A man proving his love to his ex-girlfriend by rescuing her from a dangerous situation is a soap staple.
On Days of Our Lives during the week of 2-4-19, Ben and Chad were both determined to redeem themselves by rescuing loved ones who had been kidnapped, and Stefan took a bullet to save Chloe.
These stories had all the elements of great soapy drama, yet they felt more like stunts designed to grab ratings during February sweeps than anything else. While the random violence took up a lot of screen time, the most fascinating story wasn't that at all.
It was Leo's backstory.
Up until this point, Leo was nothing but irritating.
He forced Sonny to marry him while hitting on every guy he saw, and he seemed to see straight guys as a challenge to be overcome.
But when he confronted his mother, all of that changed.
Judith Chapman is a veteran soap actress, and so far she's elevated the quality of every scene she's been in. Plus she and Greg Rikaart have worked together before as mother and son on The Young and the Restless.
So it was natural that these scenes would be must-watch TV. What I didn't expect, though, was that I'd feel sympathetic for irritating loser Leo!
We don't really know the truth about Leo's father's life and death, but what crumbs we were given during this conversation made me want to learn the rest.
Clearly, Leo believed he was protecting his mother from severe abuse when he killed his father, and he felt rejected because Diana saw his behavior as an evil criminal act. But that was only one piece of the puzzle.
Diana seemed to be in denial about her husband's abuse of her and felt guilty about how it affected her son, yet she was harshly critical of him and he questioned whether his being gay had something to do with her hatred of him.
You know very well I have no problem with you being gay. I have no problem with anyone being gay. I have a problem with you being a murderer!Diana
I could feel Diana's torment as well as her son's. I believed that she once loved and adored Leo and felt she'd failed him, yet disapproved sharply of the man he had become.
I wondered how much Leo's personality resembled his father's and whether Diana really believed that her husband's behavior towards her was normal.
Now THIS is how you write soap villains! Leo's tortured past humanized him enough to make him quasi-sympathetic and relatable even though what he is doing to Sonny is despicable.
Meanwhile, Ciara's kidnapper turned out to be...Jordan.
I knew this was coming from spoilers, but that didn't make it any less ridiculous.
Jordan was not a popular character during her last run, mostly because of a botched storyline that was changed halfway through.
She was supposed to be a sweet, kind woman who had rescued baby brother Ben from their abusive father and started a new life for the two of them, but her secret about her past dragged on and on and everyone lost interest in it -- and in her.
The current writers' answer to fan opinion of Jordan's character was to give her the Gabi treatment and suddenly rewrite her to be cold, calculating, and evil while insisting that she's justified and that she's really the hero here.
Jordan's personality transplant might have been believable if we'd been given any clue that it was coming or even that she was back in the picture.
It would have been so easy to do, too. Ben could have mentioned being out of touch with his sister or concerned that she might be suffering from a similar mental illness as him.
Instead, she showed up out of the blue, blabbering all the same lines Hope has been for months about how Ben's not really a changed man and how Ciara is in danger and needs to be protected at all costs.
And if that wasn't bad enough, she also kidnapped Abby's baby and drugged Ciara for no good reason.
That last part made no sense at all. Ciara pretended to agree with Jordan about Ben so that Jordan would untie her. Jordan did, then drugged her so she could tie her back up. Why not just leave her tied up?
All of this seems more like a shock-and-awe storyline that someone thought would make for an exciting February sweeps story than anything else. It's almost as if the writers went down the list of exciting soap plots and chose a random kidnapping as a ratings grabber.
The problem is that violence for its own sake doesn't make for compelling drama. If the writers had carefully built up this story to a climactic point where Ciara was kidnapped and it was up to Ben to rescue her, that might have been interesting.
But this was not.
Besides, it was obvious the kidnapping was just a plot point to get Ben and Ciara and Chad and Abby back together.
Ben spent most of the week of 2-4-19 screaming at the top of his lungs that he didn't hurt Ciara.
