It's only a week out from Christmas, but you would barely realize it from watching Days of Our Lives during the week of 12-16-19.
Other than a few people taking their drama to the cafe in between shopping sprees and one measly gift exchange, it was business as usual in Salem... and boy, was it crazy.
The writers' current obsession with doppelgangers hit a new level of absurdity once Stefano/Steve got kicked out of the loft and insisted on moving in with Kate.
This storyline was ridiculous to begin with, but not unprecedented.
Days of Our Lives has had its share of brainwashed people thinking they are someone else in the past, and Kayla fighting to get a brainwashed Steve to remember who he really is could be a compelling story.
Of course, we just had eight months of Jack and Jennifer going through the same thing, and recasting Stephen Nichols as Stefano, even temporarily, seems like an insult to Joe Mascolo's memory.
And Kayla should be more suspicious of Steve's disappearance and acceptance of divorce papers, since that's exactly what happened to Hope when Bo was held captive for three years after disappearing during an ISA mission.
But still, brainwashing is a tried-and-true, if overdone, method of temporarily tearing a super couple apart. So even though the story was silly, it was acceptable.
But this latest plot twist is so campy it is hard to take.
The idea of Kate hiding Stefano in her room above the Brady Pub was utterly stupid.
Roman runs the Pub and likely lives above it too, so there was no way he wasn't going to find out about this. And sure enough, he knocked on Kate's door when she didn't show up for work, leading to all sorts of sitcom-like nonsense.
The whole thing is being played for laughs, but the stuff with Stefano wanting to have sex with an unwilling Kate was not funny.
This is ar from the first time Days of Our Lives has treated sexual assault as a joke in recent years, and it's not a good look.
Kate woke up to find Stefano in her bed without permission and his response was to continue touching her, flirting with her, and trying to get her to have sex with him.
That's simply not acceptable, and it's doubly unacceptable coming from the same show that was the first to declare that a married woman has the right to refuse sex with her husband back in 1989.
Cut it out, Days of Our Lives. There are enough problems with sexual harassment and sexual assault in the United States without a popular show turning a woman's lack of consent into a joke.
That took this whole story from irritating to offensive, especially when Stefano followed it up with making fun of Kate's past as a prostitute.
Nothing like a little slut-shaming in the afternoon, I guess, but I was glad Kate threw his shoe at him and tried to throw him out. Too bad he didn't leave.
It's equally annoying that right now two doppelgangers are running around town and nobody is the wiser.
Marlena: Should I put my hands up too?
John: Close your eyes til I get this gift wrapped. Okay, you can open them now. Sorry to go all ISA on you, but I wanted your gift to be perfect.
Marlena: Actually, I kind of liked it. Besides, you got me the best gift imaginable. You got Hope to leave and we finally have the house to ourselves.
Marlena keeps saying that Hope isn't acting like herself and was shocked that Hope came onto John and thought he returned her feelings.
She and John should think for a second.
When Marlena was acting weird and attempting to get with Roman instead of John, it turned out she was really Hattie, so how hard is it to figure out that Hope is not Hope?
In fact, with all the doppelgangers that mess up the lives of the people they're trying to pretend, EVERYONE should immediately assume people aren't who they claim to be when they act weird.
Despite the campiness and the over-reliance on doppelgangers, though, Days of Our Lives isn't all bad.
Surprisingly, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the post-time-jump show is the friendship between Lani and Kristen.
I've never had much use for either of these characters, but together they're a lot of fun.
When they were in the convent, Kristen being the voice of reason was weird.
And normally, viewers don't root for the person seeking revenge. That's usually a bad guy/girl thing to do.
But in this case, Gabi needs to be taken down a peg or 10, and Kristen is the right woman for the job.
Plus, she makes Lani a more interesting character.
While everyone else makes excuses for all of Lani's flaws (yes, I'm looking at you, Abigail!), Kristen doesn't see her as a victim. Instead, she pushes her to stop acting like one and go after what she wants.
And while Lani ranges from blah to annoying in all her romantic relationships, there are real sparks in her friendship with Kristen, so much so that I wouldn't mind if they became more than friends.
Kristen is a nun? What order is it, the Order of Homicidal Nymphos?Abigail
Seriously, thought, what was with Abigail's defense of Lani?
If she somehow knows the whole truth, I can see her defending Lani's dumping Eli, though Lani had about a billion other things she could have done instead to get out from under Gabi's thumb.
But Lani's pretending her baby was JJ's was indefensible. Lani was not protecting JJ. She was being selfish and using JJ's mental health issues as an excuse.
At least she didn't defend Lani's taking advantage of a drunk JJ at the beginning of their relationship, but sheesh.
Abby was right to question what Eli saw in Gabi, though.
Eli got a glimpse of Gabi's true nature when she so selfishly demanded how he could put JJ's well-being ahead of getting Kristen to sell Gabi her shares of Dimera stock.
It's beyond me how this can be the same woman who saved JJ's life during his suicide attempt. The Gabi who is on our screens nowadays would have left JJ to die if it meant she could gain money or power.
After Gabi went off on Eli that way, he should have been questioning whether she's the woman he thinks she is, but that doesn't seem to have happened.
And Kristen and Abby being on the same page about Gabi should be a huge red flag, too. How often do those two agree about anything?
