Days of Our Lives Review: A Fresh Take on an Old Story

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I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying the Jack Deveraux resurrection story.

It didn't seem like we needed a second back-from-the-dead but with amnesia storyline and I was worried that the writers would minimize JJ's pain and anger at his dad's "death"  since they seem to dislike acknowledging JJ's bad boy past.

But Jack's return has, ironically, breathed new life into this soap, and his scenes on Days of Our Lives during the week of 1-7-19 were among the most entertaining.

Stunned By the Truth - Days of Our Lives

Jack's reaction to meeting Kayla and learning that he had raped her years ago was almost as emotional as JJ's had been when he found out about it soon after his father's alleged death.

In fact, that was the only thing missing from these scenes. When JJ learned about this back in 2013 -- a sequence that also began with a conversation with Kayla -- it pushed his already-fragile mental health to its breaking point and he lost control of himself and shattered a store window, something which he still feels bad about.

So if JJ had happened to be in the Pub or run into Jack soon afterward, his story could have come full circle, with him being the one to support his amnesiac father after Jack learned the same upsetting truth.

Related: Days of Our Lives:  7 Ways Days of Our Lives Could (And Should!) Be Using JJ Deveraux

That didn't happen, nor has there been any opportunity for Jack to bring it up to JJ or anyone else, but nevertheless these scenes were compelling.

Kayla's awkwardness and desire not to tell Jack and Jack's insistence on the truth showed the layers of complexity in the relationship between these two characters and Jack's jovial attitude about having been married several times gave way to his horror about what he had done.

He had to relive his whole transformation storyline, and considering that DAYS so often treats rape as a plot point instead of a serious story, that was doubly refreshing.

Eve: I can't leave Salem right now. I have a lot of irons in the fire.
Chad: The only iron you have in the fire is Jack Deveraux.

Every bit of truth Jack learns about himself lessens Eve's hold on him, too.

Her plan was fundamentally flawed because there was never any way that Jack Deveraux was going to return to a town full of people who knew and loved him and be content staying at home with Eve and not making an effort to regain his memories or reconnect with anyone.

But the less she gets to seduce him, the better. Those seduction scenes were gross and reminiscent of the way she seduced a drunk JJ and then harassed him endlessly. Thankfully, Jack pulled away before she got as far as she wanted, but still. 

Abby suggested Jack ask JJ about Eve. I hope Jack notices the similarities in how Eve treated him. I also hope that Paige is described as JJ's first serious girlfriend and not just as some girl who happened to be related to Eve.

Jack: So tell me about my grandchildren -- what are their names again?
Jen: Charlotte and Thomas.
Jack: I’d love to meet them.
JJ: How much are you going to charge for that?

The Deveraux family scenes were wonderful. Jack did his best to be part of this family he didn't remember and the memory they all shared was fun.

I was so thrilled that the writers remembered that JJ is a musician that I even forgave them for contradicting JJ's boarding school experience as told by him to Daniel with this happy memory, complete with some girl he crushed on that we never heard of before.

JJ calling Jack on having allowed Chad to pay him for joining them at dinner was hilarious, second only to Jack's reaction to learning Eve thought she was marrying him.

I'm not sure why Jack said neither of these children looks like him, though.

Does his amnesia come with a side of not looking in the mirror? I always thought that in addition to being an excellent actor, Casey Moss was perfectly cast as JJ because there's a physical resemblance between him and Matthew Ashford.

Anyway, I loved Jack acknowledging how hard his disappearance from his son's life had to be for JJ and I'd love to see them have an honest discussion about the way JJ acted out when he believed his father had died.

Jack: It seems I was a lousy husband all the time.
Jennifer: No. You were a lousy husband sometimes.
Jack: Thank you for that. What were we like?
Jennifer: We were a sea nourished with lovers' tears, a madness most discreet...
Jack and Jennifer [together]: A choking gall, and a preserving sweet.
Jack: You know, there's a reason we both remember that speech.
Jennifer: It was hard sometimes and there was a lot of pain, but I believe that in spite of it all we built a wonderful life together.

The best part of the Jack storyline was Jack and Jennifer's scenes. Jack seems to have retained his memory of classic literature even though he doesn't remember his life, and being around Jennifer always triggers memories of literature they shared.

The Romeo and Juliet quote was sweet and romantic, and Jennifer reassuring Jack that he wasn't always the worst husband in the world and that they loved each other despite their difficulties brought tears to my eyes.

I think this is the biggest difference between the Jack story and the Will story.

Sonny also pined after amnesiac Will, but it was harder to believe in their love after Sonny seemed so unaffected at Will's funeral and so much more interested in Paul than Will.

