Although Days of Our Lives overuses the back from the dead trope, it's always good to see Vivian Alamain.
Vivian is equal parts classy and conscienceless, making her the perfect soap diva. Louise Sorel made this character her own, so recasting her when Sorel wasn't available was a risky move.
It's going to take time for viewers to get Louise Sorel's version of Vivian out of their heads, but Days of Our Lives gave Robin Strasser plenty of screen time during the week of 9-2-19, and she is doing an excellent job of filling Sorel's shoes.
Vivian's re-introduction scenes were fun. She was the same witty, self-centered character she'd always been, and her connection to Jack because of the warehouse brought up some interesting questions.
Hopefully, Days of Our Lives will delve into what the warehouse was like for everyone Rolf resurrected.
It sounded like the patients spent time together since Jack knew who Vivian was, but it's not clear exactly what happened -- were they treated like prisoners? When, exactly, did Vivian get her memory back? And why did Kristen and Rolf choose the people they chose to resurrect?
The Alamains have always been rivals to the Dimeras, so why resurrect Vivian? And Jack's resurrection was also random. Other than Kristen's previous friendship with Jen, there was no real reason for her to be interested in him, other than that it was necessary for the Jack/Jennifer plot.
More Vivian/Jack interactions might shed some light on this. Also, Days of Our Lives could replace some of the time-wasting flashbacks of recent events with new-to-viewers flashbacks of life in that warehouse.
Vivian didn't hesitate to put Eric in his place, either. For some reason, the writers find the mopey version of Eric that lashes out at everyone and everything to be entertaining, but he isn't. He's obnoxious, and Vivian provided a bit of meta-commentary on that.
Vivian: Any luck with the phone?
Vivian: Give it to me.
Vivian: Do you have to be so unpleasant? I'm grateful that you stepped in front of that gun and saved my life. Now I'm trying to return the favor.
Once Vivian returned to Salem, things got seriously weird.
Stefan had some enjoyable interactions with his mother, especially around the subject of Gabi and true love. And what in the world happened between Vivian and Ivan? Back in the day, he was her right-hand man and the two were an effective, if sometimes comically mismatched, team.
But why on Earth did Stefan give Vivian that gun? He had a plan for getting revenge on Kate that didn't involve Vivian shooting her and burying her in the park and warned his mother more than once to stay put until they were ready for Kate to know that Vivian was alive.
Was he secretly hoping that Vivian would finish what he started, or was he oblivious to how unlikely it was that she was going to listen to him and lay low?
Either way, what was up with Vivian calling the gun Belinda and fondling it? That was bizarre even for her, and in this day and age where gun violence is constantly in the news, it wasn't a good look for DAYS.
Of course, neither was Vivian claiming to have PTSD when she clearly doesn't. Days of Our Lives too often plays mental health issues for laughs, though Vivian can get a partial pass since she was trying to talk a gunman out of shooting her and Eric.
Things took a turn from weird to unbelievable when Vivian confronted Kate in the park. As Kate pointed out, this was a public place and thus not the best place for shooting people in broad daylight.
Yet somehow, Vivian was able to dig a grave, shoot Kate, and bury her without anyone being aware of what she was doing.
This was meant to be an homage to Vivian's infamous burying of an alive Carly Manning, but it came off as silly and unrealistic, especially when Vivian left and came back with a shovel that was apparently hidden just outside the park grounds.
Days of Our Lives' smaller budget limits their options for scenes like this, but there has to be a better option than this. It was too over-the-top to be believed, even if it is Vivian we're talking about here.
Across town, Julie fought for her life without realizing exactly how bad off she is.
So far, this seems like realistic, soapy drama. Doug's scenes by Julie's bedside were emotional, and the entire family is reeling from Julie's sudden life-threatening condition.
Kayla's reasons for not being able to put Julie on the transplant list are in line with reality, too. There's no hard-and-fast rule about age, but many hospitals do have age cutoffs for transplants.
Ciara has had some stand-out scenes throughout this too.
It seemed so wrong that she was dealing with Julie's heart attack mostly on her own. It was no one's fault. Hope's phone died and Doug isn't in the habit of keeping his turned on. But it was still painful to see one of the youngest members of the Horton clan facing her grandmother's mortality with little to no support from older family members.
This story also gave her and Ben something more substantial to do than declare their undying love for each other. This is the kind of crisis that can make or break relationships, and so far Ben is giving Ciara all the support she needs.
There was no need for Victor's interference, though. Yes, Ben is a former serial killer who killed people important to Ciara. But Ciara's elders constantly trying to protect her by eliminating Ben from her life is getting tedious, to say the least.
