Times have gotten strange again in Salem.
Days of Our Lives during the week of 3-18-19 began with Marlena visiting purgatory and ended with John setting up Diana so he could catch her red-handed trying to destroy evidence!
In between, there was a ton of drama about Haley's immigration status, while El Fiedo made a move against Chloe that could have hurt a few bystanders.
Marlena's visit to the afterlife felt like it was part of a different show, making it hard to judge how successful it was.
Days has got in the habit of doing these standalone episodes highlighting a particular character or story every few months. Sometimes they're effective (JJ's suicide attempt, Aiden's return to Salem) and sometimes they're huge flops, like a Rafe/Hope episode that I barely remember the details of.
Usually, though, they move story forward in some significant way.
The Marlena afterlife episode was different in that it was more a tribute to Marlena and her history than anything else. The next day, we returned to Salem University Hospital and the third repeat of Kayla's failure to resuscitate Marlena.
The story went on from there as if the strange goings-on in the afterlife had never happened. Marlena told Eric that his sobriety and Brady's depended on them getting along, but other than that there was no reference to Marlena remembering any of her experience.
That made the whole thing seem somewhat irrelevant.
However, the scenes themselves were mostly entertaining. Thaao Phenglis did a fantastic job as both Tony and Andre, as always, and having Andre be the one in a Hawaiian shirt while Tony wore a suit and tie was a nice twist.
Whenever Tony is around, the chances are it's Andre in disguise, so I was expecting a switcheroo, but the way it was done still caught me off guard.
That urn looks familiar.Tony
The concept of Marlena watching life in Salem on a giant TV screen was funny -- apparently, the afterlife tunes in to Days of Our Lives -- and so was Tony's dry comment that the urn looked familiar. Finally, some payoff for having to sit through Anna lugging that thing all over town!
Princess Gina seemed out of place, though. There didn't seem to be any reason for her to be there. Why not let Andre play the devil's advocate who tried to convince Marlena not to return to the land of the living?
Tony and Andre are natural rivals, and Thaao Phenglis does both roles extraordinarily well, so this was a bit of a wasted opportunity.
I also wasn't thrilled with the alternate timelines Marlena viewed. Except for the Claire/Belle interactions, these were more campy spoofs of current storylines than anything believable. And there's more than enough of this obnoxious Eric/Brady rivalry in the real storyline without the exaggerated version Tony showed Marlena.
I also found it irritating that Marlena got an entire episode devoted to what life would be like if she weren't around when she wasn't remotely suicidal.
JJ WAS suicidal on Christmas Eve 2016, which would have made some a takeoff of It's a Wonderful Life perfect for his story, while Marlena receiving it seemed random and gratuitous.
In any event, the Marlena-centered episode was a tribute to Marlena that fans of this iconic character loved and non-Marlena fans might have been bored or irritated. Maybe it was good that it was such a standalone episode -- viewers who don't like Marlena could skip it without missing any important plot points.
Once that fantasy sequence was over, Days of Our Lives returned to business as usual. Marlena woke up, and she and John worked on proving Diana had been the one to poison Marlena.
Marlena waking up in John's arms and John being so grateful she was alive would have been compelling if it hadn't happened less than a year earlier.
It was so similar to the last time Marlena nearly died in August 2018 that it felt like a rerun, cheapening the emotion despite the strong acting from Drake Hogysten and Deidre Hall.
The best part of all of this was John and Marlena's plan to trap Diana. I thought the cops were being stupid as usual when Eli made sure to tell Lani in front of Diana to put the IV bag in Hope's safe.
I didn't expect John to be waiting for Diana in Hope's office. It's not often that Days of Our Lives surprises me, but this one completely got me. Well done!
I'm not sure what to make out of Leo. He's still an irritating villain 95% of the time, and I tend to agree with the Will of the alternate future that Leo gives gay men a bad name with his constant devious schemes and trying to get guys who aren't interested to have sex with him.
But I appreciate the effort to humanize Leo. He's allowed himself to show a softer, more vulnerable side with John and it's obvious a lot of his problems come from having been raised by an abusive, homophobic father and a mother who couldn't or wouldn't protect him.
Underneath it all, Leo wants badly to be a part of John's family. He reminded me of Eve the way she was originally written when she was a scheming teen who just wanted a family and was jealous of Jennifer because she had one.
Anyway, I agreed with Brady that Leo should stop trying to steal and scheme his way into the family fortune, but then Brady went too far, as usual.
Suggesting Leo go back to escorting was low. Slut shaming isn't any cooler when guys do it to other guys than when they do it to women, and Brady said that to hurt and demean Leo.
Plus, Leo was right: unless and until that DNA test is proven false, he is John's son, and Brady can't order him to stay away from his father no matter how much he hates Leo.
Leo: I'm going to tell our father.
