Days of Our Lives Review: New Year, Old Stories

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As much as I love Jack Deveraux, I wasn't sold on him returning alive.

The idea that Jack was alive all along while his family -- especially JJ, who had serious mental health issues as a result of Jack's "death" -- suffered seemed needlessly cruel. Plus, we've been through this presumed dead/not dead cycle with Jack too many times to count.

But Jack's return has added energy and excitement that I didn't even realize was missing. It has also given JJ something more substantial to do than trying to force Haley to talk to him and has affected all of Salem.

(TALL) Jack and Jennifer - Days of Our Lives

If Jack had to return from the dead yet again, the only thing that made sense was some sort of amnesia storyline.

That was set up when one of the doors in the secret lab in Nashville had his initials on it. Jack's magical resurrection makes more sense than being held captive again or abandoning his family for no reason.

It's unfortunate that Will's amnesia storyline was so recent because it cheapens an otherwise compelling story about Jennifer and her family fighting to get Jack to remember them.

JJ's emotional reaction to Jack's entrance was fantastic.

Casey Moss finally got the chance to show off his considerable acting skills as JJ was overcome with emotion, struggled to speak, and demanded to know where the father whose loss had so deeply hurt him had been for the last six years.

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

Jennifer's reaction was no less heartbreaking. From the moment she poured her heart out to Jack about their love story and how meeting, loving, and marrying him changed her life, I was hooked.

Back in the super-couple era, Jack and Jennifer were my favorite couple for precisely that reason, and Jennifer's words brought back everything I always felt when they were on screen together.

There was only one thing wrong with those scenes. Paige was still dead.

Eve Returns - Days of Our Lives

It would have added so much to the drama for Paige to be by JJ's side when Eve made her grand entrance with comatose Jack and to be again caught in the middle between her boyfriend and her mother long after she thought her mom was reformed.

She would have had something to say about Eve attempting to seduce Jack in a manner reminiscent of how she seduced a vulnerable JJ and started him on a self-destructive path that hurt Paige deeply, too.

And Eve was devastated by Paige's death, so much so that her first question when she heard Will was alive was to beg JJ to tell her that Paige had survived too.

So when she saw a very much alive Jack Deveraux walk into her hotel room, how could she not have asked Xander whether Paige was also in that warehouse?

But since Paige was neither resurrected nor remembered by the people who loved her most, JJ was left to face Jack's resurrection and Eve's disintegration with newcomer Haley, who knew relatively nothing.

Haley's presence did lead to a role reversal that was more interesting than the rest of this nonsensical obsession JJ has with helping her, though. 

How am I doing? My head is spinning. I've missed my dad so much and for him to show up now... honestly, Haley, I wish we'd got to hang out more.

JJ

Haley asked a couple of times how JJ was doing with Jack's resurrection and subsequent amnesia, and JJ consistently gave her a non-answer before changing the subject back to how Haley was doing.

It hasn't gone as deep as JJ trying to save Haley because he couldn't save Paige, but his behavior does prove that part of his interest in Haley is because she's a distraction from his feelings.

If only JJ had a competent therapist to turn to instead of having been miraculously "cured" of his suicidal feelings!

It would be fascinating to see him resist exploring the complicated feelings surrounding his father's resurrection and then eventually face them as well as have to admit to himself the real reasons he's so overinvolved in Haley's issues.

Kayla Confronts JJ - Days of Our Lives

Kayla's 30-second disappointment that JJ covered up Haley's suicide attempt was also disappointing.

First of all, Kayla is not a psychiatrist, so she shouldn't be the one to evaluate whether Haley is healthy enough to return to work nor should she have left out the importance of involving a qualified mental health professional in this type of event when she confronted JJ.

Related: Days of Our Lives: Why Social Messaging Matters

Mental health issues are the current writers' weak points. Suicide attempts and the like are more plot points than they are stories, and Marlena is either not consulted at all or depicted saying things that no competent psychiatrist would say.

