Aiden finally returned on this week's Days of Our Lives.
After viewers invested almost 18 months in Hope and Aiden's romance, new writers suddenly made Aiden a pawn of Stefano's who was weak-willed and totally willing to try to murder his fiancee. This made no sense whatsoever and many "Haiden" (Hope/Aiden) fans were outraged.
Some viewers thought the only way this could be true was if Aiden was replaced by a doppleganger. And this week, it appears that's exactly what happened.
Naturally, it had to happen just as Hope and Rafe's romance was heating up. That seems more than a little contrived, since Rafe's interest in Hope was one-sided until shortly before Aiden's return.
Now it's Rafe's turn to be out of character, as he did his best to keep Aiden in jail without cause so that he wouldn't be a threat to his relationship and called it protecting his girlfriend.
Aiden: Thinking about you and how much I love you, that is what kept me alive. And I know you love me too.
Hope: Past tense.
The scenes between Hope and Aiden have been intense, raw and real. One of the best things about this is that there's no clear right and wrong here.
Aiden's grief, heartbreak and belief that Hope still loves him and will take him back once it sinks in that he didn't try to kill her is totally believable and understandable, as is Hope's wariness and desire to leave him in the past as she tries to put her life back together.
Add in the fact that Aiden's son raped Hope's daughter and the situation gets almost impossibly complicated.
Aiden will of course fight for his son, especially since the boy he left behind would never have done any such thing. Hope wants to fight for her daughter, who refuses to accept her help.
And in the meantime the entire town has decided that the Jennings name is synonymous with evil.
It will be interesting, dramatic and emotional to see how this all plays out.
Aiden: What I do is not your business.
Rafe: If it involves Hope, it is my business.
I never bought Rafe and Hope's love story. It came out of nowhere and developed into something at an all-too-convenient time. I would much rather see Rafe and Dario battle it out over Nicole than another minute of Rafe trying to be Hope's protector.
It also seems like both Rafe and Hope get twisted out of shape whenever they're together.
Hope is not a weak woman who can't survive without a man's protection. Rafe is not a corrupt cop who uses his power to keep a woman by his side.
Yet that's what these two characters become whenever they're together. They need to be freed from one another in order to become likeable again, and hopefully Aiden will do just that.
Nevertheless, I do feel for Rafe on some level because he never gets the girl of his dreams (probably because he isn't pursuing Nicole, but still.)
If anyone knows what the Dimeras are capable of, it's Rafe. He was also replaced with an evil, violent doppleganger. So he's got to feel bad for his rival even though he's sure he's about to lose Hope to him.
I thought we'd have a little chat... about Aiden.Hope
As for Hope, it seemed like she was trying to convince herself all week long that Aiden was dead and that this wasn't the man she once loved. She never really dealt with her attempted murder and Aiden's death. Bo died right afterwards and she tried to bury all her feelings along with him.
If this is a Dimera clone sent to mess with her, she can go right on avoiding dealing with Aiden. But if this is the real Aiden -- and DNA now says it is -- Hope must confront her feelings about what happened, all of them, including the fact that she might still love him.
It's really too bad that this rewrite didn't get rid of the whole "Aiden seduced Hope on Stefano's behalf" meme because that never made any sense. When Aiden met Hope, he was so obnoxious that neither she nor viewers wanted to ever see him again, and it was a good six months before that changed at all.
Since when does Stefano put up with such shoddy work?
Besides that, there's the fact that Father Louis tried to matchmake, that Aiden was friends with both Nicole and JJ, who have the two best people-reading skills of anyone in town, and that Stefano had nothing to do with Bo's disappearance so there was no reason for him to hire someone to make Hope forget Bo.
This is a serious flaw in an otherwise solid rewrite of the mess made out of Hope and Aiden's relationship during the first go-around. Hopefully Aiden and Hope are end game and not just an obstacle for Rafe and Hope.
What if I can't ever be the mom Thomas deserves? What if I'll never be a good mom? What do I have to live for?Abby
Abigail's rejection of her family while she recovers at Shady Hills was heartbreaking, especially for Chad. What makes it worse is that I'm not sure how much of it is her own idea.
I don't trust Dr. Robinson nor do I trust a place with such a ridiculous name. It's possible that this therapist is subtly suggesting that Abby would be better off without any contact with her family because something is going on at that mental hospital that shouldn't be.
It was also disturbing that Abby threw away a toy of Thomas' that JJ gave him, as it is symbolic of how the writers tend to treat JJ's character. He's MIA from his own storyline about being infected with a deadly virus!
JJ accompanied Gabi to the hospital, where she and Ari had come down with a mysterious flu-like virus that is supposedly deadly. Gabi said that JJ felt a little warm (though how she could tell while she was feverish and he was wearing a hazmat suit is anybody's guess).
The next day, Jennifer said that JJ had been infected and was in the hospital. We didn't get a scene of Jen trying and failing to get in to see her miracle baby.
Then Gabi asked about everyone's health except JJ's and Caroline mentioned Gabi and Ari's illness to Hope but left out that her cousin was also sick.
Apparently JJ was put in a special ward run by Neil Curtis, who disappeared in the midst of his hospital rounds about 20 years ago, as no one appears to remember he exists.
Elsewhere in the hospital, Kayla ran around insisting on seeing patients while she's sick. She definitely was delirious because she appeared to think Dr. Fynn is a better match for her than Steve.
Meanwhile, Steve put his PI skills to work to find Joey, who ran away with bad girl Jade to a compound that looks like the headquarters of a cult.
Maybe by the time this is over, Kayla will see a good side to having a PI for a husband.
In addition, perhaps Mami Hernandez should be put in charge of all the flu patients as she is apparently immune and brought Ari's fever down using holistic medicine when no doctor in the hospital was successful in doing anything for her.
Finally, there was some more nonsense with Summer, and Deimos played the piano for Nicole while Victor was wandering around town and insulting Kate. Too bad none of these scenes were cut; we might have had room for an actual scene showing us that Jen is addicted to pills.
Do you have a particular storyline you love, hate, or wish would go a certain way? Weigh in below, and don't forget to check back on Sunday for our Round Table Discussion!
Who Do You Want Hope to End Up With?
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.