Posted tagged ‘Story Recap’

Thirsty Thursday

February 17, 2017

I suppose it’s fitting that Anna got to face down Andre, the man who stole the face of her beloved dead Tony and somehow gets to walk around alive and well despite having been a serial killer on two separate occasions —

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— but given her observation about how much Andre loves martinis, maybe she should be careful where she sets down that shaker full of Tony’s ashes?

Meanwhile, I thought Jennifer, Adrienne, and Drew might be in a competition to see who could say the word “cola” the most times before the opening credits rolled.

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I can’t decide whether to applaud or throw tomatoes at the person who came up with the fake product name Flazzle, but I really wish they’d been able to line up an awkward Shasta product placement spot or something. “This refreshing RC Cola has given me just the boost of energy I need to stay in this hotel room for another 52 scenes yammering about the Orwell!”

And I’ll probably never understand why they couldn’t call it soda or pop like normal people… but this is Salem, so I guess I just answered my own question.

The Phoenix Always Rises

February 10, 2017

In January 1982, when Joseph Mascolo arrived in Salem as crime boss Stefano DiMera, no one could have predicted the hell the man would raise, the chaos he would cause, the deaths he would fake, and the excitement he would bring viewers for years to come. Today, over 35 years later, we all say goodbye to Joe and to Stefano for the final time.

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Stefano was apprehended long enough to have his DNA and fingerprints taken — presumably exonerating Hope for his “murder” — and to allow three of his enemies (more on that in a sec) to confront him. And then, because Salemites have never learned the lesson that gloating just makes things blow up in your face, they discovered his cell empty, the Phoenix having apparently slipped out of their clutches one more time.

I read that the set photos of Mascolo were marked April 2016, while the ones from the others visiting him in prison were from August 2016. This implies that they filmed Stefano’s footage back around the time they shot the Orpheus, Clyde, and Xander material in jail (all of which aired last fall), and then shot the other characters’ sides of these scenes later on. You could tell in the editing today, because he was never in the same shot as anyone else, and I wondered a few times if they were reusing shots as he reacted silently to Anna, Marlena, and Rafe. I’m thrilled that we had the opportunity not only to wrap up Stefano’s story onscreen — as much as you can wrap up the tale of such a larger-than-life character — and to see him once more. But it was also tough to watch him in these scenes. I don’t know if the decision to keep Stefano silent was because they banked footage before they knew what the story was going to be, and they wanted to be able to fit his appearance into whatever wound up playing out, but it’s tough not to think that Joe’s Alzheimer’s also played a big role in that. I felt worried that he wasn’t able to speak by this point (or at least to recite dialogue), and at times, there was a distant look in his eyes. Yet at others, he laughed, he smirked, he expressed irritation, and he even teared up.

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I don’t know if that tear was supposed to be Stefano reacting to his apparent defeat or Joe’s own emotion coming through, but it broke me a little. How classy of him to shoot footage beyond when it was easy or comfortable for him, and how decent of the show to accommodate him in this way. Yeah, in a perfect world, Stefano would’ve been a greater onscreen presence through this final arc, and his last showdowns with his enemies would have been the verbal chess matches we knew he relished, but the show worked within the limitations it had, and I find it hard to complain about that.

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Marlena’s final “Checkmate” to him, as she set down the queen, was pretty damn perfect. I cannot figure out the decision-making process behind doing that mid-episode and then having Stefano’s final onscreen encounter be with Rafe Hernandez, of all people, especially when you had Deidre Hall’s Marlena right there. Ridiculous. I would’ve been fine if they’d devoted a major chunk of the episode to flashbacks as the folks gathered in Prague recalled everything Stefano has pulled on them over the years; they could’ve even cut to Andre in Salem, talking with Kate, and Chad locked up, recounting stories to Gabi. As it was, the tone of the episode was all over the place, with more of the Nicole/Chloe baby histrionics going on, and of course Deimos stinking up the joint.

This entire Prague thing has been all over the place, though. It seems like they sent a group of characters off on an “adventure” and then had to figure out exactly what would be going on during said adventure. Anna, Carrie, and Austin popping up — fun as it’s been — was supremely weird, and otherwise, this has been a lot of people chit-chatting in the hotel lobby and the one outdoor cafe in all of Prague. And then there was that masquerade ball.

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Hey, at least it didn’t happen offscreen, and they did manage to dedicate a set and extras to it, even if that set was a redressed St. Luke’s/Kristen’s Italian villa from 2015. I don’t think I’ll ever understand what in the world the plan was — lure Stefano out of hiding by using Marlena as bait and then hope he didn’t question why she was there or recognize Steve, Kayla, or Rafe just standing around? — or why they had to spend an entire episode standing in side-by-side pairs, yammering into their mics in the absolute most conspicuous manner possible. Nor will we ever know why it was so difficult to procure tickets for this “gala” consisting of a dozen middle-aged extras moving woozily around a living room. There were a lot of opportunities to dig deeper with the writing, to craft something suspenseful and complex even without Stefano present for most of it, but what we got was a strange mix of tepid intrigue and comic relief.

