It's hard not to love Nicole Walker.
Whether she's shredding evidence her ex-priest boyfriend claims not to want, pinning the death of her baby on an innocent woman, or trying to get her life together after her fiance's death, there's just something so relatable about Nicole. Whether she's good or bad, viewers' hearts go out to her.
That's why this week's Days of Our Lives, which had Nicole hiding in a closet with Dario and then being arrested by the world's most incompetent cop, was so infuriating.
This summer's front burner storyline appears to be Nicole trying to prove her innocence after Kate threw an unconscious Deimos into the river and cried gallons of crocodile tears to Roman about how Nicole destroyed her new life with her loving husband.
The fight between Kate and Deimos has been featured in so many flashbacks viewers can probably recite the dialogue by heart and Nicole is going crazy trying to prove that she was innocent.
Only... the entire town knows she's innocent, and that makes this even more infuriating.
Brady: You don't actually believe that Nicole pushed Deimos into the Salem River, do you?
Victor: Is that too farfetched?
Brady: Yeah, it is.
Victor: Do I need to remind you that she tried to kill me?
Brady: I can't say I blame her.
Victor lied about Nicole for his own purposes. Double-crossing Nicole might have been his plan all along or he might, like Kate, have decided on an impulse to wipe out his enemy with one or two falsehoods. In either case, this is just annoying. Roman and Abe know Nicole is innocent. So does Justin, the DA in the case.
Brady doesn't believe Victor either and Philip doesn't believe Kate.
Are there really 12 people in Salem who would convict Nicole under these circumstances? What is she worrying about?
Instead of letting this nonsense burn out, Nicole and Dario hid in the closet and recorded Philip's non-belief of Kate. Kate called some cop or other who immediately arrested Nicole and Dario for breaking and entering even though the three of them were having a mostly civilized conversation.
The cop didn't even ask a single question before arresting the pair on no evidence at all!
And Roman gets on JJ's case for incompetence. At least JJ actually understands what he's supposed to be doing even if he makes some mistakes along the way.
Anyway, this silly Nicole/Dario setup will undoubtedly convince half of Salem that Nicole is guilty. After all, what reason could she and Dario -- who has a long record of petty thievery -- possibly be doing in the largest mansion in the richest section of town other than trying to intimidate Kate out of accusing Nicole of murder?
The only good that can come out of this nonsense is if Rafe comes to work specifically for the purpose of thanking Dario for distracting his mother from her matchmaking attempt by breaking her heart.
In all seriousness, Dario needs some tough love from Rafe or someone else, because he was too amused by the prospect of being cuffed and dragged to the station. This whole story would have been so much better if Rafe was helping Nicole get to the bottom of this instead of his stupid brother.
While all this was going on, Deimos reconnected with Chloe. It's a bit of a stretch to believe he had seduced her for similar reasons to why Nicole was seducing him, especially since Deimos supposedly has not been out of jail all that long. Ignoring the ridiculous coincidence, however, these scenes were interesting.
The biggest question is what Chloe will do with this information. Things could get pretty explosive if she tells Philip, who will have to choose between destroying his parents' crazy plan by revealing that Deimos is still alive or forcing Victor to accept him by holding the threat of doing so over his head.
Justin is also in big trouble since he shredded evidence and Roman is determined to find out what happened. Maybe he'd better decline to prosecute and ally himself with Nicole. After all, now they have stupid decisions involving a shredder in common.
Meanwhile, across town Shady Hills caught on fire. Abigail was apparently badly burned and had to wear a face mask because she was exposed to the accelerant. It was no surprise to anybody, except Chad, that Abigail is suspected of starting the fire.
I want to see my wife. I just want to see my wife.Chad
Chad's scenes were the best part of this story arc. Billy Flynn really knocked these emotional scenes out of the park. Chad's fear and upset were real and raw. This is a much better use of Chad than these silly scenes of him playing chess with Ciara, seemingly oblivious to her crush on him.
I cheered when Chad said he wanted to sue. That place is more than incompetent. The lead doctor has no empathy whatsoever and is doing nothing but pumping Abigail full of medication without attempting to solve any of her actual problems. Marlena was far more competent in her short interaction with Abby, and that's saying a lot because lately Marlena has not been written as competent at all.