It does viewers a disservice. It sends the message that mental health issues are not real and that treatment is not something to be taken seriously as well as cheats them of the kind of heartbreaking emotion on which soap fans thrive.

Kayla was also all sorts of contradictory during these scenes.

First, she told JJ she couldn't ignore his behavior and had to do something about it, then told him Haley was lucky to have him and dropped the whole thing. She also told Haley she was suspended pending a discussion about this and then gave her permission to finish a work-related conversation before they discussed it.

I love when JJ and Kayla share scenes, but these seemed like they were filler meant to get viewers to the point where JJ told Kayla that Jack was alive and asked whether she could get Jack the memory-restoring serum that Will used.

If that was the point of their conversation, that's what the scene should have focused on, not a reprimand that evaporated halfway through.

She didn't tell you the whole story, how we met and fell in love, how you took a college intern under your wing and made her a journalist and taught her to dig for the truth. And that's what you have to do now. Dig for the truth.

Jennifer

I was glad, though, that JJ remembered Will went through this too!

It didn't make sense that no one made the connection when Jack's plight was the same as Will's except for that Jack was told by his savior-with-an-agenda that Jennifer was mean to him, and Will was told he was really EJ!

It was bad enough that the storylines were so similar without the whole town appearing to have also developed amnesia about what had happened previously.

It was especially surprising that Justin and Adrienne didn't mention it when they talked about Jen and JJ's heartache since their son had gone through it too not that long ago.

No one else remembered either until JJ mentioned it to Kayla and then all of a sudden Jen and Abby were also talking about Will's memories had come back, so Jack's had to too. That was weird and out of balance, and it would have made more sense if that connection had been made right away.

It's a shame that the Will story was so similar because Jack's conflicted feelings and pain over his inability to remember makes for gripping drama, but it's cheapened somewhat by the fact that it's a rerun.

Jack seemed to be going back and forth between feeling no connection to anyone and feeling bad that his lack of memory hurt the people who his old self had once loved.

Jennifer's visit was the highlight of this story.

Even though Jack didn't consciously remember anything from his past, he responded to her with the same Oscar Wilde quote he always did when they were working together on the Spectator, and he seemed to remember on some level that as a toddler, JJ wanted to be held all the time.

Jack had a special bond with JJ before his death, and I wondered if maybe his son might be the key to unlocking his memories. 

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Anyway, Jack might have pushed Jennifer away when she kissed him, but he seemed to relax and be more like his old self after she left. He questioned Eve, sounding more and more like the reporter with a sardonic wit he used to be, and didn't accept much of her BS.

Naturally, Eve tried to seduce him into being two bad people together, using similar behavior as she did when she got JJ to sleep with her the first time. Hopefully, that kiss at cliffhanger time was a fakeout, and Jack will reject her when the story picks up.

Gabi on the Defense - Days of Our Lives

Eve's extreme anger was disappointing -- she was always more of a damaged person than an out-and-out villain -- but elsewhere in Salem, Abigail's refusal to press charges against Gabi was equally frustrating.

Justin's refusal to take Gabi's case was satisfying. Gabi deserved to be told that she had gone way too far and had seriously hurt people Justin loved.

But Abigail's decision not to press charges was bewildering. She's angry at everyone in her life. She won't even talk to Chad for more than five seconds and only put aside her anger at JJ and Jennifer because of Jack's return.

But Gabi, the person who caused this whole mess, got a free pass.

Abby told Chad that she wanted to put an end to the cycle of revenge. That's great, but holding someone accountable for serious crimes isn't equivalent to seeking revenge.

By Abby's logic, every crime victim who presses charges is acting out revenge fantasies -- should we dispense with the criminal justice system and let everyone who is guilty of a crime walk free?