Still, though, they did try, we got a very Stefano ending, and the show had the respect to include this at the end of the hour:

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Thank you for the memories, Joe, and may we always imagine that the Phoenix is out there somewhere, ready to strike again when the quiet life grows tiresome to him.

Seeing Double… Again

February 3, 2017

I knew this microchip thing had potential, but suddenly, we’re in the throes of a really strong umbrella storyline. The Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday episodes were exciting not just because of that escalating sense of tension and impending disaster, but also because every scene, every storyline featured, felt like spokes coming off the same hub of drama. Yeah, it’s still a bit thin — probably because not much of this is really rooted in the characters’ arcs, aside from the Chloe/Nicole/Deimos situation and elements of the Abigail/Chad/Gabi stuff (which they aren’t really playing up) — but it’s at least interesting and has momentum. It feels like all these separate threads are suddenly weaving together, tangling things up and driving tensions to their peaks. I might be crazy, but this at least feels like a decent attempt to emulate the adventures of olden Days.

Also, talk about past characters I never thought I’d see onscreen in “real time”:

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I tend to forget that Shane ever had a twin, because Drew doesn’t seem to have been a very significant character at all, and his role in the narrative always seems confusing in recaps. But this is a fun use of random history, and it gives both Charles Shaughnessy and Melissa Reeves something playful and a little exciting to do, so… have at it.

But Drew showing up really made me think about how absurd it is that people in this town are constantly finding out that they have doppelgängers, twins, and what have you.

Here’s a list of people currently on the show who have or have had lookalikes:

  • Marlena Evans: Samantha Evans (identical twin)*, Hattie Adams (doppelgänger)*
  • Hope Brady: Princess Gina von Amberg (doppelgänger)
  • Shane Donovan: Drew Donovan (identical twin)
  • Nicole Walker: Helena Tasso (doppelgänger)
  • Andre DiMera: Tony DiMera (cousin/brother and doppelgänger after plastic surgery)
  • Doug Williams: Byron Carmichael (identical half-brother)
  • Rafe Hernandez: “Rafe #2” — Javier something? (doppelgänger after plastic surgery)

*Both roles were played by Deidre’s real-life twin, Andrea Hall, in their original runs, though Deidre later took over both for reprisals.

And then we have the following, all of whom have been (at least once) replaced by a doppelgänger somewhere in the process of being “murdered” or otherwise participating in mayhem:

  • Abe
  • Maggie
  • Caroline
  • Roman
  • Victor
  • Doug
  • Jennifer**

**There was a very short arc, a few days long, sometime in 2005-06, amidst the zillion times Jack was presumed dead, where he arrived home to reunite with Jen, only to realize that she was actually some woman named Madison wearing a Jennifer mask (as we know those are easy to come by). Melissa Reeves played the role of Madison until she was unmasked.

Meanwhile, the following people look exactly like former Salem residents, although no one notices it:

  • Roman (Josh Taylor previously played Chris Kositchek)
  • Adrienne (Judi Evans previously played Bonnie Lockhart)

And this is all with Sami, EJ, Aiden, Kristen, and god knows who else out of town! (Now tell me how many people I’ve missed…)

Just Play the Hits

January 28, 2017

It wouldn’t be an episode of Days of Our Lives in 2017 if we didn’t hear Daniel’s name at least 50 times, let alone see his mug.

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I will say that his ghostly appearance Friday, as well as all the (endless) discussion of him, didn’t irritate me as much as your average psychiatric professional might have predicted. Yes, we all know how much he sucked, but people like Maggie, Victor, Nicole, and Brady for some reason enjoyed his presence, and it makes sense to reflect on his memory as the news comes out that he and Nicole share a daughter. Personally, I found it strange how Brady and Nicole were talking about how Daniel always gave them great advice, considering that most of what I remember was him telling Nicole what an untrustworthy harlot she was, and him mauling the ex-fiancée who broke Brady’s heart and drove him back to drugs, but hey, different strokes. I wouldn’t have minded if JJ — the one person who really did benefit from Daniel’s guidance — had been at the police station and weighed in with some references to things we actually saw Daniel do, but they seem to have forgotten that Daniel was ever important to that segment of the canvas.

