Days of Our Lives Review: Is Will Alive?

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Let me be clear: I'd be thrilled for Will to turn out to be alive if it's done properly.

Although Will's character went off the rails towards the end (something I blame writers for, not the actor who played him at the time), he was a legacy character and half of daytime's first same-sex marriage.

And the way he was killed was unnecessarily violent, brutal, and gross, as was the lack of fallout from his death and the tokenization of the remaining gay characters.

But the way this potential Will return storyline is being handled is mostly farfetched and does nothing to address the serious problems with the way he was killed off in the first place.

A Double Wedding - Days of Our Lives

Ben interrupted Chad and Abigail's vows not because he is still obsessed with Abigail, but because he wanted to announce that Will is alive.

Apparently, he could care less about Abby moving on with her life, though he's happy to call her a whore in order to push other people's buttons.

I know Ben is supposed to be crazy, but this whole set-up doesn't make one bit of sense. Is this supposed to be an effort to redeem Ben as well as restore Will to life? Has the treatment at Bayview been partially successful? What is Ben's motive here, exactly, and is he really done with harassing Abigail?

All of these unanswered questions make his appearance at the wedding feel like a convenient plot device to open the Will return storyline instead of legitimate drama, and if the rest of Will's return story is this contrived it won't really fix anything.

Lucas: There's no way in hell I'm giving you permission to dig up my son's body.
Sonny: Lucas, I thought for sure you were gonna say yes. Didn't you say you were hoping what Ben said could be true?
Lucas: What's wrong with you? I can't do this, all right? How can you do this? What are you, trying to get my hopes up or something?
Sonny: Lucas, I understand.
Lucas: You don't understand! He's gone, okay? He's dead. I saw his cold, lifeless body lying on that slab in the morgue. I saw the red marks on his neck where that son of a bitch choked the life out of him. Nothing I do, no matter how much I drink, nothing works. Nothing gets rid of that image. Vodka, tequila, whiskey. Nothing works. It works on everything else, but not that. No matter how much I drink, it won't go away!
Sonny: Okay. I'm so sorry, Lucas. I'm sorry.
Lucas: I was a miserable disappointment to my son. I failed him when he was here. I failed him in his lifetime. I am not gonna fail him in death too. The only thing I can do is let him rest in peace. I hope to God everyone else can do the same damn thing.

The storyline hasn't been all bad, of course. Lucas' reaction to hearing the news was raw, honest and emotional.

The problem is that we didn't get to see Lucas grieve much on-screen when Will's death happened, nor did Sonny seem to grieve at all. He sat in the second row at Will's funeral and almost immediately began flirting with Paul.

The current writers are trying their best to fix that, but writing these powerful grief scenes that depended on the grief being there all along doesn't fully work. Viewers have long memories and it's hard to overlook the lack of attention to Will's death when it happened.

If Lucas had to have a drinking relapse over Will's death, it would have been a powerful story at the time Will died.  Having it happen now, when Will just may be alive after all, doesn't acknowledge at all how poorly his legacy was treated in the past and that dilutes its power.

That being said, Lucas' scenes were emotional, and I was thrilled that at last, we have an explanation for his drinking. 

Lucas Sees Will - Days of Our Lives

Lucas really has to be reeling after hearing this news.

It wasn't that long ago that he was talking to Will's ghost, and he has to wonder on some level whether it's possible that his son is alive. Finding out that he's not would be too painful, and either way, it would force him to relive the experience of seeing Will dead, so it's understandable that he wouldn't want the body exhumed.

I feel bad for Lucas either way. If Will is alive, he's been mourning a not-dead son for two years on top of having his heart broken by someone who is not actually his former fiancee.

The Big Talk - Days of Our Lives

Most of the focus seems to be on how Will being alive might affect Paul and Sonny. 

If I were actually invested in Paul and Sonny as a couple, this might make more sense to me. As it is, it seems a little bit selfish. Paul wants to marry Sonny and doesn't want to entertain the possibility that Will is alive.

His rush to continue the wedding really smacks of wanting to make it legal before Will can show up and disrupt things, and I don't like that.

