I hate blackmail stories. I know they're a soap staple, but most of the time the blackmailer is making an empty threat or giving in is worse than letting the truth come out and the chips fall where they may.
For once it didn't go that way. On Days of Our Lives during the week of 3-25-19, Sarah decided to tell Rex that she kissed Eric to put a stop to Brady's attempt to blackmail his brother.
The Rex/Sarah/Eric triangle is still far from compelling, but it was refreshing to see someone tell the truth instead of a secret coming out in the worst possible way!
It's hard to pinpoint the most disappointing aspect of this story. Sarah has been leading oblivious Rex on for weeks on end, while Rex has been roping Eric into schemes more suited to teenagers than people in their 30s.
But Brady brought this whole thing to a new low with his blackmail plot.
After Brady's scheme to force Nicole out of town came out, he swore he turned over a new leaf and realized his behavior was controlling and inappropriate.
So what exactly is he doing now?
Just like last time, Brady is stalking Eric to try to catch him doing something he shouldn't be. He's also harassing Sarah and trying to put ideas into Rex's head about Eric and Sarah every chance he gets.
His confrontation of Sarah was laughable, too. He approached her after she told Eric that Marlena was due to be released and Eric thanked her and told her to have a good day before walking off. Brady apparently found this innocuous conversation scandalous, since he kept threatening to tell Rex about it.
I kept wondering how THAT would have gone. Would Rex have finally woken up to Brady's anti-Eric agenda when Brady reported that Eric wished Sarah a good day?
Brady also hit a new low by trying to suggest Holly was unsafe at the Kiriakis mansion and that Eric should interfere with Chloe's decision to live there in order to fulfill Nicole's dying wish that Eric take care of Holly -- even though he helped Chloe get custody of Holly instead of Eric.
And if using the plight of a three-year-old to try to manipulate his brother wasn't bad enough, Brady's plan was to use his leverage to override Chloe's decisions about her own life and force her to live with him "for her own good."
Brady is nothing but a hypocrite, and the saddest part is that he doesn't see his own hypocrisy. He had no use for Leo and was thrilled that the former con artist turned out not to be his brother, yet engages in schemes that aren't any less sleazy.
And his idea of protecting someone he cares about is to play dirty in order to force her to do what he thinks she should do regardless of what she thinks is best.
All he's doing is proving that Chloe was right to turn him down in the first place, and Rex and Eric would also be smart to stay away from him.
As for Sarah and Rex, I'm glad that Sarah finally told the truth, but why would Rex want her to marry him?
Sarah made it clear that she believed her feelings for Eric were one sided. She also made it clear was that the reason she was willing to marry Rex was that Eric wasn't interested.
In other words, she's settling for Rex. He's her second choice, her consolation prize since the guy she really wants doesn't want her.
Who would want to be with someone who views them that way? Is Rex's self-esteem really that low?
For goodness sake, Tripp and Haley's fake marriage is more romantic than this couple!
Not that I'm a fan of that story. It's riddled with problems. But I'm just saying.
Regardless of it being part of Claire and Eve's inane plan to expose the marriage as fraudulent, it was cruel for Tripp and Haley to record the proposal video in front of Claire and JJ.
Okay, maybe Tripp is oblivious enough to think Claire is really on Haley's side, but he can't expect her to want to see him talk on camera about how hard he fell for Haley, propose to her, and kiss her.
And everyone in that room knows that JJ is heartbroken that Haley chose Tripp for her fake marriage partner. JJ's fake marriage turning into real romance proposal is ridiculous, but that's beside the point.
It's still rubbing salt in his wound to ask him to witness that on top of asking him to be the best man!
You’d sell your own mother to be Mayor, if you could remember her name.JJ
Claire was super obvious in her insistence that Tripp join her for a romantic dinner at the Salem Inn. I don't know how Tripp didn't see through that, other than that the writers like to make men stupid whenever it suits the plot.
JJ should have snapped into investigative mode more quickly after that happened instead of getting distracted by telling Haley what Ben did to Abby with a lighter like the one in Claire's jewelry box.
But either way, the only part of this plot that was worth watching was JJ's confrontation of Jack.
JJ is hurt and angry that Jack betrayed him, and it has to be doubly heartbreaking for the father he yearned for to come back to life... only to be the opposite of the man he loved.
Jack deserved every word that JJ said to him, and Eve had no business telling JJ not to talk to his father like that.
She is not his mother and considering their past, that was all sorts of creepy.
I am curious as to what Jack is going to do now, though. Somehow JJ's anger got through to him, at least for the moment.
But this has happened so many times before and Eve always manages to manipulate Jack into doing what she wants anyway. So I'm not holding my breath.
Claire's relationship with Eve is interesting because Eve seems to always use her as her surrogate Paige.
Paige was a straight shooter who never would have accepted or participated in these kinds of ridiculous schemes, yet there is this mother-daughter bond between Eve and Claire that makes me think she's replacing Paige with Claire now that Paige is gone.
I wish DAYS would explore that more fully instead of just using Claire and Eve to further this ridiculous plot, but I guess that's asking for too miuch depth from this show.
Anyway, Claire was reluctant to go along with this plan because she didn't want to blow things up between her and Tripp and now Jack doesn't want to go along with it either. So the question is, will Eve end up alone at the end of this?
