Seriously ill children are soap opera gold.
When done right, they can be painful, realistic stories in which parents have to make heartbreaking decisions and choose the best out of bad options.
But little Mickey's cancer on Days of Our Lives during the week of 12-9-19 isn't realistic enough to be captivating -- and now most of the players are off-screen.
To a certain extent, viewers have to expect unreality on Days of Our Lives.
DNA tests get switched regularly, doctors are experts on every type of disease known to man, and people get surgery that allows them to look and sound exactly like other people.
But this sick baby story goes beyond that. It would be one thing if baby Mickey had been displaying symptoms for weeks that everyone thought were just a cold or some other minor illness -- only for it to turn out to be brain cancer.
Instead, Mickey had a fever, and the hospital randomly decided to run a test that showed she had brain cancer. I couldn't help wondering why Sarah's insurance company approved this test when there was no apparent reason to run it.
And to add insult to injury, the cancer is aggressive and has already metastasized... but Mickey has no symptoms whatsoever.
The whole thing screams of being a plot point and nothing else.
Which is what it is--and a cruel one, to boot.
Sarah: I need to devote myself to Mickey. I cannot mediate between you and Eric.
Xander: Fine. I'll stay here. But if anything she needs isn't covered by insurance, it's on me, eh?
Sarah: That's not necessary.
Xander: She has cancer. I CAN'T SIT HERE AND DO NOTHING!!!
Mickey's cancer diagnosis allowed Eric to leave Xander out in the cold while the doctors examined Mickey and gave him an excuse to berate Nicole some more.
Sarah and Eric both keep insisting that keeping Xander--one of Mickey's primary caretakers for the past six months--away from their seriously ill child was in Mickey's best interest.
Hogwash. What is in Mickey's best interest is for Sarah to grow a backbone and tell Eric that he'd better put his animosity aside and that the last thing a very sick baby needs is to lose the only father she's ever known.
Maggie was the only one who seemed to have any understanding or compassion in this whole thing. Sarah should have taken her words about the original Mickey not being Sarah's biological father to heart.
Instead, Sarah gave Xander a ton of reasons why he shouldn't go to Boston to support the baby's recovery that sounded purely selfish.
She didn't want to deal with Eric's anger. She felt it was easier for her if Xander stayed home.
The only thing that was remotely unselfish was not wanting Xander to leave a job he loved for the baby's sake -- but that's what parents do when there's no other choice, and Xander is one of Mickey's parents regardless of biology.
Ultimately, Xander backed off, making him a much better man than cruel, controlling Eric who lashes out at everyone in sight and is keeping Xander from the child just to even the score.
I can't believe Eric used to be a priest with that attitude.
Eric: There is nothing you can do. There is nothing we can do except pray.
Nicole: I've been praying every day.
Eric: Since when do you pray?
Nicole: Since I was a lost soul in the church rectory and a kind priest taught me that I was worthy of love and forgiveness.
Eric's treatment of Nicole wasn't much better. According to him, she's an evil, selfish woman who has lied to him for 20 years and who he doubts ever prays at all.
Nicole should be glad he's gone. She deserves better, a lot better.
I'm glad she finally pointed out that Eric killed Daniel--but then she immediately apologized for daring to utter those words.
Eric and Nicole once could have been a super couple, but at this point there's no love lost there at all.
Eric's behavior is abusive, and Nicole's is pathetic. She should not be begging him for forgiveness, and she certainly should not be equating not telling someone else's secret to him driving drunk and killing her fiance.
None of this makes most viewers root for Eric and Nicole. It just makes us root for Eric to stay off our screens for a long time so that we don't have to sit through any more of this.
One couple that does love each other is Ben and Ciara, but can we cool it with the conversation about whether Ciara should investigate Xander, please?
It's the same thing over and over. Ben constantly tells Ciara it's too dangerous for her to look into who killed Jordan, while Ciara says she can't let Ben be executed for someone else's crime.
It's beyond time to move past this into the next phase of this story.
It would be interesting if Ciara developed feelings for Xander while investigating him. It's not unprecedented--she had a huge crush on Chad a couple of years ago, after all.
And she does have a thing for reformed bad boys.
Love triangles are overused on Days of Our Lives, but a Ben/Ciara/Xander triangle would be one of the more interesting ones.
It doesn't look like it's going that way, though. Instead, Ciara got caught being incredibly stupid.
That replacement lockbox wasn't even the same color as the one Xander already had, and if Ciara was going to replace the lockbox, she should have thought to replace Xander's key.
Now Xander is onto Ciara, and it might be hard for her to talk her way out of this one. It made for an exciting cliffhanger, but Ciara's stupidity here makes my brain hurt.
The best news is that the jig looks like it's up for Gina.
