It's a soap staple that things have to get worse before they get better.
When done right that makes for compelling storytelling. But with this awful Gabi/Stefan/Abby/Chad storyline on Days of our Lives, the latest developments are just sickening.
During the week of 11-12-18, Chad turned the baby over to Abigail's rapist, who helped him commit totally sane Abby to a mental ward. Will this awful storyline ever end?
Marci Miller has done an amazing job selling Abigail's pain, anger, and sense of betrayal as she was dragged away to a mental hospital thanks to Stefan and Chad's deal.
I couldn't help thinking that if this was a properly written story it would be amazing. There's so much drama to be had in the story of having to accept the deterioration of a loved one's mental health to the point where she has to be confined to a hospital.
But instead, these developments made a mockery of the whole thing.
There was not a shred of evidence that Abigail's mental health was deteriorating. She appeared perfectly sane and exactly like her normal self to everyone who loved her.
She was committed to a mental hospital because Gabi and Kate said she was violent without any real evidence that she was or that her issues couldn't be resolved using outpatient therapy. No psychiatrist was ever involved.
And Chad, who is supposed to be the love of Abigail's life, believed she was losing her mind because Gabi said so, despite the evidence to the contrary in front of his eyes.
After Chad helped Abigail give birth, he seemed to realize that she was the same woman he had fallen in love with. But then he changed his mind and made a deal with Stefan to get her committed because he had a nightmare about the Gabby alter returning.
Abby certainly is not responsible for what she does in Chad's dreams! If that's his basis for thinking her DIssociative Identity Disorder is no longer under control, then he's the one who needs help.
And on top of that, Chad knows Stefan raped Abby -- at least on days when he's thinking clearly. But he willingly handed over a child to her rapist, to the brother he fears is dangerous to his entire family, just to get Abby committed.
Everyone keeps giving Chad a pass on kidnapping Abby and on making this awful deal because he loves her and thinks he's protecting her.
But if this is love, I'd hate to see what he'd do if he hated Abby!
Abigail: You believed me enough to try to go search Gabi's purse, which means there's a part of you which believes that what I'm saying is possible.
JJ: Gabi's admitted that she's angry, but to go as far as framing you... she swears that all she wants is what's best for you.
Abigail: And Gabi's never lied before? Has she never gone extreme? I think you know that's not true. What's best for me in Gabi's little world is this. A lie locks me up, that sound familiar? Mother separated from her child. Check. She's trying to punish me and everyone who believes her is letting it happen.
Chad is an idiot to believe for a second that Abby is suffering from mental illness, and to add insult to injury, everyone else is written as equally stupid.
JJ is easily among the most intuitive characters in Salem.
He was the only one to realize something was off about Liam way back in 2014 when Liam was dating his mom, a concern that everyone dismissed as more upset that Jennifer was moving on after Jack's death, just like everyone is dismissing Abby's concerns about Gabi as paranoia.
His instincts make him suited to either undercover work or investigative journalism.
And he's fiercely loyal to his family and in the past was driven by the desire to redeem himself for having hurt his mom and sister when he was on drugs.
So why, exactly, is he doubting Abby's claims other than it's good for the plot?
Similarly, Jennifer is always on her kids' side no matter what, giving them the benefit of the doubt even when they don't deserve it and used to be an investigative reporter, yet she unquestioningly believed Abby's DID had returned on scant evidence too.
She didn't even bother to call her mother -- the psychiatrist who had treated Abby in the first place -- to find out whether it was even possible for her to relapse in this manner!
And Kayla is a doctor who, while not a psychiatrist, can presumably tell the difference between her niece in a state of mental health and in the throes of a dissociative episode. But she too had no clue Abby wasn't ill until JJ mentioned the possibility of Abby having been drugged.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: if a story requires all the characters to suddenly become stupid in order to work, something is wrong with that story.
If the story were written better, then Abby being put in an insane asylum when she's actually sane could be riveting.
But that would require the mental hospital to be depicted properly. Abby being forced to adhere to a medication and therapy regime she doesn't need in order to have a chance in hell of being released might be a horrific, yet compelling story.
Instead, we never saw a nurse and JJ mentioned that the nurse asked him to make sure his sister remembers to take her meds.
The writers think mental health issues are so unserious that they don't even have to bother to have actual nurses tending to the patients -- family will do.
