Days of Our Lives Review: Back and Forth

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Some of the greatest soap drama comes from tragic heroes.

These characters have been so damaged by painful life experiences that they feel worthless and get in their own way, sometimes with tragic consequences.

That kind of drama is what drew me to JJ and to Nicole, two characters who have since been completely rewritten to lose both their zest for life and their heartbreaking self-esteem problems.

It also made Jack and Jennifer's relationship interesting back in the day, because the conflict primarily came from Jack's overwhelming sense of guilt and fear.

And it could make Eric an interesting character now, if only Days of Our Lives would put an original spin on it and not just try to copy what Jack and Jennifer had.

Jennifer and Eric - Days of Our Lives

Eric certainly has reason to feel guilty. He has to live with the fact that he got drunk and killed his best friend in a car accident about 18 months ago, and on top of that, he was always treated as a paragon of virtue by his family and community. Thus, his fall from grace is even more painful for him.

There's so much great material here but it's not really being explored. Instead, Eric's guilt manifests itself only in going back and forth between wanting a relationship with Jennifer and pushing her away.

I feel like the writers have picked up on the dynamic between Jack and Jennifer and tried to recreate it, but that doesn't really work. Eric is not Jack, and trying to recreate a past relationship with a different character just never works well.

This is the same problem as with pairing Rafe and Hope, which is an epic failure. Viewers don't tune in to see Bo/Hope with a different character trying too hard to be Bo, nor do they want to see Eric forced into Jack's role.

There's so much rich dramatic material in Eric's character right now; there's no need to try to force something that isn't there.

Eric: Victor.
Victor: For me? How sweet. Or are you going on a date? Daniel used to go on dates. He doesn't anymore. He's dead.
Eric: You don't need to make me feel guilty. I got that covered all by myself.
Victor: I see you're consumed with guilt. That's why you got all dressed up and went to a flower shop to find the perfect rose. Have a lot of fun on your date. What are you gonna do? Have a few cocktails, go for a spin? Make sure you tell the young lady to buckle her seatbelt.
Eric: I don't drink anymore and I don't drive.
Victor: I'm sure Roman and Marlena convinced you that the good people of Salem would welcome you with open arms. Maybe they will. Most of us won't. I never will. Like most of the people who know you, I wish I never had to look at your face again.

Eric's latest attempt to get close to Jennifer ended up going nowhere because Victor ran into Eric in the park and had some harsh words for him.

I don't blame Victor for being angry at the man who killed his stepson and he certainly has a right to his opinion. And this scene was extraordinarily well done, with a musical score in the background that accented the pain and anger.

But something about the way Victor went about it struck me as unnecessarily cruel.

First of all, Victor has enough on his plate with Brady's insistence on running off to Canada with Nicole and Deimos wreaking havoc with half the town, so he doesn't need to stick his nose into strangers' business.  If he knew Eric's potential date was Jennifer and thought Eric was moving in on dead Daniel's ex, this might make sense.

But he didn't, so his rant seemed a little misplaced.

On top of that, a lot of what Victor had to say reminded me a lot of things Paige's friends used to say about and to JJ in an effort to derail their relationship. Eric is just as vulnerable as JJ was because of his guilt, but Victor is not a teenager and certainly can find a better way to express his anger at Eric than acting like one.

Anyway, Eric immediately threw away Jennifer's picture and canceled his date with her because he felt that was what was best for her. This was very reminiscent of how JJ and Paige's first date got derailed by Eric's cousin Theresa telling JJ he was not good enough for Paige because of his past.

It also might not have happened if Jennifer had gone to meet Eric right away when he texted her instead of wasting time telling Maggie she was dating Eric and making sure she was okay with that.

I know Jennifer is close with her Aunt Maggie, but this was backwards. The time for this discussion is when Jennifer and Eric are ready to be an exclusive couple, not when they've consistently failed at having a first date!

Meanwhile, there was a lot of other wishy-washiness going on in Salem.

Dario confessed his feelings to Abigail, who gently told him that his behavior was inappropriate. She chose to end their friendship even though it saddened her because it was not fair to demand that Chad stay away from Gabi while hanging out with a guy who was into her.

The next day, Abigail insisted Chad accompany her to visit Gabi at the hospital and when she had to leave told him he needed to stay and talk to Gabi. 

Did the writers forget what they'd written the day before or did they think this somehow made sense?

In case this wasn't senseless enough, Abby insisted Chad and Gabi needed closure and Chad told Gabi again that it was over between them, then Gabi was left alone in her room to cry again because it was over.

This might have been emotional the first time, but it felt like a rerun this time. Repeating the same beat of the story over and over doesn't make me feel any sorrier for Gabi than I did when this started. It just makes the whole thing that much more annoying.

Chad: Hey, baby. Where's Thomas?
Abby: He's upstairs.
Chad: Everything all right?
Abby: Hope came by here earlier today and said Deimos had been beaten up and you were responsible. That true?
Chad: Uh... I gave him a taste of his own medicine.
Abby: No!
Chad: It was a small taste. I didn't put him in a meat locker for a couple of days or kidnap someone he loves and poison them, which I think shows a lot of restraint.
Abby: This is not funny!
Chad: No, it's not, but I had to give him the message in terms he understands that you don't get to mess with my family and get away with it.

Of course, Abigail might have been feeling a little frazzled because she found out Chad had beaten Deimos up.

Chad decided that letting the cops help catch Gabi and Abigail's kidnapper was a waste of time and that he was going to take matters into his own hands.