Someone should have seen through her before this. Gina acts nothing like Hope, and more than one person has commented that "Hope" doesn't seem like herself.
Considering the epidemic of doppelgangers in Salem over the past two years and that Hope's weird behavior started less than a month after Kristen was caught masquerading as Nicole, checking whether there was a fake Hope in play should have been everyone's first thought.
But in any case, Gina will hopefully be caught soon so that this silly storyline can come to an end.
It's unfortunate that Rafe is the one who is most onto her, though.
Rafe and Hope make a terrible couple, and few viewers want to see Rafe "rescue" Hope again so that they can try for a third time to be together without tearing each other into pieces.
Of course, if the Dimera forensics expert is for real and not replacing doctored footage of Eve with doctored footage of someone else, Gina will have bigger problems than Rafe's suspicions.
Hopefully, that footage did show Gina pushing Jennifer off the balcony. This story has dragged on long enough, but I don't trust the DAYS writers not to put yet another twist in it to keep it going.
Jennifer's homecoming was the kind of romantic scene that Days of Our Lives has been lacking all too often.
Jack's surprises for her were equal parts goofy and sweet, and he was determined to make up for lost time with her. And whose heart didn't melt at the dance they shared in their living room?
Jen: Oh my gosh, a wedding cake.
Jack: It doesn't compare to Alice's donuts but it was baked with love.
Jen: You baked something?
Jack: It was bought with love.
Jack seems altogether too unconcerned about JJ's state of mind, though. Jennifer is already worried, and Jack mentioned in passing that he hoped he wasn't suicidal, but doesn't seem any too rattled by any of it.
Speaking of which, thank goodness that JJ didn't go through with shooting Kristen.
It's still out of character and unbelievable that he would. Even at his worst, JJ always took his anger out on objects, not people, not counting the time he accidentally knocked Jennifer over.
For him to lose his mind like this over Haley and be fine after his sister's boyfriend killed Paige continues to be nonsensical, too.
In any case, I'd love to see Eli and Lani's talking JJ down to lead to JJ being given a choice between going to rehab and going to jail, but that's not likely to happen.
His whole attack on Kristen was orchestrated for the sole purpose of getting Kristen and Lani to decide to come back to Salem and fight for their men after all.
Most likely, JJ's theft of Eli's gun and near-murder of Kristen will be entirely forgotten about, as is par for the course in Salem.
I'd be surprised if JJ even feels any guilt about any of it even though his personality is hardwired to feel guilty about everything he's ever done.
Kristen and Lani's return should be fun, though, especially Kristen's.
Is she going to be full-on evil, or has her time with the nuns softened her permanently?
Plus, Gabi is small potatoes compared to Kristen, and Kristen putting her in her place would be delightful.
High or not, JJ had a point when it came to how useless Eli is as a cop/security guard.
Eli has no clue that Gabi is playing him and did not come close to doing what he was supposed to do when he went to Rome.
Of course, it would have been nice if the full truth had come out. Lani isn't any smarter than Eli if she continues to keep Gabi's threats secret. She is supposed to be a cop, yet has no idea how to deal with the weakest of blackmail threats.
She was so scared of Kristen telling Eli the truth that she forgot that JJ was hanging around holding a gun on Kristen. Sheesh.
Kate ran around sticking her nose in everyone's business while simultaneously betraying Chad to Stefano, or whoever the guy who looks like Steve turns out to be.
It would have made far more sense for Stefano to take Andre's body if he was going to take anybody's. That would have kept it in the family, and Andre's real essence might have been in there somewhere making diabolical plans for his own amusement.
Anyway, Kate seems to be headed for a love triangle between Roman and a version of Stefano that looks like Steve. Could this be any crazier?
And with Justin and Kayla moving in together, we can only hope that this version of Stefano is a microchipped Steve just as Gina is a microchipped Hope.
There were some nice scenes at the prison between Justin and Will, though, which probably played more of a role in Will's decision to call Sonny than Kate putting her two cents in about Sonny and Evan.
So far, Evan seems like a nice guy. So the only question is whether he is Paul 2.0 or Leo 2.0.
The former would mean that Sonny falls for him, Will gets released from jail, and Sonny dumps Evan, who slinks off into the night because he doesn't want to interfere with Sonny's true love.
But Evan is almost too good to be true, so he could turn out to be another Leo who makes all sorts of trouble once Sonny chooses Will over him.
Either way, it's a foregone conclusion that Will is eventually getting out because Sonny never moves on long-term. Besides, Will can't be stuck in jail with Ben and Clyde forever.
Your turn, Days of Our Lives fanatics. What did you think of Days of Our Lives during the week of 12-9-19?
Hit SHOW COMMENTS and then share your thoughts on Sarah and Eric's exit, the repetitive Ben/Ciara dialogue, or anything else that's happening in Salem.
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.