I couldn't blame him for being angry. I was angry too, especially at how easily Marlena gave in to Hope and divulged info about Ben she had no right to divulge.
As usual, the writers didn't bother to do a single bit of research, not even a Google search, and made up a lie about belief that someone committed a crime being an exception to confidentiality.
No. Believing someone is in imminent danger of harming himself or others is an exception, and even in those cases, the therapist must initiate contact with the appropriate authorities, not the other way around.
Therapists don't reveal client information to cops upon request, period, and they don't break confidentiality simply because a patient engaged in illegal activity. Haven't the writers ever heard of people seeking therapy for addiction to illegal drugs?
Now, if Marlena truly believed Ben was a danger to Ciara or anyone else, she would have to report that threat to the authorities. But she would be limited to telling them what the threat was. She couldn't just tell all.
So even if there was a reason to tell Hope anything about Ben, Marlena had NO right to tell her that Ben had skipped a dose of his medication.
And then to add insult to injury, Hope deliberately let slip that Marlena had broken confidentiality to ensure that Ben didn't continue to get help from his therapist.
There is NOTHING entertaining about a cop abusing her power this way. She wants Ben to go off the deep end and hurt someone just so she can say she was right about him.
She's interfering with the mental health treatment that reduces the chances that he'll act out violently. There is an extremely short step between what she's doing and what Jordan's doing.
Everyone else was equally obnoxious when it came to Ben. Tripp told him to his face that he was a murderer and a liar who had probably hurt Ciara, while Chad tried to choke him and JJ was ready to illegally search his room.
This over-the-top nonsense isn't enjoyable to watch, and Eli seemed to be the only one who realized there's any reason that someone accused of a heinous crime should have any rights at all.
And why has no one figured out that Jordan's involved in any of this? Hope supposedly looked at security footage of the area that Jordan kidnapped Ciara from, and Jordan was in the house 30 seconds before Charlotte disappeared, talking about how scared she was that Ben would kidnap the baby.
I've never seen a more obvious suspect in my life, yet no one is doing anything but finding reasons to accuse Ben of kidnapping Ciara. If Ben had Ciara, why would he be sitting in a hotel room leaving one voicemail after another instead of guarding her or tormenting her?
This weird Stefan/Chloe set-up seemed almost as random.
First of all, a lot of problems could be avoided by Doug's Place locking their doors when people aren't supposed to be inside!
People are constantly walking into private parties there to cause trouble or coming in when the club isn't open, and now two goons randomly walked in when the place was closed after Stefan had already shown up while it was closed.
Anyway, Chloe was strong enough and smart enough to take care of Mateo herself back when she was kidnapped, but didn't do anything except cry and be a damsel in distress while a goon shook a knife at her, putting his hand in a perfect position for her to twist his wrist and force him to drop the weapon.
Stefan was able to disarm the goon of the knife, but once he'd knocked him out, forgot to take his gun so that the goon woke up and shot him.
Talk about contrived!
It is nice to see Stefan's softer side, though. When he's with Chloe he's not as sleazy or obnoxious as he is around other people, and he did risk his life to save hers.
Before he can be redeemed, he has to admit that what he did to Abigail was wrong. It can't just be swept under the rug because he did a good thing. But I'd rather see him with Chloe than lusting after the woman he raped if we have to see him at all.
I also thought Victor's refusal to let Chloe stay at the Kiriakis mansion was ridiculous.
First of all, Brady's not sixteen anymore, so it's well beyond time to worry about whether his friends are bad influences.
But more importantly, Chloe's son is Maggie's grandson and the son of Victor's godson. There's no way Victor wouldn't move heaven and Earth to protect Parker regardless of what he thinks of Parker's mother!
Eve: I'm so glad to see our two mayoral candidates bickering while a baby is missing and a woman was almost murdered. Tell me, Abe, considering that Chloe was attacked by a member of El Fiedo's drug cartel, do you think we need to do something about illegal immigration?
