Epic love stories used to be Days of Our Lives' backbone, and Steve and Kayla were one of the best.
They still are -- even now, when Kayla finds herself torn between two great loves.
On Days of Our Lives during the week of 4-13-20, Kayla struggled to make a decision between her old and new loves, making for some of the most riveting drama the soap has had in a while.
Many of the love triangles on Days of Our Lives are heavy handed and redundant. Often the choice is between a bad guy that the character thinks is a good guy and the love of her life.
That's irritating. Viewers don't like being told the ending in advance or which ship to root for.
The Justin/Kayla/Steve triangle is different, though. This is the kind of triangle that Days of Our Lives used to excel at back in the 1980s and 1990s, where a woman is torn between two great guys and you hate that someone's heart is going to get broken in the end.
Jen: I'm hearing a lot about how Justin feels and how Steve feels but what you're not telling me is what you feel.
Kayla: Is it even possible? I think I'm in love with both of them.
At first, Kayla seemed to be trying to convince herself that she didn't love Steve anymore.
She kept insisting her only reason for wanting to be at his side in the hospital was because he was her patient and he had just had brain surgery, but it was obvious that wasn't the full truth.
Justin knew it, too, and until his conversation with Sonny, he was going to step aside so Kayla could be with her true love even though it broke his heart.
That made him so much more rootable than the typical guys in these situations who act like they have a right to the woman no matter what she feels.
Justin is a genuinely good guy who has seen his share of heartbreak recently and has only got past Adrienne's death because of his new relationship with Kayla. So to lose her too has to be more devastating for him than he is letting on.
Even Justin and Steve's discussion was remarkably civil.
These were two adults, both of whom believed in their relationship with Kayla and planned to fight for it, but neither of whom intended to resort to violence or insults against each other.
That was a refreshing change from the boxing matches most men on Days of Our Lives get into with the rival to their relationship.
It's like I put everything that happened with Steve in this box for past great loves and now he's back. And Justin... his file is marked Present and Future and I'm so happy.Kayla
There were many beautiful moments throughout this story, too, starting with Steve and Kayla's flashback of their first wedding.
This story was worth it just for those old flashbacks, which are so much more enjoyable than the ones from five minutes ago that the writers tend to be obsessed with.
Kayla's indecision was real. She loved Steve and Justin for different reasons and couldn't decide whether at this point in her life she wanted slow and steady or wild and adventurous.
Both men had attractive qualities and neither was secretly evil, even if Steve had done some seriously bad things while not in control of himself.
Now THAT's how you do a love triangle!
It helps that this story involves legacy characters that have lots of connections in Salem.
Jack's conversations with Steve were pure fun, though I was waiting for one of them to bring up the obvious connection with the past.
Back in 1990, right before Steve was "killed," Jack visited him in his hospital room and said he hoped Steve recovered soon because he needed someone to rescue Jennifer from Lawrence Alamain. Steve encouraged Jack to take on this adventure himself, convincing his little brother that he had what it took to be Jennifer's knight in shining armor.
Now, Jack was again in Steve's hospital room, but this time Jack was the one giving Steve a pep talk. Yet nobody mentioned it.
These scenes also made me ache for Casey Moss to return to Days of Our Lives. Jack might have talked to JJ about some problem JJ was having the same way he talked to Steve, and we never got that the whole time JJ was on canvas.
Speaking of which, it's weird that Steve hasn't asked yet where Abby and JJ are or even how they're doing. Nor has he asked much about his own children.
Instead, he's focused on talking to Sonny about Adrienne, which gave Sonny an opening to put in his two cents about Kayla and Justin.
I couldn't figure out why Sonny's speaking his mind about this irritated me and Jack's didn't. Then it hit me that Sonny had unfinished business elsewhere and had no business wandering around town yet.
Sonny and Will were the last ones to see Sarah with the baby before Sarah did a runner. They then walked in on Xander and Eric frantically trying to locate her.
Then... nothing. It was a new day and Sonny was talking to Steve first thing in the morning.
That type of lack of continuity is irritating, especially because we're more likely to get characters talking about what happened than a flashback of the missing scene.
And Sonny didn't seem to even be thinking about the Sarah situation at all. At least give us that much!
The Sarah/Xander scenes were also soap opera gold, even if the trope of rejecting the bad groom at the altar is way overdoneo on Days of Our Lives.
The heartbreaking thing is that Xander, in his own way, really does love Sarah, and his value system is warped enough for him to believe that he was doing what was best for Sarah by switching the babies and letting Kristen be the one to struggle with grief over the loss of her newborn.
Xander made two fatal mistakes.
One, he didn't tell Sarah himself despite multiple chances to do so, which might have softened her reaction.
And two, after he got caught, he continued to engage in devious behavior, suggesting that Sarah accompany him to wherever so that they could continue to raise the baby as their own.
It was supposed to be shocking that Sarah decided to ditch Xander without ditching that plan. But that decision was more stupid than shocking.
She ran off without any plan, almost got caught within minutes, and told the stupidest lie imaginible.
I wouldn't be surprised if her hideout is her sister Melissa's house. That really should be one of the first places the cops should look, if anyone thinks to get them involved.
But seriously, at least Xander is well versed in being successful at circumventing the law. Plus, if he and Sarah were together, Victor would likely do anything to protect them.
Sarah is Maggie's daughter, but she screwed over Victor's current favorite relative, so there's no telling what he'll do now.
Speaking of which, is anyone ever going to talk about Victor's part in this plot?
Everyone is blaming Xander, angry at Xander, or even seeking revenge on him. Xander chose to switch the babies and that's on him, but somehow it's been lost that he did it at Victor's bequest.
It isn't fair that Xander, who was less convinced that this was the right plan, suffers all the consequences while Victor suffers none at all.
Nicole, Eric, and Xander all know Victor was partially to blame, and if Brady finds that out there'll be some more superb drama. So let's get on with it.
Kristen's breakdown while holding a stranger's baby and her subsequent reaction to learning that her own baby is still alive was some of Stacey Haiduk's best work to date.
I've never been a huge Kristen fan, but my heart broke for her when she was unable to bring herself to return that baby. I was glad Marlena counseled her instead of anyone calling security.
Kristen's response to finding out her baby was alive was spectacular, too. It was unsurprising that she wanted to get revenge on Xander and didn't want to wait another minute to be reunited with her baby, but these were still powerful scenes.
The only thing missing was that Kristen didn't have any extra guilt over killing Haley when her baby hadn't even actually died.
Finally, Orpheus' return gave Ben and Ciara something to do other than lie around in bed. Yay.
Not so great: Ben threatening Evan in the park and Ciara being reluctant to leave his side, as if her presence was the only thing that could get him to control his temper.
I'm not sold on this entire story anyway. Orpheus was a great villain back in the day, but his recent appearances have been disappointing and filled with violence for its own sake.
Plus, the entire premise that he and Evan are both roaming around free because Evan's sister used her lawyer skills to secure his release and the ISA protected Orpheus even though he went rogue back in the 1980s doesn't make sense.
And it was unnecessary for Ben to almost kill Evan. Let's move on from that kind of thing already.
Your turn, Days of Our Lives fanatics.
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And don't forget to check back on Sunday for our Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion.
Days of Our Lives conitnues to air on NBC on weekday afternoons. Check your local listings for airtimes.