The discovery that Eve didn't push Jennifer off that balcony turned out to be disappointing.
Predictably, the forensics guy didn't reveal the truth, instead re-doctoring the video to replace Gina with Rolf instead of with Eve.
Unfortunately, that means we're stuck with Gina, because Rafe can't see through her weird behavior and attempts to throw him off the trail any more than Marlena can figure out that Hope is not acting like herself for a reason.
At least Rafe found that tiara, but ten-to-one someone in the crime lab messed with the forensics too so that nobody will realize that Gina/Hope's fingerprints are on the jewels.
And what was with that random fight between Kate and Gina?
Kate got in some good one-liners, but the whole thing was pointless, and now both Kate and Gina will have to come up with a non-explanation that Rafe will probably buy without question.
At least Roman made it clear that he doesn't believe Kate's BS when she tried to keep him from finding out Stefano was in her room.
Roman often comes off more like a country bumpkin than the smart ex-commissioner of police, but this time he was on the ball, even if he did let Kate off the hook too easily.
However, Kate is not an asset to his business. She irritates customers by putting her nose in their business, scares away other waitresses, and now skipped work for no real reason. Only in Salem can someone who causes a business this many problems keep her job.
Jack and Jennifer had some nice romantic moments now that Jennifer is home from the hospital.
They continue to demonstrate why they are such a beloved supercouple with their declarations of love, romantic interactions, and refusal to let anything tear them apart again.
I think they are too blase about their concerns about JJ, though.
Jack should have been trying to balance taking care of Jen and taking care of his son throughout the whole year that Jennifer was in a coma, and now he just accepts that JJ is never around and is always "working."
JJ's suicide attempt was Christmas Eve 2018, so Jennifer and Jack should both be doing more than occasionally expressing concern that JJ is refusing to take their calls, has disappeared, and seems lost in grief almost two years to the day since he last tried to take his own life.
Usually, it irritates me that characters can't keep their mouths shut, but I was glad Eli told Abigail that he knew where JJ was.
JJ can't disappear forever without anyone noticing or trying to track him down, and the last thing he needs is Jennifer asking Abe, Rafe or "Hope" to find him because she fears the worst.
As usual, JJ himself got very little air time, but Casey Moss again did great work with the material he'd been given.
He sold JJ's shaking, sweats, and semi-seizures as he went through withdrawal from whatever generic "drugs" he was supposed to be addicted to.
It was great to see Julie taking care of him, too. Julie and Doug are the only characters who consistently treat JJ like a valued member of the Horton family, and this was no exception.
But he needs medical care, not just compassion.
It made no sense for Julie to look for Marlena when JJ began shaking and sweating.
Yes, he needs psychiatric care to keep him off a self-destructive path, but that's beside the point. It can be dangerous to go cold turkey off certain drugs, which is why patients need to detox under the care of a doctor.
Plus, a hospital is not a hotel. JJ didn't get into a hospital room just because Julie and Eli said so. Some doctor had to be involved with admitting him and should be monitoring him.
It would have caused extra drama if it was Kayla, who is close to Jennifer but bound by law to keep JJ's condition confidential. But instead, all JJ got was Haley's ghost wiping down his brow.
The jailhouse drama would be much stronger if what was going on was even slightly close to realistic.
Will asking Sonny for a divorce was the only part of this that made sense because that's a realistic conflict.
Inmates are often sent to jails and prisons that are hours away from their loved ones and are given limited visits, making relationships difficult.
Visiting an inmate can be traumatic for loved ones, too, especially children -- so a story in which Will and Sonny had reluctantly agreed that it would be best for Ari not to visit anymore would have been powerful.
But instead, the jail experience on Days of Our Lives isn't all that bad. Inmates get unlimited visits and you don't even have to have a visitor to wander into the visiting room.
Will and Ben were able to stay up all night in their cell talking without the guard objecting and can speak freely about plans that are meant to stay secret without fear of being overheard.
The only problem they've had is Clyde, and that's mostly because he's paid off the guards to look the other way.
It's all unrealistic, stereotypical, and silly, but at least Will is friends now with the guy who once tried to kill him.
As for the other half of this story, Ciara isn't too smart in how she's handling any of this.
The idea of her going undercover to trap Victor is more exciting than the reality. Both Victor and Xander are already onto her and it's only a matter of time before this all blows up in her face.
Justin: If you're done chastising me, I'm going to go meet Kayla at the Pub for dinner now.
Victor: Yes, wouldn't want to be late to meet with Steve's leftovers.
Justin: Don't talk about Kayla that way!
Victor: If you hadn't decided to move out, I would have kicked you out of the house for that.
Justin: Well, I'm sorry to have ruined your fun!
Justin standing up to Victor was fun, though.
I don't like Justin and Kayla as a couple and hope Steve breaks free of his Stefano programming sooner rather than later. But I loved Justin putting Victor in his place about his ugly opinion of the pairing.
Your turn, Days of Our Lives fanatics.
Are you disappointed with the lead-in to Christmas this year?
Are you sick of doppelgangers, or are you enjoying any of this Hope/Gina and Stefano/Steve story?
And how soon do you expect Will to get out of jail now that he's set Sonny free to be with Evan?
Hit SHOW COMMENTS and share your thoughts.
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 airtimes.
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.