In terms of this baby situation, I don’t know that I’ve ever watched a story in which just about everyone — regardless of what side of the debate they’re on — seems either batshit crazy or stupid to the point of being a danger to themselves. “Maggie, doesn’t it bother you that Deimos left you paralyzed?” “I’ve made my peace with him.” Well, sure, you can get past something like that and still not exalt the person or want to be around him. Meanwhile, they somehow even managed to make Chloe come off like an idiot — which, granted, isn’t usually that tough — when she admitted that Deimos might not harm Holly directly, but, you know, his influence wouldn’t be great and stuff. Compelling! I don’t see how a judge could rule against that!

Also, Maggie is really leaning into this Prince tribute thing, yeah?

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I did appreciate that they actually showed her learning that Holly is her granddaughter and holding the child for the first time. This is the type of beat that they too often skip over, but it helps ground these ridiculous scenarios when we actually see people’s incredulous reactions play out.

Speaking of old Days favorites…

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It’s been a while since we’ve had a random dayplayer waltz up to some main characters and butt into their lives, totally uninvited! And this one seems to be a distant relation of Celeste, so there’s that, too. Per Salem tradition, this woman could not have given less of a shit about anybody else in that “Cafe Dvorak,” but of course she floats right up to Kayla and Steve to tell their fortunes, i.e., completely ruin their day by shrieking in their faces about doom and danger. I hope she wasn’t expecting a tip.

Save the Drama for Your Mama

January 25, 2017

It’s oddly fitting that, the very day after I found out Dena Higley was fired (again), I teared up at an episode featuring the payoff of what is probably the main narrative of Dena’s entire time at Days: Nicole learning that she finally, after all these years and all these disappointments, has a biological child.

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Maybe that’s not fitting. Ironic? (A little too ironic.) (And yeah, I really do think.) (It’s like raaaaa-eeee-aaaaiiiiiin…)

ANYWAY. Arianne Zucker — and the script — sold the hell out of that moment, in my opinion. I certainly wouldn’t have minded it happening in a setting with a bigger feeling, like a wedding or a party (literally everything climactic on soaps could happen at a wedding or party and I’d be good), but the emotion was spot-on, and it isn’t like this was a situation with no stakes. Nicole was being detained for attempted murder, and Brady forced Chloe to tell the truth. And the way it dawned on her — the way she didn’t understand what she was being told at first, because it’s bonkers — and then reflected on the losses she’s suffered and finally realized that a child that is genetically hers was in the same room as her… that was really good stuff that proves you don’t need a giant budget to do great drama, if you take the time to build the emotional investment and make it all about the characters.

(By the way, boy, did Chloe come off like a total loon as she tried to justify this whole thing, even though I hate Deimos enough that it makes sense to me.)

At any rate, it is fitting that this arc got to be completed, or at least come to this moment, under Higley’s pen, because this is by far the most emotional and engaging character tale she’s developed throughout her runs. She didn’t write the original “Nicole can’t conceive because she got SHOT IN THE UTERUS” story, but she did take her out of the Victor marriage and the Colin affair/murder and into the relationship with Brady, which is still important today. She wrote Nicole’s affair with EJ that led to a pregnancy and marriage, followed by the miscarriage, the friendship with Eric Martsolf’s Brady, and the entire theft of Sydney. And it strikes me as very wise to complicate this entire reveal by having Nicole in legal trouble for stabbing the guy whom she knows — but no one else does — was sent to kill Deimos. On one hand, she used a butter knife, so it’s possible Justin could argue that she wanted to, I dunno, slather the guy with cream cheese, but on the other hand… he was an unarmed man whom she’s alleging was going to try and kill a man in broad daylight in the middle of a busy shopping mall/biodome. So perhaps a defense will be hard to mount. Also, this is the second allegation of (attempted) murder against her in a year’s time, but I guess everyone is just pretending that Kate never pushed Deimos into that river.

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I love how they brought Belle in as Chloe’s lawyer. I love how they played the Brady/Belle angle of the custody fight. Lots of this is working. I am, however, eager to see either party explain this shitshow to a judge. I imagine it’ll go something like this:

Chloe: She isn’t fit to be Holly’s mother! She once snuck into an operating room to put flesh-eating bacteria on my face!
Judge: Then why would you agree to carry a child for her and your own ex-husband?
Chloe: I was once tricked into being a hooker.
Judge: …oh.

‘Chips Ahoy

January 20, 2017

I have a perhaps-controversial opinion.

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No, it isn’t that I think Club TBD looks okay. It’s still awful on every count.

My controversial (?) opinion is this: I think this microchip storyline is pretty good.