Abe: I think the two situations have nothing to do with one another.
Chloe's situation gave the writers a rare opportunity to comment intelligently on current events.
I found it hard to believe that Eve took the side of needing to curb illegal immigration because of violence, considering her late daughter was the product of Eve's affair with a Mexican immigrant who may or may not have been here legally!
But I loved Abe pointing out that illegal drug activity and undocumented worker issues were not part of the same problem.
My biggest complaint about this, though, is that it is not the Mayor's job to ensure missing children are found quickly or that drug lords who are issuing threats are caught.
Mayors are not part of the police force, and Trask's threat to Eli that his "boss" would be out of a job on election day is nonsense because Eli's boss is Hope, not Abe.
And threats by a drug cartel kingpin would likely be handled by federal agencies. Plus, border security is a federal issue, so why would the mayor be held responsible for immigration laws?
The way I see it, family sticks together. And she threw you out on the street so that she can be Mayor.JJ
I also didn't think JJ had any reason to apologize to Haley. He was stating a well-reasoned opinion that a person who kicks her sister out of the house when said sister is suicidal is putting her career way above her family!
Haley had no reason to be offended by that opinion and her constant need to sacrifice everything, including her life, for coldhearted Melinda's career is irritating. Plus her claim that Melinda is a loving person that only wants to be mayor to help people is completely delusional!
This would be an acceptable story if it were about the cultural differences between Haley, who was born and raised in China, and JJ, who is an American from an upper class family. But that's not what this is about at all.
If it was, the story would be written differently since Chinese culture places a high emphasis on harmonious family relationships, which seems to be a more important value to JJ than to either Haley or Melinda.
Anyway, after JJ apologized despite doing nothing wrong, he got interrupted by the news that his niece had been kidnapped before he could tell Haley that he confided in Jack about her situation.
Ordinarily, Jack would be trustworthy, since the real, fully-aware-of-himself Jack was a principled journalist who understood the need for confidentiality as well as cared deeply about his son. But as things are, this is surely going to backfire, especially with Eve involved.
And there was absolutely no reason for Haley and JJ to kiss when she was hugging him and comforting him as a friend. This happens way too much in Salem -- for some reason the writers think sex is the only response to feeling sad -- and it never works out well.
It also would have been nice if anyone had bothered to tell JJ his niece was missing before the news got ahold of it. Abby wondered who she forgot to call while she was talking to Jen and it was obvious who.
JJ was left out til the last minute, as usual, and it was only because he was distracted by Haley's problems that he hadn't read about it in the newspaper before Jen got around to calling him!
Finally, there was some more nonsense on the Rex/Sarah/Eric front.
Sarah and Rex reconciled and had sex in Eric's apartment, leaving Eric feeling jealous while nobody realized that was what his problem was.
The Rex/Sarah scenes were more confusing than anything else. Sarah told Rex she wanted to take things slow, then when he agreed to take her home suddenly decided they needed to have sex.
And if that wasn't senseless enough, it looked like she was interested in doing it in the living room, but settled for leaving her clothes all over the floor before going into the bedroom, just so Eric could find them.
And if THAT wasn't inconsiderate enough, she came out into the living room wearing nothing but her underwear. Who does that when they know they have a roommate who could come home at any time? Hasn't she ever heard of wearing a bathrobe?
Leaving all that aside, how is it possible for Rex to be this oblivious?
Sarah's smile when Eric said he forgave her was ten times as big as any smile she's given Rex about seeing him since they reconciled, and Eric gets this brooding, angry look in his eye every time Rex and Sarah are together.
Yet Rex can't figure out what's eating Eric. And this was a guy who as a teenager was depicted as a genius.
Over to you, DAYS fanatics. What were your best and worst storylines of the week of 2-4-19?
Weigh in below, and don't forget to check back on Sunday for our Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion!
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.