Brady: Look, you can push us away as much as you want but we're never gonna stop loving you.
Justin: Is it worth it?
Victor: Is what worth it?
Justin: Having to win all the time.
Other highlights of this week included Brady and Justin standing up to Victor. Victor appears to be becoming one of those tragic Greek figures he likes to quote so much. He seems to be aware that he's self-destructing, yet unable to stop himself from trying to win at all costs.
Hopefully Maggie can help balance him out before this goes much further.
By far, though, the best scenes occurred early in the week. Whenever Jennifer's storyline airs, it seems like a completely different show. Jennifer's struggle with growing older and not finding meaning in her life now that her children are adults is a realistic, relatable storyline, and her interactions both with Julie and JJ were pure gold.
Jennifer's pain and her family's attempt to support her are the heart of what soap operas are supposed to be about. Yet it will probably be another three weeks before we see her again.
It also took nearly that long to get JJ up off the floor after Rory punched him. Naturally, we didn't get to see JJ or Gabi's reaction to that, but JJ's attempt to make things right with Rory one last time almost made up for it.
JJ's guilt and desire to protect his former friend while Rory feels he is beyond saving and that JJ should save himself by leaving him alone could be an interesting storyline if it is actually developed rather than being shown sporadically.
Instead, JJ is totally back-burnered and most of the time he is given stock lines that could belong to any random uniformed cop. It's ridiculous and tragic that a dynamic character played by a talented actor is being treated this way.
New reformed bad boy Joey and his girlfriend Jade appear to be the writers and producers' idea of what we want to see instead of JJ. But Joey's story had little build-up and the hostage situation at the commune was utterly contrived. There was no reason for Joey to go back there and his parents should have tried harder to stop him.
In addition, Dirk would have been better served by ignoring Joey altogether -- why take another hostage when he already has plenty, especially if he thinks that Joey is a police informant?
Steve broke into the compound while an obnoxious cop castigated Kayla for the way he was sure Steve was making everything worse even though he wasn't there and didn't know what was going on. Then Joey jumped in front of Dirk's gun for no apparent reason and got shot.
This storyline was too close to real-world events for comfort. Days of Our Lives couldn't possibly have predicted that since the show tapes six months in advance, but it would have helped to see Joey, Steve or Kayla have some PTSD after this trauma rather than it being a vehicle for Jade's insta-reformation and Steve and Kayla getting back together.
I think this is a mistake, to flout tradition, especially for someone with your luck.Anne
Among some of the sillier scenes this week was Theresa's horrible nightmare of everything going wrong on her wedding day, from Anne having to go to the hospital to Victor arranging for Summer to take her place at the altar. What a crazy dream!
It should have stayed in dreamland, though. Theresa deciding they have to rush to get married because of it is ridiculous.
Also silly was the whole setup of Hope and Aiden's "date" while Andre was waiting to blackmail Aiden again. The scenes between Rafe and his mom were wonderful, realistic and relatable but the rest was nonsense.
Why did Hope go on this date if she didn't really want to? It was painful for Hope/Aiden fans to watch her discomfort and lust after Rafe while he went on a non-date with Blanca. In addition, Andre's attempt at blackmail was ludicrous.
Andre is not only in jail, but he has a track record of being a pathological liar. Hope would not believe a word he said about Aiden or anyone else. So why should Aiden listen to this stupid threat?
It would make more sense for Andre to block Aiden's attempt to get Chase into a mental hospital, though the fire at Shady Hills has probably squashed that idea for the moment anyway.
In any case, this is a slap in the face to Hope/Aiden fans. Aiden is not stupid or weak, yet the writers keep writing him this way and appear to have brought him back just to make him an obstacle to Rafe/Hope. This is pointless and ridiculous and it needs to stop.
Equally ridiculous was Summer's conversation with Maggie about how Brady should be with her instead of Theresa, followed by her attempt to flirt with Justin.
It's just really hard living somewhere where you're not really wanted.Summer
Summer is right -- nobody likes her. Or, at least, most viewers don't. It's time to write out this unnecessary character who is taking up far too much screen time.
What did you think? Is there a character or storyline you'd like to see less or more of? Are you enjoying this Nicole frame-up story, or does it seem like another elephant statue story?
Weigh in below, and don't forget to check back on Sunday for our Round Table Discussion!
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.