Days Of Our Lives: An Anniversary Surprise

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Days of Our Lives has had no shortage of disappointing storylines, but when it gets it right, it really gets it right.

The show's 53rd anniversary on 11-8-18 mostly got it right.

Sure, there was some Gabi nonsense and Chad turned into his father for no apparent reason, but there was also plenty of romance, a wedding combined with some heartfelt family goodbyes, and a surprise replay of a message from the late Frances Reid, allowing Alice Horton herself to participate in the anniversary.

Frances Reid (tall) - Days of Our Lives

What a beautiful surprise! I watched the Frances Reid clip three times and it brought tears to my eyes every time.

For me, Alice Horton was DAYS for a very long time. Reid's death in 2010 left a gaping hole that has never quite been filled, and Alice and her husband Tom were the backbone of the show.

No matter what crazy things were going on in Salem back in the day, there was always a loving family to turn to, and Alice offered baked goods, a listening ear, and good advice to almost all of Salem.

Related: Days of Our Lives: Who Should Follow in Alice's Footsteps

Seeing Reid's message to fans and the clip from the very first DAYS reminded me of why I love this show and why I continue to watch week after week even though sometimes it falls far short of what it could be and what it once was.

John and Marlena Wedding - Days of Our Lives

The surprise "visit" from Alice Horton and her portrayer came on the heels of John and Marlena's wedding. I'm not a big fan of this couple, but I did enjoy their heartfelt ceremony and especially that they were surrounded by family.

John: You know because of what has happened the last time we tried this, I have gained a fuller appreciation of what these vows mean. So I, John Black, take you, Marlena Evans, as my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, til death do us part.
Abe: Sami?
[Sami gives Marlena the ring.]
Marlena: Ooh. Look at you. [Turns to John] Wow. Last time we were here in this place trying to get married, I got myself injured. You took care of me and all of our friends that were here, they saw me through. They saved my life. So this is not really two people who love each other getting married. This is all our family and our friends being a big part of it. You know, I wanted to get married here because this is the place that the plaque for Tom and Alice was dedicated and they... they are the two people who showed me so much about what a marriage really is, and not because they didn't have problems but because when they had problems and they worked them out, their marriage was even stronger after that. I want that for us. I want us to celebrate every day as if it were our first together. And I will delight in you all the days of our lives.

John and Marlena both acknowledged what they had been up against recently and how Marlena's near death experience solidified their need to be bonded to one another. Abe officiating the ceremony was also sweet, considering he'd just been duped by the whole Hattie switcheroo.

Abe has too often been portrayed as over-the-top angry and controlling recently, and it was nice to get a break from Mr. "you took my parking spot" Mayor.

I was surprised that the normally by-the-book Abe didn't care that Roman had broken a prisoner out of jail to do an end-run around the law, but at least he didn't huff and puff too much about being out of the loop.

It was also nice to see Sami's last act before leaving Salem be something unselfish. Sami can be immature and self-centered, but she really does have a good heart and sometimes the writers forget that.

Reunited at Last (Tall) - Days of Our Lives

I'd still rather EJ turn out not to be alive. The heartbreak would have been phenomenal, and since Lucas also recently got his heart broken,it would have been a natural way to bring him and Sami back to each other.

On the other hand, seeing Belle forgive Sami and support her angst over maybe-EJ's fate was nice, and Sami and Victor both got to hold their own with Susan before Susan left too, so there was that.

The Lockhart Women - Days of Our Lives

Sami and Susan weren't the only departures during the week of 11-5-18. Bonnie, Hattie, and Mimi all left too, and I can't say I'm sorry to see any of them go.

This Bonnie/Mimi storyline was beyond stupid. No matter how many times Bonnie threatened to turn Mimi in for a decades-old murder that Bonnie had already pled guilty to, I didn't believe it was a credible threat.

Nor did I believe for a second that any mother would agree to this ludicrous plan no matter what she was being threatened with.

The whole thing was a contrived mess, plus there have been so many recent stories about men being told they're fathers of a baby when they're not that the characters could form a support group around this issue!

Anyway, I enjoyed Hattie's redemption and her attempt to redeem Bonnie too even though it came out of nowhere.