Even more sickening is the fact that Stefan knows without a doubt that Abigail is sane.
He caught Gabi red-handed with the wig and sedatives in her purse, yet agreed to have Abby committed in exchange for being given the baby.
Stefan's behavior here doesn't make him a love-to-hate villain. It makes him even more disgusting than he was when he raped Abigail and harassed her for months on end to try to inspire a relapse of her mental illness so he could have more sex with her.
The sooner he gets off my screen, the better. There is zero chance of redemption or even of turning this particular Dimera into a tolerable baddie.
Gabi: Karma, it's a bitch.
Kate: How can you gloat about this?
Gabi: It's what I've wanted. I want Abigail to understand what I went through, what she put me through. I want her to feel my pain. Oh come on, don't look at me like that. You wanted this too. Justice for Andre.
Kate: No. Not like this. What you're doing is beyond cruel.
Gabi: What WE are doing, partner.
Kate: Abigail believed in you. She trusted you were her best friend.
Gabi: You know what? Save it, because not long ago you were all in.
Kate: Because you were blackmailing me, Gabi! I want to look out for you, I know, but I've come to my senses with this. Abigail's baby was ripped out of her arms. Chad has lost his wife and his child, the child he doesn't even know is his and yet you're here drinking champagne. And I think that's just a little bit monstrous.
What is with Kate? She claims to have come to her senses, but she is still protecting Gabi.
I'd have had a lot more respect for her if she'd made some attempt to tell Chad the truth. Even if he resorted to the overused trope of not letting her get a word in edgewise because he was too focused on his grief, that would have been acceptable.
Instead, she told Gabi that she had no right to gloat and that she was telling Chad the truth about his baby, then did a total 180 and tried to convince Chad that he was right to have Abigail committed.
It's also hard to take Kate's disapproval of Gabi's callousness seriously.
Kate is right that Gabi's behavior is beyond cruel, is unjustified, and is only hurting everyone Gabi claims to care about.
But this is the same woman who threw Nick in the river without batting an eye, poisoned Chloe and framed Daniel for it, and had seriously threatened Mimi after learning about the baby lie plot.
Kate never has a conscience when it comes to her own schemes, and while she should be far too strong to give into Gabi's nonsense, criticizing Gabi's lack of remorse for her behavior came off as more than a little hypocritical.
Elsewhere in Salem, the Rex/Sarah story turned into a competition for who can be more annoying.
Rex and Sarah weren't a compelling couple to begin with, since they were dropped into the canvas from out of nowhere, already engaged and with an off-screen cheating incident as baggage.
Now Rex not only cheated on Sarah twice, but came to her home without invitation, filled the living room with balloons, and tried to propose to her all over again.
Maybe this is the writers' idea of romance, but it had a stalker vibe to it that I didn't like. Rex was way over the top in his determination to get Sarah back and didn't seem to have any remorse at all for the way he hurt her, either.
Sarah's behavior wasn't much better, though. Her idea of resolving the situation was to go get drunk and assault some other couple that had the bad luck to get engaged in front of her.
In a way, Sarah's potential alcoholism makes sense. Maggie is an alcoholic, after all, and it could be fascinating to see her struggle with her growing awareness that her daughter is headed down the same path. And there is a genetic component to alcoholism, so this would be a logical story.
But something tells me DAYS is not going that route.
For one thing, Sarah suffered zero consequences for her behavior. She was neither asked to leave or dragged off in handcuffs. Instead, Roman's entire solution to the problem was to give the other couple a free meal.
If I were the man whose excitement over his engagement to his girlfriend was ruined by a drunk patron insinuating that I was a cheater and then throwing her drink in my face, I wouldn't be satisfied with that!
I suspect that everyone will assume this is a one-off thing and Maggie won't even hear about it -- unless, of course, it becomes a recurring pattern.
It also seems that Eric is getting ready to fall for Sarah, which is completely ridiculous.
He was committed to Jennifer until he found out that Nicole still loved him, and now Nicole is dead! If he gets together with Sarah, it not only makes a mockery of his "great love" with Nicole, but can only be a set up for Nicole to come back from the dead and ruin that relationship too.
Also, how, exactly, is Eric capable of being so calm and accepting with Sarah moments after screaming at Brady and refusing to accept his gift for Holly? Did the writers think we were going to forget what just happened in the Square when he encountered Sarah in the Kiriakis mansion?