Gabi is dangerous. She's still angry at Abigail and only putting on an act about having any remorse when she's in front of everyone else and acting evil when she's with Abby. What stops her from lashing out violently at Abigail again, especially now that Stefan is in jail and Chad has informed her that they're enemies?

The jail system is riddled with problems, but putting Gabi in prison would keep her from being able to act to harm Abigail. Besides, if Gabi got a competent attorney who wasn't related to everyone she had harmed, she might get mandated mental health treatment instead of jail, which would probably be beneficial for everyone.

Gabi: Go ahead, say it. I’ve disappointed you yet again.
Rafe: Disappointed? Disappointed? Disappointed doesn’t quite catch it. And I get it, because I know how you suffered, what Abigail did to you. But she wasn’t in her right mind. But you… but you. You made Chad think Stefan was the father of the baby… you broke up a marriage.
Gabi: Can we not go through this right now?
Rafe: Oh we are going to go through it, sis. You made Stefan think he was the father of the baby, Chad sent Abby back to the institution… you really paid Stefan back good, didn’t you? So tell me something, Did it feel good?

The only way Abigail's decision makes any sense at all is if she wanted Gabi to know she owes her freedom to her best friend turned worst enemy -- and that would be more vengeful a motive than Abigail would ever admit.

It doesn't make sense that she has more compassion for Gabi than for Chad.

Chad's disbelief and choosing Gabi over Abigail was undoubtedly one of the most hurtful things Abigail ever experienced, but Abigail also chose Gabi over Chad by refusing to press charges and even berating Chad endlessly while barely trying to work out a custody schedule for their kids.

Rafe Arrests Stefan- Days of Our Lives

Rafe's behavior was annoying and erratic throughout this whole thing. He came down hard on Gabi, then got mad at Hope for thinking Gabi deserved punishment. Then when he found out Stefan had kidnapped Gabi, he threw away his by-the-book attitude and stormed off to be a vigilante.

The only constant in any of that was that he and Hope fought and fought and fought. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end of this awful couple because otherwise we're all being tortured by these ridiculous arguments for nothing!

And Hope was equally disappointing. Her daughter dating an ex-serial killer who has now become a kidnapper understandably has her rattled, but this isn't the way to deal with it!

If she believes Ben has broken the law, arrest him again and let Trask deal with the fact that all the past false arrests might make it harder to get charges to stick this time.

There's nothing to be gained from storming over to announce to Ciara that she was right and Ben is a bad guy. That conversation hasn't gone anywhere productive in the past, and Ciara's called Hope out on her gloating about it before.

Meanwhile, Kayla continued to make flimsy excuses for Steve being off-screen.

It is the same mistake that DAYS made for years after Peter Reckell left the role of Bo. Hope was left in limbo while Bo was missing for no good reason, supposedly investigating Stefano overseas while Stefano sat in the Brady Pub drinking coffee.

Fans were outraged by the offensive end to that legacy couple. It went on for over three years, and now it appears Steve and Kayla are headed for the same non-story. 

Either get Stephen Nichols back or write an exit story for Steve that makes sense!

Discovering Leo's Weakness - Days of Our Lives

Finally, the Leo story became interesting for the first time when Leo mentioned how much he hates his mother. Moments of vulnerability give villains depth, and that one made Leo less of a cartoon character.

Leo's refusal to talk to Sonny about it at all was silly, though. The man has delusions of Sonny falling hard for him. Telling him something real about himself that Sonny could empathize with might be a good way to start if that's what he wants.

So, DAYS Fanatics, what did you think of how the show's kicked off 2019?

Whether you love or hate the Jack return story, Abby's decision to let Gabi go, or any of the other stories, sound off in the comments below!

And don't forget to check back on Sundays for our Days of Our Lives Round Table.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 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

Hope: Where are you going?
Rafe: I'm gonna find Ted and then I'm gonna kill him.
Hope: Of course. It's a lot easier to run away and throw punches at Ted than stay here and fight for our marriage.

You had blackout sex!

Gabi