I know, I know. Hattie supposedly changed after that silly Halloween dream. That's just more campy silliness, though. And I didn't appreciate the writers mocking mental illness yet again by having Bonnie suggest Hattie say her alter executed this plan "since it worked for Abigail."

Related: Days of Our Lives: Why Social Messaging Matters

That said, I liked the message of Hattie discovering that she didn't need to be jealous of Marlena and that she needed to be comfortable with who she was instead of trying to take over someone else's life.

That's the most positive message DAYS has had in a while, and considering the way it so often depicts women, it was long overdue.

Now if only characters other than silly, over-the-top Hattie can learn that they are good enough, I'll be happy.

Abby: You had choices, Chad, and you chose to leave, because you couldn't stand to look at me like this.
Chad: I love you.
Abby: So what if you're right? So what if my DID is back and I go and I do what you want. And I get the help that you want me to get and I integrate... what's next? Are we gonna be together? Are you really gonna be able to accept that your brother's child is a part of your life? I didn't think so.

This continued Gabi/Abby/Stefan/Chad mess is a case in point.

A lot happened with this storyline, most of it terrible.

Held Hostage by Her Husband (Tall) - Days of Our Lives

Abigail allowed Stefan to dictate who she could and couldn't see, even having his security guard threaten Chad. Chad, for his part, decided the thing to do was hire Ben -- the supposedly reformed serial killer who had caused Abigail massive PTSD in the first place -- to help him kidnap Abigail.

Chad held Abigail against her will in a cabin and demanded she get mental health treatment, called her crazy and paranoid more times than I could count, and was just as abusive as Stefan.

Meanwhile, Kate went along with Gabi's latest scheme to drug Abigail again and convince Chad further than she had descended into madness.

This storyline continues to be offensive in the way it mocks mental health issues and makes light of sexual assault, plus using Ben in this capacity also encourages violence at a time when there's more than enough of it in the real world.

However, there was a saving grace and that was that during the week of 11-5-18, Abigail proved herself to be one strong woman and resolved her problems mostly on her own.

Abby: You had choices, Chad, and you chose to leave, because you couldn't stand to look at me like this.
Chad: I love you.
Abby: So what if you're right? So what if my DID is back and I go and I do what you want. And I get the help that you want me to get and I integrate... what's next? Are we gonna be together? Are you really gonna be able to accept that your brother's child is a part of your life? I didn't think so.

Abigail turned the tables on Kate, purposely leaving the room so that Kate could drug her tea and then switching their teacups so that Kate ended up passed out on the couch instead.

Unfortunately, Chad showed up and somehow whisked Abigail away to a cabin in the woods to try to force her to get mental health treatment. But Abigail didn't scream or cry or agree to Chad's terms.

Instead, she stood up to Chad, pointing out that he was the crazy one, that he was holding her against her will and that what he'd done was illegal, and informing him that she would have had all the proof she needed that she was telling the truth if he hadn't got in the way.

And that was just for starters. Abby also made it very clear to Chad that he could have been with her but had chosen to walk away and that he didn't get to force her to do what he wanted now.

She convinced him to let her go by the end of the hour, all by herself. And if only she hadn't had labor pains, he would have done it.

Abby Turns the Tables - Days of Our Lives

Abigail wasn't the only strong woman in this story, as getting drugged and almost getting caught caused Kate to literally wake up and realize that going along with Gabi's schemes was going to lead nowhere good.

Kate told Gabi in no uncertain terms that she was not going along with any future schemes no matter what threats Gabi issued and left her to clean up her own mess.