Brady, of course, went along his way after arguing with Eric and managed to accelerate the implosion of Will and Sonny's relationship.
I can't say I'm sorry about that, though it would have been nice for Brady to have minded his own business in the first place instead of telling Will that breaking up with Paul would be selfish.
I'm over this Paul/Will/Sonny triangle.
Paul has been bounced back and forth between Will and Sonny since his debut in 2015!
Surely there is some other gay or bi man for Paul. He deserves better than going back and forth between these two idiots.
Early in 2015, he was mentoring a young gay kid, who promptly disappeared from the canvas. I would rather see more of that and less of this ridiculous triangle.
Will and Sonny are not doing much to make themselves into a rootable couple, either. Sonny has been alternating for months between being too damn pushy and feeling sorry for himself because he doesn't have Will, and Will has been wishy-washy.
A memory of being in love is not the same as actually being in love, and Will's speech to Paul made it sound more like he was going back to Sonny out of obligation to the past than because that was his true love.
Plus, staying with Paul just because he was paralyzed wasn't noble, no matter how many characters insist that it was. It was cruel, and the entire time Will was having an emotional affair with Sonny.
That said, Adrienne insisting on helping Sonny find a new boyfriend was awkward at best. What man Sonny's age wants his mother insisting on him using a dating app and looking over his shoulder while he does it?
Adrienne was entirely too involved in this, and considering how hurt she was when Justin cheated on her, she shouldn't be so eager for Sonny to get back with already-taken Will.
There were some sad goodbyes in Salem during the week of 11-12-18.
I'm really sorry to see Lucas go, though I'm glad to hear he is going to go see Allie. The writers seemed to have forgotten he had a teenage daughter for a while.
Plus, going off-screen to Europe means he will be around Sami and EJ, so I can fantasize about him and Sami finding their way back to each other even though I'm sure that's not what the writers have in mind.
Rex also left town, at least temporarily, to visit his baby. I'm glad he's stepping up, as a father should, but Sarah looking sad about it was a bit much to take, considering how eager she was to be rid of him.
I continue to have mixed feelings about the Ben story. It's a lot more compelling than many of the other stories on canvas right now and I like the emphasis on nobody giving a convicted criminal a second chance.
However, Ben's crimes were not minor crimes. Wyatt was right -- Ben murdered four people. Every time he is on screen defending his right to exist, I can't help thinking this is the story JJ should have had after he was arrested for breaking a store window back in 2013.
Either way, I can't stand the corruption at the Salem PD.
Hope might not have planted the evidence against Ben, but she might as well have.
She was gung-ho about locking him up and throwing away the key and gave him the full name of the person who framed him in the hopes he would beat that person up.
She and Rafe let Wyatt off with a warning on the grounds that falsifying evidence wasn't all that bad because he wasn't a cop. Not only does this downplay the seriousness of framing someone for a felony, but it makes Hope a hypocrite since she wanted Ben behind bars for framing himself.
And Rafe sneering at the idea of Ben suing for harassment sends the message that the cops should be allowed to do whatever they want to people they don't like without any consequences whatsoever.
As for the teens, this is yet another plan requiring idiocy -- or at least a large dose of obliviousness -- to work.
Claire is constantly dropping hints that she thinks Ciara is in love with Ben and is going to drop Tripp and is constantly getting caught with Ben, so everyone should be aware what she's up to.
Worse still, Tripp's impassioned defense of Wyatt, who he formerly hated and was jealous of, was a not-very-subtle confession about his own feelings and motivations for framing Ben, which for some reason went right over Ciara's head.
And who would confess to a crime he didn't commit and risk significant jail time, outside of members of the Mafia who prefer jail to a death sentence?
Marginally more interesting is the question of whether Ben is actually headed for another violent episode.
I somehow doubt he is, since all signs point to him and Ciara being end game.
But he was more than willing to be violent on Chad's behalf as long as no one died, and the whole town is shunning him and goading him about how he's so full of rage and ready to explode.
That's not a smart thing to do if you think someone is actually violent, and it seems like Ben may be headed in that direction, since he attacked Wyatt.
What do you think, DAYS fanatics?
Is Ben headed for another breakdown? Is Abby ever going to get out of that mental hospital? And are you still rooting for her and Chad despite his refusal to believe his wife over Gabi?
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.