame Shawn Brady (the grandpa one, not the stupid young adult). Shawn is exonerated, but Andre dies — or, well, you know.
2009: Tony reunites with Anna and clashes with his family. He also catches onto Nicole’s baby-swapping scheme but doesn’t have the chance to reveal the truth to EJ before he is killed during an altercation with Philip in the midst of the DiMera-Kiriakis war.
2015: Andre literally just sashays into the DiMera mansion, alive and well, and has apparently been hiding out away from Salem. Oh, and he’s also Stefano’s biological son, which he learned from a letter that his mother wrote him. Who’s his mother? How did Andre make it out alive when he very clearly died in that hospital? At what point did they find out Stefano’s his dad? Who knows! Certainly not the writers!
In summation: the real Tony has never been in Salem at the same time as Kristen; we have no idea who actually died in Aremid, since someone did; Tony might or might not be biologically related to Stefano; Andre has the ability to withstand drowning in quicksand, falling off roofs, being taken off life-support, and more. One thing’s for sure: when the DiMeras are involved, “death” is merely a starting point for negotiations, so it’s probably only a matter of time until Tony turns up again and we’re asked to ignore all matters of logic and common sense.
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