John: Hey. How you doin', buddy?
Paul: I-I just hope that I'll be able to help Sonny get through the pain of losing Will all over again?
John: What do you mean?
Paul: Well, that's what it's gonna be like when Marlena gets Ben to admit he was lying.
John: Okay. Let me ask you something. Have you given any thought as to how you're gonna handle it if Ben's telling the truth?

I was glad that John tried to help Paul understand that Will could be alive and that that would affect him and Sonny too. Paul seems to think he's Sonny's protector and standing up to Ben and his lies, but they might not actually be lies.

Paul hasn't lived in Salem as long as John and Marlena, so he's not familiar with people coming back from the dead at inconvenient times.

John and Marlena need to tell him the whole story of the love triangle with Roman, including John thinking he was Roman, and then maybe this will make a little more sense to him.

Of course, Marlena was busy interviewing Ben to find out if Will was really alive so she wasn't available to counsel Paul.

Robert Scott Wilson and Deidre Hall did outstanding work as usual, but I was uncomfortable with yet more stereotyping of mental illness in these scenes.

This has been a problem with the Ben-as-psycho-murderer storyline from the beginning. Ben was never diagnosed with a particular mental illness; his violence stemmed from the fact that he was "crazy" without further details, and what his illness consists of has never been specified.

He has been shown being given substandard mental health treatment once or twice and escapes from mental hospitals to wreak havoc whenever the story calls for it.

All of this contributes to the myth that mentally ill people are violent and get angry without provocation.

In reality, people with severe mental illness are generally more likely to become the victims of violence than the perpetrators of it, but this stereotype frightens people and discourages those with mental health issues from seeking treatment.

And Days once again supported stereotypes through Ben's behavior. He yelled and jumped out of a chair while handcuffed, while Marlena was generally incompetent in her responses to him.

She broke the first rule of dealing with psychosis by trying to argue Ben out of his delusions, showed no empathy and didn't do much active listening.

The only aspect of this whole thing that was realistic was the cop coming in when he heard Ben making noise and having to be told that it was okay. The rest was based on ignorance and stigmatization of mental illness.

I know it's a soap, but I wish the writers would do some basic research about mental health. A more authentic story about mental illness could be interesting, relevant and topical and actually do some good for viewers who are struggling with their own mental health issues.

Similarly, the other big storyline -- JJ getting in trouble for losing his temper with Ben -- failed to address the real issues behind police brutality at all and was yet another example of hypocrisy and corruption in the Salem PD.

After Ben made his big pronouncement, JJ wanted to know whether Paige was still alive. Ben taunted JJ about having slept with Eve then laughed about Paige being dead.

JJ lost his temper and put his gun to Ben's head, just in time for Hope to walk in. She made JJ leave, after which Rafe attempted to strangle Ben in order to get answers out of him.

Later that day, Hope discussed JJ's behavior with Rafe, then suspended JJ without pay.

Let me repeat that. JJ was suspended for threatening a cuffed suspect with a gun, while the new commissioner's boyfriend faced zero consequences for attempting to strangle that same suspect in front of her and even got to consult with her on how to discipline JJ.

Was JJ's suspension justified? Probably. He lost his temper and threatened the life of a suspect, though he didn't actually physically harm him like Rafe did.

But it's hypocritical, to say the least, for Rafe to not face any consequences at all for actually hurting the suspect.

And on top of that, what JJ did was far less bad than what Hope did when she actually emptied her gun into Stefano, yet Hope is lauded as a hero for doing it and even Abe thinks she is the model of integrity.

Abe hiring her as commissioner ruins Abe's character, who has been a model cop and the moral compass of Salem for over 30 years, and keeps the favoritism, corruption, and amorality going that Hope and Rafe were saddled with during the Stefano story. 

Despite his behavior towards Ben, JJ is a far better person than Hope or Rafe can dream of being.

Though he doesn't want to apologize for it after what Ben did to people he loved, JJ is aware he went too far. He admitted it to Lani and then silently accepted his punishment.

Hope and Rafe have never shown an ounce of insight into their behavior and acted like any punishment at all for it was undeserved.

Yet they are supposed to be the heroes here.

