Love, betrayal, and heartbreak are soap staples.
When done well, one partner discovering the other's infidelity can be heartbreaking for everyone involved -- especially the viewers. This vicarious emotional roller coaster is what we watch soaps for.
On Days of Our Lives during the week of 7-29-19, Jack's shock at Eve's ultimate betrayal of him was riveting even though their relationship was torturous to watch, while Rex and Sarah's breakup was so long overdue it felt meaningless.
And while hearts were being broken all over town, "Nicole" and Gabi battled for the CEO position at Dimera Enterprises after they both married into the family for the sole purpose of getting the job.
This story has been ridiculous all along, but it took several more detours into the land of completely unbelievable nonsense.
The latest twists were based on a silly premise. Dimera Enterprises is set up so that only a member of the family can sit in the CEO position. Fine. Then why does Mr. Shin have so much power?
Shin seemed to have the sole authority over hiring and firing the CEO. If Stefano valued family so much that he wrote into the company's bylaws that the CEO must be a Dimera, surely he would also want the chairman of the board to be a Dimera too.
Shin's ability to choose the CEO cedes the company's power to a non-Dimera. That defeats the purpose of requiring the company to be run by a Dimera to preserve the family's legacy!
Also, firing Stefan when there appeared to be no eligible people to replace him as CEO makes no sense, and marrying into the family five seconds ago should not make anyone eligible for the position.
That's just asking for trouble, and not just from golddiggers -- some crazy person could force one of the Dimera heirs to marry him or her so that they can seize the reins of the company.
And that's not far off from what happened, either. Tony had no interest in marrying Kristen, but she manipulated him into it, and Gabi used Stefan's feelings for her to manipulate him into marrying her.
Shin should have barred both these women from the CEO position, especially since both of these marriages came out of nowhere.
Instead, Shin was not impacted by the fact that "Nicole" had been fired from Dimera Enterprises several days prior for not doing her job. Nor was he concerned about the loud, violent tantrum she threw when she didn't get the CEO position. Instead, he warned Gabi that if she tried to fire "Nicole", she would get fired too!
Shin is the one who should be fired. Decisions like that only help drive Dimera Enterprises into the ground.
The best part of this utterly ridiculous story is Thaao Penghlis' return. Whether he's playing Tony, Andre, or Andre masquerading as Tony, Penghlis always brings a sense of fun and energy to Days of Our Lives.
It doesn't make much sense for Tony to agree to marry Kristen when he is in love with Anna and has no interest in his crazy stepsister, especially if she's masquerading as one of Tony's enemies to try to get the man she really loves into her bed!
But Penghlis sells this story and then some. Tony's sarcastic jokes at "Nicole's" expense were pure fun and he definitely has her number.
Kristen: I'm doing this for you too, you know. Once you have your money and power back, you can get Anna back.
Tony: Kristen, this is me you're talking to. Tony. Your brother. I know you well enough to know that Kristen only does what's good for Kristen.
The question is: what is Tony really up to? He knows this plan is doomed to failure and he wants to be with Anna, not Kristen. So why go along with it at all? Does he want to watch Kristen crash and burn ... or is he going to help that happen?
And will he turn out to be Andre again in the end, as happens 95% of the time when Tony makes an appearance?
One of the worst parts of this silly storyline was Eric's reaction to learning that Brady had witnessed "Nicole" and Tony's wedding.
Eric's attitude was obnoxious! "Nicole's" behavior has been erratic thanks to Kristen disguising herself as Nicole, but that doesn't give Eric the right to insist she's incapable of making her own decisions.
And it certainly doesn't give him the right to beat up Brady!
Eric's latest grudge against Brady was especially stupid considering that Eric had supposedly just come from a therapy session with a troubled kid.
The whole time he and Brady were fighting, I couldn't believe that THIS is how someone entrusted with helping young people make better decisions behaves. Days of Our Lives has got to stop with this stupid trope where every man loses his temper and beats up someone when he can't have the woman he wants.
Also, it was obvious the set was made out of cardboard when Eric shoved Brady. There is no way he would have thrown Brady through a glass door without either of them getting seriously injured!
I know that Days of Our Lives has budget problems, but come on!
Of course, all of that nonsense was a pretext to get Eric, Sarah, and Rex back to the Kiriakis mansion so that Rex's jealousy could grow until it exploded.
That's one of the serious problems I have with this show. Yes, soap operas often play fast and loose with reality, but that doesn't mean viewers need or want to watch characters jump from plot point to plot point.
The writers do this constantly. A big event like a fight often comes out of nowhere and doesn't lead to a story; it's just there for the sake of dragging the characters to where they need to be for the story the writers have in mind.
It didn't increase the conflict between Sarah and Rex since Rex was cool with Eric's hotheadedness disrupting his planned alone time with Sarah -- until she said Eric's name in bed.
It didn't do a whole lot to change anything in the Brady/"Nicole" storyline, either,.Other than an offhand comment from Tony about how "Nicole" was fawning over Brady when she was supposed to be in love with Tony, it changed nothing in that regard.
It just happened, and then all the players were in the right place for the next part of the Rex/Sarah/Eric/Xander story so we could get on with it.
That's lazy, plot-driven writing, and Days of Our Lives is supposed to be a character-driven show. Soap operas work when viewers connect with the characters and their emotional dilemmas. They fail when writers allow plot to dictate instead of writing stories that make sense.
And Days of Our Lives is doing the latter far too much lately.