That made the Will/Sonny story seem contrived to get them back together, while the Jack/Jennifer story relies on a rich relationship history and is rooted in a deep love that has lasted decades.

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

Jennifer is trying harder to hide her heartbreak than Sonny was, too. She's not clinging to Jack and begging him to remember her. She's focused on how his reappearance is affecting her children and he has to push her to talk about her own feelings. 

In some ways Jack's behavior mirrors his old self and the dynamic between him and Jennifer is starting to be what it always was, yet he is a shell of himself who remembers nothing of the life he and Jennifer built together.

That's tragic and hopeful at the same time and the moment that he finally remembers everything and kicks Eve to the curb for once and for all is going to be a sweet payoff for having to put up with her nonsense in the meantime.

An Unwanted Savior - Days of Our Lives

If only the rest of JJ's storyline was as good as his scenes with his father, I'd be happy.

This Haley storyline continues to be disappointing. Haley's random suicide attempt has turned into JJ following her around begging her to tell him what's wrong with her.

This isn't caring behavior. It's obsessive and obnoxious. Haley asked JJ if he was stalking her to try to get her to sleep with him, which he isn't, but that was a reasonable assumption.

It made no sense that Haley was smiling about JJ bothering her while talking to Melinda. and Melinda's objection to JJ was equally random.

Up until this point, Melinda has been an annoying district attorney who makes snide remarks about defendants in court.

If she'd objected that she had not been able to prosecute JJ for the trouble he got into as a teenager or even that she was hoping to get him for shooting Theo but Abe declined to press charges, that would be in keeping with her character.

Melinda isn't up on people's personal lives. She didn't know her own sister attempted suicide nor that JJ had in the past. So what does she know about what hearts he has or hasn't broken?

Her inclusion in this story at all seems like a contrived manner of creating conflict for JJ and Haley, much as making Eve Paige's mother was in the past. But JJ and Paige made sense as a couple and JJ and Haley don't.

Plus, Melinda has been a minor character up to this point, and not an enjoyable one, so I don't particularly relish her having a supporting role in a story all of a sudden.

Related: 15 WTF Moments from 2018

I also didn't like the way Melinda responded to learning about Haley's suicide attempt.

She was shocked for about half a second and showed no concern for Haley. Her only concern was that JJ not learn whatever Haley's secret is, with her secondary reaction being to tell Haley she needs to move out for the sake of Melinda's career.

Way to be empathetic! I know Melinda is supposed to be a villain, but even villains need some likeable qualities in order to hold viewers' interest.

JJ Tells Gabi Off - Days of Our Lives

Better was JJ telling Gabi off. 

Gabi has learned nothing from her whole revenge scheme other than how important it is to shed crocodile tears about being sorry, which no one is buying.

JJ was the last in a long line of people to tell her that she'd gone too far and was not going to be instantly forgiven, and it seemed to affect Gabi more that he won't forgive her than anyone else.

I'm not sure why, since when JJ and Gabi were dating, Gabi spent all her time finding fault with JJ so that she could have an excuse to be with Chad instead.

Nevertheless, JJ made it clear that even though she had saved his life, he wasn't choosing loyalty to her over loyalty to his sister and that he felt she took advantage of his trust in her to further her evil plan. Gabi deserved that and more. I only wish JJ had been angrier with her.

Mad at Her Lover - Days of Our Lives

Gabi's behavior also proved that Abigail's decision to not press charges against her was foolish.

I agreed with Melinda for once, even though she ruined her own argument by trying to blackmail Abby into coming forward by threatening to prosecute Chad, and I wouldn't be surprised if she tries to rope Haley into some scheme where she finds a reason to press charges against JJ in order to pressure Abby.

But she was right that leaving people to just wander around feeling bad about their crimes isn't how the justice system works, especially since Gabi doesn't even really have any remorse.

Abigail -- or maybe the writers -- have justice and vengeance mixed up. It's not vengeful to hold Gabi accountable for her actions, and giving her a pass won't change her behavior. Melinda was right that Gabi could lash out at Abby again at any time, especially since Gabi already threatened to permanently silence Julie.

If Melinda really wants her win, she should forget about bothering Abby and talk to Julie, who is more than eager to put Gabi back behind bars.

In addition, framing it this way makes Gabi's nonsense seem justified. It's almost as if the writers want viewers to sympathize with Gabi and see anyone who wants to hold her accountable for her many serious crimes as the bad guys.

Related: Days of Our Lives: Why Social Messaging Matters

Gabi runs around town threatening to murder old women and drugging pregnant women. She is not the hero here and if DAYS is going to have her be a villain, commit to it and make it clear that she is supposed to lose.