Lani and JJ - Days of Our Lives

I wish JJ hadn't been quite so silent. I love that he's matured, though it would have been nice to see his character develop on screen instead of just changing overnight, but Hope deserved his wrath.

He should have really laid into her for her hypocrisy, quit the force, and gone to work with his mom over at the Spectator. I'd love to see him write a scathing expose on the continued corruption in the Salem PD.

That would be a story worth seeing. This one is the same old garbage where JJ is treated as inferior to people he is far superior to and the only one who ever has to face consequences for anything.

Nicole and Brady Look Happy - Days of Our Lives

Also on my bad list: this continued mess of a storyline with Nicole, Eric, and Brady.

It's bad enough that Brady apparently took a page out of Will's book and is engaging in the same dirty tricks that Will did when Paul first came to town. I'm not entertained at all by him continuing to drink over the possibility of losing Nicole and getting bad advice from Victor.

Look, Brady, I know weddings can bring up a lot of complicated feelings for people, especially when they are interrupted by a homicidal maniac.

Victor

Victor had some nice one-liners, but I didn't want to see him push Brady to let go of what little humanity he has left and become completely ruthless. We just got rid of Deimos and don't need a carbon copy of him, complete with abuse of Nicole.

I also wasn't really buying this Brady versus Sonny Titan control story.

Victor seemed to be enjoying himself as the guys fought it out but the whole thing seemed ridiculous.

Sonny just found out his husband may still be alive -- he should have other priorities on his mind than fighting with Brady over who is in control of the company.

Anyway, while Victor was giving Brady horrible advice, Chloe was running her mouth to anyone who would listen about things she was supposed to keep to herself. She told Lucas that Will might be alive and then told Nicole that Brady had tried to make Eric fire Nicole.

Instead of being the strong, take-no-prisoners Nicole that I know and love, Nicole decided to leave Brady to his own devices while she went to the farmhouse to talk to Eric.

Since there's a storm that is only in Eric's area but not in Salem, I can predict exactly what will happen here. No doubt these two will get stuck together because of the weather and take their relationship to a new level, thus justifying all of Brady's bad behavior in most of Salem's minds.

Yawn. How about something original instead?

Gabi: Rafe, stop.
Rafe: No. It's bad enough you took a shot at Raines that coulda killed her.
Gabi: You know, Eli is a trained marksman. He knew what he was doing.
Rafe: Even marksmen miss.
Gabi: He saved my life. I have told him over and over that what you should be doing is thanking him.
Rafe: No, I am not gonna thank him for taking advantage of you at a time like this.

Rafe also apparently had nothing better to do after the whole Ben debacle, since he went to the park to bother Gabi and Eli. He made Gabi out to be such a victim, equating her being at the double wedding to Sonny learning Will may not be dead.

Shut up, Rafe. Nobody forced Gabi to attend the wedding and she certainly knew Chad was not into her anymore for a while before it happened. She's not the victim here.

In case that nonsense wasn't enough, Rafe followed up by accusing Eli of taking advantage of his poor, innocent sister because the two were having a good time after Gabi had to witness her ex getting remarried to her best friend.

If Gabi and Eli's flirting didn't all consist of the idea that women's priorities are wearing uncomfortable clothing to look pretty and that a woman being able to defend herself is a joke and an excuse for a man to flirt with her, I might actually root for this couple.

Well, except for the fact that they tried this already and it didn't work the first time. Once again, the writers seem to think that if they ignore the bad writing of the past, viewers will forget it ever happened.

Naturally, this whole thing was followed up by Rafe going back to the station, where absolutely nobody was discussing JJ's suspension even though he's supposedly one of the best cops on the force, to find out Eli had been assigned as his new partner.

I'm not interested in this rivalry one bit. I'd much rather see Eli and JJ bond over having both been treated unfairly by their previous employers.

What'd you think of Days of Our Lives during the week of 10/02?

Was anyone else as irritated by the way the Will return story is being handled as I am?

Does anyone find Eli and Gabi cute, or even a palatable couple?

Does anyone else need a drink after seeing Brady take 10,000 of them because Nicole and Eric's names were mentioned in the same sentence?

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

Review

Editor Rating: 3.7 / 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.