JJ, proving again that he has more morals than all of his mentors at the police department combined, told him that if he did anything illegal he was going to have to take action because family does not come before the law.

Of course, this story is in the hands of writers that think JJ's rape is a cause for viewers to hate him and that Hope is a hero for murdering an unarmed old man in a wheelchair. So JJ's morality is depicted as weakness and Chad's vigilantism and gratuitous violence is supposed to be heroic.

But when it came down to it, Chad was just acting really, really stupid. Trying to be a big bad Dimera didn't work when he first returned to Salem and threatened EJ, so what makes the writers think it's going to work any better now?

Besides, after beating up Deimos, Chad just took his word for it that he'd never act violently again. To nobody's surprise, Deimos' first act upon gaining his freedom was to plot revenge against Chad.

Meanwhile, at least four characters have said that this war is going to end with someone's death in case viewers had any confusion about what is going to happen next.

Subtlety and unpredictability keep viewers interested. Nobody watches a soap because they want to see the story progress exactly as they expected it to. Reading spoilers is one thing; having characters shout about what's going to happen is another.

This wasn't nearly as stupid, irritating, or downright offensive as the entire Nicole baby kidnapping saga this week, though.

It's bad enough that Nicole can't seem to figure out the basics of what to do without Brady by her side. Things went from bad to worse after he showed up with Tate.

First of all, the two of them went around in circles seemingly forever because Brady wanted to move in with Nicole and she thought he should forget her and live a normal life that didn't involve being on the run in Canada.

Nicole tried every excuse she could think of, including saying that Brady probably only loved her because he had Daniel's heart. But Brady, like all Salem men, was allergic to the word No and kept pushing and pushing.

Nicole: Brady, I don't know whether I can do this.
Brady: I want to make a life with you and Holly and Tate. It's that simple. I want to be a family with you.
Nicole: Yeah, well, thanks to Chloe, Holly and I live in hiding so I'm gonna spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder, running to the next place...
Brady: I would prefer to stay here. But if you run, we run with you.
Nicole: It's not fair to Tate to have to live this way.
Brady: What do you mean it's not fair? It's not fair for him to have two grown-ups who actually love him and want to raise him right? I'll tell you what's not fair. To be back in that town, Salem, where the grown-ups seem to be more concerned about waging war against one another, where kidnapping a child actually is becoming a common occurrence.

It would have been nice for Brady to have some respect for the woman he claims to love rather than pressuring her to let him move in with her when she doesn't want to.

It also would have been nice for Nicole to be a bit stronger and not make up absolutely stupid excuses for why they shouldn't be together, secure in the knowledge that she had the right to say No.

I will, however, give Brady credit for summing up exactly what has been wrong with this show for the last month or two in his impassioned speech about Salem being no place to raise a child because of all the violence.

After Brady and Nicole finally agreed to stay together, things got worse. Nosy neighbor Hilary showed up again, this time with her husband Scooter in tow.

Scooter is a mathematician and wanted to talk math with Brady, who had to think quickly to cover the fact that he isn't actually a chemical engineer.

Scooter also kept insisting he knew Nicole from somewhere and Hilary confided to her privately that Scooter watches porn when he thinks she isn't looking.

And yet neither Nicole nor Brady had the intelligence or ability to throw these two idiots out of their home, instead getting roped into having dinner with them.

Afterwards, Nicole confided to Brady that she was afraid Scooter recognized her from a porn video.

Nicole: Do you know what Hilary said to me? About Scooter?
Brady: I'm sure it wasn't flattering.
Nicole: He watches porn! That's where he's seen me before.
Brady: Okay... well Hilary is full of information, isn't she?
Nicole: It's not funny!
Brady: No, it's not funny. Okay, listen. It's not funny, but it's not serious either. I know that it wasn't a good time in your life but it was years ago. Don't worry about it.
Nicole: What if he finds out I was Misty Circle?
Brady: He's not gonna find out! Nicole, if he was watching porn he probably wasn't paying too much attention to your face, okay?

First of all, this is a cheap exploitation of the fact that Nicole was forced into porn when she was a teenager. Lately Days has been disregarding that aspect of her history and making it sound like it was her choice to become a porn star.

Shaming victims of sexual assault seems to be popular with the current writers, and I hope that this trend ends soon because it's hard to take.

To add insult to injury, Brady's response to her concerns was to laugh and then say that if Scooter was watching porn, he wasn't interested in her face. This comment was doubly offensive because Nicole had been forced into porn. Brady was basically laughing at her being used as a sex object, and that wasn't cool at all.

This whole thing also makes no sense plotwise. Nicole is on the run because she kidnapped baby Holly, yet she's sure that Scooter recognized her from a porn video she did a couple of decades back.

This story is so ridiculous that I don't know whether to be outraged or to laugh hysterically at the stupidity.

Finally, Adrienne made her decision about which guy she wants to be with.

This was some good, soapy drama, but is a few hours after major surgery really the right time for this discussion?

I was glad Adrienne chose Lucas because Justin has a habit of being arrogant that makes him unattractive. However, Lucas' gloating about it and total unawareness of Anne's upset ruined the moment for me.

What did you think of this week's Days of Our Lives? Is there a storyline you're in a rush to get over with or one you particularly enjoy?

Weigh in below, and don't forget to check back in on Sunday for our Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Days of Our Lives Quotes

I hope she didn't run away again. She's so fragile.

Jennifer

Tripp: So how was the wedding?
Claire: Oh, it was a typical Salem wedding. Crashed by a murderer.