Commissioner Hope Brady - Days of Our Lives

That's a huge problem for DAYS. The lines between heroes and villains have been blurred. Hope, who is supposed to be a good character, is abusing her power endlessly to break up Ben and Ciara, while evil characters like Gabi are propped by half of Salem even while the other half rejects her for her bad behavior.

Brady: The woman I know filled her pockets with bread crumbs so that Tate could feed the ducks. She was always there to read him a bedtime story. She was kind and caring.
Eve: Yeah? Tell me, where did kindness get me, Brady? I lost my job, I lost - I lost everything. I’m tired of losing. I want to be a winner.

Everyone's out for revenge. too. Eve has gone way over the top -- why is she trashing former best friend Chloe as part of this outlandish scheme to harm Jennifer? And how, exactly, does her desire to "win" by hurting everyone differ from Gabi's desire to make Abigail and Stefan hurt to soothe her own pain?

Soaps need villains, but do they need to be cartoon characters with crazy schemes that hurt the people they care about as much as their enemies?

DAYS has done a great job of reining in some of the campier elements lately -- there are no more dopplegangers and the only completely unrealistic plot device is this shot that brings dead people back to life -- but we've still got too many totally unhinged people, many of whom are overreacting to small things.

Ciara Gets Flowers - Days of Our Lives

Ciara's anger at Ben is a great example of that. During the week of 1-7-19, she broke up with him partially because she thought he wanted to keep working for Stefan and partially because he teamed up with Claire to convince Tripp that Ciara was into Ben.

The latter part of this should have been a giant "so what?" Ciara broke up with Tripp because he framed Ben for the cabin fire, which had nothing to do with Ben and Claire's manipulations.

Ciara was so totally in love with Ben that she didn't care that he was working for Stefan until Hope accused him of kidnapping Gabi. Then she got mad, not because of the crime he committed, but because Chad fired him before he could quit that job on his own.

Granted, Ben told the story all wrong, which contributed to the break-up, but CIara wasn't making any sense and came off as being overly dramatic.

She also ran away to the other side of the world just like she did when Claire stole Theo's letter to her. How many more times is she going to do that?

Reconnecting With His Ex - Days of Our Lives

Finally, Eric showed himself to be capable of maturity when he decided not to pursue custody of Holly.

Chloe and Sarah, on the other hand, were both excessively immature. Yes, Sarah should have talked to Maggie in person before taking Holly to see Eric. But Chloe found out where Holly was from Maggie, so clearly Maggie approved of this decision.

Chloe acted like Holly had been kidnapped when Maggie is the next of kin who is graciously allowing Chloe to raise Holly instead of raising her herself, and the war of words she and Sarah got into didn't help.

Thankfully, Chloe apologized after she calmed down, but I hope she doesn't talk to her kids the way she talked to Sarah and Eric.

There's no real reason for Sarah and Chloe to be at each other's throats, either, and I hope it stops soon.

Brady and Eric also need to stop competing to see who can rebound faster. Brady has gone from Theresa to Nicole to Eve to Chloe in the space of a year, while Eric has gone from Jennifer to Nicole to Sarah in the space of a few months.

And we all know that if Nicole turns up alive, that'll be the end of Eric and Sarah just like it was the end of Eric and Jennifer, so why get invested in them?

A few more things...

  • I love Julie being so supportive of Chad and Abigail, but every time she tells Chad how wonderful he is, I flash back to Christmas 2013 when she irritated Abby by telling her that Chad was horrible and she was better off without him.
  • Leo and Xander aren't going to make it as a gay couple, since Xander doesn't swing that way, but they're a great comedy team. The confused look on Xander's face every time Leo interacts with him almost makes this storyline worth it.
  • If Brady wanted to get through to Eve, he really should have asked her what Paige would think of her behavior if she was alive. That might have made Eve think twice in a way nothing else does.

Related: Get Great Selection of New & Classic Movies with the Lifetime Movie Club via Prime Video Channels!

So what did you think, DAYS Fanatics? Are you enjoying the Jack storyline?  Are you glad Melinda Trask has more of a role? Am I the only one who could care less if Rex comes between Sarah and Eric?

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


Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.

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Days of Our Lives Quotes

Trask: Mr. Kiriakis. I'm surprised you're still here. You'll be glad to know justice has been served and Belle is behind bars where she belonged.
Philip: That wasn't justice, you idiot!
Trask: What?
Philip: Belle didn't kill Charlie Dale. Jan Spears did. Belle and Shawn just told you what you wanted to hear because Jan kidnapped their daughter. Jan Spears is a killer and now thanks to you she might do it again to Claire and to Chloe.

Diana: You stole my fortune!
Victor: And you stole it back.