You know things are getting good when you're rooting for a couple that you know deserves to implode.
That's one of the ways soap operas mess with our hearts, and Days of Our Lives pulled it off superbly.
On Days of Our Lives during the week of 4-6-20, Sarah learned the truth about who baby Mackenzie's parents were, and it was heartbreaking all around.
Xander and Sarah have become one of the most rootable couples in Salem.
It's partially because Paul Tefler and Linsey Godfrey have undeniable chemistry -- something which many couples are missing nowadays -- and partially because their romance follows the tried-and-true formula of putting the good girl with the bad guy with a soft heart.
For goodness sake, Kayla recounted how when she met Steve, she was sweet and innocent and he was the opposite. Plus, Sarah is following in half-sister Melissa's footsteps, as Melissa's romance with ex-gang member Pete was one of the great love stories of the supercouple era.
So why wouldn't we root for Sarah and Xander?
Plus, Days of Our Lives upped the ante as we moved toward Sarah and Xander's wedding.
Xander struggled with both fear and guilt after his latest run-in with Eric, and his desire to do the right thing made him rootable even though it was obvious that 1) he wasn't going to and 2) the truth was going to come out some other way.
And then Days of Our Lives made this whole thing even worse by including that scene in which Victor gave Xander the family coin as a token of his approval.
As long-time viewers know, all Xander ever wanted was to be accepted by Victor, and a lot of his atrocious behavior stemmed from feeling like the black sheep who was outcast for no reason.
Xander was poised to get everything he ever wanted. Victor's love and acceptance, a fairy-tale wedding, and a happily ever after. That makes what's about to come even more painful.
Of course, Victor's support had a huge price tag.
In order to get that approval, Xander had to go along with all sorts of things that no longer made him comfortable. He had to allow Will to serve time for a crime Maggie committed, switch the babies, and keep that baby switch a secret.'
You know, I liked the old Xander better who was all muscle and no morals.Victor
And Xander often went along willingly, doing things like threatening to have Dr. Raynor killed if she didn't leave town right now. In a way, he made his choice and now he deserves what he gets.
Yet it's hard not to feel heartbroken that he won't get his happily ever after with Sarah. That's how strongly this story was written!
The weakest part of this story is, sadly, Eric and Nicole's involvement.
Nicole's investigative skills were top-notch, and I always love it when she uses them, standing up to people who want to keep the truth hidden and uncovering things that weren't meant for her ears.
But the aftermath of her discovery has been weak, to say the least.
I'm glad Nicole told Eric the truth and that he didn't spend the next six months lashing out at her because he lost Mackenzie.
But Nicole's repeated suggestions that Eric keep the truth to himself and raise Brady's baby as his own and their repeated conversations about how hard this is wasn't much better.
Nicole's reaction was meant to be empathetic, but she came off as selfish and entitled.
Yes, Eric's feelings were important, but besides the fact that it's morally wrong to pretend this baby is his and Sarah's, what happens if Mickey needs further medical care?
She's already in remission from brain cancer, and her genetic makeup and family medical history could inform treatment decisions for this or any other problem she has later in life.
Nicole's idea was, at best, really really bad for multiple reasons, and having her and Eric have the same discussion about it three or four times just dragged this out for no real reason.
I'm on the fence about how Eric handled it, too.
On the one hand, Eric did make a good faith effort to talk to Brady and Kristen, and he was right that Sarah deserved to know.
On the other, giving her the news five minutes before she was supposed to get married felt insensitive. Eric said Sarah should know the truth before she married Xander, but it just seemed like she was partially right that he wanted to impose his negative opinion of Xander onto her.
And either way, what was the purpose of him asking Nicole to allow him to talk to Sarah privately in the Kiriakis yard, only to take Sarah back to his and Nicole's apartment? That seemed silly.
Major props to both Gregory Vaughan and Linsey Godfrey for the reveal scene, though. This was a gripping, emotional scene, and Sarah's reactions were mostly logical given this absurd situation.
Nobody wants to believe that the baby they've been raising, worrying about, and taking to chemotherapy appointments for almost a year belongs to someone else and their real baby is dead, and Sarah's journey from disbelief to acceptance to heartbreak was painful to watch.
It's even worse because this terrible news came just before she was about to get married...and just after she assisted on the most frightening and grueling surgery she'd ever assisted on.
Sarah's head must be spinning, and there's no telling what she's going to do next. Talk about a Friday cliffhanger!
If my brother was here, he would want you to take the risk. He'd say, 'get this thing the hell out of me.' And you wouldn't doubt him. So why are you doubting yourself?Jack
The entire Steve microchip storyline, including the removal scenes, was so unrealistic it was almost a joke, yet the aftermath of the surgery made for some fantastic, soapy drama, even though we've seen this before.
Not only did we recently go through eight months of Jack having amnesia and not remembering that Jennifer was the love of his life, but Steve has had amnesia before.
He and Kayla have already done this dance, and viewers who remember the original might not particularly want to go through this again.
Of course, this time there's an added wrinkle because of Kayla's relationship with Justin.
Wally Kurth brought his A-game to Justin's conflicted feelings as he discussed Steve's prognosis with both Jack and Jennifer.
Usually, these kinds of stories are annoying because it's obvious from the get-go how they will end up, but I gained new respect for Justin as he wrestled with both wanting the best for Kayla and wanting not to lose her to his former brother-in-law.
But goodness, the set-up for Steve's amensia was silly.
There wasn't even a full surgical team. The only doctors in the room were Kayla and Sarah, and neither of them is a neurosurgeon.
And when Kayla discovered the microchip was embedded in Steve's frontal lobe, I had to wonder why that was a surprise. Didn't she do an MRI to find out where the chip was located before she prepped him for surgery? Geez.
Add in the microchip deciding to self-destruct so that Kayla was forced to remove it and her guilt after the fact that, among other things, she didn't bother to consult a neurosurgeon and you have a story so ridiculous that suspension of disbelief is almost impossible.
At least we got some touching Steve/Kayla scenes out of this nonsense, though. The only thing missing from Kayla telling the story of their wedding was some flashbacks from that beautiful moment, which is one of my all-time favorite Days of Our Lives stories.
If the payoff involves a sweet Stayla reunion and plenty of memories for fans to enjoy, it will make this ridiculous story worth it.
Meanwhile, Ben and Ciara need a real story --and no, having sex every minute of the day is not a story.
Ben and Ciara's job hunt is off-screen and an excuse for Ben to massage Ciara's feet, which is a shame because the two of them trying to rebuild their lives could be compelling if done properly.
And Ben's confrontation with Evan was strange and didn't add much to Evan's story.
It didn't make sense why, after Evan was already freed on bail and the kidnapping charges were dropped, Rafe hauled him in in handcuffs.
And it made even less sense that Evan's response to Rafe trying to get him to turn on Orpheus was to call Ben and ask him to come to accept his apology.
There was no need for Ciara to accompany Ben to the station for this, either, since all she did was ask Rafe if he was sure it was a good idea and then hug Ben afterward before returning to their motel room for...more sex.
Ciara needs a life outside of Ben, and instead of having sex in a motel room they can't afford, the two should at least be trying to file for unemployment like the rest of America is doing right now.
Your turn, Days of Our Lives fanatics.
What did you think about Steve's amnesia story, Xander's secret falling apart, or Ciara and Ben's latest sexathon?
Hit that big blue SHARE COMMENTS button and let us know your thoughts.
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 on NBC on weekday afternoons. Check your local listings for airtimes.