That said, the scenes with Sonny/Will, Rex/Sarah, and Eric were fun, and I enjoyed seeing all these people get together as friends.
I came to thank you for ruining my marriage. Brother.Rex
After Eric left, things took a predictably downward turn, though.
I'm glad that Sarah's secret is finally out. Watching Sarah and Eric give each other puppy dog eyes while Rex pretended not to notice was tedious, to say the least.
But the conclusion of this story suffered from the same problem the rest of the story did: Sarah and Rex were not a rootable couple, and neither are Sarah and Eric.
This whole story boiled down to teenager-in-an-adult-body Sarah marrying Rex despite the big crush she had on his brother.
Eric did the honorable thing and ignored whatever feelings he had or thought he had for Sarah for Rex's sake, yet Rex was ready to blame him for Sarah's refusal to let go of her infatuation with Eric.
In a sense, Rex was right to be furious -- with Sarah. She had a one-sided, emotional affair with Eric, who continually rebuffed her advances, and married Rex because she couldn't have Eric.
But Rex kept his awareness that Sarah was more into his brother to himself for months. He asked Sarah why the hell she married him, but why did he marry HER when he wasn't convinced she was totally into him?
And yes, Rex cheated on Sarah twice, but that doesn't mean she gets to marry him while dreaming of Eric.
Nobody gets a pass in this mess, honestly. Not Sarah and her conflicted feelings, not Rex and his insistence on marrying a woman who isn't al that into him, and not Eric and his mopey behavior and violence every time he doesn't get his way with "Nicole".
But Eric was the most honorable of the three, insisting over and over that he did not want to act on his feelings and even considering leaving town so that he wouldn't interfere with Sarah and Rex's marriage. So for him to bear the brunt of Rex's anger now seems unfair, to say the least.
It's all a moot point anyway, because Sarah ran downstairs to try to find Rex and instead found a half-naked Xander. I'm hoping that Xander rescues Sarah from being stuck between these other two guys.
Xander, much like Tony, is one of those characters that elevates whatever scene he's in, and his desire to be a decent human being for Sarah's sake adds layers to his character. Let's hope there's more of these two and less of Sarah and this interminable triangle!
Across town, Eve's world crumpled as her latest plans blew up in her face, and it was wonderful to see!
I wasn't a fan of Eve manipulating Jack and couldn't wait for this story to end. And Eve's choice to smash the vials of serum that could restore Jack's memories was a cruel, selfish, vindictive move that makes her character close to unredeemable.
And yet, thanks to top-notch acting from both Matthew Ashford and Kassie de Paiva, it was impossible not to feel sorry for Eve. Jack was truly all she had and she'd convinced herself that the lies they'd built their relationship on were real.
THIS is soap drama at its finest: two strong actors depicting how a hurt, damaged, broken person can wreak havoc in her own life and the lives of those she claims to love.
That said, I hope that Xander double-crossed Eve and she smashed the fake vials instead of the real ones! Jack can't be permanently without his memories -- that breaks soap opera law -- and what better way for him to get them back but for Xander to present him with the real serum to get back in all of Salem's good graces?
Jack seemed to be more like his old self, too, at least until Jennifer hurt his feelings by suggesting his behavior while under Eve's influence was slimy.
Jennifer warned him she could be judgmental, but he wasn't prepared for that and didn't appreciate it. Hopefully, he will begin to make better decisions as Mayor now that he has broken away from Eve and eventually come to terms with how he behaved after Eve got his ear.
In any case, more of this story, please! Despite the unreality of Jack's resurrection and amnesia, it is far more interesting than Kristen masquerading as Nicole and everyone missing super obvious clues as to who she really is.
Finally, Hope began to question Ted's claims to have been kidnapped by Stefan.
Hope: I want to believe you, Ted. When you were missing I realized I really care about you.
Ted: And now?
Hope: I don't know. I wish I did.
Ted: You know what your problem is, Hope? You don't want to trust anyone. You are afraid if you did you might feel something again.
This story was a repeat of Hope investigating whether Aiden killed his wife, except in this case, her lawyer boyfriend turned out to have something to hide. It was silly that Ted hid a large amount of cash in a kitchen drawer under a bunch of towels -- use some of that money to purchase a safe, for goodness sake!
But Hope and Ted's conversation after she found the money was one of the more interesting recent Days of Our Lives moments.
Ted was rightly annoyed that his girlfriend pretended to be into him so she could investigate him, but his behavior was borderline abusive, especially when he suggested that because he gave Hope that necklace, she now had no right to question him.
And his refusal to tell her the truth made his decision to lie to protect her even more pointless because now she broke up with him.
He wasn't entirely wrong that Hope has trust issues, though, even if she was right to wonder why the hell he has thousands of dollars worth of cash in his towel drawer.
It's understandable that Hope has difficulty trusting. Bo has saved her from three different dangerous men who wanted to share her bed, and Rafe turned out to be a big disappointment, so why would she trust Ted?
This pattern of Hope falling into relationships with bad guys every time she dates someone not named Bo has to go, though. Bo is gone, and Hope should be a strong woman who learns from her mistakes, not an eternal damsel in distress.
What about you, Days Fanatics?
Do you think this pattern of Hope dating problem guys is getting old?
Are you enjoying the battle for Dimera Enterprises?
And did anyone else feel sorry for Eve even though what she did was hateful?
Weigh in below, and don't forget to check back on Sunday for our.Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion!
Days of Our Lives continues to air on NBC on weekday afternoons. Check your local listings for air times.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.