Wait, wait. Hold the tomatoes. I have some caveats — primarily, that I think this storyline is very solid on paper. If you were to describe this story to a longtime Days fan without giving away that Dena Higley were writing the show, I bet that viewer would say it sounds like exactly what Days needs right now. Think about it: the DiMeras and the Kiriakises are both privy to revolutionary technology that could earn either family millions. A scrappy, third family rises up to get involved and take that technology. All this is the backdrop for a number of personal and relationship stories. Chad and Abigail are trying to get their marriage back on solid ground, while she’s harboring self-doubt and he’s resisting the feelings he developed for Gabi. Abigail has a newfound friendship with Dario, her husband’s wild-card competitor. JJ is desperate to win Gabi back but has been tasked with investigating her father and brother, and wild-card Lani is… there. Sonny and Chad’s friendship is threatened as they step up to represent their respective families. Kate’s burgeoning relationship with Eduardo is complicated by his family having stolen and smuggled the microchips. Deimos is willing to play dirty, which again tests his and Nicole’s relationship and strengthens Chloe’s resolve to keep Holly away from him, even if it means hurting Nicole.

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See? That’s a pretty strong umbrella storyline. In execution, though, it’s a bit like a house made out of popsicle sticks and Scotch tape (or, you know, the typical Days set). The microchip stuff arose out of nowhere. Chad and Gabi’s “love” was completely rushed. Sonny as a business-minded Kiriakis feels forced. It makes no sense why anyone trusts Deimos. Chloe is the damn voice of common sense with regards to Deimos, and somehow her motivation for keeping that child from Nicole still feels thin.

But there’s something there. Maybe the scripts need to be digging deeper. Maybe it’s that the setups were rushed into place, and we just need to buy into those in order to buy the story. But I will say that it’s generating a lot of scenes and dynamics that I’m enjoying, and this sort of far-reaching storytelling works so well for this incarnation of the show. So I suppose I’m willing to go along for the ride right now, based upon the potential of the whole thing and the engaging scenes that pop up along the way.

New Things to Complain About!

January 18, 2017

What a Tuesday in Salem!

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Kayla and Steve are going to pay the rent on an apartment that Joey and his almost-babymama, White Jade, are going to share with three other college kids! How could this possibly go awry?

They did a nice job converting the old Sami/Rafe apartment into a new set, and I definitely don’t mind having something else to look at, but this plan is objectively horrible, yeah? I get that Kayla and Steve are good people who don’t want to cast Jade out into the wind, but let me get this straight: Joey hopes that by sharing a living space with Jade and having her be dependent upon his family, he’ll be able to faze her out of his life? Ooooookay. College is not looking promising for someone.

As for White Jade herself:

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The actress seemed to fit right in on her first day, but what was the point of this recast? I feel like their story wrapped up pretty naturally thanks to the miscarriage, and they could’ve brought this girl in as Joy Wesley (I know, Joey/Joy is problematic name-wise) and had her connected to other people on canvas and without the weird baggage of a character who never totally made sense to begin with.

Meanwhile, Hope was awfully fortunate that her nephew-by-marriage was the person who just happened to find her conked out in the woods.

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Greg Vaughan’s harder look for this return is kind of jarring (even though I’d been prepared by photos), but he’s still embodying that soulfulness Eric had when he was a priest, albeit tempered by the weight of the mistakes he’s made. I’m eager to see what they have planned for him. I’m guessing he was granted early release from prison and planned to hide out from society, but it seems really weird that his father, who is the Police Commissioner, would’ve had no clue about this. Although for all we know, Roman could’ve actually mentioned it onscreen and we just couldn’t understand what the hell he was carrying on about.

Over in Prague, a city composed entirely of three rooms and an alleyway, everyone’s just about had it with Anna.

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Not me, though! I’ve seen some comments from people who are upset that none of the other characters seem to be taking her mental illness seriously, but frankly, I’m just glad there’s some energy to this. Austin’s exasperation with her has been hilarious, and they’re balancing it out with Carrie telling him not to call her mom crazy. (Though could Carrie please shoot back once with, “At least she’s not trying to kill you, which is what I’ve had to deal with with your mother for two decades!”) Anna’s question about how Carrie could possibly have fallen for Rafe — who’s at his most unbearable right now — was delightful, too.

I do have to say, though, that while I’m enjoying the scenes, it all feels a little bit like a fakeout. We follow some regular characters to Prague to solve this Stefano mystery, and it turns into this dog-leg focusing mostly on Anna, Carrie, and Austin. It’s similar to shoehorning Hattie and Eric into Hope’s story, or having Laura pop up randomly in the Abigail story, or even the way Shane and Kim were the ones to bring Theresa the news about Mateo. It’s like they realize the stories are thin, so they wave a shiny thing (“Someone you used to like!”) in front of us to keep our attention. I mean, there are worse things, but it does feel a bit like a trick meant to prevent us from noticing that there’s very little actual story going on.