Kate: I spent the whole night on that couch.
Gabi: Oh my God. Chad was on his way over. How did he not find you?
Kate: Well, it's a good thing he decided to snatch Abigail because otherwise the two of us would have been sharing a jail cell tonight. I'm telling you right now, if Chad hadn't run off with Abigail, she would have taken a match to us. She would have found this bag, she would have seen the wig, she would have seen and the sedatives and she would have shown them to Chad. She would have shown them to anyone who was interested.
Gabi: Damn it!
Kate: Look, you know, actually, I'm feeling lucky right now. I'm gonna go home. I'm gonna take a shower and have some breakfast. But I also want you to know that I am so sorry I ever became part of this stupid plan of yours and whatever genius move you come up with next, you leave me out of it.
Gabi: Leave you out of it? Okay, well it's a little late for that, Kate. No, no, no. Stefan and Abigail, they're gonna get what they deserve, and you... you're gonna help me take them down.
Kate: I'm really getting tired of people telling me what to do.
Gabi: Well, I could tell Chad what you've done.
Kate: What, that I spied on him for Stefan? And then I'll out you... we'll go around again. Listen, I helped you because of your dad, but now that's all done..
Gabi: Done? No. , Kate, you're right. I'm sorry. But we're friends, Kate. We have the same enemies and we deserve justice.
Kate: Here. You're gonna have to clean things up. I would wash out this cup if I were you, not leave any of the drug there, because if the police come here looking for evidence of foul play, well... I'm not taking the fall. You are.

Welcome back, Kate! Where have you been during the first half of this ridiculous storyline?

Meanwhile, there was some other silliness on the teen scene (or I guess college scene by now) front, with Claire discovering that the person who framed Ben was... Tripp.

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A lot of viewers saw this coming, but I was disappointed in it.

Tripp and Ben are rivals for Ciara's affections and the writers want Ciara/Ben to be end game (at least for now). I get it.

But why does every love triangle have to end with one of the people doing something horrific so that the person being fought over only has one logical choice?

I'd much rather Ciara have two viable options to choose from and have some other reason for following her heart to Ben (if that's who she ends up) besides Tripp doing something underhanded.

Plus, Tripp used Steve's fingerprinting kit to help frame Ben but has not mentioned once that he's even aware that Steve is gone or that he has any feelings about it whatsoever.

That's lazy writing, it's insulting to Steve's legacy, and it cheats this story of an obvious beat: Tripp returning to bad behavior because his father is gone.

And why do we need Claire acting like a mini-Gabi as part of this story?

One Gabi is more than enough. We don't need two, especially since Claire being a bad girl never made any sense and Ben claiming Ciara had integrity because she's a cop's kid is laughable, considering how she behaved as a child.

Plus Claire telling Ben how Tripp framed Kayla, almost killed some patients, and then took her hostage would have made more sense than playing up how Tripp saved Ciara's life. 

If Ben knew that story he would surely think Tripp was a hypocrite who had no right to judge him and that he had an equal chance with Ciara -- which is what Claire wants.

So why tell him something that discourages him instead and then spend energy trying to convince him to go along with the plan anyway?

An Engagement Implodes  (Tall) - Days of Our Lives

Tripp is the latest person to tell his girlfriend nothing can come between them minutes before something does. I know that's a soap staple, but it's not realistic.

When people go from complete love to complete hate in a matter of seconds, it doesn't ring true, no matter how angry they are, and I'd love to see someone have mixed feelings towards someone who betrayed them, just once.

With the Rex and Sarah story, we had two characters we totally could not be invested in because we weren't given a chance to get to know them before their relationship went to implosion land.

Everything important had already happened off-screen. Rex and Sarah met, moved in together, got engaged, and had a fight leading to Rex sleeping with Mimi.

So when Sarah learned at her engagement party that Rex had cheated on her and had a baby with someone else, her pain fell flat. It was like watching strangers argue loudly and wondering if you should be worried or entertained or what.

Sarah is Maggie's daughter and Rex Roman's son, but that doesn't automatically make them interesting as a couple or at all rootable.

And without knowing Sarah at all, her angry behavior and desire to leave town as soon as she found out this news came off as immature.

Similarly, her complaint that Rex moved in and proposed to her without her wanting those things made her seem weak. Why didn't she say no at the time? 

These same things might have made her seem sympathetic if we'd seen any of their relationship build up on screen and understood what the dynamics actually were and what was at stake.

So what did you think, DAYS fanatics?

Were you satisfied with the 53rd anniversary surprise?

What storyline do you most wish would come to a close?

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

Review

Editor Rating: 4.3 / 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

Getting older is not for sissies.

Victor

Eric: If Nicole dies, it's on your hands, Brady!
Sami: Eric! Don't say anything you're going to regret later.