It was hard to believe the hype about a new and improved Days of Our Lives after last year's writing regime changed failed to deliver. But if this week's shows are an indicator of things to come, maybe things actually have changed for the better.
JJ returned to town, finally, and appears to have an actual storyline. Meanwhile, fans were treated to a blast from the past as 80s super villain Orpheus teamed up with Clyde and Xander to plan revenge against Salem.
Orpheus was one of my favorite villains the first time around. He made "Roman" (really John) think that Marlena was dead, forced her to raise his children on some island somewhere, and generally terrorized her along with Steve and Kayla for a couple of years.
Then he was killed off and apparently morphed into Stefano, who had many of the same evil goals and weird love/hate relationship with Marlena.
Thus, I was both excited and skeptical about his potential return. He was last seen shot dead by John, something which has not really been addressed, and viewers might not be familiar enough with him to care about his storyline.
Orpheus' return has been a breath of fresh air so far. He is just as evil, angry and handsome as he ever was, and teaming up with the equally crazy Clyde makes sense.
Clyde was always creepy, but now that Ben killed a bunch of people he's got even more of a chip on his shoulder. He blames Abigail for Ben's lunacy and wants to get revenge on all the Hortons. Add in Xander and his desire for revenge against Theresa for falsely accusing him of rape and there's a recipe for an exciting storyline.
Some viewers are burned out on all the violence of the past year, but this feels different. For one thing, the villains all have actual reasons for what they're doing that make sense to them. In addition, so far this nonsense is balanced out by plenty of more mundane storylines.
Shawn: I don't understand why did you even come to work today?
JJ: What else would I do?
JJ is back in town and has regressed back to his interesting, volatile self. He has always been a good guy who is his own worst enemy, allowing his emotional turmoil and impulsivity to dictate his choices, and this is no exception.
JJ has grown up enough that he is no longer using alcohol or drugs to self-destruct (perhaps he could be a role model for his mother). However, he's throwing himself into work to try to forget the pain of losing Abigail.
This is not exactly healthy, and the fact that he works for some power-hungry cop who is looking to get everyone in the department in trouble because he hates the Bradys and their relatives isn't going to help him much.
It has been a long time coming, but JJ finally has a worthwhile storyline. His off-the-cuff comment that he'd love to kill Ben will probably come back to bite him when that same annoying supervisor tries to use it against him somehow.
Plus he isn't dealing with his grief, and that's not going to lead anywhere good. I hope he doesn't break viewers' hearts again by messing himself up in some big way, but I am thrilled to have him back.
Thanks for coming. I really needed a dose of big brother.Gabi
This conflict between JJ and Gabi seems a little bit ridiculous, especially since Gabi is being hypocritical about it.
Gabi berated JJ for not calling her while he was away in Miami searching for info about Abigail. Yet when her mother suddenly skipped town, she turned to Rafe, not him, while telling JJ later she was still mad at him for not calling when he was away.
This really should be a minor blip in their relationship and not a deal-breaker. Hopefully Gabi's new job as Chad's image consultant won't lead her to betray both JJ and Abigail by having an affair with Chad over it.
That said, Julie was completely ridiculous in her response to JJ. It was wonderful to see them finally have a scene together, but she was not supportive in the slightest.
Julie has always been blinded by her love for Nick and refused to understand what led Gabi to do what she did to him. But regardless of her feelings about Gabi, her concern should be for JJ. He needed support and comfort, not to be told just to get rid of Gabi when he's trying to work out how to make things up to her.
It's a little bit odd that JJ has been asked twice to text Jen, but there have been no scenes between them. Is there an unspoken conflict between them over Jennifer's drug use or the way they each handled the news of Abigail's death?
He's taken enough from our family. I will not allow him to ruin our lives any more than he already has.Hope
The low point of the week was Hope and Shawn's nonsensical treatment of Aiden. Hope is being entirely self-centered and creating her own facts again. Aiden did not try to kill her; he thought about killing her. Meanwhile, her real problem is that Aiden is investigating Stefano's murder.
Perhaps Hope should stop being so judgmental of Aiden's impure thoughts and accept responsibility for the fact that she actually killed someone.
It was amusing that Hope said the Stefano Dimera case was on the top of Aiden's pile, as she noticed the file sticking out from the bottom of a large stack of case folders. That small detail shows how ridiculously self-centered Hope has become.
She is so selfish lately that I wonder if she'd have told JJ that Kayla was okay if he didn't happen to be standing there when she got the call.
Meanwhile, Hope will soon have bigger problems, since a bunch of super villains are coming to town.
It stretches credibility a bit that all three of these guys are in the same jail and are not being watched at all by prison guards as they plot to escape and wreak havoc. But this storyline looks so compelling that I can overlook that.
Some explanation of Orpheus resurrection from the dead would be nice, but it doesn't seem likely that viewers will ever get one. Whether he ends up dead again at the end of this remains to be seen.
In the meantime, I'm wondering how long it'll be before he turns on Clyde. He didn't seem to like him much and was more annoyed with him than anything else.
The chaos is sure to hit Salem at the same time as Theresa and Brady's weddings, as no Salem wedding is complete without a kidnapping attempt or other serious problem derailing it.
Theresa and Brady's nuptials seem rushed. Eve wandered back in without explanation of where she's been or how in the world she and Nicole became friends. However, it's great to have her back!
Victor and Brady's conflict may derail everything even if the bad guys don't. Brady is convinced Victor kidnapped Tate and won't be talked out of that, much like the way Justin was convinced last year that Chad was the Necktie Killer regardless of whether there was any real evidence.
Victor and Deimos confronted Kate, who immediately convinced them to find a fall guy for the kidnapping with some ridiculous blackmail scheme that shouldn't have fazed Victor in the slightest. If they don't prove quickly that he wasn't the kidnapper, he's going to jail anyway, so why not risk Kate reporting some financial inconsistencies?
The chances are Roman would overlook those issues in favor of arresting Kate for kidnapping his niece's child, unless Lieutenant Raines happened to be standing around at the time. So Victor might as well take his chances. Besides, Kate gets away with too much. Maybe Victor and Deimos will double cross her and her plan will fail somehow.
Also on the low list this week: Belle insisting that Claire go to college to stop punishing her. Claire's choice not to go to college had nothing to do with Belle. It had to do with her dreams of becoming a musician. It was disappointing that she gave in to this stupid manipulation and agreed to go.
Steve and Kayla had another ridiculous fight. Kayla is the one who needs therapy, not Steve. But her health crisis may knock some sense into her. Regardless, it was really nice to see Steve spend some time with Adrienne. It's been a year since his return -- it's about time!
Finally, Chad agreed to let Adrienne and Lucas move in and help with the baby. This ridiculous custody storyline appears to be over, except for Laura's annoying and obnoxious comments. I always liked Laura, but I was glad to see her and her attitude go!
What'd you think of the again-new-and-improved Days of Our Lives? What was your favorite and least favorite storyline this week? Weigh in below!
Don't forget to check back on Sunday for the Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.