Brady's attempt to use a job offer to discourage the relationship was enough, too. The violence was unnecessary. Plus, while it's nice that Xander suddenly remembered that he wants to be a better man for Sarah's sake, she likely won't be happy that Xander participated in this plot at all.
And Ben was on his way to get food for all of Julie's family when Xander attacked him. Does Victor even know that Julie is in the hospital and that Ben saved her life?
This wasn't your first rodeo with either of these women. How could you not tell one mare from the other?Victor
Victor had one thing right, though: there was no reason for Brady to mistake Kristen for Nicole once they went to bed together.
Everyone keeps suggesting that Brady secretly is still in love with Kristen. The writing is on the wall that we're in for another round of Brady making stupid decisions to have sex.
Brady and Kristen were never a supercouple. Before he was SORASed, she dated his father and changed his diapers! And Kristen has no redeeming qualities at this point, either. She's just pure evil and obsessed with Brady.
So how about we don't go there this time?
Ciara putting Brady in his place was the best part of all of this. Brady is always yelling at Victor that if he doesn't accept Brady's latest "love of his life", he's never talking to him again. So why would he try to do the same thing to Ciara?
And Ciara's never shown any interest in joining Titan, either. She studied psychology for a while and then modeled for Bella Magazine. It was obvious that Brady had an ulterior motive in offering her a job. Thank goodness she saw through it!
Gabi is another one who is becoming more and more unredeemable by the second.
Her claim that she believed Julie was faking a heart attack doesn't absolve her in the slightest. She stood there for at least twenty minutes, gloating and telling Julie she hoped she died while Julie was gasping for breath. Plus, if Gabi believed Julie was faking, it was in her interest to call 911.
Tying up emergency services with fake emergencies is against the law and surely Julie would have got in trouble had Gabi called them for a non-existent heart attack.
.So it was win-win for her. Either she would save Julie's life, proving that Julie's attitude towards her is wrong, or she would get Julie in trouble while claiming the moral high ground.
Instead, she went on and on about how she wished she'd killed Julie when she got the chance, left her to die, and then claimed she would never deliberately hurt Julie and whined about how guilty she felt.
What BS! Gabi ran away and hid when Julie fell down the stairs, tried to smother her with a pillow after Julie recovered from the fall, and told a dying Julie that she wished she'd killed her ages ago. Maybe she didn't deliberately try to kill her this time, but at the very least she celebrated the fact that Julie was at her mercy and could die.
Lani is not exactly the most moral person in Salem, but this time she was right: Gabi is culpable in Julie's injuries. All that remains to be seen is whether Gabi gets sued or arrested for her part in Julie's heart failing.
Meanwhile, Eric managed to get the better of a bunch of goons who kept threatening him with guns so that he could rescue Nicole.
As usual, the goons were stupid. My favorite moment was when Eric knocked the gun out of the goon's hand at the farmhouse and the guy shouted that he would regret that -- while making no effort to re-arm himself.
I was thrilled to see this situation resolved without either guy having a gun handy. There were guns present throughout the week of 9-2-19, and with all the gun violence in the real world I'd rather it not be a constant on Days of Our Lives.
Eric and Nicole's reunion was a little too low-key after all of that, though. After disposing of the goon, Eric turned around to see Nicole, and while it was a romantic moment, it didn't feel like enough of a payoff after all that drama.
But at least there are no more people in Nicole masks running around. It seems that instead, Eric and Nicole will be dealing with Sarah's pregnancy.
Accidental pregnancy is a soap staple, but I wish it would be balanced out by some stable couples starting their families on purpose.
Of course, first there have to be stable couples other than Doug and Julie, who are well past childbearing age, and Ben and Ciara, who aren't ready yet. So tthat's a pipe dream right now.
Anyway, Sarah having morning sickness and realizing her period is late is better than finding out you're pregnant by fainting, as Lani did a couple of years ago, though it would be great if more women on Days of Our Lives both used birth control and were aware of having missed a period when they missed it.
So far, there's no who's-the-daddy story. The question is, will Xander take it upon himself to pretend the baby is his to win Sarah over and keep her from having a connection with Eric? That could be more interesting than the usual pregnancy story.
It also would be a strong PSA-type story if Sarah's birth control failed rather than her having forgotten to use it, and/or she and Eric agree to be co-parents without being together, but that may be expecting too much.
Most likely, Sarah will consider an abortion but change her mind at the last minute, leaving Eric torn between his duties as a father and his love for Nicole, as happens with every pregnancy storyline.
Your turn, Days of Our Lives Fanatics!
What do you think about Julie's heart attack, Eric and Nicole's reunion, and all other Salem happenings?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments, and don't forget to check back on Sunday for our Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion!
Days of Our Lives airs on NBC on weekday afternoons. Check your local listings for airtimes.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.