It looks like things will fall apart for Claire soon anyway, with JJ realizing that Claire may have set the fatal fire and Jordan telling Rafe she only set the second blaze. I just hope they don't excuse Claire's behavior with the "mental illness made me do it" trope that DAYS is overly fond of lately.
It's not true that mental illness turns people into violent criminals -- people who suffer from it are more likely to become victims of violent crime than perpetrate it -- yet DAYS is constantly having characters snap and do violent, out of character things due to mental health issues.
JJ getting upset when he saw the lighter was a clearer, more realistic depiction of PTSD than anything that is supposed to be PTSD on this show. I'd even chalk up his lashing out at Ben to his reaction both to seeing the lighter and his argument with Jack.
But I suspect that was unintentional and the writers just needed him to lash out at Ben so that Ben could clue him in on Jordan not being the one who set the fire. That would also explain why he told Haley he had to get to work when he dropped in on Haley and Tripp in the first place right after finishing a shift.
It's too bad because JJ's issues with depression and his difficulties dealing with the violence he's experienced in his young life are realistic mental health issues that could be compelling stories if they were fleshed out instead of used to further other plots.
Jordan: I don't want to talk about Ben or the fire.
Rafe: Okay. What do you want to talk about then?
Jordan: The baby.
Rafe: What baby? You mean Charlotte? She's fine. She's with Chad and Abigail.
Jordan: No, not Charlotte. The other baby.
Rafe: The other baby? What other baby?
I'm not sure what's going on with Jordan, but I'm sure of one thing: Kayla should not have been called to Bayview to deal with it.
Kayla is not a psychiatrist, and I don't buy that a mental hospital would call a non-psychiatrist in to check for physiological causes of a mental health issue. Psychiatrists are MDs! They're capable of running those tests themselves.
Marlena should have been the one checking out Jordan, not Kayla. The only reason Kayla was in that role was so that she could tell Ben that his sister claimed not to set the fire.
And wasn't telling Ben anything at all a violation of Jordan's confidentiality, anyway?
I can't complain too much about that, though. Anything that gets Rafe out of Hope's orbit at least temporarily is a good thing.
Hope and Rafe are woefully mismatched. They do nothing but fight, cut each other down, and accuse each other of cheating.
There is nothing entertaining about their arguments and nothing to root for. The conflicts drag both characters down.
Hope has become a shell of her former self who no longer knows how to stand up for herself and Rafe has become overbearing and obnoxious.
And throwing Ted into the mix has done little to help this situation. Ted seems like a sleazier, less rootable version of Aiden for Hope to deny she has any feelings for.
Jennifer's reaction to Hope telling her that she kissed Ted and didn't tell Rafe about it didn't make sense, either. Jennifer has always been a goody two-shoes type of person. Hope may be her favorite cousin, but I couldn't believe Jennifer didn't come out strongly against her potentially cheating on her husband!
The Jen who confronted Ted a few minutes later was a lot more like it, but it would have been nice if she'd said some of that to Hope's face.
I'm on the fence about Abe's reaction to learning about Ted's past bad behavior, too.
Abe is another one who is strictly moral, and it bothers me that he didn't second-guess making Hope commissioner when he learned she was using her power to harass Ben and keep him from dating her daughter.
He's right that Hope had no business keeping Ted's past crimes secret when she recommended him as interim DA, but for Abe to only castigate Hope because she harmed his mayoral campaign makes him look self-serving, and that's not Abe's character.
Finally, the Will/Sonny/Leo storyline took a bizarre turn as Leo cursed Will... then disappeared from Salem.
When Leo first came back to Salem, I couldn't wait for him to leave, but now I'm disappointed!
The writers carefully crafted a compelling backstory for Leo. He endured years of homophobic taunting and physical abuse from his father while his mother did nothing to protect him.
There was some mystery surrounding his father's death, some proof in an envelope that Diana had hidden and John stole but didn't look at, and some questions about who Leo's father really was. Was it the abusive late Richard Cooper, John, or Ted? Diana had ties to all three men and it wasn't clear what the deal between her and Ted was.
And on top of these mysteries,Leo's pain provided a sympathetic motivation for his awful behavior. He became a different man around John. He was softer, more compassionate. He cared more about John and Marlena than about money or sex.
John: Calm down.
Leo: What do you care? You heard her. I’m not your son. So I’m not your problem anymore.
And Greg Rikaart did amazing work during the reveal that he was not John's son, too. Leo told Diana he was finished with her forever and rejected John's offer to be a surrogate father even though they weren't actually related, then left the police station heartbroken.
There was SO much story that could have come out of all of that! But instead, Leo tried one last scam before claiming to curse Will and storming out of the Kiriakis mansion, never to be seen again.
The evil eye nonsense was ridiculous, and Leo didn't even get a real ending to his time in Salem. He just vanished, while John told Marlena that Diana was now in jail.
It felt like the writers were building a story then suddenly changed their mind and rushed to end it.
I fully expected Leo to wreak havoc for the next six months before learning that Diana lied about John NOT being Leo's father. It also would have been fascinating to see him struggle with the question of what kind of man he wanted to be and possibly redeem himself thanks to John's influence.
And Leo inserting himself into hypocritical Brady's attempts to blackmail Eric and whatever else Brady gets up to would have been fun!
What were the writers thinking when they gave us this abrupt non-ending to Leo's story instead?
Over to you, DAYS Fanatics! Will you miss Leo? Are you rooting for Rafe and Hope? And what do you think is going to happen with Jack and Eve's latest plan?
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.