Brady: Please don't. He might take away my allowance or ground me.
I'm curious as to what Leo wants to say to John and if he will ever get to say it. With John confronting Diana, some inconvenient truths may soon come out. Could one of them be that she changed the DNA test results to support a lie about Leo's parentage?
Brady is less obnoxious in this context than when sticking his nose in Rex and Sarah's relationship, though.
This annoying love triangle has dragged on for weeks with no end in sight. I don't care if Sarah ends up with Rex, Eric, or the man in the moon. I wish she'd pick one and get it over with!
The Rex/Sarah/Eric triangle was never compelling in the first place, since Rex had cheated on Sarah offscreen before the two of them came to town to get married.
Ever since, Sarah has acted like a particularly moody teenager while Rex alternately stalked her and acted oblivious to her lack of interest in him and her total interest in Eric.
Brady inserting himself into their business doesn't help that.
At this point, the story is as predictable as it is irritating. Eric and Brady keep having the same conversation over and over about how Brady can't tell Rex that Sarah kissed Eric. It virtually guarantees that one of these days, Rex will walk in just in time to overhear this.
We've already had two red herrings where Rex walked in at the right time but somehow didn't manage to hear what was being said!
And Eric should know better. Sneaking around with Nicole didn't work out so well, and he recently castigated Jennifer for keeping the knowledge that Nicole only left because Brady blackmailed her to herself.
There is no reason for him to think this secret will stay between him and Sarah or that keeping it to himself won't blow up in his face. None whatsoever.
The other huge story during the week of 3-18-19, of course, is Haley's immigration status story.
I appreciate what the writers are trying to do here. I've wanted DAYS to get back to its roots and do a topical story for a while. But this is not the way to do it!
Oh my God! Haley Haley Haley! That's all you talk about. It's like you're obsessed with her or something.Claire
If DAYS wanted to do the immigration law debate justice, we should have seen Haley's hearing.
A hearing where Justin argues for Haley to be allowed to stay based on her community ties while opposing counsel argues the letter of the law would have made the point far better than this silly marriage story.
Instead, Haley lost her case off-screen and was given 30 days to get out of the country. She was allowed to wander around freely until that time, which seemed unrealistic, and JJ immediately suggested they get married to keep her in the country and then work on their relationship.
This plan seemed doomed to failure. Getting married AFTER being told to leave the United States makes it obvious it's a sham marriage. Haley was smart enough to see that and then decided to marry Tripp instead.
Tripp was hiding Haley in his loft and tried to stop the cops from searching for her, plus he already has a girlfriend who everyone knows he is dating.
If anything, this is an even worse idea than Haley marrying JJ!
Tripp claimed it was a better idea because he's not Jack's son -- only his nephew who has no relationship with him. But Jack already came there once to gloat about Haley getting arrested, so what stops him from going after Tripp and Haley's very fake marriage now?
Claire is probably going to go straight to Eve with this news and put a stop to the marriage. I wish she would have just told Tripp she wasn't comfortable with this and broken up with him, but I guess that would make her too strong a woman for this show.
Tripp is bending over backward for Haley. He is asking Claire to keep it secret that he is still with her and not in love with Haley and building a very tangled web of lies to keep this ruse going. He even told Claire they would only be together in secret and in public, he's married to someone else.
What woman in her right mind would put up with this?
For the life of me, I can't figure out where the writers are going with this.
I was sure we were in for some stupid Tripp/JJ rivalry, but JJ said Tripp was a great guy, so maybe for once we won't go to guys being jealous and getting into fistfights with family members over a woman.
Meanwhile, Tripp is oblivious to Claire's lies, and it's only a matter of time before they all catch up with her -- and then what? Will he run straight into his married-in-name-only wife's arms for comfort while JJ is busy trying to woo Haley back?
Finally, Ciara and Ben are back together... I think.
I had to laugh at the whole shooting through the window scenario. Stefan has said at least half a million times that his mansion is a fortress! But apparently, the bad guys can just walk onto the grounds and start shooting through the window.
I hate to say it, but this proves Brady's point. Chloe is not safe at Stefan's with security like that!
As for Ben, his idea that being the only security guard who did anything to protect anyone is proof Ciara should stay away from him makes even less sense than the rest of his reason for this breakup.
Ciara seemed to talk him out of that for the moment, but how long is that going to last? I hate when couples get into this together/not-together loop. It's not entertaining and makes them look ill-suited for each other.
What did you think, DAYS Fanatics?
DId you love, hate, or not care at all about the Marlena afterlife episode? Does this immigration story make sense to anybody? And were you surprised Diana fell into John's trap?
Weigh in below, and don't forget to check back on Sunday for the Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion.
Days of Our Lives continues to air weekdays on NBC. Check your local listings for airtimes.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.